Haunted castles! Stitched-up minions! Walking suits of armour! Bats! donkeys! Several kinds of not-quite-dragons! And a 12-year old Wicked Witch who iHaunted castles! Stitched-up minions! Walking suits of armour! Bats! donkeys! Several kinds of not-quite-dragons! And a 12-year old Wicked Witch who isn't exactly who she says she is. These are the ingredients of Ursula Vernon's latest novel and all I can say is I need a sequel now.
If you read my other reviews you already know what I love about Ursula's books: the humour, the clever resolutions, the characters and their snappy dialogue, and that down-to-earthness that makes her stories of magic extremely realistic and relatable (I'm not talking about grimdark here, but rather things like the start reality of having to pull weeds from a garden, or the need to steamroll the carpets in your ancient arcane vault because they certainly won't get clean by themselves).
Castle Hangnail definitely gives all this and more. In an age of catastrophic dystopic YA, this is a real breath of fresh air. Well, maybe not too fresh. Those rooms haven't been opened since the vampire lord died, you know....more
3.5 stars, really. Before elaborating, I'm going to quote from two other reviews here on Goodreads because I think they summarize my opinion quite well3.5 stars, really. Before elaborating, I'm going to quote from two other reviews here on Goodreads because I think they summarize my opinion quite well. Flannery: "This book is nostalgia porn." William Cline: "Ready Player One doesn't draw from 1980s popular culture; it just name-drops it all over the place."
First things first: I liked Ready Player One, it's a solid first book, and I'm curious of what else Ernest Cline can come up with. But it's deeply, deeply flawed.
On the world: I was a kid during the '80s, so I have a very fond memory of them. I nodded knowingly at most of the references the author dropped here and there. But the idea, presented in the introduction, of a world that (at least inside OASIS) had reverted to the 1980s never really came true. Sure, there's a lot of name checking, and virtual items, and rewatches, and trivia contests, but let's be honest: you can find most of that stuff now, in Second Life, and there isn't even a grand prize attached. The influence of the '80s only really seems to extend to the Gunters. Also, specifically because of Anorak's quest, most of that is museum nostalgia. Knowing details to perfection, memorizing lines from movies, and so on. There's little, if anything, of new: no mashups, no fanfiction, revised versions, and so on. Non-creative fans are a bit sad.
The cast of characters is very restricted and, while some of them have very interesting facets (Aech in particular) some of them come off as little more than cardboard cutouts, like Shoto. The big bad corporation, also, doesn't seem to have any other motivation for their actions beyond being a big, bad corporation. Monetizing is bad, mmkay?
Maybe the biggest flaw was the last dash in search of the Egg, because there wasn't much tension in it. One part of it ((view spoiler)[replaying the movie (hide spoiler)]) is inherently slow, and Sorrento was off screen most of the time, so there wasn't a real feel of the race-against-the-clock element. The denouement is basically non-existing.
Now, I'm told that Eric Cline is a script writer first and foremost, and I think it shows: this definitely looks like it would work much better on the big screen, where namecalled objects (like the DeLorean) become things you can see and gawp at, and do not mind if they disappear after two minues and are never mentioned again. But, in a novel, it leaves something to be desired.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I actually read the first four issues as part of the Humble BOOM Bundle in August 2014.
Lumberjanes is refreshing, as it shows a group of very diverseI actually read the first four issues as part of the Humble BOOM Bundle in August 2014.
Lumberjanes is refreshing, as it shows a group of very diverse young girls having fun and adventures in a very peculiar girl scouts camp, drawing inspiration from -and building upon, making fun on, subverting with a wink- all sorts of adventure stories and old tales, from the Goonies to Red Riding Hood to Indiana Jones, and so forth.
This comic will resonate both with teens who want to read something other than the usual 'all-white-male plus one objectified girl' group (btw, Sailor Moon was 20 years ago, it shouldn't be *that* hard to find this kind of cast in a major publication), and grown-ups who will get a chuckle from all the pop culture nods.
