Life's hard.

It's even harder when you're stupid.

John Wayne

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen ★★★☆☆

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesSo Weirded Out   
Fiction – Fantasy? (so classification of this book is a little shaky)
319 pages
Publication Date: 2009
Literary awards: Goodreads Choice Nominee for Favorite Book & Fantasy (2009), The Kitschies Nominee for Red Tentacle (Novel) (2009)

Pride and Prejudice with zombies, need I say a whole lot more?

Okay, first of all the cover is very disturbing.  So disturbing in fact I had to hide it from my kids.  My husband on the other hand thought it was awesome, so go figure.  I found the
pairing of zombie slaying with early 19th century manners incredibly interesting and was curious to see how it was handled.  Grahame-Smith did a good job of inserting new scenes and content into the original.  The extra content is more salacious and not just in regard to the sorry stricken, we’re talking about some overt sexual references.  It was a little gross – it is a zombie book after all – but definitely not as graphic as it could have been.  In some ways I found the resolutions in this version more satisfying than the original.  I especially enjoyed Elizabeth kicking Darcy in the face after his first proposal.  A very natural reaction to my way of thinking – I mean who hasn’t wanted to do that.  And the Reader’s Discussion really added an extra element of fun.

On the other hand I had a terrible time slipping into this story.  There were some pretty intense changes to the characters and the overall feel of the book that I personally could never get used to.  Frankly, I had a very surreal feeling during the whole time I read the book and was just so weirded out.  I think someone who admired the original less (full disclosure: I named my youngest Elizabeth after Elizabeth Bennet so you can kind of see my devotion here) or wasn’t quite as familiar with it might have an easier time with this book.

ISBN  1594743347 (ISBN13: 9781594743344)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson ★★★★☆

A story that stays with you.
Fiction – Juvenile - Classics
Age range: 9 - 11 Years
143 pages
Publication Date:  1977
Literary awards: Newbery Medal (1978), Zilveren Griffel (1983)

Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer to become the fastest runner in school, but when the new girl, Leslie, races and wins all of his dreams of triumph are dashed.  Jess wants to ignore her, but Leslie won’t be ignored and from there they become friends, each making life more bearable for the other.  Leslie's arrival challenges everything Jess has always taken for granted in his claustrophobic world.  She opens him up to new ways of thinking and being and together they create a magical kingdom called Terabithia.  A place where they are free to imagine.

Bridge to TerabithiaI first read this book when I was about ten-years-old and just cried buckets.  It was the first book I read as a child dealing with a child’s death.  I remember feeling such a kinship with Jess and desperately wishing I had a friend like Leslie and my heart just breaking at the end.  This is one of the books that has always just stuck with me over the years.  Reading Bridge to Terabithia as an adult I wasn’t quite as pulled into the story and definitely more inclined toward critical thinking as I read it instead of just enjoying the story, but I also understood the family dynamics and world Jess lived in a lot better.  The difference in prospective, however, didn’t lessen the emotional impact of this story on me, even though at times I did detect less than perfect writing.  It is a beautiful story about the best kind of friendship you can have and a book I have every intention of adding to my personal library to share with my girls.

ISBN  0439366771 (ISBN13: 9780439366779)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone ★★★☆☆

Barbie; just a doll or the gateway drug to superficialism?
Non Fiction – Culture
144 pages
Publication Date: 2010
Literary awards: Golden Kite Award (2011)

This book takes an interesting look at Barbie’s influence on our culture and our influence on her.  Using memories and anecdotes from generations of women, Tanya Lee Stone, explores Barbie’s iconic status and investigates the complicated relationship Barbie has with the world at large.

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on UsGrowing up I never wanted to be kid, but always an adult.  My Barbies lived glamorous lives filled with parties, dates – where Ken was always a second class citizen and basically only there to glorify Barbie and hold her purse when necessary - and paying bills, and of course every event required many outfit changes so she could look picture perfect.  From the time I tried to curl her hair with a light bulb to receiving Barbie’s silver Corvette and inheriting Barbie’s magnificent house she was a nice addition to my imaginary life.  So when I saw this book I just couldn’t ignore it.

To be honest I never really thought about Barbie as an unholy influence, with her ridiculous body or her focus on materialism.  The most passionate feeling I ever associated with her was when I took my life in my hands at the age of 3 and removed all of the rings and earrings from my Aunt’s collection – which apparently if memory serves was not the first time I violated her dolls – and she was pretty sure she needed to kill me.  And frankly for the most part I’m still basically there in my opinions as far as the doll is concerned. 

While, I liked the look into Barbie’s history and her evolution in this book, what I most enjoyed about this book was the ideas it sparked and the challenge it presented to my thoughts on women in society.  This book was very thought provoking for me, especially as a mother of two girls.  It spurred my need to clarify my own beliefs about feminism and created talking points for my husband and I on the subject.  The discussion on values we want to instill in our children is, as always, on-going, but pushing myself to put my own ideas into focus can only be helpful.

In the end I decided what matters is that my girls have the power to choose how they define themselves.  They decide what being a woman looks like to them.  They - and I – need to decide how to define ourselves and not allow the labels shoved on us to limit our potential.

For another perspective on raising girls a friend shared this article with me on Facebook and I thought I would pass it on:

ISBN  0670011878 (ISBN13: 9780670011872)