She chose the symbol of the swan, graceful on the surface but scrabbling hard underwater.
this is pretty much just a straight-up biography of josephine...moreShe chose the symbol of the swan, graceful on the surface but scrabbling hard underwater.
this is pretty much just a straight-up biography of josephine bonaparte. i don't read a lot of biographies, but sometimes i have to read things outside of my comfort zone, and this is what happens. it's not at all bad, but i never thought i would be reading one on josephine, and the things i knew about her life before i read this are as follows:
she was french she was married to napoleon they had a tempestuous relationship with bunches of sex
turns out, she was actually from martinique, and was not the gorgeous and glamorous sexpot "they" usually depict her as being; in fact, she was a little odd-looking but she could eventually afford wonderful artists to depict her more charitably. and she knew very well the fine female art of sartorial camouflage - buying 900 gowns a year during the height of her wealth and power.
but she came from much more humble beginnings, growing up on a sugar plantation that was destroyed by a hurricane, compromising her family's wealth and her prospects. she got pushed into a loveless, arranged marriage to alexandre de beauharnais at sixteen, after her 12-year-old sister, and first choice, died.
and then - BOOM - reign of terror hits - her husband's head is cut off, and she's imprisoned.
she's released, and here's where it gets interesting. apparently, there was a great romantic allure to those who had been imprisoned. the french, right???
this is where i discovered the baron de frenilly, who is the kind of guy i would want to hang out with, all glib and offhand observations
"It was the height of good manners to be ruined, to have been suspected, persecuted, and, above all, imprisoned."
"People greatly regretted that they had not been guillotined.
"It is impossible to die of hunger with more gaiety."
were i the kind of person who could be bothered reading books on the computer, i would read his memoirs, but alas, i am not.
so josephine finds herself in demand, with all the glamor her imprisonment has bestowed, and suddenly she's having all these wild parties - let's call them elegant orgies - where she meets napoleon and he becomes sexually obsessed with her, and eventually, they get married.
it's not a romance of the ages - they both take lovers - her first affair occurs during the first year of their marriage - they're both erratic and ambitious, but they keep circling each other and winding up in the bedroom, despite napoleon's family's disgust and the fact that although she managed two children with her beheaded husband (before he was beheaded), josephine never gives napoleon the son he needs.
and then this:
Marie was the first of Napoleon's mistresses whom he was sure had been entirely faithful to him. Unlike Eleonore Denuelle, she truly loved him; there had been no gentlemen callers in his absences. Napoleon was now certain that he could father a child. Marie's pregnancy secured his lasting affection for her and meant the end of her three-year period as his mistress."Naturally I would prefer to have my mistress crowned, but I must be allied with sovereigns." He left Vienna resolved to divorce his wife and find a royal to marry.
hooray! now that he knows his juice is potent, it's away with the wife and the first women who has ever been faithful to him because - HEIR!!! see ya, suckers!
napoleon is such a dick.
but so is she, and this isn't the story of a woman wronged, this is the story of what happened when two kind of shitty and ambitious people met, had great sex, clung to each other in some prototypical new adult romance relationship, grew to unprecedented power together and one time almost got blown up.
i love how devoted she was to her beloved chateau de malmaison, and her roses, and that she had animals running everywhere, like an orangutan and swans, and i kind of didn't love that napoleon would shoot them when he was in a mood.
if you're interested in josephine at all, this seems to be a pretty comprehensive biography, although i am certianly no authority on what makes a good biography. (less)
hey, anyone want to know what we are reading for the august book of the month??
is frankenstein porn!! yes, purists, technically it is "frankenstein's...morehey, anyone want to know what we are reading for the august book of the month??
is frankenstein porn!! yes, purists, technically it is "frankenstein's monster" porn. and super-technically there is no actual proof that the monster in here is the same monster from mary shelley's frankenstein, so maybe it's just "reanimated corpse" porn, but Reanimated Corpse's Bitch does not have the same ring to it, so let's just sacrifice accuracy and call it frankenstein porn, for clarity's sake.
sheesh, tough crowd in my head…
so, in this book, we find our heroine emily post-divorce from her philandering husband adam, headed out for a european vacation with her friends jim and sally. because what is more fun than a couple's retreat with a sad and newly-single third wheel? not much!
so, they make it to germany, and they go to their separate-but-adjoining rooms to "freshen up," which to jim and sally means "bone." and listening to their mutual pleasure makes emily all horny so she masturbates in the shower. no, actually, let me be more specific. she LAYS DOWN in the HOTEL SHOWER and allows the water to do most of the work, as it cascaded down into her like a fire hose, forcing her lips apart and filling her womb with warm water. and - yay - she has her very first orgasm since the divorce. on a shower floor in a foreign country that she did not luminol the shit out of first.
gross. so, jim hears rumors that there is a castle nearby - the castle where the Dr. Frankenstein of legend had created his monster. because mary shelley was a journalist. to be fair, they do go back and forth on this, and eventually they concede that maybe it was just some doctor performing weird experiments and not necessarily the one from the novel. but no matter.
emily gets weary and tells her friends she is going back to the hotel, but on her way she finds a hidden enclosure on the grounds, with a small handle buried partially in the ground. tugging on the handle (heh - foreshadowing) causes the ground beneath her feet to collapse and then OH NO!! she has fallen into a secret chamber fifteen feet beneath the ground.
no one can hear her, her cell does not have a signal so far below ground, and she cannot climb out to safety. how do we know this?? because she tells us. a lot.
