Darth Pedant

The Pedant formerly known as Pony.

Stars Across the Ocean

Stars Across the Ocean - Kimberley Freeman

This is an entertaining historical novel that hits all the right tropes for me. Agnes Resolute is your typical Victorian pseudo-feminist protagonist. She’s a plucky orphan searching for her long-lost mother, and no matter how rough and sexist the Victorian world is, nothing is going to keep her down. Much adventure (and some romance) ensues. Huzzah!

 

There wasn’t anything I didn’t like . . . except for the framing device of a present-day woman coming home to take care of her ailing mother and finding a letter written by Agnes’s long-lost mother. Even though the book starts in the present-day woman’s point of view, I never connected with her and I found her chapters to be jarring interruptions. I ended up skimming them. Honestly, I skimmed the letter as well. It’s a bog standard tragic romance, and it wasn’t nearly as interesting as Agnes’s adventures.

 

In a nutshell: I quite liked Stars Across the Ocean, but I would have liked it even more if Freeman hadn’t tried to pull a Kate Morton and interest me in multiple timelines.

Star Wars: Spark of the Resistance

Spark of the Resistance - Justina Ireland

This is probably the most middle grade of all the MG Star Wars novels I’ve read to date. It’s cute, it’s fun, all the blasters are set to stun (hey, that rhymed!), but the teeth of the larger, more deadly Minfarian fauna are most definitely NOT set to stun, so there’s still a respectable body count. (RIP, dozens of nameless Stormtoopers.)

 

It was fun to see Rey and Poe butting heads a bit, and I’m always up for more porg content. Also, this book has about 9000% more Rose Tico than The Rise of Skywalker (the movie, not the book, which isn’t out at the time of this review), which I consider a huge benefit. Since the movies are consistently dropping the ball with their most interesting female characters, I appreciate that there are books like this to help pick up the slack.

 

I feel only slightly let down that the author promising murder bunnies in some of her book promo didn’t net any actual murders committed by bunnies, but this is a middle grade novel and I have to keep things in perspective. So what Disney needs to do is let Ireland write a more adult SW novel so she can REALLY deliver on the murder bunnies. That’s my takeaway. ;)

Hogfather

Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett

Near perfection. Minus one star for trying to kill me. (Not really.)

 

Happy Hogswatch, everyone!

 

Reading progress update: I've read 368 out of 445 pages.

Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett

‘What was a corpse doing in his wardrobe? And no one is to say “Not a lot,” or anythin’ tasteless like that.’

Fun fact: In my copy, ‘What was a corpse doing in his wardrobe?’ is at the bottom of page 367. The next sentence is at the top of page 368. Hand on my heart, after reading the first sentence and before turning the page, I said out loud, “Not much!” And then I read the next line and laughed myself into an asthma attack.

Reading progress update: I've read 226 out of 445 pages.

Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett

+++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++

Same, Hex. Same.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 143 out of 445 pages.

Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett

The mother took a deep breath.

 

‘You can’t give her that!’ she screamed. ‘It’s not safe!’

 

IT’S A SWORD, said the Hogfather. THEY’RE NOT MEANT TO BE SAFE.

 

‘She’s a child!’ shouted Crumley.

 

IT’S EDUCATIONAL.

 

‘What if she cuts herself?’

 

THAT WILL BE AN IMPORTANT LESSON.

Honestly, you're never too young to learn which parts of a sword are the dangerous bits. Also, this is how I picture little Doreen right now (just pretend that cotton candy cone is a sword):

 

Reading progress update: I've read 84 out of 445 pages.

Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett

Mind you, the stuff for the girls was just as depressing. It seemed to be nearly all horses. Most of them were grinning. Horses, Death felt, shouldn’t grin. Any horse that was grinning was planning something.

Welp, my childhood just got a lot more sinister in retrospect. I will never be able to look at my old My Little Pony collection the same way again. XD

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 445 pages.

Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett

Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

 

She’d become a governess. It was one of the few jobs a known lady could do. And she’d taken to it well. She’d sworn that if she did indeed ever find herself dancing on rooftops with chimney sweeps she’d beat herself to death with her own umbrella.

As one of the few people on the planet who hates the Mary Poppins movie, I can’t begin to express how much I love Susan right now.

Reading progress update: I've read 11 out of 445 pages.

Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett

Something began when the Guild of Assassins enrolled Mister Teatime, who saw things differently from other people, and one of the ways that he saw things differently from other people was in seeing other people as things (later, Lord Downey of the Guild said, ‘We took pity on him because he’d lost both parents at an early age. I think that, on reflection, we should have wondered a bit more about that.’)

