Category Archives: Books

Ender’s Game ON

Okay, I know I made myself not update my blog in all this time because, well, I borked it always trying to clear out revisions and whatnot from the MySQL database (yeah, don’t do that DELETE a,b,c thing, although I don’t know if that’s what caused my comments to stop working on my custom theme), and I was trying to motivate myself to move it over to jeidai.com and clean everything up, but I really had to write this down somewhere. Nostalgia, oh hey, re-meet my blog.

Holy shnikt, holy shnikt, I finally saw Ender’s Game! After all these years! (Okay, the movie is not even three years old, but I first read the book in 2002/2003.) I loved most of it. Just seeing the story on the screen. Like, it just looks so good! Not what I saw in my mind reading the book, but it kept me watching. (Yes I have a bad habit of playing my iPad games while watching tv, missing a lot of nuances of movies and tv shows. But…it keeps away that braindead feeling after sitting for hours just…watching.)

My adrenaline was even going at the final battle scene. Although I recorded the movie on a channel with commercial interruptions, so gah, the impact may have been lessened by me having to focus on forwarding through commercials. (So many commercials.) Ugh.

But I can see how the movie wasn’t that great and how it didn’t do well. I liked it because I read the book and could fill in the whole (or most of the) story. It was a bit rushed, skipped over a lot of stuff (only two Battle Room scenes? *tear*), and they dropped the whole Valentine/Peter and Locke/Demosthenes storyline. (Sorry, I don’t know if I matched the writers’ names up correctly, haven’t read the books in years.)

Probably a lot of my complaints and questions can be answered with, “it wouldn’t have worked in a movie format,” but I will still complain and question.

  • Did they switch around the game storyline? Ender beat the giant the first time he played in the movie. He just…went straight to killing. Did not like. I want more psychology, more with the Formics.
  • Ender’s first Battle Room game under his command, they already had the rope with them. Buh. Not logical!
  • Petra wasn’t as brash and hard and, well, rock-like, as I remembered. She seemed more like… just a face, just a placeholder. And they slimmed down the storyline in Command School where it was so grueling that Petra fell asleep and had to be taken out, and how Ender relied on her too much.
  • I don’t know why, but I really wanted to see the little storyline about Graff becoming a nobody once they got to Command School. It would have served no purpose in the movie, but it kind of hinted at the whole conspiracy of what was going on, the head of Battle School going off with a kid (The Kid) to Command School just to become an old, unimportant man?
  • I liked how they designed the Formics in the movie. In my head they’re really creepy, huge ant-things. But in the movie the queen is almost…pretty? Like she’s not a completely scary alien we have to wipe off the face of the…universe.
  • Mazer Rackam was…Maori? (I can’t remember the book.)
  • Okay, why was there a dying queen there on the asteroid at the end of the movie? Booooring. There’s no way she could have stayed hidden with humans scurrying all over it anyway. I wish they’d focused a bit on Ender’s communication with the Formics too.
  • I saw the little nods to potential future sequals. I’m kind of sad we won’t see them. I’m partial to Bean anyway, having read his story first. ;P And I really like Speaker for the Dead. (Not that I’m saying they should make it into a movie.)
  • Who the heck was Bernard? (Not a complaint about the movie, I just can’t remember this character in the book.) They kept mentioning him…

In the end, I think this just means I need to reread the whole series again. I haven’t read Ender’s Game/Shadow since 2009, and I haven’t read the whole series since 2005. I think this time I’ll read them in chronological order. (Last time was Ender-focused, EG/ES/Ender series/Bean series.) (And whaaaat there’s a new Ender book and a new Shadow book? Must investigate if these are worth paying for…)

(Also, hah, this took me over an hour to write. Oh blogging, never change.)

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, came out at a time when I visited the young adult section of the bookstore more out of nostalgia, and to pick up books in series I already owned, than of any genuine interest in the genre. I remember not understanding the title of the book. (My reading comprehension still isn’t up to par, after all these years, haha!) Was it some sort of fantasy novel? This pair of pants went on journeys like Frodo and Gandalf? Nope, just another teen girls’ novel, not interested.

