GnaslBooks is no longer GnaslBooks but thisGNinja and you can find my new site at:
I’ll see you at the new site
GnaslBooks is no longer GnaslBooks but thisGNinja and you can find my new site at:
I’ll see you at the new site
Week 21‘s book is the polar opposite of 20′s. Really. I went from one of the best books I’ve ever read to one of the worst. Of course, this means I got to have fun while still giddy from reading something brilliant. It only makes this book pale even more… there’s no image this week – I’m with my parents and it makes photographs harder to do. When I get home, I’ll insert photos to posts that have odd fonts or the likes.
[NO PICTURE YET]
Title: Forrådt – Nattens hus #2
By: P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Published by Tellerup, 2010
First published 2007
Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night. She’s come to terms with the vast powers the vampyre goddess, Nyx, has given her, and is getting a handle on being the new Leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, Zoey finally feels like she belongs–like she really fits in. She actually has a boyfriend…or two. Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey’s old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves. Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.
Rating on Goodreads: (didn’t like it)
First things first (unrelated to the book): I’m thinking about dividing my reviews differently – I’m going to look at plot, setting, and characters and together they’ll say how well the book and the writing works to me. I think this makes more sense than the old format (writing, characters, plot). So, let’s just have a stab at this. Literally. Let’s stab the book.
No, I’m kidding. I’d never stab a book. Regardless of how bad it is, regardless of the pain it inflicts on me as I continually bang my head on whatever object is nearby while reading (I’ve learned not to read next to sharp objects and fire, so that leaves just the walls). No, I’m not a fan of violating books and neither should you be. No, you shouldn’t burn Twilight or Marked or even this book. It’s a waste of fun. Read them. Read them and weep and laugh and write stupid reviews like this if you’re a bitch like me.
I sure as frick is a bitch like me and I feel like it’s with good reason. I mean, holy mahogany – I didn’t expect this to better than the first, hardly, but worse? How Casts? How do you do it? I mean, even a broken clock is right twice a day, but the Casts … they just aren’t. Even Stephenie Meyer can put together a sentence that works. Even she managed to create characters that even the haters enjoyed. Even Tommy Wiseau manages to get out of bed and make someone laugh. Even I manage to shake hands with a stranger while I’d rather huddle up in a corner with a bad book. So, how is it possible that this is even worse than the first?
This… this isn’t even funny. It’s depressing. Say I present to you a book about a character. She is well loved by everybody, but in secret she likes to drink blood and she is cheating on her boyfriend with two different guys. If you were presuming I’m presenting an anti-hero you’d be wrong. She’s the straight up hero. I’m supposed to sympathise with this piece of… bad character. I’m supposed to root for her. I’d rather root for Scarlett O’Hara and she’s supposed to be a bitch. I’d rather root for an eggplant in a cape and goggles… actually, Eggplant Man has merit as a superhero. Zoey Redbird has nothing. Friggin’ NOTHING.
Right, I’m getting ahead of myself here – I didn’t bash the world building too thoroughly for the first book, so let me do it this time around: it’s stupid. The only real thought the Casts have given the world building for this series is ‘it’s like the real world, but with vampires!’ Oh, I’m sorry – vampyres. The only good thing about reading the (still) awful Danish translation is the fact that I avoid looking at that.
Point is – there’s not really any kind of world building. What little there is, is confusing and inconsistent. The best writers and poets and so forth are vampyres in this world (*shudder* oh my god, can I just not use that word? It’s grating) and some people don’t like them and stuff because they… drink blood. Though, not really, they have blood banks and stuff so they don’t have to drink blood from humans and some religious nuts don’t like them and they have power over the four elements (whut?) and I’m sure there’s no consistency whatsoever in this universe. It’s all off-hand remarks about the world when they feel like it fits in: ‘so I ran oh, and by the way, vampyres run really, really fast so I ran very fast’ well thank you, but maybe you should’ve mentioned this before? Asspull much? Also, the religious people are needlessly offensive. Not all religious people are crazy and all OMG VAMPYRES ARE EVUL AND EVEWYFING IS BAD UNLESS IT’S SUMFIN’ TO DO WIF GOD. I’m not religious myself, but I feel insulted by the way religion is portrayed in this. It’s rude and unnecessary because it adds nothing to the story except more reasons for POOR ZOEY to angst a lot. Barf.