 

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock - Joan Lindsay

Once upon a time, this classic mystery about the disappearance of some schoolgirls and one of their teachers in 1900s Australia had a final chapter that explained the disappearances. Lindsay’s publisher told her to cut it because it ruined the novel’s mystique. And cutting the last chapter turned out to be a stroke of genius. Thanks in part to Lindsay’s enigmatic foreword in which she tells readers to decide for themselves whether the events in the book are fact or fiction, people absolutely obsessed over the mystery. They scoured old newspapers for reports of missing girls and pestered Lindsay for answers to the point where interviewers were asked to avoid the question. She eventually gave the final chapter to her agent with her permission to have it published after her death. Which was a good move on her part. It probably saved her from a ghastly amount of next-level pestering once the answers were out there.

 

You see, Lindsay’s agent did publish the final chapter after her death, and I have to agree with the publisher who cut it. It 100% ruins the story in a serious “I know it was the sixties, but what was this woman smoking?” kind of way. So yay for the publisher. Pat on the back.

 

On the other hand, not all of the clues that tied in with that what-was-she-smoking ending were edited out, making it obvious that the real ending was cut. The book didn’t feel open-ended so much as it felt unfinished. So once again I find myself finishing a classic and finding it an okay book while being much more fascinated and satisfied by the story behind the story.

Not Dead Yet (Probably)

For the last month I've been alternating between super sick and super busy, so I haven't been around much. The good news is I'm not dead yet (probably). The bad news is I have hardly any time to read and post reviews and my Festive Task plans are pretty much out the window. But I'm not giving up on the Hogfather buddy read. I've been looking forward to that since this time last year and I've finally got a copy in my possession.

 

 

And while I'm here with a picture of one of my double-stacked book cubes, I'm going to use it to complete a task and pretend I meant to do it all along. So behold! As per Door 4: Guy Fawkes Night Task 4, this is how I "order" my books:

 

Books I've meant to read for ages stacked in front of books I've meant to read for longer ages and mixed in with books I've bought recently and books I've already read. Oh, and plushies and knick-knacks stuffed in every available cranny, partly because I never grew up and partly because I'm hoping they'll cushion the blow should a bookcase ever fall on my head.

 

Task completed. Woo! Feels good. XD

24 Festive Tasks, Door 2: Japanese Culture Day, Tasks 2, 4, and Book

 

Task 2: Try a flavor of Kit Kat other than chocolate and report back if you liked it.

 

Whoever decides what flavors of KitKat the stores carry in my little town currently has a definite thing for white chocolate and mint. I don't like white chocolate and I'm allergic to mint, so my options were sadly limited. I tried the Cookie Dough Chunky KitKat. I didn't hate it, and eaten all together it did taste vaguely like there's cookie dough in it, but I ate a piece of the "dough" by itself and I have to say, whoever came up with that recipe is eating some weird-ass cookies.

 

Task 4: If you like Japanese food, treat yourself to a favorite dish.

 

Sushi and sashimi are some of my favorite Japanese foods. The closest I can get are the "sushi" rolls at one of the local fish & chip shops. They're pretty good, considering. I treated myself to a crispy calamari roll last week, and now I'm craving another one.

 

Book: Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.

 

I read Scrapped Princess Volume 1. (The review's for all three volumes, but if I can use the other two volumes for other tasks I will absolutely do that.)

 

 

Pictured: My yummy lunch, a questionable KitKat, a nostalgic graphic novel, and one of my Pokemon plushies because I felt like it. And also because I love how judgmental it looks. Judgy Ninetails is judging you. Judgy Ninetails is judging us all.

 

 

Scrapped Princess Volumes 1-3

Scrapped Princess, Volume 1 - Ichiro Sakaki Scrapped Princess - Ichiro Sakaki Scrapped Princess Volume 3 - Go Yabuki, Ichiro Sakaki

I never read the Scrapped Princess light novel series, but I did like the anime, and this three-volume manga brought back all the warm, fuzzy feelings I had for it. The stories weren’t taken from the anime (that I can remember – it’s been fifteen years or more since I saw it), and it was nice to see some new-to-me adventures with Shannon, Raquel, and Pacifica. My main complaint is that the art in the action panels is a little hard to interpret, but I often have this problem with black-and-white illustrations of action scenes, so this could be entirely a me thing.

