Monthly Archives: March 2015

Slaughterhouse Five

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Slaughterhouse Five

“So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe,” says the narrator in Slaughterhouse Five. This quote sums up one of the main themes in the novel quite nicely. Trying to cope with his life and especially his experiences in WWII, Billy Pilgrim becomes unstuck in time. He creates a new universe where he can travel back in forth in time to escape the situation he’s in. His time travel lets Billy conveniently escape whatever situation he doesn’t want to deal with, like visiting with his mother in the hospital. When each time shift occurs, it’s interrelated to whatever Billy happens to be thinking about or experiencing. Billy’s thoughts are heavily influenced by his favorite author, Kilgore Trout. Billy even states the similarities between his time on Tralfamadore and Trout’s novels, in particular the novel called The Big Board. 

Slaughterhouse Five was my first foray into Vonnegut and I have to say it was amazing. This novel really got me thinking and analyzing making my English major kick in big time. There were so many themes and symbols that were just beautiful in the novel, like the one above. The other symbol I really liked in the book connected to this theme of mortality. Billy is talking to the Tralfamadorians about why they chose him to take back to their planet. The Tralfamadorians explain that every moment simply is. Like being an insect trapped in amber. This was a perfect way to explain Billy’s experiences in WWII, forever encasing him and connecting him to the tragedy of Dresden.

The narrative style of Slaughterhouse Five presents itself like a stream of consciousness writing but is very cleverly mapped out. The narrator begins the story providing the background and then the novel jumps to Billy Pilgrim and his experiences, with the narrator interjecting into Billy’s narrative making the story more universal.

I won’t give away any more about the novel because I really think you need to go pick it up and read it. Vonnegut is an amazing writer with such a unique voice and command of his own style. After finishing Slaughterhouse Five, I immediately wanted to read more of his novels. Perhaps I’ll get to explore more of the fourth dimension. So it goes.

Stay tuned for the next installment in Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Breaking the Ban

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Breaking the Ban

The next book on the agenda is a banned book. I chose Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. I’ve actually never read Vonnegut before not did I read this novel in high school or even during college. This category was difficult for me to narrow down my choices. It seemed like everyday I would change the book I had on my list to something different. But when I saw this sitting on the library shelf I told myself, this is the one.

I’ve heard so much about the author and this book I’m excited to start. I feel like I’ve missed a cultural milestone. So many people I know have read this book and were surprised that I’ve never read it. My hope is that this book will open up the world of Vonnegut for me and give me a new, beloved author to read and discover.

Stay tuned for the review of Slaughterhouse Five. Happy reading!

Un Lun Dun

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Un Lun Dun

Un Lun Dun is a magical blend of Alice in Wonderland and Fern Gully. A tale where it’s not the chosen hero who saves the day but the unlikely sidekicks who band together to fight the forces of darkness. Un Lun Dun begins as many books about heroes and villains. The unwitting young hero doesn’t know that she is the chosen one from another land who must fight to save that land from destruction. In this case that hero is Zanna. She is the chosen one or, in this novel, the Schwazzy. She has to travel to Un Lun Dun, London’s counter city, and save them from the dreaded Smog. Except that’s not how it happens. The chosen one is taken out of the quest early on leaving Un Lun Dun vulnerable. It’s Zanna’s friend Deeba who discovers the nasty plot to destroy Un Lun Dun and it’s Deeba who travels to the counter city to warn them of what’s to come.

The foe in this story is the dreaded Smog, very much like Fern Gully. Many of the scenes with the Smog in this book made me think of Fern Gully and that oil monster thing that tries to take over the forest. Essentially, the Smog in Un Lun Dun is excess from the city of London itself. The byproduct of industry that has no where else to go. And like any good villain, the Smog grows stronger and stronger and can only be vanquished by one particular weapon. One thing I loved so much about this novel was how Mieville cast aside all fantasy quest tropes. First, Mieville diverts the normal heroine trope and has the sidekick save the day, not with her chosen one powers but with common sense and compassion. Then, Mieville decides to have his new sidekick heroine just skip all the normal quests that the chosen one would’ve had to complete in order to defeat the Smog and go straight to the final task. Because who wants to waste time and energy completing all the tasks just to get to the last one?

Un Lun Dun was such a fun read and makes me want to look up more books by this author. His characters are well mapped out, especially Deeba his unlikely heroine, and the story has a very satisfying ending, with the possibility of a sequel thrown in if the author should decide.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment in Book Battle 2015! Happy reading!

First Foray into Top Ten Tuesday

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First Foray into Top Ten Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone! I’m so excited to finally contribute to Top Ten Tuesday. I’ve seen this post from so many bloggers I follow that I decided it was about time I get in on it as well. This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books From My Childhood That I Would Like to Revisit. Be prepared for some waves of nostalgia. In no particular order here are some of my absolute favorite books from childhood.

nancy drew

1. The Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene

I was so absurdly obsessed with Nancy Drew as a kid. It was my goal to own every single mystery ever penned by the many authors who were Carolyn Keene. Nancy was always so effortlessly confident and in charge, and always managed to solve the mystery.

harry potter

2. The entire Harry Potter series

I include these books because I started them in elementary school and went on from there. I loved the world of magic and courage that Rowling created. I was one of those kids waiting for my letter to arrive by owl through the chimney.

wayside school

3. Sideways Stories from Wayside School

My third grade teacher introduced me to these books and I immediately fell in love with them. The school where nothing is ever quite what you think it is and everyone has a story, from the students to the staff.