But pretty much the biggest bummer of all this hailstorm of suck is the fact that I cannot, even for a second, be allowed to forget how AMAYYYZING AND SPECHUL Zoey Redbird is. All she does is complain that she’s not normal – BOOHOO YOU SPECHUL LITTLE SNOWFLAKE – and her friends keep telling her how speschul she is and when her friends aren’t telling her how spechul she is, everyone else is. Except for the EVUL people – they don’t like her. Guess I’m evil. Fancy that.
Look, I don’t mind chosen ones. They can actually work – Harry Potter works, and there are lots of other examples (can’t think of any but shut up, there are lots), but they don’t, don’t, DON’T work when all the world revolves around them. Nothing in this book happens that doesn’t have something to do with Zoey. Nothing at all. Every single character revolves around her. Everything. EVERYONE. OHMYGOD, IT’S A CONSPIRACY. The Greek names… they’re in on it, I SWEEEEAR.
SPOILER TIME! DING DA DING DA DIIING.
Right, so, Zoey starts flirting with a teacher (bit squick, though, you know, I have had crushes on teachers… though, they never flirted with me, or touched me… right, so squick anyway) and has weird, bloody semi-sex with her ex-boyfriend (the bloody is LITERAL, not a swear word… SQUICK, gotta say I was pretty disturbed by that scene – making out while drinking the guy’s blood was… disgusting, thanks for that image, Casts) and when she admits to her boyfriend that she still has a crush on her ex-boyfriend, he doesn’t break up with her or just smack her around. Just a bit.. He makes out with her – ‘oh, we’ll figure this out my spechul snowflakey. I still wuv you’. BARF. Barf, barf, barf, barf, barf, barf. (Not saying guys should beat their girlfriends when they cheat on them – they should break up with the stupid little things and preserve their self respect – you’re worth more than that, guys).
Zoey Redbird isn’t though, the self-righteous…
… and when her best friend dies, everyone is absolutely sure to take care of POOR ZOEY WHO LOST HER BEST FRIEND. All her friends are there to comfort her, because obviously the girl was their friend too and they don’t need to mourn as much as POOR LITTLE SPECHUL ZOEY. You friggin’…
All in all, this book sucks. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. This is in so many ways the exact opposite of everything that makes a good book (read: the exact opposite of the Final Empire). Shallow characters whose only purpose is to praise the main character (or be super duper EVUL), a plot revolving entirely around the main character… and a main character who is completely unbearable. Couple that with an unbearable narrative. This character has the attention span of a 13-year old kid in a candy store with fifty flat screens showing fifty different cartoons. She comments on irrelevant things during ”action” scenes (in the widest sense possible) and wonders about stupid things while supposedly grieving her best friend.
I am totally over the Greek names thing, though… *smashes lamp* … well, now I am.
Week 20 and WHAT A BOOK. Expect me to be irrationally fond of this book and deny any flaws it may have. This is my precious. I can sincerely say this is one of the best books I have ever read. [Initiate fangirling in 3... 2.... 1... GO!]
Title: The Final Empire – Mistborn Book One
By: Brandon Sanderson
Published by Gollancz, 2009
First published 2006
For a thousand years the ash fell. For a thousand years, the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler reigned with absoulte power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Every attempted revolt has failed miserably.
Yet somehow hope survives. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one that depends of the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the courage of an unklikely heroïne, a Skaa street urchin, who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a mistborn.
What if the prophesied hero had failed to defeat the Dark Lord? The answer will be found in the Mistborn triology, a saga of surprises that begins here.
Rating on Goodreads: (it was amazing)
OH MY GOD.
This… just… gaaaah! This is so brilliant. So perfect, so astonishingly awesome. This is a darker version of Harry Potter. This is awesome if awesome had pages and a cover. This is, quite possibly, one of the best books I have ever read.
I mean that. Wow. Just WOW.
I first got to ‘know’ Brandon Sanderson through lectures on Youtube. There’s a series of lectures for writers on Youtube (and if you want to be a writer – particularly of fantasy – go look at them on Youtube) and because I don’t want to take advice from a writer I don’t like, I got a hold of Sanderson’s book and what do you know… it’s brilliant. Absolutely stunning.
Right, before I start gushing for seriousness, I’d like to point out how he says in his lectures that ‘it has to be awesome’ when he writes. Holy friggin’ hell does it show. But let me at least TRY to be coherent about this. I’m rambling.
