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Monday, May 14, 2012

October Mourning: A song for Matthew Shepard

On Sunday, October 11, 1998, the author Leslea Newman was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the University of Wyoming's Gay Awareness Week. Matthew Shepard died the next day, as a result of the brutal beating he had sustained six days before.
Newman's incredible collection of poems, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard,  brings back the outrage, horror, and the tragedy of that night through a myriad of voices. The fence that held Matthew as he hung, tied, through the long night. The stars looking down on him, mothers, fathers, townspeople, so many voices all focused on this one, horrific event and the guilt and pain that resulted.
Deeply, deeply moving, this is a stunning collection, and a beautiful tribute to a dark event. As sad as it is (I cried more than once) the focus is on tolerance and growth. Teens who were too young at the time would be well served by reading this book.

My food rating is the Passover meal. This solemn,  ritual feast commemorates an important event. The bitter herbs are especially appropriate to the story of Matthew Shepard.

5 stars.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'Starters' by Lissa Price

Can I just start by saying this is a terrible cover? Awful design, the person looks ugly and fake, and it has pretty much nothing to do with the book. In fact, I thought this would be a robot book at first. Plus, the little phrase is unrelated to the plot. 'Survival is just the beginning.' Ugh.

So, the summary tells me that this book is set in a post-apocalypse setting. There's a girl and her younger brother (the brother being near death) hiding from authorities that will... what? Kill them? It was never clear why they were hiding.
Anyways, to get money, the girl (Callie) sells her body. No, it's not prostitution. Her body is now a rental body that rich old people can enter and live in for a bit. The organization that controls this operation is called Prime Destinations.

This is definitely a good start. The plot is creative and full of opportunities for self-reflection, nuance, and moral issues. Heck, I think this book could even go to the level of Miyazaki, if well played.

However, the book immediately (well, not immediately, I guess - more on that later) plunged into "Oh golly Prime Destinations is so evil!" There's no thought, no real conflict (plenty of angst, though) - I would classify this book more as a chick flick book than a fantasy, adventure - whatever the book portrayed itself as in the beginning. Oh yeah, there's a love triangle. Naturally, Cassie is in the middle of it - and she obviously doesn't respect herself (love triangle wise) so I find it hard to respect her.
Also, the world is poorly built. Nothing is fully explained (as I mentioned earlier), so you can't form a picture in your head. I ended up putting a stereotypical dark gray, ashy, dead city apocalypse setting in my head - which didn't entirely fit the book. Thus, coherence was lost.

Shortly after Cassie sells her body to Prime Destinations, she is immersed in multiple conspiracies, romances, and betrayals. Sure, she doesn't know who to trust - I'm okay with that. What I ablsolutely despised was that Cassie would trust one side with all her heart - be traumatized at her betrayal and move to side 2 (whom she would also trust with all her heart) - then be traumatized at being betrayed and go back to side 1 (and trust with all her heart - you get the picture). It's so cliche, so dramatic, so.... obvious. It's boring!
In the end, I hated the book, I hated the plot, I hated all the characters, and most of all I hated Cassie. Don't read this book.

I would rate this a 1. Perhaps a Sadaharu Aoki caramel macaron (see link). It's wonderful, you expect it to at the very least be a decent dessert. Instead, you get a stale and hard shell, burnt caramel, disgusting flavor... You go from excited to ready-to-vomit. There are so many better desserts to eat (or, in this case, books to read) - don't even bother picking this one up.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Peculiars

 By Maureen Doyle McQuerry

A story about an 18 year-old girl living in an alternate universe. She runs away to find her dad on her 18th birthday, bringing along her fingers with their extra knuckle and her sensitive, super long feet. On the train to Scree, the forest inhabited by supernatural beings named Peculiars. So starts the tale of Lena Mattacascar, who according to her grandmother has goblin blood. On the train to the edge of Scree, she meets a helpful, kind soul named Jimson Quiggly. Then, their fates are twined together and all that and life is good. Until they start getting shot at. Then they have to escape to Scree where Lena hopes all of her truths and answers lie.

In my opinion, this book was really, very good. The characters are so there that you feel like you know them. Also, the story itself is inspiring and involving. What I really liked is that right up until the very last page, McQuerry pushed the action. Literally, right until the last two or three paragraphs, I was certain this would be a series. (If it is, yay!) But then the author ended it off quite nicely. I give it a 4.3 on the number scale.

As for my food, it is a taster tray. You start it out and you aren't too excited about it... But then, you get to the second thing and it's like, Oh Em Gee! And you get all excited about it and you just love the taste, then you eat it all up. The next food, you eat, it's more of a mellow taste. And you feel like there's something to be desired. However, you eat the final bite, and you don't know what it is, but in that one bite is a delightful taste that just wraps the whole taster dish together. And then you're like, Give me more! Because, you just love the book so much.

When I read this book, it was a ARC. However, it came out this month, maybe it hasn't come out yet, but it comes out in May. I highly recommend it.

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