Age Of Reason | Thomas Paine

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I got this one from Neil deGrasse Tysons 8 recommended books for smart people or something. (It’s on project Gutenberg, so you can read it for free! Legally!) I wass expecting a lot of stuffy, difficult to read text. When I realised that he was talking about christianity and the bible, I figured he was going to be flushing the whole book down the toilet, you know/

I was wrong on both accounts. His words are like honey, they’re smooth and free flowing and so, so amazingly easy to read. And since his father was a quaker, he didn’t touch actual christians and went after the bible only. With real, actual logic and evidence found only in the bible. It felt like analysis from the inside, rather than someone who was never going to respect the text.

He logically goes through the old and new testaments like an English teacher with a red pen. He uses logic and (duh) reason to refute the bible while still supplying adequate reason for a belief in God.

This came at a perfect time in my life as I am thinking about how I can apply my beliefs in God to my beliefs in science and let them get along. He also raises a lot of concerns about the bible that I have had myself, so it was really nice to be able to see it written down.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

Vinegar Girl | Anne Tyler

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The Book

The Taming of the Shrew. But modern. And a little bit Russian. Featuring: Adaptations, Green Card Weddings.

The Plot

– It was surprisingly interesting. Despite it being a 500 year old story that I literally studied in school.

– The introduction of the Green Card Wedding was an interesting way to do it and it wasn’t super Fake Married troupe.

The Characters

– Pyotr was an interesting character. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to see more from his point of view.

– We see it from her point of view, and she’s actually nice. She’s not just mean and cranky. She’s relatable, and for real made me want to have a garden more than anything else I’ve seen or read.

The Conflict

– It was different than what I expected. I was wondering how she was going to do it and make it not sexist and Anne Tyler did a pretty good job of it.

– It was also pretty logical. The Green Card Wedding, and the main conflict. I didn’t suspend as much disbelief as I expected to.

Points of Dis/Interest

– I liked the Pyotr/Piodor variation.

– Kate wasn’t as shrew. Which is always nice.

Etc. Adaptations made classics more accessible. 

So, I had to read Pride and Prejudice in high school. Grade 11, 2011. I was so glad when I finished it, I thought I’d put it on my shelf and never look at it again. Then The Lizzie Bennet Diaries came out.

I had enjoyed the other two popular adaptations of Pride and Prejudice before, don’t get me wrong, but The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was an experience like nothing else, and seeing it unfold in real time is a thing I wish I could do over and over again.

After I finished TLBD I decided to pick up P&P again. All of a sudden, the people were straight, the plot was understandable and I could relate to the characters. When I read P&P now, years after the rush of TLBD has worn off I still hear Mrs Bennet (chairwoman of the 2.5 WPF club)  in her southern accent and Mr (Ricky) Collins talking about Winnepeg between the lines.

Watching an adaptation isn’t cheating. It’s finding new ways to better understand the text.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

The Girl with All the Gifts | M.R. Carey

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The Book

In a world where Zombies are called hungries, young child Melanie is different. Her and her classmates are kept in cells and brought out every week day where a rotation of teachers instructs them about maths, and English and such. But when a Doctor takes an interest to Melanie, she is thrust into a world where everything is new, and she is oh so very hungry. Featuring: Our zombies are different, the army.

The Plot

  • I found it a little slow moving, but gripping, like a zombie, I guess. It wasn’t about the zombies so much as the characters.
  • It was interesting and different because of this. It was less about a group of people dealing with zombies as they make their way to safe haven, but about a specific group of people dealing with the world around them and their place in it.

The Characters

  • Because it was character driven, the characters have to be well written, and in this case they definitely were.
  • M.R. Carey used a perspective shift to really give us insight into the different characters and indicate their motivation. So when they ultimately die, we actually feel something for them.

The Conflict

  • There isn’t as much straight up violence as I expected.
  • the main conflict comes through characters which is an interesting way to do a zombie novel.

Points of Dis/Interest.

  • I don’t know about you, but I was happy with the “romance” or lack thereof.

Etc. Futility.

Okay, spoilers, but in the end everyone in the world gets turned into Zombies. It was an interesting take because so often we see the opposite happening. Or something so that readers don’t feel completely let down by the novel. But with this everyone is turning into a zombie, and it’s not painted as this terrible thing. It’s just inevitable.

Just as the sun will expand and destroy the earth and any last trace of humanity on it, so too did the zombie fungus take over the world and kickstart the new species of humanity on earth. And for whatever reason, I really liked it.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

The Lunar Chronicles | Marissa Meyer

Alternatively titled: Sometimes I play tricks on myself by assigning something and forgetting about it until I have to write it.

The Series

Cinder is a cyborg in New Beijing. Unbeknownst to her she is the long thought dead Lunar Queen. If only her Aunt would let her be. Scarlet just wants to find her grandmother and work on their farm. If only Cinders Aunt would let her. Cress just wants to get off her satellite and be in love with Thorne. If only her queen would let her. And Winter just wants Jacin. If only her step-mother would let her.

The Plot.

– Possesses a solid plot. The story progresses at a good pace and I never found moments where I needed to know what was happening elsewhere when our heroes were split up.

– Although the “bio-electricity” felt a little like Marissa Meyer wanted to have this feature and had to think of a science-y way to do it. That was the weakest part for me.