dollhouse

4. The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

I must have read this book at least a dozen times in elementary school. It had all the elements. It was scary, it had a mystery, dark pasts, family secrets, and a very creepy right out of Are You Afraid of the Dark dollhouse. One of my favorite childhood reads.

christina lattimore

5. The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon

Joan Lowery Nixon was the queen of suspense for the elementary aged kid. I read as many of her books as I could get my hands on. The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore is one of my favorites by Nixon. A girl gets kidnapped but then no one believes her, including her parents. So it’s up to her to prove the world that what she’s saying is the truth.

wacky wednesday

6. Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Suess

A combination of I Spy and pure magic, Dr. Suess’s Wacky Wednesday will forever remain one of my favorite childhood reads. I could read this book for hours trying to find all of the things written on the page in the pictures. So much entertainment jam packed into such a small book.

two minute mysteries

7. Two Minute Mysteries by Donald J. Sobol

I first got one of these books at my elementary school’s book fair. It’s so simple but the mysteries are ingeniously thought out. I pictured myself as a tiny Sherlock Holmes. These books went with me on many a family road trip tucked into the backseat.

ella enchanted8. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

This book was also purchased at a book fair. It only took the first chapter for me to fall head over heels for this magical little book. What a great re-working and re-weaving of popular fairy tales.

boxcar

9. The Boxcar Children series  by Gertrude Chandler Warner

These books are like a staple in every elementary school teacher’s classroom library. I started reading these in the first grade and would take out as many as the school library would let me. I loved the mystery and adventure the characters encountered in the series.

Beezus_and_Ramona

10. The Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary

I loved Ramona’s antics and her crazy schemes. Her character just flew off the page and right into my imagination. She was spunky and knew what she wanted and how she was going to get it. I also watched the TV show Ramona to add in a bit more Ramona fun.

What were some of your favorite books from childhood? Have you read any of the ones on my list? Let me know in the comments section. Happy Reading!

Mixing Up Some Magic

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Mixing Up Some Magic

The next category I’ve chosen in Book Battle 2015 is a book with magic. I’ve decided on China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun. This book was recommended to me years ago and for some reason I never picked it up. I’ve decided to right that wrong and finally read it.

Un Lun Dun sounds like a mixture of Alice in Wonderland and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Two girls, the chosen one Zanna and her friend Deeba, find themselves falling through the looking glass and onto the magical streets of Un Lun Dun. Un Lun Dun is a foil of London itself and is a place where things people discard end up and are put to use. Everything that is lost and broken finds it’s way to Un Lun Dun in what the Un Lun Duners call moil. With the arrival of Zanna and her friend Deeba, Un Lun Dun sees the arrival of the hero they’ve been waiting for to end a battle that might destroy their world.

I’ve never read a book by China Mieville before and am excited to do so. I love finding new authors to include in my repertoire of books. I feel like so often I stay with the same authors or the same genre that it’s nice to find something and someone different to push me out of the nest.

Stay tuned for the review of Un Lun Dun for some magical fun! Happy reading!

Ghost World

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Ghost World

Well this was an interesting adventure into a new genre. The only other graphic novel I’ve read was the Persepolis series in college, which are fantastic. They tell the story of a girl growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution.

Ghost World is also a coming of age tale but with a decidedly ’90s American teen angst bent. Maybe I’m not the right age group for this graphic novel because it wasn’t my favorite. I did enjoy parts of it but it was hard to get into and relate to the two female protagonists. A majority of the beginning is just the two friends saying how much they hate everyone around them while simultaneously hanging around some very interesting/disturbing characters. And yes this does set the scene for growth later on in the novel but it also makes it harder, at least for me, to relate to them.

In the beginning, Enid and Rebecca are inseparable best friends from childhood who have no real plans for the future so they basically wallow in their lives and make up stories about those around them so that they themselves seem more interesting. It wasn’t until about 2/3rds of the way through the graphic novel that the plot became a bit more meaningful, at least for me. Enid decides that she wants to go to college which creates a rift between the friends because Rebecca still has no idea what her future plans are. Ultimately, they grow apart because of this rift and, at least at the end of this novel, are unable to quite put their friendship back together.

This was the most real part of the book and a difficult part of growing up. As everyone leaves high school, each friend is going a different direction and the things that used to hold you close together now tear you apart. The theme of impermanence in the world and in our lives was the best part of this graphic novel for me.

Has anyone read this graphic novel or have suggestions for some great graphic novels they’ve read? Please comment below!

Rating: 3/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading?

Bringing Back the ’90s

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Bringing Back the ’90s

This category was a tough one for me to find. The graphic novel genre is a lot bigger than I thought it was, which made it difficult for me to narrow down a novel that really interested me. At first I really wanted to read Fables by Neil Gaiman, because he’s amazing, but I could only find the second volume. For me, I always want to read the books in order whether or not they need to be that way. The ultimate decision ended up being what my local library had, which was Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. I remember when I was a kid people talking about this graphic novel and the movie with Thora Birch. But other than that I don’t really know anything about it.

From the back it sounds like this graphic novel is going to pack a lot of punch. It’s a coming of age story about two teenage girls who are facing the uncertain future of adulthood. Flipping through the book it definitely looks ’90s-tastic, which brings me back. I’m excited to see what this exploration of the graphic novel has in store. Happy reading!