Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Double Review: Beloved & The Bluest Eye

Beloved (1987)
Toni Morrison

No summaries are going to be posted: please click the book links for info on each particular book!

I decided to review both of these novels together because there is a lot to be said about Toni Morrison's writing in general, and because they both deal with some very similar themes and ideas.

I'm sure Beloved is the novel that most readers are familiar with; it is a contemporary classic. It was my favorite between the two, but The Bluest Eye still brought something new to the table: a different take on the effects of slavery and racism on black families in the United States. Taking place during the Great Depression, the slaves have all been freed for many years: but there are still racial issues, just as there still are issues today. The Bluest Eye was a great novel because it explored the racial issue in a different time period than it is normally looked at, and it did so through the use of a variety of perspectives. By telling the story from different character's positions, the reader is able to get a real idea of how things were, and the circumstances that led each character to where they are in the story. I found myself sympathetic to each and every character (with only one exception) and I loved the truth behind the story.

Beloved tackles the theme of racial issues that Morrison is famous for, and is set right after the Civil War. I loved this book because it deals with a very sensitive issue: slavery and motherhood. Is it better to keep a child in this world knowing that he/she will end up a slave, or is it better for the child to die so they don't have to live that way? That is a decision that is impossible for me to imagine: I am not a slave and I am not a mother, and so the whole concept is completely foreign, which is possibly why it appeals to me. Sethe, the main character who was faced with the choice to accept slavery for her child or not, ultimately chose to kill her baby. This book focuses on this choice, and whether you agree with it or not the story is fascinating.

Both books contain such great writing, with the changes in POV that I mentioned earlier, great imagery, and the exploration of important issues that would otherwise remain under the radar. I completely understand why Morrison is one of the greatest authors of our time, and I feel that everyone should read Beloved (and Morrison's other novels, which are perhaps not as perfect but still interesting) at least once in their life.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life On Hold

Life On Hold
Karen McQuestion
April 2011
Age Level: YA

Fifteen-year-old Rae Maddox’s mom, Gina, is a big fan of fresh starts. Gina thinks of them as an adventure, but for Rae, each move is just one more friend lost, one more chance to feel like an outsider. But when they arrive in Wisconsin, Gina promises to stay put until Rae graduates. Cautiously optimistic, she wades into the social whirl at Whitman High School, making a few friends and even earning a chance at love. But when the vice principal pairs her with fellow newbie Allison Daly, Rae’s tentative happiness is jeopardized. It seems Allison was orphaned after her parents died in a suspicious house fire, leaving their daughter to bounce between relatives’ homes. When a sleepover at Rae’s house goes terribly wrong, Rae sees a troubling side of Allison—and learns a few secrets about her own mother in the process. Suddenly Rae is at risk of losing everything and everyone she cares about—unless she steps up and takes charge of her life once and for all.
After reading Favorite by McQuestion, I was somewhat less excited to read Life On Hold. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Life On Hold is a book that will appeal to many young readers. It's a book about a girl who wants nothing more than to be just a normal teenager. She wants to make friends and have a boyfriend and not move around just because her mother had a whim. In that way, Rae is a sympathetic character. I rooted for her throughout the whole book, waiting for her to find her voice to tell her mother how she felt.

Life On Hold was a really quick and fun read. The romance was cute, and the side story of Allison's life was fascinating- she was someone that I really wanted to know. I would say that Karen McQuestion definitely has a talent for writing a good story that keeps a reader entertained. However, the one downside is that this book isn't horribly memorable. There are bits and pieces that stick in my mind, but overall it was a good book to lose myself in for awhile, and then set it down and move on. I know some people might enjoy a book like that, but personally I'm looking for something a little bit deeper.

That's not to say that I didn't like this book. I really did enjoy it, and if you're even slightly interested in Karen McQuestion's books, I'd recommend them because they are unique and quick, and sometimes that's just perfect.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Alex Flinn
February 2011
Age Level: MG/YA

I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.
It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.
There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.
Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.

There is one word that could very accurately describe my feelings for this book: cute. That is the one wonderful thing about the retellings that Alex Flinn is so wonderful at. She takes a story that everyone knows (or, in this case, maybe one or two that are lesser known) and makes them modern and interesting and maybe adds a twist or two here and there.

This book did just that, and I found myself falling in love with the main character: I LOVED the fact that it was a teenage guy who had a passion for shoes. It made him someone different that I've never seen before, and I really like meeting new people in the books I read. The romance was fairly typical, and so there's nothing much to say on that front, but the story is one that I couldn't tear myself from until the very last page.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Finally I've gotten around to picking winners for the A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend Giveaway! And they are...

Orry B.

I've sent out emails to notify you, please respond back with your address so I can send you your books!


quickie :)

Hello, all!

Finals went smashingly well, I must say... and now that it's summer I'm hoping I'll have more time to read, despite my full-time job.

This post is just a short update, and also a quick announcement: the new Sarah Dessen book is out today! I preordered it and will probably have started reading by the time this post goes up. I'm sure all YA lovers are aware of Sarah Dessen's brilliance, but I figured I must urge all of my readers to go pick up a copy of one of her books immediately if they have yet to give her a shot. She is truly a brilliant writer; the first YA writer I ever read, and her books will always hold a special place in my heart (and on my bookshelf).
So... go read them :) And if you've read them already, go read them again!


PS. Reviews to come soon... I've got a lot to catch up on!