Darth Pedant

The Pedant formerly known as Pony.

The Ice Twins

The Ice Twins - S.K. Tremayne

This might be a case of “It’s not you, book, it’s me,” but I found this to be an insufficiently creepy psychological thriller. The story is told from two perspectives, alternating from first person present tense to third person past tense (ugh, why do I keep doing this to myself?), and my enjoyment and immersion in the story were seriously hampered by the fact that I didn’t believe a word Sarah, the main POV character, said. I thought she was pretty terrible and all my sympathy was with her husband and her poor (possibly haunted) child. Since I didn’t find Sarah to be an effective unreliable narrator, all I had left to entertain me was the possible supernatural element, and there just wasn’t enough of that to suit me.

 

I give this one an “Eh,” which on my very scientific scale is better than a “Meh,” but only just.

 

(Read for Halloween Bingo Psych square)

 

Halloween Bingo: Update the Second

 

Work has been slightly less brutal since my previous update and I've actually gotten what I consider a very respectable amount of reading done. I haven't got much of a strategy to my gameplay beyond "read library books before they're due" and "oh, this is shiny, I'll read this next" but I'm sure everything will work out in the end.

 

In the meantime, all you need is porg.

 

The Testaments (The Handmaid's Tale #2)

The Testaments - Margaret Atwood

Help! I got sucked in by the hype and forgot how much The Handmaid’s Tale depressed me and I bought The Testaments in hardcover!

 

Just kidding! Sort of. While that is what I said to myself when I got home from the book store and a little buyer’s remorse reared its whiny head, in the end I don’t regret my impulse buy. The Handmaid’s Tale did depress me and I came away from that reading experience in a pretty dark funk, but this book felt like an almost entirely different creature.

 

Instead of a thoughtful, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking account of a Handmaid’s life in Gilead, this book is a relatively fast-paced account of how the fall of Gilead was orchestrated, with some insights into how the Aunts came to be, what it’s like to be a girl growing up in Gilead, and how it all looked from the outside. While that made it more entertaining to me, I think it also made it less effective than Offred’s tale. It’s a hell of a lot less subtle, too. Offred gave us time to dwell on the horror of her situation. In contrast, the three narrators of The Testaments rush us through to the next bit of testimony before we really have time to reflect on the last bit. Offred’s despairing “This is my life now” has far more devastating impact than the Gilead girl’s more complacent “This has always been my life.” Not that I’m complaining, since this is actually what made the book more palatable to me. But I do think it’s an interesting comparison.

 

Also, on a side note, I haven’t seen any of the Hulu series and I felt like my ignorance of the show left some gaps in my knowledge that the book assumed had been filled. I’m not saying watching the show is strictly necessary, but I’m pretty sure if I had watched it I would have known exactly who Baby Nicole is and why she’s a big deal, and I wouldn’t be wondering what happened after Offred got in that van, and I wouldn’t be clueless as to why Fred and Serena Joy dropped off the face of the planet.

 

(Read for Halloween Bingo Dystopian Hellscape square)

 

FYI

LibraryThing's 2019 Pirate Treasure Hunt is live. Click here for your yearly dose of sweet, sweet bookish piratey riddles.

 

The High Window (Philip Marlowe #3)

The High Window - Raymond Chandler

Maybe I shouldn’t have started with the third book in the series. Maybe Raymond Chandler just isn’t my cuppa. Maybe I should stick to old black-and-white films for my noir fixes. Maybe I’ll just leave you with this quote from Chapter 4 that pretty accurately describes my reading experience:

My face was stiff with thoughts, or with something that made my face stiff.

 

(Read for Halloween Bingo Classic Noir square)

 

The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation - Erika Swyler

Yay for the library catalog turning up a title I’d never heard of while I was searching for The Night Circus. The Book of Speculation utilizes a variation on what I call the Kate Morton Formula (yes, I know she didn’t pioneer it, but whatever). A present-day individual comes into possession of a piece of the past and commences unraveling a family mystery, the past story and present story alternating in the book. In this case, the mystery is why all the women in Simon Watson’s family have a tendency to drown themselves. Oh, and the women are all circus performers. Swimmers and divers who can hold their breath for unbelievable lengths of time. Mermaids. Drowning mermaids. Honestly, if the book description had just been “Drowning mermaids” I still would have been sold.