The Characters.

– I love them.

– I felt that their character arcs were strong and they didn’t progress too quickly or anything.

– Also their relationships to each other is just… amazeballs.

The Conflict. 

– Occurred naturally without excess.

– I feel like the conflict was only necessary because otherwise there would be no resolution, but I don’t think you’d miss too much without it. If that makes sense. The book holds it’s own without it.

I know I’ve done these books separately before, but I wanted to do them as a series because it’s an incredibly well written quadrilogy and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new YA dystopia.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

 

 

The Chronicles of Narnia |C.S. Lewis

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Narnia holds a special place in my heart (or my wardrobe as the case may be lololololololololol) my earliest memory of it is probably my older sister reading it to be before bed. And doing the voices. I have very few memories of my parents reading it to me. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that they did, I just don’t remember it) Even now my sister can talk about Narnia all day if you let her. And it was her birthday on Wednesday, so Happy Birthday Marley!
Here’s what happens to Narnia when you try to take the christian out of Narnia: It becomes a shell. you take the nut out and all you have are a few pistachio kernels that when you line up make lines. And then, because you need something to serve to the guests, you smoosh some cream in there and that’s your main. The problem being that cream in a pistachio kernel isn’t much to eat. It’s not good for you and it certainly isn’t as filling as actual pistachios. Do you see where I’m going with this analogy?

Now, I don’t know why Disney decided to come at the book with a hatchet, but what they did was take the very obvious Christian message out of a series of books that it literally meant to be about it. That’s like if someone decided to make a bible movie but didn’t want it to be too “christian-y” that’s how hard you failed Disney.

I’m not going to list everything wrong with the movies as nobody got time for that. and it would be a waste of space as the films are already made and the people who are going to be influenced by them already have been. I hear that the silver chair is being produced as a reboot (although why we really needed it is anyone’s guess) but The Silver Chair is my favourite. So I just hope they don’t ruin it.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

Zero Day | Jan Gangsei

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The Book

Follows Addie Webster: Presidents Daughter. She was kidnapped when she was small, and now, eight years later, she has returned. Things are different, people have moved on. What else could they do? But why, after all this time has she returned? And who is she now? Featuring: First Daughter, the chatty bodyguard, terrorists, teenager has to save everyone.

The Plot

– It was a compelling mystery. Are really aren’t sure where Addie stands through most of the book. It would have been interesting to look at it from an unreliable narrator stand point, but you never really got that in there.

– It was an interesting premise. Of course, to focus on the presidents daughter is just icing on the cake, but the whole “someone-returns-after-being-kidnapped-young” thing is interesting, it is unfortunate that Jan didn’t really show how messed up she’d be. Regardless of how much she ended up liking her kidnappers (spoiler) she was freaking kidnapped!

The Characters

– Despite Addie being the protagonist, I really didn’t see her shine. There was never that moment where I thought “You know what? I like this girl” which is just unfortunate.

– That said, we did manage to get a peek at her vulnerability. She wasn’t as head strong and cock sure (or is it the other way around) as most YA protagonists are, which is refreshing.

The Conflict

– It was entertaining enough. As I mentioned earlier, the mystery was compelling, which meant that the conflict didn’t have to be huge, but it did have to live up to the hype of the mystery.

– I’m of the opinion that books should really exist alone. Sure, have a series, but the whole plot should really be resolved by the end. I dislike cliff-hangers. Sure they get you to read the next one, but unless you baddy is The Big Bad (a la Voldemort in HP) slap him in cuffs and have the superserum fall down a drain. Someone else can find it next.

Point of Dis/Interest

– Obvious Love Triangle is Obvious.

Etc. Why do YA books exclusively target Teens?

Technically speaking, you need to be an adult to be a young adult. Which means you need to be at least 18. So why are YA books targeted at teens? The protagonist is nearly always still in school and honestly, the older I get the more that annoys me. I am a young adult damnit! everyone else is a teenager!

You get some good YA books that are accessible to all ages, but they’re not so much in the YA genre. While Harry Potter might still be in school, I don’t find it an annoying extra. I don’t find Harry annoying just because he’s still in school. everyone else it’s free range though.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

Something in the Heir | Jenny Gardiner

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I call this one : I’m too lazy to go out and take a picture of this one. oops

Etc. What bad writing can teach us.

Something in the Heir is a hallmark movie in a book. It is every “Royal-falls in love with a pleb” book in one. It’s got the overbearing mother, the Savvy female pleb, the giggly best friend, and of course the dreamily single Prince. I thought about doing this proper, but then I thought that the whole thing would be a joke, so instead I thought I’d just talk about what bad writing can teach us.

  1. It can teach us how to write better ourselves. I’m not much of a writer any more. Not fiction, although I desperately wish I was. And while I think sometimes my plots are alright, my writing can be a bit iffy at times. Often we can’t read our own work objectively, but if we read other people’s bad writing we can see what’s wrong. which allows us to apply it to our own work.
  2. We notice the good writing more because they stand out like Diamonds on that black velvet stand they always show them on. So not only can we learn how to correct our own work, we can learn about those little gems of writing that would otherwise be covered by other exceptional areas that other books have.
  3. And finally, the last thing bad books can teach us is… not to read bad books.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash