Is a good man really so hard to find? Must I use a time-machine to go back to the Regency Period in order to find a real gentleman?
(Although if said time-machine was accompanied by Matt Smith, then to hell with the Regency Period.)
I really enjoyed The Secret Diaries. I mean, at first I was disappointed that it wasn't actually written in diary format, but it's such a cute story that I just couldn't resist its charms.
A little bit of fluff goes a long way, and this book is chock-full.
Miranda Cheever first met Nigel Bevelstoke, Lord Turner when she was ten and he was nineteen, because she was friends with his younger sister, Olivia. After getting teased by some of the other little girls at Olivia's party, Turner cheers her up by telling her that he thinks she's pretty and advising her to keep a journal.
Ten years later, Miranda has grown somewhat into her ordinary looks and Turner is a broken man. He has had his heart broken by his cold-hearted wife and can't bring himself to start looking for another after her death, let alone mourn her.
Also, Olivia has taken it into her mind that Miranda is destined to be with her twin brother, Winston. Olivia is hilarious. I hope she's the subject of the next Bevelstoke series because she totally reminded me of Jane Austen's Emma. You know, the lovable air-headed blonde who's annoying but cute?
Lottie is so Olivia, it isn't even funny.
Miranda is still attracted to Turner and tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to gain his affections. Sexual tension ensues, and after several rather hnnnng-worthy encounters, Miranda ends up preggers.
I liked this a lot. Mostly because of Turner. Oh, God. Turner.
He broke my heart.
If I have one criticism about this book, it's how horridly Miranda treated Turner just for being too traumatized to tell her that he loved her. Really, she was astonishingly heartless. Actions speak louder than words--that maxim has been around since the dawn of time, and with good reason.
Plenty of men say I love you and don't mean it, so really, it's good he waited until he did.
Here is a piece of cake, Ms. Quinn, for doing a satisfactory job.
And there's more where that came from, if you know what I mean.
It's been a while since I've had a serious contender for the everyone-hates-it-b...moreYou can read more reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
It's been a while since I've had a serious contender for the everyone-hates-it-but-nenia list, and boy howdy, but isn't this the greatest addition a geeky gal like me could wish for?
Meet the most realistic dystopian fiction novel I've had the pleasure of reading in years- all the cutting satire of Christopher Buckley's Boomsday, with the pop-cultural know-how of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One.
The book takes place in the near future. Various scientific advancements have guaranteed that the older population can live for at least a century if they can afford it. Unfortunately, this really squeezes the modern health care system- and young people are growing increasingly frustrated with their own lives and the lives of those of their parents while these "olds" as they call them basically live it up in cushy retirement homes.
Los Angeles has been leveled by a 9.1 earthquake, with two aftershocks both above the 8-point mark. Insurance companies find themselves facing payouts in the trillions and have no choice but to declare bankruptcy. The president decides to seek foreign aid, and receives an interesting and controversial offer from China.
Oh yeah, and speaking of the presidency, America has its first Jewish president, and he's in the middle of all these issues, trying to balance his personal opinions with what is best for the country. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work and he gets himself into some pretty sticky scenarios that could very well compromise reelection.
Add to that a terrorist group of young people who bomb nursing homes in protest of the taxes they pay to keep the older generation alive, some scathing commentary on socioeconomic catch-22s, irony, black comedy, bleaker wit, and some very interesting ideas, and you've got 2030 in all its glory.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I can see why it has a low rating, since people are liable to get tetchy about politics anyway and this book has no real hero; everyone is fair game. I think that would make a lot of people angry. I am taking away half a star for the ending. Even though I can see what the author was trying to do (I think), it is pretty bleak, and it's always depressing when you spend a couple hundred pages invested in the characters and plot hoping things will turn out for the best- and it doesn't. But then, life often doesn't, so in that sense the book was pretty realistic. Hence half a star.
2030 has multiple POVs and usually that would annoy me, but Brooks made it work. I found myself looking forward to all the passages equally, which is rare. But then, most authors don't have this level of talent when they are trying to pull off something so kitschy.
I would definitely read another book by Mr. Brooks.
I was actually sad when I had to give my copy back to the library. I really, REALLY enjoyed this book- it was WRITTEN for my ner...moreEdit: October 24, 2012
I was actually sad when I had to give my copy back to the library. I really, REALLY enjoyed this book- it was WRITTEN for my nerdy, video-game loving, Matthew-Broderick-movie-quoting generation. I WANTED TO KEEP IT WITH ME ALWAYS AND SMOTHER IT WITH CUDDLES. Anyway, I recently trotted over to the ol' used bookstore and what did I see sitting oh-so-dejectedly on the shelf? A brand spankin' new copy just BEGGING me to take it home. I've never been able to resist the puppy dog eye trick, especially not with a book. I have my own copy now! YAY
WARNING. REVIEW MAY CONTAIN PARTIAL NUDITY, SWEARING, FANGIRLING, HYPERVENTILATION, SCREAMING, LOUD NOISES, GIF-BOMBING, PICSPAM, MARRIAGE PROPOSALS, AND RAMPANT GOODREADS WHORING.
PROCEED WITH THE UTMOST CAUTION.
WHERE HAS THIS BOOK BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Okay . . . okay. Try to be coherent. Breathe.
. . . whew.
Ready Player One is a book for people who are a) nerds, geeks, otaku, or just super dorky. b) obsessed with and/or were born in the 80s. c) completely addicted to vintage arcades, Nintendo games, or MMORPGs. d) huge science-fiction buffs.
If these things do not appeal to you, or make you wince in distaste, you are not going to enjoy this book. At all. You won't get any of the references, you will shake your head in incredulity at what appears to be a complete and utter waste of time, and you might very well feel confused or threatened. I suggest you save yourself a lot of trouble, put the book down, and back away slowly.
Or, in gamer-speak:
GTFO NOOBFAG OR PH34R T3H WRATH OF MY UBER-1337 BANHAMMER
If, like me, all three are relevant to you, you are going to want to pepper this book with 8bit smooches and scream like a demented fangirl.
I used to be a huge MMORPG fan. I'm not going to tell you how many hours I pissed away leveling up my skills just so I could be a Mage/Ranger hybrid with kick-ass defense. It was a lot. I've been clean for several years now, but the thought of a fully immersive virtual reality game makes me drool. And with technology getting better and better, this seems like it's becoming less and less of a pipe dream. In the meanwhile, I live out this pie-in-the-sky fantasy vicariously through cyberpunk, and Ready Player One is a more than satisfactory surrogate.
RPO takes place in a near-future dystopia riddled with poverty, corruption, and a major global-wide economic depression. The miserable inhabitants take refuge in the appropriately-named OASIS, a fully immersive VR game with a once-in-a-lifetime fee of 25-cents. Once paid, players have access to a virtual world so real that young people can attend class from their homes, people buy up virtual realistic and virtual garments as status symbols, and conduct business from virtual offices.
Wade Watts is one such user. He's eighteen and lives in a trailer with his abusive aunt and her string of good-for-nothing boyfriends. He plays OASIS from a borrowed console and a laptop salvaged from the streets in the sanctuary of an abandoned car. Overweight, acne-plagued, and socially anxious, OASIS is the one place where Wade can really be himself. His major goal in life is to find the Easter egg video game mogul James Halliday hid somewhere in his game before his death, which promises untold riches.
Despite years of searching, nobody has come even remotely close because Halliday was, well, a huge otaku who incorporated his vast knowledge of 1980s cult classics, vintage games, science-fiction, comic-book trivia, Dungeons and Dragons, and pretty much any other nerdy thing you can think of into this quest to form what is quite possibly the biggest nerd-puzzle in the entire world (apart from what you can find on those MENSA puzzle calendars). Few people are dedicated and obsessive enough to bother taking in all that trash. Which basically ensures that the winner would have to be someone very much like Halliday - which is exactly what the old man wanted (and can you blame him?)
One day, Wade realizes that he knows the secret to solving the first of three quests. His excitement is contagious and endearing. The reader wants him to win, because though he may be a loser, he's a loser we can sympathize with, and we want him to have the tools to not be a loser anymore and pull himself up by the boot-straps and into a Horatio Algerian success story.
When Wade's name hits the high score boards, the frenzy of the hunt reawakens with a vengeance as people scramble to find out the secret before time runs out. And with four other people (two of whom are his friends) - and the nefarious IOI corporation - following closely in the lead, time is running out. Because the prize is a secret worth billions, and more than just a couple people would kill for it.
I absolutely loved this book. It's hard to write a good, solid book about video games - because we all know if we have brothers or sisters that WATCHING people play video games isn't nearly as fun as playing ourselves - but Cline does an absolutely phenomenal job. His gameverse is just so original and creative - and yet so plausible - that it's an absolute delight to read and super easy to envision.
I just know that this is going to end up being a movie.
The gameverse, on the other hand, is a cross between Second Life, WoW, Runescape, various Nintendo games, arcade games, etc. It's all encompassing, and all the consoles get some love.
Also, the IOI (aka "sixers," aka "sux0rs") were a really good villain because their motive was so believable. They want to win so they will have control over the game and therefore charge everyone who already plays extortionate monthly fees and erect barriers to keep out non-payers. Capitalism at its finest, eh? I was convinced. Lord knows chain letters about FB selling out and charging monthly fees are always circulating cyberspace. It's the free-loading user's worst nightmare.
. . . Let's say I got a little too emotionally involved in the storyline. Face-palming. LOLing. Cries of frustration. Expletives.
The pacing is excellent, to the point of being sadistic. There were times when I was on the verge of biting my nails, the tension was so nerve-wracking. Having the online scoreboard was a great idea, because it really added a panicky "time-is-running-out" feel to the book that didn't have to be bashed into the readers' heads over and over again. So much more effective this way. My gosh.
It's over now. Be still, my heart.
My one complaint is that THIS AUTHOR HAS WRITTEN NO OTHER SCIENCE-FICTION NOVELS. WTF. GET CRACKING, CLINE. I NEED ME SOME MORE VIRTUAL REALITY FIX A.S.A.P.
We watch A Christmas Story pretty much every year in my family. It's proba...moreYou can read more of my reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
We watch A Christmas Story pretty much every year in my family. It's probably one of my dad's favorite movies, and even though for a while a lot of the jokes went over my head, it quickly became one of mine, too. A lot of Christmas stories focus on an idealized, magical, Disney-style happily-ever-after/dreams-come-true type of story-telling, but I think what always appealed to me most about A Christmas Story is that it is realistic even at the same time that it is larger than life. You can totally imagine this wonky family existing in real life, embracing the shittiest Christmas ever as another thread in their embellished family tapestry. Fantastical elements included.
Naturally, when I saw that there was a book about this Christmas classic on Netgalley, I was all over that like Ralphie on a Red Ryder BB Gun - how could I resist?
The moment I got approved for this title, it was on.
My overall reaction? Wow.
I think I actually like the movie more now, after reading this.
It's sad, in a way, because Jean Shepherd and Bob Clark are both dead now, and have been for several years, so they can't be interviewed - which is just depressing because Shepherd was the writer for the story that inspired the movie, and also the narrating voice of the adult Ralphie, and Clark was the director.
I learned so much about this movie - fun trivia, bloopers, and where are they now? factoids about the cast. For example, Will Wheaton, who writes the intro, was one of the auditioning Ralphies. He even got a callback, but was passed over for Peter Billingsley. Likewise, Jack Nicholson was considered for the role of the Old Man, but it would have cost too much to pay him so the role was given to Darren McGavin, who rocked it (although, sadly, he has also passed).