I almost instantly liked the characters. Get through the first few chapters and you’re bound to fall in love already. Kelsier’s awesome, Vin is awesome – of course the rest of them are awesome. They are so likeable. Even Vin who, had Sanderson been less talented, could have easily turned out annoying and too-perfect, is likeable. She is probably the only character I have encountered so far, who is said to have trust issues who actually has trust issues. Often, writers say ‘oh, she’s been hurt so much, she has trust issues’ and then when the love interest comes along, she’s swooning and moaning and bye-bye trust issues! Not so here. Vin is also a more realistic female than I’ve seen written by a lot of women. She’s not strong because she’s all male – she has a female side and a softness and that’s just part of who she is. I’ve seen this quote by George R. R. Martin where he says he treats women like people and although he’s not bad at writing females – he’s not nearly as good as this. Sorry.
It’s not like any of Vin’s attributes are stated bluntly either – Sanderson knows what show don’t tell is and he uses it… why am I not married to this man? Oh, that’s right – he’s too AWESOME.
The world building is amazing as well, and the magic systems. It’s all so brilliantly put together. The Big Bad is an actual threat to the world and the world is a horrible place because of this man – it’s not just a man who’s bad because the writer says so. This guy is EVIL. (Notice I’m using All Caps again? Well, this time it’s Caps Lock of JOY – such a strange feeling). The world is so well built. I love allomancy and feruchemy and I love the city and the creatures and everything. My, why isn’t this book more popular? Why haven’t they made a movie (yet)? Sorry, too much gushing, perhaps. But dang, this is just so GOOD.
I mean, a book actually surprising me? Some of you may know that I’m rarely surprised (too much TvTropes will do this to you), but this managed to be surprising without asspulling. The plot was so well put together. It might seem like random events put together when you read it for the first time, but then the end comes and DANG. Just DANG, that is so AWESOME.
Because really, the general feel of this book is a boy having fun. A very intelligent boy who’s also respectful to women, but a boy nonetheless. Sanderson loves his fantasy world. He loves his characters. He loves the story and the magic and the action and consequently, I love it all, too. And you should, too. Now, go read this book. No, you heard me. Go read it, now. That’s an order. I’m going to roll around on the floor, fangirling like a pro.
Today, we’re going to play a little game. I’ve found the top five NY Times best sellers (hardcover fiction) and as they’re all titles I’ve never read or read the description of, they’re perfect for my little game. I’m going to take the titles (much like I did in my article about horrible books with great titles) and imagine a story based on those titles – then I’ll compare to the actual content of the books.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Well, I could be obvious and say ‘it’s about a girl who’s gone’. Well, I won’t. It’s about a girl who’s not gone, but her boyfriend, her co-worker and her “best friend” wishes she was. Therefore, they decide to hypnotise her into believing she is gone. While coldheartedly plotting against the girl who’s not gone, they form a strong friendship. Then she actually disappears.
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
This sounds like a chick-lit about true love and not settling for second best. That’s boring, though. It is really about a gang of thieves who want to earn quick cash so their best friend can get a new kidney. But they’re really smart, so they decide to steal the next best thing on display at the museum so as to not cause a big kerfuffle. During the story, they end up chased by the police anyway and realise they’ve accidentally stolen the best thing. Oopsie.
Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
A crooked business man and his young cousin get into big trouble when they deal with a seemingly harmless old antiques dealer. Unfortunately, he’s actually a wizard and when he finds out they’ve cheated him, he curses them and they wake up as characters in the novel Wicked… hilarity ensues as the crooked business man and his cousin sets up a business to con all the characters of the novel.
Right, I’m really sorry about that one. I couldn’t think of anything but ‘Wicked’ when I saw the title. I’ll never do that again, promise.
Criminal by Karin Slaughter
I know you’re all thinking this is about a criminal. It isn’t. It’s about someone who’s not criminal who is accused of being criminal. He then has to clear his name along with an insane female cop who likes to break the rules for no apparent reason. The man who is not criminal but accused of being one ends up falling violently in love with a woman who is actually criminal and there’s a plot twist where he thinks his love interest is the one who set him up, but it’s really the insane cop and she did it because why not?
