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Reading the Bricks

There are books and bricks and books that could easily function as bricks. Also published at: http://readingthebricks.blogspot.com/

Currently reading

Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas, ALEXANDER DUMAS, Alexander Dumas Pere

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson
 
 
This is the tale of a teenaged girl who fell in love with books with dragons on the covers. One day, after having finished everything Melanie Rawn had written and also having been enraged about the ending of The Ruins of Ambrai, someone handed her a 500+ page mass-market paperback that said “Volume 1” on the spine.
 
Roughly four thousand pages later, she emerged from book six, blinked a bit, and groped around blindly for book seven.
 
But alas, book seven had yet to be published! And, as it happens, neither had books eight through twelve fourteen. On that day in a sunny bedroom in Alaska in a room with a strange-if-you’re-not-a-teen mixture of kittens and pop stars on the walls, she vowed that she would not read another word of the Wheel of Time series until it was finished, because Robert Jordan would probably die before the damn thing was done.
 
And thus it was with sorrow but also a small degree of
 

 

 that I heard of Robert Jordan’s death before the ending of The Wheel of Time. But lest you think I am too high on my horse, allow me to tell you that I’m current with A Song of Ice and Fire, and there’s no end in sight for that one either.
 
 
 
 
I love me some epic fantasy, is what I’m trying to say. For years it was the brain candy I used to take my mind off of studying, or in between stints worshipping at the feet of Anthony Trollope or Edith Wharton. These days, most of my book recommendations come from the other book blogs I read, and it’s safe to say that there are not a lot of dragons flying around the covers of their books.
 
My friend Jeremy also loves fantasy and sci-fi, and since we occasionally share a brain, he suggested I read The Way of Kings. What he neglected to tell me was that this is the first book of a series of ten, and that only this one has been published so far.
 
WILL SHE EVER LEARN NO I DO NOT THINK SO.
You’d think the guy who was commissioned to write the end of Wheel of Time would be a little leery of planning at 10,000+ page series, wouldn’t you?  BUT NO. He cares not for fate and her wily ways.
 
Anywhatsis, if you like this kind of thing – that is, epic, world-building stories that could reasonably be used as weights and take a torturously long time to get written and published – this is pretty close to as good as it gets. 
 
8.5 of 11 Glowy Rocks to be Used as Currency
 
Source: http://readingthebricks.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-way-of-kings-brandon-sanderson.html

A Rogue by Any Other Name: The First Rule of Scoundrels

A Rogue by Any Other Name - Sarah MacLean Eeehhhhhh. Less revolting than a lot of other romance novels. Mental floss and candy coating. This would have been better if it were 100 pages shorter, if the heroes eyes had stayed the same color, and if the copy editor hadn't gotten sucked in - as it were - to the lemony bits and had managed to cull the repetition of descriptors. Stocking stocking deep stroke (in a kiss? Is it just me or is that strange?) steel. No mention of the word "lave," for which I am grateful. Also, I liked the last few paragraphs.

The Passage (Passage Trilogy Series #1)

The Passage - Justin Cronin First read in Feb 2011

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald - Therese Anne Fowler One star is my DNF rating. I made it halfway through this and decided to give up; it didn't grab me the way I was hoping it would. Zelda seemed flat and pettish and as if things just... happened to her and she went along with it. I was hoping for more of a Dazzling Historical Figure with Moments of Introspection, and instead I got F Scott Fitzgerald through the Eye of His Wife. Meh.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré First read in 2002.

