Darth Pedant

The Pedant formerly known as Pony.

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

High Heels Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1-5) - Gemma Halliday

Like the first book, #2 is silly fun. Also like the first book, it has issues.


  • The editing is still woeful.
  • Maddie has traded in some of her misogyny for transphobia . . . which actually could still be linked to misogyny, now that I think about it.
  • Maddie’s decision making was questionable at best in the first book. In book two she descends all the way into Too Stupid to Live territory because she has to or there’s no plot. It doesn’t help that she’s aware she’s doing incredibly stupid things; it just serves to highlight how thin the plot is.
  • Jack Ramirez is still a sexist asshole, and Maddie continues to give him infinite passes because he’s hot and doesn’t seem to mind that she hasn’t got huge breasts.
  • This book is devoid of romantic tension, relying instead on sexual tension, and it seems the only way the author could think of to manufacture that sexual tension was through constant cock-blocking. It was kind of funny the first two times, but the joke got old fast. I went pretty quickly from wondering if Jack and Maddie would ever get to have sex with each other to wondering why they even wanted to.


It’s still mindless fun, which is what I’m currently in the mood for, so I’ll keep going with the series for now. I’m hoping for more appearances by Felix the Unrepentant Tabloid Reporter. He was easily the best part of this book, and possibly the only hope for re-establishing some romantic tension, since so far the series only seems to have that when Maddie’s attracted to more than one man.


Reading progress update: I've read 19%.

High Heels Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1-5) - Gemma Halliday

I have finished the first book in this omnibus (Spying in High Heels) and I have . . . thoughts. I was in the mood for a light, fluffy cozy, and this is that, and I was entertained by it. But holy hell! does it have issues!


  • The editing is woeful. I’m guessing self-pub on a budget.
  • There is so much woman-on-woman hate going on that I’m mildly surprised Maddie has an actual female friend.
  • I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to ship Maddie and “Officer Hottie” for most of the book, but the man starts out as kind of an asshole before he (mild spoilers) escalates to almost taking advantage of Maddie when she’s clearly drunk and he’s still investigating her boyfriend for murder. I was super squicked out by him abusing his power like that.
  • So much woman-on-woman hate! For such a small person, Maddie sure is a HUGE misogynist.
  • Did I mention how squicked out I was by “Officer Hottie” nearly porking an intoxicated person of interest in his police investigation?
  • No, seriously, the woman-on-woman hate is intense.


I’ll keep going with the series because I’m still in the mood for light ‘n fluffy cozies and this was a fun, quick one, but I have a feeling I’m going to do a lot of cringing.

Beyond Belief: An Emily Castles Mystery

Beyond Belief  - Helen Smith

I started reading the Emily Castles Mysteries years ago in the Before Time (before I started tracking my reading). I thought they were cute and charming cozies. This is the fourth one I’ve read in the series, and either my tastes have changed or my standards are higher or my memory is faulty. Whatever the reasons, the only cute and charming things in this book were the allegedly psychic dachshunds.


The characters are mostly bland and a bit wooden, Emily included. She’s on the scene to investigate for the thinnest reasons possible, and at some point she traded her personality for a notebook. The mystery takes too long to unfold (dead bodies don’t start showing up until well past the halfway point), the denouement is boring, and I feel like I’ve wasted my time.


*Sigh!* Next.

Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer - Morgan Matson

This is an entirely predictable, paint-by-numbers, rip-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it coming of age YA cancer book—the very kind that Hazel sneered at in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s full of emotionally manipulative scenarios, teenagers making remarkably bad decisions with remarkably flawed logic (as teenagers are wont to do), and more typos than I could easily forgive, but ye gods! It hurts so good!


Second Chance Summer doesn’t offer anything new to the cancer book subgenre, but it does not come to the table empty-handed. The picture Matson paints of a distant, not very affectionate family pulling together in the face of impending tragedy and fumbling their way through getting to know each other is so vivid it’s painful. I felt the awkwardness, the frustration, the insecurity and uncertainty of a teenage girl who wants desperately to stop running from her problems and make connections with her loved ones but doesn’t know how. I felt like throwing my Kindle against a wall when the main character let chance after chance pass by without saying what she needed to in order to mend her broken friendships. I felt so much that I could keep on churning out these terrible run-on sentences until words no longer make sense and my husband has to stage a keyboard intervention.


