“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

9781416550600_p0_v11_s1200x630.jpgI honestly did not expect to finish this book before next week, but it was better than I expected it to be and I wrapped it up a little early.

Of course, I wanted to read it because I saw the trailer for the movie of the same name and apparently a lot of other people felt the same way, because I had a hold on this book at the library for almost two months before it actually came my way. Before I started the book, really all I knew was that it was a memoir.

The book chronicles Jeannette Walls’s childhood, which consisted mostly of living in rundown houses and moving place to place in the desert with little or no notice to evade creditors and the law. About half the book covers her first 10 or so years, and it amazes me how much she recalls from that time. I’m assuming she got some help from other family members who were there, because I sure know I can’t remember that much about my life when I was that young. She grows up with her parents, older sister, and younger brother and sister.

Next up, the family moves to Welch, West Virginia, where Jeannette’s father grew up. Throughout it all, the family is poor and neither parent seems to be able to hold down a job. The house they live in has no running water or indoor plumbing, spontaneous electricity (depending on whether the power bill was paid or not), and holes in the roof that let in water whenever it rains.

Eventually, Jeannette’s sister Lori, who is an artist, decides that she wants out of West Virginia, and the kids hatch a plan to send her to New York. Of course, their parents try to sabotage them, but she makes it anyway, with Jeannette soon to follow.

Maybe my point of view is skewed because I grew up with a supportive parent and never wanted for anything, but I almost hate Jeannette’s parents. It seemed like more often than not, the kids went hungry (Jeannette mentions literally digging around in the school trash trying to find food for lunch) while Rex, her father, drank all their money away, when they even had money. Rose Mary, Jeannette’s mother, had a teaching certificate, but hated teaching and would throw temper tantrums when her children tried to make her go to work so they could put food on the table. Instead, she claimed she was an artist, but an artist who was also unemployed and never seemed to sell any of her work. The parents were unaffected by the multiple sexual assaults that Jeannette faced, and seemed unconcerned that they were dirty and unclean and happened to get into lots of fights with other kids.

I just can’t believe a parent would be so selfish and do such a poor job of taking care of their children. It seemed like the kids had a stronger head on their shoulders than either of the parents. They were the ones focused on budgeting money and bettering their own situations, while Rex was gone for days at a time and Rose Mary announced that she was going to “focus more on herself,” even though she barely made any contributions to begin with. It’s just outstanding to me that people like this exist, but it makes Jeannette all the more impressive for not falling into that trap and doing well for herself, despite the situation she was raised in.

Jeannette’s young adult years are barely chronicled, but by the end of the book, the family has gotten back together to celebrate Thanksgiving. They are not necessarily a close family, and each has gone their own way, but none seem to hold much resentment for their past.

The book is just astounding at some points and almost seems like a work of fiction, but I don’t even know if an author could come up with some of the experiences that the Walls kids went through. Definitely a good book, though.

Off to read more books,
Maegan

 

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“The Second Summer of the Sisterhood” by Ann Brashares

5454This book, the second in a series of four, picks up the summer after the last book (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) ended. The stories are only told throughout the summer, so we don’t know much of the characters’ lives during that time.

They’re set up that way because everything revolves around the Traveling Pants, which are only worn during summer. It’s pretty ironic that the only time these girls wear jeans is during the sweltering summer. Especially considering one of the rules of the pants is that you can never wash them. I mean ew.

But anyway, the four characters are Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget, and of course they have some shenanigans during the summer. Here’s what they are up to this go around:

  • Tibby — Attending some kind of summer film school at a college nearish. Friendzones one of her best friends and acts like a poser for a while. Offends her mother and then makes a documentary about Bailey, who she met the summer before.
  • Lena — Got a summer job at a clothing store (thanks to her mom) and then proceeds to be the worst employee ever. Has some boy drama, then has some more. Then has A LOT more. Mix in a little family tragedy.
  • Carmen — Rude to a boy who continuously tries to make an effort. Babysits some. Destroys the happiness of those around her.
  • Bridget — Up and decides to go to Alabama after she finds some letters from her maternal grandmother, who lives there, that her dad had been keeping from her. Lies about her identity, Grandma knew anyway.

My favorite story of these characters in this book is Bridget. I feel like she has the most change from the start of the book to the end. Plus she spends her summer in Alabama and I heart Alabama a lot. She stays in a town called Burgess, which I honestly didn’t know what a real place until I just looked it up and I lived in Alabama most of my life. But several places that I do know were mentioned, and it made me miss it a little.