Bloodline by James Rollins
This is not a vampire novel. This is an epic tale (because who doesn’t like epic) about a family who is crazy obsessed with blood (see, the title is a pun – it’s a family and they like blood, so bloodline… eh? No? Sorry). The novel follows them for many, many years and even though this isn’t a vampire novel, everybody thinks they’re vampires and hunt and kill and fear the family, who just keeps on drinking blood. It’s a creepy story, really. In the end, everybody dies.
Now, before I reveal the actual plots, I encourage readers to go to the comments and tell me your thoughts on the titles before you read the descriptions. Let’s have fun with these titles.
The actual plots of the books:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:
“A woman disappears on the day of her fifth anniversary; is her husband a killer?”
Comment: oh… I kind of got that one wrong, didn’t I?
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner:
“A young woman who moves to Hollywood to make it in television finds success, but her life remains complicated.”
Comment: that doesn’t even sound better than my story about the thieves who wants to steal to get their friend a kidney. They could’ve been lovers, you know, if that’d give it more best seller appeal.
Wicked business, by Janet Evanovich:
“The Salem, Mass., pastry chef Lizzy Tucker and her partner, Diesel, take up a quest for a powerful ancient relic.”
Comment: a pastry chef and someone named Diesel looking for an ancient relic? Sounds almost insane enough to be thought out by me. I like it. Pastry chef… that’s so random.
Criminal by Karin Slaughter:
Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and his supervisor, Amanda Wagner, confront mysteries from the past.
Comment: that is so vague. Might as well be ‘something dark has happened and stuff is wrong and then some people look at it’. I still think I was pretty much off the mark, though.
Bloodline by James Rollins:
A deadly rescue mission in the African jungle and a clinic bombing in South Carolina both reveal a dangerous conspiracy; a Sigma Force novel.
Comment: ha, ha, ha, ha, I couldn’t be further off the mark if I tried. Not really what I think when the title is ‘Bloodline’ but I guess that’s sort of a good thing.
So, what did you think of the titles? What are your ideas? If you could write a story based on these titles what would they be about? Tell me in the comments.
I’m probably going to continue this title game with other titles but maybe not in this format. I’m not entirely happy with it. Though, I’ll figure out a way to make it the way I want it to. Also, this article may be edited when I’m at a less sucky computer.
Week 19 concludes my list. I mean, I’m not really done – I haven’t read ‘em all – but reading stuff other people chose was getting tiring. Time I choose myself. I do feel like I’m pretty good at choosing books I like (and dislike… I chose Marked after all!) so from now on, I read mostly what I want. I am reading some stuff from the list that I wanted to read anyway (like the Princess Bride and Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister). But let’s get the last week of obeying the list over with. This is Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin.
Title: Dødens herskerinde
Original title: Mistress of the Art of Death
By: Ariana Franklin
Published by Aschehoug Dansk forlag 2007
First published 2007
A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction.
In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town’s Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremonies. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress. King Henry I is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he is invested in their fate. Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest “master of the art of death,” an early version of the medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a mistress of the art of death.
Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor-travel to England to unravel the mystery of the Cambridge murders, which turn out to be the work of a serial killer, most likely one who has been on Crusade with the king. In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia must conceal her true identity as a doctor in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she is assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, one of the king’s tax collectors, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. Rowley may be a needed friend, or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia’s investigation takes her into Cambridge’s shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again .
Rating on Goodreads: (liked it)
Right, finally. Only took me a coulple of weeks *cough* Right, so seeing as this is a review, I guess it all boils down to whether or not I like the book. So… do I?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: actually kind of yes but then not but… Right, let’s just do it the usual way.
So, what I expected from this book and what I got was very different. I expected a pretty straightforward, simple crime story set in Medieval England. What I got was historical fiction with a crime story, sorta. It’s not really a bad thing, but when your expectations are turned around like this, you can’t help but feel a certain disappointment. Before we talk more about that, though, let’s talk about the stuff I usually do.
First off the writing, which I found to be confusing. Sometimes, I found that another thing was happening while I thought that other stuff was happening. Some sentences were downright clumsy, but it’s hard to say whether it’s the writer’s fault or the translater. It’s generally very beautiful prose with some effective descriptions, but at the same time it was just difficult to keep track of what was going on. The narrative was sort of all over the place.