Ruby Red

Ruby Red - Kerstin Gier,  Anthea Bell First read: Aug 2, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Hey my favorite internet people!I had A Thing to do involving family and stuff. But I read ALL your posts last week and chortled so much that my mom made me read some of them out loud, which was embarrassing because she caved and asked right about the time you all were making inappropriate comments about wizard pokers or some such. So good job making me feel like a teenager again!Suffice to say I agree mightily with ALL of your quibbles and questions and queries and conundrums, especially the ones about wizard sewage and JK's rather fluid relationship with currency.And here we are at the end of the book, and oh, JK. I am so pleased that you grew as a writer even though we have to get through Chamber of Secrets before the Good Stuff can happen.And while the first half was all fun and games and getting shut in the cupboard under the stairs for shit you didn't do, the second half is more OMG Harry has NO PARENTS and has never had Christmas presents and is probably a serial killer based on his upbringing. You know who else besides the Dursleys locked people in dark spaces for imagined sins?This guy.And we all know how Jodie Foster turned out. (On second thought, keep on keepin' on, Harry. She's pretty awesome and you wouldn't look like Jennifer Garner in drag. *sob*)But back to the point I was trying to make, which is that this book is all about Harry finding his true home in the wizarding world. And gets an invisibility cloak like it's NBD, because he's Harry Potter. Speaking of which, WHERE did James and Lily get all this super-rare awesome shit and wizard dollars? How did they get rich? Not fighting the dark forces because Wizard England is not like Jane Austen England where captains got a portion of the spoils of war (where is my Temeraire movie, Hollywood? Dragons, costumes, ships! Get on that. ::glare::).I particularly like the moment when MacGonagall says she couldn't looks Snape in the face after Gryffindor's loss to Slytherin the year before. And also the moment where Hermione is being such a snot about the levitating spellPretty sure I was like this as a kid. Pretty sure sometimes I still am.But then it's the thing Ron remembers when push comes to shoving a wand up a troll's nose.  Awwww.And there was the Mirror of Erised and the Christmas flute and Harry learning chess from Ron and possibly my favorite moment in the WHOLE SERIES is when Hermione loses her shit, goes full Muggle and shrieks that there isn't any wood to start a fire and Ron is all, "You're a WITCH!"9.5 out of 11 Illegal Dragon Eggs. Onward!!

Seraphina

Seraphina - I adored this book. Clever and subtle with nary an infodump to be seen; a genuine feat for a fantasy novel. Gorgeous.

The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters Part 1: http://readingthebricks.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-little-stranger-part-first.html

The Moonstone

The Moonstone - Brilliant. Read it. The Beginning: http://readingthebricks.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-moonstone-part-i-are-you-hooked-yet.htmlPart 1: http://readingthebricks.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-moonstone-part-i-are-you-hooked-yet.htmlPart 2:http://readingthebricks.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-moonstone-part-2-in-which-someone.htmlPart 3:http://readingthebricks.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-moonstone-part-3-paging-mr-mesmer.htmlPart 4:http://readingthebricks.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-moonstone-part-4-cry-because-its.html

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green Huh. Strangely, I feel very little about this book. I feel like it's really all about the word play and the references to other books and stories. Augustus is the Voice of the Author even though he is not the main character; Hazel Grace is a lovely name. I should re-read many books and perhaps name a pet "Hamartia" someday- or maybe a car!Actually, I know how I feel: gently used. Not the kind of "did I really just read that?! WTF?" of some novels, but rather of the "my emotions were rather obviously manipulated just there.." variety. The literary references were clever, but the "and here I shall make you cry!" stuff was not so much. I will keep my eye on you, John Green, but it will be a bit of a side-eye.

Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley - First, let's talk about Jane Austen pastiche. You might think that I would like it; after all, I'm the girl who re-reads all 7 novels religiously every year or perhaps two if I'm deep in a Victoriana phase. Who would imagine that girl wouldn't want more Austen, amirite? You'd be wrong. I've come to realize that longing for more Austen is not the same as accepting the drivel that issues from the pens of writers, both recognized and otherwise, who attempt to parse The Magnificent Seven into continuations of the romances that people who are not me believe are at the heart of Austen's work. Yes, you read that right: I don't think that Austen is about romance, or at least not entirely. Obviously everyone ends up properly paired at the end; she was writing for women, after all, and if there's one thing we know from the shelves of used bookstores everywhere, women love their proper pairings - particularly if they're accompanied by a little bodice-ripping. Bu Austen's most pointed references are to society and the manipulations that people utilize to get what they want - the end result isn't romance, but attainment of desire at the expense of those who value "society" above human truths.And now, let's talk a little about this novel. Elizabeth and Darcy are happily ensconced in Pemberley with their two boys and regular visits from Jane and Bingley. But before this all can be explained, James gives us the gossip's view of Pride & Prejudice, which is that Elizabeth is a conniving fortune-hunter and that Darcy was, well, conned. When you start to wonder if a book will get any better by page ivx, maybe it's time to put it down. But I didn't put it down because I love me some Lizzy Bennet. More fool, me. What follows is a laundry list of what this novel's problem is. Feel free to imagine me going all brown-girl on this book, waving my finger in the air to great effect while raising an eyebrow and saying things like, "aaaand another thing!" I may possibly be a Latina hair stylist in Washington Heights for the rest of this review.- Elizabeth does not still have feelings for her sister's husband. She never really did, so pasting heart-flutterings onto her 6 years after her marriage to Darcy is... stupid.- Darcy and Elizabeth hardly interact at all. They interact even less with their children, who are relegated to the nursery and only mentioned as plot points.- Charlotte was blamed for Lady Catherine finding out about Darcy and Elizabeth's supposed engagement. To take a life-long friendship and reduce it to petty "domestic revenge" tarnishes both the friendship and the character unnecessarily. - James tied in other Austen books. I know that Austen's books were all written and set around the same time period, but Highbury and Pemberley do not exist in the same world. Wickham working for the Elliotts is absurd, and Harriet Roberts nee Smith would never take in someone's bastard, even if it was the nephew of Mr. Darcy of Pemberley. Tying in other Austen characters smacks of inside jokes where none are necessary. - Darcy is a laconic character. He never uses 200 words when 20 will do, and marrying Elizabeth wouldn't have suddenly turned him into Mr. Infodump. Phrases like "As you know, Magistrate, the sheriff's job is to..." should never fall from ANY character's lips - much less from Mr. Darcy's!- Wickham is not a killer, and to try to paint him as a suspect just means that the inevitable acquittal is boooo-ring.- Even more boooo-ring than the big reveal of the killer was the mutual explaining that Darcy and Elizabeth did in the last 20 pages of the text. They go on a walk and he proceeds to mansplain to her why he chose her and how she changed him, blah blah. It's as if James realized that her two major characters hadn't interacted in any significant way, then conveniently forgot that the confession scene in P&P ever happened.Death Comes to Pemberley was my final attempt to enjoy Austen pastiche, and that enjoyment was a miserable failure. So authors, please take note: even if you're wicked famous and super-awesome, please don't use these (or ANY) characters to try to prop up your poorly conceived plot lines. 4 of 11 yellows

