Posts Tagged ‘Stephenie Meyer’

Inspired again

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

So, four more books for you brings the total for the year so far a little closer to respectability. (I am so far resisting checking where I was up to by this time last year.)

6. I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
Coriander lives between a fairy-tale and a world where fairy-tales seem to have been forbidden, and must find her own place, with the inconstant help of often helpless friends, and the threat of power-hungry authority figures. Coriander tells her own story in seven sections, but never seems to have everything explained to her. I enjoyed the book, but some questions never really got resolved, and there were a few cliches along the way.

7. Set Me Free by Estie Florans

And this one was full of cliches, unfortunately. The writing really wasn’t bad, nor was the story, but I can’t see any excuse for its being 684 pages long, especially since an authorised play-script of the book is advertised at the back, so there must be a shorter version. I really don’t want to be completely negative about the book, but this really needs some stuff cut out of it. And I like long books!

8. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

This is a very American post-Apocalypse novel, that addresses many of the same issues as the Twilight series (but better), and owes a lot to the Star Trek episodes about the symbiont species the Trill. Basically, it’s about accepting that one species is not inherently better than another, and one individual has no more right to life than another. It’s also about making difficult compromises when there is no ideal solution to the problems at hand.

What I found interesting is that we have by the end a similar but actually more severe problem that’s obsessed over in Meyer’s other series – ie where one in a couple is immortal and the other isn’t – but it’s ignored here where there’s no solution of making the mortal party immortal. I haven’t heard any suggestion that there will be a sequel to this, and I’ll be quite happy if there isn’t, as it stands alone well. It might even stand up to a reread, but that won’t be yet, as I have other books to catch up on.

9. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

So, I’m finally catching up with my podcasts, too, and got to the end of Julie’s reading of this Christie classic. I’d actually only ever come across Tommy & Tuppence in cameo roles in a television version of a Poirot story (no idea which one), so it was intriguing to meet them properly. I really should get around to reading more of Christie’s tales at some point, but like I said, there’s a long list to work my way through.

Anyway, as always Julie’s reading is great. As both she and Dr Gemma discussed on their podcasts, she isn’t trying to do the accents, but she gives a great sense of the personality behind each character, which I think is more important. She’s also got the sense of which random English names won’t be pronounced like they’re written, to check them out beforehand. (I actually like how the American character the first time pronounces it “Holey-head”, whereas the British ones always say “Holly-head” – I suppose I’ve been through Holyhead far too many times to even consider it could have been said any other way.)

As for the mystery itself – I really enjoyed it. I guessed who the villain might be reasonably early on, but got distracted away from him a couple of times. (We’re told near the beginning that a man is behind the troubles, so I amn’t giving anything away.) I don’t go for mysteries just because of the genre, but the good ones tend to be fun, even when they’re fantastical.


Between two lists

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Well, I’ve the first book of 2009 to report on, and I still haven’t finished the ones from 2008.

1. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon

It’s a bit of a cheat, since the first of 2009 is actually a reread of one from 2008 (last March, so not that recent), which I can’t do better than explain as I did on the Outlander board over at Ravelry:

I just reread Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (we were going to go to Coram’s Fields and the Foundling Museum, and I thought I’d share the bit about Dr Rigby’s Foundling Hospital – thankfully I skimmed it first and didn’t, as that is not a chapter to read out of context – suffice it (for those who’ve read the book) to say that that’s the chapter directly after the one entitled “Finally”, but anyhow I then reread the whole book) and noticed even more sly references to modern culture. There’s the obvious “She ain’t heavy, she’s his sister”, but has anyone else felt shades of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride from the last scene in the regimental offices?

Oh well, I definitely was going to reread stuff from last year (I’m just impressed at how this whole thing stopped me – mostly – from rereading stuff within 2008), so I might as well be upfront about it from the beginning.

And now to confuse you, let’s skip back and do some more of the last of 2008:

314. Transfused With Hope by B. Berger

This genre within Jewish non-fiction of inspirational biographies of families dealing with severe medical issues seems to be increasingly popular, but thankfully also increasingly well-written. It certainly inspired me to go back to my platelets donation (I’d only missed one month, but still!) even from the beginning (I finished the book during my session).

315. In the Dark by Deborah Guttentag

Another newly published book from the Orthodox Jewish publishers, but this is different from any I’ve read before, and very good. It kept me guessing right till near the end (some of my early guesses turned out to be right, but I couldn’t tell that for sure for a long time). The plot doesn’t always move along as fast as one might expect, but in many ways that adds to the realistic feeling.

316. Elephants on Acid by Alex Boese

I picked this up as a Chanuka present for my brother on the way to meet up with him, dipping into several chapters in the shop, and then sneakily going back to the beginning and reading it cover to cover very carefully indeed so I could still give it to him in pristine condition a few days later! It’s both amusing and thought-provoking (which I prefer to ‘educational’, as that could mean almost anything), and includes the classic horrific psychological experiments that went wrong, like the Stanford Prison experiment, as well as plenty of bizarre scientific experiments I never had. (All of the experiments included were written up as peer-reviewed studies.) People’s curiosity does lead them some strange places…

317. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I picked this one up at the same time as the Elephants above, after reading the comments of several school librarians on how popular they are with teenage girls, and discussions on the series’ actual merits. The nature of these discussions left me remarkably unspoilered, so I basically only knew it was a teen romance involving vampires, that apparently suggests sex should only take place within marriage.

Anyway, it was far better than I expected from that introduction, and I went straight out and got the other three in the series (so nice to come to a complete series, and not have to wait!). They’re not high literature, but I did find them thought provoking, and a step up in my reading mood from wallowing in classic children’s books I’ve read dozens of times before. You’ll see do I read them again anytime soon, however…

318. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Probably my least liked of the series, because depression is not a fun read, and it takes up a lot of the book.

319. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Hm, I liked New Moon least, but I can’t really remember what happened in Eclipse… (I lent the books on, so can’t remind myself.)

320. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

So no sex before marriage, then, but once marriage takes place, why think of anything else unless it’s life-threatening?