Friday, May 13, 2016

Five Negs at 5:00

  1. I had my first root canal this week.  If you've seen / messaged / called me since, I've probably already told you...because...I keep telling people about how I've had a root canal.  In good news: it wasn't as bad as I imagined it was going to be.  It was still super-un-fun.  It's like someone is pulling charged spaghetti noodles out of your gum and jaw (at about the equivalent strength of tonguing a 9-volt battery)...over and over...surprise...another!  So much flinching.  I did listen to Anne of Green Gables for three hours.  That was a plus.
  2. Someone crashed into our vehicle, Shadow, and then drove away.  Our bumper was hanging off.  I highly recommend you check what your excess is for your insurance on hit and runs -- just so your jaw doesn't dislocate if it happens to you.  It still amazes me that after more than a  decade of no claims  (zero ever) we still need to pay hundreds of dollars to repair something we didn't do to our vehicle.  I may have launched a medium-to-large scale investigation into the perp.  You know by me abbreviating it thus that it tipped more towards large on that scale. 
  3. Adding insult to injury, the panel beater was unable to do work on Shadow for weeks ("parts," ra ra ra).  For weeks I drove around with a scar suggesting I didn't know how to reverse.  Oh, my pride.  Then when they were ready to do the work, they lent us a four-wheel scooter they called a courtesy vehicle; *insult onslaught.*  I call it Puggle.  The thing cannot conquer High St in the rain.  Really.  The wheels just spin.  Other road users honked while I spun on the spot in Puggle, mentally cursing the Hit-and-Runner of weeks gone by.  It wasn't pretty.  Also:  I wish my vanity was above it, but alas...whenever I dismounted Puggle I wanted to shout, "Courtesy car!  I did not choose this."  I weighed up printing a set of signs for the windows.
  4. I have devoured everything I've ever read by Maggie Stiefvater.  I had been saving The Raven Cycle for this month so there'd be no delays in reading the fourth installment -- one of the benefits of joining the party late is not waiting for all courses to be served!  But ah!...even though I liked the first book okay, I'm finding the second a little bit of a drag.  It could be me.  I hope it is...that when I pick it up next it'll be magically easier to get stuck in; five notches more desirable.    
  5. Barbecue-flavoured Shapes are one of my favourite snack foods.  Well, they were.  Until they launched their "new and improved flavour" this week.  They ruined them, guys.  Yes, I let them know.  I did it nicely, but they had to know.  If enough people agree maybe they'll rethink this crazy decision.  Why did they mess with perfection?  Seriously!?  This is where I drop a link to their feedback page.  Feel free to join the cause.

Gaiman Fix

Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
I have something akin to reverence for Gaiman's writing style.  That said, I wouldn't say I enjoy reading his books alone for weeks on end, back to back, without some other texts in between.  His style is something I relish in measured doses, as it is peppered with long, tangential anecdotes (and anecdotes within anecdotes) and there's always a degree of darkness there -- neither of which I seek long-term immersion in. Anansi Boys comes together beautifully, satisfies a craving for some Gaiman well, and;
  • It starts pretty slow, but picks up about a quarter of the way in.  The pacing is affected for me by the anecdotes.  They are pretty delicious usually, but some of the parenthetical characterisations are on the longer side.
  • Close to midway, I thought: "This is okay, I hope it comes together in a supreme way that makes it better than okay."  Guys, it does.  A very supreme way.  I don't want to diminish its awesome, but I'll say: I kept thinking of ensemble movie climaxes as the the convoluted, delightful fable's coming together unfolded.
  • It has Gaiman's usual short wit-bits, as well as some very, very funny content.  There are so many quotable paragraphs!
  • Initially, the peripheral characters were my favourite.  I could have read the book just for glimpses of them (Rosie's mother!  Mrs Dunwiddy!  OH MY!).  But as time went on, other characters really grew on me.  Character change and my related change in response to them -- one of the things that most impressed me about this book.
  • It's told from multiple perspectives.  Including a villain's.  That always makes me squirm.  Because multiple characters lack a moral compass there are some narrative elements to match.  Specifically, some irritating injustice and brief shocking (and relatively graphic) violence.  Sometimes the narrative voice seems to blur between retellings so the elderly women read as one voice...but this was only truly muddy for one section.
  • A highlight: Gaiman writes an inner song for a character, and we gain access to the inner song.  Instead of it seeming trivial / weird / distracting, it matches the anecdotal style and paints such an amusing, strong picture of character.  I loved that.
Anansi Boys reads like an urban fantasy read-alike for The Hitchhiker's Guide...only better, as it achieves tension and momentum I find the latter lacking in. 