The Loom

The Loom - Shella Gillus Hmpf. This book sidelined me with religion, and I wasn't super-pleased about it. I wouldn't have minded if the story weren't completely contrived; I know there are stories about black slaves "passing" as whites pre-Civil War (and also later, but that's not what's going on in this book), and I don't doubt that it happened. But those people would have had to think much more carefully about what they were about than Gillus did for her characters, and instead of emphasizing the bravery of those people for breaking barriers, the author only had me cringing for the naivety of the people she invented.So. Lydia is so white that her BFF, Lizzy, is the daughter of the plantation, which is HIGHLY PROBABLE, especially given that the Master prefers to have sex with his slaves rather than his wife, but feels horribly guilty over it. This doesn't generally bode well for treatment of slaves on a plantation, I would imagine, but in this case it's okay? Then John, a strapping slave over whom all the other slave women are salivating, shows up and sees directly into Lydia's heart, which of course longs for freedom above all things and he doesn't care what color she is (??). They fall in love and get married, but not before Lizzy convinces Lydia to come "pass" at a fancy white people's party not very far down the road. Lydia is admired by the white mens and gets a taste of what she sees as freedom.Anyway. John and Lydia "marry," as actual marriage between slaves is illegal. Then there's a misunderstanding and Lydia runs away and somehow passes as a privileged white woman in the house of the man whose house she partied in earlier. What the what?!? And then he wants to marry her, but something isn't right and her story isn't adding up and by the way he hateshateshates Negros. And THEN John gets sold to the same plantation, and Lydia realizes he is her one true love and also her husband (convenient, that...), and that she can't marry Jackson, the alcoholic Negro-hater.And here is where it all fell apart for me: there's a scene in which Lydia and John are walking together just off the plantation grounds, and they get accosted by some white overseers. Joh is immediately accused of "walking with a white woman," which is grounds for hanging in the South. They run away, but wait a second. If John is as velvety black as the night sky, with teeth like stars in his smile (I paraphrase, but not much), then how is this relationship going to continue when they are free?!? They are going to look an awful lot like a negative of the Lovings, who lived over a hundred years later. Basically, John is screwed because Lydia looks like a white woman. Forever.But is this fear dealt with? Not even a little bit. Does the experience with the white overseers throw Lydia even a little bit to think, "uh-oh, here is a wrinkle we haven't considered!" Nope. They run off into the sunset - after Jackson dies in a house fire (because he is the DEVIL, get it?) - with their freedom papers and not a backward glance or, apparently, a future thought.This frustrated me beyond measure. Plus, I thought this book would be about the pregnant or elderly women who wove cloth in the Loom Rooms of the Old South, which it most vehemently was not. BOO. And while I obviously wasn't there and haven't done a huge amount of research on the subject, I highly doubt that even a house slave could have passed as white only a few miles down the road from where she was born and raised as a slave. Three of Eleven Yellows.

