Monday, March 30, 2015

Things I've Read Recently (17)

If you're new around here or I just haven't done one in a while, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason. 'Cause those things take me a lot of time!

Also, this one is a very strange round-up, but I want to get a post up for March, so. Here it is!

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

Published: January 1st, 2009 by Clarion Books
Genre: I would classify this as contemporary MG, but apparently most people see it as YA/it was marketed that way?
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 144
Part of a series? No.
Got via: I bought it off Amazon.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound
(Affliate links.)

Summary (from goodreads): Meli Lleshi is positive that her drawing of her teacher with his pelican nose started it all. The Lleshis are Albanians living in Kosovo, a country trying to fight off Serbian oppressors, and suddenly they are homeless refugees. Old and young alike, they find their courage tested by hunger, illness, the long, arduous journey, and danger on every side. Then, unexpectedly, they are brought to America by a church group and begin a new life in a small Vermont town. The events of 9/11 bring more challenges for this Muslim family--but this country is their home now and there can be no turning back.

Thoughts: I had mixed feelings about this one. I don't know much about the subject, so it was a learning experience for me. It's diverse, obviously, as Meli is Albanian and Muslim, as is her family. And it was a very interesting story. There is something, however, that just says "homework" about it to me. Like as a study unit, or a reading list book, it would fit very well. It reminds me a lot of the Breadwinner series that I read as a kid.

I dunno, I didn't dislike it, and it's small, so I'm not all "I must weed this for the shelf space", but I don't think I really connected with it. The plot seemed kind of confused, if that makes sense. This is one of those ones I'd really like to read other reviews of. I also think the timeframe of 1998-2000 is somewhat hard to work with and describe - it's not contemporary, but it's not really old enough to be historical, in my opinion. The writing, too, was a bit hard to get into, and I think reluctant readers would struggle a lot, and even strong readers may decide it's not worth it. Possibly I would enjoy it more on a reread.

I'm reading reviews now and a lot of people are saying this is a YA, whereas I would have categorized it as MG - I don't think this works as YA at all. Meli is I believe thirteen when the book starts, and fifteen at the end, but only barely, and most of it has her around thirteen and fourteen, which is very young for YA, and the arc is not really a YA arc to me. This book can't seem to decide where it wants to live, and I think it struggles with a lot of confusion. Also, for a YA, this is very short, whereas it'd be okay for MG. The problem is, I think, is that there are so few books about this subject that I want more from this.

And this is why I blog! Half the time it's not until I start writing that I work through my feelings!

The Haunting of Hiram by Eva Ibbotson

Published: This edition was published in 2009 by Macmillan Children's Books, but it was originally published in 1987 by the same publisher.
Genre: Fantasy MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 172
Part of a series? No, but it should would make a nice set with her other books.
Got via: I bought it from Amazon or Chapters, can't remember which.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound
(Affiliate links - this is also called the Haunting of Granite Falls for some reason.)

Summary (from goodreads): Alex MacBuff can't afford to keep his beloved Castle Carra, and an American millionaire has made him an offer he can't refuse. The castle is shipped all the way to Texas, but its ghostly inhabitants, including Krok the Viking warrior and a hell-hound called Cyril, follow their home across the Atlantic. How can Alex stop the haunting Hiram and also save the millionaire's daughter from an evil ransom plot?

Thoughts: I love Eva Ibbotson, but this is not my favourite of her books. She writes ghosts wonderfully. There's so much colour in them, and they are so very British. They're really fun, and she's not afraid to, like, flat-out murder the bad guys which can be very satisfying when you're young, and I think a lot of kids would enjoy this. This is a type of book where you need to go in expecting the silliness of it - ghosts exist, they live in castle, that castle is gonna be moved. You go in expecting something realistic, you're not going to be in the right mind frame.

But there's things about this that I didn't like. The man in a dress trope is transmisogynistic. Encouraging kids to not take medications that they need (even if they decide they don't) is not a good idea, and it's bad disability representation to do the "sunshine and friendship will heal all your issues" thing. Also, there's a running joke about "prairie ghosts" and Native American ghosts that is kinda racist.

So while I enjoyed the book, it's hard to say if I would recommend it for kids. I think the new covers are neat (this one is actually a bit darker in real life, with richer colours), but the content in this one is... somewhat dated, and problematic. It's really hard to look at these things, because I've loved Eva Ibbotson since I was small, but ... I don't wanna be the one who says that stuff is okay. I think she has better stuff that I would reach for first.