There is a Christmas Story museum that is run by a man named Brian Jones (no, not that Brian Jones). It is stationed in the house that the movie was filmed in, and Ian Petrella, who played Randy, the little brother, used to live in the house so he could give tours. The museum features all sorts of random objects, like costumes, the white board and the coathooks from the classroom in the movie, which was filmed at a real school in Canada, called Victoria Public School, which was demolished in 2005 to make a women's shelter.
I also learned that Peter Billingsley, the main actor, later became a director, and even started A Christmas Story Musical, which sounds kind of amazing. Especially the song A Major Award, which features a chorus girl kick-line with dancing leg lamps. (Is it also sung in the key of A Major? One can hope).
There are also two sequels I did not know about. One, My Summer Story, features two of Macaulay Culkin's siblings, Christian and Kieran. The title was later changed to It Runs in the Family because the production company was afraid of stigma from the movie not living up to its prequel, although it, too, is narrated by Jean Shepherd.
A Christmas Story 2 was toted by the studio as being the "direct sequel" to ACS, cutting more ties to MSS. Which, naturally, pissed off even more people, who were quick to call it the worst sequel ever made. Clearly these people have not heard of Trolls 2, another movie commonly referred to as the worst movie sequel in existence, and even resulted in a documentary style meta-analysis of the film and its actors called, Best Worst Movie. (You must watch it, if you haven't. It's kind of amazing.)
The most touching story about the cast members is actually about the bully character, Zack Ward, who played the coonskin-cap-wearing antagonist, Scut Farkus. His role was swapped with another actor's at the last minute which resulted in a tangled contract that messed up the royalties he was supposed to have received from any merchandise made from the movie. The result necessitated that he hire a lawyer to help him fight the companies that made action figures, calendars, and board games bearing his likeness, all without giving him a dime. It was quite sad to read about how hard they tried to con him, even going so far as to say that yes, the character was Scut Farkus, but no, he didn't have Zack Ward's facial features. What the fuck.
Overall, I think this is one of the most engaging documentaries I've had the pleasure of reading in a long while. If you are a fan of the film, you should add this to your list to Santa this holiday season. It's just as lust-worthy as the Red Ryder BB gun, only in this case, there'll be no danger of your shooting your eye out.
NIGHT FILM pulled a SHUTTER ISLAND on me. I feel...like, I don't even know. Drained. Hungover. Empty. Freaked out. Unsettled. And slightly cheated--no way did you end the book there. But she did. She ended the book there.
Sovereign, deadly, perfect.
Oh, book. What have you done to me?
Nobody forgets their first Stanislaus Cordova film. The man is like a hybrid of Quentin Tarantino and Stanley Kubrick, and just as enigmatic as Thomas Pynchon. Want to have an interview with the guy? Ha! Good luck. And in a day where everything goes on the iPhone, the guy has still managed to retain his privacy.
Scott McGrath found out the hard way what happens when people try to violate said privacy. A few years ago, he followed up on a lead that all was not what it seemed with Cordova, and said tip-off lead to public disgrace and an equally public lawsuit. You could say he has a bone to pick with Stanislaus Cordova, oh yes. You might even say that he's obsessed, twice as determined as before to prove that Cordova is a creep.
When Cordova's equally mysterious daughter, Ashley, commits suicide, McGrath is convinced that foul play is afoot. He keeps turning up creepy new information about Ashley, which seems to suggest that she was on the run from...something. And when he makes two new friends who start to help him investigate the girl, he discovers layers upon layers of secrets. Actors in Cordova's films refuse to talk about their work with him, or they just...disappear. His films are banned, and exist only as bootlegged copies shown in super secret midnight screenings in subterranean labyrinths. They might also hold the key to the truth about Cordova himself...and his daughter, Ashley.
Reading NIGHT FILM gave me the creeps. I kept feeling like I was being watched by someone outside my window, or that my reflection was suddenly going to gain autonomy and leer at me, or that I was going to pass a stranger on the street and lose my soul. The room literally felt colder after I read this book. It just gave me such a creepy feeling. Like, I haven't been so freaked out since I read Stephen King's IT. And this book doesn't even have much in the way of gore. It's purely the atmosphere, and the way it taps into all our fears of loneliness and the unknown.
And then, the book gets even weirder...it goes all meta. And you're like, "Is this really happening right now? Or am I only imagining it? Or is he only imagining it? WHAT IS GOING ON?"
I loveloveloved the mixed media in this book. I think that's why a lot of people said this book reminded them of HOUSE OF LEAVES (which I haven't read yet, though I want to--so bad). The pictures are so creepy, and so are the news articles, the faux screenshots, everything. It all seemed tailored to the book, and when I checked the bibliography in the back I was shocked when I realized that the vast majority of them were taken from stock image sites. No shit. I would also agree that the whole researcher-investigating-the-fucked-up-family-from-hell angle is highly reminiscent of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. But in many ways, NIGHT FILM is better.
Elizabeth "Liz" Vachar was the perfect girl - tall and blonde, "with the body of a game show hostess," and a rich father who gives her all that she ev...moreElizabeth "Liz" Vachar was the perfect girl - tall and blonde, "with the body of a game show hostess," and a rich father who gives her all that she ever wanted. She has an equally perfect boyfriend, a circle of (not-so)-equally beautiful friends, and, oh, yes, her step-sister is her best friend. So it comes as a major shock to Liz when she wakes up on the eve of her eighteenth birthday to find out that she's, well, dead.
In the afterlife, Liz finds herself stuck between the realms of the living and the realm of the dead. Her only company is another boy named Alex, a boy who was hit by a car two years before, and he seems determined to hate her, because he was one of the unpopular kids who was mocked and belittled by Liz and her crowd. Accompanied by her resentful peer, and a memory full of holes, Liz is forced to piece together the events leading up to her death with flashbacks and scattered peeks into the lives of her friends and family in the aftermath of her passing. What she discovers is as shocking and painful as one would expect for a sheltered, teenage girl: her friends and family harbored many secrets, and did not necessarily love her as unequivocally as she believed...and may or may not have been responsible for her death.
