Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mars

The Mars series by Fuyumi Soryo is a 15 book manga series that I read originally when I was 18 years old and during the course of the first week of my college career. I read all the books quickly and then tucked them away, never reading them again, until these past few days.

A friend of mine visited for the weekend from Boston and she is the person who introduced me to this series. For old times sake she picked the books out and began to read them while I crocheted and then I picked them up with interest after she went home.

I recall loving the books and devouring them with compete excitement when I was younger. Now, I see that it's filled with silly dramatic points. Phrases that no High Schooler would use. And the female character is entirely over emotional and at times I felt the need to slap her in the face and tell her to suck up.

But aside from that. Now I'm being serious here... the series is interesting because it's entertaining yet brings up many subjects that are (sadly) common topics that are heard of as a teen. Suicide, speeding cars/motorcycles, rape, molestation, bullying, murder. These are, more or less, very serious subjects but the books take them a tiny bit lighter then one would assume. Being lost in the middle of one serious event then popping back by the next page.

But I'm nearly 23 years old. This book is appropriate for ages 13 and up- that's ten years younger then myself. I feel they're splendid for teens. I know I myself adored the stories when I was 18. But finally I am realizing my age and I can't exactly enjoy all stories that are meant for younger ages. At least I enjoyed those books back then, if I were to discover them now, I probably wouldn't have had any interest.
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Up Next:
Outlander
or possibly another book

Monday, January 12, 2009

Coraline


Last summer, while sprawled out on the beach, I read Neil Gaiman's book Stardust. It had been brought to my attention because of the movie and I found that I absolutely adored the book! I had heard of Neil Gaiman previously but aside from this singular book I didn't know very much about him or his writing.


When the previews for Coraline began circling the internet and my friends who are very loyal Gaiman fans began getting excited I figured this was another book that I should know a thing or two about. So on my last day at work, the final day I had an employee discount, the last day I'd get to meander the bookstore and buy books at my leisure, I picked up Coraline and took it home.

It's a children's book, just so you all know. It's written for children and therefore took me awhile to get into. But the story quickly caught on to my mind and the pace was fast. I was sucked into Coraline's world, both real and 'other', and really began to enjoy the book.

In many ways it's a story of every child. Coraline feels not only bored but ignored by her parents. She's an only child and takes to being an explorer of her home and the surrounding land. I certainly did this type of thing constantly as a child because I too am an only child and many times felt my parents ignored me. I even broke into a neighbors house once because I thought I was Harriet the Spy. But that's another story...

The story is quirky and cute although a little bit scary (I'm figuring for a child it would be). But it's clear that there is a reason to the story, a lesson for the little ones, to appreciate one another and what you have. Well, that's what I felt the story meant. I don't want to put any words in Mr. Gaiman's mouth!

It follows the main character, Coraline, as she explores her home and the surrounding area. She meets funny characters along the way such as her neighbors who were once actresses and the neighbor who lives upstairs and has a circus of mice (but no one has seen them yet because they're still in training!). Her curiosity brings her through a doorway in her home and into a mirrored world of her own. The 'other' home with her 'other' parents. Her 'other' mother and 'other' father are there including her 'other' neighbors but the difference is that they all have button eyes. No less, her parents seem actually interested in Coraline which seems to be lacking in her real life. But the seeming perfectness of this land quickly changes. You know, life isn't perfect.


Coraline discovers her real life parents have been taken by her 'other mother' and has to get them back. With the aide of three ghost children and a black cat Coraline dives into an adventure that she had never expected she would have.

The story is being adapted into a movie that's due out soon. I'm excited for it and will probably run out to my local theatre to see it. The director Henry Selick has done a number of clay-mation movies before (Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, etc) so I'm sure it will come out lovely. Really, I'm very much excited about the movie. I live for this type of stuff.
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Next Read:
Emily Dickinson's Poetry
...but I probably won't report on that.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Last Summer (of You & Me)

This entry comes with a short story about myself. So if you don't want to hear this short story you're welcome to skip to the next paragraph. The story goes as such: I have a tendency to visit bookstores frequently. It became an even more frequent occurrence when I began working in one. But something happens while I browse the shelves. There will always be one, if not five books that continuously capture my attention. I'll return to these books, browse over them again, then place them on the shelf only to move on to something else that I just happened to spot right that moment. Leaving the book I have noticed the past eight times I visited a bookstore behind once more. Well, eventually the book breaks me down and I buy it. I don't know why I put it off so often, maybe it's my motive of finding good books? This past weekend (Saturday the 3rd) I decided to finally buy the book The Last Summer (of You and Me) after having seen this book haunt my dreams since June 2008.

Any Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fans out there listen up, this book is by the same author. I adored her Traveling Pants series so I figured this book couldn't be half bad, I'd have to give it a try. Yet again, I don't know why I kept passing it up for other books, but I did. And then I decided to buy it in the cold months of January only to read it curled up in a highly heated house while it snowed outside.

Did I mention this book is, for the main part, taken place during the summer months and at the beach? Even the scenes that are taken place elsewhere (place and time) still have that memory and heavy scent of the ocean air. I can relate to this, I feel as if my heart belongs to the beach, although I've only visited it a handful of times in my life. I feel this book makes it clear that you may leave the beach but if you love it; it never leaves you.

When I had originally spotted the book I figured it would be a good beach read which, don't get me wrong, it is. But I feel the idea of a 'beach read' creates an idea that the book is generally lazy and calm. A good thing to relax to. Something without much substance. This book is not that typical beach read. This book is fabulous with strong characters and tear-jerking moments. Seriously, I had to duck into my room to finish reading the book because I got all choked up in front of my father. "You're crying because of a book, are you serious?" Was the type of question my fathers expression conveyed.

This book struck a personal cord with me. It deals with a heartbreak due to a certain event- this said event has happened in my own family so the pain felt amongst the characters was all the more understandable for myself. (Can you tell I'm attempting to be as vague as possible so not to give away details?)

I wouldn't let younger teenagers read the book, send them in the direction of The Traveling Pants and save this book for when they've reached 'adulthood'. You know, just so you don't step on any parents toes.

I think it's a great growth of Ms. Brashares though. She moved from a generally happy book about a group of teenagers and had them grow with each novel while having them deal with real life teenage issues. Then this book is even a step further then that, seeing that all the characters have either graduated college or are old enough to even have their Masters. It's a little bit more heavy, a little bit more sex, but all beautifully written and displayed in a classy way.

Much like her previous books, I feel I'll end up reading this book again when summer rolls around and I have sand in my hair after a good boogie boarding session.
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Next Book Up:
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
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