Friday, December 30, 2016

Alllllllmost done!

Tomorrow is the last day of 2016! I completed my book challenge and threw in a few extra books for fun, even. So I need to wrap up my book reviews and move along to something new for 2017. Tap dancing? Trigonometry? Tent making. I've not decided yet, but I'm getting a real "t" vibe. Actually what I'll probably do is go back to binge-watching Psych, since I received the entire series for Christmas (who needs Netflix?!).

In any case, I present my November books, with December soon to follow.


Category: A banned book
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Goodreads review: 1 star

This book bored me to tears. Well, not tears. But there was a considerable amount of napping. The writing style is SO vague. Can't he just say something outright—without trying to sound all show-offy and hipster? Nevermind. But—are all his books written like this? Because, if so, no thank you, Mr. Bradbury. Obviously parts of this book felt important, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open. And it's hilarious that THIS book is on banned lists. Come to find out—it's not hard to find a book that's been put on a banned list somewhere. There's always someone somewhere who is going to find fault with a book. But this one especially seemed funny to me, coming off the tails of The Cold Dish, which is FILLED with profanity and FULL of unsavory crime scene details. So apparently Fahrenheit 451, which was written in the 1950s, was banned for vulgar language and for a Bible being burned. As for vulgar language, there were maybe six swear words. Or in any case, not a lot. And I couldn't even find the part where the Bible was burned! I mean, it implies it—but it never actually has a scene where a Bible is burned. Unless that was one of the parts that I slept through (we shouldn't rule that out). This book must have really been scandalous back then, but 60 years later people can write all sorts of smut and it will be accepted juuuuust fine. I know there are tons of people that think this book is impressive, but the only purpose I found was to use it as a sleeping aid.

Category: A book with antonyms in the title
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Goodreads review: 3 stars

One night Tom and I just started searching common antonyms on Goodreads: hot and cold, black and white, etc., etc., etc. I found probably a dozen or more books with antonyms that seemed like they might be good. In fact, I could start an entirely new book challenge just using all of the antonym books we browsed through. Then we searched little and big. And Little House popped up. And a ray of light shined through the heavens. I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it sooner! Plus, I was needing a new book to read to the girls, so we started right away. I enjoyed the discussions that this book sparked with Clara and Maren—mainly, discussions about how different our lives are from Laura's. They had to work so hard for everything they had, whereas we only have to go to the store. However, some of the chapters—like the cheese making or the gun making and the meat smoking chapters—didn't hold their attention as well because they got long. But Clara especially enjoyed it, and she's already asking to read the next in the series.

Category: A book set in the future
For Darkness Shows the Stars, Diana Peterfreund
Goodreads review: 4 stars

This book is a quick, enjoyable little read. It caught my attention when I saw that it's a dystopian take on Jane Austen's Persuasion. Woo! It's been several years since I've read Persuasion, so the details of that plot are pretty fuzzy. This book centers around Elliot, a young girl who is devoted to her land and the people who work on it, and she gives up on her love with a boy named Kai, because she wants to make sure her land thrives. Anyway, there were a few things that bothered me about Darkness. The dystopian plot was really complex and I do believe there were some plot holes. Or at least there were some elements that didn't add up for me. Secondly, Kai was kind of a huge jerk! I mean, sure, she broke his heart and what not, but he's super bitter about it—and it's time to move on, Elliot! Anyway. And then the ending was over in a snap. Boop! We're done. I would have liked to see Kai be nice for a change, before wrapping it all up. Anyway, I enjoyed it nonetheless. I've mentioned before that YA books often bug me because they're filled with sexual, hormonal content—but this book is clean. I recommend it. This author also has a related dystopian based off The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I plan to look into.

Category: A memoir
All Who Go Do Not Return, Shulem Deen
Goodreads review: 4 stars

(This review contains big, fat spoilers) There are some books that really stick with you. This was one of those books. I'm not one to pick up a memoir. I've found that a lot of people who write memoirs generally write them because they have a depressing tale to tell, and I'm rarely in the mood for depressing. And while this book certainly has a heartbreaking ending, it's insanely intriguing. Shulem Deen grew up in a Hasidic Jewish society located somewhere in New York (I think), and he gives a very revealing glimpse into a lifestyle that is basically from another world. His marriage is arranged when he is just 17 or 18, and he only gets to meet his fiancee once before they're married. I can't even imagine how insane that would feel. He goes on to tell how he eventually starts questioning the faith he was raised in. He starts listening to the radio, then starts reading things on the internet, and eventually purchases a tv—all things that are not allowed in his society. By the time he's in his early 20s, he and his wife already have 5 children, because birth control is another item majorly frowned upon in his society. I was sad that he gave up on his faith entirely. The ending result is completely obvious to the reader, and he even admits that he was naive to not see it coming. And I just kept wondering: was he really happier? Sure, he was free of living in a society where he didn't believe any of it, but he lost his family. His children want nothing to do with him. I can't really say which might be worse for him, but I know which would be worse for me. And I must admit—I would loooove to hear his ex-wife's perspective of the whole thing. During the chapters when he's spending all this time with another friend to discuss his questions, he mentions how he would be gone all night, or out for hours and hours. And try as I might, I just couldn't help but think: I wonder if his wife wishes he'd come home and be with their family? I do recommend this book. It's fascinating but heart-wrenching.

Category: A book that takes place in your hometown
How I Got Cultured, Phyllis Barber
Goodreads review: no rating

I couldn't decide how to rate this. Probably somewhere between 1 and 2 stars. It's about a Mormon girl growing up in Las Vegas who ends up joining some Vegas dance team that was a big deal a few decades ago. This book didn't evoke much of any emotion in me. You know how it feels to sit next to an old person and listen to them ramble on about their lives? (There's nothing wrong with that scenario—lest I be mistaken for bashing on old people who ramble on about their lives.)  That's what this memoir felt like. Another memoir! Two in a row is some sort of record for me. If she had any sort of point to her ramblings, I didn't pick up on it. And at times, it was just downright weird. So why did I choose this particular book that is so obscure even my Orem library didn't have it and I had to order it off Amazon for $.01 plus $4.99 shipping? Because a friend recommended it. Plus, my other choices ranged from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (no thank you) to Leaving Las Vegas—and I certainly wasn't about to pick up a book with Nicolas Cage's face plastered on the front. The end.

Category: A play
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 3 stars 

I didn't even know this book was a play. I'd hardly paid any attention to it when it arrived in the bookstores this summer. But then when I was looking for a play (again, I could start an entirely new book challenge compiled of all the play suggestions I received) everyone was all, "Uhhhhhh, the new Harry Potter....hello!" And then I heard it was a quick read. And that's what won me over entirely. Homegirl was on a deadline. Plus, since I'd read the entire series this year, I thought I'd be adoracute and wrap it all up. So okay, this play was okay. But it also isn't that great. It was fun to revisit some of the quirky characters, but I really do agree with other reviews that called it glorified fan fiction. The plot seemed terribly unoriginal. And why a play? I guess I would have enjoyed some of the scenes developed more like they would in a novel. It definitely doesn't hold up to the HP series.

1 comment:

Tom Giles said...

No credit conferred
Little House was my idea
Please, edit preferred

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