Struggling to her knees, she called up for help, hoping someone would hear her, but didn't get any reply… She quickly took out her cell phone and called Sally. Nothing, she could not get a signal this far underground.
fine. established. but then in the paragraph that follows:
Her phone didn't work, and no one above seemed able to hear her pleas for help.
okay, got it. but then in the NEXT paragraph:
She tried her phone again, still no signal. Calling out for help several more times didn't seem to work either and after ten minutes, with her voice hoarse, she gave up.
finally. jesus, i don't know if i could take four paragraphs in a row saying the same damn thing.
oh, but spoke too soon, because in the next paragraph:
Emily waited for a few more minutes and stood up and called out again for anyone. The small gap of light that trickled down seemed deserted and far away. No one would ever hear her way down here.
i know, right??? it's like you figured that out three paragraphs ago, sheesh.
Emily sat in silence in the hole for hours.
and finally, after HOURS, she realizes that the hole is bigger than she thought it was. (twss) and she finally starts exploring instead of wasting time with the cell phone/calling out for help bidness.
oh my goodness, a tunnel?? maybe i should explore it to try and find another way out instead of just sitting in this tiny hole in the ground that has clearly been undisturbed for hundreds of years. and after she goes 100 feet or so (seriously - so much time wasted on your cell phone) down an underground, stone lined passageway, she finds a door (pretty sure that "underground" is understood by this point)
she finds herself in an old lab… littered with scientific equipment.
The scientific equipment arrayed around the room was staggering. The effort needed to obtain and run this stuff must have been immense.
was the scientific equipment drunk?? was it wounded?? what's with the staggering?
she lights bunches of candles and sits down at a table. Bored, she pulled one of the books toward her and opened the cover. It was all hand written, and looked like notes, but she couldn't make any of it out. It was all in German.
being trapped sure is boring!
she takes this time to examine her clothing and noticed
She had a tear in her blouse at the shoulder, it wasn't a bad tear, but it definitely gave anyone around to notice a good view of the top of her breasts.
first of all, who under the age of 100 says "blouse"? and why are her breasts on her shoulder?? emily!!!!!
and ugh - when will this girl learn that when you think you're trapped, you gotta keep exploring? because she finally stops sighing and plucking at her shoulder-breasts and eventually has more of a wander, when all of a sudden - she was startled by something odd she hadn't noticed before on a table in a far corner.
something pretty difficult to miss like a table with a gigantic nude male corpse under a sheet. a gigantic nude male corpse with stitches all over it. a gigantic nude male corpse with a gigantic penis. a gigantic nude male corpse with a gigantic, gigantic penis and no pubic hair. did i mention that its penis was gigantic?? because she does. she notices it a lot. in the same kind of thrice-in-three-paragraphs way she noticed that her cell phone didn't work.
Her eyes were glued to that impressive display of manhood, and her fingers twitched to touch it. She didn't even realize that her hand was moving toward the penis until it passed in front of her eyes.
She quickly withdrew her hand. What's wrong with me, she asked herself. I'm not going to touch a corpse's penis, that's disgusting.
says the girl who was lolling nude and splayed on the floor of a hotel shower.
but she can't help but be drawn to this massive penis and suddenly she finds herself poking the corpse's leg with her finger, and finding the body warm, even though it is not breathing and has no pulse. WEIRD, RIGHT!!!! this requires more poking.
Finally, unable to resist her curiosity any longer, she reached her hand out and touched its penis. It was soft and warm as well.
and then it's go time. she's all grasping it and hefting it and bending over and frowning with all sorts of scrutiny to examine the scrotum, as one does when one comes across a corpse in an underground dungeon, and then suddenly she "inadvertently" brushed the cockhead against her chin. OH MY HOW EMBARRASSING! but she doesn't even pause before she is rubbing it all over and then OH NO YOU DIDN'T
…without thinking she stuck out her tongue a little bit and licked the head. It tasted a bit salty, but not unlike a regular penis. She licked again, and then again. Before she realized what she was doing, the head of the dick was in her mouth and she was sucking on it without regard to her present situation.
WITHOUT REGARD TO HER PRESENT SITUATION??? what about without regard to the fact that this is the dead body of a stranger and you are putting the place where it used to PEE in your MOUTH???
and then of course her mouth has wonderful restorative powers and This creature, which had lain dormant for untold years, had somehow been reanimated by her sexual ministrations.
kids - do NOT try this at home.
It was horrid to look at, a jumbled mess of stitched together body parts.
really?? because that's not what you were thinking a minute ago when you started putting this corpse's penis in your mouth.
and then it just gets weird.
she gets all swoony and starts reading into this dead body's facial expressions and assigning all kinds of sweet and helpless human emotions to it like sorrow and dejection and confusion and fear and she starts getting all melty-heart fixer-upper over it.
