Sometimes the best review you can give a book is a quote from the book itself.
“Don't say another goddamn word. Up until now, I've been p...more Sometimes the best review you can give a book is a quote from the book itself.
“Don't say another goddamn word. Up until now, I've been polite. If you say anything else--word one--I will kill myself. And when my tainted spirit finds its destination, I will topple the master of that dark place. From my black throne, I will lash together a machine of bone and blood, and fueled by my hatred for you this fear engine will bore a hole between this world and that one. When it begins you will hear the sound of children screaming--as though from a great distance. A smoking orb of nothing will grow above your bed, and from it will emerge a thousand starving crows. As I slip through the widening maw in my new form, you will catch only a glimpse of my radiance before you are incinerated. Then, as tears of bubbling pitch stream down my face, my dark work will begin. I will open one of my six mouths, and I will sing the song that ends the Earth.”
Take this quote and then juxtapose it with title of this collection: "Be Good Little Puppy."
That really tells you everything you need to know.(less)
It's the sort of comic that I read and immediately wanted to lend to my friends. Or, preferably, buy them their own copi...moreThis was really, really good.
It's the sort of comic that I read and immediately wanted to lend to my friends. Or, preferably, buy them their own copies so the bastards won't steal mine.
I liked the feel of it, like an old-school faerie tale. A nice, tight, well-written story. A little mystery, a little humor, a little horror. It made me smile in places and get a little weepy in others.
I could go on at length, but that's it in a nutshell. It was excellent.
Apparently this is one of the first endeavors of a new comic publisher: Improper Books.
If this is the sort of thing they're going to keep doing, I'm going to have to make a habit of them, stalking their release schedule mercilessly through the dense foliage of the interwebs.
I got an early look at this because the artist is a fan of my writing, and they mailed me an early version of the book. But it's being released internationally in July.
If you want to look at a preview and maybe order a copy for yourself, you can get details here....
I read this book in 1994, and it changed the way I thought about stories.
Up until that point in my life, the vast majority of the books I'd read were...moreI read this book in 1994, and it changed the way I thought about stories.
Up until that point in my life, the vast majority of the books I'd read were fantasy and science fiction. Many of them were good books. Many, in retrospect, were not.
Then I read Cyrano De Bergerac. For the first half of the play I was amazed at the character, I was stunned by the language. I was utterly captivated by the story.
The second half of the book broke my heart. Then it broke my heart again. I cried for hours. I decided if I ever wrote a fantasy novel, I wanted it to be as good as this. I wanted my characters to be as good as this.
A couple months later, I started writing The Name of the Wind.
Over the years, I've read many translations of the original and seen many different movies and stage productions. In my opinion, the Brian Hooker translation is the best of these, head and shoulders above the rest.
The problem is this, the play was originally written in French, which is a relatively pure language, linguistically speaking. Because of the way it's structured, French rhymes very naturally.
English, on the other hand, is a total mutt of a language. It's as pure as a rabid dog. We're linguistically Germanic at our roots, but that's like saying a terrier used to be a wolf. Modern English is a rich, delicious gumbo full of Latin, Old Norse, French... and well... pretty much whatever we found laying around the kitchen that we wanted to throw into the pot.
(BTW, what you see up in the previous paragraph is the very definition of a mixed metaphor. Just so you know....)
Modern English doesn't rhyme naturally. You really have to stretch to fit it into into couplets. And unless this is done *masterfully* what you're doing ends up sounding arty and pretentious, or like Dr. Seuss to the English speaking ear. And those are best-case scenarios.
Brian Hooker was a proper poet, and he realized that the rhyme was secondary. He knew the most important thing was that Cyrano speak with eloquence, wit, and beauty in his language. So that's what he focuses on. There's a little rhyming, but just a little. Just when it works.
The result is lovely, and at no point do you ever feel like you're reading a kid's book or an Elizabethan sonnet. Cyrano sounds like a fucking badass.
So yeah. It's the best. If you're going to read one piece of drama before you die, read this. (less)
I think Jerry really hit his stride here in the commentary on the strips. Every three or four pages I'd end up reading something so clever, ridiculous...moreI think Jerry really hit his stride here in the commentary on the strips. Every three or four pages I'd end up reading something so clever, ridiculous, or well phrased that I would honest-to-god LOL.
I would occasionally even chortle. Normally, I'm much too dignified for that. (less)
I pulled this off the shelf because I was going to bed and needing something to read before I fell asleep.