It seems like there’s a little more about the relationships between the four main characters and their families in this book. The last book mainly focused on the girls themselves and the friendships they had with each other. So it was nice to get to dig a little deeper into who they are.

I haven’t started the third book in the series, “Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood,” but I will probably do so tomorrow. Plus I’m a little into “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Ersatz Elevator” by Lemony Snicket. You know, that other series that I’m also reading.

Bye for now,
Maegan

“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” by Ann Brashares

sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants-book-coverI’m really not sure what made me want to reread this series, but it’s been on my mind lately. So about a week or two ago I started on this book, which is the first in a series of four.

For some reason, I remembered these books being much denser and taking much longer to read, but the chapters are not excessively long or anything and I think they come in right around 300 pages each.

I haven’t read the series in years, but I remembered the gist of things. Partly because I own both movies based off the series, which I’ll probably rewatch when I’m done reading the books.

The book centers on a group of four 16-year-old friends over the first summer of their lives where they will all be apart. The characters are somewhat stereotypical, but what are you gonna do? There’s sassy, Puerto Rican Carmen visiting her dad in South Carolina, discovering as she arrives that *surprise* he is engaged to some woman and lives with her and her two teenage kids; tall, thin, blond, sporty Bridget away at soccer camp in Mexico; “beautiful Lena,” who is spending the summer in Greece with her grandparents; and edgy, pierced-nose Tibby (short for Tabitha) who is stuck in their hometown working at a store called Wallman’s and I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a play off of Walmart, Walgreen’s or both.

Basically the book starts off with Carmen casually buying a pair of jeans that she never intends to wear from a secondhand clothing store. The girls then discover that this one pair of jeans magically fits them all perfectly (not realistic at all) and they decide to mail them around from one person to the next until they’re back together at the end of the summer. Hence the traveling part of traveling pants.

Each character faces her own challenges through the summer, whether it’s boy drama, family drama, or the fact that Tibby meets and befriends a 12-year-old named Bailey who has leukemia. There is a pretty good amount of depth, but I’m sure it could go deeper. It works for the intended audience though.

I’ve already started reading book two, “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood,” and I’m about two-thirds of the way done with “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy” by Lemony Snicket. I’m trying really hard not to start another book before finishing these two series.

Wish me luck,
Maegan

“Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book” by Jennifer Donnelly

33412061I discovered this little number when I found the novelization of “Beauty and the Beast” and I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that it was an original story based off the same characters we all know and love.

This book occurs sometime after Belle is locked away in the Beast’s castle and before she realizes she has *feelings* for him. It happens right around the time the Beast presents his majestic library to Belle and she is smitten with it. One thing though, I don’t remember the “Here’s my library, Belle” scene happening in the same way in the novelization or either of the movies I’ve seen. So just a little discrepancy there.

Anyway, it starts with a prologue where sisters Death and Love are playing chess (with moving pieces, mind you; very Harry Potter-esque). The sisters make a bet, basically that Belle will fall in love with the Beast, when Death decides to tilt the odds in her own favor. She sends a book called “Nevermore” into the library, where obviously Belle is now spending all her time. Naturally, Belle stumbles upon the book and discovers that it’s enchanted and she can actually walk into the story (lost in the book, lol), which has been created just for her. Or so they tell her. But what the characters don’t tell her is that the countess she spends so much time with is Death and Death is really just trying to trap Belle in the story so she can never leave.

Kudos to Death because she knows exactly how to get Belle. She presents her with exotic acquaintances, travel opportunities, tasty treats, and even her father, who she hasn’t seen since she was locked away in the Beast’s castle. But eventually Belle realizes what is going on and tries to escape. At this point, the story gets a little horror feel to it, with all these animatronic puppets and marionettes chasing Belle and preventing her from leaving. There’s talk of their beady, glass eyes, and one just knocks his own head clean off after running into a wall (or other similar formidable opponent, tbh all I remember is the puppet decapitation). I’m telling you, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

But of course everything ends happily ever after. The biggest thing that bothered me about this book (and the other book and all the movies) is how disrespected the Beast is. I mean the man has a name. I’m pretty sure it’s Adam but I honestly don’t know because it is LITERALLY NEVER MENTIONED EVER. How hard is it to just say, “Hey bro, I know I’m a prisoner in your castle but it seems like we’re becoming friends, so what’s your name?”? Instead of just calling him *The Beast* all the time. I mean, I’m sure he doesn’t really appreciate it. He’s just trying to be liked by everyone, ‘kay?

