Friday, August 5, 2011

Travel Reads (not as good as Vacation reads)

So I read a bit, not as much as I expected, during the big move. I'm not sure if I didn't read as much because of the move or because of the quality of books. Anyway, read on and you will see what I am talking about.

The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett

Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women: — Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women -- mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends -- view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

I enjoyed the help, it was beautifully written and easy to read. I could offer up some deep message that I received but to be honest I just enjoyed it for what it was, a slice of people's lives in the 60's.

There is a wonderful Read Along going on over at Simply Sarah's web site for this book with chapter discussions. You should stop by and see what others are saying if you have read it or go out and get it and read along.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie, i have a feeling they will be changing quite a few things.

Overall I am giving this book 4 stars, I didn't like the ending.

Beauty A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
Author: Robin McKinley

Sixteen-year-old Beauty has never liked her nickname. Thin, awkward, and undersized, with big hands and huge feet, she has always thought of herself as the plainest girl in her family - certainly not nearly as lovely as her elder sisters, Hope and Grace. But what she lacks in looks, she makes up for in courage. When her father comes home one day with the strange tale of an enchanted castle in the wood and the terrible promise he has made to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows what she must do. She must go to the castle and tame the Beast - if such a thing is possible...

Here is the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty... and the Beast.

1966-1988 Best of the Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
1979 Fanfare Honor List (The Horn Book)
1979 Books for the Teen Age (NY Public Library)2000 List of Popular Paperbacks for YA

I love retelling/modernizations of classic fairy tales, however this one did not meet my expectations and I hate to say it but if I were you I'd pass it up for something like Beastly by Alex Flinn (but don't bother with that movie!) which I reviewed HERE.

The author decided to go with a very convoluted style so not only is the book originally written in the 60's (so the grammar rules are all a bit different) but it is a bit to stylized for my taste (and that's saying something because I read classics).

It is supposed to be told from Beauty's Point of View but in this rendition Beauty doesn't seem to have a personality at all. Descriptions are minimal and at one point in time I found myself saying "good thing I know the premise behind the Beasts situation otherwise I would be really confused right now."

When really considering why I didn't enjoy this book I have to go with the fact that YA authors have had to really step it up over the past few years not only in the stories they tell but also in the way they write them. I don't think that this book would be published (as is) today.

Overall I am giving this book 2 stars

Another Faust
Author: Daniel Nayeri, Dina Nayeri

One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish - only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city's most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor's extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up - reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty - they start to suffer the side effects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary reimagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption

What a colossal waste of my time. I hated it, from start to finish. Why did I finish it? I was in a car and all my other books were packed in the back.

The characters are shallow, the explanation behind everything is virtually nonexistent and when you finally get to some action it falls flat. On top of all that this is a contemporary retelling of a Faustian tale so if you don't have the background you might be lost, or you might not since it was so bad.

1 Star, and that might be generous

I am a long way's off from making my reading goal for the year. Hopefully I'll get the house put together quickly and be able to get to some good books soon! If anyone knows of a book club in the Birmingham area I would love to join one.

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