Years later, a movie came out based on the book, and I knew who two of the four stars were, Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn. I’d seen bits of America Ferrera in the Disney Channel movie but didn’t know about her until I started watching Ugly Betty. I didn’t know who Blake Lively was until after I saw the movie, when she started Gossip Girl. So I definitely had to see the movie, I loved Alexis and Amber, and after Ugly Betty I especially wanted to see America in a different role.

I thought the movie was a fun watch, but not much else. Then the second movie came out, which of course I had to see as well. After I saw that movie, I felt I had to read the series since I didn’t know how much the movies were channging the story. I just thought it was a disservice to see only the movies and not read any of the books.

So I bought the book used from Amazon, which ended up costing about the same if I’d bought the book new from a local bookstore. Bah!

It being an easy read, I finished the book in just a few days. My thoughts? A fun story, if you’re expecting a young adult book geared for girls, which I was.

The movie was pretty faithful to the book. As faithful as can be, going from a medium that works in the head to a visual medium. Lena’s story was changed the most, but honestly, you can’t fit underage nudity into a PG-rated film. Besides, I think the film version of Lena’s story is cute. It’s very teen movie/chick-flick/rom-com, whatever you want to call it.

The problem now is that I want to read the rest of the series, considering the second movie skipped the two next books and went straight for the fourth storyline! But I don’t want to spend $8 on books I’ll read only once. Maybe I should look into the power of the County of L.A. public library system and get the book from another libary lent to my local library…

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War and Peace, I surrender!

I mentioned before that I was reading War and Peace. Since I haven’t been able to form a coherent and complete thought for my blog this month, I will just blather about that book here.

In the beginning I got lost with all the characters being introduced. The first time I tried reading, I quite about 50 pages in. This time, I sat down with what I thought was an excess of index cards for use to keep track of all the characters, any descriptions, major plot points. I ended up using all but a couple cards by the end of the book.

Related to the mass number of characters, I don’t even know what the point was for their being in the story. The book jumped around to different plots, different characters, different settings. For the most part it made sense, here’s a section about war, here’s a section concerning the civilians. But other than that, I really don’t know why I needed to know so much about, for example, the guy who was Natalia’s cousin/crush-at-first and Nikolai’s best friend-at-first. Or Natalia and Nikolai’s older sister.

I didn’t care for the war parts either. They just seemed to drag on, and that so much more could have been accomplished with much fewer words. But maybe the war parts were meant to be a big part of the story. Like how some characters chickened out in battle (and then what? nothing happens because of it? the character doesn’t learn much from it?), some lost body parts, some were heroic. Woop de do.

I did read an abridged version, though. (Over 650 pages is abridged? hah!) Maybe some important stuff was cut out? Or was it even more pointless goings-on of characters that weren’t really important?

I don’t know. It might have helped my understanding if I’d had someone tell me what I was supposed to get out of it. That probably helps for a lot of important classic literature.

At the end of the book, I just thought, so that’s it? What was the book about? What was I supposed to have gained from it? Was it the characters that Leo Tolstoy wanted to focus on? I couldn’t stand the characters! I thought they were stupid, blathering idiots, and I didn’t care one whit for any of them at the end of the book. Pierre might have been the most likeable character for me. I don’t know.

This entry is exactly like War and Peace. I cut out expanding on some points (partly for time, mostly because I don’t care), the reader doesn’t really care about anything in this, and what exactly have you learned from reading it? Not much, except that maybe War (and Peace, to a lesser extent) didn’t tickle my fancy.

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Borders’ summer reading challenge (for kids)

Borders sent me an e-mail last week, “daring” kids to read ten books this summer in order to get a free book. It reminded me of my elementary school and a similar program. Every student was given a sheet of paper to list all the books they read along with the number of pages. There may have been other information, but as a young child that didn’t matter to me.

