Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

by Gregory Maguire

Wicked the novel: Take two (and a half). I received the book as a gift about seven years ago and was instantly in love with the concept. Who doesn't love The Wizard of Oz? To find out the back story was such a cool idea. I was surprised to learn that Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was first published in 1995 and I had never heard of it.

So I jumped in immediately. And almost immediately, I hated it. I mean, really hated it. I had such a difficult time with the writing style and I didn't like the political nature of the story at all. Some of the descriptions of the witch were so harsh and offensive to me. Overall, it was such a 180 from the movie that I couldn't wrap my head around it. Not that it had to be all happy and colorful with cute little Munchkins, but I certainly wasn't expecting a dark and complicated story. But I continued to read it. I was determined to finish. I was really forcing myself because I thought at some point I would start to like it because I just had to. I think it took me about six months to finish. And when I was finally done, it was like a huge weight was lifted. My obligation was complete, but I hated the book.

Then a few years ago Wicked the musical came gloriously into my life. I got the soundtrack from a friend of mine before I saw the show and instantly fell in love with the music. I've talked about this before, so fast forward to now, and I am completely obsessed with the musical. I've seen it three times with plans to go again December. I would really like to check it out in Chicago at some point too. I even own the Grimmerie. So how can I love the musical so much and hate the book to the same degree? A few close friends who have read the book loved it. What was wrong with me?

This time I was determined. I thought that if I could get through it on CD, I'd be all set. So I can finally say I got did and I definitely got more out of it on audio. I enjoyed the humorous parts that I completely missed the first time. I understood the political and religious meaning so much better. I came to understand Elphaba's flaws and strengths more. But it took me a while. Even on CD, it took me over two months to finish. I'm pretty sure I owe the library a small fortune in late fees.

I can't say I loved it, but I can say I'm glad I gave it another shot. I now might even be eager to read the next in the series: Son of a Witch. As an audiobook though, of course.

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New Moon

by Stephenie Meyer

Definitely in deep. Even though I didn't like New Moon as much as Twilight. I'm fully committed...or should I say I should be committed??

Addiction is a crazy thing. Even if it's to something as silly as a Young Adult series of novels. I find myself going to bed at a ridiculously early hour just to read (and read and read) until it's way later than it should be on a school night. Losing sleep over vampires and werewolves is not cool. But it's a fact.

Edward disappears for most of this book and Jacob is center stage in Bella's life now. Although I think he was more just a whiny, 16-year old boy. Can't say I liked Jacob very much. I missed Edward terribly. After all, that's what I am reading these books for! Gimme juicy, sparkly love.

But in the last 150 pages or so, it got interesting. So much so that I was actually reading while I was walking through the airport. Dork. I just needed to find out immediately how it ended.

There isn't much else to say that hasn't already been said by however many million people. But it's at this point that I am sure I want to rent the movie. ASAP. Oh, and I will also be going to bed early tonight to tackle Eclipse.

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by Stephenie Meyer

Yep. I too was sucked in. I feel slightly guilty being dragged into the pop culture phenomenon, but I've talked about pressure before, and I admit I always succumb.

I wasn't super jacked to read the series, mainly because I'm not a sci-fi fan (pronounced "skiffy" by my dad and me), but everyone kept telling me it was more about the love story than anything else. I ignored several recommendations until I finally gave in when a coworker read all 4 books in less than a week.

I obviously don't need to include a synopsis here. I don't think there's a person on earth who doesn't know what Twilight is about. But crazily enough, I liked it. The chemistry between Edward and Bella made my heart pound. It was almost tangible and, as my friend described it, it's the constant anticipation of your first kiss. Being written at about the fourth grade level was also a bonus for me; averaging around 100 pages a day. I've never read a book that quickly!

One other comment I have: I really enjoyed Bella's overall independence, but she's also a total goody-goody. Really, at 17, making dinner and doing chores without being asked?? No teenager does that.

So it's for sure. I'm reading the next three without stopping. Stay tuned. And don't judge me.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Crying Tree

by Naseem Rakha

Lately I feel like I just don't enough time to read. Work and sleep get in the way! I could literally sit on a beach for an entire day (every day) and read until my heart's content. But alas, I need to make money.

Books like this one take me by surprise and make me want to read cover-to-cover in one sitting. I nearly did read The Crying Tree in one sitting; at least for me, 3 days is a short amount of time!
I was up way too late on a school night because I couldn't wait one more day to learn how the book ended.

The Stanley family live in rural Illinois just like the generations before them. One day Nate, the patriarch, announces that the family is moving to Oregon where he will become deputy sheriff of a small town. Irene, his wife, vehemently opposes this idea while their teenage children aren't so keen on the idea either. The family finally relents and they leave their family, home and friends. Not long after the move, the Stanley house is robbed and Shep, the son, who is unfortunately in the house, is murdered. It doesn't take long to find the suspect, who gets put on trial and receives the death penalty. For 19 years the family struggles to move on without their son. When Irene realizes that she can't harbor the hatred she has for the murderer, she feels she has no other choice but to forgive him. She and Daniel Robbin form a strange bond that seems to comfort Irene. Finally, Robbin's execution is scheduled and the Stanley family must decide if they want to be witnesses.

I won't give any more of the plot away, but be assured that the story takes a few very interesting turns. It's a really quick read, well-written and poignant story.

(This book isn't scheduled to release until July 2009, but I was lucky enough to get my hands on an Advanced Reader Copy.)

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