Thursday, July 12, 2012

Insurgent Review

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)


One choice can transform you, or destroy you. Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves, and herself, while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
 My Review: 8.5/10 
It was a little slow going for the first half and Tris was really irritating me with the constant contradictions (ie I am strong, I am not strong. I can do this, but I can't do this). It was a whole lot of nothing. Maybe I'm not very compassionate and/or maybe it was supposed to show her confusion and numbness, but I really just found it ineffective and annoying. The second half was so much better. I liked the conversations with Jeanine. And I thought the ending was great too. If nothing else, I would at least say that this book stands alone and does not succumb to the "middle book syndrome." Looking forward to reading "Detergent" when it comes out in a little over a year. :]

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Help

I finally got to read the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Don't worry, I'm not going to provide plot synopsis or spoilers. This is a quick enough read that you should check it out for yourself.
The Help
There are several different covers you may see: This one,

this one,
Or this one.

It was just as good as I'd heard. I'm not usually a fan of books written from multiple points of view, preferring to connect with one person at a time, but this was done well and I felt it was appropriate. I love period pieces. Usually I prefer ones written then over those that are simply set in a particular time period for two reasons. First, the more obvious issue is anachronisms. I like to learn about daily life in history and it doesn't help if I learn it wrong because the writers don't do thorough enough research. More troubling is when the mindsets are off.

(For example, I have had a hard time getting my hands on the original Nancy Drew books, because they are rare. Thankfully, they have reprinted the originally published books (though they are still hard to find) because fans have complained that the politically-correct, watered down versions that had replaced the originals since 1959 are a poor imitation. Yes, there is racism and stereotyping, but those books unapologetically represent a worldview from back then. They show how far we've come and help to explain why things were the way they were, why people thought and behaved the way they did. Which brings me to the point. I've been disappointed by a tendency to put a modern heroine or a heroine that holds none of the cultural influences of that time, in a period novel. It throws everything off.)

Though I cannot say for sure, since I was not alive during the 60's and apart from Nancy Drew books, I have not read a lot of work from that particular time period, I thought Stockett did a wonderful job with both lifestyle and mentality of 3 very different cultures from the time: the black women, southern white women and northern white women. I brand Skeeter a northern white woman despite being born and raised in the south because of her desire to live up north and the way that fits in with the northern movements and culture more and more throughout the book. It was insightful and impactful and fascinating. I liked that Skeeter was different but not in an unheard-of way. She was strong but still doubted herself, which made her relatable. It's human nature to want to be accepted and liked, but I have so much respect for an author who shows the reality of isolation, rejection, and dealing with it. Not to mention, sacrifice for a worthy cause never fails to be inspiring. I think it says a lot when a book about writing a book makes me wish I could also read the fictitious book.

I'm not sure if it's realistic, but I was worried about graphic violence and I was relieved to see that while it was present, it was in the periphery and not where the book was ultimately leading.

Now I have to hunt down the movie! I'm glad I held off seeing it until I could read the book, but I have faith- Emma Stone is one of my favorite actresses and I trust that she will do Skeeter justice.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

.... Part deux

My highschool French rears its ugly head at the oddest of moments, I'll admit.

Moving on.We were on the topic of June highlights.

*I had two successful Premier shows, which were low key and fun. I was a little nervous because I'd been out of practice; I had 3 shows in May, two of which were cancelled, and one of which really amounted to nothing. Long story. So really, it had been over TWO MONTHS since my last show. It was really good though. I finally feel like I'm getting back in the swing of things.

*The girls got to go to a birthday party and we took them to see Annie at the Benedum last week. I was still really sick, so it was kind of torturous for me, but they LOVED it. Also, Sally Struthers of Gilmore fame ("Babette") played Miss Hannigan, which was so neat to see. We were invited to the cast after party, but I was too sick to go. I still feel kinda bummed about that.

*And the girls have gotten to spend a lot of time with Grandma lately. Pam takes them for the day on most Saturdays and they look forward to it all week. It's been nice for me of course, because I get some kiddo-free time, which usually involves getting caught up on housework/house projects. But it's been so wonderful, because I've felt so guilty for years; our parents were not ready to be grandparents- they were all still raising kids of their own. And I felt so bad that we robbed our daughters of having those relationships and memories that were so important to me when I was growing up. But now it seems like things are falling into place. I couldn't be more grateful to Pam for finding time in her crazy busy schedule to see them consistently. It means so, so much to them and to me.

