Llew's Reviews

Archive for the 'Raves and Faves' Category

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Sunday, November 8th, 2009 by Miss Laura

thehelp

“The Help recreates a time — Mississippi in 1962 — that is totally engrossing and pitch-perfect. This story of women in the South, black and white, in the eye of a hurricane of monumental change is thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable.”
— Sheila Burns, Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, OR

Indiebound Pick February 2009

After hearing more than one customer proclaim The Help as the best book they had read in years, I had to wait until it stayed in stock long enough for me to buy a copy to read myself. It’s the debut novel by Kathryn Stockett which takes place in Mississippi in the early 1960s. It is about three women, one white and two black, in Mississippi in the early 60’s. The main character is a recent Ole Miss journalism Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan who aspires to be a writer.

She’s single which seems to cause her mother and friends perpetual turmoil. I mean 22 and still unmarried – THE SHAME & HORROR! Although, maybe her friends need some turmoil because her closest childhood friends are right racist bitches. One is the president of the Junior League and is determined to get her sanitation project which encourages separate bathrooms for health reasons published in the League’s newsletter which Skeeter writes monthly.

Somewhere in the middle of this Skeeter decides to write a book, in secret, which features the stories of Aibileen and Minny who are the maids for two close childhood friends of Skeeter. Due to the racial tensions, it puts all of their lives at risk. The book is told in the first person from Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny’s point of view.

I can definitely see why everyone has been proclaiming it the best book they’ve read in a while. It’s cohesive, powerful, and emotional. Stockett also is skilled at giving the characters depth. The president of the Junior League is a good friend and a loving mother. She’s not all evil. Skeeter isn’t all halo and angel wings either. It’s a thought provoking read without being preachy.




I Saw Mama Chewing Santa Claus

Sunday, November 8th, 2009 by Miss Laura

Yesterday, I woke up from dreams about zombie pick up lines (“You’re dead sexy”, “Baby, I’m after more than just your brainnns”). I have no idea what precipitated this dream. I also have no idea why there’s so many zombie books out of late either. Vampires I can understand … Whatever the reason – I like it!

So here are the fun zombie books I’ve seen out recently (besides the Pride Prejudice & Zombies which I’ve heard great things and all – but everyone knows about that one. Right?):

1. beginningtolookalotlikezombies.jpg It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies: A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols

Oh yes! It’s a book that takes classic Christmas carols from a zombies point of view. Obviously, not a Jewish Zombie.

“Tiny tot’s eyes are no longer aglow, they’re in a bowl. Good King Wenceslas Tastes Great and we Deck The Halls With Parts Of Wally.”

Personally, I can’t wait to bust out a little “We Three Spleens” this holiday season!

2. neverslowdance.jpg Never Slow Dance With A Zombie by E. Van Lowe.
“Principal Taft’s 3 Simple Rules for Surviving a Zombie Uprising:
Rule #1: While in the halls, walk slowly and wear a vacant expression on your face. Zombies won’t attack other zombies.

Rule #2: Never travel alone. Move in packs. Follow the crowd. Zombies detest blatant displays of individuality.

Rule #3: If a zombie should attack, do not run. Instead, throw raw steak at to him. Zombies love raw meat. This display of kindness will go a long way.”

Sounds like Zombie High is kind of almost exactly the same as regular high school. Especially the part about wearing a vacant expression on your face.

3. zombies4zombies.jpg Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead

Well, being bitten is inevitable so you might as well get the modern day Emily Post guide for your new lifestyle. It includes advice on:

– How to dress for your new lifestyle Handy recipes for brains
– Fitness ideas for keeping you somewhat energetic
– New skin-care techniques to help ward off “rotting flesh syndrome”
– How to overcome that darned zombie social stigma
– Dance steps for the motor-impaired

I kind of need that last one as I am now.

4. creepycutecrochet.jpg Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More!

Zombies need arts & crafts time too!

Although, I confess that  if I see a Zombie shambling around carrying a knitting needle in one hand and a tiny top hat in his other disintegrating hand my first thought will most likely not be, “Aw, what adorable little creation is this Zombo about to make?”

5. mamasayszombies.jpg My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, Or Other Things.

Your mama lies, son. Your mama lies.




Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Saturday, November 15th, 2008 by Miss Laura

“This compelling, page-turning futuristic novel takes readers into a world that pits teenagers against each other in a fight to the death for the glory and well-being of their district. But when Katniss discovers the young man from her district is in love her, she is faced with having to kill him to survive or sacrificing herself to save him.” Indie Bound Indie Kid’s Next List, Winter 2008

The above blip makes this one sound kind of boring when it’s really KIND OF AWESOME. It is like Lord of The Flies only enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong – it has its brutal moments but there’s a sense of humanity (brief glimpses of humanity) that make it a worthwhile riveting tale.




Paper Towns by John Green

Saturday, November 15th, 2008 by Miss Laura

“Quentin has loved Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were both nine years old. Now it’s the spring of their senior year, and after a night of pranks, Margo disappears, leaving a solitary clue for Quentin. He and his friends use ingenuity and creativity to search for Margo and the search culminates in a mad dash road trip to upstate New York that must be read to be believed. Both poignant and hysterical, this book is a delightful celebration of smart guys.” Indie Bound Indie Kids Next List Winter 2008

John Green is my favorite current young adult author, and I’m a sucker for his stories which are usually coming of age tales of awkward witty boys . While I still love “Looking for Alaska” more this one is hilarious. It’s full of his normal acerbic style this time featured in LISTS which made me giddy.  For example,

“She may be hot, but she is also 1. aggressively vapid, and 2. an absolute, unadulterated raging bitch. Those of us who frequent the band room have long suspected that Becca maintains her lovely figure by eating nothing but the souls of kittens and the dreams of impoverished children.”