When it comes to the characters, they are actually nice and memorable, which is one reason this book is not a one or a two. I like them well enough, the main character probably less so, and they added some to the story. When I say I probably didn’t like the main character much, it’s because she suffers from that all too common problem: the author just liked her too much. She is taken too seriously and thus I can’t take her seriously. Everytime her entire name was mentioned like a sort of title, probably to sound cool, it just seemed melodramatic and I kind of giggled. Other than that – the other characters were neat and good fun. It’s not like Franklin is the first to fall in love with her main character.
The story is where I kind of grind to a halt and start really dislinking. There’s a crime story in this book, there really is, and it’s interesting and intriguing and I really like it. It’s just not focused enough. See, Franklin used to write historical fiction and not historical thrillers and it shows, I’m afraid. She has done an absolutely stunning amount of research, and it is impressive as holy applejuice, but I only know this because of the massive infodumping.
Now, I actually like infodumping here and there and this is the first time (except for Clive Cussler) I really see how it can be a disadvantage. There is so much info in there and that would be cool if I read this because it was historical fiction, but I read it for the murder mystery. An intriguing murder mystery that is completely drowned by so much other stuff. It’s description heavy too, and while very poetic and beautiful it’s just way too much.
In the end, the mystery was resolved and I liked the resolve and I liked the mystery, but even after the end of the murder mystery, the story dragged on and on and I just got bored by the last fifty pages.
In the end, I’ll give Franklin that I liked the mystery but there was just not enough of it. Less description of feasts and dresses and pretty rivers and birdies could have made it better for me. I do see a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads, so perhaps I’m just the weird one out. I did like this book, I just wanted more murder mystery and less description of medieval life, but if you don’t agree with me on that, you’ll probably like this very well.
Week 18 I read a book I couldn’t finish. Why? I’ll let the review speak for itself.
Original title: The Help
By: Kathryn Stockett
Published by Cicero, Copenhagen, 2011 (e-book)
First published 2009
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women – mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends – view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.
Rating on Goodreads: (it was okay)
For the second time this year, I’m not going to finish a book. It’ll be difficult for me to explain why I won’t finish this, but I’ll give it a try.
Don’t get me wrong – this story needs to be told. The story of how horrible the blacks were treated is a story that can only be told too much. I also liked the black maids and their stories. Aibileen and Minny were nice characters and I felt for them. I like them.
What I don’t like is Skeeter and she was just too big a character. Why do I need to read page up and page down about her angsting about how ugly she is and how annoying her mother is? I get it – she’s so special because she sees the way the blacks are treated is wrong – but this is nothing new. Her story has been told a billion times. A trillion times over and over again. I wanted to hear the blacks maids’ stories and while there were a lot of those stories, the next it was just white angst from Skeeter.
I think I might have liked this book better if it’d been just about the black maids and not saint Skeeter who knows what’s right. Sorry, her character is just so worn and boring.
Stories like this need to be told, without a doubt, but I wouldn’t choose Stockett to do it. I’m not interested in this book. I don’t care much for the writing and there is not enough of Aibileen and Minny that I want to go on.
I see a lot of people calling this innocent fluff and heartwarming and feel-good, but I don’t feel it. I think it’s a weak novel with some good characters that are unfortunately overshadowed by a boring white character who’s given too much attention (at least in the first half). I’m sorry, but I just don’t get the hype. I’m not finishing.
Week 17‘s book is The Wizard of Oz, which is the cutes thing you’ll ever read. Yes, I’m really in love with this. It is ridiculously likeable.
Title: The Wizard of Oz
By: L. Frank Baum
Published by Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1993
First published 1900
When a huge cyclone transports the orphan Dorothy and her little dog Toto from Kansas to the Land of Oz, she fears that she will never see Aunt Em and Uncle Henry ever again.
But she meets the Munchkins, and they tell her to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City where the Wonderful Wizard of Oz will grant any wish. On the way, she meets the brainless Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. The four friends set off to seek their hearts’ desires, and in a series of action-packed adventures they encounter a deadly poppy field, fierce animals, flying monkeys, a wicked witch, a good witch, and the Mighty Oz himself.
Rating on Goodreads: (really liked it)
This is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever read. For such a small book, it’s become a huge classic and it deserves a great review and stuff. I just don’t know what else to say.
What can I say? I like the story, I like the setting and I like the characters. It’s all cute and creative and imaginative. The plot is surprisingly well put together and for such a short book, it’s amazing the characters have actual personalities (mustnotbashbadbooks).
