Darth Pedant

The Pedant formerly known as Pony.

Booklikes-opoly: Turn #3

 

I finally finished reading books for my Bonus Memorial Day Rolls. At 624 pages, Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen netted me a cool $5.00, while the 379 page A Thousand Splendid Suns ripped my heart out of my chest and stuffed $3.00 in the gaping hole. I managed to pull myself together enough to roll some dice.

 

Roll: 6 + 4

 

 

I've got a non-fiction that will work for this, and I'm quite excited to dive in.

 

Current Bank Balance = $41.00

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

When I read The Kite Runner about five years ago, I thought the experience was like watching a beautifully described train wreck. I could clearly see where the engine was going to leave the tracks, and then I could not look away as car after car piled up after it. Slam! Crash! Boom! Tragedy after calamity after indignity. Before I knew it, my reader’s heart was crushed and burning in the rubble.

 

Apparently this is a pattern with Hosseini’s books, because here I am again.

 

I would say, though, that this train wreck was even more exquisitely agonizing than the last one. I’m glad Hosseini’s not very prolific. My soul can’t take this kind of stomping on a regular basis.

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen: A Novel (Six Tudor Queens) - Alison Weir

This is heavy on the history, light on the fiction, in direct contrast to other Tudor-era historical fiction I’ve read. There’s no plot per se, just a slightly fictionalized account of Katherine’s life from her coming to England to her death. A lot of it reads like Weir is checking things off a timeline. Katherine went to this place on this date. She wrote this letter to this correspondent. The court gossip was this. The political climate was this. So-and-so’s star was rising while Such-and-such was out of favor. It’s interspersed with Katherine’s thoughts and feelings and conversations, but it’s not structured like your typical three-act novel. The lack of rising and falling action results in a plodding pace that makes the book feel much longer than it is. It’s good history, but it’s meh storytelling.

 

Weir portrays Katherine as a religious, loyal, loving, and largely oblivious wife. Katherine is always the last to know about her husband’s infidelities, and she’s completely blindsided by Henry seeking a divorce, having had no inkling of his lengthy pursuit of Anne Boleyn. Speaking of Anne, I am super curious about how Weir portrays her in the next book. In Katherine’s eyes she was a malicious, vindictive spawn of Satan out to drag the whole of England down to Hell by means of religious reform and her wily king-seducing ways.

Reading progress update: I've read 68%.

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen: A Novel (Six Tudor Queens) - Alison Weir

After a few miscarriages and stillbirths . . .

 

Katherine: Oh woe! God is punishing us because I was your brother’s wife, though the marriage was never consummated!

 

Henry: Nonsense, woman! We have a papal dispensation! We’re totes okay with God!

 

Years later, when Henry wants a divorce . . .

 

Henry: Oh woe! Our sons all died and you are now barren because I sinned against God by marrying my brother’s wife!

 

Katherine: No ways, we totes had that papal dispensation, which covers our asses whether my first marriage was consummated or not, which it totally wasn’t. I AM YOUR ONE TRUE WIFE WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME ANYMORE?!?!

 

Henry: It’s totes not because I want to bang Anne Boleyn and she won’t let me unless we’re married. OUR MARRIAGE IS INVALID OH HOW MY CONSCIENCE PRICKS ME SUDDENLY AFTER 18 YEARS OF TOTAL CERTAINTY!!!!

 

This double about-face was brought to you by some interesting characterization choices which I’m not entirely sure were deliberate. Henry’s 180 makes sense, as he wants male heirs and Anne Boleyn’s ass and any excuse will do. Katherine’s is less convincing, since Weir has shown her agonizing over every possible sin God could be punishing her for after each miscarriage/stillbirth/infant death. Unless I missed it, Katherine doesn’t even have a moment of doubt when Henry throws her old fears in her face, which is at odds with the walking stomach ulcer of worry that she's being portrayed as. Even if she’s projecting certainty out of desperation to preserve the legitimacy of her marriage and her daughter’s birth, shouldn’t there be more to her inner struggle than “I love my husband but he’s betrayed me and I’m sure it’s all Wolsey’s doing”?

