Monday, April 15, 2013

A Girl Named Zippy, Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana by Haven Kimmel

This is a memoir and I haven't read too many of this genre, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's the book for this month in my book club. It was very well written-reading more like a novel than an autobiography (kind of like Memoirs of a Geisha). I did feel like it ended abruptly towards the end of her childhood and I personally had a hard time keeping track of what age she was at any given time in order to picture her in my mind, but it was entertaining.

Some of the 'red neck' things that happened both had me laughing so hard I cried and shaking my head thinking "They could NEVER get away with that in this day and age-even if they DO live in a red neck town!"

It resounded with me because of the fact that while her family had enough, there wasn't a lot of excess and how I grew up, looking back, we were definitely on a strick budget, but I never thought anything of it. I never knew we could be considered 'poor' even when we did back to school shopping at the Good Will until my mom started working once my little brother was in school. It really shows you that what you give a child in material possessions will not be the most significant memory they carry into adulthood. There are a lot of things that make people happy. And being who you are is one of them.

Specials-Scott Westerfeld

This was supposed to be the third and final book to the Uglies Trilogy. But then he wrote another one: Extras (which I haven't read yet). And I'm kinda glad he wrote another one, because I'm the kind of person who likes my series no matter how small or large to be pretty well wrapped up with very few lingering questions. Like Harry Potter. Now THAT'S how you end a series and keep satisfied readers. Of course you always want MORE, but it was a great ending. This one's ending was a bit too open. So we'll see how things wrap up in Extra's.

So Tally once again finds herself at the cutting knife of the society she has repeatedly tried to leave. This time, though, she has been surgically created to be a Special. High performance body enhancements such as ceramic bones and ultra fast healing abilities and a definite feeling of superiority because of her superior body. Shay is the leader of a group called the Cutters. Shay figured out how to be bubbly at the end of Pretties and it was by cutting-and she created a huge following. Special Circumstance snatched them up and made them into Special Specials. They have very few rules to follow, but Shay is definitely the boss. And their job is to find the New Smoke. There is a cure for being pretty and it's being distributed all over the city. So it's off to find the New Smoke and preferably take them down once and for all.

The biggest glitch is that Zane still wants to live in the New Smoke forever. And the other problem is that when he and Tally split the cure (two pills that were meant to be taken together) Zane took the part that ate the lesions and Tally ate the one that stopped the nanos from eating more. So Zane has some physical handicaps left over from that. The cure is no longer dangerous, as it was determined by Tally's ability to overcome without, instead of eliminating the lesions, they stimulate the brain around the lesions to create new pathways in spite of the lesions. But Tally doesn't know this, so she is still upset about what the cure has done to Zane. And a whole new adventure ensues.

One thing I like about this one is David. Originally from the Smoke-born and raised in the Smoke, actually, is always "10,000 years ahead of evolution" as Tally thinks. He doesn't need everyone to be physically perfect to think they are beautiful. He can see through the physical mask-ANY physical mask they put on Tally down to her true self. The society has brain washed everyone to believe that the operation is a way of bringing EVERYONE up to speed with evolution since we are all basely programmed to like only a certain type. And we see how hard it is for Tally to think any differently. This reminds me of mainstream advertising today. Girls everywhere think there is only one mold to beauty because they have it repeatedly shoved in their face. And boys are not immune. They see supermodels in suggestive clothing and poses and are told "this is beauty" and then associate those images. Now, this doesn't happen to EVERYONE, of course, but it's a pretty loud threat coming out to everyone and if we're not careful to help dispel these images and beliefs, then we're feeding into what Tally's society felt they had to do-so that no one would be killed because of skin color, no one would have eating disorders trying to become a certain size, etc. We have to beat what our base society says is beautiful and teach all those around us what beauty really is. It's not a skin type, a certain height, weight, hair or eye coloring. Beauty is being confident as who you are and who you are trying to become inside. Beauty is looking past the outer shell and seeing ones true self and then helping reflect it back so they can see it too.

Pretties-Scott Westerfeld

Pretties takes off where Uglies ended. Tally has found herself back in New Pretty Town and can't shrug the feeling that she can't remember something. She meets Zane who makes her "bubbly" or clear minded about things and he helps her to have the courage to break through what being "pretty" is all about.

If you've read Uglies, you know that being pretty also means getting a lesion put on your brain to make you more compliant and less caring. But Zane and the other "Crims" are finding ways around it. Things to make them "bubbly" and alert, more alive, seeing things clearly.


Things that make them bubbly are what we could call "adrenaline junkies". Basically anything that puts you in even the tiniest bit of perceived danger will awaken your brain to experience more. Tally and Shay are definitely crims because of the time they actually spent in the Smoke. Tally's childhood best friend, Peris is also a Crim.

Once Tally figures out a way around being 'pretty' minded-not staying completely full-but not starving either, they have these packets of "calorie purgers" that they can take (which helps maintain the pretty physical bodies too), by pulling tricky pranks, pushing the limits to everything, and one of the most important-abstaining from the all too prolific alcohol-they are able to think more like their true selves. Tally and Zane want to escape the pretty life. Can they do it?

Of course, being a sequel it's not as good as the original, but I do like the look inside you get of each different dimension of the different groups of people. The writing is still good with the characters still being developed. There are a lot of sayings like "brain missing" and "nervous making" that I've found creeping into my own thoughts and vocabulary. It was a pretty fast read too.

The Light Between Oceans

This is a 1st book for M. L. Stedman and takes place after the first World War in Australia where many men have been lost-both literally and mentally. Tom, thinks that there's not much to life and that he wants to be a light house keeper for the remainder of his days and applies for post at one of the most remote light houses in the country, Janus. Upon reaching the main land city which will service him, he unexpectedly meets an intriguing young girl, Isabel, who then writes to him while he is alone on the island and in a very short time decide to get married. 

Life is both exactly what Isabel has hoped for on the isolated island, but also nothing like it as well. Struggling with trying to have a baby-the only thing she truly wants in a family life-while all alone with no pre-natal care, she becomes devastated with miscarriages. One day a boat washes up on shore carrying what they least expect.....a deceased man and a baby. What will they do?

This book explores the nature/nurture and the love between husband/wife, parent/child-especially mother/child, grandparent/grandchild, and birthparent/foster parent relationships, as they were viewed at that time in history. It also explores if it is ever truly ok to tell a lie or omit the truth. Heart wrenching, beautiful, agonizing at times, this book is very well written. Slightly slow in the middle, it picks up and is a page turner by the end. 

Biggest lesson learned: Honesty is the best policy. Even when it hurts to do it, even if it means sacrificing things you would like in order to be honest, it will usually end up being in everyone's best interests in the end.