The Duke and I (Bridgerton Series #1)

The Duke and I (Bridgerton Series #1) - Soooooo I thought this book was funny for the first half. Daphne was feisty and funny, I liked Simon's reluctant gentleman-like nature, and things were moving along swimmingly to a lovely erotic ending, when BAM! Things took a turn for the Seriously Disturbing. Daphne knows that her husband doesn't want/can't have children. He refuses to... errr... we're all adults here, right? He refuses to finish inside of her for fear of offspring, and for some reason that makes her SO MAD!! And then he gets super-drunk and she rides him like a show pony on purpose and essentially rapes him and of this invasive act comes... a pregnancy. What. How is that romantic or ideal or even something people DO?!? But wait! They can't live without one another, and she somehow - I'm still not quite sure how - convinces him that they can't live without one another, and she miscarries because a baby born of that particular experience would be tainted, you see. And then she gets pregnant again during real, "loving" sex this time, and BAM! Everything is fixed. WhatisthisIdon'teven.

Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility: A Novel - Amor Towles Katey Kontent (pronounced like the state of being, not like the table of, thank you very much) is a 20-something in 1938 New York City. And there’s something about Towles’s description of that year and city that makes me think he may have been there in a former life. There’s also something about Towles’s writing that makes me think he’s read all the books he tells us Katey has read, which warms the cockles of my heart. That phrase always makes me giggle because a) cock, and b) why would my heart have shells in it? It’s mystifying. Y’anyway, Katey is friends with Evelyn, who goes by Eve – get it? – and they meet this dude named Tinker Grey – a shifty traveler’s name if ever there was one – who they think is living the proverbial High Life. No one ever names their characters this way if they haven’t read a LOT of Dickens, who by the way features in this book in the form of Great Expectations (A-HAH!!). What I’m saying is, Towles is a genius who I hope has more than one excellent novel in him. It’s a kind of Breakfast at Tiffany’s story with a bit of literary hoopla and an extra sprinkling – make that a SMASHING LOT of drinking. The only thing that pulled me out of the story, in fact, was how much drinking little Katey and her friends did. Maybe it’s the ease of knowing you can get home by the subway/cab system in New York, but every time she switched from champagne (that devilish fizzy deceiver) to gin (NO!!!), I thought… OMG! GIRL! Do you have a DD or a way home or someone to waaaaatch over you? Because seriously the only reason I am not super-freaked for you right now is that your book started with a flashback so I know you’re alive. Katey is sharp but not too sharp, if you know what I’m saying, and she has a brilliant scene involving a bathtub that is simultaneously stressful, You Go Girl, and I’d Like to Use That Line Someday. Also, I want to live in the brand new 1920’s apartments in New York instead of the 2010’s apartments that were built in 1920’s New York. 8/11 yellows.

Salvage the Bones: A Novel

Salvage the Bones - Jesmyn Ward Esch is the third child and only daughter of a poor black family in Louisiana. Her father is an alcoholic and her mother is dead (good heroines never have mothers), and as a fairly direct result Esch has been having sex with all of her brother’s friends in order to feel loved. The fact that I am reading this book at all is a direct result of you, dear Interwebs. I read your bookish corners with morning tea and my library’s request page open, dropping books into my cart without reference to whether I can possibly read them in time to return them without library fines or not. Then, somewhere between days and months later (I’m looking at you, Bossypants by Tina Fey!) I get an email telling me that such-and-such a book is ready for me to pick up. Behold the modern library patron, who has never set foot into her local library farther than the Hold Shelf (approximately 6 feet). She read 28,000+ pages last year, so don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, kittens. Anyway, Esch. She’s messed up and sad and her family is busted, and there’s a hurricane of the distinctly Katrina shape headed for her house. Ward treats her with respect, which is hard to do given Esch’s... err… situation, which is both gravid and grave. She is a child who has grown up without a mother, essentially without a father – what with him being an alcoholic and all – and who is the only woman in a family of boys. Her brother Skeetah’s pit fighting dog, China, has puppies at the beginning and reminds Esch that her own relationship with the father of her child isn’t as good as the one between her brother and his dog, which is as close to tragic as I can think about without welling up. He’s never even kissed her.But wait, there’s more heartache in store! Esch reads – like all good heroines – and what she’s into right now is Greek mythology, specifically the Jason and Medea myths. In fact, one could say that this entire text is a re-telling of the story of Jason and Medea, in which a woman is loved, makes sacrifices for that love, and then realizes that her love is nothing more than a face with no soul. Esch is spared Medea’s burden of murder, but only because she has not committed fratricide. Ward’s writing style is a study in opposites: her words are hard to read and hard to keep from reading, simultaneously lyrical and blunt, brutal and beautiful. I’m not sure this book was for me, but I read to the very end in order to find out. Six and a half Yellows.