Thursday, July 16, 2015

#CBR7 Review #20: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

After reading another Cannonballer’s review of Modern Romance, I decided I had to take a look and see what it’s all about! A look at the modern dating scene from a sociological perspective mixed with personal memories, and coming from the hilarious Aziz Ansari? That sounds like it was made for me! This book was in fact quite interesting, very easy to zip through while on a couple of long car-rides, and had a light and funny voice to it overall.

But there were a couple of things that has made it fall into the 3-star category for me: for one, while the whole thing has a nice overview of facts, issues, and new things to consider in the modern dating scene (largely, technology and changing social culture, etc), I’m not really sure where the whole thing was trying to go. Is it just a research summary? Intended to help people in their dating life? Not sure how helpful it will be for me, I still feel pretty clueless, so I don’t know.

The other issue that I had was that a lot of the information and discussions presented, I honestly felt like I knew (or at least, was aware of) already. A lot of it was discussed in an interpersonal relationships course I took for my psychology degree a few years ago, even though the modern dating world wasn’t even the focus of the class, really. For instance, the new concept of “Emerging Adulthood” and how this affects individual development, culture, marriage, relationships, economics, etc is an important topic in a lot of different fields today. And I know for a fact that I’ve read about the Capilano Suspension Bridge study at least twice in various classes, so some of the things presented were really like refreshers for me. But that’s my own fault, honestly. 

What I did love, however, was how Ansari presented the information in both an informative but fun way. I couldn’t help but giggle at a number of different parts, and I just love his sense of humor. I also learned a lot about differences between certain cultures and trends in these cultures (ie, Japan), so the chapters based on focus groups conducted in different countries were highlights for me. That and any time a text conversation from a straight white boy was presented. Those always crack me up.

But in any case, I did enjoy this book and thought it was an interesting combination of personal tales and sociological research. I have yet to really read anything else like that, so it was reasonably refreshing. But perhaps the various ideas that went into the whole thing just needed a touch more direction to tie it all together and leave it feeling less like a big overview or summary.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#CBR7 Review #18-19: Tithe and Ironside by Holly Black


I asked my friend for some recommendations of books, and found these two thrust into my hands. Apparently there is actually another book that comes in between them in the series (Valiant), but that it is about other characters whereas Ironside is more like a direct sequel to Tithe. But anyways, that’s a bit of a side note.

I will start this off by saying that as a kid growing up, I love love LOVED anything to do with Faeries and other little magical creatures like that. So I was intrigued, seeing as how I haven’t actually read any young adult novels based around those types of creatures (which is kind of surprising to me). And these two books were pretty interesting to hear all about these faery worlds and creatures and customs, despite the fact that the plot followed that sort of typical YA, “you’re different from everyone else” pattern. What do we call it? The special snowflake thing? Anyways. The only problem was with the main character, Kaye… There was something about her. I wanted to like her, and for all intents and purposes I probably should have. But there was something about her that did not resonate with me.

In any case, Tithe begins with a whimsical, teenage Kaye and her mother, returning to their hometown after drifting from place to place with Kaye’s mother’s band. This experience over the many years has hardened Kaye quite a bit, but as soon as she returns home she can’t help but return to her old ways of looking for faeries and for something magical around her. This leads to some revelations that Kaye may not in fact be human, and she may also be necessary in a plot to help her faery friends from childhood. What of course puts a jam in the works is the presence of a super hunky faery boy named Roiben (look… I know it’s supposed to be like regal or faery-like but that name just isn’t working for me). They way he’s described makes me think of a young King Thranduil, so you know I’m all about that. Kaye’s childhood friend’s older brother, named Cornelius (or “Corny) also ends up involved in the works, and the two friends become a part of some dangerous faery politics between both the light and dark sides of that magical world.



Overall, the story is one that zipped by really quickly, and I did indeed want to know what was going to happen next. Holly Black has a way of writing that is detailed enough, but doesn’t get jammed up and slow down the pace of things. There were some things that I rolled my eyes at, of course, as I tend to do with YA novels that follow specific plot points or have certain things involved in them. I’m talking about the romantic relationship between Roiben and Kaye (it’s not a spoiler, I’m sure you saw that coming) that seemed very stiff and I was like, oh my goodness you guys have known each other for two days: calm down! But that is to be expected, I suppose. (Also the games of riddles asked throughout various parts seemed a little forced, even though that parts in the Hobbit wherein they are asking riddles is one of my favourites. But let’s not get off track here).  

Following some brutal events within the conclusion of the first novel, Ironside then picks up with the aftermath of some new governance in the faery world, and all that that entails, while Kaye comes to terms with what her new life should look like, being that she now knows she is a faery but still wants to somehow be connected to her old life. Corny is also feeling a little out of place, now that he knows about the feary world and is afraid of coming under their spells and control, wanting to be able to protect himself, but feeling incredible human.

But to come to the end of this sprawling nonsense of words: I liked some of the minor characters in the book quite a lot more than the main ones. The plot was also enjoyable and not too complicated, but complicated enough to not get too confusing for me. I enjoyed the inclusion of the faery aspects, because as I said, I was very much into that sort of thing growing up. And in general I did like reading them and got through these books quite quickly. So if you don’t mind something that follows some of the common YA tropes, but twists them in a little bit of a different way, then maybe consider giving this series a try. And perhaps I will read the other book that comes in-between these two one day.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]