 

Reading progress update: I've read 26%.

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen: A Novel (Six Tudor Queens) - Alison Weir

After years of delay, Katherine and Henry are discussing their upcoming marriage and payment of Katherine’s dowry.

“Sir,” she faltered, “part of it was to be paid in jewels and plate. I had to sell some, to buy food and other necessities.”

 

Henry leaned forward and kissed her. “We will not waste time over trifles,” he reassured her. “The plate and jewels are of no importance.”

 

And with those few words he banished the anxiety that had been consuming her for years.

And with those few words, he banished the conflict that’s been driving the whole novel since the first mention of the plate and jewels at the beginning. If this really is the end of Jewel and Plategate, I’m going to have to tear up my letter to the publisher demanding this book be retitled as Katherine of Aragon’s Dowry, The True MacGuffin.

Booklikes-opoly Tracking Post (For Real This Time)

 

I'm still working out how to track my game play. I've decided I NEED a one-stop reference tracking post, even if it's very basic and I don't push it up the feed every time I update. So here's my basic, non-fancy tracking post, take 2. Fingers crossed I remember to use it this time.

 

Turn #1: 21 May, 2019

Ended on space 22

Book read: The Star-Touched Queen

345 pages

Money added to Bank: $3.00

 

Turn #2: 24 May, 2019

Ended on space 26

Book read: Richter 10

446 pages

Money added to Bank: $5.00

 

Bonus Memorial Day Rolls: 25 May, 2019

#1 Ended on space 33

Book read: Katherine of Aragon, The true Queen

624 pages

Money added to Bank: $5.00

 

Passed GO

Money added to Bank: $5.00

 

#2 Ended on space 5

Book read: A Thousand Splendid Suns

379 pages

Money added to Bank: $3.00

 

Turn #3: 8 June 2019

(6+4) Ended on space 14

Book read: (The Black Count)

pages

Money added to Bank:

 

Bank transactions:

 

Starting balance: $20.00

Turn #1 book: + $3.00

Turn #2 book: + $5.00

GO (25 May): + $5.00

Bonus #1 book: + $5.00

Bonus #2 book: + $3.00

 

Current Balance: $41.00

Richter 10

Richter 10 (Arthur C. Clarke Collection) - Arthur C. Clarke

According to Clarke’s author’s note, this book started out as an 850-word outline for a movie script that was turned into a novel outline which was eventually fleshed out into a full manuscript by Mike McQuay shortly before his untimely death. If you’re looking for a good example of Clarke’s writing prowess, this ain’t it. But if you’re looking for the best/worst mid-90’s disaster movie that was never officially made (to my knowledge), this may be a winner.

 

Richter 10’s mid-90’s disaster movie origins are super obvious in every facet of the book. This filled me with unspeakable sadness because I freaking love a good disaster movie (and a bad disaster movie, let’s be honest), and this story would have played out much better in a visual medium. Well, it would if you cut the entire cringe-inducing “black and brown people are sequestered in communities called War Zones and have all converted to Islam and are violently trying to create their own autonomous Islamic State in the Deep South” subplot and rolled the credits after about the 60% mark and pretended the rest of the book didn’t exist, especially the epilogue (which is what I’m going to do because damn, this book did not know when to stop and just kept going and going way beyond what I felt was the natural conclusion).