As this review is positive, you all know it’s gonna suck, so I’ll just finish by saying: give this a shot. It’s a two hour read, tops, and it’s well worth it. You’ll be very well entertained all the way through and age is no concern. If you’re a child or a child at heart, you’ll enjoy this very much.
Week 16 was probably not the week I read this book. Duhuhuhuhu. I really don’t remember. This review is a short one but it’s sincere. This book is so cute.
Title: Lille Virgil
By: Ole Lund Kierkegaard
Published by Gyldendal, 2002
First published 1967
In a hen’s house in a small town lives Little Virgil with a one legged cock that wakes him up every morning. He is friends with Oskar and Carl Emil and along with them Little Virgil has many adventures. One is about a lonely stork, another about Carl Emil’s birthday party and a hidden treasure. But not only that – Little Virgil and his friends also meet a dragon with eight legs.
Rating on Goodreads: (really liked it)
If you’re a kid and you grew up in Denmark, odds are you either read Ole Lund Kirkegaard (or had them read to you) or watched some of the movies based on his books. It’s like a kid’s national treasure in good old Denmark and I quite liked reading it again.
‘Lille Virgil’ is a strange book, strange enough that kids are going to wet themselves laughing, and at the same time, it treats kids like they’re smart. I can imagine reading this to a kid and hear them laughing at the main characters’ ignorance – of course you, as a reader, even as a kid, knows they’re wrong and that’s a great experience for kids to have when they read a book.
It’s clever this way, but it’s also funny enough that it won’t feel like they’re being lectured.
That’s actually something kids’ books do ALL the time. Lecture kids: you need to treat your friends like this, lying is wrong, it’s important to share… that’s fine and dandy but it’s nice to know that there are also books like this, that are just around for fun. There is no aesop here – it’s about three silly boys hunting a dragon and building a house and drinking soda. Stuff that all kids do.
I imagine this is funnier to read with a kid because this kind of humour would appeal more to them than it would to an adult. I can only encourage parents to read it to their kids and even if you read it by yourself, as an adult, you’ll probably enjoy it. It is so cute.
[Edited for derpiness]
The Bad Book Bonus goes on. I guess you could say I’m sort of biased when I pick up a book and decide it’s going to be part of BBB, but what can I do? I try to give these suckers a chance and in return, all they give me is a headache. Ow.
Title: Beautiful Dead – Jonas
By: Eden Maguire
Published by Politiken, 2011
First published 2009
Something strange is happening in Ellerton High. Phoenix is the fourth teenager to die within a year. His street fight stabbing follows the deaths of Jonas, Summer and Arizona in equally strange and sudden circumstances.
Rumours of ghosts and strange happenings rip through the small community as it comes to terms with shock and loss. Darina,Phoenix’s grief-stricken girlfriend, is on the verge. She can’t escape her intense heartache, or the impossible apparitions of those that are meant to be dead. And all the while the sound of beating wings echo inside her head! And then one day Phoenix appears to Darina.
Ecstatic to be reunited, he tells her about the Beautiful Dead. Souls in limbo, they have been chosen to return to the world to set right a wrong linked to their deaths and bring about justice. Beautiful, superhuman and powerful, they are marked by a ‘death mark’ – a small tattoo of angel’s wings. Phoenix tells her that the sound of invisible wings beating are the millions of souls in limbo, desperate to return to earth.Darina’s mission is clear: she must help Jonas, Summer, Arizona, and impossibly, her beloved Phoenix, right the wrong linked to their deaths to set them free from limbo so that they can finally rest in peace. Will love conquer death? And if it does, can Darina set it free?
Rating on Goodreads:
I don’t do lying. If something is good, I promise I’m going to tell y’all. I acknowledged that Hush, Hush had tolerable prose and did sexual tension well. In this case I’ll admit the idea is bloody brilliant. If this story had been handled differently… ye gaaads! It would have been awesome. It could’ve been potent and deep and relevant. A perfect book combining crime, romance and the paranormal. A brilliant tale of love and loss and moving on and… gawrsh, I get all tingly just thinking about it.
So… why is it not good? Sit tight for the next 1,5 pages and you’ll find out! Here we go.