The Search by Nora Roberts

Published: July 6th, 2010 by Putnam
Genre: Romance
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: Goodreads says 488 and I'm gonna have to go with that because I don't have the copy I read anymore.
Part of a series? No, I don't think so.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare...

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona's cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands...

Thoughts: My mom kept reading me bits of this because of the puppy, Jaws, that were hilarious, and I had just finished finals, so I sat down and spent an evening reading this. I don't really review most of the romance I read because I review YA/MG, and I track/tag my picture books, so romance is about the only thing I just... read. So I have no notes or anything from this, but I enjoyed it. I really needed something like this after finishing finals/my final projects. This isn't even a mini-review, this is just a "I read this".

Okay, the next thing is neither one book nor really a review nor a first time read, but, hey, I need to get this post up and clean some books out of my room, so let's go with it!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Published: January 1st, 2008 by Scholastic
Genre: Dystopian YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 374
Part of a series? The first book of the Hunger Games trilogy.
Got via: I bought it at Walmart.
Amazon (also the kindle copy is only like 3 dollars) / Book Depository / Indiebound
(I'm also going to throw it out there that the boxed set is only a little over 20 dollars for paperback, 36 for hardcover, and under 15 for kindle, because, hey, that's a nice deal, and I like to tell you guys these things.)

Summary (from goodreads): The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The 'tributes' are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

(I'm going to put the summaries for the second and third books, too, so after this point, here be spoilers. If you've managed to avoid Hunger Games spoilers for 5 years, 3 books, and 3 movies - congratulations! What's the address of the rock you live under???)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Published: September 1st, 2009 by Scholastic
Genre: Dystopian YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 391 in my hardcover copy.
Part of a series? The second book of the Hunger Games trilogy.
Got via: I also bought this one at Walmart.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Published: August 24th, 2010 by Scholastic
Genre: Dystopian YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 390 in my hardcover copy.
Part of a series? The third and final book of the Hunger Games trilogy.
Got via: Lindsay gave it to me because I was having a lot of trouble finding it where I live. (Love you!)
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans--except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost.

Thoughts: I have a notebook around here somewhere that I took all my notes in. Well, some of my notes. I reread the Hunger Games as a school project, and wrote a 5000 word essay on it for my final project for my Social class, so those notes are completely different from my regular "reading" notes, and for the other two, I just like writing stuff down as I read. I was not necessarily writing down review notes.

So my notes for the first book are largely on the "ways this relates to democracy" and my other homework stuff spectrum, but it was really nice to reread it. I am a person who enjoys rereading - I used to have a very, very small collection of books as a kid, and I read them all time after time. I can't do that to the same extent these days, but I still enjoy rereading.

And I really do like these books. Honestly, I love the movies (except I haven't seen Mockingjay yet 'cause I'm waiting to watch it with a friend and we've both been ridiculously busy), which isn't always the case, but I do love both the movies and the books, although I am good at separating them, too. There are things in the books that simply would not work in a movie.

Funnily enough, actually, some of the things I enjoy about the movies are exactly opposite that what I enjoy in the books. I like the fast pace of the Catching Fire movie, but I like the way the book spends so much more time showing us District 12, the people there, showing what Katniss' new life is like. I like how much more time people get in the book versus the movie a lot, although I also understand that things that are great in books sometimes just don't work on screen.

My notes make little sense here, honestly, because the further I read because the less coherent I was. Mockingjay makes me cry like a baby. Half of my notes are just me going "I'm not ready". One thing I really like about Mockingjay, though, is Katniss' experience of PTSD - she's mentally ill and physically disabled (actually the one thing that makes me really angry the movie is that it glossed over how injured both Katniss and Peeta were in the games, especially Peeta's leg and her ear) and I like that that makes people so angry because I'm sort of vindictive like that.

So this is really rambling, but I have too many feelings to really do this in a short form - 5000 word essay, remember? This will probably have to be my best effort! Plus I really want to get this up before March is over so I don't break my "at least one post per month this year" goal.

Oh, and I thought you might like to see my copy after I finished my homework.


I like post-its. I counted and there was 4 pink paper post-it strips, 8 green paper ones, 20 of those green plastic flags that are clear on one side, 43 blue plastic flags. I really like those plastic flags, by the way. They're really nice for studying.

See you in April!

Peace and cookies,
Laina