Sunday, June 21, 2009

Read this week (2)

I should have said before but I'll say now that this is not a book review blog. There are many of them. There are also many professional review journals out there. Although I could write reviews and snappy annotations, I'd rather focus on my own reading experiences and reflect on the books I read. Perhaps this makes my blog less useful to the world, but it's sure worth it to me. This also means that I will periodically talk about a book in its entirety - including spoilers for those who have not read the book. Anyhow, just wanted to clarify my purpose in this grand ol' blogosphere. Onward!

Stargazer by Claudia Gray
This is the sequel to Evernight, a book that I abhorred getting through. I can't remember why I disliked Evernight so much, but the feeling stayed with me. For the first few nights reading Stargazer, I felt like I was reading a teen romance, which made me slightly uncomfortable and not eager to keep reading. Oh, how I pine for you, you vampire hunter you, even though I will soon turn into a vampire and you will more than likely have the urge to kill me. Bianca and Lucas' relationship bored me and irritated me, but Balthazar! He kept me interested in the story, and oh how I wish I could have followed him instead of Bianca, who's definitely not good enough for him even though he may have had a misplaced crush on her. Towards the middle of the book, I actually did want to keep reading as the pacing picked up and the story wasn't half bad. But the ending! Awful. Truly terrible. Sure, I'll become a vampire hunter too... even though, um, I'm kinda a vampire myself. What hypocrisy! What ludicrousness! If there is another book in this series, I will not read it. No, I do not want to even fathom what could happen next. Okay, fine, I'll probably read it. I'm hooked, what can I say?

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
This is the first book in the Nancy Drew series, which I gobbled up as a child. I read this for my African American Youth Literature class (even though I am no longer taking it - eh, I need a summer too, ya know) for the sole purpose of pointing out the blatant racism in the original edition. I must say, I wasn't all that surprised. It was written in 1930 by a white woman - I don't think she was too worried about sounding racist in one measly paragraph. She wrote what she knew and what the attitudes of white people were at the time. I read a later, revised edition which completely changed the one black character, turning him into a racially ambiguous, tall, skinny caretaker. Other revisions include the treatment of Nancy's nanny from one as servant in 1930 to almost a mother-figure in the later edition. I don't know why I liked these books as a child. Nancy is a rich girl with amazing luck and all the opportunities in the world - a real crime-solver and independent gal. Maybe I just liked the mystery aspect. Anyhow, I won't be reading any more old Nancy Drews anytime soon, though the new graphic novels do intrigue me.

Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
I also read this book for African American Youth Literature and watched the video below of the Obamas reading it to elementary students. I didn't have much of a reaction to it. Little girl lives on a farm with her family, and they are watching the first moon landing on TV. What was interesting to me was a comment made in my class that the family in this book was not written in the text as being African-American and that it could be that the illustrator made that decision on his own. Whether or not this happened, I don't know, but it does seem to be a possibility. That's so interesting to me that if you don't illustrate your own book, you're leaving a whole lot of the story up for interpretation by the illustrator since there is not usually communication between author and illustrator, from what I've been told. Craziness! Anyhow, this video is sweet:

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale
I finished this book this morning in bed, weeping for nearly two hours. Love it. Love love love it. Can't say enough how much I loved it. It was written so wonderfully well, I can't even believe it. This is exactly what I want in a book. And I'm glad I don't get it all that often because it's too much for my little heart to handle. Oh, the emotions. The laughter and tears - I don't care how silly it sounds - I was an emotional wreck. This is definitely not a book to be read in public! What surprised me the most is that I should not be able to relate so well to Becky, the main character, but oh how I felt everything she felt. Maybe it's not a relating thing so much as an empathy thing. She's a middle-aged Mormon mother of four - if you looked her up in the thesaurus, I'd be right there in her antonym list. We have nothing in common. I have more in common with Felix than I do Becky! And maybe that's it. I can look at Becky through Felix's eyes even though I can also be Becky since she narrates (and maybe that's one tiny quibble I have with the book - does Becky narrate or not? seems like it at times, but then not so much). Nonetheless, I enjoyed her character very much - a learning experience for this exceedingly cynical gal. I also really liked the organization of the book, the idea to split the story into three parts, three types of kisses, and the book-ended beginning and ending. When I started the second part of the book, I wanted to come back and quote just about every chapter beginning - they were so well-written and engaging! Okay, well I could gush and gush about this book, but I think I need more time to let it sink in. And I could use some sleep too.

I've started a knitting project, so I don't know how much time I'll fork over to reading next week, but I suppose we'll just have to see. Until then...


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