Yeah, I definitely loved this one.




The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

Sunday, October 19th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #14

“As always, Vowell is darkly hilarious and freshly informative. She pokes fun at the buckle-shoed Puritans who first settled here, but she also tells a story of how their quirks and foibles, and love of words formed our country’s personality. her distinct and sharply witty voice makes this book an edifying delight.” — Laura DeLaney

Oh, I would have read this one any way. I freaking love Sarah Vowell and I loved this book just as much as I knew I would. Her interview on John Stewart was hilarious, and I was more than excited to finally begin this one. Also, an Asheville blogger compared Sarah Vowell to Susie Derkins in Calvin & Hobbes and I found that so incredibly apt.

My favorite quote from this book was:

“In fact, a handful of colonial New England women successfully sued for divorce on the grounds of impotence, including Ann Lane of Massachusetts Bay, who accused her husband in 1658 o failing to perform “the duties of a husband,” a detail not disputed by Mr. Lane. And speaking of marriage, in colonial New England weddings were “a civil thing,” civil unions one might say, performed by magistrates, not clergy. because a wedding wasn’t trumped up as the object in left that saves one’s soul – that would be God – but rather more like what it actually is, a change in legal status, an errand at the DMV, with cake.”

I LOVE VOWELL SO MUCH I WANT TO HAVE HER CONSONANT BABIES.




When You Are Engulfed In Flames By David Sedaris

Monday, September 8th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #9

Confession: David Sedaris’ books are my guilty pleasure.

It usually takes me a while to get into one of his books because it always comes off as too strong in the beginning, like Sedaris is trying to hard to be funny. Not this one. It starts off seamlessly and is hilarious all the way through. It ends with a diary of living in Japan as he tried to quit smoking (that’s reminiscent of his Santa Land Diaries). He decided in order to quit smoking he needed to be in a completely different environment with a completely different routine so he decided to move to Japan for a few months. It’s a hilarious recount.

As I forced myself to finish the last novel (The 19th Wife), I would tell myself that as my reward I could read “When You Are Engulfed In Flames”. What a reward it is! Like all of his books it’s not for everyone (with all the cursing), but for the right people – it’s perfection.




The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #2

“This is an unusual story about the power of love to transcend physical limitations and to transform ugliness into beauty. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder, as we are often told. This book makes you believe that simple truth.” Miriam Sontz from Indie Bound’s August 2008 Indie Next List

I really adored this one, but I can’t think of one single person who I would recommend it to. With a severely burned former porn star as its main character it’s not exactly the wholesome feel good story one likes to suggest to customers. But the people in the book who are on the cusp of “normal” society are just so intriguing, likable, and easy to relate to – whether it’s the gay viking or a fallen nun in the 13th century.

It’s part The Burn Journals (by Brent Runyon) and part “the last will and testament of a crazy homeless man.”  It doesn’t have a neatly tied happy ending, but the way this story wrapped up didn’t make me feel cheated either.




Book #64 Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Thursday, November 16th, 2006 by Miss Laura

1. Bookstore and libraries need to take this out of their “young adult” sections PRONTO.

2. If I keep reading vampire books will I lose all respect for myself? Because, to be honest, I actually quite like a lot of them.

3. I feel as if I should take a shower after that last sentence.




Book #54 The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Sunday, September 17th, 2006 by Miss Laura

After seeing this one on countless bestseller and bookclub of the month lists, I decided to try it out knowing that such a touted memoir must be one which firmly knotted the old heart-strings.

Walls was the second oldest of her four siblings born to a college educated mother who was hellbent to never use her teaching degree as she was an Artiste and an alcoholic big-idea father. I did not think that any parents would frustrate me more than the mother in the novel, Towelhead (see Book #36) but oh how wrong I was. The children basically starved and lived in incredibly destitue dire circumstances (no electricity, no indoor plumbing, huge holes in the roof over where they slept, little to no food, no medical treatment on serious injuries, having their money stolen by their own parents, being molested by countless people including their own grandmother and uncle, having their father send them up with a man who he knew was going to make sexual advances on his young daughter, etc.) All by an educated couple who if they had put their own selfishness aside would have been able to support their children. In fact, the mother owned land worth over a million dollars which she refused to sell or even live on. Instead, her children starved.

It’s an intriguing memoir to read mostly because the way it is told. There’s no self pity or whining. It’s just laid out there. Of course, what was really sad was that I realized that I grew up with many children who were in same financial cirucumstances as I also grew up in the very rural Appalachian mountains. Unfortunately, I was about as thoughtless as the Walls classmates when it came to their struggle. That’s where the pain really hit for me.




Book #50 Lady Sings The Blues by Billie Holiday

Monday, September 4th, 2006 by Miss Laura

1. This is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of this book (first done in 1956.) The CD which comes along with this is a TRIBUTE cd so there’s no actual singing by Billie Holiday – Boooo!

2. Billie Holiday was a bad ass who I wouldn’t want to have ever pissed off.

3. I really wish life, government, and a racist society hadn’t been such a bitch to her.





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