A lot of contemporary romances seem like they have basically the same beats: attraction, hook up, emotional withholding, family drama, family drama, dA lot of contemporary romances seem like they have basically the same beats: attraction, hook up, emotional withholding, family drama, family drama, deepening feelings, FAMILY DRAMAZ, breakup, sads, get back together, happy ending. And this book does that exactly. But Erickson and Hassell are unusually good writers, and Dominic Costigan is just the best. The BEST. Not only is he repeatedly described as looking like Chris Evans, he is likewise an adorable soft bro. How can I resist?...more
I gave Aftermath three stars. This book is not notably worse than Aftermath, but I was excited about the Star Wars universe when I read Aftermath, andI gave Aftermath three stars. This book is not notably worse than Aftermath, but I was excited about the Star Wars universe when I read Aftermath, and I am not now. I'm in the minority of people on the entire planet: I did not like The Force Awakens, and reading this book, which is a direct prequel to the new films, I find myself missing the old Extended Universe so much. The EU was hopeful. It was optimistic. It promised friendship and cooperation and new adventures ahead! Now, I know that for the original series characters -- the characters that I love -- things are just going to end up being shitty. Where's the fun in that?
These issues with the Star Wars universe as a whole are obviously not Wendig's fault, but even beyond them, this book has problems. It takes until about halfway through to really get going, and even then, Wendig seems to do whatever he can to avoid major dramatic moments. Heck, this is a book where a main character -- well, supposedly a main character; he's so dull I actually had no memory of what he even did in the first book -- (view spoiler)[loses an eye to torture -- and it happens offscreen. OFFSCREEN!(hide spoiler)] In place of this, oh yeah, I definitely want more dregs of the Empire politics. Oh, and a cameo by the father of everyone's favorite Nazi Imperial, Hux. OH WAIT EXECPT ACTUALLY I WANTED THE OPPOSITE OF THAT.
Look, the one good thing about these books -- and the one reason I went back for a second round after Aftermath -- is Sinjir. I love Sinjir -- he is the drunk gay asshole of my dreams. But this is supposed to be an ensemble piece and I don't care about the rest of the ensemble at all. Call me when Sinjir gets his own solo series -- or better yet, his Solo series, which involves him being stuck on a book-long adventure with Han, at whom he is angry the entire time for being so handsome. If the new Star Wars universe goes in that direction, I might finally be able to get on board.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I honestly do not understand what everyone likes about this. To me, it seems like yet another patchwork YA -- there's a fight for a poorly defined empI honestly do not understand what everyone likes about this. To me, it seems like yet another patchwork YA -- there's a fight for a poorly defined empire, a set of deadly trials to draw the Hunger Games crowd, first person narration shared between a heroine who's "relatable" (read: utterly lacking personality) and a Morally Conflicted Hero, and some romance of the "what is this feeling in my chest?" variety.
Tahir's only variations from these formulae seem to be the additions of some vaguely Middle Eastern mythology, which to me is neither compelling nor richly drawn, and sexual violence. SO MUCH SEXUAL VIOLENCE. Is there a female character in this book who isn't threatened with rape? I think this book averages something like one rape threat per chapter. Even George R.R. Martin -- nay, George R.R. Martin's characters are like, "Whoa!"
To me, the reliance on sexual violence to create "drama" is a) gross, and b) lazy. Just so, so lazy. It means nothing interesting or dynamic is actually happening, so the author felt the need to "up the stakes" with rape threats. It does nothing to enhance the plot or anyone's character, it's just -- as previously mentioned -- gross. Especially, I'd argue, in a YA novel.
Some other questions:
1. What does Blackcliff actually look like? Can anyone describe it to me? This is yet another YA novel that could take place entirely in a black box theater, for the amount of description we're given.
2. What's the human equivalent of a black box theater? Because that's also how I felt about Laia's character. Describe her personality to me. Use an adjective other than "determined." What are her interests? What does she care about, other than saving her brother?