Alex also has a puzzle he has to unravel. Nobody knows who the driver was who killed him on that dark rainy night. His parents' promise of a $10,000 reward has gone unheeded, and the case has been thrown out as unsolvable. Liz is horrified when he tells her, but Alex is unwilling to let her touch him or intrude upon her memories, though he seems perfectly comfortable trespassing on her own darkest, innermost thoughts.
The result is an interesting expose of the darker side of teen life. Sex, drugs, betrayal, and oblivious cruelty about. Liz and Alex both learn how actions have a ripple-effect, and can sometimes build up to something huge, even if the initial action was something small, like driving drunk or insulting someone. The plot is gripping, and nigh unputdownable. I pretty much read all 450 pages in one sitting, and the twists literally kept me guessing until the very end, and oh, did it make my heart hurt.
Between is like a cross between The Lovely Bones, A Certain Slant of Light, and Peach Girl. It's dark, but not without hope of redemption, and surprisingly deeper than most of the stuff that gets churned out of the YA Paper Mill. Fans of ghost stories will definitely enjoy the poignant and bittersweet tale of Alex and Liz - especially if they like unconventional romance served with a heaping side of reality. Why can't all UF be like this? Wait, scratch that. On second thought, I don't think my heart could take it.
Remember a couple years back, when Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was all anyone could talk about? The opinion on the series is polarized. Not only are t...more
Remember a couple years back, when Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was all anyone could talk about? The opinion on the series is polarized. Not only are the books long enough to pull a second job as a paperweight, the Nazi-ism, racism, and rather graphic violence and abuse tends to . . . how to put this delicately? Creep people the fuck out. I enjoyed this trilogy a lot, though I don't particularly think Salander is a strong female lead. I found her rather one-dimensional and weak, actually. She fits into that "female is strong only because she acts like a man/hates men" slot that I hate so much.
Yeahhh. Let's not go there.
The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo pokes fun at the series' shortcomings, as well as the people who believed (mistakenly) that Stieg Larsson's death was a murder to shut him up about secret Nazi goings-on. Free-for-all material includes (but is not limited to):
Descriptions of food: the more stereotypically Swedish the better - especially if it sounds disgusting. How about some Swedish meatballs from IKEA? No? Swedish gummy fish? How about licorice-wrapped herring? OK, f**k it, let's break out the Fat American Junk Food. YAY TWINKIES!
Ethnic slurs: Stieg's books were kind of pretty racist towards other Scandinavians. TGwtST takes that idea and runs with it . . . like a dishonest Finn running from the cops.
Descriptions of technology: Name dropping everywhere! So much that you're going to wonder if Apple and Microsoft paid for those endorsements!
Information dumping: Because knowing about obscure diseases and having the dimensions of the room committed to memory are crucial to understanding the plot!
Other hilarities include Mikael Blomkvist changing his name to Blomberg because of some obscure Jewish ancestry. He also wonders why women seem to find him irresistible, particularly since he's got bigger boobs than most women, and eats way too much fried eel. Also, he's poor as f**k.
(Maybe if he actually looked like David Tennant, this phenomenon would be more understandable. SMH.)
Lissa Salamander's . . . social problems are even more exacerbated as we meet a girl who drops swearwords into her sentences like candy, calls men "pigfucks," and runs a tattoo parlor that specializes in insults on the chest and/or forehead. She dislikes being compared to Pippi Longstocking, because "she let her father do terrible things to her anus," and assumes that every man secretly wants to rape her.
She's so enthusiastic about it, too. It really draws on the creepiness of the books.
Oh, and the plot? Let's not forget the plot. An unpublished writer is murdered (ha!) because he was writing about the history of the nefarious UKEA company, whose furniture designs are apparently based on designs drawn up by Hitler before he decided to, you know, hate on German minorities (especially Jews). The current CEO, Dahger Ukea, is a neo-Nazi who spends his free time firing female employees and petting his villainous Persian in his villainous sitting chair, and has great plans to Keep Sweden Free from Foreigners.
God, this was hilarious. Arffssen - or whoever really wrote this - nailed the plot. He (or she) must be a fan, because it would be difficult to capture the style so well if you hated the book considering how much research you'd have to do. But he's also an objective fans, and the things that he apparently didn't like are things that I didn't particularly like.
If you are - or aren't - a fan of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you will probably like this. If you hated it, you'll enjoy having a laugh at its expense. If you liked it, you'll enjoy having such a delightful supplement to your favorite series since the author himself will no longer be writing. If you enjoy parodies written in the style of the Harvard Lampoon (but better and more developed), you will love this.
Basically, I think almost anyone will enjoy reading this. I laughed my way through it.
WARNING!!!! THIS BOOK HAS A KICK-ASS FEMALE CHARACTER, AN AWESOME MAGIC SYSTEM, POLITICAL INTRIGUE, AND A SPICY DASH OF WELL-WRITTEN ROMANCE. PLEASE R...moreWARNING!!!! THIS BOOK HAS A KICK-ASS FEMALE CHARACTER, AN AWESOME MAGIC SYSTEM, POLITICAL INTRIGUE, AND A SPICY DASH OF WELL-WRITTEN ROMANCE. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMERS BEFORE PROCEEDING.
do not read this book if you: -hate strong, female protagonists, especially ella enchanted, poison study, or anything by tamora pierce -are bored by court intrigue -only want to read twiclone paranormal romances -don't want to try something new and different
otherwise, you need to get your ass down over to amazon or the nearest public library and get your little goodreads paws on a copy of this book, pronto.
