Jones had a great time going to college, if this book is anything to judge by. (Of course, she got to hear lectures by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkie...moreJones had a great time going to college, if this book is anything to judge by. (Of course, she got to hear lectures by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, so I can't help thinking it must have been heaven). So, this is a book about a group of undergraduates who meet and form friendships and romance right off the bat. And although things at college aren't ideal, and most of them have very challenging problems with their families, they do work together and learn and make decisions and affect their futures in a way very like Circle of Friends.
I have previously expressed a desire to live inside House of Many Ways because of never having to cook and the library, but no one who loves the idea of Hogwarts can be other than smitten with this particular wizarding college. Unlike Terry Pratchett's Unseen University it is fully integrated both by sex and species: there's a griffin, a dwarf, several heirs to different thrones. There's also some eccentric but good professors and some eccentric and awful ones, assassins, pirates, Legionaries, and a Disneyesque coatrack in thrall. There's lots of coffee being drunk, and some booze, and actual studying, as well as everyone ending up happily ever after.
So, now, this Derkholm is the world I most want to live in, even if the food isn't that tasty, because unlike Harry Potter's world, the murderous thugs here are easily thwarted by clever people.
Quite a few years back I read Circle of Friends (this was before the huge YA boom) and one of the things I loved most about it was the two best friend...moreQuite a few years back I read Circle of Friends (this was before the huge YA boom) and one of the things I loved most about it was the two best friends working together to think through their problems and figure out solutions. They told each other what the wise woman would do. Stories generally focus on action, rather than premeditation, except when an elaborate plan is formed that then goes hopelessly awry. But I love it when people think things through: watching Nicholas Cage solving historical problems in the National Treasure movies is weirdly engaging.
So, the characters think about what is best to do and act accordingly. And, of course, it doesn't always work out perfectly, but mostly it does, and the course of actions always seemed so right, so "of course." As well as fiction, Binchy also wrote a column for The Irish Times, and sometimes she devoted that column to unsolicited advise. It's not an etiquette book at all, although some pretty tricky social mores are dissected. It's more along the lines of, "wow, I drank too much and probably made an ass of myself, but I can't actually remember. What should I do today?" The advise is good, even if one never requires it. But it's also terribly amusing, because people do boneheaded things from time to time, and Binchy is so practical in her suggestions. If one could choose a best friend one's never met, I'd pick Binchy. Not only would she bail you out without complaint at two in the morning, she'd tell you how to keep from losing your job. And she'd be right.
When Wood is writing, or planning, whatever her process, I like to imagine her sitting there asking herself what else she could possibly throw in for...moreWhen Wood is writing, or planning, whatever her process, I like to imagine her sitting there asking herself what else she could possibly throw in for entertainment. She included a song, which is possibly as far as an author can go toward "all-singing, all-dancing" without including video links.
Read alikes: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Defoe's Pirates!, Jane Eyre (sort of), The Pirates of Penzance. The humor here is kind, the perspective progressive. There is rather less howling than in the previous books, and Penelope Lumley is maturing into a very practical young woman, as she celebrates her 16th birthday. I hesitate to use the word "rollicking" but there is a certain screwball comic aspect to the climax. It's books like this that make me really miss reading aloud to the girls at bedtime: it would have been a hoot.
There aren't nearly enough novels about young people in poverty. Heartbreaking, even as it is a genuinely sweet and convincing love story, with lots o...moreThere aren't nearly enough novels about young people in poverty. Heartbreaking, even as it is a genuinely sweet and convincing love story, with lots of missteps along the way. And imbued with tragedy in a way that, say, Romeo and Juliet isn't, for me.
Oh, the relief of finishing. I was so worried about these two, so desperately wanting to help them. Odd that a teen romance should draw on my maternal instincts so hard. Moving, and sweet, and firmly grounded in 1986. Marvelous.
A look inside a purely fictional Animal Protection Organization, the shelters, the benefits, the travails of rescuing animals. The big fun here is wat...moreA look inside a purely fictional Animal Protection Organization, the shelters, the benefits, the travails of rescuing animals. The big fun here is watching the women who run the office taking down the horrible, sexist, patronizing, lazy-ass, overpaid boss. Oh, who doesn't love Nine to Five? Or The Devil Wears Prada? Revenge fantasy is a sweet pleasure.