 

You’ve got your main character, Protagonist McManpain, who lost his parents as a child in a deadly quake that nearly took his life as well. He came through with a magic injured arm that senses tectonic activity, and a burning desire to slay the Beast, which in his case means stopping earthquakes from killing people. And he’s gonna do it with science! And maybe nuclear weapons, if he can just convince everyone he’s not insane and survive all the betrayal by trusted allies and the sabotage from government/corporate entities. And if you’re thinking wait, I’ve seen this made-for-TV movie, it’s because this idea is about as unique as old white men in politics and has been riffed on ad nauseam. But I’d still watch the hell out of it. Again. As a book? Meh. I have to say, though, some of the slang Clarke/McQuay thought we might be using in 2024 is freaking hilarious. Hurry up, everybody! We’ve only got five years to make “juice” and “teev” popular in the vernacular!

Booklikes-opoly: Memorial Day Extra Rolls

 

In an attempt to avoid confusing myself, I'm marking the space I'm currently reading for and the first bonus space I landed on with my profile porg. I'll probably confuse myself anyway, but at least I tried, right?

 

Bonus Roll #1: 5 + 3

 

 

I have several books that will work for this. Spoiled for choice again. I might dip into my small Heyer collection, though. I'm hankering for something Regency-ish.

 

Bonus Roll #2: 4 + 5

 

 

I have a couple of Khaled Hosseinis that have been on my TBR for YEARS. I think I'll pick one of them for this space.

 

And since I passed GO!, that's $5.00 for the bank. Woot!

 

Current Bank = $28.00

Booklikes-opoly: Turn #2

 

I finished The Star-Touched Queen for The Lake House 22 space. At 345 pages that earns me $3 for the bank and it's time to roll again!

 

Roll #3: 3 + 1

 

 

At least a quarter of my TBR is science fiction, probably more. I am spoiled for choice.

 

Current Bank = $23.00

The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched Queen - Roshani Chokshi

In my last review I mentioned how I’m not much of a romantic and I tend to get bored with romance-driven plots. And then this book rocked up and was all, “I’m gonna make you a liar, bitch.” And then it did. And I’m okay with that.

 

You guys. I loved this soooooo much! It’s everything I love about mythology and fairy tales rolled into one nearly perfect package. I know I’m being vague, but if I try to get specific I will be here for hours gushing for paragraph after paragraph and spoiling the hell out of the whole plot. So instead I’m just going to nip the gushing in the bud and get to bed on time.

 

But seriously, this was soooooo good!

Booklikes-opoly: Turn #1

 

Here we go! I'm rolling physical dice because we're a tabletop gaming household over here and there are dice EVERYWHERE so it's no trouble to find a couple of d6's lying around. I am, however, too lazy to take pictures of my rolls. Kudos to everyone less lazy than me.

 

Roll #1: 6 + 2

 

 

Sweet! Slipping that in my pocket and rolling again...

 

Roll #2: 3 + 1

 

 

 

And I'm not happy with that, so I'm cashing in my novelty card immediately and moving to :

 

 

No offense to that Beach Week square, but I've got a library book that fits this square and is due back this week. Eep!

 

Current Bank = $20.00

 

(I hope I'm doing this right. LOL)

Heartless

Heartless - Marissa Meyer

This is one of those “It’s not you, book, it’s me” times, which is a terrible shame because I expected to love it. A darker Wonderland tale about the rise of a horrible queen? Hell yeah! Sign me up! And it started out well! This isn’t a bad book. It’s not badly written. I just suffered some sort of disconnect 200 pages in and never recovered. I like the way Meyer expanded on the world building of Wonderland and, as I indicated above, this story should have been extremely my jam, but I would actually have to be dead in order to care less about these characters. I think it’s at least in part because Meyer built the story around a doomed romance, so the romance was driving most of the plot, and I often get bored in such cases. (I’m just not much of a romantic.) It also didn’t help that the plot was basically a fancy Wonderland version of the good old “aristocrat girl meets common boy and is torn between desire and duty” cliché. And I’m really not a fan of how it played out in the end. I had one thought repeating in my head while reading the final chapters:

 

This is some Orpheus and Eurydice level bullcrap.

(show spoiler)

Reading progress update: I've read 214 out of 464 pages.

