Friday, January 29, 2010

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

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This was such a random book for me to read.  My Mom gave it to me and told me I should read it and so I stuck it in my TBR pile and didn't think I would get to it any time soon.  Then a few days later I picked it up off my coffee table and read the first couple pages and I was intrigued.  What intrigued me was that One Thousand White Women is a fictional "what if" story.  Apparently, in 1875 (and this is actual history) the Chief of a Cheyenne Indian tribe came to Washington DC and asked President Ulysses S. Grant to trade 1,000 white women as brides for 1,000 wild horses.  The logic behind the Chief's grand idea was that the babies born of these women would be more accepted into the white race there for bridging the gap between the whites and the Indians  Though sound logic, (um no) Grant said no (I would hope with no hesitation).  But, One Thousand White Women is the fictional account of what happened had he said yes.  

This story unfolds through the journals of one of the women that volunteered to become an Indian "Bride".  Her name is May Dodd, and the reason she decided to leave her Chicago home for the wild wild west is because her family had her committed to an asylum for being promiscuous (oh the horror).  After a few brutal and medicated months in the asylum a man from the government came and asked her if she would like to join the "Brides for Indians" program, a government experiment.  She was to join a handful of women and head out to the wilderness to become the wife of a Cheyenne Indian for 2 years and bear him some children.  After the 2 years were up she was free to go and do whatever she liked.  May thought that this was her chance at freedom so she jumped on board and headed out on the first train west.  She meets the other "brides" on her journey to the camp and befriends them all (and boy are they a group of great characters).  Eventually they end up at their new homes and through the next few months they acclimate to the new rough lifestyle, become super close to each other as well as their new Cheyenne families, fall in love with their "husbands", and realize they are pawns in some very shady political games.

Though I thought this book was good I didn't think it was great.  I don't know that I would recommend it to a ton of people (maybe if you were interested in Native American culture it would be a good read for you).  It was entertaining to say the least but I didn't feel the urge to pick it up like I do when I read other books (must be why it took me all crappen' month to read the dag on thing).  But I did feel that it was worth finishing.  I thought it was pretty predictable, there wasn't many surprises, and there was little to no suspense.  I felt like I was reading the Abridged version of this book (I wasn't I checked) because I wanted more details, I felt like we needed to hear a little more about some events that happened during their stay with the tribe.  Over all I thought the book was just an average read.

BOOK vs. MOVIE: Lets just say that if I was flipping through channels on the TV and came across this as a Hallmark Movie I would probably stop and watch, but if it came out on the big screen I probably wouldn't drop the $8.50 for the ticket and the other $12,000 on candy and popcorn. :)

RATING: 3 Stars

3 More Reviews on One Thousand White Women:

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd  by Jim Fergus
ISBN 9780312199432
Pages 304

If you liked this book then read: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Monday, January 25, 2010

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

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Just like the book Wicked, Gregory Maguire has taken my breath away once again with his outstanding writing style.  After I read Wicked I could hardly wait to experience another of Maguire's masterpieces but I wasn't sure whether to read one and let my eyes feast on his wonderful words or again listen to one of the audio versions.  In the end I decided to listen to Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and I am glad I did because I now have decided that his writing is such a treat for the ears, that I may never actually read one of his books.  His writing is so clever and so lyrical that everything just flows like poetry yet it tells such a wonderful and rich and detailed story.  I also love how he takes these well known childhood fairy tales and turns them into such deep political adult themed stories.  In Wicked you meet the Wicked Witch of the West and learn about the political climate in Oz.  In Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister you learn of Cinderella and her family and how they suffer economically from the 1630s Tulip Crash in Haarlem Holland.  In both fantastic tales you see the well known stories from the point of view of a not so prominent character.