She gasped against the muscular chest as the creature stroked her hair with curled fingers while its enormous tool banged against her thighs. It was clumsy and didn't know its own strength, but she felt sorry for the monster, it really seemed lonely.
which she thinks riiiight before he shoves her onto the table, tears her blouse in half and throws it on the floor, before he rips off her shorts into little pieces. you know, because he never had a mommy or something.
Emily knew what this monster wanted from her, and there was nothing she could do about it. In a way, she almost welcomed this sad creature's advances. It looked so dejected and alone, longing for companionship and love that her heart began to race.
this is the kind of "awww, he looks like he wants a hug" misinterpretation
that leads to this:
here is another instance in which emily shows she is fucking delusional:
…she couldn't help but think that the monster did not realize what its cock was for and she would have the pleasure of showing it just what that wonderful limb could do.
riiiight before he holds her down on the table and shoves his way inside of her
Perhaps this monster did know what to do after all. hmmm, and maybe you're also wrong about this whole wounded monster business?
maybe you have been watching too many shows in which dead bodies have dark sorrowful feelings?
then there's like 9 pages of sex which ends in more delusions, Emily instinctively knew the creature regretted taking her body the way that it did, and she moved quickly to reassure it.
maybe the lady who didn't know her husband was cheating on her for a year is not the most astute judge of character.
but, who knows - maybe it will all work out, and the wistful dream she had at the beginning of this story:
all she ever wanted in life was to settle down with a man she loved, and who loved her as well. To be together forever, to always have someone to care for, and who would also care for her.
will come true!!
or maybe she will starve to death in a hole in the ground while a horny corpse humps her dead body. (less)
Because I am a doll, and a servant. Because I am a pretty thing and a soldier all the same
this is just a little quickie of a story, but it's about gen...moreBecause I am a doll, and a servant. Because I am a pretty thing and a soldier all the same
this is just a little quickie of a story, but it's about genya, for goodness' sake, and she is one of my favorite characters in the whole trilogy, and arguably the one who had the hardest journey. this story is wonderful because in 18 pages, we get backstory, an alternate viewpoint of a scene in the first book, and foreshadowing. pretty damn impressive. i like this story because at first it softens genya's betrayal a little by spotlighting her impossible situation, but then - BLAMMO - EMOTIONAL BOOMERANG! because the fact that she is given the opportunity, by the darkling, to make her own decision about (view spoiler)[whether or not to return or send on alina's letters to mal (hide spoiler)] brings the choice back into her own hands, which is huge. just when you start to have sympathy for her, it's undermined again by her ultimately clear-eyed decision.
this trilogy is very focused on choice, and making impossible decisions. so many characters end up doing things they don't want to do for the greater good, and while in this instance, "the greater good" is smaller and more selfish, it's a horrible decision to have to make, and takes the reader on a sympathy roller-coaster.
i hope there are more genya-stories to come, because there are plenty of scenes i want to see through her eyes. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"You are on your knees, " I said. "We are not negotiating."
i am pretty damned pleased with the way this third part wrapped up. after a kind of milquet...more"You are on your knees, " I said. "We are not negotiating."
i am pretty damned pleased with the way this third part wrapped up. after a kind of milquetoasty first book, bardugo kicked some ass with the second one, smearing pain and suffering all over her characters with a gleeful cackle. and it doesn't let up in this here third part. this one begins with alina in a very bad place, and it's all "oh no!! how is she going to get herself out of this??" and then - "oh, like THAT!" and it's perfection. and that's what shines in this third part - her attention to detail, the density in the character development and the plots and counterplots; all those clockwork gears working together as horrible things are grafted on top of more horrible things and there are just so many ingenious exit strategies leading up to that moment where she rips out your heart and it's awesome. i love that she had the balls to go there, but i do not love that she (view spoiler)[then totally backtracked into that cheat of an ending. revival is lame and detracts from the emotional power of the sacrifice. that happy ending cheapened all the earlier risks and reads, to me, like a fear of alienating readers. i mean, it's nice that they get to be together and it's all hearts and flowers, but it isn't fair to the spirit of the series, and i kept waiting for some The Last Temptation of Christ shoe to drop. but no! just … orphan school. what a drag. (hide spoiler)]
and am i the only one disappointed by oncat and how NOTHING cool happened with her?? if you have a cat, use a cat! don't just write her in as some feather boa accessory. the felines of literature are displeased.
