The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told

The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told

I already knew that conspiracy theory between Abraham Lincoln and JFK, but I didn’t know that about the custody battle that lead to George Washington’s existence.

History, learn it, jokers.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2

Derby Girl

Derby Girl

This summer’s reading goal is all about clearing house on my reading list.

Derby Girl, written by Shauna Cross, is an older entry on the list. Whip It! is the film version of this novel (novel-to-film is a running theme in my reading goals as well). Cross wrote the screenplay for the film, which I think is much better than the novel. No significant plot changes were made between the novel and the film, but the ending of the novel, which is the same as the film, leaves me very sour.

This is a spoilers-free blog, but the ending is not fulfilling. Cross did a better job in the film of making points and having meaning to the audience, but the ending trails off no matter what form of media you are into. All sub-plots receive closure, but…I want more. No way will this be a series. Cross created a world and characters that were interesting. There was not enough meat left on these bones to form a sequel even though the diner is left wanting more.

Getting back to the film, I found it a fantastic blend of adding further detail and staying true to the story. I believe that the characters of the roller derby team that 16 year-old Bliss Cavander, performed by Ellen Page, joined in the book are changed in the film for the benefit of the actors. Each actor brings some of themselves to their roles (My roller derby name would be Cass Tastrophe). Landon Pigg, who plays Bliss’s love interest, is incredible eye candy, and plays the role of Boy in a Band very well.

“Never date boys in bands” is an emerging theme in teen culture, as we saw in Jennifer’s Body last year, that Derby Girl helped originate. The only teen literature that I’ve read this year not emphasizing that point was the Scott Pilgrim series, but that point may inversely be “Don’t date delivery chicks with seven evil ex-boyfriends”.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2

Anything But Ordinary

Anything But Ordinary

This better be the only rotten apple in my book crop.

My method for selecting books had failed until this. Amazon likes to suggest books for me, based on other books I have viewed. In turn, I will read a summary of them, check if they are available in a library within my county, and then order them for my crop. I understand why Amazon suggested this for me (It’s tags are YA Literature, Romance…), but I wish it had a quality filter.

Summary:

Love story about unique guy and girl, Bernie and Winifred. Then, Bernie’s mom dies and he turns into a total recluse. Bernie and Winifred are both brilliant, but the Bernie doesn’t want to go to college anymore. Bernie doesn’t want to do anything anymore. Winifred gets fed-up and decides to go to college across the country, where she becomes a tricked-out, idiotic, Barbie clone. Bernie drives across country to reunite with her, but is horrified to find the clone that has replaced his girlfriend. He bums around the city for the year (His father is under the ruse that he is auditing courses at the university), and falls for the Winifred’s T.A. The ending is proportional to the given plot, but lame nonetheless.

Usually, I try to find the good in books, but this one was straight-up awful. There was so much room for plot expansion (The guy’s road trip across country is summed-up in one paragraph…what?) and the characters felt so unrelatable. We all have hardships in life, but Winnie and Guy were shallow, in depth (not in the actuality of the story). Very happy that I got this off my reading list.

Thumbs: 0 out of 2

Going Rogue: An American Life

Going Rogue

Alaska. Alaska. Alaska. The single thing I learned from Going Rogue: An American Life, by former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, is that she loves her home state. She paints an idyllic childhood growing in the 49th State to the point where her next career move should be tourism. Reading this more for the life story narrative than the politico perspective, I enjoyed it (and the former Governor does have the right to love her state). The stumbling block, for me, was that she treated the book more as the chance to address every bit of gossip about her. Yes, this is her book and life so she may address what she wants, but ,as a reader, I just was not interested.

There inlays the difference now to pre-election, post-election biographies. Summer 2009, I read all of her biographies and a biography of each, President Obama, Vice-President Biden and Senator McCain, and they were free of “The End”. They were simply presenting in their own subject in their own, albeit each bias, light. Personally, I don’t care about the subject of any biography once they graduate college/grow-out of adolescence. I know how the story will end, but how did it all start? Now that it is post-election, the vase has a few cracks in it that you try to disguise with the right lighting, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are cracks in it.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2

 

On Writing: A memoir of the craft

On Writing

Kim is the Young Adult Librarian at the library I work for when I am home. We have similar tastes in books and music, and would rather write books than shelf them.Kim badgered me to read On Writing: a memoir of the craft, by Stephen King, while I was home during the summer, but I never got around to it. Her goal was to finish writing a novel by the time she had children. Little Bobby is a adorable and I knew after he arrived that I should give On Writing my attention.

