Another featherweight bit of delightfulness from Carriger, this YA boarding school story is set in the same universe as Soulless, a generation earlierAnother featherweight bit of delightfulness from Carriger, this YA boarding school story is set in the same universe as Soulless, a generation earlier. (Several characters from the first series show up as younger versions of themselves.)
It's light, it's silly, it's exactly what it tries to be. Clever, witty, and obsessed with hats. Also, poison, werewolves, evil scientists in training, vampires with perfectly tied cravats, and small china cakes....more
I'll admit, I was drawn in because this promised contributions from a list of people whose work I enjoy, including Neil Gaiman and Wil Wheaton. UnfortI'll admit, I was drawn in because this promised contributions from a list of people whose work I enjoy, including Neil Gaiman and Wil Wheaton. Unfortunately, their contributions are limited to a sentence apiece. So if that's your motivation, don't bother.
It's still an entertaining book, though. We have collections of completely untrue “facts” about every day from 2012, major US cities, countries of the world, sports, and more. They're genuinely funny, if extremely topical—this is based on a website and it shows. I doubt many of the jokes will even make sense in five years when we've all forgotten the particular memes and random minor events they reference. But for a bathroom reader-style humor book for the next year or two, it delivers about what you might expect....more
Re-reading a number of Brosch's classic posts can be a slightly uncomfortable experience. They're still funny. Hilarious, actually. Brosch's wry proseRe-reading a number of Brosch's classic posts can be a slightly uncomfortable experience. They're still funny. Hilarious, actually. Brosch's wry prose and ridiculous illustrations of her pathetic dogs, childhood misadventures, and issues with adulthood combine for over-the-top madcap mayhem.
But knowing that she's only just starting to emerge from a bout of crippling depression does put a different spin on things. Her post on failing at adulthood initially came across as charmingly self-deprecating. Now, it's apparent how little hyperbole may have actually been involved. It's still insanely funny, and still obviously rings true. But instead of the "ha ha, yeah, I feel like that too!" reaction, I have the "ha ha, oh you poor thing" reaction. It feels unfair to compare my occasional imposter syndrome issues with those of someone who turns out to have been suffering rather badly.
That said, her posts on depression may be some of the most strangely insightful and honest discussions of the problem that I've seen. Brosch's deliberately crude art style helps mask the work of someone who is clearly both fiercely intelligent and brave.
Classic Wodehouse--Bertie is flippantly idiotic, his friends are various degrees of eccentric, and Jeeves quietly masterminds everything from behind tClassic Wodehouse--Bertie is flippantly idiotic, his friends are various degrees of eccentric, and Jeeves quietly masterminds everything from behind the scenes. Some newts may have been harmed in the making of this book....more
Yes, I realize that I just gave this a higher rating than I did carefully researched historical monographs and ambitious works of fiction. But I try tYes, I realize that I just gave this a higher rating than I did carefully researched historical monographs and ambitious works of fiction. But I try to rate books on how well they accomplish their goals, and this one accomplishes its goals well.
This is not a deep work of towering achievement--it's a gag book. A bathroom reader. And you know what? It's pretty good at that. The items are witty, such as - sweeping things under the rug (literally) - sweeping things under the rug (figuratively)
You won't read it straight through, but as something to occupy yourself with for a minute or two at a time, this is cute. Although it may make you feel bad, as you realize that you do not have the ability to decide which doughnut you want with briskness and confidence, nor can you adjust shoulder straps to the ideal length....more
In a very British vein of humor rather similar to Wodehouse's style, Jerome recounts what sounds like a rather unpleasant vacation. In the best passagIn a very British vein of humor rather similar to Wodehouse's style, Jerome recounts what sounds like a rather unpleasant vacation. In the best passages, such as a hilarious description of the trials of multiple people trying to pack together, the text crackles with wit even as you breathe a sigh of relief that this all-to-familiar scene is not currently happening to you. However, the best humor relies on understatement. I personally found Jerome to be far too repetitive. He never uses one anecdote on a particular topic when five could be produced, even if they all have essentially the same punchline. There are also occasional flights of purple prose, waxing rhapsodic on the beauty of a river at night or some such, that serve less to express novel sentiments as to just ruin the tone.
It's a cute little piece, and genuinely funny, but really could have used an editor. Of course, it was written to different taste than modern readers', but there are plenty of his contemporaries with work that managed to stay a bit more disciplined....more
A perfect example of the famous Jeeves and Wooster dynamic--an effortless creampuff of a book. Wooster is charmingly idiotic, his friends and relationA perfect example of the famous Jeeves and Wooster dynamic--an effortless creampuff of a book. Wooster is charmingly idiotic, his friends and relations perfectly ridiculous, the situations increasingly absurd (yet following logically from Wooster's increasingly absurd machinations), and then Jeeves saves the day in his usual economical fashion. There's a reason Wodehouse is a gold standard for humor. Is this deep literature? Don't be silly. But it's a near perfect example of what it set out to be--light, witty, and remarkably clever. ...more
Why did I read this? Because a friend ended up with a free copy and handed it to me, and I needed something mindless to read over my breakfast cereal.Why did I read this? Because a friend ended up with a free copy and handed it to me, and I needed something mindless to read over my breakfast cereal.