I think it was once a month; get the list at the beginning of the month, turn it in at the end. The reward was that the kids who’d read the most got prizes. The kid in first place got two books, second place got one book, and third place got something that is not sticking in my memory because it obviously wasn’t a good prize. I think other kids also got a cheap bookmark for participating, can’t really remember.

I easily, easily got in the top three every time this event occurred. If I really put my mind to it, I would get first place. Most of the time I went my own pace though.

I felt guilty about getting rewarded for something I’d be doing whether this event happened or not. Sometimes I even wondered why I should enter at all, or why I should be truthful and list every single book I read. I mean, wasn’t this event more about encouraging kids to read? I didn’t need encouragement! In fact, my mom confiscated my bedside lamp once because I stayed up too late reading.

I did turn in the lists though, every time. Sometimes I would skip listing the “baby” books (as I deemed them), but I always turned in my lists. My teachers would have thought it was odd if I didn’t. >_> It seemed to make my teachers and the librarian happy, too, to see a kid reading so voraciously.

And yes, I did regularly get free books that I read and usually wrote down on the next month’s reading list. I remember a few of them, but that’s for another entry, if I ever get around to writing it up.

Back to the Borders challenge. It’s for kids who are 12 years old or younger. The reading list needs to be signed by a parent or guardian and turned in to a Borders store by August 26. (What, no page count requirement? *grin*)

I think it’s great that Borders is doing this, it eases up a bit on my being sore at them. (Messed up coupons, botched up return, closing my local Borders Express, all that fun stuff.) Still won’t go into their store any time soon. (Money woes, no funds for books. *cries*)

style of reading

I read this article about reading recently (really). The author was talking about how we seem to read less, and this because there’s always something else to do, check e-mail, check news sites, check text messages. I’m not going to discuss that though. What I found interesting was at one point in the article he mentions that it always takes a few chapters for him to get into that reading groove, that reading a few pages here and there doesn’t work for him.

That led me to a sudden revelation. Had I been reading wrong all this time? My style of reading is exactly opposite his. I read at the dining table while I’m eating, I read during commercial breaks while watching tv, at school I would get to class and read for a few minutes until the teacher started lecturing, snatches of precious time in between other tasks. Have I not been getting as much out of books as I could have?

So I decided to try it. I would read a book for a long stretch. Ella Enchanted was a great book, I thought. I’d wanted to reread it for a while, and it was short enough that I could read it in a couple nights, because I couldn’t guarantee enough nights with time to read several chapters in one go for a longer book.

I read Ella Enchanted last month, most of it in one night. (I cheated myself and read a few pages before I’d finished the books I was reading at the time.) (I also stayed up way too late that night, but that’s another story.)

The result—I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t feel the story was any more real, or that I was further into the story. It was the same as always, a wonderful, beautiful story, but this time it was over so quickly. I didn’t get a chance to relish it and live in the world in my daydreams. It felt a lot more like I’d just watched a movie than read a book I loved.

My test may have been flawed though. Ella Enchanted is just one of those books I hate to rush through. My favorite books I always read piecemeal, to stretch out the goodness of the story. Except for The Count of Monte Cristo, that’s a whole different animal.

But in writing this I laughably realized that I have spent times reading many chapters of a book in one sitting. I just didn’t recognize those times as such because they usually start with me telling myself, “I’ll just read a few pages before bed.” Then the story gets me hooked so I spend a number of hours saying, “Only a few pages more, then I’ll go to bed.” Those are what I termed my “midnight rendezvous.” Heck, that was how I read a few Harry Potter books!

Comparing my two experiences, reading books in short little spurts versus reading nonstop for a long stretch of time, I’d have to say that I don’t notice much of a difference. Reading in bits and pieces is probably more work because I have to block out noise around me and focus on reading, but after a a sentence or two I’m fine and lost in another world.

I have to say I feel sorry for that guy though, if it takes him that long to get into his reading, he must miss out on a lot every time he has to start up again.