Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Girls Who Read

I came across this video and I love it. I wanted to share it because it made me smile and I hope it makes you smile, too.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Selected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty~★★★★

Author: Eudora Welty
Title: Selected Stories of Eudora Welty: A Curtain of Green and Other Stories
Release Date: Originally published in 1941; this edition released September 5, 1992
Publisher: Originally published by Doubleday; this edition published by Modern Library
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "Eudora Welty's subjects are the people who live in southern towns like Jackson, Mississippi, which has been her home for all of her long life. 'I've stayed in one place,' she says, and 'it's become the source of the information that stirs my imagination.' Her distinctive voice and wry observations are rooted in the southern conversational tradition. The stories in this volume, from the first two collections she published, range in tone from the quietly understated to the psychologically subtle to the outrageously grotesque. Linking them all is Welty's remarkable ear for the language and point of view of the South. 'She's a lot smarter than he cousins in Beula,' someone remarks about a reputed suicide in one story. 'Especially Edna Earle, that never did get to be what you'd call a heavy thinker. Edna Earle could sit and ponder all day on how the little tail of the 'c' got through the 'l' in a Coco-Cola sign.'"

Taryn's Review: Reading this book caused a few flashbacks to high school for me. Some of Welty's stories had made their way into my high school literature books and astonishingly, I remembered them while reading his book! The ones that struck a memory were "Death of a Traveling Salesman,"  "Why I Live at the P.O.," and "A Worn Path."

As the introduction blurb said, Welty was a master of language and her characters reflected her mastery. I really enjoyed so many of the short stories I read in this book, although every now and then I did come across one that I was bored with. What I loved most about the book, though, is that it captured the life, thoughts, and conversations of normal people from Jackson, Mississippi, and surrounding areas in the first half of the twentieth-century. While the characters themselves may not have been actual people who walked the earth, it is no doubt that many of the traits and events were inspired by those living around Welty.  Her keen observations skills tremendously enriched in her stories and her gumption to turn what appeared at first glance to be uninteresting rural life created a literary gem. 

For me, this isn't a book that I could adequately soak up in one night; I enjoyed breaking it down and reading a few short stories each night before bed. I don't claim to be one who truly understands the symbolism and themes of Welty's works (my mind was blown when I read what "Death of a Traveling Salesman" represented), but even so, I enjoyed most of them at face value. A great piece of Southern Americana recorded for our literary pleasure.

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's a Waverly Life by Maria Murnane~★★★1/2

Author: Maria Murnane
Title: It's a Waverly Life: The Sequel to Perfect on Paper
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Fiction

Book Cover: "New decade. New job. New shenanigans. After rebounding from a broken engagement and relinquishing her job in sports PR, the irrepressible Waverly Bryson has a new man, a new career, and a new lease on life. Her part-time gig as an advice columnist has proven to be as entertaining as it is affirming, and her fledgling greeting card line, Honey Notes, is off to a promising start. After a series of disastrous romantic rebounds, she has settled into a long-distance relationship with handsome Jake McIntyre. Things are certainly looking least, until lingering emotional baggage threatens her love life and her best friends stun her with a pair of shocking announcements. Suddenly, Waverly is faced with being left behind by everyone she loves. And in true Waverly fashion, things must get comically worse before they can get better. It takes forming an unexpected new friendship with an elderly neighbor and meddling in the love lives of two of her coworkers to make 'the American Bridget Jones' realize that although life---before and after thirty---never fails to be messy and unpredictable, friendship and love make it all worthwhile." 

Taryn's Review: This book is the sequel to Perfect on Paper: The (Mis)adventures of Waverly Bryson, which is a book I absolutely loved.  I was so excited to read the sequel and even more excited when my library bought the complete series at my request!

I wasn't as swept off my feet by this book as I was by the first book of the series. For starters, the first book focused a lot on Waverly's friendship with her best friends, Andie and McKenna. In this book, McKenna was pushed to the sidelines and I really missed the interactions between the three women. Secondly, Waverly's issues regarding her relationship with Jake were kind of boring to read about, honestly. Jake and Waverly pursued a long-distance relationship, yet Waverly freaked out to the point she couldn't even call the guy back for days on end? However, when she thought she'd lost him, she hopped on a plane, flew across the country, and bombarded the guy! Also, the interactions between Jake and Waverly were slightly painful to read; it didn't feel natural and the jokes Waverly kept telling were not funny. And I'm still waiting for Jake to have some sort of flaw, as his perfection is getting old. Waverly was supposed to be neurotically adorable and Jake was always depicted as perfect, saying and doing exactly the things that girls are told "perfect" men should do. Lastly, the entire neighbor scenario was extremely obvious as to where Murnane was taking that storyline and I was disappointed in it. It wasn't that I didn't like the neighbor, but the entire reasoning for his existence was very apparent from the moment he came on the scene. I like some foreshadowing, but this book could not keep a secret about what was bound to happen at the end of the book.

That said, did I hate the book? No. I actually stayed up all night to finish it because I wanted to know what happened. I like Murnane's writing style and at the end of the day, I like Waverly Bryson. I don't think this book was as fun to read as the first in the series, but that won't stop me from reading the third book, Honey on Your Mind. I think this book set up a great plot to work with in the third book, so I'm hopeful that some of my complaints won't exist in the next book. I still think the series is a fun, easy reading that I look forward to after I put it down. They are the kind of books that can take you away from a hard day or are great books to read on an airplane ride, while laying out at the beach, or while relaxing in your pajamas under a blanket on your couch. It wasn't my favorite book, but I have hope the next book will have the redeeming qualities that I felt lacked in this one.