3. How do the masks work? Why does Tahir sometimes describe what characters' faces look like under the masks when they're wearing them? Are there nostril holes for Marcus to get a bloody nose through? What's with the descriptions of Helene's lips if she's wearing a mask -- is there a fetishy mouth hole? Actually, if Helene is presumably wearing a mask through this entire book, why is she never described that way? Does a single thing about these damn masks make sense?
4. Seriously, what does ANYTHING in this world look like and how does ANY of it work?
This book is slow. S L O W. And repetitive. For the first 3/4ths -- or maybe even 5/6ths -- every few chapters cycle through the same scenes.
JANE demoThis book is slow. S L O W. And repetitive. For the first 3/4ths -- or maybe even 5/6ths -- every few chapters cycle through the same scenes.
JANE demonstrates skill at the magical art form of glamour, but lacks confidence and represses her emotions! MR. VINCENT slouches onstage only to be gruff and standoffish! MELODY says something horribly catty to Jane, or performs an attention-seeking melodramatic action that makes Lydia Bennet seem like a fun sibling to have! MR. DUNKIRK somehow suggests that he is too good to be true!
co-starring: MR. and MRS. ELLSWORTH as COMMUNITY THEATRE MR. and MRS. BENNET! BETH DUNKIRK as GEORGIANA DARCY, albeit with slightly more screentime and personality! And CAPTAIN LIVINGSTONE as TRANSPARENTLY MR. WICKHAM!
There's finally some action toward the end, but the entire climax felt rushed and thrown off by the pace of the rest of the novel. Further, I was frustrated that we never got a look at how this type of magic works outside the artistic realm -- surely it has other applications? I had hoped that the novel's slow pace and Regency milieu would lead to some subtle reveals, possibly to do with how magic is treated within women's limited private sphere versus the wider world, but -- no, not so much. Let's just make sure everyone gets married!
This is more like Austen fanfic with a spackle of magic dusted over it, and less magic being used as a means of social commentary. You can guess my feelings about which the original Jane would have preferred. ...more
I wish this book had not been about fandom. I realize that wishing for a book to be about something other than its main conceit is wishing for it to bI wish this book had not been about fandom. I realize that wishing for a book to be about something other than its main conceit is wishing for it to be a different book, and I actually very much liked the book that Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is. But I had to spend a lot of it pretending that its portrayal of fandom was from an alternate universe, because to me it seemed wrong wrong wrong and only tangentially related to what fandom is like in ours. I imagine if you're a veterinarian or a payroll accountant or a chemical engineer and you read a book where the main character is in one of those fields, you might also spend the whole time wincing at every slight inaccuracy. So yeah, that's what this book was like for me.
HOWEVER...Scarlett's voice is still so winning and funny. Breslaw has a fresh, relevant take on a lot of typical teen issues and tropes, and the brief New York literary scene takedown was a scream. When she's ripping into Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace, she has full knowledge and authority over what she's talking about -- exactly what was missing from the fandom passages.
Fortunately, Scarlett herself always seemed real, and that was what won me over....more
I always thought I would hate Florida until I went there. To my shock, I loved it. It's a place steeped in contradictions and weirdness -- so, exactlyI always thought I would hate Florida until I went there. To my shock, I loved it. It's a place steeped in contradictions and weirdness -- so, exactly my kind of place. I don't know that I could live there, but it sure is fun to visit.
Craig Pittman is an excellent armchair tour guide in Oh, Florida!, which covers how the state's oddities have influenced the rest of the nation and offers up loads of fun stories. Pittman, a newspaper reporter, has never met a pun he didn't like, which gives this book a sort of old-school humor that I really enjoyed. He doesn't shy away from pointing out his home state's major faults -- seriously, could there be a collection of worse politicians? -- but the book still made me long to go back.
I am both the best and worst audience for this book.
Best, because the issues that concern Hurley -- the intersection of feminist and geek culture, womI am both the best and worst audience for this book.
Best, because the issues that concern Hurley -- the intersection of feminist and geek culture, women's place in the SFF community and in the world, the importance of representation -- are all major concerns for me.
And worst, for the exact same reason: I know all of this already. This is what I already think and believe. I have heard all these arguments made before, both more and less effectively. There is nothing new for me here.