On Writing mixes life story with teaching. Biographies usually don’t have a goal, but King display how his life and writing are intertwined. His stories are twisted and graphic because, well, his life was very graphic and twisted. No idea for a story is truly original; they were all inspired by something. The point of it all is that stories are all “fossils” of reality. King’s approach to grammar is thus- “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”. A “he said” says the same action as a “he swiftly stated”. If you write well, you can say it how it is without over using adjectives and adverbs. The superfluous of his mother’s varicose leg veins still makes me cringe.

Stephen King is spared from my harsh opinion of proliferate writers. He definitely has a formula, but there just exist a humor in his writing that makes me want to give him more of a chance than Grisham, Grafton, Patterson and Macomber. Carrie is good and Under the Dome I am trudging my way through (still enjoyable). The first between is his first novel and his most recent novel are evident, but both are very King.

All in all, when your librarian tells you to read a book- read it.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

The Girls from Ames

The Girls from Ames

Warning: This book should not be read if you lack childhood friendships. It will break your heart.

Jeffrey Zaslow did an amazing job of documenting the friendship of 11 women, from birth to adulthood. The introduction prepped the reader for a critical punch. It discussed how “common” life-long friendships are (debatable, but continuing…) so when reaching the dramatic highs the women have endured, I couldn’t help but feel for them. They hurt just as much as any other person. They were very much real women.

Don’t let the dust jacket deceive you – the women aren’t a whole 22-armed creature that lives symbiotically. They have their closer friends within the group, but it’s within the larger group. So mad depressing to read, because of my personal problems, but unforgettable.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

Gingerbread

Gingerbread - Old Gingerbread - New

Gingerbread, written by Rachel Cohn, is a book I found during middle school. When my friends and I would go to the mall, I would always have to hit up the book store. Gingerbread sat on my bookcase, virtually unread by me, for 5+ years. Coming home from break to a snowstorm yesterday motivated me to read though. For once, I picked it up and read it all the way through. It’s a shame I never read it sooner because, maybe it would have had more of an impact on me.

I believe that if I hadn’t stumbled upon Gingerbread when I was middle school, I would have never picked it up. That’s not saying the book is terrible, it hits the demographic age it is meant for but, it just does not transcend it like other YA literature I have read. Even Cohn’s co-authored book with David Levithan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, sat better with me. The protagonist, Cyd Charissa, has gone through a major life decision as a teenager and I feel for her- but not that much. It’s probably the age difference between her and I. Which is weird since, I am not, by any means, Methuslia.

The plot had this strange way of wrapping up in the end that isn’t clear how things just suddenly got there. Perhaps I’ll re-reading the ending to hash it out for myself. Interestingly, since I picked up this book in middle school, Gingerbread has changed book covers (Left above – old cover, Right above – new cover. Alas, a testament to age again) and become a series. Shrimp and Cupcake follow the plot where Gingerbread left off. There’s hope of recovery for my feelings of triumph in reading this finally.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2

 

 

The Imposter’s Daughter

The Imposter's Daughter

Graphic novels are making a comeback. After Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, debuted in 2000, there’s been a tremendous surge in graphic novels. Now, I wasn’t paying attention to the field in 2000 (yay puberty) but, Persepolis was adapted to film in 2007 and the spike in autobiographical graphic novels was epic. Graphic novels aren’t about guys running around in capes or even girls in capes- they’re about people.

The Impostor’s Daughter was addictive. I identified a lot with what Laurie Sandell’s lived through to become the author of the memoir. Sandell and I both have semi-destructive, though mine has never faked an ivy-league education (Come on, the title gave it away). In a way, this memoir assured me that everything in my life right now is going to be alright. The story was comforting (though, by no means, a lullaby) and the images were very unspectacular- the right tone for a graphic novel that is in fact a memoir in nature. No embellishments, just the straight picture.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

Rumspringa

Rumspringa

Did you know that the Amish use celery as a wedding decoration?

I didn’t know that until I read this, and found that quite interesting (Definitely making me re-think flowers at a wedding). This was a savory bit on non-fiction to sink into over a weekend (I love sub-cultures) and enjoyed it at Avenue over a cup of coffee. Certainly a good read for those who are interested.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife

All Summer, as the world was anticipating the release of the movie, every copy was on hold in every library. Thus, all Summer, I recommended The Lovely Bones to everyone who didn’t feel like waiting for this- I’m pretty happy that I made a spot-on recommendation. They read similarly but were interesting in their own right. The Time Traveler’s Wife’s is heavy on description/detail which I enjoy but drags things out quite a bit.

Everyone who saw me reading this week screeched that this was their favorite book ever (they were mostly women + 1 male); I won’t be counting it as one of mine. Not to give away the ending, I wasn’t particularly moved by it, but then again I’m mildly desensitized by somethings and am pretty good at figuring out the end of a book halfway through. All and all, good book for those who want to a romance with a twist.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2