Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Roald Dahl Treasury by Roald Dahl

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely place.  Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."

"As I grow old and just a triffle frayed
It's nice to know that sometimes I have made
You children and occasionally the staff
Stop work and have instead a little laugh."

These stories are so much fun!  The treasury includes excerpts from novels as well as short stories, poems, recipes, and letters.  And the illustrations are wonderful as well.  I read a few of Roald Dahl's books when I was younger - Matilda and The Witches were my favorites.  I remember seeing this book when I was worked as a page at the Germantown Community Library, but I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing until now.  

We also read:
Revolting Rhymes (1982)
Dirty Beasts (1983)
Rhyme Stew (1989)
Vile Verses (2005)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

"Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Just in what they say.
Just in what they are."

"Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of."

Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old cabdriver with little ambition who spends his time playing cards, drinking coffee with his dog, and being madly in love with his best friend Audrey.  His life is uneventful until he stops a bank robbery.  Shortly after, he starts receiving playing cards in the mail that direct him to deliver messages to people in his town that he has never meet before.  As Ed makes his way through each of the messages, he does small things that make a big difference in the lives of those around him.  He meets a lot of wonderful and interesting people during this time, but is still no closer to figuring out who is sending him the messages.  With each message, Ed also learns a lot about himself and beings to make changes in his own life as well.

Markus Zusak’s novel The Book Thief remains one of my favorite young adults novels so I was excited to read this book as well!  It was very different, but I enjoyed I Am the Messenger.  I thought that the characters were very realistic and liked the series but comical writing style.  I felt that the storyline was a bit of a cliché, but I appreciated the unique way that the author developed the plot by introducing various characters that were chosen to receive Ed’s messages.  Each person that Ed helped not only got a message from him, but gave an important message to the reader as well.  The story was very complex and moved along fairly quickly.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

" 'What sexual preference do you hope she has?' 'Happiness - isn't that cool?' "

Weetzie Bat is a free-spirited young girl growing up in the late 1980s that doesn’t have very many friends at school until she meets Dirk. After Dirk tells Weetzie that he is gay, the two search for boyfriends, which they refer to as “ducks.”  When Weetzie fines a magic lamp, she makes three wishes that come true shortly after: a boyfriend for her named My Secret Agent Lover Man, a boyfriend for Dirk named Duck, and a house for them all to live in.  They are all happy together, but Weetzie wants a baby and My Secret Agent Lover Man objects and instead wants to focus on his career making movies.  Weetzie, Dirk, and Duck decide to all make a baby so they won’t know who the father is.  My Secret Agent Lover Man leaves after he learns of the plan and Weetzie gives birth to a baby girl that they name Cherokee.  A woman the group refers to as “Lanka witch” shows up with a baby that she claims is My Secret Agent Lover Man’s daughter.  The four friends name the girl Witch Baby and decide to raise her with Cherokee.

I read this book a few days ago and I still can’t decide what I think about it.  It was very different and disturbing at times, but the author wrote in an simple, but beautiful and engaging style.  I appreciated that the author was able to step outside of the normal comfort zone and write a book that did not follow traditional lifestyles of expectations of the characters.  I think that aspect that bothered me the most about this book was that the characters did not give any thought to life-changing decisions that they were making.  I kept thinking of how the four characters were going to be responsible, both financially and mentally, for raising two very small children.  It was a very unique book and I would recommend it to older readers with caution.

Bitch by Deja King


            Precious Cummiongs grew up raised in the projects of Brooklyn, New York.  Previous lives with her mother who is a drug addict and prostitute.  When Previous is fifteen, her mother informs her that she owes her $1,000 a month for rent of she will kick her out on the streets.  Precious works part-time at a car dealership, but does not make enough money.  Left with no other option, Precious begins hustling for money.  She quickly becomes involved with some of Brooklyn’s top kingpins of the streets.  This leads her to Nico Carter, the “King of the Hood” who gives her all the money, fame, and position that she could have dreamed of.  When she kinds out that Nico is cheating on her, she plans for her revenge that goes terribly wrong and leads to the death of her mother.

            With Nico’s stolen one million dollars, Precious leaves her street life in Brooklyn behind and moves to Jersey.  By chance, she meets Rhonda and moves in with her.  Rhonda works in the music business and introduces Precious to a whole new life.  At a club one night, she catches the eye of Supreme, a famous rapper.  Precious and Supreme quickly fall for each other, but Supreme suspects that there is more to Precious then she lets on.  Will Precious risk everything by telling her new boyfriend about her past?  And will what she did to Nico finally catch up to her and ruin her glamorous life?

Urban Fiction is a completely new genre to me.  I honestly did not know anything about it, other then being familiar with the name, before taking this class.  All of the slang, as well as the frequent graphic sex, violence, and language took me a little while to get use to, but I finished the book very quickly and it generally caught my interest.  It had a fast and exciting pace, dynamic characters, and lots of action.  This genre is not one that I would normally choose to read, but I can see its appeal for readers.