This blatant cash-in attempt mimics actual employee handbooks a little too closely for true humor value, and goes for cheap, repetitive jokes instead of true satire. (Sample running jokes: If you screw up, we will kill you. You can't find us and we can't find you. Samurai are bad.) There's a handful of mildly amusing lines here or there, but they clearly had a page count to hit, and overall, it's rather tedious.
I'm going to guess that 95% of the books sold will be to clueless non-geek parents and friends desperately looking for a gift for a loved one, who say to themselves "Doesn't Johnnie/Joanna like this game? I bet s/he'll love this!" and snap it up, rather than actually asking the poor kid what they want for his/her birthday....more
Scalzi's always had a cutting sense of humor, and here he lets loose on the old trope of the redshirt, or that guy behind the Captain whose sole reasoScalzi's always had a cutting sense of humor, and here he lets loose on the old trope of the redshirt, or that guy behind the Captain whose sole reason to be in the episode is to be brutally dismembered as a way of establishing tension. In the process, he also sideswipes a dozen other bad sci-fi tropes, from the ridiculousness of senior officers on shore parties to the baffling design flaws that cause bridge consoles to blow up no matter where the ship takes damage. It's rollicking fun that takes a sudden swerve into the meta.
It's hard to discuss much without spoilers, but overall I think the plot holds together well. The solution they find is fairly touching. (I was not sure how I felt about the big reveal at the very end--I thought the premise worked, but I didn't think the conversation itself did. Those riches should have had some kind of impact, more than they did. I had to admire Scalzi's skill in setting it all up and then revealing to us exactly what he'd done, though.)
The topic's been dealt with before, although usually not with the thoroughness of this book. Still, I'm not sure it actually felt that fresh (as the first coda alludes to). Really, my biggest objection here was that this is supposed to be a comedic book, but I feel like some of Scalzi's other books were actually funnier. The situations are humorous, but there were very few laugh-out-loud lines or truly witty observations. It's perfectly enjoyable, I was just expecting more from him.
About those codas--they've been a little controversial. (There are three, and they make up a substantial percentage of the pages.) I quite liked the topics, and was glad to see things from a couple other perspectives. I thought the first/second/third person thing was needlessly gimmicky, though. The first person one worked beautifully, as did the third. I liked the story of the second-person one, but there was no reason for it to be in second person. It would have worked better in either first or third, and I couldn't help but feel that it was mashed into an ill-fitting form just to be cute. Again, I was expecting a little better from Scalzi.
It's a solid, enjoyable book, but I think I rather prefer the far more uneven, but far more entertaining Agent to the Stars....more
With so many visits to Discworld, new novels in the series are less an exploration of a new concept and more just a visit with old friends.
This one inWith so many visits to Discworld, new novels in the series are less an exploration of a new concept and more just a visit with old friends.
This one in particular is a retread of old themes. Vetinari wants something done and so moves people around like his personal chess board. Vimes discovers that someone has done something that may or may not be illegal, but is certainly immoral, and goes on a righteous crusade. Nobbs and Colon yet again accidentally stumble into a key clue (to the point that a lampshade is hung on it). The secondary villain is a psycho nutjob not dissimilar from Mr. Teatime, and the primary villain (who scarcely appears) is a pompous immoral as not dissimilar from Gilt. Sybil refuses to let Vimes have bacon sandwiches, Willikins is impressively polite while shooting people, and a naive youngster grows up and becomes competent under pressure.
More lampshades are hung on the fact that there are very few races left to look down upon. In previous books, trolls, werewolves, vampires, zombies, golems, dwarves, orcs, and the Nac Mac Feegle have been rehabilitated and proven to be people and drafted into the watch. When goblins are mentioned in the first chapter, is there really any guess where this is going to go?
There are some amusing bits, and some clever bits, and some charming bits. There are also some points brought up and then left unresolved, such as the matter of Stinky and of Vimes' relationship with the Summoning Dark. Key dramatic scenes happen offstage as well, including the confrontation with the main villain (who barely appears).
Also, the copyediting is atrocious. I know enough about publishing to know that there are a number of different reasons why something this error-ridden can get to press, so I'm not going to point fingers. But there are some serious issues with punctuation, quotation marks in particular. These aren't minor grammatical errors, these are punctuation marks very blatantly missing, repeated, or in completely inappropriate places. Something went embarrassingly wrong.
If you are a Discworld fan and you need your fix, this will provide it. It's sweet and homey and lets us watch Young Sam grow up a bit. But on its own, it's not particularly strong and probably isn't worth the time. I enjoyed it, as I enjoy revisiting these characters. But Pratchett himself is not in the best shape these days, and I'm truly sorry to say it's beginning to show. ...more
Wodehouse is endlessly charming in this collection of short stories. The breezy tone coupled with now-historical details makes humor writing seem someWodehouse is endlessly charming in this collection of short stories. The breezy tone coupled with now-historical details makes humor writing seem somehow edifying. Look, you're being cultured!