I think for someone else, younger or newer to these ideas, this collection could be eye-opening and wonderful. But to me it seemed like stuff I might find posted on Tumblr every day of my life.
Again, I'm glad Hurley's voice is out there -- more strong voices are always good! -- but for me, at least, this wasn't as stirring as it could have been....more
Hannah Baker is a psychopath. Concocting an elaborate suicide-cum-revenge scheme? Psychopath. Thinking everyone's thoughts and actions revolve aroundHannah Baker is a psychopath. Concocting an elaborate suicide-cum-revenge scheme? Psychopath. Thinking everyone's thoughts and actions revolve around you? Psychopath. (Trust me, other people -- other teenagers, especially -- are mostly just thinking about themselves.) Taunting people from beyond the grave via audiotape? Horror movie psychopath. I shudder.
Of course, Hannah is in good company, because she lives in yet another contemporary YA novel small town in which half the residents are rapists, Peeping Tom perverts, or teenage Machiavellian manipulators. The only decent person in the entire town, we're led to believe, is perhaps Clay, our saintly narrator, who features on Hannah's revenge tapes even though he's the only one of the lucky 13 not to be blamed for her suicide. Because that would be too morally complicated. Can't have that, folks!
This book made me really angry. It does not strike me as a realistic depiction of teenage suicide at all. In fact, rather than encourage teens to realize that their actions have consequences and that they might be able to reach out and help a peer who's struggling, I think this book is more likely to riddle them with guilt when they fail to prevent something that's out of their control.
Obviously, lots of people disagree with me: Thirteen Reasons Why is considered a modern classic, with a 10th Anniversary edition being printed next year. But boy-howdy, this is not where I would want kids to get their suicide prevention information from -- any more than I would want them to learn about drug risks from Go Ask Alice....more
I enjoyed this increasingly as it went along. Dick is publicly presumed dead, working undercover as a double agent, and clearly should be meeting up wI enjoyed this increasingly as it went along. Dick is publicly presumed dead, working undercover as a double agent, and clearly should be meeting up with Bucky Barnes to compare notes. He backflips through these pages like each one is a spread from Playgirl. It's a fun romp, but with an undercurrent of danger and seriousness that I really enjoy. I will absolutely be picking up the next one....more
The "curse words to total words" ratio in this book was way off. I have an extremely foul mouth, and I still started wincing at the number of f-bombsThe "curse words to total words" ratio in this book was way off. I have an extremely foul mouth, and I still started wincing at the number of f-bombs being tossed around by everyone's parents (!). That, and the fact that this novella couldn't really decide what it wanted to be -- was it about Tina and Blake? Was it about Adam? Did there have to be a perfunctory sex scene at the end? -- made this a bit of a let down for me, especially after how much I enjoyed Trade Me.
But I'm still looking forward to Hold Me, which will certainly be longer and, hopefully, a whole lot better....more
Beautiful art. But this is really just the bare beginnings of a story -- only four issues -- and thus really difficult to judge. I think Marvel was prBeautiful art. But this is really just the bare beginnings of a story -- only four issues -- and thus really difficult to judge. I think Marvel was probably like "OMG! TA-NEHISI COATES!" and rushed this out. Sigh.
Also included is T'Challa's introductory issue from 1961 and it's...not great. The Fantastic Four are kind of racist and T'Challa's sexist. Hoo boy, the '60s must have been fun!...more
This covers a lot of the same ground as Spinster, but I didn't enjoy it as much. Spinster is more personal and more literary; this book relies much moThis covers a lot of the same ground as Spinster, but I didn't enjoy it as much. Spinster is more personal and more literary; this book relies much more on statistics and studies, and I found it, in comparison, more dry and repetitive. I recognize this is largely a matter of personal taste. Both books are interesting extensions of A Room of One's Own-style thought, and it's affirming to recognize the multitude of options that exist, and are continuing to increase, for women....more
Rape culture is absolutely real: present and all around us. The best parts of this book are the ones that detail its subtle aspects -- stray comments,Rape culture is absolutely real: present and all around us. The best parts of this book are the ones that detail its subtle aspects -- stray comments, graffiti on walls, the underlying attitudes. Micro-aggressions. The female characters' relationships (both positive and negative) in the midst of this background radiation is where the book is the most powerful.
Where it lost me was in being so over the top. That it was angry, I liked; I loved Alex's rage over her sister's rape and murder. But McGinnis takes the level of sexual violence in this novel to a level that feels almost cartoonish. This is a small town with a serious rapist/murderer, a sexual predator and child pornographer, and a roving gang of junkie rapists. I think McGinnis actually hurts her argument by having her villains be so plentiful and extreme. Real life is still full of evil people who get away with horrible things, but it's not Mad Max. It would be a shame for young readers to come away from this book thinking that rape culture only really manifests in these most severe terms.
The romance never fully worked for me, and the end felt like a cheap ploy. I've seen reviewers comparing Alex to Dexter, but I would like to note that (view spoiler)[Dexter got away with it. It's disappointing to me to see the female counterpart getting narrative punishment for what the male escapes yet again (hide spoiler)]. There was a lot that I enjoyed about McGinnis' writing and characterization, but this novel got weaker and weaker as it went along, and the sputtering squelch of an ending does not live up to the sharp intensity of the start.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I love the concept of this book -- it's a concept close to my heart -- but I hated pretty much every moment of the execution.
Seanan McGuire/Mira GrantI love the concept of this book -- it's a concept close to my heart -- but I hated pretty much every moment of the execution.
Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant is an author I've bounced off of before. Some writers' styles just aren't for you, and that's the case for me here. But I read this anyway because "what happens after you come back from a portal fantasy" is a subject that has haunted me forever. I deeply disliked its treatment here.
First of all, McGuire's dialogue is so mannered; the way every character speaks and behaves is dialed up to 11. There is no subtlety, and yet in spite -- or because -- of that, it all feels very shallow. Characterization is in bold strokes across the page, but to me it comes across as cartoonish.
The worlds characters have come back from are also very EXTREME!! -- bold strokes, bold strokes -- and I guess on one level McGuire should be lauded for not writing them all as vague versions of Narnia or Wonderland. But instead she makes them all sound deeply unpleasant. I would not want to visit a single one. To me, this strips the magic right out of this book. And it destroys the contrast she is trying to create between the "real world" the characters all came from, the fantasy worlds they visited, and the world of the school: they all seem to suck. I want to be elsewhere, in another book.
The murder mystery seemed like an attempt to add a plot to a great, but admittedly otherwise plotless, concept. Instead it just added more unpleasantness to an already unpleasant narrative. And not in a way that was interesting and revealing. This book is so squalid and grim, you guys -- it's like McGuire is saying, hey, magic exists! And everything is STILL TERRIBLE! woooo
This connects to McGuire's decision to include an asexual and a trans character -- awesome! Love it! Except she manages to make asexuality seem like a bigger pox on Nancy's life than her return from a death-based fantasy realm, and also seems to think that a bunch of girls who have visited other worlds both vast and strange would nevertheless be really transphobic. Because again: everything is terrible. Everything.
Then the ending invalidates pretty much the entire book. Awesome.
This was just a bad, bad marriage of concept and creator for me. The degree to which I love the former made the disappointment of the latter carry an even greater sting. I guess I'll have to wait for someone else to write this idea the way I want -- or do it myself....more
Anna Kendrick says she has a hard time making friends. I'll be your friend, Anna! Call me!
I already suspected as much, but this book makes it totallyAnna Kendrick says she has a hard time making friends. I'll be your friend, Anna! Call me!
I already suspected as much, but this book makes it totally clear: she would be absolutely awesome to have a beer with. This is one of the best "here are some stories and other random thoughts" memoirs I've read, from a celebrity or otherwise, mostly because it really does feel like a long rambling conversation. One where you end up snarfing at least once.
Don't miss the "Reading Group Guide" at the end; it was possibly my favorite part....more
A masterful blend of action and history, bolstered by fantastic characters. I love this series. I know it's going to emotionally destroy me in the endA masterful blend of action and history, bolstered by fantastic characters. I love this series. I know it's going to emotionally destroy me in the end, but I love it....more