Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

This is the story of the Mirabal sisters: Patria, Dede, Minerva, and Maria Theresa (Mate). The four revolutionary leaders in the Dominican Republic working most of their adult lives fighting against the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. They became the inspiration for a nation becoming Las Mariposas, the Butterflies a symbol of freedom.

The story begins in the present with a journalist going to visit the last surviving Mirabal sister, Dede, to get the true story of Las Mariposas. She learns about the girls upbringing on a farm in the country, their school days including their first encounter with Trujillo, and their first taste of revolutionary ideas from a young communist professor Minerva was in love with.

Every chapter of the book switches perspective, having each sister take a turn narrating their side of the story. This can often get confusing but because it follows a chronological timeline it's pretty easy to follow.

The most compelling character is definitely Minerva. Her mouth and rash behavior often puts her in a lot of trouble. She is also the first of the sisters to join the movement. At law school she meets Manolo, a leader of the resistance who she teams up with and eventually marries. She is also the brains behind a lot of their plans, even convincing the other sisters to help. Her and Mate are arrested and thrown in prison, one of the best chapters of the book, during a roundup of resistance fighters. It's told from Mate's perspective but Minerva's actions endear her to the reader.

It's hard to categorize the book. I guess it should be called historical fiction. The characters are very real, as are many of the events that take place. The question is how much is real? The author makes no pretense, this is fiction. She was inspired by the women but these are characters of her own imagination. It is very compelling and well-written. I wouldn't exactly call it a page turner but it was a quick read and really engrossing. As a self-described feminist it's great to read a story where women make a difference, and the fact that it's true makes it even better. Check it out if you like historical fiction and/or revolution! Viva Las Mariposas.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Update City!

So first of all... I suck at this. I never update. I have read many books since May and I even wrote a few reviews but I never posted any of them. I suck. I mean no one really reads this anyway, so who the hell cares? If you care post a comment. So it's really only for my benefit anyway. But still, I want to do it. I actually considered doing videos instead, thought they'd be easier, but I don't want to wing my reviews. And if I write them out anyway I may as well post them. So here I am. Back again. First the obligatory update post.

1.) Finished The Lacuna. It was really good. Sad, sweet, well written. It had some unexpected turns toward the end.

2.) Finished Hitchhiker's Guide Series . So Long and Thanks for All the Fish wasn't great. The series without this book would have been better. It's about Arthur Dent's romance... Snoozefest! There is a pretty funny part with Marvin at the end. Mostly Harmless was great though. It was the perfect end to the series. Pure Douglas Adams. Funny, sarcastic, sweet, self-deprecating.

3.) Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. It was everything I was expecting. Romance, mystery, art, very well-written. Elizabeth Kostova is an amazing author. It wasn't as good as The Historian. The mystery wasn't as mysterious and it was far less Gothic in nature but it was really good. Maybe I had very high hopes considering The Historian is arguably by favorite book of all time. It was really good though. If you're into Impressionism or want a romantic mystery check it out.

4.) The Huger Games. I got in on the ground floor of this one. I'm a freaking snob and I like to read these things before they get huge. I actually really loved it. It's YA fiction but it was really well-written. A dystopian future with a strong female character. There was violence, mystery, and romance. With most series I love the first book, hate the second, and kind of like the last. With this series they keep getting better. There were crazy twists and turns, but it wasn't needlessly dramatic, which I hate. This series I definitely recommend, in fact I have.

5.) Brida was a little bit of a disappointment. I still really like Paolo Coehlo but Brida was not nearly as earth-shattering as The Alchemist. It was okay. Some parts seemed forced and not that deep honestly. I count on Coehlo to be deep and psychological but this was just was meh. There were some decent parts and the witchcraft elements were surprisingly realistic but I wasn't blown away.

6.) A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. This is the story of a man who puts ad in the paper for a "reliable wife" and the woman who answers it. Right away we learn she's not quite so honest, in fact she wants to kill him. This is completely my type of book. A period piece with some mystery and romance. It was good but a little over-dramatic. I actually had this book recommended to me. It was a pretty decent rec. if you like this kind of book check it out.

7.) The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. The Tao of Pooh pretty much changed my life. This is a sequel of sorts. It explains the eastern philosophical idea of the Te or virtue and how the meek Piglet (of Pooh fame) embodies it by being of good heart and is brave by not even realizing he's brave. It goes through the other characters and explains how they get in the way of enlightenment. It gives you a lot to think about, it was very good.

8.) The Help by Kathryn Stockett. So I try really hard be ahead of book-to-movie trends. I had meant to read this forever ago but never did. So then the movie came out and everyone raved about it so I knew I had to read it. I mean my mom read this book before me. It's about black maids at the time of segregation. A young woman decides to write a book from the maids perspective outlining exactly the disparaging ways the woman in town treat them even though they do pretty much everything for them. Again, this book was needlessly dramatic. There were entire sections that came out of left field and then it was never touched again. Plus I hated the ending! Like vehemently hated it. Why does everything have to be left open for sequels?

9.) Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby. It's the story of a couple who's been together for a very long time, their relationship getting very stale. A new CD from an old favorite comes between then and he ends up cheating on her. She kicks him out and she ends up meeting someone online that turns out to be the artist of the CD that come between them. It's not normally the type of book that I read but I like Nick Hornby. It was good though. I normally don't like books that are realistic. I like a little mystery, a little magic, unrealistic. But this was unrealistic enough to make me not hate it. It was funny, sweet, and well-written.

10.) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson. The final book in the Millennium Trilogy. I read the first two forever ago. I started this one and got bored. The first part was really dramatic, then the middle was boring so I stopped reading it. But again I try to be on top of the book-to-movie trend. So when they came out with the first movie everyone started reading the book. I had to finish the series before all the trend-following people. It was really good. The end was a little overly dramatic too, and there was a bunch of side-plots that were kind of silly and pointless. The main storyline was really good and a lot of information was revealed from earlier books. All in all good series if you're into crime dramas or mysteries.

There you have it. All the books I read in 9 months, I think. I may have missed a few, 13 books seems like not very many. Hopefully I'll update more often in the near future.