(okay, he doesn't look displeased, but i assure you, he is)
but still - so many great things in this book:
genya gets some fantastic lines in this. and david gets his version of a love-speech and i finally consider him worthy of her.
mal. mal is a little too ooh-rah-hero for me to have a character crush on, but in this book, i developed a begrudging admiration for him and forgave him all his emo-mopery and "i know i have been with a million girls, but now that i want you, i'm gonna get cranky that you have other suitors - moo" in that second book.
and while alina will always be a poor man's daenerys stormborn,
i loved watching her trajectory as she struggles with the demands of her power and position.
nikolai. man, poor nikolai. this is an unexpected turn of events for him, and one that's difficult to chase away with cheerful blather. i feel you, man.
darkling. call me!
i'm glad i read on in this series after my disappointment with Shadow and Bone, because all the PSAs are right - it does get better! and while none of the novels quite reached that zenith of perfection that were those free tor shorts, i feel like she has found her writer's stride and from here on out, it's all gonna be brutally beautiful. i am on board.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
this is a lyrical and nonlinear little punch of a book which concerns itself with the life and memories of a woman named leah who runs a nonprofit for...morethis is a lyrical and nonlinear little punch of a book which concerns itself with the life and memories of a woman named leah who runs a nonprofit for low-income women who are victims of domestic abuse. leah's younger brother jacob went missing when he was only five years old, and the mystery of his disappearance has haunted her for her entire life, until the day a man claiming to be jacob appears in her office. what happens next for leah is interspersed with the stories of the women who come to her for help at the nonprofit, overheard conversations, her mother's stories and parenting fears, snippets of playground conversations,memories of leering boys and failed relationships, ghost stories, the dark half-understood tales of sex and death snapped like gum in the half light of evening. and it goes a little something like this:
Without the bonds of school, they pour out of doors, unable to be constrained. The classroom is a coffin and the bedroom is a coffin and even their own bodies are coffins and they must escape. They climb fences and cross cow pastures in cawing gaggles, boys and girls panting, and in strings they follow the stream's muddy edges and climb embankments, passing green glass bottles half-entombed in dried mud, old newspapers with ruined words that may have once described some terrible tragedy, ripped clothes left to the rain in the tangle of a tree's old roots, and abandoned cars with trees growing through them. They follow thin tributaries off into dark bowers of bent branches and debris left by last summer's young. Boys look at the bare legs of girls who look at the bare legs of girls who look at the bare legs of boys who look at the bare legs of boys and so forth in the warm shade of dark green leaves. A shoe and a pair of underpants caught on a rock in the water as the current improvises eddies.
this reads like a more poetic megan abbott - it's about all those slices of childhood and adolescence which are carved in the space away from adults. all the secrets and selftimes girls spend teetering on the edge of the adult world, with the allure of older boys - their throats full of laughter like a skull full of honey.
he's great writing about childhood cruelty and regret - the simultaneous attraction and repulsion of sexual opportunity.
By the gate to get onto the ride, boys in pegged jeans and sleeveless t-shirts spat onto the straw covered ground. "Wanna come with us?" one asked as the others stalked and hunched in the glitter of the ride's light, but Leah declined, unnerved by the boys' open stares, by the boys' glistening foreheads and erupting cheeks. She searched the dark for some sign of their father, but he'd wandered off. Jacob was dazzled by the figures capering in the din and squeezed his big sister's hand.
The boys howled. In their pockets, eye droppers of gin. They skipped to their car with eyes wide open and sped into the night, down gray country roads, grieving over nothing they could name, beating the dashboard with their fists. Near dawn they broke into a cemetery and pissed on the first angel they could find.
and the carelessness of casual youthful bullying:
They weren't bad children, were they? They just wanted to carve their names into something while they were still sharp.
structurally, this is more of a tone-piece than a straightforward narrative. it's one of those Finnegans Wake riverrun deals where the action on the last page is the action of the first (post-prologue) page, and the part a few chapters in takes place after the last page and so on and so on. we will be given a scene only to return to it some chapters on, from a different perspective, with the revealing details unpacking the emotional truth of the scene. the novel's ambiguous ending appears in the middle of the book, when you don't yet know what you are looking at. or for. it definitely is a book that requires a second read - my second time through helped me place the scenes in a more understandable timeline.
it also does that wonderful thing that the beginning of The Goldfinch does - where you know what happens, but not when. or how. so you are just there, reading, waiting for the other shoe to drop, tensing with each new scene - bracing yourself for the "is it here? is this going to be where?? or this…?"
character development is sacrificed for mood, for scratching away at memory - to those familiar primal half-remembered scents and shame blushes of adolescence. and there is some truly lovely writing here.
All children want to go to space. Earth only offers parents wailing about overdraft notices and evening news playing in an empty den. Dead pets too. Childhood is a rot. And so they look up and see stars shiver, ancient information only just now arriving, because that is the only place left to look, and they yearn.
this isn't a book that's looking to please everyone. people who value immediacy of plot over delicacy of language will be very frustrated. and there's some validity those who question whether nonlinear narratives are just gimmicky exercises whose story would not be half as interesting were it written out in the proper sequence. because i don't think this one would be. but i personally find the temporal fluidity kind of charming - i like that it is disjoined and that it hides its important scenes. occasionally it rambles - there is one particular 10-page passage that i thought was a little self-indulgent and caused imagery overload in my brain, but overall i really liked the writing, and considering it's a debut, i am as impressed as can be.