Obviously from the title you can deduce that this story is going to be told from the point of view of one of the Ugly Stepsisters in the Cinderella tale.  As with every story this one has two sides, and it was quite enjoyable to be privy to the minds of these infamous characters.  The stepsisters names are Iris and Ruth, and in the beginning of the story they are fleeing to Holland with their mother Margarethe after calamity in their home of England.  The story follows Iris, full of spirit, creativity, and a very good heart, but frightfully plain looking bordering on ugly.  She must take care of her older sister Ruth who at first Maguire makes out to be someone who is very mentally challenged.  I pictured Ruth as having Down's Syndrome because of the physical and mental picture that Maguire paints of her.  Their mother Margaretha only wants the very best for her daughters so when they arrive in Holland she begins to look for work as a house maid.  Eventually Margaretha finds employment at the van den Meer household (Haarlem's biggest Tulip trader), and she and her daughters take up the kitchen chores.  One of Iris's jobs at the van den Meer house is to befriend the van den Meer's daughter Clara, because Clara is a very odd and very anti-social little girl.  Eventually Clara's mother passes away and Margaretha manipulates her way into becoming the next Mrs. van den Meer, and so begins the story we all know and love only with a few little twists.  Clara choses to be Cinderella, she wants a life of cloister and a life of house hold work.  Second, she goes unwillingly to the ball and once she is there it is unclear weather she is a willing party in the prince falling in love with her.  Third, Iris and Ruth love Clara very much, the three of them are sisters to the core. Margaretha is however still the evil, over ambitious step-mother from the Disney movie we all know and love.

I love the way Maguire tells not only the fairy tale as we know it, but also tells a story of 1600 Holland, Dutch Art, politics, European superstitions, and financial ruin.  He keeps all the same fairy tale themes but the fairy godmother is the old local crone that dubs herself Queen of the Hairy Chinned Gypsies, and the little mice that make the gown and become the foot men is the local artist's apprentice, Caspar.  I would recommend this book to anyone that loves historical fiction and those that love a good old fashioned fairy tale.  Again I applaud you Mr. Maguire for your fantastic recreation of one of my childhood favorites!

BOOK vs. MOVIE: I would love to see this story as a movie.  There was a made for TV movie of it a few years back and I am going to try and get my hands on it for sure.  I don't know much about seventeenth century Holland so it would be interesting to see what life was like then.  I think Gregory Maguire developed such great characters that it would be easy to develop a script from his writing.

Rating: 4 Stars

3 More Reviews on Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister:
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister {Audio Book}
ISBN 978-1-4193-8990-0
11 CDs {11.75 hours}

If you liked this book then read: Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


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My intention for this blog was to keep everything on Geeb's Book Club 100% book review related, but sometimes something much bigger than our intentions happen and we have to go with our guts.  I am sure everyone on the planet is aware of what is going on right now in Haiti.  Something like 20,000 people and counting are dead, bodies being moved and dumped by front end loaders into massive graves.  Water and food becoming scarce and people rioting because that's what people do when they are at the end of their ropes.  I have a friend in Haiti right now and he told me that mothers are leaving their babies at the airport in hopes that someone will pick them up and take them home!  He said that there were abandoned babies laying on the floors of the airport!  Their families knowing that they will die if the stay there.  My heart is broken.  I have no words to describe how my guts are feeling tonight.

In the middle of this nightmare is a group of people that I wanted to tell you about tonight.  These people are an extension of my family and some are in fact my actual family.  I am so proud of them all.  This group is EDGE Outreach, they are a growing organization located in Louisville Kentucky that (among other things) specializes in bringing clean water to third world countries, and when they heard about Haiti the first thing that they asked was how do we get a team of people down there to bring the people of Haiti some small comfort.  Water.  After a week of scraping together funds, we all witnessed a miracle.  Today the first team left for the disaster zone.  With them they bring water purifiers and capable hands to help in any way they can.  In 10 days EDGE will send another team to relieve the first group and we will continue to send people until they don't need us any more.

I know I only have about 50 followers but that is 50 more people that may not have known about this organization and that may want to help.  If you would like to donate any amount of money or your prayers or thoughts to EDGE Outreach please click the link below to visit EDGE's website.  If you like what you see there, help.  If you don't than all I ask is that you keep the people of Haiti in your foremost thoughts and prayers.  It is an awful thing when we see human suffering, but it is an amazing thing when we see a people come together to help in anyway they know how.

Lets all try and do the next right thing.

