Category Archives: review

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I decided to read this book for a few reasons:

  1. Many people recommended it to me,
  2. I think the title is intriguing, and
  3. I have a rule about not seeing movies before reading the book, but I wanted to see the movie since Emma Watson is in it. 🙂

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a marvelous coming of age story. The main character, Charlie, writes letters to an anonymous stranger throughout his first year of high school. He is generally misunderstood, his peers regard him as a freak, and his only friend dies before the school year starts through an act of suicide. When two half-sibling seniors, Sam and Patrick, take him under their wing his world begins to change.

The book is a quick and easy read but don’t let the simplicity fool you. The story has a depth. The reader learns that Charlie was molested by a family member, causing him to become a passive person, who allows others to do what they want with him. He witnesses a rape, he accepts drugs and alcohol, he has a girlfriend he doesn’t really like and he even allows his gay friend Patrick to kiss him during his post-breakup grieving period. Charlie doesn’t recognize that these things upset him because he sees they help others and he internalizes his own thoughts and feelings. Sam, encourages Charlie to express himself and show passion for his own desires.

Charlie learns about being a friend, sex and intimacy (though he himself does not have sex), drugs such as LSD, marijuana, and alcohol, homosexuality, homophobia (a scene where a father beats his gay son), Rocky Horror Picture Show, abortion (his sister), suicide, rape and molestation. He earns straight A’s in school and displays heartwarming relationships with his family (mom, dad, older sister, and older brother). Charlie also has a tender relationship with his English teacher who assigns him extra reading and work because he recognizes how special and intelligent Charlie is.

It’s hard to determine the way this book made me feel. I believe the writing was excellent and here’s why. I felt uncomfortable reading something so private (from a fictional character, yes! How can this be done?) Needless to say, it’s not a feel-good story but rather a question-humanity-and-your-very-existence kind of book.

My Favorite Quotes:

  • “We are infinite”
  • “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
  • “Zen is a day like this when you are part of the air and remember things.”
  • “I really think that everyone should have watercolors, magnetic poetry and a harmonica.”
  • “I don’t think we should base so much on weight, muscles, and a good hair day, but when it happens, it’s nice. It really is.”
  • “So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.” 

What did you think?

The Casual Vacancy

I finally had the chance to actually read a book that wasn’t for school (let alone write the review, I finished this book weeks ago!) So here we go: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Where do I begin to describe my feelings about The Casual Vacancy. I guess I’ll start by saying I did not have high hopes for the novel because it was bound to be a disappointment with Harry Potter not on the list of characters and the complete absence of the magical world Rowling is known for creating. In fact what Rowling delivered was a novel about very Dursley-esque, small-minded, self-absorbed, snobbish and judgmental people (Muggles) living in the small, fictional village of Pagford, England.

It is understandable to me that Rowling wanted to stray from Harry Potter and the global phenomenon one boy-wizard caused, especially after spending over a decade within the realm of the wizarding world, and I commend her for taking the risk especially under the crushing pressure of public expectations.

As usual, Rowling drew me in from the get go, not because of the story, which quite frankly was fairly dull, but because of the writing. She certainly has a way with words. At some points I did think some of the scenarios she described or details she included were a bit excessive and did not add to the storyline. I assume she included these things (the grotesquely-described used condom, which was “glistening in the grass beside her feet, like the gossamer cocoon of some huge grub”) to really differentiate herself from children’s writing.

She definitely succeeded in that respect: this story is NOT a children’s book. The pages are full of instances of rape, heroin addiction, domestic abuse, suicide and thoughts of patricide. It is bleak to say the least.

The story begins with a slow-moving description of the political squabbles in the town generated by the sudden death of one of the parish council members, Barry Fairbrother. The most notable face-off being between one faction that is opposed to a public housing project and a clinic for addicts, and another that has a sense of duty toward the less fortunate.

As Rowling wrestles with the dark inner secrets of her characters the story gains momentum with brief flashes of drama and humor, ending abruptly with an unsatisfying solution. The reader is left feeling whatever the opposite emotion is of how we felt at the end of the Harry Potter series. Lost? Depressed? Disheartened?

Instead of absorbing valuable lessons from the characters and plotline (see 15 Things I Learned From Harry Potter) such as bravery, loyalty and kindness, we lose faith in the human spirit, and are left with the a dismaying sense of human weakness and selfishness. It’s as though writing about the real world inhibited Rowling’s miraculously inventive imagination.

Overall, Rowling’s first attempt at writing an “adult” novel was not terrible, let’s just hope she doesn’t try to map out this particular story in seven novels and instead moves onto something a bit more meaningful. I still love you J.K. Rowling, good luck with the next novel!

It’s been a month . . .

I have officially been a Blogger blogger for one month after switching from blogging with WordPress and it has been quite a process to move. I’ve been recording all the things I did in order to make the switch because I could not find a straight answer all in one place during my move. This made it a very complicated, technical and sometimes stressful experience for me. However, I think I am down to the last steps in the move (tiny details that I am probably the only person who will ever notice), and I am very pleased with my decision to switch.

