In The Host, a parasitic alien known as “souls” have invaded humans by attaching themselves to a person’s brain and then taking control of the body. Melanie, one of the few humans who survives, gets a soul inserted into her brain. The soul, by the name of Wanderer, is given the task of using Melanie’s memories to find the humans who resisted the initial invasion of the souls. Unlike most humans, Melanie fights back, forcing the two to share the body. Soon afterwards, Melanie convinces Wanderer to not expose the human-hideout by showing memories of Melanie’s younger brother, Jamie, and the man she loves, Jared. Together, they begin a quest to find Melanie’s loved ones while avoiding authorities who dislike this act of rebellion. They follow landmarks that lead them to a desert, where they are found by Melanie’s Uncle, Jeb. Once brought to a secret hideout located within a cave, they meet many humans who want her to be killed (excluding Jared, Jamie and Ian [who develops feelings for Wanderer]). Wanderer and Melanie slowly earn the group’s trust by helping with sustaining the community. Wanderer comes across a doctor, who is trying to learn how to extract souls from their host but ends up slaughtering them. She decides to reveal the secret to the doctor in exchange for taking out herself from Melanie’s body. Wanderer gets placed into a new body a couple months later in order to save another host’s life. Together, Wanderer, Melanie and the other humans work together to find a way to allow both species to coexist.
Unlike many critics, I enjoyed the Host (and the movie as well). It was very captivating, seeing that I couldn’t put it down until I was finished. I really enjoyed how the author, Stephanie Meyer, was able to combine both Science Fiction and Romance – two of my favourite genres. There seemed to always be some sort of suspense in it that kept on leaving me with questions. It was such a roller coaster, especially with the never-ending love-triangle (which is more like a love square). Furthermore, the characters have such a strong personality traits, making them really interesting and relatable. In terms of the writing, I think that it is relatively sophisticated and included an extensive vocabulary. I wouldn’t recommend it to those who dislike cheesy romance or a weak female role, but, this book was a great read and was written extremely well.
A Midsummer Night’s Dreambegins with Theseus, the Duke of Athens, who plans to get married to the Amazon queen, Hippolyta. Egeus, an Athenian, approaches the Duke with a problem: her daughter, Hermia, doesn’t want to marry Demetrius. Hermia is, instead, in love with Lysander. To make matters worse, Helena, Hermia’s best friend, is in love with Demetrius because of previous affairs. Theseus gives Hermia the options of accepting the death penalty or becoming a nun and remain a virgin forever. She’s given four days to decide, but she plans to meet in the woods with Lysander and run away. Hermia finds out informs Demetrius who follows them. Meanwhile, a group of actors prepare to perform Pyramus and Thisbe to Theseus and Hippolyta on their wedding day. On a completely different note, the king and queen of the Fairies, Oberon and Titania, argue about raising a human foster son. Oberon wants him to be a personal page while Titania wants to raise the boy as her own. With the help of a trickster fairy named Puck, Oberon plans to enchant Titania with a love potion to make her fall in love with the first creature she sees, which happened to be Bottom, an actor (who got his head turned into that of a donkey). That same evening, the love-square wander into the woods and Helena and Demetrius argue about their relationship. Oberon sees this and tells Puck to not only put the love potion on Titania but Demetrius as well. Unfortunately, Titania wakes up and falls in love with Bottom. Puck also accidentally put the love potion on Lysander, making him fall in love with Helena. At the same time, Oberon puts the potion on Demetrius. The relationships between Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Hermia get scrambled up, as well as Titania and Bottom’s. Puck and Oberon eventually reverse the spell so that everyone loves who they are supposed to love.
Surprisingly, this book it a total riot. There is so much going on with so many different characters that only appear for a short period of time. There is a lot of back and forth between scenes and characters which makes it quite confusing. In addition, the play is quite short in comparison to other works by Shakespeare. The scenes individually are well written and include a lot of humor and dramatic irony. My class and I laughed at the stupidity of some of the characters and at how illogical it all was. I would recommend it to anyone who is capable of reading Shakespearean plays.
So I know it’s been a rough week. There’s been a lot of news coming out of Orlando and other places. It’s heartbreaking for so many people, from all walks of life, whether they were directly impacted or not.
There’s a lot to say about it, but I don’t feel like I’m any kind of qualified to speak to it as an authority figure. I will say that York and Toronto Pride are this month. And I will say that if you’re feeling discombobulated at all, whether about what happened in Florida or about anything else in your lives please speak to family, friends, your school counselor or try one of the links we have on this very site, including groups like Kids Help Phone and Rainbow Youth York.
What I do feel qualified to do is talk about the library, and all the resources and books we offer. And I feel qualified to offer something just a little fun and nerdy. That’s kinda my thing.
I came across this the other day, and I just love it. An actor, writer and musician named Jimmy Wong took a 12 second song from the show Adventure Timecalled “Bacon Pancakes”…
…and added more music (even harmonizing with himself) and more lyrics to create a full-blown song that stays in your head forever, in the best possible way.
*hee hee!* Love!
