So, these books are pretty much the silliest things ever.
They’re satire, sure, but the satire is so silly, it’s lost most of its bite. And not that I’m complaining, mind you, because I laugh my ass off when I’m reading them. Every one of these books has the same basic structure: the Pirate Captain gets an idea or has a problem, the crew resists due to common sense, they run into one or two famous historical figures, have verrrry deeply silly adventures, and then everything is reset at the end. The pirates don’t have real names (except for Jennifer, the lady pirate who used to be a Victorian gentlewoman), but are instead called things like ‘the pirate with a scarf’, ‘the albino pirate,’ and ‘the pirate who liked kittens and sunsets.’ There are anachronisms EVERYWHERE. All the pirates are completely neutered. The worst thing any of them do in this outing is trick Napoleon into pretending he’s having a dream where he meets famous historical generals (and Napoleon remains entirely convinced it is in fact a dream).
Actually, it’s hard to convey just exactly how silly this book is, so I’m just going to give you some examples:
“The best thing about the seaside,” said the albino pirate, “is putting seaweed on your head and pretending you’re a lady.”
“That’s rubbish,” said the pirate with gout. “The best thing about the seaside is building sexy but intelligent looking mermaids out of sand.”
The rest of the pirates, spread out on the deck of the pirate boat for their afternoon nap, soon joined in.
“It’s the rock pools!”
“It’s the saucy postcards!”
“It’s the creeping sense of despair!”
“All the best people aren’t appreciated in their lifetimes,” Scurvy Jake continued. “Look at Baby Jesus — nobody took him seriously. They thought he was a tramp!”
“Listen, do you know what I’d be doing if I was still a Victorian lady instead of a pirate?” Jennifer persisted.
The pirates didn’t have a clue, but the pirate with long legs tried a guess. “Having a shower?”
“Well, I think it’s very exciting to have Mister Napoleon as a neighbour,” said the albino pirate. “I mean to say, he almost conquered the whole of Europe.”
“And I ate the whole of that mixed grill that time. Not ‘almost ate,’ you’ll notice. I finished the job,” said the Captain with a scowl, moodily buttering his Weetabix.
“It’s not the same on dry land,” muttered the pirate with a nut allergy. “Without the romance of the sea, pirating just seems like quite antisocial behaviour.”
And then of course, there’s the Pirate Captain and his impeccable logic:
“Baby kissing is a tried and tested way of getting votes, Captain.”
The Captain didn’t look convinced. “Thing is, number two, what’s the voting age nowadays?”
“It’s eighteen, sir.”
“Exactly!” The Pirate Captain waggled an informative finger. “So there’s not much point lavishing all this attention on babies when they can’t even vote for me, is there? I should be concentrating on the eighteen-year-olds. And you know which other bit of the electorate is overlooked? Women. So really it makes a lot more sense for me to spend the morning kissing eighteen-year-old women.”
Napoleon is pretty great, too. At one point he writes this fake suicide letter in an effort to discredit the Pirate Captain, after a giant squid washes up on the beach:
To Whom It May Concern,
I cannot go on any longer. I know people think us giant squid are just unfathomable monsters of the deep, but we have feelings, too. And it is time the world learned the terrible truth. For several years now the Pirate Captain and I have been carrying on an illicit affair. Many times I have asked the Pirate Captain to do right by me, but he refuses, always telling me that he cannot be seen having a relationship with a giant squid because of the harm it would do to his public image. Also, sometimes he hits me. Anyhow, just yesterday I discovered I was pregnant with the Pirate Captain’s secret love child! I told the Pirate Captain about this and he flew into a rage and said he would never help support his half-squid/half-pirate progeny and then he hit me some more. So now I am going to commit suicide by beaching myself.
Goodbye, cruel world
The Giant Squid
Really, that’s all I have to say about this book.
So, I finished this book over two months ago, and that means that this review is not going to be as, er, detailed as I had originally planned. It's also going to be much, much shorter, so either boo or cheer as appropriate (personally, I do enjoy a good long review, especially when the book in questions is contentious). And, oh boy, is City of Glass contentious.
