Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Publisher: Harper Perennial, 1995
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Where I Got It: Paperback Swap
Why I Read It: I fell in love with that song “Defying Gravity” from Wicked the Musical and wanted to check out the book.
My Rating: 3 stars
Brief Description: Elphaba is born with green skin and sharp teeth in the land of Oz. Her odd appearance disturbs her parents, but they raise her as best they can (despite her aversion to water). At college, she finds herself rooming with the lovely but shallow Galinda (who later shortens her name by one letter). Although they are mismatched and Galinda is embarrassed by Elphaba, they eventually form a friendship. Elphaba—who feels compassion for the Animals (the ones that talk) and their decreasing civil rights—begins her lifelong crusade against the corrupt Wizard of Oz. As she, Glinda and her sister—the armless Nessarose—grow up and become known as the sorcerers of the East, West and North, Elphaba finds herself facing heartbreak, betrayal and loneliness. Then, the arrival of a young innocent named Dorothy Gale into Oz sets Elphaba on collision course with destiny and her mysterious origins.
My Thoughts: Maguire had a genius idea: to tell the real story of the Wicked Witch of the West. The seeds of a wonderful story are contained in this book. However, in my opinion, the seeds never sprout into anything amazing and magical. Instead, I felt like I was left with some dried-up beans that didn’t quite get enough sun and water. The plot jumps all over the place, and Maguire doesn’t have a smooth fluid writing style; he makes you work for everything (and much harder than I thought I should have to). I wanted to be carried away by this story, but I spent so much time fighting Maguire’s tangents and stiffness that I never quite took flight. Although there were some real moments of truth and creativity and imagination, I thought the book ultimately got bogged down. Too bad … I think Elphaba deserved something better. Perhaps she got it in the musical version of this book?
Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekkanan
Publisher: Washington Square Press, 2011
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Where I Got It: A gift from Natalie at Book Line and Sinker (Thanks, Nat!)
Why I Read It: Natalie said I should
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Brief Description: Julia and Michael grew up together in the same West Virginia town. Both faced childhoods that were difficult, but they saved each other and managed to escape their hardscrabble town and create a new life together in Washington, DC. Now in their thirties, they’ve achieved a level of success that Julia (whose constant worries about money growing up have followed her into adulthood) never imagined possible. Michael is the owner of a wildly successful company, while Julia owns her own party planning business. They live in a mansion, drive luxury cars and want for nothing. But Julia often finds herself alone as Michael is consumed by his work. His dedication to growing his company has devoured him, and their marriage has become a hollow shell. Then Michael has a heart attack and is declared clinically dead for several minutes. When he recovers, he is a changed man. Not only is he dead-set on giving away his massive fortune, he is also ready to focus on and love Julia again. But Julia is not quite ready to embrace these changes. She’s become a different person over the years and doesn’t feel what Michael feels. To her, he is destroying their lives and threatening her with her worst childhood fears. She thinks it unfair of Michael to ask so much of her when he gave her so little in the past. But Michael seems to be on a deadline of sorts, and she feels she owes him a bit of time to make his case.
My Thoughts: Despite the glamourous trappings of wealth and the visions of the afterlife that Michael shares, this is really a novel about a marriage that evolved into something that neither party can fully understand and where it will go next. There has been betrayal, hurt and neglect on both sides, and when Michael abrubtly wants to find his way back to Julia, she’s not quite sure she wants him back. As they both struggle to make sense of what their marriage has become, Pekkanen explores what holds a marriage together and whether people can truly give up the love that brought them together in the first place. I thought Pekkanen created an interesting story and brought it to a close in a very satisfying and emotional way. However, I often found myself thinking that Julia was too focused on money, and I often found her unlikable. I think if Pekkanen had spent more time developing Julia’s hardscrabble childhood a bit more, it wouldn’t have read this way. Still, despite some flaws, Pekkanen creates an involving and emotional read.
Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks, 2012
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Where I Got It: From LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program
Why I Read It: I enjoy books that give you an insider’s look into various professions
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Brief Description: Heather Poole has been a flight attendant for 15 years (for an unnamed airline) and she’s ready to give us the inside scoop on crazy passengers, the disjointed life of a flight attendant, the realities of a crashpad, and what it is like to fly the “friendly skies” for a living.
My Thoughts: I enjoy books that give you an insider’s look at various professions, and the life of a flight attendant is particularly appealing. Poole does a good job of conveying the weirdness and stress that is the life of a flight attendant … so much so that it made me wonder why anyone would want to have this job. If you ever thought that being a flight attendant was a glamourous job, think again. Not only does it make having personal relationships next to impossible, but flight attendants seem to barely make a living wage. In addition, the job requires dealing with difficult people in a closed environment under a lot of stress. Still, Poole makes a good case for the career, which provides a host of unique experiences (both good and bad) that give flight attendants a life that is anything but normal and boring. Although the writing is bit clunky at times, the book moves along at a fast clip and focuses squarely on Poole’s flight attendant experiences. I guarantee you’ll never look at a flight attendant the same way again. Also, If you’re considering pursuing a career as a flight attendant, I’d recommend reading this book first as it is very possible you will change your mind.
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