Let’s look at writing first and I’ll tell you I’m not impressed. This woman does not know what ‘show – don’t tell’ means. I guess she believes it’s the slogan of a football team or something, ‘cause she sure as hell doesn’t use it in her writing. It’s all “I was very sad because my boyfriend died” and “he loved med very much” and that’s great and all, but you really got to show me. Because Maguire just tells the reader what’s going on inside the characters’ heads (even characters whose thoughts she couldn’t possibly know BECAUSE SHE HAS A FIRST PERSON NARRATOR) I don’t feel anything for them. At all. And this is supposed to be about love and mourning and loss and if I don’t feel anything reading a book about dead teenagers, you’re a Very Bad Writer™. I guess it IS a very special kind of achievement. Making someone not care about the death of four teenagers… that’s, wow, that’s really impressive. But sad.
[UNREASONABLE, CHILDISH, UNRELATED BIT - if already angry, skip:
Another thing is just a weird choice of words in two places or something (this is nitpicky, but fun, so bear with me). I’ll give you a sentence and you tell me what you’re thinking:
“He took my head in his hands.”
Are you laughing? Because I am. I know what she means, see, but I also have this image of zombie Joe tearing of Boring Sue’s head and subsequently using it as a bowling ball. Not that that sentence would work in any book but when it’s actually about zombies, that’s just hilarious.]
Maybe it’d be easier to sympathise with the tragedy if Ellerton wasn’t the City of People with No Personalities. The characters are so bland, so boring, so stereotyped and trite. There isn’t a single character that stands out to the reader. Their looks are described but at the last period of a description you forget what you’ve just read. The main character is a no one, literally only described by being in love with her boyfriend and there’s some shit about her not liking to give hugs… which is never shown in any way (okay, so it’s told something like: “I don’t usually like to hug people, but now I made an exception” that’s like me saying: “I never eat raw onions, but now I’m eating a sandwich with onions because that last sentence was just stupid filler and an attempt at characterisation which failed BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT CHARACTERISATION IS AND MY BRAIN IS AN OTTER”). Her stupid boyfriend is described by being extremely hot (it’s not like I’ve heard that one befo- OH WAIT) and very nice. Guess they are a perfect match, though, because they’re both boring as a cardboard box with a face painted on it. And even the thought of such a box makes me giggle. If the face is funny.
Speaking about the main character… is it a trend to have a TERRIBLEEEH stepfather of TERRIBLEEHNESS who’s terrible for no reason whatsoever? Her stepfather is so horrible… not because he beats her, not because he screws her mother’s sister and forces Darina (I actually forgot her name for a second there, fancy that) to shower with a hairless cat as a sort of weird fetish thing, but because he’s boring… really now? He’s boring and thus you can’t get along with him? He actually stands up for you when someone’s almost physically abused you? But he did it all wrong and stuff anyway? WHAT THE FRICK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I’m not saying some stepfathers aren’t sent from hell, but this guy isn’t. You’re just being difficult to be difficult. You were used to a father who cheated on your mother and this guy is obviously too boring to cheat on her? You should be happy, you little skank. Not moaning that he’s just so boring. IF YOUR BOYFRIEND WASN’T A ZOMBIE HE’D BE MORE BORING THAN YOUR STEPFATHER.
Oh, I guess that kind of leads up to the plot, right? I already said that this idea is brilliant. I absolutely love the premise, because I do like crime stories and I do like crime stories with supernatural elements and I do like crime stories with supernatural elements with romance. I like zombies, too, and I could’ve even lived with the Stephenie Meyeresque reinvention of zombies if this book had been any good. It’s not. And one thing is the fact that a book like Marked (Twilight is so last year – bashing Marked is the new black) is friggin’ horrible, but it doesn’t have any potential like this does. This could’ve been so good and she just wasted it on a blatant Twilight knock off. That hurts, Maguire, it hurts.
Because I’m telling you: if you want to handle subjects like death and loss, you BETTER be talented enough. You BETTER not turn the whole thing into a romantic plot tumour. You BETTER deal with the subject in a way that’s emotional and respectful and intelligent and thoughtful. This is not to be taken lightly. This is not just stupid f**king vampires. This… this… this is so insulting. There are some subjects you shouldn’t tackle without either having experienced it first hand or doing so much research, your eyes pop out and scream “No more! No more! We get it! You understand loss now, just GIMME A BREAAAK!” That’s stuff like death and mourning, drug abuse, rape, child or domestic abuse, serious illness, and serious crime. That is your responsibility as a writer. If you write for serious, you do the f**king research or terrible people like me have a good reason to bitch slap you.
