Friday, July 29, 2016

The Hunger Games Musical: Mockingjay Parody - Peeta's Song

Our friends KATE AND CRAIG -- the same friends who took us to the Larnach Castle ball -- told us about these parody clips.  This is my favourite, but if you like it you should check out Katniss and Gale's songs too.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

YA Survivalist Tale - set in a high school

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12620969-the-loners?from_search=true
The Loners (Quarantine #1), Lex Thomas
This month Walker re-launched this book, heralded as a modern-day Lord of the Flies.  This boded both promising and ill, for me.  A better Lord of the Flies sounded super (e.g. The Maze Runner), but another misogynistic survival tale?  I could do without.  Sadly, it's more the latter.  The book succeeds where Lord of the Flies didn't for me -- it's gripping -- but it fails at being fair or believable.  
  • What's unfair?  Golding's island consisted of male-only inhabitants.  This high school does not.  But the females present did nothing to improve the scenario.  They are horrible types conjured by Lex Thomas (a writing duo) who appear to only find a place in the established society so long as they traffic themselves or latch on to male characters (the ones really running things).  Not only is the female characterisation abysmal, the objectification of these characters in the male gaze is really sad.  It reminded me of The Chocolate War, but also...an immature 14-year-old's run-down of "types of girls."  You know it's bad when the only all-girl factions that emerge are "The Pretties" or "The Sluts."  That's shameful, Lex Thomas!  I don't care how extreme this environment is, that oversimplification is insane.  Or the world is insane.  I can't decide.
  • The science in this was bad, but like Reboot, I was gripped enough that I suspended disbelief fairly readily (occasionally it was distracting in its weakness).
  • There was certainly suspense, great turns, and fast pacing all book.  I wanted to read to the end.  
  • The concept was appealing.  High school stereotypes aside (because BOY oh boy were there loads), it felt like a mixture of the TV series Containment meets Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games.  I have never seen The Purge, but based on its trailer, I feel like this is a high school version of that, because...
  • ...it reads like a horror movie.  I wouldn't recommend this to...anyone I can think of.  Not only is it gritty and nightmarish, it is graphically violent, laced with swearing, there is alcohol and drug use, and it has a lot of unpleasant sexual references (including attempted and referenced-but-not-witnessed rape).
  • The writing isn't beautiful, but it is tidy (not repetitive at all) and smart.  Scenes are set particularly well.
  • It is a shame that the "normal" set up for the world of the characters (the happy life to be interrupted by the apocalyptic event) is drinking at a party.  This lacked creativity to me.
  • I do love the early aspects of the economy that develops.
I tapped out of Book 2 a third of the way in because it felt very same-same, and I didn't want more, I wanted progress.  If you finish Book 1, I can explain what I mean.  Book 3 was slightly better at the opening, but ultimately I quit it too.  One book was enough.  I enjoyed reading The Locked Room formula, but didn't feel uplifted by it and didn't need to get back in there for more.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another Lewis SF Fairytale Retelling

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24565038-spinning-starlight?from_search=true
Spinning Starlight, R. C. Lewis
I found Stitching Snow okay.  Spinning Starlight was much much more.  I barely stopped reading to do anything else!  In addition to finding myself quite riveted...
  • It is hard sci fi, which is delicious to me (there are multiple worlds and there is travel between them).
  • The world-building reminded me of Trudi Canavan, which is really saying something (since I consider hers immersive and sophisticated).  It is like a YA cousin of Canavan.   This was much stronger than I remember Stitching Snow's world-build, or maybe I just preferred these worlds?
  • I enjoyed the characters.
  • The story really resonated with me.  I felt Lewis took on a broader scope of narrative and moral and it was tightly executed.
  • It is so clean.  There's no longing for sex (or sex), no swearing, no drug use, and very minimal violence.
Because this does so many things well, this is one of my favourite reads of the 2016.  Thanks Dad, for nudging me to get onto it -- it was much better than I expected.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Daddy Book


Amazing Daddy, Rachel Bright
This easy reading rhyming list-book comes out in bookstores today.  It doesn't win the prize for originality (as we have had at least three out from the library that are very similar), but my girls love that the chosen anthropomorphic is pandas -- Mia picked it up and said, "Another panda one" -- and smiled at the things this daddy does that their daddy also does and is (including"big and kind and hairy"). After my husband pre-read it (before reading for the girls), I waited to see if he would say, "Well, that's a bit stereotypical, isn't it?" but he didn't.  He said, "That's fairly accurate."  He also commented that he appreciated that Bright isn't just an illustrator filling pages with words so she can share more illustrations, but that she had things to say about dads (yes, he's still bitter about Follow Me and refuses to read it to the girls).   I think when read as a tale of one "panda's" daddy it will never offend, but I wonder if in our PC-world if this book will be cast aside by some.  We'll be keeping it.  It's sweet.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Ball

Dear friends of ours flew in from Australia for family and friend visits, dental treatment...and to treat us to a magical night in a castle!  Haki and I donned throwback period digs and Austen-style danced the night away.  It was amazing.  If you see me in the next week and ask me about it, you are bringing my gushing down upon yourself.  Forewarning complete.
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