EDGE Outreach

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Book Thief

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First, before I review The Book Thief (and oh how I can't wait to review The Book Thief), I wanted to apologize to anyone that has been following my blog from the beginning.  It seems that about 3 months ago I lost my voice.  Not my literal voice (obviously) but my blogging voice.  I have been in a little ginormous writing rut the last few months and I feel like with the new year I was granted a fountain of renewed inspiration to write again.  I am apologizing because I know that my reviews have been a little dry, but I am back and ready to blog.  So... With out further ado...  The Book Thief...

Heavens, where do I even begin!?  There were so many elements to this book and I want to discuss them all so that you all feel the need to stop what your doing (after you leave a comment of course), and run sprint to your nearest book shop and pick up a copy or two of The Book Thief.  (Can you tell I enjoyed this book?  Maybe... Just a little...).  Mark Zusak hit the ball out of the park and across the street with this little gem of a novel.  His writing is beautiful and he paints a beautiful picture with his words.  To describe The Book Thief to someone without summarizing the story I would say that it is a tribute to reading, set in Nazi Germany, narrated by Death.  Then if you were still not interested in reading The Book Thief I may resort to hitting you upside the head with volume and calling you a Saumench (OK so probably I wouldn't resort to violence, but I would probably still call you a Saumench, since it is my new favorite word thanks to this book).

So the plot is very simple and goes like this...  Liesel Meminger is a young German girl that is being taken to live with a new foster family in Molching Germany during WWII.  On the way to Molching her little brother passes away and when they bury him she steals her first book.  When she arrives at her new home alone, confused, and afraid, her new Papa Hans Hubermann, teaches Liesel to read using her stolen book.  Thus begins Liesel's fascination with words, reading, and stealing books.  Through out the story Liesel encounters a great group of characters such as her best fiend Rudy who is obsessed with American Track star Jessie Owens.  Max, the Jewish man that is hiding in her basement.  Rosa, her foul mouthed foster mother.  And of course in a round about way Death.  Death sums up the plot of this book perfectly when he says in the beginning:

"It's just a small story really, about, among other things:
*A Girl
*Some words
*An accordionist
*Some fanatical Germans
*A Jewish fist fighter
*And quite a lot of thievery"

Anyway, if you couldn't tell, The Book Thief really it is one of the best books I have experienced in quite a while, I have been on a roll of bad books lately, so I am really excited about finally finding a good piece of literature.  The plot line was unique, the writing style was unique, the point of view was unique, and the characters were developed really well.  Thank you Markus Zusak for getting me out of my reading (and writing) rut!!

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  I am sure this movie will need to be watched with a hand full of tissue.  I see that 2010 is supposed to be the release year for this movie but I don't see a production house or a cast list anywhere so it probably is just a rumor at this point.  I hope they do the book justice though, because I am sure it would make a good film adaption.

RATING: 5 Stars

3 More review on The Book Thief:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
ISBN 9780375842207
Pages 560

If you liked this book try: Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tomorrow, When the War Began

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Wow!  I flew through this book!!  It was a very easy quick read and the story was fantastic!  I really enjoy survival/dystopic stories and this is a good one (and really realistic, not to far fetched).  And the best part is that this is the beginning of a pretty big series of books, so I have quite a long way to go with these characters and that's great because I wasn't ready to say good bye to my new Aussie friends.  The story wasn't a masterpiece as far as writing goes but the story was VERY entertaining so that made up for it.

So here is the plot.  Ellie, Homer, Fi, Corrie, Kevin, Lee, and Robyn decide it would be great fun to go camping during the Christmas break (which by the way is Summer time in Australia).  They head out on their week long camping trip to a place called Hell, a secluded wild area surrounded by cliffs and hills.  When they return home after their little adventure they find their houses abandoned, their animals dead, and their families no where in sight.  They head into town and start to realize that something has gone terribly a-rye.  Military from some other non-English speaking country has invaded their town and are holding their the entire town prisoner at the fair grounds.  The 7 friends have to find a way to survive for an undetermined amount of time by pillaging houses, and literally moving to Hell.  The story ended with a HUGE cliff hanger that I am not going to talk about, because I want you to read it for your self!

