This has got to be at least the third "dysfunctional family gathers after the death of the patriarch" book that I've read -- Jonathan Tropper's This iThis has got to be at least the third "dysfunctional family gathers after the death of the patriarch" book that I've read -- Jonathan Tropper's This is Where I Leave You and Stewart O'Nan's Wish You Were Here are what spring immediately to mind -- but it's by far my favorite of the three. D'Agostino doesn't get as lost in minutiae as O'Nan, nor rely as heavily on *~*SHENANIGANS*~* as Tropper. The Antiques was still predictable at times, but I liked its quiet optimism. It's not an extraordinary novel, but it is a satisfying one....more
The first book in this series felt like it contained some interesting ideas, but there's not much to sustain the plot of this sequel. I don't care aboThe first book in this series felt like it contained some interesting ideas, but there's not much to sustain the plot of this sequel. I don't care about any of the characters or about the grim fate of this mostly hopeless universe. I will not be reading the next one....more
My first Hiaasen. Unfortunately, I found him not as funny as either Joe Lansdale or Joseph Wambaugh, nor were his characters anywhere near as endearinMy first Hiaasen. Unfortunately, I found him not as funny as either Joe Lansdale or Joseph Wambaugh, nor were his characters anywhere near as endearing. I think I will continue to satisfy my itch for shenanigans-heavy mysteries elsewhere....more
Epic. I devoured this beast of a book in two days. The slow setup and somewhat over-obvious machinations that hindered Six of Crows are in no way presEpic. I devoured this beast of a book in two days. The slow setup and somewhat over-obvious machinations that hindered Six of Crows are in no way present here; once you get past the prologue, this crackles along like a fast-pasted action movie and never lets up. Except, wonder of wonders, Bardugo pauses just long enough to deliver the necessary moments with each member of her (extensive) cast. Their backstories are rich and complex and their relationships with each other even richer. Seriously, Bardugo manages not one, not two, but three canon ships that all range between sweet, tragic, fascinating, dangerous, sexy -- in other words, they're all compelling. GODDAMN.
Two final shallow, mega-spoilery thoughts:
(view spoiler)[1. Girl, I get why you felt like you had to kill someone; thank you kindly for choosing my least favorite character. I am never so blessed. Cheers.
2. Jesper/Wylan -- eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee okay deep breath and many thanks again I am done (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The title unfortunately fairly accurately describes how I feel about this book. Which is too bad, because it does have several things going for it: goThe title unfortunately fairly accurately describes how I feel about this book. Which is too bad, because it does have several things going for it: good-natured slacker Mike is an atypical YA protagonist, and I enjoyed his third person (praise jesus: third person) narration. He has a sweet relationship with his oddball little sister and a bunch of quirky friends -- who are also, refreshingly, not John Green-quirky (which I say with all love for John Green) but more unusual vaguely punk misfits. But the romantic relationship is weirdly underwritten, with the past bullying incident not satisfactorily resolved and very little chemistry. And other than that plot point, this novel just has very little there there.
I can almost guarantee that in a year this will be one of those books that I'll have forgotten I read....more
Funny and diverting, if trivial; I would say this suffered from my reading it so soon after the still amusing but much more informative Oh, Florida!,Funny and diverting, if trivial; I would say this suffered from my reading it so soon after the still amusing but much more informative Oh, Florida!, but it didn't, really -- this is, and was always going to be, a cupcake of a book, and I ate it in two bites. At the end, Barry implies that he could have rambled on about his beloved home state for much longer, and I wish he had. Like Florida itself (much to my surprise) I would have liked twice as long to spend exploring....more
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