Book Review: The Host

Hmm, a little behind on the times? Reading an author generally shunned by people who actually like books? Actually admitting to reading it by posting a review on my blog?

Well….. yes.

So here’s the thing: I’ve read all of Twilight. And I’ve seen all the movies, so you probably think I have the worst taste in anything now. But here’s the thing with me: I like to be entertained. I don’t always mind watching or reading something mediocre if it is at least entertaining. Now, I may be finding my entertainment in the films way outside the plot (shirtless men with tattoos, the awkward faces people make, thinking about twilight farts or the Hillywood parodies – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn), I am no less entertained for the duration.

But, all that to say that I have a starting point to judge Stephenie Meyer’s writing against–herself. This is probably the only actually fair way to judge The Host.

It keeps me interested the majority of the time. I lost a bit of sleep because I’d stay up late to read it. So yes, all in all it’s quite entertaining.

The attachment to Jaime is entirely understandable from my point of view. I have a much younger brother and the absolute desire to protect him is second nature.

And then comes the love triangle. Can no one write a book with a central female character that doesn’t involve one now? I’m kind of sick of them. This isn’t just me being cynical, this is that every book seems to have one. Twilight, Hunger Games, Snow White and the Huntsman (movie, I know)… thank god Harry Potter never actually developed one, although in movie 7.1 they tried to make a go of it. For once I just want someone to write about a female who no guy likes except the creepers. But I guess real life isn’t good enough for the books. And I do get sick of the girl gets the guy and vice versa in films. That never happens in real life. Unless you look like (insert famous actress/actor name here).

The plot would have worked a lot better without the love triangle, I think, and it gets annoying having to read the conversations between two jealous men, and then between Melanie and Wanderer. Mel’s all like you can’t have Jared he’s mine, but won’t let Wanda have Ian either. And Wanda getting beat to a pulp all the time? Boring. Although Kyle trying to kill her repeatedly is actually interesting.

The Seeker part of the plot is much more interesting to me. The middle part of the book dragged on, all the while I was waiting for that evil Seeker to show up again. I kind of felt like the beginning was rushed versus the middle was drawn out. Stephenie Meyer has a tendency to do that though, to rush the interesting things (or maybe I’m just reading really fast because it’s interesting?) and then dwell on the monotonous middle without truly pushing the plot forward. A love triangle doesn’t push the plot forward: it keeps it stagnant while we wait for it to get sorted and life to go on. I will say that this book is much more eloquently written than Twilight though, and Stephenie Meyer has a wide array of vocab she uses. However, her mormonism shows prominently in the fact that she is very chaste when it comes to physical touch or colorful language. And while this works to her advantage when writing from a female’s perspective (Bella, Melanie/Wanderer), I get frustrated with it. Just because we shy away from saying crude things doesn’t mean our mind doesn’t fill in the gaps. Everyone has a filter between their mind and their mouth for a reason. And then once the Seeker showed up again, a very interesting thing happened: the plot moved, and Wanda was forced to make a choice that would drive the rest of the story. Yes, this is why I wanted the seeker to show up again!

But once that is all taken care of, it leaves us with Wanda on her self-sacrificing mission to save Melanie. While this is all fine and dandy, it gets annoying at times. Although, I do like that Wanda set a fast time table for herself. Once she knew what she was going to do in regards to the seeker, she went on and made the choice that would also kill herself in order to give Mel’s body back to the rightful owner.

The ending is sugary sweet. I’m beginning to realize that’s Meyer’s style. She can’t not write a happy ending. If I were about 5 years younger, I would probably have liked the whole book much more, as I think her intended audience was between 15-20, rather than an actual adult audience.

I honestly would have preferred if the book had ended with chapter 58, with the last bit of text:

As I took another breath I saw three stars again. They were not calling to me; they were letting me go, leaving me to the black universe I had wandered for so many lifetimes. I drifted into the black, and it got brighter and brighter. It wasn’t black at all–it was blue. Warm, vibrant, brilliant blue… I floated into it with no fear at all.

With the context of things, this would have been such a poetic ending, and for me, the book felt complete here. That is the kind of person I am, I guess.

The last bit of the book, in the epilogue, is a neat twist though. I won’t give it away, but it adds that tiny spark of interest to let your mind play with an idea.

For as much as I’ve been picking on the book, I’ll give it a positive: Meyer is very descriptive visually. I naturally see things in my head like a movie when I read books, but Meyer gives me extra layers to work in there, bonus bits of visual anything and everything that create a fuller picture within my mind. She also is good at giving a hook into the next chapter, so even when you’ve been bored out of your mind in the last chapter, suddenly something exciting is happening and you want to keep reading.

Okay, over all I’d say that it’s not a bad book, but I don’t think it’s the kind to last more than a generation. If you have a fair amount of free time, I’d say read it, but if you’re on the busier side and don’t have lots of time for reading, I’m not sure this would make it anywhere near the top 50 books you should read list. I should probably make that list someday.

