Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wide Sargasso Sea

Don't read this if you don't know the ending of Jane Eyre.

So I heard about this book right after I finished Jane Eyre and I was really excited about it. As I heard, it was the story of Jane Eyre, but from the crazy Mrs. Rochester's perspective. And I LOVED Jane Eyre, so I was excited to read something from the other side. Obviously it's not a Bronte original, so it's not as if I expected it to just sweep me away, but I thought it would be good.

Not so much. Only the last like 15 pages of the book are set in England, at Thornfield. The rest is all about her growing up in the West Indies, and Mr. Rochester coming, and them getting married. Some of it is from his perspective, like him finding out from a guy in the town how her mom went nuts, etc. etc.

Some of the language and the descriptions of where they live are really beautiful, but a lot of it is just . . . I don't know. It's like it's trying too hard, maybe? That sounds mean, but that was what I thought.

And parts of it are kind of cool, like when she is little someone sets their house on fire in the middle of the night, and that really had a huge effect on her (obviously), so it was sort of a cool tie in to the ending of Jane Eyre, but also sort of not. It reminded me a little bit of a movie that is set in another time period and then they just happen to befriend Benjamin Franklin or Einstein or Rosa Parks--you know what I mean? Like it's sort of a cheap shot to bring in something you already know about to make the story seem more awesome.

It's pretty meh. I wouldn't really recommend it. The good thing though, is that it's short. It's like 190 pages of big print, it was practically like reading a Babysitter's Club book. It took me two lunch breaks. So it wasn't a huge investment of my time, so I didn't really mind that it wasn't awesome.

So yeah. I am definitely not saying, "Go out and read it!" But I'm also not saying you should avoid it like the plague. If for some reason a time comes in your life where someone puts this book in your hands, and you have nothing else good to read, go for it. Then tell me if you liked it or not, because I was obviously not very impressed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Help trailer

I think most of us have read The Help, right? I am so excited, the movie looks great! And I love that they incorporated the purple and yellow from the book cover into the trailer.


At the library the other day, I was cruising down the A aisle, and this book caught my eye. I thought I had heard of every Jane Austen book, but I had never heard of this one.

That's because it's unfinished, she died while she was writing it. Do not think this is her Requiem, though. It's not tragically unfinished, but it is a cute, funny story.

It's about a seaside town called Sanditon, and the people who are there. It's only 82 pages long, it gets halfway through the 12th chapter and then it just sort of ends.

Like I said, it's not a heartbreaking work of staggering genius, but it is a fun story, and had it been finished I would have read the entire thing, and I'm sure I would have liked it very much. Because I did enjoy it, it was funny and I really enjoyed all the characters. But maybe because from the beginning I knew that it wasn't a complete story, I just didn't fully invest myself into loving it. But it was good. Definitely doesn't need to be at the top of your to read list, but if you happen to come across it sometime, it's a cute book.

Oh, and isn't that picture funny? That's the cover of the version I read, and I love it. There was no mention of roosters in the book, so I'm not sure what it means, but I really love it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Okay, so I’m on a bit of a Salman Rushdie kick. I swear the next book will be by someone else (I’m actually really excited to get back to that next book, and I look forward to this insane semester being over so I can finally finish it).

Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Utterly delightful.

It is a children’s novel, written by Rushdie immediately after Satanic Verses while he was hiding during the fatwa. He had promised his son a children’s book, and it was an excellent medium to discuss what was going on in his life at the time.

Haroun, our hero, is a boy who lives in “a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name.” His father, Rashid, is a storyteller, the Shah of Blah. Unfortunately, something terrible happens to him and he loses his Gift of the Gab—Haroun believes this is his fault and sets off on a journey to try and restore his father’s Gift of the Gab. During his journey he discovers the importance and power of words and speech, as well as the power of stories. The question, “What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?” is asked repeatedly throughout the novel, and by the end Haroun finds the answer.

True to form, Rushdie’s writing is phenomenal. As it is a story about stories and language, he uses some excellent word plays (one of my favorites is when Haroun meets the Plentimaw Fishes in the Sea of Stories) and often repeats an idea many times in various familiar idioms. He also explores the importance of free speech very deeply, and even though it is a light-hearted children’s novel, it is clearly filled with adult themes.

