Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summer mini-reviews, #1

Because why dedicate myself to reading all summer if I'm not going to talk about what I'm reading? Here's the first (hopefully) batch of mini-reviews of my summer reading!

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Ooh, this was good. I kept hearing about Helen Oyeyemi so I picked this up at the library for a try, and I think it'll easily make my 2016 top ten. For such a short book, there's so many layers- a shifting point of view, a creepy house that may or may not be trying to kill people, family issues and pica and going to university and magical realism... it's creepy without really being able to pinpoint why, and I'd like to read it again soon as I think I'd be able to pick up on even more. Highly recommended.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny HanThe Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han 

This isn't really my usual fare, but I believe it's always good to branch out! So Belly (not her real name, obvs) and her brother spend every summer with her mum's friend and her two sons at her beach house, and this is probably the last summer they'll do that before the older boys leave for college. Belly kind of has a thing with both brothers, so this is about their last summer and which boy she picks. This really isn't the sort of thing I normally read, but I liked it all the same. It's a quick read and super summery, really the ideal beach thing. It's also somehow not as fluffy/inconsequential as it sounds. Also, I may think she picked the wrong boy in the end, but anyway... ;) 

Possession: A Romance (Vintage Classics) by…
Possession by A S Byatt

  I'd heard a lot of hype about this book, so I think it's inevitable that I was a little... underwhelmed? Don't get me wrong, it's a good book- really good even. It's about two Victorian literature academics who discover a letter which leads them to find out things about their two favourite authors that have been buried in the past. I'm an English lit Master's student, specialising in the Victorian period and probably going into academia, so this was super relevant for me! I liked this a lot- it didn't, like, change my life or anything, but not every book has to, and I need to stop paying attention to hype, basically.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of…Once upon a time, as a baby queer, I would pick up literally anything which even remotely involved a gay character. I'm a bit pickier now (and LGBTQ YA is much more popular now than it was when I was a teen, which wasn't even that long ago!) but it still gives me so much pleasure when I find a really decent, unique LGBT-themed story. So, Aristotle (Ari) is a teen boy who is kind of angsty and has a brother in prison who his parents refuse to talk about, and he meets Dante who is a slightly quirky teen boy who turns out to be gay, and this is about their friendship and their relationship. This was such a refreshing read in so many ways- it's set in the 80s, no-one gets kicked out of their parents' house for being gay, no-one kills themselves, and the main characters are both Mexican-American. I loved this.

The Danish Girl by David EbershoffThe Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

I've talked a little before about how I happened to be researching an essay about the Danish Girl, Lili Elbe, around the time the movie came out (well, it was actually about Virginia Woolf's Orlando, but somehow I ended up talking about Lili Elbe a lot) and therefore, despite my deep love of Eddie Redmayne and LGBT-related things, I didn't go see the movie as I was sick of her, haha. Months later, I've recovered enough to read the book. So this is loosely based on the life of Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo medical gender transition way back in the 1920s. Mostly this book deals with Lili's marriage, how her wife Greta (as she's called in the book) encouraged Lili's birth and then had to deal with losing her husband to her. I liked this. It's a quiet, beautifully written, fairly quick read, kind of a romance with a twist which was nice.

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