Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Super Sad True Love Story Review

Super Sad True Love Story: a review by Beehive customer, Chris Echesabal

It’s a romance, it’s a scathing cultural and political satire, it’s an Orwellian thriller about a dystopian wasteland that was once called the United States of America. Gary Shteyngart’s newest novel Super Sad True Love Story somehow manages to achieve success as all of these things without losing believability or the beautiful humanity of its carefully designed characters. Mostly though, Super Sad is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that will delight and surprise you.

Alternating between the journal entries of the middle-aged protagonist, Lenny Ambramov, and the online social network of Eunice Park, the young and restless object of his love, Shteyngart slowly creates for us a picture of America wholly consumed by selfish consumerism, thoroughly bankrupt and indebted to the lenders of the world. In Lenny Ambramov’s America, the defining aspect of a person is their credit score and those with weak scores face deportation. Military vehicles line the streets of major cities keeping LNWIs (Low Net Worth Individuals) from causing problems for the country’s remaining rich. And, with the specter of a visit by the Chinese to determine whether or not to continue funding the whole mess, class tensions will continue to grow.

Amidst all this stands Lenny, a sad, boring kind of guy who somehow never made the cultural jump to this America. He cares less about online shopping and reality television celebrities than he does about collecting books, or as they’re called now “printed, bound, media artifacts”. Lenny works for a company that offers eternal youth to the world’s most rich and powerful; a company where youth, vigor, and hipness are constantly scored and ranked on a giant board in the lobby. Needless to say, Lenny doesn’t exactly fit in there, though he dreams one day to save up enough money to buy eternal youth himself. On a trip to Rome selling his company’s service, Lenny meets Eunice, a bored, spoiled modern teen. Though she finds him almost disgustingly bland, Lenny decides that he loves Eunice and, after bringing her back to New York with him, becomes determined that she will love him too. Eunice, on the other hand, finds herself growing more attached to New York’s LNWI’s (including many veterans without health care) living in Central Park and protecting them from the government’s neglect.

Shteyngart masterfully weaves together a narrative filled with characters so marked by human flaws and weaknesses that one wonders if the book can end in anything other than tragedy. Nonetheless, his wit and sardonic wisdom are apparent throughout. So much so that I found Super Sad True Love Story to be one of the few novels in recent memory to actually make me laugh out loud (or LOL). It’s a novel full of life, charm, and passion that warns of a terrifyingly close future of cultural and economic decay for America. But just think, by buying and reading this book, you’ve taken one step to keep Lenny Abramov’s future at bay and for that you should be proud.

***Thanks Chris for you review! 
Anyone reading Jonathan Franzen's new book (or other books) and want to review it on our blog?  e-mail us at:  readers@beehiveat25.com

Friday, August 27, 2010


Like all of Suzanne Collins' fans, I waited for a year for this book, Mockingjay, and finished it over two days. I am left feeling completely drained yet ultimately satisfied. It wasn't the ending I hoped for or anticipated, but it felt right and true to its characters, with a ray of hope for the future and for mankind.
The book is surprising in many ways.  Katniss is no longer a confident warrior battling defined evil. Instead, she is a reluctant heroine and sometimes pawn for the rebels in their war against the Capitol.  She is more alone in this book than ever before. While her old friend Gale is at her side, he is preoccupied with the war, developing advanced technological weapons for the rebels. Her other companion and love interest, Peeta, has been captured by the Capitol and is been tortured. Her mother and younger sister are now with her in District 13, but they are so busy trying to save wounded soldiers, and Katniss herself is so pulled by duty, they spend virtually no time together. War and survival is all anyone can think of. Close relationships -- and trust -- are nearly non-existent. Yet just when you think it's completely hopeless, there is some redemption and a reason to go on.  Mockingjay is an exciting and thought-provoking and successful conclusion to a fabulous series for both adult and young adult audiences.-- Erin


Monday, August 16, 2010

Writing & Reading at The Beehive

Like Iris, I discovered Beehive Books while searching for my next read. This was back in fall of 2007 and I was a senior in high school. Literature is a big deal at my house but by the end of high school I had exhausted school reading lists, my school library, and my own bookshelf. The answer? Get a job at a bookstore, of course.

Within the first hour of my first shift at Beehive, Mel introduced me to a writer whose work I've returned to many times since: Tobias Wolff. I started with his novel Old School. In this semi-autobiographical work, a boy strives to find his voice as a writer while enrolled at an elite prep school. The book's narrator remains unnamed but Wolff introduces us to fictionalized versions of Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, and Ayn Rand. Old School tells the story of how readers become writers and does so in Wolff's signature style: clean, spare prose peppered with words so well placed that this novel inspires and schools its reader in the craft of writing. Even for those without such pretensions, Old School will satiate readers devoted to good literature and was my introduction to one of the best American voices at work today.

I was drawn to the story of the boy writer in Old School because, as a senior in high school, I too hoped to write. By college, I figured out that hoping to write does not actually make you a writer. I mean, I was writing but I was writing about how I wanted to write. (I think that's called pretension.) I registered for a writing course. Again, Tobias Wolff was recommended to me - this time by my teacher. Last week, I finally picked up my teacher's recommendation: Wolff's memoir This Boy's Life.