 

The present chapters are told in first person present tense (ugh, why?), and the past in third person past tense. I’m never going to love present tense, but it wasn’t too obnoxious. Aside from that, I enjoyed it. The characters are memorable and the supernatural elements add a lovely flavor. I’m pretty pleased overall with this random library find.

 

(Read for Halloween Bingo Creepy Carnivals square)

 

Halloween Bingo: Update the First

 

I'm off to a bit of a slow start this year, and once again I have no strategy. But I have managed to read one whole book for a square that hasn't been called yet. I'm calling it progress! Woooo!

 

And also, THE PORGS ARE BACK IN TOWN!!!!!

 

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2)

The Silkworm  - Robert Galbraith

I liked this book more than its predecessor, due in large part to the setting of the mystery. Messy publishing drama of the fictional variety is extremely my jam. It’s right up there with cheesy disaster flicks. Only more believable. I worked for a small press for a short time, and the drama that went on there was sometimes intense, sometimes trivial and petty, and always plentiful. It was entirely believable to me that half of the members of a small literary community could be suspects in the gruesome murder of an obnoxious author, and that made it that much easier to get sucked into the mystery.

 

The other thing that increased my enjoyment was Robin coming out of her shell a little more, standing up to both Strike and her fiancé and coming into her own as a fledgling detective. She’s hands down my favorite character.

 

Strike I liked a bit less this time around. He goes on an unapologetic people-using spree, and I just had no sympathy for him when things didn’t go his way. I’m hoping his behavior is part of a larger character arc and that his acting like a self-centered tit comes back to bite him in the ass sooner or later. Preferably sooner.

 

I did raise my eyebrow at the depiction of self-published authors. The sneering disdain was almost palpable. On the one hand, it makes me wonder what Rowling’s own attitude toward self-publishers is. And on the other hand, I have seen the real-life likes of the fictional Katheryn Kent in action on the internet, right down to their accurately depicted low-traffic, typo-ridden blogs.

 

I know this is a bit disjointed and rambly, but I’m actually doing pretty well for someone with a work-fried brain who can’t remember if she ate breakfast this morning. I mean, some of these sentences are actually coherent! Score! Anywho, the TL;DR version is: I liked it more than book one and I’m looking forward to book three.

 

(Read for Halloween Bingo 2019 Film at 11 square)

 

Reading progress update: I've read 52 out of 464 pages.

The Silkworm  - Robert Galbraith

I'm nowhere near as organized for Halloween Bingo this year, and work might prevent me from repeating my adult-responsibility-shirking blackout performance of last year, but I'm still gonna play, gosh darn it! This book has been in my physical TBR so long that it references William and Kate's engagement as a current event. :o

 

I'm using it for the Film at 11 square.

 

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan

Contemporary romance isn’t really my cuppa, but this was enjoyable. I didn’t have as much trouble keeping track of all the characters as I feared I would (I admit, I’m daunted any time there’s a family tree at the start of a book), and yet I felt like I could have done without some of the family subplots. Actually, Astrid’s subplot could have been given its own book and I would have happily read it as its own story. As part of Rachel and Nick’s story, it just added to the clutter. I am undecided on whether I want to read the rest of the series or just imagine happily ever afters for the characters I cared about. We’ll see, I guess.

Daisy Jones & The Six

Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid

I sincerely hope that this book is to future generations what The Princess Bride was to me, and by that I mean I hope people search as long and fruitlessly for the albums of fictional bands as I did for the unabridged works of S. Morgenstern.

SPOILER ALERT!

Inheritance (Inheritance Cycle #4)

Inheritance: Book Four (The Inheritance cycle) - Christopher Paolini

I have climbed the Purple Prose Mountains. There were many stumbles along the way, and the path was often obscured by wordy brambles. Bruised and bloodied, I persevered and emerged at last onto the Plains of Youdidthistoyourself by the banks of the Crymea River.

 

Ye gods, I’m exhausted.