Warrior of the Altaii

Warrior of the Altaii - Robert    Jordan

Well. I don’t know what I was expecting. It’s a 1970s fantasy novel written by a man whose major series I gave up on eight books in because I got tired of his characters. I guess I just had to see if Jordan was really capable of writing a complete novel that clocks in at a measly 352 pages. (Spoiler: He was.)

 

It was mildly entertaining, but the main points of interest for me were the bits and pieces I recognized that would later reappear, far more developed and polished, in Wheel of Time. Here we can clearly see the seeds that would later grow into the Aes Sedai and their Warders, the Aiel and their Wise Ones, and so on. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book was more fun for me as a WoT Easter Egg hunt than as an actual fantasy novel. As fantasy novels go, I thought it was pretty average.

 

I’m sticking my notes here under a spoiler tag. They’re not terribly spoilery (the last one is the only spoiler, really), and I didn’t get very far before I got bored documenting every time something ripped me out of the story. But if you want to know why it took me ten days to get through this book, these notes will give you a good indication.

 

 

Notes:

 

The MC’s name is Wulfgar and it is super distracting. I know the name’s been around since before it showed up in Beowulf, but I associate it with R.A. Salvatore’s barbarian character from the Drizzt books. It is so jarring to see it here, applied to a similarly hyper-idealized barbarian. At least this Wulfgar doesn’t wield a hammer.

 

Above, Loewin chased across the sky, driven there in its battle with Ban and Wilaf, with t’Fie and Mondra. – That’s on the very first page, offered without explanation, and it was a while before I realized those are all probably the names of moons. Ugh. Could I get some context, please?

 

Jordan keeps throwing around made-up words without explaining them, as if I’ve got an illustrated guide to the world this book is set in. It’s super annoying. What’s a gromet? What’s a fanghorn look like? What are Runners and why’d they kill a bunch of barbarian dudes and leave nothing but bones? Who the hell knows?

 

So what I’m getting from this so far is that Jordan being crap at writing women was a problem from the outset.

 

This is definitely a ’70s fantasy novel. Magic is for the wimmins, and for some reason the wimmins have to get naked to cast spells?

 

I advanced on him singing my death song. My swords sang the song in the air. – The style is doing my head in a little bit. I’m suddenly super grateful Wheel of Time wasn’t in first person.

 

Her breasts were firm, upstanding globes. Oh, Robert.

 

There’s a whole lot of people being stripped/getting naked in here. Need to do magic? Get naked! Have you been taken prisoner? Get stripped! Need to rape the barbarian guy you’re trying to tame as your slave? He’s already been stripped (see “Have you been taken prisoner?”) so go ahead and get naked! Helloooo, ’70s fantasy novel!

(show spoiler)

 

24 Festive Tasks, Door 3 - Task 1: Pick Your Ponies Results

 

Thanks to all who participated in Task 1: Pick Your Ponies. The race is over, results are in, and points have been won! Please be sure to record your task participation and any bonus points in the Task Reporting Form which can be found on any official Holiday post, such as the main Door 3 post which you can find here.

 

Now, on to the results!

 

"Aaaaaaand they're off!"

 

After a tense photo finish, a protest filed by the race Stewards (not the jockeys), and a dramatic shuffle on the podium (assuming horse racing does podiums, IDK), the standings are as follows:

 

1st: Vow And Declare
2nd: Prince of Arran
3rd: Il Paradiso

 

Last: Rostropovich

 

The following BookLikers have scored a point for picking a winner:

 

Mrs. Claus' Tea House: Vow And Declare

Portable Magic: Prince of Arran

Moonlight Murder: Prince of Arran

Nighttime Reading Center: Il Paradiso

 

Congratulations!

 

 

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3)

Record of a Spaceborn Few - Becky Chambers

If you’re looking for info on this book’s plot, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place, as it’s unlikely I’ll be able to do much more than gush and sqee incoherently. You see, in my bookish universe, Becky Chambers is the Empress of Warm Fuzzy Blanket Sci-Fi. I love her writing so much that I have trouble articulating my feelings for her books. Even though she’s writing about spaceships, aliens, sentient AIs, and spacefaring people, the sci-fi elements never distract me from the story. It’s the personal journeys of the characters that take center stage, and I’m never ready for the books to end. They really are warm fuzzy sci-fi blankets straight from the dryer. Who doesn’t want to wrap themselves in that?

 

Maybe Chambers’ version of humanity’s future is too idealized (which feels funny to say considering in the Wayfarers universe humanity had to flee Earth after thoroughly trashing the planet and beg handouts from more technologically advanced species to survive), but in the flaming dumpster fire that is present-day Earth, I really appreciate some idealistic optimism. I appreciate it a lot.