Yes, it’s a typical cancer book. You know exactly what you’re getting going in (a solid kick in the feels), and that’s a good thing. It’s the kind of emotional rollercoaster you need to be able to brace yourself for. I think I need to read a book like this every once in a while just to reassure myself that I’m not some sort of sociopath and can actually feel deep empathy for well-written, relatable characters.


So thanks, book I don’t remember buying by author I’ve never heard of. Sometimes I wonder.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Second Chance Summer - Morgan Matson

Heads-Up: LibraryThing Event

For anyone who wanted to give LibraryThing a try but was put off by their free account limitations, they're currently running a National Library Week Treasure Hunt. Find 5 treasures by following the clues to upgrade to a lifetime membership for free. :D




Reading progress update: I've read 1%.

Second Chance Summer - Morgan Matson

I couldn't decide what I was in the mood to read, so I decided to surprise myself by doing another Read a Book I Don't Remember Buying selection. I haven't done one of these for ages. Let's see what sort of book Past Me snuck into my Kindle library!




Oh no.


It's a YA contemporary cancer book.


Brace yourselves, feelings!

The Great Zoo of China

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly

In an interview at the back of this book, Matthew Reilly confesses that Jurassic Park is his favorite novel, the one that first inspired him to write, and that he wanted to make The Great Zoo of China as different from JP as possible to avoid comparisons. In order to do that, he set the book in China, made the purpose of the zoo about global economic domination instead of regular old capitalism, and made the group of outsiders touring the zoo journalists and politicians instead of scientists (though one of those journalists was also a scientist).


And yet, in spite of making those sweeping changes (snort!), Matthew Reilly wrote a 400-page Jurassic Park fanfic. With dragons. (The dragons are also dinosaurs. But trust Reilly. It’s totes different.)


Now, there’s nothing wrong with writing JP fanfic with dragons. It’s an awesome idea, and those who come just to see dragons run amok and kill people in various gruesome ways will not be disappointed. Unless you’re like me and the writing style drives you batty. I came for the dragons eating people. I stayed for the dragons eating people. The writing nearly ruined my mindless fun.


I’m not talking about the absurdity of the plot or the cartoonishly evil Chinese villains or the Rambo+MacGuyver+Steve-Irwin-but-with-tits main character. There are certain absurdities you sign up for in this kind of book and I fully expected to encounter (and revel) in those. No, I’m talking about Reilly’s style of storytelling.


This is the first Reilly book I’ve read (and honestly probably my last), so I don’t know if it’s an accurate representation of his style. It strikes me as the kind of lead-you-by-the-nose writing you find in books geared toward much younger audiences. First Reilly will show you something, then he’ll tell you what he just showed you, and then sometimes he’ll show and/or tell you again, just in case you didn’t get it yet. He’ll even throw totally unnecessary exclamation points into the prose just in case you couldn’t tell that people running from dragons that are trying to eat them is a tense and scary situation. My takeaway is that Reilly thinks his readers are at a 3rd grade level and he has zero faith in their abilities to retain information and read tone. Or he’s allergic to nuance and thinks everyone else is too.


One star for the dragons, one star for the people-eating action, no stars for the writing style.


Reading Progress Updates:

1. 18%

2. 21%

3. 29%

4. 53%

5. 76%

6. 100%


Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly

After all was said and done only one American from the ill-fated press tour was killed by a dragon. I'm assuming it's because the group they were in ran out of Chinese people. :P

Reading progress update: I've read 76%.

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly

Someone needs to find out where Reilly does all his writing, break in, and fix all of his keyboards so they can’t produce exclamation points.


Reading progress update: I've read 53%.

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly

An American has finally been killed. Can you guess whether it was by a dragon or an “evil” Chinese person? (Why yes, this is a trick question.)


