Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pick Your Poison!

I have quite a few book reviews to get through, so I'm going to put a few short reviews together. Today I'm giving you a mashup of three books that couldn't be more different :p A children's book that's sweet with a heart of gold, a horrific tale of death and destruction, and a young adult dystopic tale that stole my heart. So here you go...

First up is Kate DiCamillo's new book, Flora & Ulysses. Every time Kate DiCamillo puts out a new novel, it's a cause for celebration in my eyes. She truly has a special gift. All of her tales have a little something extra to them that just pulls at you....something that just makes the story so relatable to that part of you that's struggled with something at some point in your life and overcame it. Or if you didn't overcome it and you still struggle with it, she makes the load a little bit easier by giving you something to relate to.

In this tale, she gives us Flora, a young girl who is the child of a mother who's a romance novel author and often cold and distant and recently divorced from her father, a man she loves but doesn't get to see often now since the divorce. Flora loves comic books but her mother thinks they're useless and wants to put a stop to her reading them. One day while looking out the window, Flora sees her neighbor vacuum up a squirrel into her vacuum cleaner. Flora immediately puts to use the rescue techniques she's learned from reading her comics and saves the squirrel who gets named after the vacuum cleaner, Ulysses.

What follows is a beautiful, often hilarious tale of friendship and a search for balance between Flora and her new friend, the super hero squirrel, Ulysses. I love what DiCamillo did with this tale too, telling it in alternation novel and comic form. The illustrations were fantastic, which they normally are with her novels and this story truly stole my heart.

Ready for a shift of gears? The second book I'm reviewing today is Carrie by Stephen King. I'm not Carrie, as I'm sure most people are familiar with it. It's become one of those stories that everyone knows. In a sentence, young telekinetic girl forever protected by her religiously crazed mother seeks revenge on her town after they humiliate her to the extreme. Though there's much more to the story than that and what I learned from reading King's book is that Hollywood can be real assholes. Well, I always knew that, but this was just reassurance of that fact.
going to bother giving you the plot summary of

I have to hand it to Stephen King for what he did with this novel. I also didn't realize that this was actually his first published novel. Carrie and her mother have both always been represented in the movies as stick figures, plain jane girls. And there's nothing wrong with that. Some people have that body type naturally....except...King describes Carrie in the novel as being overweight but still being attractive and having a "striking" appearance despite being "plain". He describes her mother as being overweight to the point of it putting pressure on her ankles. When I read that it just struck me that Hollywood really does everything it can to NOT ever show an overweight person in an attractive light...unless that's the "point" of the movie. There can never just be a female who's overweight and attractive or just herself without the weight being an issue and I'd love to see that happen one day. And kudos to Stephen King for doing just that back in the 1970s. I smiled a little when I read that in this bloodbath of a novel.

Finally, I NEED to tell you all about Francesca Lia Block's new novel, Love in the Time of Global Warming. OMG guys, it's so good. Go get your hands on it right now. This is a tale of the world after something has gone very wrong. You're never sure exactly what's happened, but some type of biological experiment has gone wrong (or right maybe), eradicating most of the population and leaving behind a group of giants out to claim the world as their own.

But Pen has woken up alive and at first she's positive that she's the only person left alive. Her parents and brother are gone. As she searches her city, Los Angeles, for any sign of life or just for food for herself, she soon meets a boy named Hex, and later they'll meet a few more survivors. But as they struggle to stay alive themselves and hope to maybe find their own loved ones, she notices that she's beginning to have feelings for Hex.

I wish I could tell you more about this novel, but I can't. It's one you have to read for yourself. However, I can tell you that it's Francesca Lia Block at her best doing what Block does best, and that's focusing on her characters. About halfway through the novel is when I fell in love with it...and that was when a character was developed even more fully and the way she handled the situation. Block is true treasure of our generation and I'm just so happy to be along for the ride as she continues to give us stories that will always stay with me.


Snowball said...

I'm one of those readers who despises movies made from books I've read, especially Stephen King adaptations. His character are his strength. I especially like how they are never all bad or all good.

Unfortunately, my budget makes me wait for all the wonderful new books you make me want to read. My list is nearing critical mass! With ebooks, our library's selection is improving, but it still has limited offerings.

Beth F said...

I don't do King (I'm such a wimp) but I did read the Block book. I loved the way Pen developed and her feelings for her family, especially her brother.

Debi said...

Really can't wait to get my hands on Love in the Time of Global Warming. Really. :)

Vasilly said...

All three of these books sound like they need to be on my shelves! King is such a fantastic writer.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I'll definitely read the Francesca Lia Block one! I read a book by her earlier this year and enjoyed it much more than I expected to (although still not without reservations), and it made me want to try more by her.

Bookfool said...

Flora and Ulysses sounds so fun! Dicamillo does have a special touch. I absolutely hated the one book I read by Francesca Lia Block but I think it was part of a series and maybe I just didn't get it because I read out of order. Hard to say. If I try her again, it'll be via the library.

Susan said...

I love Carrie! I've seen the old movie (which I do enjoy) and read the book at least twice. He does do girls so well, doesn't he? The cruelty in the bathrooms - *shiver* so true to life. And the religious mania mama - like everyone's worst nightmare of a mother. I think this is one of his most under-rated books, and it's a pity, because it's clever as well as horrific, and has moments of kindness and sympathy too. Much better than it has been portrayed by most reviewers. So delighted you love it, Chris! :-)

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf said...

The Francesca Lia Block sounds amazing, but I was so conflicted about the writing style in the Weetzy Bat books (though I loved the characters), I'll have to download a sample or something first