you know your tastes - you know if this one is for you. all i know is that i thought it was graceful and accomplished.(less)
i recently watched the incredible syfy original movie ghost shark in which a ghost shark attacks its victims in a pool,
in a bathtub
in a bucket at a...morei recently watched the incredible syfy original movie ghost shark in which a ghost shark attacks its victims in a pool,
in a bathtub
in a bucket at a sexxy car wash
a slip and slide
basically, anywhere there is any amount of water
so, i already knew that there's literally NOWHERE safe from shark attacks, even somewhere "days from the water," which is the territory covered in motherfucking sharks.
basically, this book brings to light the underreported occurrence of rain-sharks. rain sharks will come to your town and they will FUCK YOU UP! they will rise out of the puddles and they will eat up all of your friends and your limbs and there will be nothing but lamentations and hilarious bloodspray and over-the-top violence.
like that, only with lots more horror.
it's wonderful. or, rather - it's wonderful if you are a sickfuck with a taste for the bizarro. there's murder and incest and a kind of sharkrape, tips on saying "rain" in many languages, cannibalism, a terrible knock-knock joke, and also - MOTHERFUCKING SHARKS!!!
and this book gets a little meta, in the most darkly funny way. i'm going to type a lot of words- bear with me:
On the ground, near a puddle, its face the smell of chocolate, a toddler toddles.
See this, friend: eyes green, cheeks alight with joy. Blonde hair only ever so slightly feathered by breeze. A giggle. A tummy laugh. You ever touched a toddler's tummy? It feels like suede-wrapped heaven. It smells like milk and hugs and handshakes from God. You see this little boy? This little white boy? If it hurts you more to see a black boy die, then make him black in your mind, I don't care what it looks like so long as you're uncomfortable. Instead, reader, do this. Picture for me, if you will, the child you love the most. Hold it in your head. Dress it with the form you'd least like to see killed. In this way, we have always been a team. I tell you a thing, but you spin it real in your head. So, I won't tell you everything. Hell, make it a girl. Make it your own. Give me a child. Put it in your mind. Put it by a puddle. Put joy in its heart. I'm going to fuck it up. I'm going to unleash a magical shark on it. I'm going to turn that precious thing into a bucket of death shaped the way that hurts you most. Put that fucking child by that fucking puddle and let me kill the fuck out of it. I will strip its skin from its body, toss chunks of it at you like strips of bacon. Your baby. Make the fucking baby. I want to kill the fucking baby you've made in your mind. Is it there? Is it the baby?
Now, up comes the shark.
Now listen, I'm serious here, I'm willing to sacrifice my spot in Heaven to make you feel bad while reading this. I'll quit drinking forever tomorrow, and I won't jerk off to amateur porn anymore - you know the kind that's been stolen and where the women look embarrassed and the men look eager and the light is yellow and you can nearly smell the sin - but it won't matter anymore, because after I kill this toddler out of your imagination, God will think me reprehensible. I want this to occur inside of you. We're a team, okay? We're gonna kill this little kid together.
Kill this kid with me. Put it in your mind and let's kill it. Just you and me. Just you and me and our imaginations. Just two people. Taking a kid and killing it in our hearts. It's not real. It's just. Let's take this kid. This cute little kid. It's by the puddle. And in that puddle is something dark. The child is innocent. The shark is heinous. Teeth. Teeth. Teeth. Look at a baby's hand. It's so soft. Look at a shark's mouth. All those teeth, so sharp. Take that soft little hand, with those soft little fingers. Piggies. Piggies. Sing: this little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home. God, I'm gonna fucking put those cute little fingers in that fucking shark's mouth. God, it will be fucked up. I'm gonna drag them over the teeth. Oh, shit, they will not stand a chance. Hahaha. Look at that baby's face. It's fucking crying. There's blood everywhere. It's trying to suck its thumb. Hey, dumbass, thumb's gone. I fed it to a fucking shark. Hahahahhahahahahahahahahahaahaa. Oh. It bites the kid again. Oh, man. These motherfucking sharks are crazy.
this book cracked me up.
get a harpoon, watch your back, listen to that lone drifter, and pray for cloudless days.
this book is pretty fun. it's about a 13-year-old booknerd named davey who is on vacation with his parents on a tiny island in the florida...more3.5 stars.
this book is pretty fun. it's about a 13-year-old booknerd named davey who is on vacation with his parents on a tiny island in the florida keys. he wakes up very early on their first morning, and disgusted by the loud snoring from his father and younger brother, and the stinky results of his brother's burrito the day before, he grabs his book and glasses, and heads out to explore the island without leaving a note or waking anyone.
he finds a palm tree to read under, but is soon dismayed when a family of English tourists encroach on his spot.
Davey stood up and brushed the sand from his butt. He was just going to have to move if there were going to be English people running all over the place. It was distracting.
he leaves and finds himself a small, secluded mini-beach - a perfectly peaceful place to read, and to observe the ocean, so different from the lakes back home in ohio.
