31 July 2011

Does My Head Look Big in This – By: Randa Abdel-Fattah (Fiction)

This is a great Teen book about a girl who decides to commit to wearing the hijab halfway through her junior year of high-school.  Our heroine’s inner dialogue is both realistic and funny as she goes through her daily activities and challenges, all with new headwear. This decision makes her a very public target for people with political and religious animosity for whom she has now become a symbol rather than a person.

I loved the themes in this book. Amal is just a girl, and the author depicts her in many different situations, all while living in the best way she knows how. This story goes far beyond the basic premise and presents a wonderful portrait of people at their worst, as well as their best.

Bookwyrm Rating – Appetizer  

28 July 2011

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World – By: John Baxter (Nonfiction)

If you’re looking for a calm and happy read, this is a good place to start. The subject is the author’s time as a literary tour guide for pedestrians in Paris.  The chapters weave in and out of his family life and his time as a guide, as well as some anecdotes about Parisian history. Reading this book feels like you’ve gone on a long, pleasant walk with the author, and you finish relaxed and refreshed.

The language of this book is also noteworthy; the author has a true gift for arranging words. The reader slowly wades through each chapter, feeling as if they too could walk through Mr. Baxter's Paris.  Each phrase seems to perfectly evoke the situation without the kind overindulgence that can become boring. This is not a quick read however; you would truly miss the flavor if you go through it too quickly. The author makes you slow down to properly enjoy it. What else could you ask from a book about a beautiful walk?

Bookwyrm Rating - Haute Cuisine

21 July 2011

Pride and Prejudice - By: Jane Austen (Fiction)

Why has it taken me so long to read this? I don’t know, but it has. Well now I’ve read it and I’m here to tell you that if YOU haven’t read it, you really should. When people talk about this book it’s always with a certain reverence reserved only for The Classics; what gets lost is the fact that it is such a fun read.

This novel has it all; characters you love, even better is that it has characters to despise; situations you can sympathize with (even after 198 years), and the wittiest dialogues I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing dry or dusty about this novel.

What’s not to love? If the fear of The Classics is holding you back, I understand, but it’s so much more fun than all of that.

Bookwyrm Rating – Meat and Potatoes (because it is a Classic after all)
     Dessert (because it’s so darn fun)

17 July 2011

Things Not Seen – By: Andrew Clements (Teen Fiction)

This is a great story about a 15 year old boy named Bobby, who finds one day that he’s become invisible, and not in the fun “now I can play pranks” kind of invisible. He realizes almost immediately that this is going to be a serious problem. Outside of his family the only one he is able to confide in is a blind girl, which builds a very interesting theme. Overall I really enjoyed the story, the ideas and the outcome. The author deals with a lot of the normal teenager issues (school, parents, life in general) and then adds this surreal element to make all of our hero’s problems more pressing. While he and his family are trying to solve his invisibility issues he also figures out some of the problems that he hasn’t addressed from his ‘normal’ life.

I really enjoyed the tone of the story, Bobby is immediately forced to make some life altering decisions and he does it in a tone that’s pretty consistent with how a teenager thinks.While he does go to others for support, Bobby has to solve his own problems, which is how children’s books should be. Sometimes he’s a little bratty, but hey, he’s having a rough time.  The practical details were really fun, like how does an invisible person get around Chicago in the dead of winter? How does an invisible person use the library without attracting attention? It’s a great read, and there’s a great message in there too.

Bookwyrm Rating: Appetizer

10 July 2011

Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World - By: Lisa Bloom (Non-Fiction)

I usually stay away from inspirational and lifestyle non-fiction. Generally they make me gag just a little bit with their over the top sugary attitude, or they are so depressing that they hurt just to look at. However this topic has been on my mind so much lately I couldn’t ignore it.  As a consumer and a woman I can’t ignore the fact that almost every bit of media aimed at my demographic is promoting an insane level of concern for our looks, household chores, or celebrity gossip, yet women all over aren't demanding anything better. Where have the smart ladies gone?
                I loved Bloom’s approach to this problem.  She manages to be witty and serious, yet she approaches the problem head-on without making anyone depressed. As stated in her title, she doesn’t accuse women of being stupid, but she does encourage them to STAY smart, and throughout the book she gives them reasons and methods of doing so.  Her subject is not for the faint of heart, nor those who enjoy the status-quo, but never fear, as you read on she’ll give you the heart to want to change things up.
For further reading on this subject I also highly suggest “Cinderella Ate my Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein.

Bookwyrm Rating- Vegetables (but the really yummy kind…like French Fries)