I'm wary of the memoir form.  Most memoirs read like therapeutic exercises: 200 pages filled with sensational stories of the fights between parents or chronicles of abusive relationships. This Boy's Life, however, bypasses such cliches. Like his narrator in Old School, Wolff attended an elite prep school. Before that, however, Wolff followed his mother across the U.S. to Washington state. There, she remarries and Wolff finds himself struggling through high school in a bleak town called Concrete. Wolff's true story in This Boy's Life is how he constantly reincarnated himself and the effect of the labels he found himself saddled with as a boy. And while an abusive stepfather figures prominently into the landscape of his boyhood, Wolff mines his experience to illustrate the complexities of growing up. Wolff is a master of fiction, short fiction, and nonfiction. There are stories and portraits packed into this brief memoir that recall Hemingway's Nick Adams Stories and road trips that are reminiscent of Kerouac's.

It's been almost four years now and I still haven't read everything in the Beehive. The list of authors I've discovered thanks to talking to my co-workers and the readers who make Beehive their home is a long one. When you're looking for your next read, come in to the Beehive and let us help you write your own list of favorite authors.

-Rachel Miller

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Little Bee": A Riveting Read

   "Little Bee" is the most powerful  and absorbing novel I've read this summer. Pick up a copy and you'll be caught up in the story of a young African refugee named Little Bee struggling to survive in England, and trying to re-connect with a British woman who may hold the key to her survival. The story alternates between Little Bee's viewpoint, and Sarah's, a British woman who met Little Bee years earlier during a tragedy in her native Nigeria.

   Sarah has her own personal sadness, and the last thing she needs is an illegal Nigerian teenager landing on her doorstep.  But Little Bee turns out to be exactly what Sarah does require. She and the girl form a strong alliance and find a bridge to healing despite the immense difficulty of their circumstances.

  Written by Chris Cleave, Little Bee is a page-turner graced with wit, intelligence and compassion. From the beginning, you'll be hooked by Little Bee's wry self-awareness. She says:  "Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl....A pound is free to travel to safety, and we are free to watch it go. This is the human triumph. This is called globalization. A girl like me gets stopped at immigration, but a pound can leap the turnstiles, and dodge the tackles of those big men with their uniform caps, and jump straight into an airport taxi. Where to, sir?  Western civilization, my good man, and make it snappy." And that's just what you should do, make haste to read this beautiful story.-- Posted by Erin

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Buzz in the Beehive: The Hunger Games Triology!

Wondering what to read after I finished my beloved Harry Potter series is what originally brought me into Beehive Books two years ago. A friend had told me of a series that was just as addicting, only more aimed at a female audience, so I was on a mission to find and devour it. At the back counter I found Erin and her great knowledge of what's hot and what's not in the book realm. When I told her what I was looking for, she lead me straight to Twilight. I got a smoothie from the cafe, plopped down on the red leather couch, and within twenty minutes I was in love. Two weeks later I was working at Beehive and finished with the Twilight Saga.
Finishing a series is always bittersweet. You grow to know and love the characters as if you were life long friends (well, most of them, *cough, cough* Draco Malfoy and The Volturi!). I could hardly wait to get my hands on the next book and continue the journey. However, when you finish the last book, it's hard to say goodbye and then there's always the question of "What do I read next?" First you always look for the book that reminds you of the series you just finished. This is always a mistake because the characters are not the same, and the story is not the same, no matter how much you want them to be. This is why it took me so long to find Twilight after Harry Potter, and then why it took me so long to find The Hunger Games after Twilight. Which brings me to the reason behind this post, to introduce you to The Hunger Games.

It was Erin again that introduced me to this book, and I was admittedly skeptical at first. This didn't really seem like my kind of book. But I was hooked in from the opening chapter when I met Katniss and Gale, secretly hunting beyond the fences of their home in District 12 on reaping day. The only way I can think to describe this series to fellow readers and pop culture lovers is a meshing of The Giver, Lord of the Flies, and Lost. Intrigued? I thought so.

"Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death - televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

WINNING WILL MAKE YOU FAMOUS. LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH." (http://www.thehungergames.co.uk/about_the_book)

After I devoured The Hunger Games (pun intended), it was on to Catching Fire, the second installment of this thrilling series. I could hardly stand to put this book down and finished it in two days. I hate to give away anything from the first book in case you're gathering your keys and heading to Beehive Books right now to buy Hunger Games (available in paperback and hardcover). All I can tell you is that the twists and turns of this book kept me thrilled and terrified for my beloved characters. Several times I had to take a break from reading simply to absorb what had just happened in the rollercoaster ride that was the plot.

I am now anxiously counting down the days (12 + some hours) until the release of the third and final book in the heart-stopping Hunger Games triology.

Set to be released August 24th, I have my copy on order. Call today & reserve your copy! (740-363-2337)

Plans for a movie have recently been announced as well, look for it in theaters in 2011!!

- Iris

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Worker Bee's Book Review

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel

Jeannette Walls' latest novel chronicles the life of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith: mother, horsewoman, pilot, schoolteacher, and southwest rancher. Told in first person, the narrative fuses anecdotes Walls heard as a child, spun together in the no-nonsense, fiercely determined--and ever captivating--voice of Lily, whose adventures span through a Texas dugout home, Chicago, and finally to the Arizona desert. If the novel's metaphor of the 'half broke horse' becomes slightly repetitive, it more than compensates for this in its stunning, intricate character portrait of Lily. While Lily has the pluck to leave home at age fifteen to become a teacher (embarking on a four-week journey), she grieves deeply over the loss of a family member; while her traditional plans for her daughter strain their relationship, she thoroughly embraces the advent of modern technology. A must read to encounter this unforgettable heroine, whose story is told in an impeccable voice.