Reading progress update: I've read 29%.

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly

The dragons have made their move. So far they have eaten the only two Chinese women in the group, a Chinese cameraman, and a Chinese bartender. The six Americans have suffered nothing worse than a couple of close calls. With a story set in China with a cast of mostly Chinese extras, I fully expect the casualties to be lopsided, but this isolated group was half Chinese, half American. So why only Chinese casualties? I'll tell you why.  ’Murica.

Reading progress update: I've read 21%.

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly

I just want to have some mindless fun with dragons overrunning a zoo and eating people, but the price of that is apparently putting up with SUPER REPETITIVE WRITING. Examples (paraphrased):


Main Character: These dragons are huge! Those big ones must be the size of airliners and those medium ones must be the size of buses.


Zoo Employee: The biggest dragons are the size of airliners and the medium ones are the size of buses.


MC: I’ll bet those little dragons weigh a ton!


ZE: These little dragons weigh a ton.


MC: This ambassador’s aide is good at melting into the background. I keep forgetting he’s here.


MC: [16 pages later] This ambassador’s aide professionally blends into backgrounds. I keep forgetting he’s here.


It’s like Reilly has ZERO faith in the reader’s ability to retain info, so he just keeps repeating it over and over.


I’m also getting a strong anti-China vibe. Jurassic Park proved that your visionaries can be well-intentioned and don’t have to be cartoonishly evil (even if your greedy corporate overlords do). Reilly has apparently decided good intentions are boring and is leaning hard into the greedy corporate overlord theme, and the greedy corporation is the Chinese government, so it's already getting pretty racist up in here. We haven’t even gotten to the dragons eating all the guests yet and there’s already been some ham-fisted white savioring.



Reading progress update: I've read 18%.

The Great Zoo of China - Matthew Reilly

As advertised, it’s Jurassic Park with dragons. Only dragons are allegedly some heretofore undiscovered species of dinosaur. The guest list for the pre-opening VIP weekend includes scientists, suits, and a precocious child. So it’s almost literally Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park even exists in this timeline. The zoo directors have seen it and apparently taken notes. Nobody involved in this bonkers scheme has any excuses for when it inevitably goes horribly wrong.


Red Shirts - John Scalzi

After I finished the second book in the Inheritance Cycle, I said I needed to take a break and read something that wasn’t (ripping off) Star Wars. So what do I do? I pick up a book ripping off—in a very self-aware and satirical fashion—Star Trek: The Original Series.


I have no regrets.


This book is freaking hilarious. Just ask my poor husband who was frequently distracted by my snorts, giggles, and belly-laughing. (The phrase, “Keep it down over there!” was uttered at least once and only partially in jest.) Characters inside a sci-fi story noticing how absurdly dramatic their lives (and deaths) sometimes are and picking apart the bad science and clichés and overused tropes they have to deal with is a brand of humor that really appeals to me. I thought Scalzi did a damn fine job of it.


I do have minor gripes (of course I do). Sometimes it felt a bit dialogue heavy, and the main story ending at the 70% mark was a bit rude, and the three codas at the end were interesting but felt like a let-down somehow. Too big of a tonal shift, maybe. I don’t know. It also took me longer than it should have to separate some of the character names (Dahl and Duvall, Hester and Hanson). Honestly, given that they were all “extras” on the Intrepid’s crew, I don’t know if that’s a bug or a feature. Oh, and I resent that one missing period I noticed. (HOW DARE. ONE MISSING PERIOD.)


Overall, I enjoyed it a lot and I would enthusiastically recommend it to fans of Star Trek: TOS who aren’t above making fun of the things they love.

PSA: Blog Name Change

I'm trying on a new blog name and avatar. I talked about doing this months ago, and today I decided I've been Darth Pony for long enough. Time for a change. So it's out with the Pony and in with the Pedant and a new avatar to match.


Thanks for everything, My Little Pony Dressed as Vader picture! I'll always love you, but I'm embracing my love of porgs and obsession with details now. XOXO


Currently reading

High Heels Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1-5) by Gemma Halliday
Progress: 40%