With the announcement of Midnight Sun’s release this summer, Beth and I decided that this year we would read the same books. Yes, folks, we are revisiting the wonderful, terrible novels: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. This is the first time that Beth and I are reading the same books as part of the Pop Culture Homework Assignment! I am so excited! Please join us!
Hello and welcome to October! I talked Beth into a read along of sorts for this month. It is the most wonderful time of the year! It’s Autumn! Halloween approaches! Break out your books with wizards and vampires in them because this month I’m reading Carry On and Beth is reading the sequel Wayward Son both by Rainbow Rowell!
Beth and I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 this week on Broadway! It was an exciting, if long experience. The play takes place after the final scene of the seventh film. We’re going to keep this review spoiler-free. It was an experience and definitely worth seeing, if you are a huge Harry Potter fan. We don’t want to ruin the magic for anyone.
What was your favorite part?
Kate: The magic, maybe. I think they did a great job making the stage really feel like the wizarding world.
Beth: Agreed. The stage craft was on full display. How they were able to create the feel of the wizarding world without special effects of the movies was very impressive.
What about the costumes did you like?
Kate: I want capes to be a thing in everyday life now. There is just so much drama and flair in wearing a cape. I could use a little more flair in my life.
Beth: OMG! The Capes! The way they moved and swayed I’m so jealous. We should bring back the capes.
What did you like about the staging?
Kate: The special effects were really neat but they didn’t distract from the story. I really liked that.
Beth: I thought it was so well done. I loved how they did the moving stairs.
Kate: OMG! The stairs were so good! I liked how the stairs and the movement made the space feel so much bigger and more dynamic!
Who was your favorite character?
Kate: Scorpius Malfoy, hands down. He was amazing. Draco comes in second, but possibly only because I was really impressed by how much his character developed from when we last saw him at Hogwarts.
Beth: Yeah! Who would have thought that a story with Harry, Hermione and Ron that Draco and his family would turn out to be the most likable. Scorpius was the real heart of the story. He brought most of the laughs and kept the story going. I’m hoping that if they do a new movie series after Fantastic Beast, it should be centered on him.
Kate:I would watch Scorpius Malfoy movies. I love that little nerd.
Any last thoughts?
Kate: I still have some questions about various bits and pieces of the story. But, I really enjoyed the spectacle of it, so I’m willing to forgive (though, if you follow us on twitter, clearly not forget) some of the more plot-hole-ish things.
Beth: I’m with you on this. There were some pretty noticeable plot-holes that fans should easily notice and since I’m guessing that most people who see this are big fans, then we are not the only one who has issues with it. That being said, sitting in the audience with other people who came dressed up in their Hogwarts finest, made it more enjoyable. We all knew what was going on. We all got the easter eggs they dropped. We all gasped at the same time. It was like a community experience. Harry Potter fans, I think this is a must see (plot-holes and all) and theater geeks, too, because the staging is in a class of it’s own.
Kate:It was so good to see people turned out in their Hogwarts finest! You are so right! I loved seeing everyone’s outfits! And, everyone who turned up in their cape in August, I have so much respect for that. It must have been so hot.
This summer, I am sharing with Beth something that has been a passion and a profession for me: the study of language. At the end of the month, I will defend my dissertation. If it all goes well, I will have a PhD in linguistics. Language and its study have been a huge part of my life for a long time now, but the details of it haven’t really been something that I have shared with my family. I know that they know what I do, but I worry that they find the discussion of it way too boring. To be honest with you, coming up with this list felt a little self-indulgent and unfair. (So much so that I have a back up assignment, in case she protests and boycotts this one.) But, I love the work that I do and find it exciting, so I have decided to share a little bit of general linguistics with my sister (and anyone who wants to join the challenge!) this summer. The four books I have picked are half non-fiction and half fiction (huge hat-tip is Jessi Grieser on twitter for asking for book suggestions and Gretchen McCulloch for this blog post! It helped me pick the fiction on this list!).
- What Language Is: and What it isn’t and what it could be by John McWhorter
John McWhorter has written a number of pop science on language and I’ve found them to be quite enjoyable. I haven’t read this one, but the reviews suggest that it will be a good introduction to what linguistics is, while also providing some fun trivia about language.
2. Left hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
I couldn’t resist adding an Ursula K. Le Guin book to the list following our read along last February. Le Guin uses language in interesting ways in this novel. I look forward to hearing Beth’s thoughts on the book, after having read McWhorter’s thoughts on language.