This kinda reminds me of an expression that Nerdist takes to heart; “Enjoy your Burrito!”. You can read where that saying comes from here, but, simplified, the phrase is a reminder to enjoy the little things and be in the moment, in between all the rough stuff going on. Easier said than done sometimes, but good to keep in mind. You’d be amazed how much something little can mean.
Well dear reader, I find myself at the telling of the second part of this adventure story. The first part wasn’t all that bad if you don’t mind me saying. Perfectly pleasant and very respectable. Nothing unexpected or too adventurous…well, unless you count the part about finding a gold ring. It’s not like there were dragons or anything…(ahem) I might as well continue from where I left off. I believe it was time for me to leave Hobbiton and set out on an adventure. Little did I know then just how adventurous my adventure would become.
So for the second leg of my journey I took the road less travelled so to speak.
One minute I was on the ground minding my own business and then the next I was flying. Some bloody great eagle picked me up and off we went. Can you imagine what that is like? Cold! Very incredibly cold and windy! On the ground the weather may seem one way but up in the clouds it is a completely different story. South we flew over mountains and what turned out to be an entire island. Did you know that New Zealand is made up of two island? And that the sheep outnumber the people five-to-one? Or was it eight-to-one? Whatever the odds they are not good if the sheep suddenly got it into their heads to have a wooly uprising.
So there I was being flown over hill and dale when I happened to cross paths with a company of swarthy dwarves plastered onto the side of an airplane. Startled? Yes. All that surprised? No. Only in Middle Earth could you ever hope find such a thing. At least it wasn’t the one with the dragon on it.
And if you think a decorated airplane is over the top you should see what the Middle of Middle Earth looks like. Wellington, the film and entertainment capital of the country, is were the WETA studios are located. The WETA workshop, or better known by all as the WETA Cave, is a place of magic and wonder. It reminds me of Rivdendell to be quite honest. Everything and anything you can imagine can be found there. Prop pieces and costumes from legendary films are on display. Swords, spears, bows, arrows, helmets…
I spent half a day in that wondrous place. And that was just the gift shop. I was able to gain access to the workshop itself to see first-hand how things are made movie ready. It was movie magic at its finest but for my eyes only. WETA guards its secrets as carefully as a dragon guards its gold but there were some things there that I was permitted to touch. Everywhere on every available inch of wall space, floor space and ceiling space was covered in film props. More weaponry, shields, and armor than you can shake a wizards staff at! Items from the Hobbit movies, the Chronicles of Narniafilms, and even The Amazing Spiderman 2 were on display. Did you know that the armor for the Green Goblin was actually designed and 3D printed by WETA?
The things that the magic makers at WETAcan and have come up with would leave you speechless. WETA is the ultimate Makerspace. Not only do they craft things painstakingly by hand, hair by hair even, they also 3D print, laser cut, digitally reproduce and construct. Sometimes actors cannot go to the workshops to be fitted for their costumes due to being on the other side of the world. That is no longer a problem because now all WETA has to do is 3D scan a person where they are in the world and use that to quite literally print them into being. Once that is done the costume can be built onto the 3D print job of the actual person.
I was not prepared for this. I went in thinking I knew everything there was to know about the Middle Earth films and how they were made only to discover that I in fact know nothing. The attention to the smallest detail imaginable is carefully crafted by skilled hands and elf-sharp eyes.
It also turns out that they have elf-sharp hearing as well. The tales that the WETA workers had to tell about what went on behind the scenes and in the workshop with the Middle Earth actors are worth the price of admission alone. I cannot repeat most of them but there is one that I can share.
It is about a certain Captain of the White Tower and just how ruggedly determined the Men of Gondor can be. Life imitating art is how the saying goes.
During the filming of the Fellowship of the Ringactor Sean Bean, who played the roll of Boromir of Gondor, opted to climb up a mountain for seven hours in full costume instead of taking a helicopter to the film location point due to his fear of heights. That is no small feat. Do you know how big the mountains in the South Island are? How high they go?
Here let me show you.
After spending however many hours necessary to film the necessary scene, which could run anywhere from a few hours to an entire day, he would then spend another seven hours climbing back down, still in full costume. Which had to have been heavy because Boromir wore quite a few layers and some hefty chainmail. Not to mention his large shield and sword.
That is without a doubt the most Gondorian thing I have ever heard tell.
Hello geeklings! How’s everything? School almost over? Summer coming up? Epic plans, I’m sure.
And since summer is coming up and we can all agree it’s a season for fun and new things, I thought I’d take the opportunity to mention one of my favorite ways to absorb info and have a great time doing it… ya know, aside from the Teen Summer Reading Challenge. Which is coming up soon. More on that as it develops 😉
We all know I love me some podcasts (Night Vale, anyone?). I commute, so they’re an awesome way to learn or be entertained while you’re driving. But I’ve plopped down on my bed and listened to them there too, or while I’m working around my place. It’s great when you can just listen to something and leave your hands and eyes free for other things. Multi-tasking!