Davey was surprised by how warm the water was. He was standing at the very edge of the breaking waves, up to his ankles. He'd kicked off his sneakers and walked right past the NO SW MM NG sign, which was fine because he wasn't sw mm ng. He still had his glasses on, still had the book in his hand. He was just testing out the water for later.
later comes pretty soon, and after getting distracted from reading by the novelty of the gently lapping waves, he stashes his glasses and other stuff under a bush, and decides to go back into the ocean, just waist-high, just enough to enjoy the warmth of the water, and the playful waves.
suddenly, he finds himself being pulled further and further away from land, without his glasses, becoming increasingly tired as he tries to fight the tide. he begins to swim towards a fuzzy shape he takes for an island, but when he finally reaches it, it turns out to be a water-cooler jug, which offers him a temporary respite from swimming, but is definitely not as good as an island. he clings to it, bobbing along half-blind in the grueling sun, with nothing to do but observe the fish in the water, taking shelter under the bottle. at first, these are just tiny and harmless fish, but after a while, the food chain is alerted, the bigger fish come out to play, and suddenly davey is dunh dunh dunnnhhhhhh - surrounded by sharks.
meanwhile, on land, davey's family is awake, and looking all over for him, enlisting the help of that english family, the staff of the hotel, a boat captain, the deputy, and eventually, the coast guard. the land-story is told from the POV of davey's brother brando and drew - the 14-year-old english girl, who saw davey earlier when he was reading under a palm tree.
* actual shark facts and also tips about what to do in a rip tide situation with a very smart parallel land-lubber example for kids who might not have ever been to the ocean, which makes the science of rip tides more understandable (which parallel davey only realizes when it is too late, but hopefully readers of this book will remember if they find themselves in a similar situation)
* good tension as miscommunication and misunderstandings keep davey in peril as his parents and the deputy track down false leads and davey just keep bobbing away out there, gripping his water bottle, thinking to himself "surely a rescue party has been organized by now!" the slow dawning as the other characters catch up to what the reader already knows.
* smart treatment of the frustration of being a kid around adults who just won't listen, as brando tries to explain why he thinks his parents are wasting time chasing down these false leads
overall, it's a fun summer thriller with genuine tension and a solid, action-y conclusion.
this book lists as YA, but to me, it reads more like MG-early teen. let's say grades 6-9. the only reason it didn't get a four star-rating from me is that i felt the characterization was a little shallow, and some of the writing was forced, mostly in the not-davey parts, when it reaches for humor. but that's not something that anyone in the target audience is likely to complain about, so i definitely think younger readers would rate this higher.
netgalley denied this book to me, but i'm totally not bitter. (less)
you'd think this would be a slam dunk, right?? it's another book filled with pictures of dogs and witty sayings - what's not to like? and it is even m...moreyou'd think this would be a slam dunk, right?? it's another book filled with pictures of dogs and witty sayings - what's not to like? and it is even more notable because these aren't pictures young whippersnapper puppies where everyone automatically goes "awwwww." these are older, more dignified dogs with soulful eyes who have been around the block some, who peed on giant trees back when they were just saplings, and who have loved their owners for a long long time. and while i adore every picture in this book, and must admit that they do indeed look like grumpy old men, the corresponding text is not the funniest i have read. so, it loses points there. but it gains points for not being one of those blogs-turned-books. trust me, these old dogs know nothing of the new tricks of "blogs," and these 70 pictures are being seen for the very first time between these pages. it's definitely worth a look, because old dogs need your love, too.
who can resist these faces?
Grunt is not ashamed of his liver spots.
Jack enjoys a hot cup of Sanka.
Archie is almost always drunk.
Taco lost an eye in Korea.
Scamp bears a strong resemblance to Grandpa Munster.
Saul remembers a better time.
Emmett has a gun rack on his pickup truck.
Meatball is a wrinkled old racist.
Prince has that "old person smell."
Geppetto is horrified at how much things cost.
Bandit "medicates" his glaucoma, if you know what I mean.
Chewy is still upset they cancelled Matlock.
Mr. Bean is an old letch.
Homer was once Mao's tailor.
Whiskey doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis.
Wiggles has one glass eye.
Rocky is just a crazy old bastard.
Boomer hates his prostate exam.
Sumo wants those kids off his lawn.
Marshmallow laughs at his own racist jokes.
Irving believes in aging gracefully.
Bogie thinks pit bulls are ruining the neighborhood.
so, skip the articles, maybe, but do not miss out on these grizzled old mugs.(less)
Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city....moreOf all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city.
on the night the world begins to end, a man has a heart attack and dies onstage while performing the lead role in king lear. considering that shortly after this, the georgia flu will have killed off 99% of the population and changed the world as we know it forever, it seems unlikely that he would be remembered among so many millions dead. but that's the kind of book this is. the story of the people who have touched our lives in unexpected ways, an echoing world in which Hell is the absence of the people you long for, where the little things - or the memories of them - matter the most.
arthur leander is a famous hollywood actor with three ex-wives, a son he never sees, a lover, a friend who knew him when, and various people to whom he has been kind, careless, or otherwise meaningful, including a little girl who watches him die beside her onstage, and the paparazzo turned paramedic who tried to save his life.
twenty years later, pieces of arthur still remain in the wasteland - in the memories of survivors, in his blood, in the provenance of talismanic objects, and in the ripple effect of events he set in motion when he was still alive. this is a multiple POV novel that jumps back and forth in time, from arthur's rise to fame and the stories of those he loved and lost along the way, to the stories of the survivors, finding and creating meaning in the ashes.