this was my face upon finishing this book:
seriously. heavenly choirs were singing and everything. but then i saw how many ratings this book had, and i looked more like this: [image error]
ready for it? 187 ratings and fourteen reviews.
okay, sit back and relax, because i'm about to tell you how freaking awesome this book is.
tower has created a world that is all her own. it's a bit like feudal japan, in the sense that there are all these small little provinces (she calls them despots) that used to be ruled by an emperor before various civil wars broke out and they each became independent.
the religion and culture is no less fascinating. again, there's definitely a lot of asian inspiration going on here, especially since the emperor-like guy in this book is called the sun lord. however, it also combines distinctly confuscian principles with a pantheon of gods that are rather like those of the greeks or romans, and court etiquette like that of the tudors.
in other words, it's amazing. there's magic, too, but it's understated, which makes it much more realistic. i loved her conception of the underworld.
the main character is named lale. when the book starts, she's eleven years old, but she's a full-grown woman by the end. she's an orphan who lives in a poor village. the villagers resent her as an extra mouth to feed, and the family she lives with mistreats her because they feel she doesn't earn her keep. she ends up being driven away because of an innocent enough mistake and soon finds herself in the hands of a powerful despotanna named makina, who runs a school full of future assassins.
and she wants lale to join them.
the problem is... the despotanna isn't quite as beneficent as she would have you believe. she pretends butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, but there's little slips here and there, and i thought it was really creepy how she made all her students call her mother, because you know what that made me think of.
lale really is bad-ass. like, seriously. she'd give katniss a run for her money, and could probably out-poison yelena.
i like how tower didn't have her raped/sexually assaulted, give her any hang-ups about sex, or anything else that some fantasy authors are wont to do. she's curious about men but knows that they're not a priority for her (at least not at the moment). she also hasn't met anyone she's interested in, so she has that whole naive, "it'll never happen to me" attitude.
plus, she's confident! and feminine! and she has a positive self-image!
the part about the school was really interesting. i devoured that portion of the book greedily; my only complaint was that there wasn't MOAR. tower really captures the excitement and the importance of suddenly going from zero to (anti)hero. just look at this passage:
her blazing enthusiasm kindled mine, for she was right. we were going to be in the thick of it. my sisters and i would trouble the sleep of kings and despots, and of the great sun lord himself; because of us, armies would march and thrones would tremble. i practically bounced up and down on my stool at the prospect.
and if i worked everything just right, i reminded myself, i could probably become rich and famous into the bargain. my dreams were nothing if not expansive (146).
i love her writing. it's so eloquent and beautiful, like a delicate and extremely tasty pastry. and so in-your-face.
upon graduating from the assassin school, she finds herself sent to the kingdom of kurjain where she is supposed to insinuate herself into the sun lord's affections and become his mistress. their courtship was extremely fun to read about as i feel that, again, tower captured her emotions well. her growing affection for the sun lord, her guilt at betrayal, her fear of being caught, and her torn loyalties. because soon, lale finds herself in the middle of a war between two kingdoms. and if she doesn't make a choice, one or both sides will kill her.
here's a passage from when she realizes that she's in love with the man who she's supposed to kill:
and then everything happened just as i'd hoped it would, but in ways i'd never felt or imagined, and to my deepest astonishment and joy i forgot who i was and what i was, and gave myself to him utterly.
and as i did, and because i did, the tiny fissures that so subtly undermined my loyalty joined into a single, ruinous crack. but, like a flaw deep in the marble a sculptor intends for his masterpiece, it lay as yet hidden from my awareness; only when the chisel struck the marble's grain in just one way, and in no other, would the stone split into ruin and reveal the fatal imperfection, love, within (303-304).
i just have two criticisms (and they're purely selfish on my part):
1. rather than cramming the whole storyline into one book, the author should have broken this down into several books. i never say this, but i really wanted to explore the world in greater depth and the author actually left a lot of the world-building in the backseat so as not to clunk-up the well-paced (but far too quick) story-line. i wanted to learn more a lot about their school and their training, with maybe a mulan-esque montage of overcoming obstacles thrown in for lulz.
2. there is nothing else published under this author's name. what the heck! how could you do this to me? do you know how hard it is to find good fantasy authors who write amazing fantasy with amazing female characters and amazing love interests? how could you do this to meeeeeeee?
2.5. apparently s.d. tower is the nom de guerre for a canadian espionage writer who is "internationally published" according to my book's back cover. who are you? please, tell me! i want to read more of your books!!!!!!!!!!!!
but apart from those two-and-a-half minor flaws, this really is an excellent read and i'm shocked that this book has nowhere near the amount of critical acclaim it so deserves.
do yourself - and the author - a favor, and read this book.
I'm the oldest of three, and I received this book after my brother was born. Subtlety- my parents did it right. Apparently I was quite horrid to him,...moreI'm the oldest of three, and I received this book after my brother was born. Subtlety- my parents did it right. Apparently I was quite horrid to him, and to this day, my parents- and my brother- still jibe me about what a bitch I was.
I remember doing read-alongs with my mother as a kid, and she said, "Can you see anything similar between you and your brother, and Lily and Julius?"
Mom: Are you suuuuure?
Me: Little brothers suck. I hate (brother's name). He thinks HE'S the baby of the world!
I LOVED Sita's character. She was strong, but not over-the-top. She knew how to use people to get what she wanted, but she also had emotions. She wasn...moreI LOVED Sita's character. She was strong, but not over-the-top. She knew how to use people to get what she wanted, but she also had emotions. She wasn't a bad person, but her jaded outlook on life made it seem like that at times. I loved the parts of the story that delved into her history; her love-hate relationship with Yaksha, the tragedy of losing her husband and daughter; the fact that the past is constantly coming back to haunt her.