So those are the highlights. Apart from two book posts, it will probably be a while til I post another update- July is kind of jam packed. We've got a lot to look forward to and a lot to be thankful for. Hope everyone else is enjoying their summer!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Monthly Report

It has gotten to the point that the majority of my posts are an update from a period of a month or more. This means that, as I'm not creative enough to think of varying synonyms for "Update", rather than have 12 posts with the same name, I've had to enlist the help of my trusty thesaurus. I'm sure that if I keep this pace up, the titles will stray further and further from the initial intent, as I run out of similar words. Like a game of telephone. :]

Anyway, I believe it was my last post that officially put me over the edge of writing more this year than I did last year. And, though they all seemed to be posted at once, I was staying pretty consistent with about 3 posts a month. If you remember, these were two conditions for one of my NYR regarding this blog. So I patted myself on the back and subsequently slacked off.

I wish I could say that we were incredibly busy enjoying summer and I just haven't had the time to write about it. In reality, I spent more than two weeks being really sick with what must have been the flu because a full course of antibiotics only seemed to make it angry. We have hardly gone anywhere or done much of anything. The good news is that as of today, I am finally feeling functional and 99% better. And the whole month wasn't wasted.

Some highlights for June:

*I've gotten into a really good rhythm of plugging in at Training Meetings for Premier. I meet my with my "step-family" every other Monday and it has been SO helpful. It constantly provides me with encouragement, ideas and keeps my mind focused on Premier. I also have monthly meetings with my Premier "Mama", "sister" and "baby" which is fun too.

*I've gotten to have several dates with Jon, which is amazing because I don't think it's been like this since before we had Ella. I know it's only temporary until classes start back up next month, but I have been loving every second of this more traditional schedule. We got to go to a BoyzIIMen concert after a Pirates game (and they're finally playing well, so that made it even more exciting :] )

*We were able to go to Bible Study on Wednesday nights as a family. I miss seeing my dad there, and I don't know what he's been up to. It's not the same without him. But I've been appreciative that Jon has been able to see firsthand something that I've been investing my time in.

*We've both been able to see friends of ours that we have not seen in way too long. I love that have somehow been blessed with relationships that are strong enough to endure even though we have not been able to invest nearly anything in them over the years. We're hoping that we will have time to change that now. Shills, Kate, Ian, and B- thanks for being so patient with us. Love you guys!

*On top of that I've been building some new friendships too. I think I have to count Jacki as new- it had been about two years to the day since we'd last talked and much longer since we'd spent any time together. Not sure about her yet, but I know I've changed a lot, mostly in this last year. Truthfully, I've oftened wondered why she would even want to be friends with me now, because I can't see that we have much in common anymore. But I'm not opposed to the idea, so I guess it will be for her to decide as she gets to know me better now. It is a little awkward, I'll admit. Kind of like going back to a childhood home and seeing echoes of your memories even though another family has moved in and made it their own. Part of me wants to fall into step with how it used to be. Easy. Effortless. Natural. But that's not me anymore. And honestly, I don't want what I had. It was broken beyond repair. Even though I've healed, you can't go back. But it seems to me that God has been pretty determined to put us back in each other's lives and I trust Him. I'm still wary and nervous and I have no idea what to expect. But knowing what we had, I'm hopeful that with a clean, fresh beginning, it will be stronger and somehow, completely different.

As a direct result, I finally met the famous Erin. That was a little weird too,  but in a good way. I had wanted to meet her years ago, so it was kind of strange, like "Gee I already feel like I know you reaaallly well, even though we've never spoken." I kind of wondered if she'd live up to the hype, because apart from Jacki/Casey, I can't remember ever having the same taste in friends as either of them. Which is weird to look back on, because we definitely rotated in the same social circles, but I don't think I'd have called any of the others my friends. Anyway, Erin is awesome. Offbeat, smart and funny. And she talks as fast as Jacki which I find impressive. :P And she likes books. Which is sadly not common, at least in the people I come in contact with. I have met many people who like to proclaim that they're readers, but when I ask for some recommendations, they draw a blank. I don't understand this. Being a "reader" does not automatically make you smart or make people respect you. Kind of seems like a dumb thing to exaggerate/lie about. It's become a pet peeve of mine when people try to define themselves in ways like this ("at work, I'm the girl that's always reading during her lunch breaks") and project a character that is not at all in line with who they really are. It's annoying. It's like, if that's the person you want to be, then make the effort to be that and stop with the smoke and mirrors. I have never had much patience for insincere, unathentic fakes. But having been fooled by a few in particular has certainly not helped with that. Tangent, sorry.

This post is far too long already, so I think I will split it into two.