Recountings

books that were not my cup of tea

As every bookworm knows … there comes a time when one must consciously uncouple from a book and promptly yeet it out of the window. Metaphorically speaking.

A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY

YA books and I don’t have the best relationship. It’s not them, it’s me. I experienced a lot of dissonance with the characters, the plots, and the writing. (The binding, the front cover designs, the blurbs and the fonts are usually on point though.)

I DNF-d A Curse So Dark And Lonely because frankly I was bored. (I usually am loathe to admit boredom. ‘Only boring people get bored’ I used to tell myself smugly. Oh how the turntables have …) I didn’t care about the characters. The plot felt like porridge with no honey. Bread with no butter! English breakfast tea with no milk! I didn’t connect with the novel, and so therefore, reading it was a struggle.

It seems to have been a well-received book, but unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get it. And that’s okay! Different readers have different tastes, and perhaps if I tried again, I might like it.

MERCY & EAGLEFLIGHT

Christian fiction … ah, yes. Christian fiction. When done well, it is wonderful and brilliant (hello there! C.S Lewis!) when it is done badly … I refuse to accept that Christian fiction should be given a pass just because someone has slapped a label on it and marked it as ‘Christian’.

(If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck IT WILL NOT SUDDENLY TURN INTO A CAMEL OF BRILLIANCE IF YOU JUST PLONK A ‘CHRISTIAN’ LABEL ON IT.)

(That was a metaphor. The duck was bad fiction. The camel of brilliance was a good fiction. Just so you know. Like the book, I am subtle.)

  1. So much telling – we were told everything. There was no subtlety. No nuance. No trusting of the readers to actually grasp the emotional journey that the characters were going through. We must be led through it, holding the author’s hand.
  2. I approach fiction wanting a story not a sermon so perhaps … the fault lies with me, not managing my expectations. BUT STILL !!! I protest. I PROTEST STRONGLY.
  3. The main characters felt very clean and cookie-cutter. Too clean and cookie-cutter. Too 2D..
  4. There were entire chapters of dialogue. This isn’t always a bad thing. But … but I would propose that perhaps the message of the book could have been gotten across with perhaps, say, an article in a magazine, not in a work of fiction.
  5. There is an absolutely foul section where we are given horribly racist character just to show us how bad he is and then we never see him again. It was degrading and it had no place in the book. It felt like a cheap way of making us hate a character. It was an ugly line of dialogue that did not need to be included for us to get the idea that this guy? = bad. There are no excuses.
  6. There’s a point where a female character is sharing the gospel with another male character … and she sends him to go speak to another man because ‘men think differently.’
  7. I’m sorry. I didn’t know that there was a female and male way of talking about faith? Clearly, I must have missed a Bible verse or two.
  8. Ah yes, the inevitable assault on the female character by a villain. A villain who only exists to Be Evil, by the way. Some people are destined to have nuance and character, some others … are not.

… I should stop here, shouldn’t I? I got through it. Sometimes, whilst I read this, my arms flailed, and my entire body cringed and shrivelled up like a raisin.

Is this the book, I cried, that repelled a thousand ships?!

This book was published in 1996 – perhaps Christian fiction has improved since then? I certainly hope so.

JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER

The best thing about this book was that it had dinosaurs (!!!!) and the Library of Alexandra. Also: time-travel.

Unfortunately, the story was … MC joins time-traveling organization. Shenanigans and hi-jinks ensue. One thing happens after another, and the plot feels very squint-and-you’ll-miss-it. A character – who has hitherto displayed no rage – lashes out in anger. I felt startled because I’d imagined that he was calm and sedate and then BLAM! INSTANT GREMLIN!

Also – I thought that this was a YA book. And then there was a particular scene that made me place the book down on the bed and stare into the abyss of air. It was not a YA book. A surprising twist.

This is a first book in a series, and of course, sometimes a series takes a book to hit its stride. This may well be the case. Perhaps I’m being too harsh? However, though I felt the concept was TRULY interesting (DID YOU HEAR THE BIT ABOUT HOW THIS HAS DINOSAURS?!!!!) the characters weren’t on the dinosaurs’ level.

But then, I must ask … what is?

Books

i compose book blurbs

In lieu of using Goodreads, I keep my own reading log. It isn’t anything special – just a spiral notebook (a spiral notebook WITH UNICORNS ON THE FRONT. ah-hem), but it has my thoughts scrawled in drunken chicken scratchings. It’s very useful and stops read books getting lost, drained through the colander of my memory.