Rant over. Now I’m into “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy” by Lemony Snicket and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” by Ann Brashares. But hey, at least now I’m only reading two series at once so that’s progress, right? …Right?

Until next time,
Maegan

“Beauty and the Beast” by Elizabeth Rudnick

novelizationObviously this is a novelization of the movie “Beauty and the Beast,” but the new one that came out in 2017, not the animated Disney classic.

I personally LOVED the new movie and I already own it on Blu-Ray and have watched it several times. I think part of the reason I wanted to read this book is because I do love the movie so much and I wanted to see if it was similar. Reading this book was almost like reading the screenplay for the movie. There were lines quoted in the movie that were placed verbatim in the book. I did notice that there were a couple lines that were in the book, but I don’t remember them being in the movie. I have a theory that these tiny pieces of dialogue were either cut or are somewhere in the deleted scenes of the movie.

There’s no hint in the book that the movie is a musical, except when Belle is at dinner and it mentions that the silverware is putting on a show. Other than that, there are certain lines that are used, like “It was a tale as old as time,” but that’s all you get.

This book was pretty short, and I was able to get through it in a couple days. Now I’ve started reading “Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book,” which is an original story based off the same characters and premise, but written by Jennifer Donnelly. I’m a few chapters in now and I’m curious about the story because I don’t really know what to expect yet.

That’s all for now,
Maegan

“The Martian” by Andy Weir

18007564I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw the movie based off it a couple years ago. And now that I’ve read the book I want to watch the movie again. But from what I remember from the movie, it was pretty spot-on with the book.

The premise is that astronaut Mark Watney has just been stranded on Mars after his mission was aborted, he was injured, and his crew mates all thought he was dead. He is a much stronger man than most for being able to live on Mars alone for this long. He ends up being there about a year and a half, which is ridiculous when you think about it.

Anyway, shenanigans ensue because obviously it’s Mars. There’s always some problem that needs fixing or some impending doom that Mark has no idea he’s about to walk right into, but NASA can’t tell him because there are no functioning communications systems.

The book is told primarily from Mark’s point of view in the form of mission logs. Once it gets a little more into the plot, that alternates with the higher-ups at NASA and occasionally Mark’s original crew.

There’s a ton of science going on in this book, which I am super not into (science, that is), but things were explained relatively well. There were still a few parts where my eyes started glazing over while reading about chemical reactions and the like, but I made it through. It seems like there’s a lot more that goes into space missions than any of us non-space people would know. It was just a very interesting take and a different type of book than I usually choose. But I am glad that I read it.

That’s all for now,
Maegan

“Room” by Emma Donoghue

7937843This book is amazing. I remember reading it years ago right after it was published, not knowing what it was about or that it was such a new release. I was actually in high school at the time and I remember that I’ve never really forgotten any part of the plot because of the intensity of the situation and just how interesting the book is.

“Room” is told from the perspective of Jack, a five-year-old boy who’s only ever known the inside of a soundproof 11×11 garden shed, thanks to “Old Nick.” Jack refers to everything by its name, which is why he and his ma live in Room, use Toilet, play on Rug, etc. Jack’s mother is never named, but he just calls her Ma. Through his interactions with her, you come to realize that a lot of bad stuff has happened to Ma, but she’s doing a dang good job of raising him anyway.

I love the fact that this book was written from Jack’s point of view because it’s just such a different thought stream that you usually don’t get to see. The boy doesn’t really think in coherent sentences, but it’s clear that he knows a lot for someone who had never been outside or met another person before.

Obviously Ma does a lot to keep Jack safe and healthy, and because of that the two have an extraordinary bond. Mostly because they’ve been alone for five years, just the two of them. And because they’ve been in Room so long, Jack has in some ways become attached to the room itself. He doesn’t understand that it’s not normal, and he doesn’t really understand what happened to his ma and why they’re in Room to begin with.

This book is just different from most of the books I’ve read before. It could be a true story, based on the plot, and it was just such an interesting choice using Jack as the narrator. I’m sure that I will eventually read this one for a third time.

Here’s to finishing books three days in a row,
Maegan

“Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie

51drUi8B0HL._SY346_Honestly, I’ve kind of overwhelmed myself with reading lately. There are so many books that I want to read that I get overly excited and just start reading them all at once. So while reading this book I was also partway through four other books. More on those to come. I’m trying to chill a little until I finish a few but you know I probably won’t.