Most of all, though, I loved the raw emotion in this book. And I don't mean that in a gooey, sappy way. Sita has suffered through a lot. She makes relationships quickly, because she doesn't know when they'll end (a much better way of explaining the love-at-first sight thing than Twilight did). She doesn't like life sometimes, but she likes it enough that she tries to prevail even when everybody and their mother is out to kill her. It's so rare to find a heroine who is this callous and cold, but still likable. Underneath the self-preservation and cold intellect is a person that teenage girls (and older women, too) will be able to relate to, which is amazing. I could actually FEEL what it is like to be Sita.
The ties to Indian mythology were quite fascinating. Vampires trace their origin to one single vampire who was morn from a demon (Yaksha). In fact, his name, which was given to him by the main character, actually means "heart of the demon." Pike brings up a lot of interesting ideas about religion, love, and good/evil. I've only read his pulp YA horror novellas before, so this book was a breath of fresh air (especially since I've read tons of bad YA vamp books this week). I'm amazed by this man's talent! Could someone get him to do the werewolf myth next? Please?(less)
Reading these high-octane vintage thrillers is a bit like swigging down...more**spoiler alert** You can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Reading these high-octane vintage thrillers is a bit like swigging down an energy drink. It socks you right in the gut, gives you a total rush, and then leaves you in a slump when it wears off.
Master of the Game reminds me of another vintage epic I read relatively recently, called Web of Deceitby Catherine Lanigan. This book is considerably more screwed-up, though, and wider in scope, telling the story of five generations of McGregors and Blackwells, and the curse that hangs over their heads as heavily as the divine grapes that will mock Tantalus for all eternity.
The story begins in South Africa, with young Jamie McGregor, a naive Scotsman who has come to South Africa to seek his fortune in the diamond mines. His naivete is taken advantage of by a local Afrikaaner, who has him sign a contract in a language he cannot read (dumb, Jamie!), and Jamie naturally assumes it's an honest deal.
His blissful ignorance nearly gets him killed.
After recovering from his near-death experience with the help of an outraged black native called Banda, Jamie executes a revenge scheme of Count of Monte Cristo proportions to destroy the man who nearly killed him. He is successful, and his efforts yield a child born from a loveless marriage.
Kate is our main character, and a very repulsive one. Mainly because she can't stop manipulating people for the good of the company. She's a bit like that character in the movie Antz. The militant war-general ant who plans to kill the Woody Allen and Sylvester Stallone ants, and all the others, because they are the weak links. He kept saying, "It's for the good of the colony!" Well, Kate is like that.
It begins with her husband - who is engaged to another woman. Kate double-deals, using the money from her father's legacy, to break off her husband-to-be's engagement and financial independence. He ends up marrying her instead, but dies young - too young - in one of Kate's very own diamond mines.
But it's okay because they have a son named Tony. Kate is pouring all her hopes and dreams into Tony. He is so desperate to please her it almost breaks your heart, and the stress of being around her all the time has given him a stutter. He wants to be a painter, though, and has no interest in the company, much to Kate's annoyance. She deals with that underhandedly too, employing a woman to humiliate him sexually, and even going so far as to deliberately and methodically destroy his career with the help of those whose opinions Tony holds in high esteem.
Once Tony returns, crestfallen, he takes part in the company but all the joy and passion in his life is gone. He works long hours to ease the hurt, which Kate mistakes for dedication. She manipulates him into marriage to force a merger with a company she wishes to acquire but that doesn't want to sell. He actually loves his wife, though, and Kate is excited because this means heirs, which means another safety tier for her precious company.
Except - Tony's wife has health complications that suggest that she probably shouldn't have children. She goes to Kate for advice, and Kate (of course) tells her, against the doctor's wishes, to go ahead and have the kids. She gives birth to twins - Alexandria and Eve - and dies. The doctor tells Tony what happened and he tries to kill his mother. He nearly succeeds, but the bitch lives and Tony is sent to a mental institution. His fury and violence alarm the staff there, and with Kate's permission, they lobotomize him.
Alexandria and Eve...oh, where do I begin with them? One of them is batshit crazy and begins trying to murder her twin at age five. The plot here really reminded me of another vintage book I read fairly recently called Sin, by Josephine Hart (except in this case they were cousins, not twins). This particular story arc is incredibly convoluted, featuring multiple disinheritances, murder plots and subplots, rape, anal rape, sexual sadism, torture, abuse, estrangement, pathological lying, actual murder, violence, gore, and facial mutilation.
I liked Alexandria, even though I spent much of the story trying to shake some sense into her. Like her father, she doesn't have much interest in the company either, and neither does her husband, who is content to live in moderate wealth with his psychiatric practice and his wife's generous inheritance. But does Kate learn her lesson? Nope. There is evidence that she plans to destroy her grandson Robert's dreams of being a musician just as underhandedly as she did with her own son's.
I definitely do not recommend this book for the faint of heart. It is one of those hardcore wtfuckathons that would probably not get published today, in these times of civility and delicate sensibility. I would compare it to Christine Monson in terms of the sheer number mindfucks that gallop across the pages like ibexes in the tundra. This is not literature by any means, as so many before me have stated, and yet it's not brainless, either. Definitely just the trick for those looking for something that's light but not too dumb.
Every so often, I come across a young adult novel that is not only well-written and meaningful, but also an existential experience that perfectly capt...moreEvery so often, I come across a young adult novel that is not only well-written and meaningful, but also an existential experience that perfectly captures what it means to be human. This is my first John Green experience (and he is, if nothing else, an experience), and it took a major toll on me. When my book-buddies found out I blogged about YA books but had never read John Green the reaction was unanimous protest and outrage. I was promptly ordered to read him at once!
Well, I just finished The Fault in Our Stars, and I'm all sniffly because I literally spent the last 150 pages crying, interspersed with brief respites of laughter and smiles that quickly became more crying. In case you couldn't guess from the summary or the reviews, this is a book about cancer. It is a book about teenagers with cancer, but not a Cancer Book. The characters don't found major charities, or touch people's hearts, or make miraculous and heart-warming recoveries. They just try to survive- and make the best of the time they have left. Green writes with a quiet dignity, portraying the characters as strong even in their lowest lows. He isn't afraid to talk about G-tubes, or cannulas, or oxygen tanks, or amputations. This makes the novel so much more realistic, and comforting, because in a way I think all those happy-ending inspirational stories hurt more than they help- because if you don't make it, does that mean you didn't try hard enough to "live strong?"
"I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?...I'm a grenade...I just want to stay away from people and read books and think and be with you guys because there's nothing I can do about hurting you; you're too invested, so just please let me do that, okay? I'm not depressed. I don't need to get out more. And I can't be a regular teenager, because I'm a grenade" (p. 99).
Hazel is a sixteen-year-old girl who's come to terms with the fact that she's living on borrowed time. She makes the best of what she has: she goes to college(!), she reads, she attends her cancer support group, and she tries her best to maintain her social relationships at her parents' prodding. One day, at the support group, she finds out that her friend Isaac- who is about to go blind because of his ocular cancer- has brought one of his friends for moral support: Augustus Waters, another survivor (of osteocarcinoma, which resulted in the amputation of his leg).
He can't take his eyes off her and Hazel is surprised when the two of them hit it off almost immediately, falling into a fast and furious love that is far deeper and more touching than the typical young adult relationship. No, I'm not just saying that as a "Cancer Perk." What Hazel and Gus have is real. The two of them not only complemented each other, but also loved each other in spite of (or perhaps because of) their flaws, in addition to their strengths.
"I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you" (p. 153).
Seriously. Is that not one of the most beautiful, perfect admissions of love you have ever read? Yes, it's dark. But life is dark. And love is that candle that briefly lights up our way.
Oh God. I'm starting to cry again...
"It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you" (p. 176).
The main plot of the book is how the characters' relationships develop, and how they react (or *MILD SPOILER* don't) to their treatment plans for the path for recovery/remission. Hazel and Gus also end up going to Amsterdam as one of Gus's Cancer Perk wishes, in order to visit the author of a book that inspires them, and understands them. A book about a tongue-in-cheek girl with leukemia who refuses to be confined to stereotypes and forms a foundation for cholera. The novel ends mid-sentence, implying death, and the unanswered questions have haunted Hazel for years. The author is not what they expected, and neither is the trip.
I'm not quite sure what else to say. I loved this, obviously, even though it made my heart hurt and I'm probably going to have to read about twenty happy books to stop feeling so sad. It was worth it though (just make sure you have tissues handy). I love knowing that there are authors out there who see the world as it is, in spite of how it can be a sad place sometimes, and still make it look so beautiful. I can only hope that my review did this book the justice it deserves.
Okay, so I don't follow the blog religiously like some people do, but I've seen a lot of the comics floating around online (especially the gifs), and from what I've seen, there isn't a whole lot of fresh material. Like The Oatmeal's graphic novels, this features loads of rehashing from the website they were taken from.
But it's Pusheen. Pusheen the fat little kitty that has stolen hearts from all over the world. How can you resist? I can definitely see the appeal of having a solid book to hold in your hot little hand. The pink backgrounds, with Pusheens and candies, the Comic Sans font, and the rounded pastel drawings are just so cute.
I guess this is just one of those books that people buy as a conversation starter or a gag gift. It would make a great coffee table book for a dorm or old-fashioned sitting room that needs a bit of a modern touch.
I'm not sure if I would buy this book for retail price, but if I saw it used? Oh yeah, you betcha.
Now, if Ms. Belton released a book of all-new and never-before-seen Pusheen art? I'd be all over that like jelly bean toes on a Pusheen paw.
i've had this delightful novel since middle school and it's one of the few books that's managed to outlast all the others because of the sheer brillia...morei've had this delightful novel since middle school and it's one of the few books that's managed to outlast all the others because of the sheer brilliancy with which it was written. anna of byzantium takes place in the byzantine empire. anna is the first-born which means that she's first in line as heir to the throne, even in spite of the fact that she is a girl, and in spite of the fact that all the barbarians her father is trying to forge alliances with think a son should rule.
even when her mother and father give birth to a son.
the reader is transported back to a time that makes today's politics look like a bunch of kids playing pretend. a rift is forming between the family. her father's mother, anna dalassena, his most trusted adviser, hates anna's mother's side of the family, the ducases, even though (or perhaps because) they are of noble blood.
and anna's brother john (i think his name is john) turns out to be a total sneak with a cruel streak who seems bent on making her life a living hell: and since he's just as cunning as he is cruel, her father underestimates the menace he poses to the family and brushes him off as a mischievous little scamp who doesn't know what's what.
but that's not what anna's mother thinks. she's convinced that her son is evil and that, with the help of his and anna's grandmother, he threatens to destroy everything that she has tried to build for anna's successful future. so the two of them develop a treacherous plot that can come to no good end.
god, this was such an amazing book. i can't even tell you how many nights i stayed up reading and then rereading this marvelous book. it wowed me just as much as the first time with each successive reading. if you haven't read this before and enjoy historical fiction (even if it is ya) i heartily recommend this book. it's absolutely beautifully written and from what i understand, historically accurate, as well.(less)
CONTENT WARNING: IN THIS REVIEW I WILL DISCUSS A BOOK WHOSE SUBJECT MATTER REGARDING GENDER, SEXUALITY, MEDICINE, AND ABUSE MAY OFFEND.
After a botche...moreCONTENT WARNING: IN THIS REVIEW I WILL DISCUSS A BOOK WHOSE SUBJECT MATTER REGARDING GENDER, SEXUALITY, MEDICINE, AND ABUSE MAY OFFEND.