There do seem to be a few repetitive themes here. I'm not sure if it's an indication of Wodehouse's fixations or that the editor deliberately grouped the stories together. We repeatedly examine the attraction of life onstage and the exhaustion of women whose job it is to dance with men in dance halls. One small problem is that, in addition to these recurring themes, Wodehouse seems to have a dearth of names to work with. There are multiple Bills and Henrys and Kates, plus one location that reappears, to the extent that I'm really not certain if there were intended to be recurring characters or not. Many of the stories blend together disorientingly after reading, which is a bit unfortunate.
But there's a warmth to his humor that keeps you reading, even if you can't quite remember what you've read. Some of his characters are idiots, or snobs, or even a criminal or two. But Wodehouse pokes fun so lovingly that you can't help but like the characters, even when they're being complete morons. The author is deeply cynical, but it hasn't made him bitter or hard. His creatures are falliable, even pathetic, but they win through to happy endings in the end, and we wouldn't have it any other way....more
I've not been particularly subtle about my enjoyment of this series. Carriger's prose crackles with wit, her characters are genuinely engaging, and shI've not been particularly subtle about my enjoyment of this series. Carriger's prose crackles with wit, her characters are genuinely engaging, and she throws in just enough angst here or there to tug my heartstrings. And she wraps up most of the big mysteries and lets out most of the secrets that have been building over the series for a satisfying conclusion. Not everyone is quite happy at the moment, but the reader is left assured that with time, they will be.
There are some things that are not quite answered. Why on earth did Alexia's parents marry in the first place? How will the Order of the Brass Octopus be kept out of Hatshepsut's temple? (Yes, I realize it's very well guarded, but they or the Templars only need to get in once to get the materials for a great deal of havoc.) Does Felicity follow Biffy's suggestion?
But overall, this wraps things up quite nicely. And it's fairly entertaining on its own. Prudence streaking around a ship as a wolf-cub is endlessly entertaining, and Lyall finally gets everything he deserves, in both good and bad senses. Biffy sorts himself out. The acting troop's bumblebee dance made me laugh out loud. And we discover that everyone is not quite so fond of treacle tart as Alexia.
I unabashedly adore this series. Alexia is eminently sensible, smart, and bitingly sarcastic in her defense of manners, morals, and teatime. Her husbaI unabashedly adore this series. Alexia is eminently sensible, smart, and bitingly sarcastic in her defense of manners, morals, and teatime. Her husband has rather faded to the background as the series has progressed (an impressive feat for a towering hulk of a werewolf), but he's quite charming in his dangerous and bumbling way.
Most of the fun, though, comes from Carriger's prose (Alexia "lost her patience, a thing she was all too prone to misplacing") and supporting cast. There's the brilliant French scientist who keeps hitting on the oblivious Alexia, the foppish gay vampire lord who efficiently manipulates most of London while pretending to care only for a properly tied cravat, the deadpan butler, the flighty friend with ever-questionable taste in hats. Each of them are delightfully, lovingly drawn. The entire world is a cream puff of perfection, albeit a dangerous one, in which one politely offers a drop of port to a vampire assassin who has only just been dissuaded from killing one via zombie hedgehogs. Because politics is politics and murder is murder, but neither is an excuse for abandoning one's manners.
This latest installment does little to explain the overall mythology of the world, which was much the focus of the previous two books, but much to fill out some of the mysterious backstories of some of the characters. Actually, in retrospect, there seems to be somewhat less overall plot than in some of the previous books. But honestly, I don't particularly care. There's tension and mysteries and old secrets dramatically revealed and incredibly clever wordplay and steampunk gadgetry and high Victorian fashion. All narrated in a delightfully snarky tone.
Don't start with this one--it really won't make much sense, and will ruin the surprises of the earlier books. So really, you have little choice but to nip out to the store and buy all four. What are you waiting for? Shoo, shoo!...more
This, Scalzi's first novel, reads like his blog voice--gleefully snarky. Hollywood agent Stein, his no-nonsense assistant, his kooky clients, his dastThis, Scalzi's first novel, reads like his blog voice--gleefully snarky. Hollywood agent Stein, his no-nonsense assistant, his kooky clients, his dastardly rivals, and especially the sarcastic, pop-culture-savvy aliens themselves are all delightful. The solution Stein finds is ethically disturbing, but it's explored in full (and does rather seem like the kind of thing an agent might come up with).
There are a couple flaws. Scalzi is inconsistent on exactly how familiar the aliens are with Earth culture--they know their classic TV, but seem unfamiliar with some very common human expressions. Stein's boss has a mysterious past hinted at but never quite explored. And the climax happens mostly in press releases, which is an effective gimmick but drags on a little too long.
This is fluff. Hilarious, well-executed fluff that may not advance the art in any particular way, but will keep you wildly entertained for the entire ride....more