City of Glass picks up where City of Ashes left off, with Clary and Jace in the throes of misery due to not being allowed to bone one another otherwise INCEST. All the men in her life also insist on trying to 'protect' her with their 'masculinity.' Everybody ends up in the Shadowhunter city Alicante (in the magical, mythical country of Idris), even poor vampire Simon. Forgive me for my incomplete summary, but I do not remember why everybody was going to that stupid city. I'm sure there was a reason, but it's not important. What is important is that nobody wants Clary to go, so of course the first thing Clary does is break laws and rules, and go to the city. Anyway, once everybody finally makes it to the city, Valentine breaks the city's wards (which should be impossible!) and warns all the Shadowhunters even though he doesn't want to kill them and waste their pure blood, he totally will if he has to, and it's totally not at all exactly like Voldemort and the Battle of Hogwarts. Nope, not at all. Then this guy named Sebastian shows up and a bunch of shit starts happening, and Clary and Jace are even mopier and lovestruck than usual, and they make out in her bed and also on a hill, even though they think they're brother and sister at the time, which is . . . I can't even . . . GAG. Then more stuff happens, and Sebastian is really Clary's brother! And Jace isn't! And Valentine dies! And Clary can do special things other Shadowhunters can't! And other stuff!
Damn. Lost opportunity here. I really should have written this review two months ago. My snark would have been epic and cleansing to my soul.
The next J.K. Rowling? Uh, nice try, Bloomsbury, but no. Extremely false. This isn't the worst book I've read, by far, but it is one of the most frustrating, mostly because Samantha Shannon is clearly very smart, so that makes it all the more aggravating that this turned out the way it did. I have lots of thoughts, as if you couldn't tell from all my status updates. Full review later.
It feels weird to give five stars to a something as short and sweet as this, because really, how does it compare to say, The Lord of the Rings or A Clockwork Orange (two books I have given five stars to)? The short answer is it doesn't and I'm overthinking things. This was exactly perfect for what it was: a lovely, funny, (and romantic!) well-written story told from Zuzana's perspective.
Laini Taylor's voice punches me in the neck with just how far above most YA authors published today she is in terms of talent and imagination. Everything about this short, fun story is 1000% better than 99% of the crap being published by other authors. For me, at least, even the better efforts from others in the genre(which I enjoy) seem amateur and bloodless when compared to even this silly 89 page novella.
Laini Taylor is a damn treasure, is what I'm saying. And you can quote me on that.
Well . . . that was certainly an experience. Parts of it I LOVED and parts of it were SO WEIRD I didn't even know what to do with myself. Full review later. And it's probably going to be a doozy.
This book totally held up on re-read, but I forgot that it wasn't just happy fun-times. Parts of it are really sad :( Also, small quibble with the audiobook. Although Wil Wheaton generally does an excellent job, his voice for Papa Fuzzy was really distracting. I pictured it in my head very differently. Again, very small quibble. Still loved this book. Would love to see it become a movie. People would eat this shit up.
Day 24: Name a book that you loved written from multiple perspectives or book that emphasized a particular group of characters or family. (Jazz)
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Well, I've already used A Game of Thrones, and that's like, the perfect example of this . . . so let's go with The Way of Kings. (Also, I already used A Casual Vacancy . . . dammit.)
Reading this book is an investment, that's for sure, but it's totally worth it. The payoff to the Mistborn trilogy was so well-earned, it makes me wonder just exactly what he's got in store for us after ten books, and each one double the size of the Mistborn books. It's going to be totally sick. (I am, apparently, flashing back to the 90s today.)
Day 23: Name a book that you enjoyed, but read through quickly without really thinking about it. (Ska)
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Scalzi's stand-alone sci-fi tends to perfectly fit this description. It's intelligent and well-written, but it is also intentionally accessible in a way that a lot of sci-fi isn't. Plus it's funny as hell (if you like Scalzi's sort of humor, which I do). I'm re-reading Fuzzy Nation right now, and it is so. much. fun. It's just my cheese, man.
(Note: Almost didn't include Redshirts, because you could get thinky and emotional about it if you wanted. Especially the ending. But I put it on anyway, because it's such a fast, fun read.)
Day 22: Name a book with a tortured hero/heroine. (Grunge)
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Going classic on this one. Hamlet is the quintessential tortured hero. Which reminds me, it's about time for a re-read.
Day 21: Name a book you've read that was dramatic or angst-ridden. (Emo)
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Got way behind on this challenge. Attempting to catch up now.
I don't tend to read books that are especially dramatic or angsty, and I'm not even sure this series counts. I do tend to think it counts, though, as what happens to Karou and Akiva is pretty damn dramatic, and in book two, both of them would qualify as "angsty". But you know, it's quality angst. Dreams of Gods & Monsters is much too far away.