Guess I’d give The Host a C for a grade. Pretty average. Parts are really good and other parts are really bad, so it kind of evens out.

Also, I wanted to read this because the movie comes out next year and has my favorite young actress, Saoirse Ronan, in the lead role.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower, film review

I’m at a loss of words on this one.

There’s  line in the film, “how can you be so happy and so sad all at once?” (I may be off on a few words, but that’s the line) that sums up almost the entire film, and how it makes you feel while watching it. The absolute beauty of everything, both the good and the bad, leaves you feeling both emotions quite fully. I wanted to cry for most of the film, and I was never sure if it would have been out of sadness or joy.

This is a coming of age film, where the people are the stars, not the story. Character-driven, as some former profs would define it. I think the most beautiful part of the film is that the people are all so hurt, with secrets, with pasts that forever impact our present.

The acting is amazing, and I was especially impressed with Logan Lerman’s acting. The way he handled things, the way you could watch him try to forget the bad things in life while they were in the midst of happening, pretend everything was okay when really nothing was… from someone with a mental illness, he captured it well. The moments where he just breaks down, the way all that was written and the way he brought that to life, is what it feels like.

Now, while most people will relate alright with the character of Charlie (Logan Lerman), I think very few will fully identify with him. Where I am in life, however, being in his shoes was as easy as breathing, and that may be why I’m having a hard time actually reviewing the film rather than being like “just go see it because you need to see this film.” That is exactly how I feel. Just go see it.

Now, are some of the characters exceptionally odd in an almost cliche way? Yeah. It’s like in the group of misfits, they wanted to have every kind of misfit. From a social perspective, that really doesn’t happen often. However, most of the main cast had fully developed characters and backgrounds. They made sense in a psychological way.

I really don’t even know what to say other than it’s such a beautiful film full of truths about us as humans. Full of pain and joy and broken people that in their brokenness are at their most beautiful.
Just go see it.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

misfit monday: what a weekend

Sometimes I do exciting things, like appear on national daytime tv. Other times, I do slightly less exciting things like sit around applying for jobs and sewing while watching old tv shows.

True story. No really, the tv thing? It happened. Not an extra. As in front and center speaking role. For 20 minutes. I was trying not to freak out or cry. Although the crying part would have worked with the acting.

I have the most random life, and a lot of the stories I tell probably sound like they can’t have all happened to the same person. That either means I tell great stories about kleptomaniac ex-roommates and psychotic pregnant homeless people, or ….. maybe I kind of got the leftovers on other people’s lives. That sounds weird. Imagine you’re at a restaurant and you have four people, but between them, they only order 3 dishes. Three of these people only eat one particular thing each. Say, one eats fish, another eats chicken, and the other eats beef. But these three people get full and there’s still a little of each dish left over, all of which gets passed on to person 4. So person 4 doesn’t have a whole meal of any kind, just these jumbled bits of leftovers. I kind of feel like that’s my life. Jumbled bits of leftovers. On a psychological level, this kind of explains some stuff about me. I’m watching everyone else with whole lives, and I’m sitting here with scraps and tidbits wondering why I didn’t get a whole life, why everyone else is so much more special than me. On the outside looking in. This is my life.

Okay, well, that was depressing. Let’s move on. (I really wish you would all read this in Xander Harris’ voice. It makes it sound much more fun.)

A theater near me (actually the closest movie theater) has $5 wednesdays, so I went and saw a late night movie. By myself. Because I don’t have friends. This is my life. Well, I saw Pitch Perfect because I thought it looked funny. Anna Kendrick is beautiful and talented. On a deeper note that probably very few people in the theater would have picked up on, it touched on a psychological thing that I understand. The whole shutting people out because it’s easier. Because deep down you just don’t want to let anyone hurt you, and you just sort of expect that they will. There was a fitting tribute to The Breakfast Club in there, and I love that movie.

The last bit of that trailer… add that to the list of things I want to say.

Worked on sewing some other things now that my coat is done. I have this pattern for some 1940’s clothes, and I had enough fabric left over from an old project to work with, and that became the shirt. Now to start in on a pair of high waist grey pants. Three pieces. Pretty straight forward. Except the zipper part. Zippers are my downfall. Also, I had to sharpen a pair of scissors, and it was all going fine until I sharpened them right into my finger. Painful and just deep enough for it to bleed rather well.

Saturday was a big day.

First, I auditioned for a tv pilot being shot here. Don’t know where it’s going or anything like that, but hey whatever, I auditioned. Am I likely to get a part? Well normally I would have said no, but they happened to really like me. They said I had a lot of talent and I should really try to get into the acting thing more. First time I’ve heard that. I should hear about callbacks in a week.

