September 29, 2014

Recent Reads

133. The Whale Rider
I saw the movie based on this novella when it came out years ago, and remember really liking it. I listened to the audiobook wonderfully narrated by Jay Laga'aia, and would recommend the audio as there are Maori phrases and music that add to the enjoyment of this story. 

I love creation stories, and this one retells an ancient Maori legend juxtaposed with the present day lives of the Maori. Kahu is a young Maori girl who has the misfortune of not being born the boy her Great-Grandfather desperately wanted. This story switches back and forth between her struggle to find her place in the world, and the reminiscences of the ancient whale of legends. The book is populated with wonderful characters, and explores themes of holding on to one's culture in a modern world, gender politics, and coming of age in a changing world. While written for a young adult audience, this one is a lovely read for adults as well. Rating: 3 stars.

134. Outlander (Outlander #1)
I've had this series on my TBR for years. Many people I know love it, and I'd socked away these books for a rainy day. So what was the compelling event to start? The STARZ original series of course. I love chunkster books, so imagine my disappointment when this one did not grab me, and I almost quit several times.

I love historical fiction, so did enjoy the setting and time frames, but that is about all I liked. I like a good romance as much as the next person, but this one read like the Mills and Boon stories I devoured as a teenager. Also, there is no science fiction to this story. Walking through a circle of stones to a time 200 years earlier does not science fiction make people. It is an easy way to create time travel without having to explain how it works, and while I was OK with that, sci-fi fans beware. There were some fun characters in this book, but they all seemed rather one dimensional - the hero, the damsel in distress, the witch, etc. I needed more depth to these characters to connect with them. An interesting aside, the bad guy is one of the more multifaceted people in this story. 

So let's say that you suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. Is it even remotely possible that you walk through a portal, end up 200 years back in time and seem to have no distress at all? Okay, there is some shock when you figure out that you are in a different era, but then nothing? Really? Spoiler ahead: [And given the choice to stay there, or go back to your time, you choose to stay? Really? All eras are tough for women, but you, an educated woman with options, chooses to stay in a era 200 years before your own for love? Right. Must have been great sex!].

Unfortunately I was bored for much of this book, and will certainly not be reading the rest of the series. Ah well, at least I tried. Rating: 2 stars.

135. The Shadow Hero
Book blurb: In the comics boom of the 1940s, a legend was born: the Green Turtle. He solved crimes and fought injustice just like the other comics characters. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding something more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity... The Green Turtle was the first Asian American super hero.

A Chinese mother decides that her son should be a superhero, so makes him a costume - never mind that he actually has no powers - and what an outfit it is! This was a fun graphic novel with wonderful art.  Rating: 3 stars.

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