For those who enjoy these sorts of things, there's also lots of Boston scenery, a little real estate porn, and drool-worthy menus of primarily Italian food. And, of course, heartwarming stories about critters finding their forever homes.
One full star off for the repeated misuse of "y'all" which is a plural contraction of "you all" and is not used to address a single person. Certainly never by an educated Southerner, which Mary-Day is supposed to be. Half star off for not distinguishing the characters of the women as much as I would like, but major props for having a diverse cast of characters, and a heroine with lots of female friends.
A fun read for the grown-ups who loved Nancy Drew.
Someone you know is going to love this book. Possibly everyone you know. Here's the set-up: something happened, ghosts are not only real, they're comm...moreSomeone you know is going to love this book. Possibly everyone you know. Here's the set-up: something happened, ghosts are not only real, they're common, and they can kill people. The ability to sense ghosts fades as a person ages. So (some, particularly sensitive) kids are ghosthunters, ostensibly supervised by adults. But not at the Lockwood agency. Three teens, living together, hunting ghosts, wearing and using rapiers. And, also, solving a mystery and matching wits against diabolical enemies.
So cool! So fun! So funny (Stroud can write snark like no one else)
Expect to see lots of kids in costume, because who doesn't want something easy to do like just-add-a-rapier? It reminds me of the Spiderwick Chronicles, except ghosts, and slightly older protagonists.
Now can anyone explain to me why the hell publishers feel compelled to "translate" books from British to American English? "Tea and cookies" is just wrong!
Paranormal procedural mysteries with a heavy hand for architecture, urban planning, and jazz. Yeah, it's not everyone's cuppa, but I freaking love thi...moreParanormal procedural mysteries with a heavy hand for architecture, urban planning, and jazz. Yeah, it's not everyone's cuppa, but I freaking love this series. In this particular entry, Grant is dealing with the kind of hideous high-rise so common to housing projects for the poor in big cities. My Le Corbusier rant is long and full of vitriol, so I won't go into it here, plus Aaronovitch makes it sound better coming out of Peter Grant. Here I'll just point out that associating evil with these kinds of projects is a natural. And there are all kinds of geeky Dr. Who and Harry Potter jokes, so, yay!
Personal copy because after starting the sample I could not wait to read the rest.(less)
Pratchett condenses the development and spread of steam trains into a single novel. And because he does this, it's not just a love song to trains and...morePratchett condenses the development and spread of steam trains into a single novel. And because he does this, it's not just a love song to trains and trainspotting, but also a social history that includes banditry, and terrorism, and social improvements like housing and food safety improvements as well as great strides forward for suppressed native peoples and women, also finance. Everything really.
And it's funny and fun, with plenty of adventure and fighting and clever, clever political moves on the part of the Patrician.
Great stuff, with trains in, plenty of train-loving by enthusiastic fans of the new engines. This is geek love.
The Greek/Roman pantheon and associated mythology makes one thing abundantly clear: with great power comes no responsibility whatsoever. They're all j...moreThe Greek/Roman pantheon and associated mythology makes one thing abundantly clear: with great power comes no responsibility whatsoever. They're all jerks. Where some retellings focus on make gods more human, more empathetic, less sociopathic, Blake just runs with it. Athena is an anti-hero. we don't root for her because she's good, we root for her because the others are even worse. And, as goddess of war, kicking butt is really her whole thing.
There's a plot based on the idea that after millennia, the immortals are starting to sicken and die, which, yeah, okay, whatever. I'm just here for the vicious fighting and that is gratifyingly vicious on a large scale.
On a sidenote, while I am over teens being described in terms of preternatural gorgeousness, at least with gods that feels acceptable, it's even part of the requirements. That they would choose to look like high-school students is, as in the case of century-old vampires, utterly baffling*, but I can take the prettiness without pause.
*Wouldn't you at least go with college-aged? Old enough to pursue any amusements one craves, and to be on one's own, without parental supervision, young enough to not be expected to be useful to society. Best of both worlds.