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Monday, August 4, 2014

Things I've Read Recently (11)

So if you're new around here or if I haven't done one of these in a while, Things I've Read Recently is a series of blog posts I do that are basically mini-reviews for whatever reason. Sometimes they're a little eclectic. Case in point.

First up:

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Published: May 6th, 2008 by Little Brown
Genre: Adult Science Fiction (Ooh la la)
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 620
Part of a series? Okay, it's rumoured that there'll be 2 more books, but really, don't hold your breath. It's probably never going to happen.
Got via: Garage sale. I think it was a dollar or something.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Summary (from goodreads): Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Review: I know the very valid issues with Twilight, don't get me wrong - but I still enjoy both the books and the movies. And I'm glad I finally got around to reading The Host. Do I think it's the most well-written book ever? No. But it's enjoyable and I do think the writing is super-engrossing. It's very much a book you don't want to put down. I also think it's a lot different from Twilight. It seems further away from her personal beliefs, honestly. (Premarital sex exists! Gasp!) The romances are preferable for me personally, Wanderer and Melanie are vastly different, and there's also a neat discussion about what makes one their gender. Unfortunately, it does come back to "female = bears young" which is obviously not true and very erasing of people who can get pregnant who aren't female (also - how do you explain seahorses then?), but it does raise a good point in that people shouldn't have to defend their gender.

Sometimes the writing is a little rough. Sometimes the romance is problematic (although not nearly as bad as Twilight, really). The book is much more character based than plot based, but I don't really think that's a bad thing. I'm not here to say it's a perfect book.

But it's a very enjoyable book. The voice drew me in and I basically read the whole thing in one sitting. Which considering it's 600 pages long, says something. Quite honestly, I think Stephenie Meyer puts very unique spins on things that have, obviously been done before. Vampires, the concept of the aliens in this book is actually really similar to the ones in Animorphs when you think about it. And it'd be a shame if we never got to see the things should could come up with as she becomes an older, more experienced writer.

I enjoyed this a lot. I would recommend it for sure.

Oh, and I like the cover. It fit the book and I like that they didn't shoe-horn it into the "Twilight" look.

(Also I have a note here that just says "Kevin *snickers*" and I wonder if anyone will get that but me. Probably not.)

Next up:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Other Stories by Lewis Carroll

Published: This edition is by Barnes and Noble in 2010
Genre: Children's Fantasy or Classic Children's Lit, I think?
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 1165 pages
Got via: It was a gift.
Goodreads link to my edition.
Amazon (This is like three dollars, great deal!) / Book Depository / IndieBound / Oh, here's the Barnes and Noble link to my edition because it's all pretty and stuff

This has like, all of Lewis Carroll's published writings, I guess? I flipped through some of the others, but I was just in the mood to reread the Alice stories so I mostly read those. So I'm going to approach these are two books, basically.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Published: Originally in 1865
Page count: 120 pages in my edition
Part of a series? There's a sequel, obviously.

Summary: ...okay it's hard to find a simple summary. But we all know this one, right? Alice chases the white rabbit and falls down the hole. She ends up in Wonderland, goes through a bunch of weird things, eats some stuff that makes her grow and shrink, and eventually ends up playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts who's always all "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS". I mean. The book is almost 150 years old. I think that's a good enough summary, right?

Review: As I said, this is a reread for me. I've read it several times since I was a kid. I like this edition just fine - all the extra stuff is really neat, and the end papers are beautiful - but I really do love the ones that have full-cover illustrations. The one I read first ever was a set of classics my school owned and it had gorgeous pictures in addition to the original black and white ones. It's mostly a nostalgia thing, though, honestly.

Anyways! I'm not really reviewing this so much as just mentioning I read it. I made some notes because it's habit, though, but not that many. Mostly that it's weird how most of the adaptations skip the Pig and Pepper chapter and leave out the Duchess completely, isn't it? And they leave out the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, and also change the garden scene and how it happens.

Through the Looking Glass

Published: Originally published in 1871
Page count: It's about 125 in my copy
Part of a series? Sequel to Wonderland

Summary: Okay, this one is less commonly known, I think. Basically the set-up is that Alice, on a boring day, ends up slipping through the mirror into a mirror world. She ends up playing a giant game of chess with the chess pieces she'd been playing with earlier in the real world.

Review: Both the other 2 editions I've read have had this along with Wonderland since they're both so short. They only about 250 pages total. But I've always loved this one, even more than Wonderland. When I was a kid, I had this thing about mirrors (thank you, Rugrats and my own imagination) and chess (thank you, Harry Potter - not that I could play at all) and this just appealed to me more because of those things.

Now. Isn't it weird that Jabberwocky, the Garden of Live Flowers, the Bread-and-Butter-Fly, Humpty Dumpty, the Walrus and the Carpenter, unbirthdays, and, of course, Tweedledee and Tweedledum all say "Alice in Wonderland" when they come from this one?

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan

Published: August 27th, 2001 by Speak
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 215
Part of a series: Yes, there's a sequel - or more like a companian since it's told from Battle's POV.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Summary (from goodreads and then edited to match the back of the book): Nicola Lancaster is spending her summer at the Siegel Institute - a hothouse of smart, articulate, intense teenagers living like college students for eight weeks. Nic's had theatre friends and ochestra friends, but never just friend friends. And she's certainly never had a relationship.

But on the very first day, she falls in with Katrina the Manic Computer Chick, Isaac the Nice-Guy-Despite-Himself, Kevin the Inarticulate Composer... and Battle.

Battle Hall Davies is a beautiful blond dancer from North Carolina. She's everything Nic isn't. Soon the two are friends - and then, startlingly, more than friends. What do you do when you think you're attracted to guys, and then you meet a girl who steals your heart?

Review: I actually reviewed the second book, The Rules for Hearts, here because I'm a dork like that and didn't realize it was a sequel. Don't read it because I was terrible at reviewing back then! But I would like to reread it now that I've read Empress of the World and see how they work as a pair. It's confusing to read books backwards, but I didn't even realize this existed when I read the other.

So obviously that affected my reading experience a little. Mostly because I kept trying to remember what happens in the next book XD Anyways, I liked this one. It's cute, only ever so slightly angsty, and everyone lives at the end. Basically, it's just your average cute summer romance book with just a little self-discovery thrown in.

And the fashion descriptions are hilarious. It's weird to think 2001 was over a decade ago. And 2001 was a lot closer to the 90s than the 2010s. Although one thing that did bother me a little was that all the three girls were apparently basically the same size and could trade clothes. We couldn't get a little body diversity?

I also have to mention this:

(It's a little blurry, sorry, the lighting was bad and my camera batteries are dying so I was rushing. The part you need to know is "It really expressed the things that young lesbians growing up have to face.")

And at first when I saw this, I was all, "yay, sounds good".

Then I read the book and it turned into "did we read the same book?"

Because the thing is - Nicola is not a lesbian. She states that she has likes boys before and probably will again, and as such, prefers bisexual if a label must be used. She says multiple times that she doesn't like being called a lesbian, because she isn't.

Battle likes girls, but she never states in this book what she prefers to be called, and she dates boys, too, after dating girls. While Battle might eventually identify as a lesbian (I can't remember if she does in the second book, but she doesn't in this), assuming she does, along with calling Nicola one, is bi-erasure and that hurts people. Absolutely I don't blame the author, but I think at some point in the publishing process, maybe somebody should have said "Maybe that's not the best wording we could go with", you know?

But all in all, this is mostly just a sweet book and it's special in that it's not special. We have pretty much all read a similar type of book - but this one has two girls in love instead of a girl and a boy. Representation! Very much important. Recommend this one!

(Fun fact - the cover of this is a Lookalike of the Comeback Season. Which I also own. I'm considering putting them next to each other just to amuse myself. There are others similiar, too, but I don't own any of those!)

Okay, I think that's everything. We'll count that as four since there are two Alice books.

Peace and cookies,

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