If I can find a fault, the plot might seem a bit slow moving if you read it all in a row, as the first four issues are mainly standalones with glimpses of the major underlying plot. ...more
"When your future husband is a mad sorcerer, following hedgehogs sometimes seems like the only option."
Initially born as a retelling of Bluebeard, thi"When your future husband is a mad sorcerer, following hedgehogs sometimes seems like the only option."
Initially born as a retelling of Bluebeard, this story stands on its own and becomes something else entirely. For one, most of the wives are still alive in this version, and for some of them that's definitely not an improvement.
Kingfisher/Vernon has a rare skill, in that she can imbue a book like this with humour and whimsical moments (like the aforementioned hedgehog) without detracting anything from the creepy, weird, fairy-tale horror atmosphere of the story - if anything enhancing it, as the cheerful bits make the horrible stand out even more.
If you love fairy tales, slightly genre-savvy protagonists, and helpful but snarky animals, this one's for you....more
A really great webcomic (now coming up in paper format too). The author has some pretty impressive skills drawing facial expressions and body languageA really great webcomic (now coming up in paper format too). The author has some pretty impressive skills drawing facial expressions and body language, allowing her to make several poignant pages where not even a word goes by. My only beef is with the ending, which IMHO was kinda predictable,rushed, and dissatisfying, especially compared to the slower, calmer pace of the rest of the comic. Still a worthy read....more
I'm kinda conflicted about this one, and it makes me sad, since I wanted to love it so much.
It's not the change in characters so late in the series (oI'm kinda conflicted about this one, and it makes me sad, since I wanted to love it so much.
It's not the change in characters so late in the series (only one more book to go): Hawthorn and Tamburlaine are lovely, especially the little troll's struggle to understand human society and all its little quirks and unspoken rules that make absolutely no sense.
It's not even that September and the rest of the characters we know so well are absent for a great part of the book (though, once you get over the book's tipping point, you keep on thinking that CMV is deliberately hiding them all).
It's mostly that, after the aforementioned tipping point, it feels rushed, paler than its predecessors, as if both the story and the author were in a hurry and forgot to properly paint the sketch of a scenery we're running through. If you've ever read Catherynne Valente before, you know that luscious language and descriptions are basically what her books are made of, which makes the lack of it even more disconcerting. It makes me wonder if it had something to do with the carpal tunnel issues she had in the last years, which greatly reduced her writing speed, when she could write at all.
I'm still digesting the ending, which feels somewhat both too late and too sudden. It feels like the book needed 50-100 more pages to really get through. ...more
All right, the important bits first: if you haven't read this book yet DO IT DO IT NOWWWWWWW. Ahem.
The only word that comes to describe this collectioAll right, the important bits first: if you haven't read this book yet DO IT DO IT NOWWWWWWW. Ahem.
The only word that comes to describe this collection of short stories by Yoon Ha Lee is "astounding". The author's prose is rich and succulent, each phrase a meal in itself, at times reminding me of Borges and Cat Valente.
Most of the stories in the collection are sci-fi, though with an edge in narration that makes them more akin to ballads and old-wives tales. Recurring images in the stories are kites, dragons and origami, as well as several other images from Asian tradition - Korean in particular. Whether they're far future worlds, or distant galaxies a long time ago, the reader is definitely sure that they're not the usual Heinlein-esque or Blade Runner-inspired landscapes we're used to. The fantasy stories are maybe more conventional in backstage dressing, but still original in the magic they bring - and I'm not talking about magic systems.
Some of the stories might seem needlessy cryptic or dense on a first read, requiring a reread or several hours of mental unpacking before being fully digested, but in my opinion this an added bonus rather than something detracting. I might not have understood or caught everything that went on in a story, but I'm definitely sure that its themes and images will remain with me for a long time....more
Disclaimer: conosco personalmente Nino Giordano, l'autore del libro.
I Guardiani della Luce è una discreta, ma non eccellente, opera prima.
La storia èDisclaimer: conosco personalmente Nino Giordano, l'autore del libro.
I Guardiani della Luce è una discreta, ma non eccellente, opera prima.
