I read these two YA novels as a bit of a palate cleanser between a couple of big, heavy SF novels. That being said, they weren’t too much of a palate cleanser as they are both quite grim in their own ways.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is the story of a Indian teenager living on a reservation, who leaves to attend high school in the nearby all-white town. He has to deal with bullying and racism, grief and loss, and figuring out his identity between his two worlds. It’s a great coming of age story, full of humour and hope alongside the darker subjects it covers.
The Giver by Lois Lowry at first glance seems to be the story of a boy, on the verge of adulthood, living in a future utopian society. However slowly the truth is revealed and the harsh realities of his world become apparent to the reader and the main character. It’s a great dystopian YA novel, from back before the genre was so popular. I really liked the story, at first it seemed a bit short but actually it’s nice to read a self-contained story rather than a sprawling trilogy at times.
Both books I picked up because I’d heard great things about them here on Tumblr, from various book blogs I follow. They seem to be modern classics of the YA genre and I can understand why. I’ve said before that I’m obviously not the target demographic for these sorts of books, but I still enjoy reading YA fiction on occasion and I think these two are both great examples of why it is worthwhile for adults to read YA fiction and discover some great books.
After 12 months of unemployment, 175 jobs applied for, and 23 job interviews, I have finally got a job. I start tomorrow and I am currently a frantic mix of excited and terrified. Yay?!
That was me almost a year ago. Now I’m starting the process again. I’d almost forgotten how absolutely horrible it is to look for a job. Ah well, one application down, who knows how many to go…
I really should stop obsessively playing the 2048 game. I am sure there are other things I should be doing. I vowed I’d stop when I finally won a game, but now I’ve won it several times and I’m still hooked.
Just realized I was literally sitting at my computer looking at Tumblr on my phone.
Following on from Hyperion, I read its sequel The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. It’s a continuation of the story of the first book. It’s not quite as good as Hyperion, which is just absolutely brilliant, but I still enjoyed this book and the conclusion to the story.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons is one of my favourite science fiction novels. I first read it a couple of years ago and I wanted to reread it now, along with reading the sequel for the first time. I’m still working my way through the sequel, but I thought I would post my thoughts on this novel. Here is an extract from my original review:
The book is set in the future after Old Earth has been destroyed and the human race, in the form of the Hegemony, live on many different colonised worlds. The worlds form part of the Web, run by AIs and connected by farcaster technology that allows instant transport between worlds. Outside the Web are a few backwater planets, and transport there requires relativistic space travel in cryogenic stasis, with an associated time debt.
The Hegemony are at war with the Ousters, who plan to invade one of these non-Web colonies, the planet Hyperion. Hyperion is an odd planet, home to a mysterious artefact known as the Time Tombs, and a legendary monster the Shrike. Against the backdrop of this approaching war, seven pilgrims are summoned by the Church of the Shrike, the Hyperion-obsessed Cult, to travel to the planet and journey to the Time Tombs.
The book follows the journey of those seven pilgrims, but the bulk of the novel is made up of the back stories of the characters, as each in turn has to tell their story of how they came to be on the pilgrimage, and in this way the background setting of the novel is gradually revealed to the reader. The stories all vary in tone and style, but all of them were some combination of compelling, interesting and moving, and all very good in their own way.
I really liked the book. It lived up to the hype and I can see why it is so highly regarded. I thought it was really well written and I particularly liked the structure of the book and the way that all of the character background stories came together to build up the setting and flesh out the story. The setting is also very well developed, some nice world building with a good mix of the social and the technological aspects. The whole thing is just full of interesting ideas.
On rereading the book, I was even more impressed with it. I just love this novel, it is incredibly brilliant and it has so much of what I like about science fiction novels, excellently done. I am enjoying the sequel so far, but already I can say that this novel has earned a place as one of my favourites.
Malteser tray bakeIngredients:
- 100g Butter
- 200g Milk Chocolate
- 3 tbsp Golden Syrup
- 250g Crushed Digestive Biscuits
- 225g Maltesers
- Extra 200g White Chocolate as toppingMethod:
- Melt the butter, chocolate and syrup
- Add the crushed biscuits and maltesers
- Mix together then pour into a greased baking tin and chill until set.
- Once set, melt the additional chocolate and pour over the top. Chill until set.
This is the best recipe for Malteser tray bake that I’ve found. I’ve made it a couple of times now and it is brilliant. I’m making it again for a bake sale we’re having at work on Friday. I’ve tweaked the ingredients a bit - I find I need a bit more chocolate for the topping than the original recipe suggests. But otherwise it is ace.
I’ve just been to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’ve written many times before about my love for Wes Anderson, he’s just one of my favourite directors and all of his films are wonderful. So I was very much looking forward to this one and unsurprisingly it did not disappoint. I’m not going to attempt to write a review of the films - I find writing about films much more difficult than writing about books, and if you’ve read my book reviews then you’ll be glad that I am foregoing a film review in this case. But I will just say that I really adored the film, it was everything I hoped for, everything I like about Wes Anderson films, and I am looking forward to seeing it again.
Hank Green’s “acoustic punk” cover of the song Let It Go from the film Frozen.
This past week I’ve been reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, consisting of Northern Lights (also titled The Golden Compass in some parts of the world), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
I’ve actually read these books before, once a long time ago when I was quite young, and a more recently again a few years ago. I vaguely wanted to reread the series, and then I saw these editions with such lovely covers. My old books were charity shop editions which were falling apart, so I felt I had no choice but to take the hint and buy these books and read them again.
How to summarise these books? It’s a fantasy series set across several parallel worlds. There are witches and ghosts and armoured polar bears. Some people have animal dæmons. There is religion, but there is also physics, and talk of dark matter and the many worlds theory. It’s an homage to Paradise Lost, and a coming of age story for two young children. It’s brilliant.
I love this series for a lot of reasons. It’s a great story. I really like the setting, from Lyra’s Oxford to the North to the world of the mufela and all the worlds in between. The characters are just fantastic, especially Lyra and Will the two main characters in the series, but also the supporting characters such as Mary and Iorek. It’s a really captivating story, brilliantly written.
It also really rewards rereading, and I feel like I got a lot more out of it reading it now than I did when I first read it as a child, even though I enjoyed it then too. It’s maybe not as popular as some of the other YA fantasy series, but it is definitely worth reading at any age.
When first viewing the artwork of Shintaro Ohata up close it appears the scenes are made from simple oil paints, but take a step back and you’re in for a surprise. Each piece is actually a hybrid of painted canvas and sculpture that blend almost flawlessly in color and texture to create a single image.