I've been reading PA since back in the day....more I pulled this off the shelf because I was going to bed and needing something to read before I fell asleep.
I've been reading PA since back in the day. WAY back in the day. That means I read these strips when they were originally posted. Or during one of my occasional trawls back through their archive.
I own these books primarily out of loyalty to the Mike and Jerry. I like their art, so I bought their book to support them. Plus I just like owning books.
This means that I've flipped through the PA books before, but I've never actually sat town and read them. And I was surprised at how much I was pulled in by it. They're like little time capsules of geek culture, and reading them reminds me what was going on back in the beforetimes. Back in the long long ago of 2003.
But truthfully, they're even cooler than that. They're like a time capsule wrapped in another, different time capsule. Because Jerry does a little commentary and retrospective of each strip. That gives an interesting take not only as to his opinion on his art, but as to where geekdom was in 2008, when he wrote the commentary for the book.
The result? I ended up reading the whole damn book even thought I was tired at it was 4:00 AM.
4. It's set in London, and writte...more Great book. Urban fantasy. You should read it.
Why? Here's why....
1. It's witty.
2. It's not cliché.
3. It's smart.
4. It's set in London, and written by someone who obviously knows London.
5. The main character has a great voice.
5. The language is great. (See below.)
6. It hasn't been dumbed down for the American audience.
Well… okay. They did change the title in the US from "Rivers of London" to "Midnight Riot." That was a shame.
But they left a lot of good stuff in. I don't think I've ever read anything else published in the US that has as much legitimate British slang in it. It was lovely.
7. The author is obviously a proper geek. It's rare that someone references Tolkien, Newton, and The Last Airbender all in one book.
If you don't know anything at all about London, Brittish slang, or culture other than the last three decades of American history, this book might stretch you a little bit. You might occationally have to absorb some information, learn a new word or two, and figure things out from context clues.
If you have a problem with that? Well, I guess you can go back to watching Entourage and re-reading Twilight. Or you could jump into a dry well and kill yourself. It's a horse apiece, really.
For the rest of you who realize that one of the main joys of reading (if not life itself) is learning and broadening your experience of the world… well… this book is for you. Congrats. You win.
Future dystopian without being heavyhanded about it, by which I mean to say it's a story that legitimately centers around the characters,...moreEnjoyed it.
Future dystopian without being heavyhanded about it, by which I mean to say it's a story that legitimately centers around the characters, not the world in which they live (and why it's shitty.) That's a bit of a rarity for future dystopian stuff, in my experience those books really want to roll around in how awful the world is.
Don't get me wrong, I like some dystopia. But this was a fun first-person vaguely noir-ish story that really would have been ruined by that.
This book should be titled: "How to be a spoiled little bitch."
I asked my little boy if he's like to read some books the other day, and he brought ov...more This book should be titled: "How to be a spoiled little bitch."
I asked my little boy if he's like to read some books the other day, and he brought over this one, asking if I'd read it next.
I'd never read it before, which is fine with me. I like to read him new books. Too much repetition can get wearying to me.
But this book... Seriously. It pissed me off.
I've read bad children's books before. Books with bad stories. Books that were nausiating with sweetness and love. Books that were obviously just a vehicle for someone to poke their religion into an unsuspecting child.
But this one actually made me want to rage-quit.
What bothers me more than anything is that this is a *classic* book. I'm guessing a lot of you grew up reading it. I just looked online and found hundreds of reviewers *gushing* about how charming and *Mawhvelous* a character Eloise is.
But she's not. Eloise is a little bitch.
She's six years old, and uses the Plaza as her personal playground. She bothers people in the lobby. She bothers people in the elevators. She says one of her favorite things to do is run down the hallway with sticks, hitting the doors of other guests. She crashes other people's weddings.
The manager of the hotel says she's a nuisance. But he says it with a forced smile on his face? Why? Because Eloise tells us that her mom knows the *owner* which is apparently why she lives in the penthouse and gets to do whatever she wants.
And that's it. That's the whole story, just her running around, amusing herself, making up games, and being a little monster. Forever.
Where are her parents? She has none. A father is never mentioned at all, and her mother is away somewhere, busy meeting important people. "My mother knows Coco Chanel."
Instead she has a nanny. A nanny who apparently spends most of the day up in the penthouse sniffing glue, because Eloise is never supervised when she's running around the hotel.
There's no moment when she feels compassion for anyone. No moment where she doesn't get her way. No one ever criticizes her. At the end of the book she thinks to herself, "Maybe tomorrow I'll pour a pitcher of water down the mail chute."