Kirsten and August walked mostly in silence. A deer crossed the road ahead and paused to look at them before it vanished into the trees. The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?
kirsten is the little girl who was onstage with arthur when he died, and is now a grown woman touring the wasteland with a group of musicians and actors known as "the traveling symphony", bringing entertainment to the scattered settlements. she has a tattoo on her arm with a quote from a remembered star trek episode: Because survival is insufficient, and this is one of the major preoccupations of the novel - the importance of art and a shared cultural history to those who remain. whether it is the objects collected in the "museum of civilization," the persistence of shakespeare, the significance of portions of a tattered comic book (from which this novel draws its name) in the hands of two different characters who will take from it wildly different meanings, or even the memory of star trek, these are the things that connect those who are left. it is the tenacity of what remains, what endures, and what can still be done with it - the clinging to what makes us human - to what matters in the aftermath, and to what binds us together.
that's not to say this is a gentle apocalypse solely concerned with maintaining cultural heritage. there are dangers everywhere in a world without pharmaceuticals or technology, a world in which a lack of codified behavior can make a man believe he is a prophet, and to give his dark vision free reign.
it's a stunner, straight up. and between this and california, it's a great time to be a woman writing lit-dystopias. i have read oh-so-many post-apocalyptic novels, but mandel managed to show me something new. she writes a complicated, multivoiced story in the fragments we are allowed to see - the slices of experience from both before and after the cataclysm, where a dinner party scene is just as interesting and fraught with tension as anything from the early days of the disease, and there are so many unforgettable jewels of moments: jeevan and his wheelchair-bound brother trying to wait out the plague, a quarantined plane on the edge of the tarmac, the memory of oranges.
she has such a strong, wonderful voice and has created tender and sympathetic characters who may be deeply flawed, but are the very personification(s) of the stubbornness of humanity.
one of the things that surprised me is that more wasn't made of the king lear parallels. i mean arthur had three wives, lear had three daughters - and since there are so many references to shakespeare throughout, both overt and oblique (one of arthur's wives is named miranda, another is elizabeth(ian), one of the section titles is a midsummer night's dream, the georgia flu is somewhat analogous to the black plague of shakespeare's time) i feel like it would have given the novel another layer of ka-pow to have developed the theme even further. but no - one of arthur's wives doesn't even appear in the book except a brief mention that she existed. and - jeez - would it have killed mandel to have given v. a chapter??? you know we want to know more about that situation!!
but these are just minor quibbles over an incredibly intelligent and gripping novel. and we can still have a little fun with names here, exclusive of shakespeare - if we play a little free-association game with most-notably-named, "arthur leander" roughly translates into "king of tragic lovers." which is apt.
two quick notes: if you don't want a very popular four-year-old book that - yes, i know, i probably should have read already - spoiled for you, don't read the acknowledgments. because- yeah. oops. that was me.
and if the graphic novel that plays such an important role in this book is NOT picked up by someone and published as a companion book, it will be a huge missed opportunity. because we want it. bad.(less)
so, yes - i found this book much more satisfying and original than the first volume. for one, i thought the writing was better, but also the themes ar...moreso, yes - i found this book much more satisfying and original than the first volume. for one, i thought the writing was better, but also the themes are darker and truer than those in the first. there's more tension in this one, as alina ascends into a position of even greater power which separates her from her old life, and complicates her relationship with mal. accustomed to being the more capable of the two, mal is forced to accept that alina has responsibilities that are beyond him, and although he can still be useful to her with his particular skill set, there's a gap widening between them, despite both their attempts to fight it. mal realizes that he is becoming superfluous - that she might not need him the way she used to. and the realization hurts them both.
most of the book is about power. the loneliness of power, its allure and the the temptation to wield it in the wrong ways, the way power corrupts intentions, becomes addictive, and ultimately isolates the one who holds it…. one can kinda see what made the darkling into the darkling, yeah?
and mal can see it, too, as alina changes and grows into her role; she's no longer the frightened little girl she was, but he worries she is losing too much of herself and the things that make her special.
He raised his hands as if to plead his case, then dropped them helplessly. "I feel you slipping away from me, and I don't know how to stop it."
Tears pricked my eyes. "We'll find a way," I said. "We'll make more time - "
"It's not just that. Ever since you (view spoiler)[put on that second amplifier (hide spoiler)], you've been different." My hand strayed to the fetter. (view spoiler)["When you split the dome, the way you talk about the firebird... (hide spoiler)]I heard you speaking to Zoya the other day. She was scared, Alina. And you liked it."
