Thursday, April 19, 2018

Five Precautions / Lack of Precautions at 5:00

  1. When daylight savings begins or ends, I dread changing the time on our analogue clocks.  Why?  It's the re-hanging.  I know there are hacks* for returning those timepieces to their nails, but guys, every time I just go ahead and do it...the nail vanishes into the drywall and the clock slides down the wall, unhung, and I think, "I'll get it next time, no point devises some clever device..." and then nail torments me a handful of times before I succeed.  I've thought "Next time I'm going to do this a better way" for a lot of clock changes.  (*even an anchored screw would help...though I could still miss a few times)
  2. A couple weeks ago, Haki began reversing down the drive-way.  We were on our way to athletics.  Ivy squealed in the back of the car.  I asked what was the matter.  I heard Ivy's window going down in answer.  "Spider!" She added, "There's a spider on my shoe."  Thunk.  She threw her whole shoe out the window.  Arachnophobe Esky: "Thatta girl!"   Me: Face-palm.  This is all Haki's doing.  Or genetics.
  3. Last week I made a quick supermarket run.  I almost always use self-check-outs.  (Think what you like.) I selected that I wanted cash out, knowing I was due to pay Esky's weekly chore coin and needed to top up my parking change pocket.  I unfurled my reusable bag, bagged my groceries, tapped my card in payment (again, think what you like), took my groceries...and left.  I realised hours later I had left before the cash spat out.  When I returned to the store's information desk, some honest human had turned the money in.  I named a few things I'd purchased (they'd reprinted receipt) and the cash was mine.  Haki did not believe my cash would still be there.  Go, human race.
  4. Mia and I built her a cardboard box car this week.  Before bed, she asked if I would park it by my bed and keep it safe.  I said it would be safe in our house.  She then suggested, "We should take the wheels off before we go to sleep so no one takes them." (Where did she learn this?) I laughed and said it would be safe.  When I checked on her later than night, I found the car nestled up, pressed against her bedside. Suffice to say, no one stole her rims that night.
  5. On paper, the street our house is on -- the street we use every day -- has been deemed illegal and unfit for use.  There's no signage or people turning up taping it off.  It seems like a bureaucratic battle over who pays for upkeep more than anything.  But my point?  We're outlaws.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

She takes my breath away
All the Crooked Saints, Maggie Stiefvater
Holy shazbot.  She's done it again, folks.  She's gone and written the strings of words you've got to read thrice over before you can keep on with the story because they're just that good.  And the strings keep coming, the whole book through!  I won't say much more except the only people I'd compare her to are Laini and Gaiman...and that I've added this to my favourites shelf.  What a magical reading experience for my librocubicultarist self.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Two SF books you'd think I'd love...but weren't a great fit after all

The Moon Dwellers, David Estes
I love this cover.  Between that, the title, and the incredible endorsement of being listed as a great read for fans of The Hunger Games*, I could not resist.  Sadly, once inside, I found a certain immaturity to the voice and clunkiness in the exposition -- there's a lot of redundant language, common phraseology, and telling over showing.  That said... there's some weird and awesome ideas too and I think for a younger YA reader, this could be a lot of fun.  It's not a good fit for me.  Huge props to Estes for his hard work.
*I've officially sampled all 15 of the recommendations from this list.  Most I've read the entire series, a few I've only read the first book and tapped out.

The Passage, Justin Cronin
I've given this two good goes now.  Chapter 1 is a gut punch of an opener.  In that first chapter alone there is adultery, abuse, swearing, neglect, prostitution and attempted rape (there isn't gratuitous detail, but it hurt my heart).  I appreciate that all of these are employed to render a character's origin story more fully, but nonetheless, the gut is punched!  Unlike Lost Boys -- a novel with a similar confronting opening -- this heavy content isn't brief or limited to the novel's inception.   Although Chapter 2 makes a huge departure in narrative (so that Chapter 1 seems more like a prologue than part of the main-story's chronology), the narrative thereafter continues with crude and confronting material.  Things I loved: how cinematic this reads, the premise and set-up, that it reminds me of Koontz (a lot) and Card playing Hitchcock, and that the story spans a long period of time.  But as the F-bombs came thick and fast, as crude characters vomitted crudeness to underscore their natures, and impassioned tangents slowed down the action...I realised this wasn't a good fit for me.  In all likelihood, I'll end up watching and loving the series adapted from this book...but this particular flavour of delivery didn't work for me.  Oh, my lament...for there's so much that did work for me.

Thankfully my TR list has ever been out of hand.  I'll recover.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The rest of the Starbound trilogy

I read the first of the Starbound trilogy last year.  I found the first half okay -- read: pretty contrived -- but in the second half it really came into its own.  That second half was memorable and special. 

So I finished the trilogy...
This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
This has strong dialogue and likable characters -- two things that help me want to read.  Be warned: the protags are not the same characters from Book 1 (like The Lunar Chronicles, this shifts focus to a new heroine...and couple, each installment.) There are a few overly convenient, formulaic points, as well as some glaring inconsistencies.  I chose to ignore both as I was in the mood for this kind of narrative.  I found the interspersed flashbacks served as interruptions more than bonus treats, sadly.  Like These Broken Stars, it gets to the meat of matters late.  But overall, I enjoyed reading this and wanted to read on.
Their Fractured Light, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Each of these books is different and has a story in its own right.  This is the most different, if you're looking for similarities; it's set on a world more like ours and less alien, with more a futuristic world-build as opposed to other.  Again, I liked the characters, though sometimes their ignorance was unbelievable.  Unlike Books 1 and 2, it is the second half that drags a little here, as the start has a great meet-cute and set-up.  I was surprised to find some disappointing cliches still made the final cut by Book 3 (e.g. tension could be cut with a knife and things were felt with every fibre of a character's being).  But the story holds a satisfaction comparable to Winter (published at a very similar time) -- in seeing a gang altogether as the couples of the preceding books paths intersect (though it feels less essential, than Winter).  I was also reminded of Resistance is Futile, Spinning Starlight, Speaker for the Dead and the Chaos Walking trilogy while reading this one.  Advisory stuff: there's sensuality here, but the ol' fade-out is employed (but yes, young adults having sex is referenced).

I think if you enjoyed The Selection and The Lunar Chronicles, you'd probably enjoy these, they're pretty heavy on the romance angle. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bardugo Tales

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic, Leigh Bardugo
This book is exquisite.  Sumptuous illustrations bloom through the stories in gorgeous, understated dual tones that allow the careful beauty of the forms within the compositions to speak loudest.  I am completely smitten with their style, and was captivated by the way they grew and culminated at each story's end. 

Add to this that Bardugo's wordsmithery is at its finest in these shorts, and you have the makings of a fine book indeed.   I cared so quickly for her characters, was engrossed from the opening paragraphs of each story and was swept away by the heady world-builds.  Each narrative is dark and haunting, resonating with the sort of substance I usually equate with century-old lore.  

As a delightful bonus, I venture these would read beautifully and coherently for a reader unacquainted with the Grisha world (although I myself have read all the Grisha novels...they're good). If you're already a fan of Bardugo, I don't see how you could be disappointed by this lavish little collection.

A treat, I suspect, for fans of Laini's Lips Touch.

Advisory notes:  The third tale is quite disturbing.  There is no swearing though, but some content that may cross over into shadows too dark for some readers.  Minor sensuality, including same-sex attraction. 

Review copy received from Hachette.
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