The end. No moral. She doesn't learn anything. Doesn't change.
She is just a little bitch.
Here's the one thing I'll say for it. Back when it was written, in the early 50's, it was probably wonderfully refreshing for little girls to see a little girl misbehaving. A little girl with power. A little girl living a wish-fulfillment life where she does whatever she likes, never gets in trouble, everyone has to be nice to her, and she eats room service ever day.
But today, in 2013? Do you honestly think that's something kids need to learn? Fuck no.
You know what Eloise reminds me of? She reminds me of a stereotypical American. The sort of American that people believe in over in Germany and Spain and China. She is loud, spoiled, rude, and entitled.
And she never, *ever* gets in trouble. No one ever even speaks a hard word to her.
I'm not saying this book doesn't has it's charming parts. The voice is good. The art is good. The book wouldn't have been a success without those things.
But is it a good book for children in this day and age?
No. No it really isn't. Not unless you're trying to show your kids a good example of how to act like total little unlovable bastards.
Let's just be clear here. Eloise isn't "precocious" she's not "a scamp."
She is a little monster. She's the sort of child that if you saw her in real life, you'd look up at her parents (who would probably be ignoring her while sipping half-decaf lattes and thumb typing on their iphones) and say, "Hey. You. Yeah you! Get over her and control your fucking demon spawn of a child! She just tipped over a magazine rack and is pouring all the cream into the toilet! What? Yes I'd say that is your problem. No. No, she's not a free spirit. You're a careless idiot. She's your responsibility. Be a goddamn parent for five minutes and institute some disciple!"
And then I would just start choking people until I went to jail.
Y'know, I could give a damn about painting. Van Gogh, Manet, Monet. I'm dimly aware of them, I know they're somehow culturally important, but I'm just...moreY'know, I could give a damn about painting. Van Gogh, Manet, Monet. I'm dimly aware of them, I know they're somehow culturally important, but I'm just not interested. It's not my cup of tea.
Similarly, I *really* don't give a damn about the lives of said painters in Paris in the 1800s. Just don't care.
It says a lot about Christopher Moore that he can write a book centering around these things, and with a slight splash of the fantastic make a story that holds my interest, engages my curiosity, and makes me laugh my ass off.
And I learned a few things, making me slightly less of an ignorant cretin. That's nice too.
I got a chance to read an early version of this a little while ago. Needless to say, I jumped at it.
The reason for this is that so far, I haven't rea...moreI got a chance to read an early version of this a little while ago. Needless to say, I jumped at it.
The reason for this is that so far, I haven't read a book by Brandon Sanderson that I haven't loved. That means it's quite likely that I'll get a chance to read another good book, which is always welcome.
OR I'll finally read something of Sanderson's I *don't* like. Which would thrill me, honestly.
Why? Well, because Brandon writes so much faster than me. It only seems fair that some of his stuff should be crap. It just doesn't seem fair that he's brilliant AND fast....
Unfortunately for my ego, Steelheart is another win for Sanderson, proving that he's not a brilliant writer of epic fantasy, he's simply a brilliant writer. Period.
Simply said. Great book. Tight writing. Nice take on superheroes. Nice world creation. Absolutely worth your time. (less)
When I found out that he'd written a book as well, I was curious. But honestly, I didn't have high expectations.
I don't mean this as a dig. It's just that brilliance is not necessarily transferable. Just because Yahtzee can be funny, clever, and witty in a five minute review, doesn't mean that he can write a funny, clever, witty novel. No more than I could jump in and do his job and be good at it.
All that aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the book. It was funny, well-written, and managed one of the most difficult tricks of all, which is to be ridiculous AND realistic.
In my experience, a lot of people who write speculative fiction (Sci-fi, fantasy, etc) tend to make the same mistake. They think that the more weirdness the better. They feel like if their stories only have one piece of speculation in them, they're somehow cheaping out.
It's as if people thing it's not enough to write an alternate history of Earth where, say, the Roman empire never collapsed. No. You have to change it so that everyone is talking Kangaroos with magic powers too.
But this simply isn't true. Most of the time, adding one simple "what if" to the story is more than enough. If I had the chance to teach a class on writing speculative fiction, I'd use this book as an example of how that's true.
The what if in question is, "What if you woke up and found that the world had been covered in two feet of carnivorous strawberry jam?"
Does it sound corny? Yeah.
But the truth is, it's a fucking good book. The best apocalypse stories I've read in ages.
So good on you, Yahtzee. You clever, multifarious bastard you.... (less)