"Maybe I did," I said, my anger rising. It felt so much better than guilt or shame. "So what? You have no idea what she's like, what this place has been like for me. The fear, the responsibility - "
"I know that. I know. And I can see the toll it's taking. But you chose this. You have a purpose. I don't even know what I'm doing here anymore."
this book ends with several characters in newly horrible situations, or - you know - dead. but cheer up, because there are also NEW characters, and they're not just cookie-cutter fantasy archetypes. or maybe they are, and i just don't read a lot of fantasy, so i don't know, but i loved tamar and tolya - their bravery and their secrets. and i knoooow everyone's all about sturmhond in this one - no matter what he is being called at the time, and i liked him, too. he managed to bring humor and cheer to an otherwise pretty bleak plot. but to me, a love triangle is bad enough without making it a square. back off, shippers!
i do like the magic in this book, although sometimes the different kinds of grisha confuse me. squallers?? there are people whose magic is to make wind?? there should be better powers, with farther-reaching application, like "crop-growers" or "volcra-witherers." ah, but then there would be no need for heroes.
“Then what is magic for?" Prince Lír demanded wildly. "What use is wizardry if it cannot save a unicorn?" He gripped the magician's shoulder hard, to keep from falling.
Schmedrick did not turn his head. With a touch of sad mockery in his voice, he said, "That's what heroes are for.”
and here's the one from this book - which reminds us that in a world full of magic, we do still need our heroes. i don't think this is spoilery, but i'm sure i will be told if it is. this is also another example that highlights mal's restlessness and feelings of insecurity - a conversation between alina and nikolai (a new character i won't say anything about here)
He dropped his hand. "He doesn't belong here."
He belongs with me, I wanted to shout. But I knew it wasn't true. I thought of Mal's bruised face, of him pacing back and forth like a caged animal, of him spitting blood and beckoning to Eskil for more. Go on. I thought of him holding me in his arms as we crossed the True Sea. The map blurred as my eyes filled with tears.
"Let him go," said Nikolai.
"Go where? Chasing after some mythical creature that may not even exist? On some impossible quest into mountains crawling with Shu?"
"Alina," Nikolai said softly. "that's what heroes do."
"I don't want him to be a hero!"
"He can't change who he is any more than you can stop being Grisha."
It was an echo of what I'd said only hours ago, but I didn't want to hear it.
"You don't care what happens to Mal," I said angrily. "You just want to get rid of him."
"If I wanted you to fall out of love with Mal, I'd make him stay here. I'd let him keep soaking his troubles in kvas and acting like a wounded ass. But is this really the life you want for him?"
I took a shaky breath. It wasn't. I knew that. Mal was miserable here. He'd been suffering since the moment we arrived, but I had refused to see it. I'd railed at him for wanting me to be something I couldn't, and all the while, I'd demanded the same thing from him. I brushed the tears from my cheeks. There was no point in arguing with Nikolai. Mal had been a soldier. He wanted purpose. Here it was, if I would just let him take it.
i just realized that both of these passages involve alina crying, which is a little misleading. yeah, she cries a lot - she's going through a lot of shit here. but she's also learning to grow into her role in terms of her emotional armor - assuming the public face of her power, suppressing her humanity to become a leader worthy of respect.
I bit down hard on my lip to silence the sob that shook my my chest. That's good, I thought as the tears spilled over. That way the servants won't hear.
and it's a tough transition, but an important lesson about the sacrifices that have to be made to attain and hold power - the mask that needs to be maintained.
a tough lesson, but education is never a waste, indeed.
so, yeah - much better than the first one, and i am looking forward to the third, despite the warnings people have given me. and i do want more darkling, who was used all-too-sparingly (albeit effectively) here.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
according to the book flap, nancy carlson has been writing and illustrating books for more that FOUR DECADES!!! and after more than 60 books, she fina...moreaccording to the book flap, nancy carlson has been writing and illustrating books for more that FOUR DECADES!!! and after more than 60 books, she finally got around to writing one about vomit.
better late than never!
so, i'm pretty much in love with this book. like most offerings for the picture-book-aged crowd, this one contains a lesson, but instead of the typical "don't be racist," or "no one likes a bully!" message, this book addresses a more immediately-pressing and under-addressed social problem: vomiting in school.
because, yeah, to a kid, it is totally embarrassing to puke in front of everyone. when you grow up, you learn that a well-timed puke can get you out of some difficult situations:
but, as carlson notes, when you barf at school, be prepared, because everyone will go nuts!
and no one wants to be the cause of so much frenzied/disgusted attention.
but the child is reassured that everything barfs sometimes, as these outstanding pictures prove:
and since it can't be controlled, it is therefore nothing to be ashamed of, so just let it out, don't blush, and you'll feel much better!
i don't know when the appropriate time to gift or read this book aloud to a child would be. is this to be employed after they have barfed to tamp down their feelings of social disgrace?? or should it be read at the start of flu season every year, to prevent those feelings of disgrace in the first place?? or is it meant to change the way we see barf as a culture, to be read to large library groups of kids so that the next barf-instance in school is treated as a celebration and no one will feel compelled to run and hide in any lockers in disgust. (NANCY!!!) no one knows - it's your choice! but i do know that there is not nearly enough barf in children's books, and kids looooove gross things and will probably laugh a lot no matter when you read it to them.
and the solid, matter-of-fact conclusion??:
(view spoiler)[Here's the deal: Sometimes you barf…But it's okay. You get better.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)