Thank you for recommending I get onto this one, Ryan.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Selection - revisited by the royal romance's heir

I enjoyed The Selection Series.  Oh how I know it's not for everyone.  It's heavy on the romance and light on the everything else.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Cass has come back to rewrite The Selection Process for the next generation in her recovering world.
The Heir, Kiera Cass
For me, this story was all about my interest in The Selected.  I wanted to know more about them and see how things played out for them.   Why?  Because the heir(ess) was unlikable for most of the book.  By the end, I was hopeful I could care about her...and still very concerned about the on the self-same day I tore into...
The Crown, Kiera Cass
...wherein the protag grew on lichen.  I cared about her in the second book!  There are still buggy stereotypes and these books are predominantly love-driven princess stories, I get it, but guys...I like those sometimes.  Highlight: the camaraderie between the elite.

I recommend only if you enjoyed The Selection series, Matched and/or The Jewel (I think it's quite a bit better than The Lone City series).

Monday, May 2, 2016

Three (and a Malapropism)

Whenever the girls observe certain unusual behaviours between characters in a film (and very occasionally amongst fellow human beings), they dip their chins and whisper, "They're fluting!"  Because they know, guys.  They know high giggles, flicked hair, batted eyes, puffed chests and/or cloaked-boasts constitute a behavioural pattern with a name.  They just don't get the name quite right...aaaaaaand...
I'm not going to correct this one just yet.  Sue me.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A blue-haired supernatural feisty heroine...that isn't Karou
Who's Afraid? Maria Lewis
Well.  This was a little surprise!  Paranormal Urban Fantasy.  Overall: a good time...that I'd sticker as R18.  It isn't that its thick with heavy's that it's dappled with enough of it that I wouldn't recommend this to younger YA.  I read it in a day's fairly fun.
  • Yeah, the heroine bears some resemblance to Daughter of Smoke and Bone darling, Karou.  But not quite as clever, witty or intriguing.  That said, her dialogue is above average.  I can't help but compare, and to other works as well; Who's Afraid? is like a grown-up version of Shiver (although I found the latter more compelling) and heavier spin-off of a Twilight.  But if it's werewolves you're after, I still think nothing has topped the Mercy Thompson series.
  • Despite all of these similarities (which aren't necessarily a bad thing, but it did mean it felt less fresh), I wanted to keep reading.  I still do (I plan to read the next book).  Book one didn't rock my world, but like many other titles I've given time in the past month, it answered my guilty pleasure craving nicely.  
  • I was crazy-invested in the love story's potential.
  • I didn't find it consistently hilarious, but it was solidly amusing with occasional laugh-out-loud moments.
  • New Zealand features (a little).  I wouldn't say it's either the star or setting of the story, but there's a visit and reasonable share of allusions.  I liked the kiwi expressions best.  I found it very hard to buy into werewolves going under the radar in New Zealand.  Yes, I realise I'm questioning plausibility in a story wherein humans morph into canines...but my nose-scrunch remains -- I think NZ was chosen for novelty rather than any reason that enriched the narrative.  Yes, we have a native people with their own mythical lore here...but wolves have never been a part of it, and certainly wouldn't help were-people go undetected, but rather would raise the alarm.  Areas of the world with wolves and wolf lore are better places for werewolves.  The end.
  • The aforementioned dappling of mature content includes quite a lot of swearing, hot sensuality descriptions, casual sex references, and a very unpleasant sexual attack quite early in the novel which the protag unacceptably downplays.  Although another character corrects her dismissal of what is happened, I don't think this is adequately resolved or painted for how severe it really was.
I am not crazy for this book.  I will not be telling everyone I know to read it.  But if you are an adult someone I know who wishes Shiver hadn't ended and you haven't snubbed Twilight (and the mature content in this doesn't sound like too much), this may scratch your itch.

Review copy from Hachette, thank you!
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