I don't think it's the book's fault that I wasn't feeling it this time. I just wasn't in the mood for whimsy (and the beginnings of these books are all frustratingly similar). I know this because in between whimsical metaphors (which there were a lot of), parts were like OOMPH and punched me right in the neck. But it was due back to the library two days ago so it was either rush through or not at all. Guess which one I chose. Ah, well. If there's another, I'm sure I'll be back.
This is probably more like 3.5 stars because I was expecting more clues and detecting, and what I got was more character based drama and introspection, with a side order of body count and murder. Ms. Christie is very very good at making the characters in her mysteries into three-dimensional people, but Renusenb was a bit too naive for my tastes. This was still a very enjoyable read. The audiobook was great as well. Narrated by Emilia Fox, who you probably know from Merlin (or maybe you don't . . . does anyone actually watch that show?). Anyway, not the book's fault I had expectations, and still think it's super neat that she set a mystery in Ancient Egypt.
Day 20: Name a book you've read that has multiple genres or cross-genre appeal. (Fusion)
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This was a fun one! Also, really hard to pick, because a lot of my favorite books are ones that are hard to classify because they do cross so many different genres. (A lot of the time genre classifications just seem like a way for publishers to market books and can seriously get in the way of books finding audiences (paradoxically)).
Alif the Unseen is a book that very few people have read, which is a shame. It is delightful. It crosses so many genres it must have been a nightmare for publishers. It's a hodge podge of fairy-tale, mythology, religion, fantasy, coming of age story, and techo-thriller (the main character is a hacker on the run from the government). It's also got a smidgeon of political, class, and gender explorations. It's a bountiful chest of treasure, basically, and it's beautifully written to boot.
The Complete Maus was one of the best graphic novels I read last year, and the way it mixes history, biography, and the speculative nature of portraying NAZIs as cats, and Jews as mice, is kind of a wonder to behold.
The Rook is a super-fun book from debut Australian author Daniel O'Malley. It's a hybrid mystery/thriller that also has paranormal and urban fantasy elements mixed in, with just a smidge of governmental conspiracy. It's also one of the most well-done first person narrators I've ever seen.
Guards! Guards! is my favorite Terry Pratchett book (so far -- I've only read up to #15 in Discworld, so maybe I haven't even read my favorite yet). All of his books are cross-genre, mixing his own personal brand of humor and satire in with fantasy, and whatever thing he is currently aping. In this one it's police stories, with the bumbling Night's Watch, and it is gloriously wonderful.
I also wanted to include Steelheart because it's my most recent read of the cross-genre sort (excepting Outlander, which I haven't finished yet). It's really interesting to see the way Sanderson mixes the tropes of YA lit, superhero stories, and dystopias together into one. (Not to mention the caper thing . . . damn if I don't love a good caper.)
Re-bloggers note: So much this. This this this this this.
Thanksgiving has always, in America, been a small-d-democratic holiday. A day of rest that can be enjoyed by rich and poor alike. For decades upon decades, businesses have been closed on Thanksgiving because shopping is, frankly, not necessary.
My dad was an ER doctor during my growing-up years. Unlike commercial activity, trauma care is, in fact, necessary every second of every minute of every hour of every day of the year. And, as a result of that, although my family was certainly neither wealthy nor poor, I spent a lot of Thanksgivings without having a Thanksgiving. When I was young, this was because my father was the low-doc-on-the-totem-pole, and the more senior docs got the day off. When I was older, this was because my father remembered what it was like to have small children at home and to not be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with them, so, being a deeply generous and wonderful man, he chose to work that holiday so that the doctors with younger families could have it off. Because he is just that kind of a guy. And my family was proud of this, and we wore the badge of his service and his collegiality with pride - all of us. We were happy to delay our Thanksgivings (and even our Christmases) so that the families with small children and toddlers didn't have to delay theirs. Because no one had done it for us, we were committed to doing it for others.
Day 19: Name a book you've read that's either with a specific religion as a focus or something with a heavy moral/social issue in its backdrop.
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One of the best books I read this year. Wright put a ridiculous amount of work into this book, and the result is utterly fascinating (and horrifying).
Stupid question because voting is FUN!
I got roped into doing this "Let's Vote for the Best YA Books Ever" thing, people nominated the books and I split them up into brackets.
The first round of voting starts here, there are two posts so far pitting books head to head and there will be two more tomorrow.
Go vote! You know you want to.