I was stuck by inspiration – what if, I thought, what if I pretended that I was either a) a famous book critic (THINK: THAT BLOKE FROM RATATOUILLE) or b) an author writing a blurb for someone, who was also HELLA hangry and in need of the loo. In DESPERATE need of the loo.

So I searched my reading log and found the below …

‘I love it but at the same time I don’t.’

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

‘BatCat (More. Screen. Time. Please)’

BATMAN: HUSH (which I read as a comic but apparently I think comics have screen time so … oh-kay then.)

‘Moved like a sluggish river in summer’s drought’

The Rain From God, by Mark Ammerman

‘Initially thought that it was mediocre and uninspiring, however, I was wrong

BOOSTER GOLD: BLUE AND GOLD

‘Contained the soul of Robin Hood’

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley, blurbed by: a dramatic goldfish

‘A Christian acid trip’

Perelandra, by C S Lewis

I’m afraid that I amuse myself greatly. Have you read any of these? How would YOU blurb them?

happy reading!

Books

comparing white chocolate to georgette heyer books

… because, of course. I inhale white chocolate, and do the same with Georgette Heyer’s books. So it makes perfect sense. Either that or the following is a slow descent into madness.

Before I should go on, please don’t comment ‘WHITE CHOCOLATE ISN’T EVEN PROPER CHOCOLATE THO!’ because I don’t need that kind of outrageous negativity in my life. Also, it is! (AndPlutoISaplanettoosothere.)

Lindt Lindor White Chocolate ‘Irresistibly Smooth’

It’s not my favorite chocolate ever. It’s a bit flaky? And then the middle is smooth. Just, pick one – okay? (Or, note to self, read the packet before gobbling it down. Manage expectations etc. Specifically your ones.) It’s a whole journey in your mouth with good and bad and brilliant and confusion.

Spig Muslin – it took me years to get around to reading this and I was not a fan at first. Because I’d skimmed it and hadn’t taken the time to read it. But then I went on a one woman road trip and listened to the audio AND OH MY GOSH IT’S ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD. It’s a journey, but we get there in the end. I could always do with more hero/heroine clashes because you know that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

(I don’t know what that phrase means. I have theories but mmhfff.)

Thornton’s White Chocolate:

It’s white chocolate that could have potential if only it took a little less sweetener and a little more milk.

Friday’s Child – it’s been awhile since I’ve read this one so this could be wrong. I reserve the right to be wrong. But – I remember hating it. Perhaps I had the wrong mindset. Perhaps when I go back into the book I’m going to think it’s wonderful. It’s the bee’s knees. The cat’s meow. BUT NOT TODAY.

If all of Heyer’s books were tea, this would be Earl Grey. (I didn’t always loathe Earl Grey; once upon a time, we had a torrid like affair. BUT NO LONGER.)

If all of Heyer’s books were white chocolate this would be- wait.

Milky Bar Buttons

Milky Bar Buttons fill me with happiness – sweet, but not too much so. Milky, as one would suspect. It’s a perfect marriage between the two.

Cotillion/Frederica – I mean, they’re just so sweet and beautiful. How could you not? They are comfort. They are sweet. They are full to the brim of vibrant characters with cackle-inducing humour.

I have written blog posts about both of them: Cotillion / Frederica.

Green and Black’s White Chocolate

I could eat several entire bars of these in one day. For me, this is my favorite white chocolate (SO FAR!) It’s sweet – but not too much. Milky, but in the perfect way. It has resolution (wut) it has flavour. It is good for you (in comparison to the rest). It is ethical. (I think.)

Civil Contract aka one of my favourite Heyer books evah!!! It’s real. Or at least, it feels real to me – far more real than the other Heyers. The ending is not overwhelmingly happy, but it is practical. Perhaps even realistic.

The romance is a slow one, built more on friendship than the heady heights of first love. And I’m completely okay with that.

I’ve podcasted about this in my very long lived five episode podcast series. I’ve discussed this passionately in a graveyard. I’ve read it multiple times.

Perhaps, over the years, my taste in brands of white chocolate and Heyer books may shift. And that’s okay – we always seem to be changing, don’t we? I don’t like some of the books my teenage self read. Because my gosh the heroes were like sausages – the wurst.

