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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

Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowal Every character in this novel is clearly identifiable from Austen, and not in a positive way. The magical aspect would have been interesting had it led to any actual conflict whatsoever. Instead, it was merely a sidebar in poorly-written Austen pastiche. I mean really, who creates a magical invisibility shield and then doesn't use it as a plot point? Or gives characters abilities that allow complete illusions of wealth, but then doesn't allow them to be used for any plot reasons whatsoever? There was no real plot, no real characterization, and no actual honor done to any of the genres that Kowal attempted to stitch together. I've read Austen, Radcliffe, Burney, and many other novelists from the Regency era, and every single one of them uses the modern spellings of show, choose, luncheon, and tease as opposed to Kowal, who felt the need to jar the reader out of the story (and the time period!) with shew, chuse, nuncheon, and teaze. And even if Georgian writers did use Medieval spellings, a modern writer using modern grammatical structures should use modern spelling and rely on their research and storytelling ability to take us back to the appropriate era. On top of all this, the writing itself was just bad. "[Her] black curls lay on her neck like a necklace of jet" is a terrible sentence! Where was the editor to suggest "throat" and the removal of the adjective "black"? Every other page brought fresh frustration, and I spent every page from the first "shew" wondering why I was still reading it, but hoping against hope that it would get better. It didn't.Two stars only because I reserve one-star reviews for DNF books. Ugh.

Chime

Chime - I didn't like this book very much at all. There were moments of interest, and I enjoyed the sister relationship between Rose and Briony, but for the most part I couldn't get past the structuring of the language and the thick soup feeling of not understanding what the author wanted me to know. I expect that feeling at the beginning of a book, but the slow drawing-aside of the curtain is what makes reading a novel so lovely. In Chime, there was very little drawing-aside, a lot of self-loathing, and very little to recommend any of the characters. Stepmother hung over the book like the first Mrs. De Winter, and Father was set up as the villain in such a way that the conclusion was confusing instead of revelatory. In addition, the author is writing a book set in Edwardian(ish) England but doesn't use British-English, which is distracting to someone (like me) who reads a lot of British literature and is fairly conversant (hah) with the differences between how Wharton and Hardy sound on paper. Overall, pretty terrible. 3/11 Yellows.

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell One of my all-time favorite books. It changes slightly every time I read it, as my perspective on relationships among people change. Yes, there is a strong whiff of the "kind massah" about the whole thing, but I don't think that takes away from the brilliancy of the characters, and it shouldn't preclude anyone from reading the novel. And to be fair, Scarlett is not such a kind massah; why her black folks stay with her I'll never understand - although I don't live in a servant-based society, so there's that. Y'anyway, READ THIS BOOK. Then let it marinate for a year or two and READ IT AGAIN. Believe me, it stands up.

Persuasion

Persuasion - Gets better every time I encounter it.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead - I saw the movie version of this with my dad when I was perhaps 12; I had no idea who Hamlet was (although I suspected he looked a lot like Mel Gibson at the time) and only vaguely understood that Shakespeare was A Thing. However, despite my lack of knowledge about the actual subject matter Stoppard was referencing, I laughed and laughed and then cocked my head at the end and said, "huh?" - as one so often does with Stoppard. My dad and I have been playing the Question Game for 20 years now, and "heads" has become shorthand for "that's weird." I was an assistant stage manager on a production of it once in college, and if you think the finished product is amusing you should see the shenanigans that happen during rehearsal.This play has also fueled my love of Hamlet (as opposed to the other way 'round), and from there my love of Shakespeare.

Angels & Demons, Special Illustrated Edition

Angels & Demons  - Dan Brown I read this as an undergrad in an art history program, and Our Intrepid Hero failed to surprise me even once in his choices, assumptions, and assertions about art and What It All Means. Pro Tip: if an undergrad can figure it out before the halfway point, the Hero probably isn't actually tops in his field. Even if that field is fake.That's right. I said FAKE.

Last Light of the Sun

The Last Light of the Sun - Guy Gavriel Kay I got halfway through this novel and got distracted by something else. My love for Guy Gavriel Kay is almost limitless, but I realized that I couldn't figure out what was going on or where the story was going, so I stopped reading it. Perhaps another time.

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory Oh, Phillipa Gregory. I read anything you write no matter how eye-twitch-inducing. Bonus: your novels get an extra star every time they don't involve incest.

Kill the Dead (Sandman Slim Series #2)

Kill the Dead (Sandman Slim Series #2) - The first Sandman Slim book was clever and funny, but I lost interest in the conceit by the end of the first chapter of the second volume.

Palimpsest

Palimpsest - Catherynne M. Valente Definitely not in the right frame of mind for this one. Will have to pick it up again at another date.

Doc

Doc - Mary Doria Russell Doc is a beautifully written story that has lingered in my imagination beyond its return to the library.

Wives And Daughters (Complete Classics)

Wives And Daughters (Complete Classics) - Elizabeth Gaskell Mrs. Gibson nee Kirkpatrick is a treasure of a wicked stepmother, and this novel contains that rarest of jewels: a Good Father. Love, love, love. The only thing that would have made this book better is if Mrs. Gaskell had lived to finish it.

The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett Brilliant and engaging and as historically fictional as I like it.

The Return of the Native

The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy, Tony Slade Hardy is one of my favorite authors. His prose is beautiful, and he explores many dichotomies in everyday life. Pay special attention to the interaction between Eugenia and her environment.

Atonement

Atonement - I read Atonement two years ago and it still weighs on my memory. It ripped my heart out to the degree that I've been afraid of reading any more McEwan for fear of losing my reason. While not my "favorite" book, it gets five stars for its effortless combination of the beautiful and the sublime. If it were an art piece, it would be Francisco Goya's The Third of May (1814).

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn - If possible, this one is even WORSE than the others. Our intrepid Ms. Meyer - oops! Mrs. Cullen! - gets her wish and finds out that she has the best. power. ever. Also, she thinks "Renesmee" is the most beautiful name ever. It boggles the mind. TWO trays of margaritas were necessary to make it through this one.