3. The Last Speakers by K. David Harrison
Depending on how you count, there are between roughly 6,000–7,000 languages in the world. For many of them, the possibility that they will still be spoken in one hundred years is slim. This book highlights that and brings attention to speakers of some vanishing languages.
4. Embassytown by China Miéville
Language is at the center of my final selection. Living figures of speech, a unique language humans must be modified to speak. Danger! Catastrophe! Hard choices! So fun. I can’t wait for her to read this.
In fact, I can’t wait to hear what Beth thinks about all of them!
This book had a lot of hype before its release and it was right up both our aisles. So, we both got it on publication day. We decided we would do something different. Instead of only one of us reviewing it or doing two reviews, we’re doing a joint review. We’ve come up with five questions.
What are your overall impressions of the book?
Kate: the writing was tight and the story sucked me in. The characters were great; I loved that they had obvious flaws and strengths. And the premise of the novel, zombies rising during the Civil War was so interesting.
Beth: I agree with you about the writing and being sucked in. I was invested in the story from the first page. The characters felt like real people and allowed to be imperfect and unapologetic about their undesirable traits. And who doesn’t like a good zombie novel? I think what I liked the most about it that is that we are seeing the aftermath of the Civil War from the perspective of a Black girl instead of a white person. How many books are from that point of view?
Kate: Not enough.
What did you think of the historical context?
Kate: I like what-if historical novels but I was a little worried about this one. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer already did the paranormal set during the Civil War and it was meh. But, this was so much better. Where Buffy Lincoln changed the context of the Civil War (the South have to be defeated! they’re evil vampires!) this novel leaves the context intact and to it adds zombies. So, we can’t just write off the uncomfortable Civil War context of the bible being used to justify slavery or the ideology that there is a racial hierarchy because oh no! supernatural beings! And, that made it so much more thought provoking and interesting.
Beth: This could have gone bad very quickly but I think she handled the time period well. I kinda like the fact that the Civil War never really ended, it sort of was put on hold when the zombies started to come from the dead leaving this uneasiness to every day life. Sure, slavery ended and they passed laws to educate former slaves and Native Americans but as for the racial hierarchy it was never really addressed. Much like it is today. Justina Ireland doesn’t shy away from the the injustices against African Americans and Native Americans pre-and post-Civil War and even though Jane and Katherine are educated and can kill any shambler, they will always be reminded of their place.
Kate: Agreed. She definitely didn’t shy away. I also liked the follow up at the end of the book which included readings about residential schools.
Who was your favorite character?
Kate: Jane McKeene. Obviously. She’s a hero. and a role model. I can’t wait to see what Jane gets up to next.
Beth: Agreed Jane McKeene is my hero. I want to be her friend. Not only is she smart, sarcastic, likes to read but she can also kill zombies. That’s so badass!
Kate: I know this is a little early but, Jane McKeene for best character of 2018!
Beth: Indeed. She’s going to be hard to top.
What was your favorite part?
Kate: Any time Jane and her friend Katherine fight zombies.
Beth: I loved the zombie fights but I think I loved the most the bickering between Jane and Katherine. The chemistry between those two was amazing and you can see how the relationship developed over the course of the novel.
Kate: their relationship is so good. I really liked that the most developed relationship was their friendship and not a romantic connection.
Beth: exactly! More of female friendships in YA please!
What are you looking forward to in the next book? (possible spoilers)
Beth: I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s in California and finding out who Jane’s Momma married that betrayed her. I feel like whoever he is, he’s going to be play a bigger part in Jane’s story. I also hope we get more of Katherine’s backstory beyond being raised in a brothel.
Kate: Yes! More of Katherine’s backstory! Please! Especially with the role that brothels played in Western expansion in the US! And, maybe some gold rushing in Cali? I also hope we meet Jane’s mom and her Aunties. Oh, and I hope we meet Daniel Redfern again.
Beth: Me too! I think we will meet Jane’s Mom and Aunties again and I want to know more about Daniel Redfern. I feel we only have cracked the surface of his character.
Thanks for reading A Wizard of Earthsea with us this month. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did. What did you think? How do you feel it ended? Why do you think Vetch never made a song of Ged’s journey like his promised? Are you going to continue and read the rest of the books in the Earthsea Cycle? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you thought of this classic.
Did Ged succeed? Will Ged and Vetch return home to Vetch’s brother and sister? What did you think of the first book of the Earthsea Cycle? Leave us a comment on your thoughts.
We are getting close to the end and an old friend returns. How do you think it will end? What do you think Ged has to do to defeat the Shadow? What can Vetch bring to Ged’s mission.
How do you hunt a shadow? And how do you defeat the undefeatable? What do you think will happen next?