Why I switched:

  • Personal preference was a major factor. I have now used both the WordPress and Blogger platforms for blogging and personally I’m a Blogger girl.
  • Part of this preference for Blogger is due to the new design and seamless connection with all Google software such as AdSense and Google+
  • I didn’t like that WordPress only allows bloggers who own their domain to add advertisements. I am very new to blogging and I’m not ready to make that kind of commitment (It’s too soon, I’m too young!) I love that Blogger, and the affiliation with Google allows AdSense.
  • I am new to Google+ but I really enjoy this mode of social networking. It’s awesome to have it synched so easily to my blog.
  • Additionally, I believe Blogger is easier to use, or at least more intuitive, but this is personal preference.
  • Finally, a somewhat superficial reason, you can change color, font and background of words with blogger, something that is only available to domain owning bloggers on WordPress.
Router Freak [dot] com

A list of things to do:

  1. Research. Make sure it’s really what you want, like I said, this is a complicated process full of headaches, sadness and hair-pulling. Don’t go through it just to find out you prefered the old way better.
  2. Export old blog. In WordPress go to your Dashboard > Tools > Export > Download export file > Save. If you already have posted in Blogger go to Customize > Settings > Export blog > Dowload File > Save to be sure the new file won’t overwrite these posts (it shouldn’t but better safe than sorry right?). Use this application to translate your WordPress file to a Blogger compatible file. Then go to Blogger and go to Customize > Settings > Import blog > Select file > Import
  3. Check that all posts are correctly formatted (I had to go through and edit the captions and re-center all images).
  4. Set-up your new blog before going public with it. You don’t have to be super knit-picky about it but make sure things are generally the way you want them before informing your readers you’ve moved. That way when they arrive at your new home it will look lovely and clean, not like a construction zone with caution tape draping across every wall.
  5. Post a goodbye post to old platform to redirect followers to new blog. Also post to other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook your new blog location.
  6. Use a redirect program to automatically send people to new post when they try to go to old post. Unfortunately you can’t do this without owning the domain. Kind of a Catch-22 if you ask me, nobody ever seems to ask me though.
  7. Go through old pages on old blog and relink old posts to new posts. This took ages and probably isn’t completely necessary if you are willing to lose some page views. I wasn’t.
  8. Find link ups in old posts and link to new posts. Another very tedious step which I am still working on. All my posts in my new blog that were imported from the old blog link to posts that are on the old blog instead of to these same posts on the new blog. The links are just a web of lies.

    Gabriel Weinberg [dot] com


    • Only hardcore readers will follow you to your new blog (thanks guys!) so expect a drop in your readership. The return to previous view counts did not take as long as I expected though.
    • I’ve said it multiple times throughout this post but you should really understand that this is very time consuming process. Add all of this on top of keeping up with new blog posts and you’re in for a rough couple of weeks.
    • Getting used to the new blogging platform takes time but when I go back to WordPress I find that it, while once the only way to blog for me, is now confusing and Blogger makes sense. Brains are weird. Give yours a chance to adjust before throwing in the towel.

    On the bright side, if you love blogging and have decided that you need to make the switch it is probably all going to be worth it. Keep your spirits high and remember why you started your blog in the first place.

    Cute Girly Quotes and Sayings [dot] blogspot [dot] com
    Which platform do you prefer and why?

    Shoot the Moon

    Billie Letts give us another novel full of small-town charm, a little mystery, and some romance in her novel Shoot the Moon. Dr. Mark Albright, a veterinarian to the stars of Hollywood, discovers that he was adopted shortly after the death of his father. He heads to DeClare, Oklahoma in hopes of discovering his birth parents, and quickly discovers that the story of his past is a bit of a mystery.

    book cover, book review, shoot the moon, billie letts, mystery, oklahoma 

    Gaylene Harjo, the woman Mark knows to be his mother, was murdered when Mark, or Nicky Jack Harjo, was a baby. Most people assumed Nicky Jack had been killed as well, but the body was never found. The wrong man was arrested for the murder, and took his own life while in prison. When Mark returns claiming to be the long lost baby, it causes quite a stir around town.

    I don’t want to give too much away but the central characters also include Ivy and Teeve Harjo who take Mark under their wing, helping him in his investigation. Oliver Boyd  “O Boy” Daniels is the rather nasty local sheriff. His wife is Carrie and they have a son, Kippy, who is not much older than Mark. O Boy’s half-brother Arthur McFaddon is another not very nice character who runs the local radio with his stepson Kyle. I especially enjoyed the domino boys, a group of four geezers who play domino’s at Teeve’s pool hall. They add humor and character to the novel.

    We learn about Gaylene’s life through snippets of her diary, which Letts has woven seamlessly into the fabric of her story. Her childhood friend was Rowena Whitekiller, she worked at Arthur’s radio station with Kyle and she played basketball well enough to get a scholarship for university.

    While this novel is another great work of Letts’, I found it somewhat predictable, considering I had the mystery pretty much solved about halfway through the book. Even so, I still took pleasure in the journey and would definitely recommend this story to anyone who likes fast-moving, well-told novels crafted with wit.

    What is your opinion of Shoot the Moon?