 

The rating reflects my enjoyment of the book, which reached a series low directly proportionate to the increase in filler. And there is So. Much. Filler. One thing I didn’t actually hate was the ending. I know lots of readers were pissed off by it, and I find that hilarious since the way things were going to go was literally laid out in book one. Personally, I was pleased that Paolini didn’t give in to his copying-David-Eddings instincts and end with as many characters as possible pairing up and getting married.

 

He did give in to some of his baser instincts, though, like when he had Angela knitting a hat that says in part “Raxacori—” on it. Raxacoricofallapatorius. Because why not rip me out of the story again with another Doctor Who reference. (Actually, Angela would almost make sense as a Time Lady, but then Paolini would owe royalties to whoever owns that copyright too.)

 

I’m glad I’ve ticked this series off my 2019 to-do list, but I will be forever pissed off by the pointless undermining of character growth. And the inconsistent dragon anatomy. And the lifting from other books/movies. And the pop culture references pulling me out of the story (such as it was). And by the series continually expecting me to care what happens to Roran, Raging Asshole and Alleged Military Genius.

 

Whatever. I’ll shed one more figurative tear for the way publishing celebrates mediocrity and move on with my life. At long last.

 

 

Progress Updates:

 

Page 42

 

Page 103

 

Page 246

 

Page 370

 

Page 370 redux

 

Page 568

 

Page 719

 

Page 849

 

Reading progress update: I've read 849 out of 880 pages.

Inheritance: Book Four (The Inheritance cycle) - Christopher Paolini

I am DONE. This book took 130 pages to wind down after the climax. Unless I missed it after I started skimming, there was never any pay-off for Eragon’s 360 on meat-eating. I will never not be annoyed by that meaningless reversal.

 

Say it again, Why Bear.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Reading progress update: I've read 719 out of 880 pages.

Inheritance: Book Four (The Inheritance cycle) - Christopher Paolini

OKAY. Okay. Okay.

 

I’ve already said more than once that Paolini lifted a bunch of stuff from David Eddings’s books, including the basics of his magic system. Early on, I mentioned how Eragon was reminding me more of Garion than Luke these days.

 

WELL. Well. Well.

 

In Magician’s Gambit, book 3 of the Belgariad, the villain of the book accidentally snuffs himself in the climax by trying to will something out of existence.

 

NOW GUESS HOW GALBATORIX JUST DIED. GO ON. GUESS.

 

 

I know you can’t copyright ideas, only the expression of them, but by all that’s holy, the Eddings estate should be getting royalties for this series.

SPOILER ALERT!

Reading progress update: I've read 568 out of 880 pages.

Inheritance: Book Four (The Inheritance cycle) - Christopher Paolini

Eldunarí are like big crystal balls that house the souls of dragons whose bodies have died. The Big Bad has enslaved hundreds of them and allegedly destroyed the rest, making him practically unbeatable and the most powerful magician ever. But Eragon got a sort of prophecy early on regarding something called the Vault of Souls, and every time he asks about it the conversation goes much like this (paraphrased) one did on page 431:

 

Eragon: Could there be Eldunarí in the Vault of Souls?

 

Glaedr: Nope. Nuh-uh. No way. Not a chance. Don’t know what’s there, but it’s definitely not Eldunarí.

 

(About 130-ish pages later)

 

Heaps of Eldunarí: Psych! This Vault of Souls is actually full of souls! We totally had you going there! Right? Right? Oh, by the way, we’re responsible for every inexplicable turn of good fortune you have experienced during this whole series, and also here’s a portable pocket dimension to carry us all in so we can help you kill the villain! Wheeeee!

 

This plot “twist” was at least partially earned with set-up going all the way back to book one, so it’s not quite the biggest deus to ever have ex machina’d, but it’s pretty damn close. And great googly moogly, it is so clumsily done.

Reading progress update: I've read 370 out of 880 pages redux.

Inheritance: Book Four (The Inheritance cycle) - Christopher Paolini

Picking up where I left off yesterday, and less than two paragraphs later I run into this description:

the scaly fingers of Thorn’s paw

 The SCALY FINGERS of Thorn’s PAW. Because SCREW ANATOMY, I guess.

 

 

My dear fellow book lovers, I have, as the Aussies say, cracked it.

 

[bleep!] you, book. I’m skimming the rest.