After a botched circumcision with an electric medical implement, the Riemers were horrified to find that their baby boy's penis was completely burned off. Doctors, being under the impression that the child would "be unable to live a normal sexual life from the time of adolescence [and] unable to consummate marriage or have normal hetereosexual relationships," decide that it would be most humane to reassign the baby's sex and surgically castrate him, and then have the parents raise him as a girl without telling him.
The baby, formerly known as Bruce, then became Brenda, and was the source of much interest in the medical field because he was a twin. Twin studies are ideal for research, because they're a completely natural experiment: one twin (the afflicted twin) is the experimental condition, and the other ("normal") twin is the control. During the 1960s and 70s, the burgeoning and popular theory regarding sexuality was that it was a purely socially-driven phenomenon, with children adopting their "sex" based on reinforcement patterns. Which, as anyone who has ever taken a GBLT/Gender Studies class would know, is complete and utter bullshit. Now, sex and gender are recognized as separate and not necessarily mutually inclusive constructs, with gender being the psychological identification with a particular set of gender norms, and sex being physical and determined by the genitals.
But science is driven by trial and error a lot of the time, and boy, do we sometimes make errors. Unfortunately, the Johns Hopkins doctor put in charge of Brenda's case, named John Money, was not as clinically indifferent as might be ideal. For starters, he had his own sack of issues, with an abusive father and a mother and spinster aunts who ruthlessly condemned the male sex. He is quoted as saying, "I wondered if the world might really be a better place for women if not only farm animals but human males also were gelded at birth."
Real impartial, right?
His medical practices bordered on abusive as he imposed a strict and cruel regimen upon Brenda Riemer. He forced them to disrobe in front of him to examine their genitals, and "made Brenda assume a position on all fours on his sofa and make Brian come up behind her on his knees and place his crotch against her buttocks," forcing the children to play-act sexual behaviors as young as six. According to Brian, Dr. Money took some pictures of them engaging in this behavior. Dr. Money relentlessly interrogated Brenda about her sexual thoughts, her gender constructs, and occasionally showed her pornography. He would shout at Brenda and her brother, Brian, if they refused to comply with his demands. While he did not reveal this side to the twins' parents, he did request that they expose themselves to the twins (naked) to familiarized Brian and Brenda with male and female genitalia. He even requested that the parents have sex in front of their children, which they didn't do - thank God.
I was so sickened by Dr. Money because not only does he act like a pervert and a pedophile, but he also apparently falsified a lot of his data on Brenda Riemer. The doctors he referred her to for vaginal constructive surgery received a glowing, sunny portrait of a well-adjusted family and a girl who was the epitome of feminine behavior, when actually Mrs. Riemer was suicidally depressive, Mr. Riemer was an alcoholic, Brian was acting out behaviorally, and Brenda was completely opposed to surgery, traumatized by anything even pertaining to sexuality, and completely adamant that she was a boy.
The fact that he would attempt to force surgery on an unwilling child - particularly such an invasive, irreversible, and unwanted surgery, was just revolting. Few things piss me off as much as child abuse and gender typing, and John Money happens to be partial to both. Following Riemer's release of his story, several other patients came forward. One patient had his confidentiality breached, with Money (wrongly) condemning him as a pedophile and a pervert, taking things he said during follow-up therapy following hormonal thyroid treatments out of context. Others were intersex individuals, either with ambiguous genitalia or being true hermaphrodites with genitals composed of tissues particular to both genders, who had achieved physical strife (infections, discomfort, the inability to achieve orgasm) and psychological trauma (merciless teasing, identity crises, depression), and resented being assigned a sex that did not correspond to their own notions of sexuality and/or gender identity.
What really steamed my broccoli, though, was the fact that Money blatantly lied about his so-called groundbreaking case. His master's thesis was, ironically, on the subject of how well-situated ambiguously sexed children were following the conclusion of the longitudinal study. Boys who were born with tiny penises/damaged penises were happier if they were raised as boys than if they had been forced to undergo reassignment surgery and raised as girls, and suffered no intense psychological problems. This is in direct contrast to his later insistence that children with ambiguous genitals would never be whole.
I think he knew what he did was wrong. He must have. Why else would he have an aide try to forcibly drag Brenda into a hospital room, where she feared she would be operated on against her will? Why would he panic when the BBC did an expose documentary, warning the parents that someone had stolen data from his office and managed to track down Brenda, not knowing that the parents had actually agreed to the video for their daughter's sake? And then, when the video went out, why would he do his best to say that the documentary was borne of harassment and stalking of his patients, and do his utmost to crush any research that opposed his study as vindictive personal attacks, without valid basis? Isn't the entire point of science supposed to be a quest for truth?
The girl in this study was not happy as a girl. She was absolutely terrified of her doctor. She was averse to gender reassignment. She played with boy toys, rough-housed, and had interest in girls. The thought of sex, and the very mention of sexual organs, made her uncomfortable and filled her with self-disgust. Even now, Brenda - who is now David, who is married with three children - says he wakes up after sex sometimes and undergoes panic attacks that make him run to the bathroom to throw up. David underwent ridicule for his nonfunctioning penis, when it posed as an impediment to sexual relations in his youth. He tried to kill himself several times, and showed up at one of his previous doctor's offices with a gun, fully intending to "blow his brains out."
This was painful to read, sad and distressing and uncomfortable and awful and WRONG, but I appreciate Colapinto for doing such a well-researched and compassionate story of this unfortunate man's double-life. It just goes to show how simplified our ideas of "boy" and "girl" actually are. And while some might use this argument to advocate outmoded beliefs regarding patriarchal and machismo sentiments, it really doesn't work. Because, Colapinto points out, gender and sex and sexuality all appear to be biologically driven. You can't condition a boy to be a girl any more than you can condition a homosexual to be straight (which one of Money's compatriots actually attempted, unsurprisingly enough).
It's always unfortunate when such lessons must be obtained at such high cost.