Second, my little brother had a marching band competition at The Ohio State University. In the horseshoe. That was cool. Like really cool. But, I don’t understand the old-school marching band thing, with the drum major who is a baton twirler, the lack of color guard, the whole high-stepping thing…. makes no sense to me. The southwest area of Ohio is all about competition marching bands, versus I guess Cleveland is stuck in the “we’re here to put on a halftime show for the football team” thing. Ew. Add that to the list of reasons I will never go close to that town. Anyway, my alma matter did great. They’ve made massive improvements to the show since I last saw it, added more visuals, the guard (which has 3 vets and the rest are rookies) has made huge strides. They should have placed 2nd behind Lakota West (who incidentally have an awesome show featuring music by Edward Elgar and my all-time favorite Dmitri Shostakovich).

I’m employed! Finally. It’s at a department store as seasonal, but that’s a start, right? Better underemployed than unemployed. I have orientation this thursday, and I’m a little nervous for everything, but I always get that way. Last night I had this weird dream that my grandma came over and was asking me all sorts of questions about my new job that I didn’t have answers to and then when I woke up she was actually here. O_o

Oh, and thursday night I watched the VP debate. It was at Center College in Kentucky. And then I realized that I’d performed on the same stage they had the debate on. Woah. A couple years ago, Asbury, Center, Translyvania and maybe one more I don’t remember, performed the full Brahms Requiem at Transy and Center (that’s like an hour straight of singing). And…. yeah. Won’t go into politics. Oh, but Paul Ryan looks like the guy who plays Will Schuster on Glee. Anyone else notice that?

Here’s part of the Requiem. My favorite part.

Ooooh…. secret talent reveal time: the first time I ever joined a choir was in university. In the best choir there. I’m a mezzo-soprano who sings alto 1. What you don’t know is that I’m actually a French Horn player.

This video shows the sopranos and tenors mostly, with the altos and basses on the same side as the camera. So you can’t actually see me, but yes I’m there. In Gloucester Cathedral (they filmed chunks of Harry Potter there). In England.

I told you I had a random life.

Simplicity 2057 Jacket Review

Finito!!! I’m pretty excited to have sewn this jacket. It was a fairly massive undertaking, especially because I’m not all that wonderful of a seamstress. And it took me a long time because I’ve had to rip out and redo about half the seams on it. Okay maybe just a third, but that’s still a buttload of seams. The pictures don’t show the color as well as I’d like, but it truly is Tardis blue. But here it is.

1. The outside of the jacket runs a little big, but the lining runs fairly true to size. So I’d suggest cutting a size smaller in the jacket, but your actual size in the lining. You may have to fudge some seam allowances for this, but having your lining be a bit bigger than your coat is a good problem, and the opposite of what I had.

2. Wool is the easiest fabric to sew with. No really, not even cotton-poly blends are this easy. Lining? Not so much. In any case, I highly recommend finding a good wool to make the jacket in. I used 100% wool and can’t wait to work with wool again.

3. The directions for this pattern are clear up until the lining comes into play. Then it takes someone who can translate sewing-speak to even figure out what that means.

4. The fabric for sleeves both in the wool (or whatever you choose for the outside of the coat) and the lining are calculated separately. Weird. My mom and I redid the layout of the pattern in order to accommodate this. We got 2 yards of 60″ (57″) wool, and….

This isn’t including sleeve tabs or the back yolk because I didn’t wand to do those, and it uses the stand collar because that’s the kind I wanted, as well as using the welt pockets rather than the flap pockets also because that’s what I wanted. This layout worked out great. The open spaces around some pieces are where you’ll cut a second of something, like the stand collar, the epaulet, the pocket welt, or the welt tab.

5. There will be a lot of hand-sewing with attaching the lining to the jacket itself. I mostly ignored what the directions said here, because it was confusing and my mom said I could just hand-stitch it and not have to worry about that. Time consuming, annoying, but at least it was simple and would turn out right.

6. On the smaller pieces of the pattern, like the epaulets and the welt tabs, I’d suggest doing a 3/8″ topstitch rather than 1/2″, because of size ratio stuff. You can see here a little of that.

7. The collar can be a bit tricky. Sew carefully. Everything has to line up.

8. The coat uses a lot of thread. By a lot I mean buy 2 spools.

9. For as complicated as this will seem at first, with nearly 30 pieces involved, it’s not too bad. There are a lot of places you can mess up, but as long as you sew carefully, it goes together a lot easier than expected. It will, however, take some time because of how many pieces and all the finishing involved.

10. The jacket is beautiful–a really great design. If you make it out of a nice wool, and make it well, the store-bought equivalent would cost around $200-250 (although as low s $150 or as high as about $300).

11. Even if you don’t normally use shoulder pads in things because you have great, strong shoulders naturally (thank you swimming) this pattern really does require them. The jacket won’t lay right without them. The sleeve pads you can do without.

12. If you’re using the epaulets, and want to sew them down with a button, sew that on before you do the shoulder pads. The directions won’t say anything about finishing the epaulets, and I didn’t realize this until I’d already put the lining in.

13. I chose to do a little customization to this. No deviation from the pattern, because it was complicated enough to begin with. But, I did a little TARDIS applique on a sleeve. Since this is, you know, my TARDIS jacket.

14. Having a sewing buddy always makes things better. Although, cat fur sticks to wool like hair to lipgloss.