Heartless - Marissa Meyer

Well, I finally made it past page 210. I now know exactly where the elusive Jabberwock is hiding, and I’m probably going to spend the rest of the book furious at Her Future Royalness for being too stupid and/or distracted to put it together.

 

(RIP Grumpy Cat, my darling Patronus.)

Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 464 pages.

Heartless - Marissa Meyer

I was thrilled when I saw this at the library because I’ve wanted to read it for ages. Everything was going along swimmingly until I got to the introduction of a baking contest into the plot, and now all my interest in this book seems to have gone on vacation without giving notice. We’ve gone from Jabberwocky eating people to shopping for the perfect pumpkin, and I have some sort of reader whiplash. Maybe it’s because I know that the future Queen of Hearts will never get to open her bakery and marry for love, but I could not care less about this baking contest and the doomed romance and I’d like to get back to the Jabberwocky eating people stuff. Is it the book, or am I just not in the right mood? I thought I was, and yet I’ve been stuck on page 210 for days and I don’t know whether to give up or soldier on.

 

 

Earthly Delights

Earthly Delights  - Kerry Greenwood

This was a bit of a weird reading experience for me. I liked the characters and the mysteries and the descriptions of the food and the goings-on in Corinna’s bakery, and yet I kind of hated the writing style. It’s in first person with occasional stream-of-consciousness-esque shifting verb tenses which drove me up the wall, and the solution to one of the mysteries is kept back until the very end even though the reader is in Corinna’s head and should have seen her figure it out. Quite a few things Corinna does are kept from the reader until Corinna explains the solution to other characters, and it was so jarring that I was flipping back through pages to see if I’d accidentally skipped some before I realized it was either a cheap trick or lazy writing. Withholding info from the reader like that just doesn’t really work in a first person narrative. So I was annoyed by the writing style and the first person and Corinna’s inexplicably knowing things the reader doesn’t get to see her discover or work out on her own, but I still had a hard time putting it down and will probably read the next book if I can find it at the library.

 

TL;DR: I’m entertained and annoyed and seriously craving fresh bread.

Murder on the Ballarat Train

Murder On The Ballarat Train  - Kerry Greenwood

My husband has family in Ballarat and I have been there several times. I thought it would be pretty cool to read Greenwood’s 1920’s version of the city, so imagine my mild chagrin when not a single piece of the action took place there. It’s not the book’s fault; I played myself. “The Ballarat Train” being in the title is no guarantee the train ever makes it to Ballarat. Oh well. The next book in the series is called Death at Victoria Dock. In an effort to better manage my expectations, I shall make no assumptions about any of the book taking place dockside.

 

Though I was robbed of descriptions of 1920’s Ballarat, I enjoyed the murder mystery and the side mystery and the side-side mystery, and the different ways they all connected. I think Greenwood did a much better job this time around blending the darker elements of the story with the lighter, cheekier elements. Even though the story dealt with human trafficking, rape, and murder, those swerves into Darkville weren’t nearly so jarring. Either the writing is improving or I’m acclimating to Greenwood’s style.

 

Speaking of the writing . . .

 

One of the things I love about this series is that Phryne unabashedly goes through a series of flavor-of-the-month lovers. She’s not here for long term relationships, but she’s sure as hell here for great sex. Move over, Bond Girls. Here come the Fisher Boys! Or the “pets,” as Phryne’s household staff call them. This book’s pet seems like a nice enough chap, though at first he feared Phryne was a tease who would string him along and leave him with blue balls. And then during the ensuing sex scene appears a paragraph which, if I didn’t know better, I would swear was written by a man in a work of “serious literature”:

As the lips closed, Phryne gave a soft cry, and Lindsay was inside her, the strong but liquid, blood-heat tissue and muscle clutching and sucking, and Lindsay realized that she did not mean to cheat him.

I’m not turned on so much as I’m wondering if Phryne’s been possessed by some sort of alien vagina monster.

Currently reading

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss