Great White Snark: April 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I just finished reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and I have to say, it was an astoundingly good novel.

It's not usually a genre I favor, but I'm really enjoying the miniature foray I've taken into Southern chick lit recently. Maybe it's because I'm a g.r.i.t.s. myself, or because the South just has such a unique flavor, but I really enjoyed this book, along with the ones I've read by Sarah Addison Allen and Rebecca Wells. 

The Secret Life of Bees is about Lily, a 14 year old girl who lives with her abusive father in the wake of having accidentally shot her mother as a 4 year old. I'm not even kidding.

A lot of things happen, but she and her black maid run away from her father and end up in a pepto bismol pink house of 3 black beekeepers, who sell their "Black Madonna" honey (so called because they label it with a picture of a black Virgin Mary). 

Did I mention that the year is 1964 and the Civil Rights Law had just been passed?

While the overarching theme of this book is, of course, black rights and the controversy of a white girl living with four black women, I would say it's only part of the novel. The real story is Lily coming to peace with her past and her struggle to find out what she can about her mother. The truth isn't pretty, and the end of the novel is hard to swallow. You really feel Lily's pain as she makes unsavory discoveries about her mother's past (and therefore, her own). Or at least I did. But in a touching turn, Lilly ends up with many amazingly loving mothers--who are just as colorblind towards her as she is to them. 

It's a really moving story, and I loved it. I also liked the Marian mysticism of the story. The black women aren't exactly Catholic. They invent their own religion based around the Virgin Mary (there are a few scenes that are downright blasphemous, but it's played off in a lighthearted way, and they ultimately reveal that they know Jesus is "the main guy."), and of course, the honey they sell is called Black Madonna Honey. But it's neat because Lilly, formerly completely un-religious, comes to adopt Mary as yet another surrogate mother, and I think that's what she's really there for--to be a mother to the motherless, or when we have a hard time accepting our earthly mothers. So I liked that spin on religion in the book, too.

What really makes this book are the characters. Every single one is so deep, you feel like you're reading a biography. Even the minor characters, even Lily's dead mother, have such a fullness to them that you can't help but think they're real. The main ones, though--Lily, Rosaleen, August, May, and June--are so realistic that you wish so badly you could go and talk to them when the story's over. 

Overall, it's so good. I definitely recommend it. Not sure if my gentlemen readers would appreciate it as much as my lady readers, but if you want something along the lines of The Help, you must check it out.

Just SOME of my favorite quotes:

“There is nothing perfect...only life.” 

"I realized it for the first time in my life: there is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don't even know it.” 

“Actually, you can be bad at something...but if you love doing it, that will be enough."

“People who think dying is the is the worst thing don't know a thing about life.” 

"People, in general, would rather die than forgive. It's that hard. If God said in plain language, "I'm giving you a choice, forgive or die," a lot of people would go ahead and order their coffin.” 

“Everybody needs a seashell in her bathroom to remind her the ocean is her home.” 

“There's a fullness of time for things, Lily. You have to know when to prod and when to be quiet, when to let things take their course.” 

" ...when it's time to die, go ahead and die, and when it's time to live, live. Don't sort-of-maybe live, but live like you're going all out, like you're not afraid.” 

Note: The movie version of this was okay. The casting, apart from Queen Latifah and Sophie Okonedo, was terrible, but they did a pretty good job in keeping parts of the script verbatim from the book. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Relevant gif's are relevant.

I found a couple of these floating around the web, and had to post/share them, just because they're hilarious and ACCURATE. Plus, I love gif files. But you already knew that. 

I'm mostly just kind of jealous that someone has 15 inflatable animals. And NO, I don't mean this in any kind of PERVY way, I just wish I had a zoo of inflatable animals. Preferably marine ones.

And finally, my favorite: 


Hope things are as well with you as they are with me!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Library and Lestat.

My new job is AMAZING! 
I feel like this. 

The people are so sweet (I'm the youngest...again. I guess I shouldn't be bothered, because you're never as young as you are right now), I'm surrounded by books, I got to help move/relocate the children's section so I got very familiar with the layout of things, there are MANATEE coloring sheets and posters (haven't used either yet, but that's coming...whether they know it or not), and the kids get so into story time that it's just amusing to be there and see their reactions. 

And then, as if being surrounded by books wasn't convincing enough to me that I "belonged" there, my co-workers asked two questions that solidified this in my mind:

1. How many animals do you have and what kind of tea do you like?
2. Do you watch much TV? If not, that's okay, as long as you've seen the essential films: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and The Princess Bride. 


It's just a much better fit. There are things I miss about my old job, of course, but this just feels really right. 

I'm actually kind of excited. 

On that note, I wanted to do a book review on Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. 

This is one of those books that I've been meaning to read FOREVER and my aversion to blood and gore kept me from doing so. But then I was like, "I really want to read Dracula again, but I want to read it for the first time (did you know that if you read a book 6 times you can guess the ending??)." So I decided not to read Dracula again, and instead read what society has deemed a paragon of vampire fiction (but real vampires. Not the Cullens, amusing as they are). 

I actually really liked this book, and apart from one scene in particular (which I can't explain without major spoilers), it was not as gory as I had anticipated. Rice has that JK Rowling-esque quality of sucking (no pun intended) you into the story within the first couple of pages to the point that you don't want to put the book down. 

It's basically a story that takes place in the present day, when a young writer sets up an interview with Louis, the vampire, to write about his life story. He's skeptical at first, but Louis's life story is so flooded with detail (and various displays of vampirism) that he ends up believing...and rightly so. Louis's whole life is pretty tragic, but he finally reaches the point of death by depression, and this is when the vampire Lestat comes in and turns him into a vampire. Lestat basically wants Louis's plantation, and that's why he did it, but it ends up working out well for Louis as well, who didn't want any business living. Louis is a very sensitive, pensive, and melancholy vampire who spends a lot of time pondering if there's a God or not, and how he fits into that whole scheme. Also, he lives on rats. Ultimately, the slave workers on the plantation realize what's going on, so instead of going away quietly in the night, Louis burns his plantation. Still not sure why. At this time, Lestat turns a child into a vampire, Claudia, and he and Louis become her "parents." Obviously, this is problematic, because about 60 years in, Claudia realizes she'll never grow up physically even though she's mentally matured. 

Anne Rice is very ambiguous about the nature of Louis and Claudia's relationship, btw, but I tend to call shenanigans on that one. 

Without spoiling the story, Claudia and Louis leave Lestat for Europe where they hope to find more vampires (they also commit some more arson, because why not?). They do, in Paris. This part is creepy and it actually totally sucks plot-wise because I don't like the characters and I can't say why not without spoiling the ending of the story. But Louis and Claudia should have just stayed in America. They could've gone to the Pacific Northwest and taken up with a clan of sparkling vegetarian vampires....

...oh wait. 

Anyway, it was a really good vampire book, and I absolutely recommend it if you like that kind of thing. Nowhere near as good as Dracula, and totally different, but I'm glad I read it. 

Btw, if you're curious, you can read my Dracula synopses here: