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After much deliberation and thought we have decided to move Lit Snit. We hope you’ll follow us over to our new digs (you can click on the image below) where you’ll find more reviews, book club discussions, and our Casting Call Fridays! If you’ve been gracious enough to add us to your blog roll or to your RSS feed please update your link.
Thanks and we’re looking forward to seeing you at our new site!
We hope you enjoyed our July Lit Snit Book Club selection, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I found some reading group questions at her website, so we’ll use these as a starting point to our discussion. Feel free to veer off topic or pose your own questions!
1. Who was your favorite character? Why?
2. What do you think motivated Hilly? On the one hand she is terribly cruel to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes that she can’t control her. Yet she’s a wonderful mother. Do you think that one can be a good mother but, at the same time, a deeply flawed person?
3. Like Hilly, Skeeter’s mother is a prime example of someone deeply flawed yet somewhat sympathetic. She seems to care for Skeeter–and she also seems to have very real feelings for Constantine. Yet the ultimatum she gives to Constantine is untenable; and most of her interaction with Skeeter is critical. Do you think Skeeter’s mother is a sympathetic or unsympathetic character? Why?
4. How much of a person’s character would you say is shaped by the times in which they live?
5. Did it bother you that Skeeter is willing to overlook so many of Stuart’s faults so that she can get married, and that it’s not until he literally gets up and walks away that the engagement falls apart?
6. Do you believe that Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?
7. Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?
8. From the perspective of a twenty-first century reader, the hairshellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter their looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of “beauty” changes with the times. Looking back on your past, what’s the most ridiculous beauty regimen you ever underwent?
9. The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?
10. Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships where people of color work for people who are white? Have you heard stories of parents who put away their valuable jewelry before their nanny comes? Paradoxically, they trust the person to look after their child but not their diamond rings?
11. What did you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?
I hemmed and hawed over my choice for this week’s Casting Call Friday. I had zero inspiration for what to cast this week until, perusing my bookshelves, I stumbled upon an old favorite by Megan Crane.
Here’s a quick summary (via Goodreads)
Meredith McKay has gone to a lot of trouble to create the picture-perfect life for herself far away from her troublesome family, thank you. When her fathers car accident forces her back to her hometown, however, she soon discovers that there’s no running away from family issues —there’s only delaying the inevitable. Can anyone sort out a lifetime of drama in one hot summer? Throw in a hot guy from back in high school with an ax to grind, a best friend turned enemy turned soon-to-be-sister-in-law, and of course, the sometimes irritating, sometimes delightful members of her own family, and Meredith is on her way to figuring out that a trip through the past is the best way to move forward. With one revelation after another coming to light, Meredith must reexamine all the things shes ever believed, including the truth about herself. Could it be that she isnt the picture-perfect good girl she always thought she was?
Meredith McKay – Meredith is your classic “good girl” that always tries to make everyone else happy. Growing up with her brother and Jeannie, she’s always been the nice girl, apologizing for their antics. After moving away she finds a job she doesn’t really like and falls into a relationship with a guy who’s seemingly perfect for her, but she doesn’t really love. It’s not until she’s forced to move back home to care for her injured father does she realize that she needs to start living the life she wants.
Rachel McAdams has the perfect “the girl next door” attitude and ability to play an adorable frazzled, put upon Meredith.
Scotty Sheridan – The former butt of the McKay family’s jokes, once gawky and the class “loser, Scott has grown into a confident, clever county prosecutor. He’s had a long-time crush on Meredith, but has a lot of resentment for the way she, Jeannie, and Christian treated him.
Matthew Goode would be fantastic as the tall, dark, handsome Scott Sheridan, quietly pining over Meredith, but using his snarky sense of humor to push her buttons.
Jeannie Gillespie – Meredith’s former best friend and soon-to-be sister in law, Jeannie likes to be in control and the center of attention. She’s funny, confident, and fiercely loyal to the McKay family.
Katherine Heigl is the perfect Jeannie. Controlling, slightly passive-aggressive and sometimes she can be catty, but Jeannie would do anything for her friends and family.
Christian McKay – Meredith’s handsome lawyer older brother is a type-A personality and, like Jeannie, is used to Meredith going along with most of his plans (including taking a sabbatical from her job to take care of their father). Christian doesn’t take surprises well and is used to getting his way.
Adam Scott has the right kind of sarcastic attitude plus the ability to play both characters that can be jerks (see Stepbrothers/Leap Year) and characters that are sweet and sympathetic (see The Vicious Kind/Parks and Recreation)
Hope McKay – The youngest of the McKay clan, Hope is the antithesis of Meredith. Hope does what she wants, others be damned. She’s got a dry, quick wit and tries to break Meredith out of her passive, “good girl” shell.
Mae Whitman has the disaffected youth personality down pat and would be awesome as the irreverent, hilarious Hope.
Father McKay – I couldn’t find a name for the patriarch of the McKays, since he’s mostly referred to as Dad, but he’s quiet and unassuming, and it’s easy to see where Meredith gets her eagerness to please. He’s got a basement aquarium that he spends most of his time and energy on, much to the dismay of his children.
Richard Jenkins just is this character in my head. He’s perfect for this sweet, but kind of sad character.
What do you think? Agree/disagree? I want to hear your thoughts on who would be perfect for this fun, charming book.
As Comic Con winds down, I’m here to give you my last comic series recommendation/review. If you’re not that familiar with comics, I hope you’ve seen a series or two that’s caught your eye. Not all comics are about superheroes and people with powers. Many of today’s comic series are dramatic, thought-provoking reads that rival (or are many times better than) what’s on the bestseller list. I hope you’ll give one of these graphic novels a try next time you’re looking for something good to read.
DMZ written by Brian Wood
DMZ is set in New York City, where photography intern Matty Roth, is thrust in the middle of America’s second civil war that has turned the island of Manhattan into a demilitarized zone. Matty, now the only reporter in the DMZ, tries to make sense of the war and report the truth, as both sides of the war, the federal government and the “Free State” armies, conspire, lie, and attempt to use Matty as their pawn.
Living in New York, I was a huge fan of the concept of DMZ. Wood and his co-creator and artist Riccardo Burchielli have imagined a horrific, fascinating vision of NYC. A friend at work and I often hypothesize apocalypse exit strategies and “what if” catastrophe scenarios (because we’re strange and morbid that way) and DMZ is like seeing one of those conversations come to life. Wood tackles moral issues, politics, religion, wartime ethics—nothing is clear cut, but every issue makes you think. Like Scalped, DMZ can get very dark, but that’s what makes it so unique and fascinating. Wood has created a world that makes you think about things on a global and personal level. In later volumes Wood seems to get bogged down by political and social commentary at the detriment to characters, making it a slight struggle to get through for me, but I still enjoyed every volume. Matty’s transformation from the boy who was left in the DMZ to the world-weary report that struggles to find something or someone to believe in is difficult to witness because seeing the chaos in this world gone mad, even I felt helpless and struggled to make sense of it all. DMZ isn’t a complete downer though. Matty is a realistic protagonist and the characters that fill the DMZ are intriguing and full of surprises.
I can’t end my Comic Con recs without mentioning two other series that I adore: Buffy the Vampire, Season 8, which is a MUST for any Buffy fan, and Umbrella Academy, a bizarrely brilliant series that the A.V. Club calls “…part X-Men and part The Royal Tenenbaums…” I wish I could write full reviews on all my favorite series, but I assure you both of these books are well-worth a read.
Oh, and I can’t believe I forgot to ask this until this last post, but are there any good comic series you guys would recommend?
I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday so I didn’t get around to my comic review post, so today’s Comic Con-inspired post is a twofer.
Runaways created by Brian K. Vaughn
Runaways is another delightful creation from Brian K. Vaughn (Note: if you’re ever unsure where to start when you dive into the comic world, he’s a great writer to start with). Runaways all started with one simple question: what would you do if you discovered your parents were super villains? After six teens, Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico, discover their parents are members of a criminal group they take to the streets, wanting nothing to do with their parents’ evil ways. (I know this is a vague summary, but to say anything more would be giving away ever juicy twist that makes Runaways awesome)
To say I adore Runaways might be an understatement. These are books I re-read again and again, never failing to smile at Molly’s innocent charm or Chase’s silly buffoonery. The series also has what is probably one of my favorite character in book, TV, anything: Gertrude Stein. Smart and sassy with her psychic dinosaur at her side (I know, I know, just go with it. It’s easier when you don’t struggle.), Gert has carved herself a little place in my heart. I don’t want to give anything away that’s too spoiler-y because this series is full of surprises, but the first seven volumes, written by Vaughn are pure genius fun. Joss Whedon picks up the eighth volume, which is decent, but, as much as I adore Whedon, doesn’t have the same flavor that Vaughn brought. Other writers come in after that until the series pitters to a halt. They say they’re “retooling” the series, but it’s been a while now so I don’t know if it will be picked up again or not. I’ve heard they’re making a movie, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
I urge you, if you’re a fan of the YA genre (or even if you’re not) give Vaughn’s run of this series a try. It’s full of heart and comedy, while realistically portraying an emotional coming of age story.
Fables created by Bill Willingham
(via Goodreads) When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White’s party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown’s sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose’s ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.
I love the entire concept of Fables. Ageless fairy tale characters wandering the streets of NYC? Yes, please! Whether you’re well-versed in fairy tale lore or not, the characters are entirely engaging and compelling to read. Fables is funny, compelling, and a little bit grim. It’s one of those series I want to completely immerse myself in, wishing it were real. Every volume offers something new and different, whether it be a murder mystery, crime caper, or an epic war, making the series an exciting read.
This series has launched a few different spin offs (including one novel) which I need to pick up. If you were at all a fan of our book club book, The Book of Lost Things, I would encourage you to try Fables. It keeps the spirit of dark old world tales and is entirely addictive.
In honor of Comic Con this week, I’m sharing some of my favorite comic series for the next five days. Yesterday I talked about Scalped by Jason Aaron, a dark, gritty tale about life on a Native American reservation, and today I’m going to talk about the first of two series that I’ll share that are created by the brilliant Brian K. Vaughn.
(via Goodreads) In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome–with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet. This “gendercide” instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.
Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped-for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he’s the only man to survive.
What could easily be a silly male fantasy realized, Y: The Last Man instead is a funny, grim, thought-provoking, and just a flat-out fascinating tale. Over ten volumes, and five years (within the story) you see characters grow and change, adjusting to this new world. Unconventional, but a perfect duo, Yorick (along with his pet monkey Ampersand) and Agent 355 quickly became a delight to read even against this dark backdrop. They’re a great duo; Yorick’s sly sense of humor is perfect against Agent 355 stoicism.
I was slightly annoyed with the ambiguity as to the cause of the plague that wiped out mankind, but I grew to love the characters so much that I was able to set aside any issues I had with some convoluted plotting (it was also hard reading this with months in between, having to go back and remember what had happened in the previous volume. Lucky for you, all ten volumes are available for purchase and you won’t have to wait for the next installment). Vaughn created something special with his ability to tackle issues on a global scale with the political and sociological ramifications of losing all the men in the world (save one), while making it very much a story about a boy in love. Vaughn uses Y to explore issues of morality, humanity, and gender, but is never preachy. Y: The Last Man hits all the right notes of humor, drama, and action, making it a pleasure to read.
In honor of San Diego Comic Con this week (which, okay stopped being about comics a few years ago and is more about Hollywood these days, but whatever) I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite comic series (or graphic novels or whatever you want to call them).
I think comics sometimes get a bad wrap as being “kiddish” or only read by middle-aged sci-fi fans that live in their parents’ basement (though this long-held stereotype is definitely changing lately), but I am a huge fan of the medium and have read some stories that rival even the best award-winning “serious” literature so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite series with you these next five days.
There are so many good series that it’s hard to just pick a few to share with you, but I’ve compiled a list that I’ll share over the next five days of what I think are the best series I’ve read in the past few years. I’m not giving these letter grades because they’re all my favorite series, so it kind of goes without saying that they’d all be A’s in my book.
Scalped written by Jason Aaron
Summary: Scalped is a noir crime story set on a Native American reservation. Dashiell Bad Horse returns to Prairie Rose Indian Reservation, or “the rez,” after fifteen years away, under suspicious circumstances. As Bad Horse is coerced into working for the tribal police force, he’s forced to deal with political intrigue, drug dealers, murder, and some emotional entanglements he swore he left behind.
Review: Scalped is an amazing series that constantly pushes the envelope. Full of intrigue, double-crossing, and scandal, it’s an unflinching look at life on a reservation. A dark and gritty storyteller, Jason Aaron never ceases to shock and amaze me with surprising twists and moving emotional archs.
This series hinges on it’s twists so I don’t want to give too much away, but Bad Horse is a complex character that I don’t necessarily like, but I just can’t seem to stop from grabbing the next issue to see what will happen next. I like that this series, while centered around Bad Horse, gives a lot of time to other characters so you understand their motivations both in the present and in the past (Aaron blends the past and present seamlessly within his story. This series is as much about what happened before Dashiell was even born as it is about the here and now.). Just when I think I’ve gotten a character or storyline figured out, I’m thrown for another loop and need to re-adjust my entire perception of the series.
I can’t say enough good things about this series. If you like mysteries, crime stories, or film noir pick up volume one of Scalped as soon as you can.
Matched by Ally Condie
Release date: November 30, 2010
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.
Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.
There’s been a lot of buzz on different blogs about Matched and I hear it was the “must-get” item at BEA and I can see why. Dystopian society, forbidden love, free will versus determinism, it all sounds positively delicious. Plus, the cover is adorable! I’m a big fan of romance with a sly sci-fi twist and this book seems like it will deliver on every level. November (almost December!) is way too far away.
*Waiting on Wednesday is an ingenious idea hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.
Summary (via Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “Duffy,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
Review (Warning—Light Spoilers): I had to give myself a week and one re-read to write my review so this review didn’t come out full of incoherent fangirl squeeing. Since reading The Duff I’ve been slightly internet stalking Kody Keplinger as I do most authors I love. (Note to Kody: it’s harmless stalking…I swear. Just ignore that feeling like you’re being watched all the time. It will fade once you get used to me.)
Just seventeen when she wrote this, I’m torn between admiration and insane jealousy of Keplinger. Her writing is realistic, but incredibly nuanced. (Note again to Kody: not “insane jealousy” like I’m going to ‘Single White Female’ you. More like I want to steal your words and make your brain mine…yeah…now that I think about it, that sounds worse, doesn’t it?)
Fast-moving, charming, and honest, The Duff (which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend) hooked me from page one. Bianca is smart, spunky, and just a little insecure. Wesley, who could easily be a flat character with his “playboy” ways, is he’s as well-developed as Bianca. I totally understand how Bianca could fall for this guy she supposedly hated (heck, I kind of fell for him myself). The way their relationship evolves is completely believable. Their transition from “enemies with benefits” to friends to something even more happens so smoothly you don’t even realize it’s happening, much like the characters themselves. Their banter is witty and their hookups are, well, pretty hot. As they get to peel back the layers and emotional barriers you begin to see why these two people are so right for each other. Without really realizing it, each helps the other deal with larger issues. Bianca deals with her parents’ divorce and her father’s alcoholism, while Wesley faces absent parents and a grandmother that despises him.
I loved Bianca’s friends, Casey and Jessica. Both are very different from Bianca but incredibly loyal and clearly the trio cares very deeply for each other. At one point, Wesley says that he really only has one friend, who is gay, because other boys are jealous of him. I wish we could have seen a bit more how this affected Wesley. Girls so often turn against a girl that is seen as more sexually active I thought it was interesting that Wesley’s open attitude regarding sex made him a social outcast among the guys.
My only major gripe is that I think Bianca’s father’s alcoholism perhaps doesn’t get the attention it should. His outbursts and recovery are waved aside with a heartfelt apology and mention of AA, but I felt like the issue should have been more developed, especially since he gets violent with her. Also, her absentee mother showing up and expecting things to just work themselves out irked me.
And while I hated how Bianca let Wesley get away with calling her such a horrible name for so long, the scene where she finally admits how much it hurt her is so poignant and emotional you realize that Wesley has no idea how much weight that word carried. In their relationship, Keplinger elegantly explores issues of self-respect and self-worth that aren’t just regulated to teens. All women, young or old, feel like “the duff” at one point or another.
By now I’m sure it’s apparent that I loved The Duff. I think I’d put it up there with Some Girls Are and The Sky is Everywhere as my favorite YA books so far this year (maybe ever). Unfortunately, The Duff doesn’t come out until September. I know, I know, I’m sorry for raving about something that isn’t in stores for you right now. But, I’m counting down the days until you guys can get your hands on this awesome debut novel. I’m sure once you read it you, like me, will be waiting eagerly to see what else Keplinger has in store for us.
Lit Snit Verdict: A+