Turning it into a love story between a bland girl and a BUUUTIFULZ zombie is so insulting. Screw vampire stories – they’re harmless, maybe because their deaths usually aren’t so recent as the zombies’ deaths. I can live with vampires and angels and even werewolves but this is just disturbing on so many levels. I know I said instant awesome = add zombies, but I wasn’t talking about a love story, and I wasn’t talking about books dealing with subjects as serious as this.
There are lots of things I won’t elaborate on: the stupid names (Phoenix? How can I take that seriously?), the ugliness of making out with a dead boy, how two dimensional the bad guy is, how boring the ‘mystery’ is (four teenagers have died and that’s supposed to be coincidence or what? Really?)… there are so many aspects of this that makes it terrible. And it’s so much sadder than many of those bad young adult books because this had actual potential for a good plot.
*Deep breath* Dang.
Week 15 is… quite a while ago and thus it’s also quite a while since I read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. This is not really a review of it, since I don’t feel entitled to review great classics like this. So here guys: have a ramble on Jane Austen’s awesomeness.
Title: Sense and Sensibility
By: Jane Austen
Published by Collector’s Library
First published 1811
Sense and Sensibility, the first of Jane Austen’s major novels, is a portrait of two very different sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Elinor is practical and disciplined, Marianne Capricious and emotional, yet they share a troubled and impoverished family background, and both must struggle to achieve the happiness they deserve. Ranged against them are the forces of a society where men and masculinity predominate; Elinor and Marianne have to balance their emotional needs against the harsh financial realities of the world at large. Sense and Sensibility is a chronicle of romantic misfortunes, narrated with irony and a sharp eye for hypocrisy. A powerful drama of family life and growing up, the novel is at once a subtle comedy of manners and a striking critique of early-ninteenth-century society.
Rating on Goodreads: (really liked it)
If I had to describe Jane Austen shortly as I see her, I’d call her an ideal writer. One of my favourite things in a story is a great cast of characters and Austen’s are always unforgettable. Who could ever forget Mr. Collins or Miss Bates or Lydia Bennet? All characters are well-defined and well-rounded. You can hear their voices as clearly as if they were in the room with you.
It’s no wonder that Jane Austen is a classic. Repeatedly, married women with children completely fail to establish romances that are as convincing as Austen’s – and she remained unmarried and a virgin her entire life. No, I’m not talking about Stephenie Meyer, why would you even think that would be the case?
Jokes at Meyer’s expense aside, there is a tendency to misinterpret Austen’s meaning what with Twilight claiming to be (at least partially) based on Pride and Prejudice. It cannot be stressed enough that Austen would not approve of most of Young Adult paranormal romance literature these days – I am certain she would not. What little I’ve read of it, I know there’s a tendency to admire passion over close friendship and equality in character. I’m not just talking about Twilight, but a book such as Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, which is all about this insane passion that even goes against all reason.
This takes me back to the book at hand, Sense and Sensibility, and wouldn’t you know it – it’s right there in the friggin’ title. It’s in the book’s plot. Be warned: there will be spoilers in a bit.
As is probably known to all, this is a story of two sisters: Elinor is sensible and calm, while Marianne is romantic and emotional. Elinor suffers the loss of a lover while in the end, Marianne almost puts her own life at risk. Guess who’s the more sensible of the two? Yeah, you guessed it. Austen knew it’s not reasonable to put your life at stake over a man. She knew life will go on regardless of a broken heart. She knew what nobody seems to know these days. Ironically, Austen’s books are a better life lesson for girls, and they were written at a time when women weren’t allowed to get an education or to vote and they were thought inferior to men. Take away the whole ‘you need to marry or you’re nothing’ and the message at it’s core is: Life goes one. It’s never worth throwing your life away for some man. Even if Elinor hadn’t gotten her man in the end, she have, in time, have gotten over it.
That’s not unromantic or anything – it’s healthy.
Guys, stop reading Hush, Hush, and Twilight and other such books and go for Jane Austen. Fill in a message that fits our time period better and you have not only a most entertaining read with a cast of great characters, sizzling wit, biting irony and a good story – you also have a message that makes most young adult literature look like soft core porn with a plot deficiency.