I loved this book. It made me laugh; it made me happy. It sometimes felt like The Phantom Tollbooth, which is an excellent one as well. It reminded me yet again how amazing and important the power of language is. It is a wonderful story.

Five stars, definitely.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I recently finished Matched, by Ally Condie. I was referred to this book even before it came out by a friend of mine who is an elementary school teacher and so is more into the teenage scene. And anyway, she introduced it to me as a "Hunger Games type book" and told me to put a hold on it even before it was released because it would be a popular one.

And anyway, I'm glad I did, because I got it just a few weeks after it was released, and now there are over 250 holds on this book at my library.

The point is, it is definitely a blockbuster book, and also a very juvenile book, but I thought it was also pretty good. It is very Hunger Games-like (futuristic, corrupt/secretive government, etc.). It was a very quick read. It is the first book of a series, and the author definitely spent more time on the love story development in this book than they did in the first Humger Games book, but I'm a girl, and I don't mind that too much. Although I am excited for the next books to see if we get a little more action going on in them.

I don't have a whole lot more to say about this book, other than it is a fun, easy and quick read, and that if you haven't already heard a ton about it, I think you definitely will be hearing about it in the coming months, so just get on the band wagon now because you probably will eventually. :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Satanic Verses

So first off, hi, Katie graciously allowed me to join your group. If you don’t know me and want to know why you should trust my opinion on books anyway (because there are some people whose taste you question sometimes, right?), feel free to blog stalk me. Okay, now to the good stuff.

Salman Rushdie. Holy cow. 

Have any of you read The Satanic Verses before? Or any other Rushdie for that matter? Until I read this book (for a class, but let me tell you it’s the best book I’ve finished so far this year) I hadn’t been exposed to him before. His writing style is dense and overwhelming, but at the same time so rich and descriptive. I can’t describe it well, so here let me excerpt for you:

Bitterness, too, and hatred, all these coarse things. He would enter into his new self; he would be what he had become: loud, stenchy, hideous, outsize, grotesque, inhuman, powerful. He had the sense of being able to stretch out a little finger and topple church spires with the force growing in him, the anger, the anger, the anger. Powers.

He was looking for someone to blame. He, too, dreamed; and in his dreams, a shape, a face, was floating closer, ghostly still, unclear, but one day soon he would be able to call it by its name.
I am, he accepted, that I am.


In short, I love the way he writes. He masters the English language so powerfully, it’s amazing. If you want a taste of him without committing yourself to a novel, read In the South or The Shelter of the World. Some short stories of his published in the New Yorker, and they are both excellent.

Okay, enough about Rushdie, now about the book itself. Again, masterfully written. It opens with a plane crash, and these two Indian actors tumble through the air toward London going round and round, one singing a famous pop song, the other singing Rule, Britannia. They are the only two survivors of the plane crash, and once they arrive back to earth one of them takes on the form of the angel Gabriel (his name is Gibreel) and the other becomes a devil. The novel then discusses how these transformations affect their lives as well as the lives of those around them. Rushdie discusses in great deal the ideas of transformation and rebirth (look for the phrase, “To be reborn, first you have to die.”), identity (“What kind of idea are you?”), immigration, religion, faith, agency, and what exactly good and evil are. There is some magical realism which enhances the story very effectively, there are numerous references to James Joyce (which I missed because I’m not super familiar with James Joyce), pop culture, and tons of religious references and imagery, of course. There were so many different ideas being explored at once that I really don’t think you can grasp the novel completely the first time around; I want to read it again.

There is, yes, the whole issue of the fatwa. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here.) And I can see why some parts of the book could be offensive to devout Muslims. I can’t decide what I think about all of that, but either way, the book was phenomenal. I have to recommend it.

And I see you use five stars? I hate rating things, it’s hard for me, but I’d go with four out of five. Maybe four and a half.

It’s that good.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


First off, I must preface this post with a comment....my husband gives me a hard time for liking "fairy books" or in other words fantasy books. So Graceling is right up my alley. It is about a kingdom in which some people have special powers. They are said to be graced with this power and are, therefore, called gracelings. All gracelings can be distinguished because their eyes are two different colors. When born, they are to be sent to the king to be in his service.

Katsa was born with graceling eyes and lived with the king since she was a little girl. Her power happens to be the grace of killing, and now that she is older, the king sends her to do his dirty business. Graceling is about Katsa's journey to find herself and to become her own master.

Easy, fun read.