*pause for audience laughter*

*no laughter. joke flops about like a beached fish. dies horribly*

Well, this has made me long for some white chocolate. OH WAIT. I haven’t even got to the combo flavours yet!!! White chocolate and strawberry and … Nope. I should stop, lest I put an end to being so very succinct. ah-hem.

QUESTION: HOW MANY TIMES WAS SWEET USED AS A DESCRIPTION IN THIS BLOG POST?

ANSWER: NOT ENOUGH.

happy reading!

Books, Recountings

recountings: batman does community service

I’m a big Batman fan – have been from the moment I peeked over my brother’s shoulder and saw Batman: The Animated Series for the first time. So a book about Batman? This should have been right up my alley. (My Crime Alley I’M SORRY, BRUCE!)

I should give you a head’s up, shouldn’t I? This post is going to go into FULL geek out mode and there’s going to be spoilers for the book. If comics and superheroes and disgruntled readers aren’t your cup of tea – perhaps you should skip this post. If they are: hello and welcome …

Batman: Nightwalker

by Marie Lu

THE PROBLEMATIC AND IMPROBABLE PREMISE

  • You are eighteen years old.
  • You’ve just come into your trust fund.
  • You are a billionaire.
  • You crash your car in order to catch a criminal, accidentally disrupting a police chase
  • You are sentenced to community service in an insane asylum that houses the criminally insane. For example serial killers and rapists and your friendly neighbourhood murderous nut-jobs
I KNEW Gotham’s justice system was broken
  • while there, you become drawn to Madeleine, a girl your age with a ‘canopy of eyelashes’ who has hair which ‘spills over her shoulders like a river of midnight’
  • who, coincidently, IS ACCUSED OF MURDERING THREE PEOPLE IN COLD BLOOD
*record screech* Yes. I know. I have many thoughts about this too.

THE LOVE INTEREST – BRUCE, OL’CHUM, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

Listen. Batman has made some questionable decisions in the love department. (*cough* Talia Al Ghul *cough cough*) Remember that episode in B:TAS where he married that literal plant lady?* At least he had an excuse for it – Poison Ivy had pollen’d him.**

Maybe the author was trying to continue this trend. But Catwoman exists (and that book in the DC Icons series doesn’t, okay?) and I have some objections to Madeleine …

a) she is described farrrr too much: entire paragraphs are dedicated to her, her hair, her eyelashes, her eyes, her face, her personality etc etc.

… her hair spilling behind her like a dark ocean.

page 117

b) remember that scene from Sherlock – the one where he’s deduces ‘your sister has a drinking problem and you’ve got PTSD and enjoy crumpets with raspberry jam for breakfast’? Madeleine does this. But about Bruce’s emotions. Through prison glass. Based on a handful of interactions.

This leads me to conclude that Bruce must have a VERY expressive face. Which is probably why he covers it with a cowl. OHMYWORD THIS IS WHY HE BECOMES BATMAN!!

‘FO SURE

c) She tells a disguised Bruce that she knows who he is because of his gait. (Does he walk like a sideways crab? Is he from the Ministry of Silly Walks?)

I HAVE QUESTIONS!

d) She’s written as so goshdarn cool and aloof. (Bruce is impressed with her because she doesn’t look at her interrogators. She stares straight ahead. I should do the same. Maybe I’ll blink once in a while. It’ll blow his mind.)

There’s more, but it’s all far too much. Far. Too. Much. Is she a Mary-Sue? Hmmm. She isn’t quite a cardboard cut out complete with glorious hair – it’s simply that I strongly object to her. And her hair. She quotes Sherlock Holmes to a future Batman. IS NOTHING SACRED?!!

BRIEF PAUSE FOR A FOOD ANALOGY

It’s like some cookies I once made. I thought to myself – you know what I like? Cookies. You know what makes them really good? Sugar and chocolate. *lightbulb moment* If I pour A TON OF SUGAR AND CHOCOLATE INTO THE MIX IT WILL MAKE THEM THE BEST COOKIES EVER.

They looked terrible, and tasted worse.

Madeleine is the cookie. Sugar and chocolate are the coolness factors. A blue whale’s worth of weight has been poured in. It doesn’t work. You can have too much of a good thing. In fact, you can have so much of it that it needs to be binned and you need to find a new recipe.

