(HarperTeen, 2012, 304 pages)
This book was getting rave reviews on one of the YALSA listservs that I subscribe to so I was curious to check it out. Tiger Lily is a retelling of the Peter Pan story from the perspective of Tinkerbell who is introduced to Peter Pan and the Lost Boys through the experiences of 15-year-old Tiger Lily, a young girl who’s a member of a tribe known as the Sky People. Tiger Lily has always been seen as different by members of her tribe. She keeps to herself and she’s the adopted daughter of their medicine man, Tik Tok. All the members of the tribe know to stay away from certain parts of the forest where the Lost Boys have control, but Tiger Lily doesn’t always do what’s “expected” and an impromptu venture into the woods is how she meets, and becomes captivated by, Peter.
Their relationship grows to the point where Tiger Lily is doing whatever she can to steal time to spend with Peter and the Lost Boys. She doesn’t bother telling him she’s engaged to be married to a horrible man from her village. Nor is she aware that her actions are being watched by a pirate whose eye she caught. An older man who goes by Smee…
We are told at the beginning of the book that this is a love story that doesn’t end well. We know that Wendy will soon come into the picture because that is the story of Peter Pan. When she does arrive we see that Wendy is Tiger Lily’s complete opposite. Peter is torn between the two and it is because of jealousy and misunderstanding that Tiger Lily learns there are many things we do when we love and when we feel betrayed.
This was a captivating retelling of the traditional story and I really enjoyed it. I can certainly see the appeal for teens, but really anyone who loves Peter Pan will appreciate Tiger Lily. Despite knowing what happens I couldn’t help but wish the story would end differently. This was a great, and quick, read.
Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy by Phyllis Diller; with Richard Buskin
(J.P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2005, 266 pages)
I loved this book! It was fun to get a glimpse into the life of this famous comedian and actor. Phyllis Diller was born poor to elderly parents and lived most of her childhood in poverty in Ohio. After high school, she studied piano at the Sherwood Music Conservatory in Chicago for three years. She married at age 20 and had six children. Diller writes of her two failed marriages, struggles to put food on the table, and painstaking effort on starting her comedy career at the age of 40. She was a hardworking, brave, talented and funny woman.
The book is also filled with interesting stories of her writing TV and radio ads, appearing as a piano soloist with some 100 symphony orchestras, posing nude for Playboy magazine, getting old, and having plastic surgeries later in life. Also, I just have to mention that the Diller family lived in Webster Groves in St. Louis during the 1960’s. Diller performed at the St. Louis Muny and the Fox Theatre, too. A quick and witty read.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
(Katherine Tegen Books, 2012, 592 pages)
In case anyone is reading/planning to read the Divergent series, you might want to skip my review if you haven’t read the first book yet. I don’t want to give anything away!
In the second book in the Divergent series, Tris and Four are trying to find the reason behind the Erudite’s attack on the Abnegation while dealing with their split Dauntless faction, building an army to stop the Erudite, and trying to stop the stimulations that are causing people to unknowingly kill each other. Tris is also trying to overcome her grief of both her parents dying to keep her safe and that she was forced to kill Will while he was under a stimulation. This forces a wedge between her relationship with Four and causes her to make some drastic choices that cause her life to be in danger.
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy the second book as much as I did the first one. It was still a good read but there was just so much going on to keep up with. I found myself forgetting which character was which and why they were important to the story. I also ended up with the feeling that Roth was rushed to finish the second book to get out on shelves this year because some of the plot line just didn’t make sense. But the twist at the end made the read worth it and I’m looking forward to the third book, which unfortunately doesn’t come out till Fall 2013.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
(The Dial Press, 2012, 368 pages)
June absolutely loves her uncle Finn. He takes June to these amazing places around New York City, understands her obsession with the Middle Ages, and makes her feel special. So she was devastated when he passed away from AIDS and feels like no one understands her grief. During Finn’s funeral, June learns from her sister Greta about Toby, Finn’s “special friend.” Her family believes that Toby killed Finn because he started a relationship with Finn knowing that he already had AIDS and that is why Toby was kept a secret from June for so many years. June is curious about Finn’s “special friend” and when Toby begins to reach out to her, she reluctantly agrees to meet with him and they start a beautiful but fragile friendship.
Brunt does an amazing job at building relationships between June and the other characters. Sometimes they’re not great relationships, like with her relationship with Greta which is filled with spite and jealousy. I really didn’t want this read to end because you knew from the beginning what would end up happening since both Finn and Toby have AIDS. My only complaint is that it took me awhile to catch on that the story was set in the 80’s and that’s why everyone was so uneducated about AIDS. There might have been something said in the beginning addressing the time frame and somehow I missed it. Great read overall!
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
(Knopf, 1983, 179 pages)
Heartburn is a fictionalized autobiographical tale of Ephron’s experiences during her marriage and subsequent divorce. In the book we are introduced to the main character, Rachel, and her husband, Mark. They live in Washington D.C. with their young son, Sam. Rachel is seven months pregnant with her second child when her husband reveals he’s in love with someone else. The story is Rachel reflecting back on her experiences and talking about how she dealt with things. There is definitely humor in the story, and I could certainly see it all playing out as a film while I was reading (which I just learned it was made into – added to my Netflix queue!). Rachel is a cookbook author and food plays a role in the story. Interspersed are recipes that tie in with Rachel’s thoughts/feelings at the time.
This was a quick and entertaining read.
Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women by Nora Ephron
(Modern Library, 2000, 217 pages)
I love Nora Ephron’s movies but I’d never read any of her work. This collection of essays from the early 70s highlights Nora’s perceptions of the time period and what was going on in American society. She covers everything from women’s bodies and the Pillsbury bake-off to the role of women’s groups and various “women in power.” Ephron’s writing style was very engaging and I thought this was a good way to introduce myself to her writing since she started out doing articles (that’s basically what the collection is, articles from when she used to have a column in Esquire). I just started on Heartburn and reading Crazy Salad put me in the mood to watch some classic Ephron films.
Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock
(Mira, 2005, 288 pages)
This book was assigned for a book club I’m in and I was one of the few who just wasn’t a fan. 8-year-old Carrie lives in the small town of Toast, North Carolina with her mother, stepfather, and younger sister, Emma. Carrie and Emma hate their stepfather – he’s abusive to them and their mother so they do what they can to stay out of his way. He came into their lives shortly after their father was shot – Emma was the only one to witness it. Emma is 2 years younger than Carrie and they are complete opposites. Carrie has a dark complexion, isn’t popular at school, and is hesitant to take the lead on things. Emma has a light/summery complexion, she’s popular, and has a take-charge attitude.
Carrie and Emma finally decide that they’ve had enough of their stepfather and make plans to run away – there’s only so much brightness they can attempt to bring in to their otherwise dark lives. The question is will they succeed? Can they escape this man who has taken over their family and treats them as less than human?
This book has a twist that comes at the end – though I figured it out pretty early on. There were just too many elements I found unrealistic (one of my biggest issues was the ages of Carrie and Emma in relation to how they acted, what they dealt with in school, how they talked…), not to mention the fact that this book is pretty depressing – I’m not one to pick up books where child and domestic abuse are central elements. That being said, this title got favorable reviews and the sequel was named by Oprah’s O Magazine as one of “Ten Titles To Pick Up Now” in the Sept. 2012 issue. It just wasn’t a “Julia” book.