And you see, the idea of podcasts is not new at all. Somewhere in between when books were easy to come by and TV was invented, there was one mode of entertainment that a wide variety of people had access to from home, and it was radio. When radios started getting popular in the early 20th century, it became the main mode of communicating news or playing music to a wide audience. The “Radio Drama” was basically a serialized television show without the vision part. Actors would play parts and writers would account for the fact that audiences couldn’t see what’s happening by making the dialogue nice and descriptive, and then throwing in sound effects.
Anyway, radio dramas hit their hey day in the 1940s, but when TV came along in the 50s radio dramas went by the wayside, as progress often causes forms of entertainment to do. But they weren’t forgotten. One of my best memories from the library where I grew up was signing out cassette tapes of the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a radio play that ran from 1939 to 1950, which for most of it’s run featured Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. My mom and I would listen to them, as we’re both mystery/Holmes fans. Rathbone is still one of my favorite actors to play Holmes, which he did not only on radio but, along with Bruce’s Watson, on film too.
But, the idea of audio storytelling didn’t go away entirely. It just evolved, and would soon emerge on the internet. Podcasts feature all kinds of ways to tell a story, from non-fiction to fiction to mock-reality to news to music to etc. They cover a wide variety of subjects. You can access them from your phone, your mp3 player or straight from YouTube or a website. You can learn about so much and/or just really be entertained.
And one of the best parts is it’s pretty much ALL FREE! AND there are sometimes spin offs in other mediums, like this (or this), or this.
So, naturally, we have books on the subject. If you’d like to learn more about history of podcasting there’s a great graphic novel called Out on a Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio. And we have a couple of books on making your own podcast. Have something to say? A really passionate interest or opinion? Then a podcast might be for you. Try thesetwo books to get started.
And did you know that our Teen Book Reviews has a podcasting option? Give us a call, send us a msg or come in to see us to learn more.
So now that I’ve whetted your appetites, let me go over my top picks for podcasts.
Welcome to Night Vale: My true love as far as podcasts go. I know I’ve spoken about it at length so there’s nothing more to say… other than I still listen, and it is still amazing. Go check it out!
Lore: A new-ish cast that only launched last year, Lore is already being developed into a TV series. So what is Lore? Well, basically it’s a history of scary stories. Author Aaron Mahnke gives you real life frightening tales every episode and discusses how our primal fears and our myths and legends play into either influencing these events or how these events influence our fears, myths and legends. It’s comprehensive, fascinating, freaky and wonderfully written and told. Any fan of horror won’t want to miss this.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour: My latest podcast of untoward adoration, one I first encountered when they did a crossover with Welcome to Night Vale. A loving and hilarious skewer of old-time radio, TTAH is performed just like you would’ve done for a radio drama back in the day, but live in Hollywood in front of an audience. It features segments and storylines like Moonshine Holler (a hobo fairytale), Jefferson Reid: Ace American (basically Captain America but way more over the top, if that’s possible, and with Nathan Fillion as Reid) and Captain Laserbeam (a superhero with kid side-kicks called the Adventurekateers). My favorite segments are their most well-known ones; Beyond Belief(a married couple who drink too much and solve supernatural mysteries) and Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars(exactly what it sounds like, a western… but on Mars). With politically incorrect ads and awesome guest stars, it’s a must. And it has what could be one of my favorite theme songs ever.
Serial: Only 2 seasons in, this podcast from This American Lifemade a big splash when it debuted in the fall of 2014. As they say in their openings, it’s “A Story Told Week by Week”. The first season covered the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee, the investigation that followed, the trial and conviction of Adnan Syed, and investigates the likelihood of Syed’s guilt or innocence. It was riveting, interesting and thorough, and had real-life implications, as Syed’s case has been reopened since.
Season 2 just wrapped in March, and focused on Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal, who in 2009, for reasons everyone is still trying to figure out, just walked off his U.S. Army post in Afghanistan. He was kidnapped by the Taliban and held for four years before finally being rescued in a prisoner exchange and now he faces charges of desertion by the army. Serial discusses the ramifications of his decision, Bergdhal’s history, his captivity, the climate of the US and Afghanistan at the time, what went into his release and wonders just how much blame the sergeant should shoulder. Is he a victim? A traitor? Did he just make a stupid mistake? The story is worth at least one listen, maybe more.
The Stuff You Missed In History Class: Total history buff *points fingers at self* right here! I’m a firm believer that history is way more interesting and awesome than what we learn in schools. Granted, schools only have so much time and there’s A LOT out there, but thankfully there’s sources like this podcast to fill in the blanks. From the website HowStuffWorks.com, Stuff You Missed In History Class covers a wide variety of topics. Plus, the hosts are big fans of the Haunted Mansion, even dedicating a couple of their episodes to it. How could you not be a fan?
So whether you like to knit or craft, or you have chores to do, or you have to drive for long periods of time, or you’re travelling and looking pensively out at the scenery, or have some other tedious job that doesn’t involve you already listening to something, or even if you’re hanging out outside and lounging in a chair under the sun and you’ve got your headphones on or a speaker, try putting on a podcast. Really, it goes with so many things.