In fact, you need to actually use one.

I didn’t, and yes, I do have regrets.

BRUCE WAYNE – BATMAN IN TRAINING

I didn’t mind the Bruce Wayne in the book too much. I could see slight influences of the Animated Series creeping in. But these were drowned out by two undeniable truths:

  1. He falls in love with Madeleine.
  2. He is too well-adjusted

Listen, Batman – for better or worse – is always unless DC actually let him BE HAPPY FOR ONCE ultimately going to be that boy sitting beside the bodies of his dead parents. Lost. Alone. Hurting.

There wasn’t much of that in the book. It tries. But it felt a little clunky. As if it didn’t quite fit. Which is odd for a book about Batman. Most of the angst is about … something else. Or rather, someone else. Bruce has nightmares ‘haunted by shadows or dark halls or a girl with long black hair‘ and he does bond with Madeleine over having dead parents.

so really it’s almost canon

But I wasn’t sold on the idea that this Bruce Wayne was going to don a cowl and fight crime dressed as a bat, full of harnessed rage and never – ever – seeking therapy.

THE REST

  • I liked Bruce’s gym. It was VR and seemed really quite awesome.
  • The technology in the story was rather spiffing.
  • Alfred was in the story. Harvey Dent was given more character development.
  • Hanging out in Gotham was quite nice
  • The writing was good. (Even for the hair. It was very picturesque. I just didn’t understand why it was featured so prominently. Was it magical – like Rapunzul’s?)

Her long black hair hung straight and shining over her shoulders, glinting blue underneath the slivers of light slicing the floors and walls.

PAGE 180

TO SUM UP …

I guess we all have an idea of how our fictional heroes should be portrayed in our heads. What I might think is authentically Batman, others might think is terrible and wrong. And vice versa. And that’s okay.

I don’t usually venture too far into the world of YA genre, so perhaps my views are already slightly skewed. Perhaps Madeleine is the way all YA heroines are written. Either way … this book wasn’t for me. I enjoyed a few parts of it, and was terribly frustrated with the rest.

goodreads // amazon

… you know what I have enjoyed though? Batman GIFS. There’s a veritable multitude!

Happy Reading!

*Batman: The Animated Series, Season 4, Episode 22 ‘Chemistry’

** YES, THIS IS A TERM I’VE JUST MADE UP. NO, I HAVE NO REGRETS.

Books

recountings: the gift of fear

Welp. I’ve read an array of factual books. My gosh. What is wrong with me?!

320146

The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence

by Gavin De Becker

In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker [..] shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger – before it’s too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker [..] offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including: how to act when approached by a stranger; when you should fear someone close to you; what to do if you are being stalked; how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls; the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person; and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life

I am a worry-wart. There. I confessed. My imagination often leaps to the most dire and illogical consequences and presents them to me in technicolour glory: do this, it says, and you’re probably definitely going to die.  

As a perennial worry-wart and self-targeting-fearmonger, reading this book was rather freeing. I learned some things …

1 // Say No.

Mean The No.

I am a polite person. I hate embarrassment and hurting someone’s feelings. But sometimes you have to say no. It doesn’t matter if you come across as impolite or rude … what matters is this:

you don’t owe anybody anything

If you’re a) asked out or b) approached with a question that makes you uncomfortable … you can say no. You don’t need an excuse. You don’t need to apologise for not wanting to do something. Say no. It’s okay.

2 // Listen To Your Gut

Image result for listen to your gut gif

It’s common sense – but if you get a certain prickly sense of this person is bad news ABORT SITUATION ABORT!! then you should probably listen to it. Don’t reason the feeling away. Investigate the matter. At a distance. A very distant distance.

However, if your gut tells you: I need a bar of white chocolate STAT … then that’s your stomach calling and you need a bar of white chocolate STAT.

3 // …

Related image

The Abusive Person Checklist Reminds Me Of Some Romance Novels Leads

‘… he had a bad childhood/his mum didn’t love him enough’ is not an excuse for abusive behaviour. It may be a reason or a cause, but by golly, abusive behaviour should never be excused, but, so often, it frequently is.

The course of true love shouldn’t be covered with mental and/or physical bruises – Shakespeare (Possibly.)

I’m sorry, Phantom. You have problems.

_Rt2uY
so. many. problems. you need ALLL the therapy

borrow // buy // steal