I loved this book.  Like I said before it was easy to read, and though it wasn't very challenging (I LOVE challenging books), there were enough Australian words to keep my brain stimulated.  I loved how the enemy was up to your imagination, they never mention the way they look or the way their language sounds.  I found this quite interesting that they were facing this nameless army.  I am looking so forward to reading the second installment called The Dead of Night.  Bravo John Marsden for such a creative and exciting tale!

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  I would absolutely LOVE to see a movie version of Tomorrow, When the War Began. And it looks like we won't have to wait too long either.  The movie adaption is in post-production and is scheduled for a 2010 release!!!  Woot woot!!!

RATING: 4 Stars

3 More Reviews on Tomorrow, When the War Began:

Tomorrow, When the War Began
by John Marsden
ISBN 0-439-82910-0
Pages 279

If you liked this book read:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


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I hate to start the New Year off with a poor review but I must.  As some of you may have noticed I have had Immortal by Traci Slatton on my "Currently Reading" sidebar since November (November!!!).  I just struggled and struggled through this book and sadly I couldn't finish it.  Nothing burns me more than not being able to finish a book, I'll have you know.  What was the most disappointing to me is that this was at the very tip top of my TBR list for ages, but I was unable to find the book anywhere (should have been my first indication that it wasn't a winner).  Anyway, I finally scored the book for my birthday back in November and dove right in, unfortunately for me I dove into the shallow end.

The story of Immortal is told by Luca Bastardo (Luca the Bastard).  Luca was lost from his noble family as a small child and so he grew up on the streets of 14th century Florence Italy.  Eventually he was taken prisoner by an evil man named Silvano who ran a brothel that catered to men who had a taste for young boy and girls.  Luca learns while he is there in the brothel that he isn't like other people.  He grows older very very slowly, at 27 he still looks to be 15 years old, and because of this unusual trait Silvano wants to keep him around to earn him money and to eventually bring to the Pope in exchange for a reward (his people are legend to have a mark on their chest, that the Catholic Church is interested in).  Luca fights his way out of the brothel, survives the Plague, and continues searching for the truth of his slow aging, his parents, God, Alchemy, and love on and on through the decades.

From reading the summery of the book you understand why I thought this book would be fabulous; a historical fiction lovers dream!  But the thing is, it just fell super flat (flat like a pancake flat).  The writing was choppy and hard to read.  The dialog seemed to be unnatural and it didn't flow (almost like it was being translated straight from Italian into English using Bablefish).  I kept thinking to myself that people don't talk like that, it sounds too proper, too scripted, like a bad TV show.  The plot moved way to slow and after 300 pages I couldn't see the point of continuing (it's a long one).  I am not going to give up all hope on this book though.  I will finish it...eventually!  But for right now I am going to set my sights on something else.

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  Actually I think I would love to see a movie based on this book.  I think the premise is very interesting but it just wasn't executed very well in writing.  I read on Traci Slatton's website that the book has been optioned for a film by Vast Entertainment.  No word yet on release date though.

RATING: 2 Star

3 More Reviews on Immortal by Traci Slatton:

Immortal by Traci L. Slatton
ISBN: 978-0-385-33974-2
Pages 513

If you enjoyed this book then check out: The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

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So I just wanted to wish you all a Happy and Wonderful New Year!!! I have a good feeling about 2010. I have set New Years goals (resolutions if you may) for the first time in my life and I feel like they are doable, practical, and in some cases necessary. I look forward to checking them off my list! As far as any reading resolutions, I plan on counting the books I read. I have never done this before so I have no idea how many I can get through in a given year. This will be interesting for me to find out. As for blogging goals, I resolve to bringing you more reviews per week than I have in the past, I will host my first giveaway though I am not sure when that might be, I will participate in an ARC tour, and I will have an author interview somewhere along the way. I am super excited to see what this year has in store for me!

My "Best Books" list, read in 2009:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Again, I wish all of you a bright and happy New Year!  May 2010 be the best year you have experianced yet.