Anyway, I started reading this book because I saw the trailer for the new movie based on the book that’s coming out and I thought, “OMG, that looks so good, I must read it right now.”

I’ve never actually read an Agatha Christie book before, even though she is the best-selling author of all time, and I was already starting the book before I realized that “Murder on the Orient Express” is actually part of a series and is several books in from the beginning of said series. Nevertheless, I persisted, and I really don’t feel as though I missed anything by skipping all the other books.

The main character is detective Hercule Poirot. In this story, he just so happens to board a train that he is not meant to be on. At some point during travel, a passenger is stabbed twelve times, but luckily Poirot is there to solve the case.

I understand that this book was written in the early 1930s, but these interrogation methods would not fly during a real investigation. The detective would basically feed the suspects what he wanted to hear. For example, instead of asking, “What were your actions from 10:00 p.m. until midnight?” he would say, “You left the dining car and returned to your compartment at 9:37 p.m.?” Like, dude. Way to give them an out.

There was just something about this detective that I did not like. He came off as pretentious and a little egotistical because he knew how to solve the murder, but he wouldn’t explain how he came to his conclusions. And once he did solve the case, he spent several pages monologue-ing about his theories, seemingly just to prove how awesome he is.

Even after the case was solved, the director of the train (the same man who assumed that the Italian did it, just because he was Italian) pretty much just said, “Ok, this is what we’ll tell police.” I mean, are the police not going to do their own investigation? I feel like they could probably figure the thing out faster than Hercule Poirot. But maybe that’s not how they did things in 1934.

So now that I’ve finished, I would like to see the movie when it comes out because it looks very interesting and has a mighty fine cast.

I would also like to finish these other books I’m in the midst of, so I’ll do that first.

Until next time,
Maegan

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snicket

BadBeginningObviously I’ve read this series before, but it’s probably been 10 years since I read it through. I remember when the books were still coming out and being so excited that “The End” was about to be released, and that was in 2006.

I decided to read the series again after I watched the new Netflix original version of “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I think the actors look and act similarly to the movie that was released a while back with Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, but Neil Patrick Harris is the supreme Count Olaf.

In case you’ve never read the series or seen the show or movie, this series is about a trio of orphans, the Baudelaire orphans, who lose everything they’ve ever known in a terrible fire. In “The Bad Beginning,” they are forced to live with their despicable relative Count Olaf, whom they have never met nor heard of before. He’s pretty evil.

Sometimes it’s frustrating to read the books because you just know what a terrible situation these kids are in and how no one listens when they speak, no matter how rational the thought. I know it’s a fictitious work, but it’s still hard to imagine that there might be children who have to go through something like that.

The book is pretty short, so I finished it in I think two sittings. Next up is the second book, “The Reptile Room.” Also still reading “Buffering” by Hannah Hart but I’m making progress on that one.

Until next time,
Maegan

“Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon

9780552576482As far as teen fiction goes, I was pretty impressed with this book. I became interested in it after seeing a trailer for the movie that recently came out based on the book, so I put myself on the waiting list to get the audiobook from my public library.

The book is about Madeline, who basically lives in a bubble house because she has a rare disease where literally anything could kill her if she has a reaction to it, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door.

It’s a great story about young love (in a non-annoying way, because usually it’s annoying) and learning that the people closest to you might not actually be trustworthy. That’s probably not the main point of the book, but that’s what I took away from it.

While I was listening to the book, I thought that the story had a very obvious ending that I didn’t want to happen, and I wasn’t disappointed because there was a big, giant plot twist at the end. There wasn’t really a big reveal though, just a kind of gradual shifting of the plot. There was still a happy ending, but it also left plenty of questions unanswered. Maybe room for a second book? I do like the idea that the story lives on in your imagination though.

As I said, I listened to this one on audiobook, and it was pretty short so I got through it within a couple days.

I think sometimes I’m influenced by the person who reads the audiobook. It’s something about their voice or inflection or something, I just think to myself, “A normal person wouldn’t act like that or say those things.” I really like audiobooks where the author is the one reading because they know exactly how that character is supposed to feel in that moment. It’s even better when it’s a memoir read by the author because really, why even try to get someone else to read about your own experiences?

In this book, it sounds like the supposedly 18-year-old Maddy is a 40-year-old woman, so it was good but there was room for improvement.

Now I’m reading “Buffering” by Hannah Hart (still) and I just started “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks. I have a pretty substantial to-be-read list and it just keeps growing and growing so thank goodness for digital copies of books. Never thought I would say that.

For now,
Maegan