La storia è volutamente semplice, fortemente (ed esplicitamente) influenzata nello stile da Sailor Moon e altre opere di fine anni '90. Il punto forte di Nino è sicuramente nella caratterizzazione dei personaggi, nel saper trattare con semplicità (ma non per questo con sufficienza) temi come l'omosessualità nell'adolescenza e il bullismo, e nell'amore che spicca chiaramente per la sua città di Palermo, dove la storia è ambientata.
Dove il libro mostra delle crepe è, purtroppo, nella scrittura. Eccessive ripetizioni e una costruzione stilistica pesante distraggono a volte dall'azione, invece che accentuarla.
Il libro si legge comunque in maniera piacevole e rapida e lascia spunti aperti per un seguito che leggerò di sicuro....more
Cioè, la storia è molto bella, eh. Le battute, quelle che ci sono, fanno ridere come sempre. I momenti di profondità e riflessione ci sono, i diseBoh.
Cioè, la storia è molto bella, eh. Le battute, quelle che ci sono, fanno ridere come sempre. I momenti di profondità e riflessione ci sono, i disegni sono belli, stacce, accollo.
Sarà che ecco, sì, in una storia tutto sul limine tra essere giovane e adulto, sulle responsabilità e i dolori e le armature e il passato e la vita e la morte, mi aspettavo forse (infine) una presa di posizione....more
Ramped up to 4 by the gorgeous illustrations, because the story is really short and little more than a 3 - deserving to belong in a magazine or collecRamped up to 4 by the gorgeous illustrations, because the story is really short and little more than a 3 - deserving to belong in a magazine or collection, but not really a full meal in itself.
Also, like many, I was distracted by all the hype about the kiss illustration. So much was said about it that it became unwillingly the focal point of the story, which doesn't really work with the way the rest of the narrative goes....more
Part autobiography, part business insider, part long-form blog post, The Art of Asking is an insightful slice into Amanda Palmer's mind and her relatiPart autobiography, part business insider, part long-form blog post, The Art of Asking is an insightful slice into Amanda Palmer's mind and her relationship with the fans.
While inspired by her TED talk on the same topic, this book is (thankfully) not really a business model. Unlike those self-help books that try to translate life experiences into neat, tidy lists of do-s and don't-s, Amanda is sharply honest about mentioning that this is what works for her because of her particular history and her particular way of relating to the world. Actually, Amanda is sharply honest, full stop. Her openness goes from asking for tampons during concerts (and relaying the story), to telling intimate and painful details of her marriage, to literally giving herself naked to her audience.
It's not a perfect book (though, as a first work, it's a very good one) but it's definitely an important one. In a society held by the myth of the self-made person, even in the face of evidence, it's easy to forget that we are allowed to ask, and that there is no shame in it. And in the strange seas of the internet and the global market, when big companies play a ridiculous dance of putting more and more convoluted locks on content and then complaining about piracy, it's important to keep on repeating: how do we let people pay for the things they love? How do we make it easier to share?...more
It's hard to rate this book. As the first volume in a trilogy, it's burdened down by a lot of ground building: lots of exposition, lots of names, lotsIt's hard to rate this book. As the first volume in a trilogy, it's burdened down by a lot of ground building: lots of exposition, lots of names, lots of culture, lots of magic, and what I imagine will be most problematic for some: lots of gender. There's a consent culture of vegetarian ritualistic cannibals with five genders, a patriarchal one with three, and a matriarchal slave society with two, and this is counting only the major players.
I know it didn't bother me (other authors: more of this, please!) but you could spot the points where a character would stop their train of thought and explain the basics of their own culture to themselves. I understand, though, that those sudden expositions were to facilitate the readers and trying to prevent white cis straight blindness. I'm sure some people could have finished this novel convinced that everyone was white and straight, otherwise.
And the end of all these "lot"s is a story that, while interesting, is mostly ground work for what comes later. Characters run to and fro, mostly with very little agency, which they start acquiring by the end. They get lots of questions and very little in answers. They get buffeted by the currents in the plans and plots of others. But they're also very interesting characters, and I'm curious to see what happens next....more