Thursday, December 29, 2011

Beauty Queens

Libba Bray's Beauty Queens is the story of Miss Teen Dream plane crash survivors. It is a satire of reality tv and big business, mores in society and the political system. A lot of the jabs toward these institutions are blatantly obvious and there were plenty of laugh out loud moments.

"...which was protested by Concerned Citizens of America First for allowing more than ten black people on stage at one time."

"Sexuality is not meant to be this way--an honest, consensual expression in which a girl might take an active role when she feels good and ready and not one minute before. No. Sexual desire is meant to sell soap. And cars. And beer. And religion."

"People like to hear your future plans for ovaries."

"Void where prohibited in states where the school board has banned A Tale of Two Cities because Charles Dickens is clearly a pornographic name."

Once their place crashes, the survivors need to find food and water--and continue their pageant preparation routine. They are surprisingly adept at taking care of themselves, building huts, catching fish, and collecting rainwater.

I really loved all the contestants, from Miss Texas Taylor who whole heartedly believed in the pageant mentality to Mary Lou, an at-times reserved Miss Nebraska, to the almost interchangable Miss Alabama and Miss Mississippi winners. But honestly, all of them were fun characters. I think my favorite was Miss Colorado.

One of the things I didn't particularly care for in the novel was the appearance of the reality show pirates. These young men provide love interests for a few of the beauty queens and I thought their addition took away from the real story: the girls realizing that they are strong women. In having these chracters, Bray ventures in to the romantic idea that we must have sexual relationships to have a good book. Unfortunately by doing so it kind of ignores what the rest of the book is about.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wicked Bugs

Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart is a non-fiction book about wicked bugs. The bugs discussed in the books are wicked because they either cause massive property damage or can lead to series medical issues.

The first chapter of Wicked Bugs was offered for free on Audible and I really enjoyed it so I bought the full book. However, I was less impressed with it than I hoped. I had a hard time keeping up with it. I would have done better to read it rather than listen to it.

One of the many things I enjoy about Wyoming is its lack of bugs. Reading Wicked Bugs certainly renewed that feeling. We have mosquitoes, and lots of them, but little else.

If you are afraid of bugs, do not read this book. I am ok around bugs, but parts of it made my skin crawl.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Revolution and A Northern Light

My online book club recently read Revolution and then I saw A Northern Light at the library so I've read two of Jennifer Donnelly's books in the last month or two.

The two books were both young adult novels and about young women going though major life changes.

Revolution is the story of a girl from Brooklyn whose little brother died and then her parents divorced. Her dad moved on and has a new family while her mother is losing control of reality in her grief.

The main character, Andi, travels to Paris with her father and finds a journal from another young women, one who lived during the French Revolution. The book alternates between the present and the past. I love historical fiction books like this.

I liked Revolution, but I had one big problem with how the author dealt with depression. It was really hard for me to listen to Andi in her rage, but that made sense. It showed how Andi's emotions were so strong. What I really really didn't like was how her mother's depression was treated like it was some oh just buck up situation when Andi talks about how she got her mom out of the mental health center and she just needed to paint. I really hate when mental illness is treated as just this you only need to cheer up kinda thing. I'm sure I'm overreacting to this because I'm especially sensitive to the issue.

One part I really loved was Virgil. I wasn't as interested in the romance between him and Andi, but I really liked the insight he provided about the situation of immigrants in present day France. His songs told a lot about his social situation. I also thought the information about the French Revolution was true to history and added a lot to the story.

A Northern Light is a historical fiction story of a woman that dies in a lake at a New York resort in the early 1900s. Mattie, the main character, is an employee at the resident who spoke the dead woman right before she died.

Mattie's growth into a woman through education and how she moves to the the world beyond where she's from are part of the plot . The story is a mystery about the woman's death, but it's also about Mattie's journey.

I definitely recommend both books. I enjoyed the characters and their stories.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kindle Fire

As soon as Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire, I pre-ordered one. I've had it for a couple weeks and have really enjoyed having it.

One of the reasons I wanted one was the backlit screen. Evan goes to sleep earlier than I do most nights and he doesn't like the light on. I don't sit at a computer all day so the back light doesn't bother me.

It doesn't hurt to have Angry Birds, facebook, and goodreads apps on it either!