"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Bad, the Good, and the Down-Right Amazing

"Miss Emmy?"
"Yes, Watson?"
"What are all these books?"
"Well, those are books I just read."
"Yes, but, as far as I can tell, none of these are mysteries.  Isn't mystery your theme this summer?"
"That is correct, doctor.  That's what happens when you work in a library and new and interesting books are constantly falling into your lap.  You take them home and you read them."
"And what are you going to do now?"
"Elementary, my dear Watson!  I'm going to review them!"

And, that's pretty much what happened.  I went to work, I found lots of books (mostly chemistry, but I haven't read those yet) and I sat down to start reading, even though many of them weren't mysteries (mostly because they were coming due).  What can I say?  I'm a sucker when it comes to books!

First in this motley lineup is David Sedaris's Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.  I've heard some great things about this author, so I was really excited to check it out.  But, I'll be honest, I was terribly disappointed.  The stories were actually pretty depressing, and the characters were really full of themselves.  By the time I finished reading (it was a short book, so I managed to choke it down), I was feeling a bit bleak about stuff in general.  I'm sure his other stuff is funny, but I just wasn't feeling it with this book.  One positive, though: the illustrations were pretty fun.  (I mean, some of them were gross, but I did like the artist's style.)

The next book was far more enjoyable, and actually
should probably get it's own post, but I'm just not feeling up to it right now.  This was Vicious by Victoria Schwab, a twisted Sci-Fi novel about two friends, turned enemies, after their thesis studies on near-death experiences and super-human abilities goes horribly wrong.  It was a fast-paced read, and constantly kept my attention.  I really enjoyed reading it.  I think the best part is that for most of the book, you really don't know who to side with.  Clearly, both protagonists are nuts, but each presents a compelling reason that he is the correct one.  I have my thoughts on the matter, but I don't want to be the one to give any spoilers, so I'm going to just keep quiet about that.  But, I will say that it was a fast-paced, fascinating book, and one of those rare stories that actually left me completely unsure of what was going to happen until the very end.  Plus, I loved the characters for their depth, but only really "liked" a couple of them based on personality.  Some of them were just despicable but that's sort of what you want from your antagonist.

And finally, I did promise that this was to be a three-book post.  So, the final book of this trio is a wonderful manga graphic novel: Hetalia: Axis Powers, Vol. 1.  I recently started watching the anime, and I'm actually almost done with it.  So, while starting Season 4, I thought: Hey, isn't there a manga to this?  Yeah, let's go check it out.  For those of you unfamiliar with the anime or manga, Hetalia: Axis Powers is essentially a collection of stories about world history and politics (in this case, mostly WWII) where all the countries are depicted as attractive men.  The stories are clever and funny, and somehow manage to make sense, even though the countries are people instead of landmasses.  An example, when America decides to break free from England, he actually leaves England's house (he was living there along with other English territories.  Likewise, other countries in the same empires live together, like Austria and his girlfriend Hungary, who appears to be one of the only girls in this comic!).  It's a clever storyline, and makes me want to get interested in world history again.  I used to think history was fascinating, but after four years as an English major (during which time I decided to dump my History minor in favor of a Classical Studies one), I guess you can say that I got a bit sidetracked and my interests went elsewhere.  I've noticed that post-graduation Emmy is much more interested in reading about other things, like history  and science than she was before.  This is certainly a good thing.  And of course, I'm looking into reading more manga.  Hetalia is just the first on my list.

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