every Starbucks should have a polar bear (scoradh) wrote,
every Starbucks should have a polar bear

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#23, #24, #25, #26, #27

Dragon Haven, Robin Hobb

There's not much to say about this book. It concludes the journey started in the first book, ending up at Telsingra, which naturally was the place Fitz discovered yonks ago with the travelling stones. Some people died, several fell in love, plot twists were exposed with a single yank. Hobb did not exactly exert herself with this one. Although I enjoyed it going along, I kept waiting for it to get better. It didn't. It's a shame; she's clearly passed her peak as a writer.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan

The story: unfortunately told in the first person present tense, it's basically an amalgam of the Village and (my reference point) the attack of the Red Ships in Robin Hobb's Assassin Trilogy. However, that part is basically a fill-in-the-blanks of any zombie story/movie you've ever read. As zombies are not my Thing, the Red Ships are the only thing I have to go on; it doesn't mean the story felt any fresher or unique to me. Zombies are part of the Jungian consciousness now.
Anyway, for some reason, you can only kill zombies by cutting off their heads or setting them alight, which begs the question of why they weren't all firebombed when the issue first became a threat.

It all begins when protagonist Mary's mother chooses to become a zombie instead of leaving her father to his fate. It strikes me that if anyone understood what that meant - essentially becoming a mindless predator, albeit an uber-slow one - no one would think it romantic. A series of reveals means Mary discovers the local religious are hiding secrets about the past; they also happen to sacrifice a unique visitor to the village to the zombies. I am still not clear on why they did this.

Eventually, the zombies overwhelm the village and Mary, with some others, escapes. There's a really tiresome, poorly plotted and overwrought romantic subplot that makes about as much sense as anything in this book. I was super annoyed at the conclusion of the book because it wasn't. Even as a setup for the next book (presumably in a trilogy or series, as everything is these days) there was remarkably little in the way of forward momentum. Perhaps this would have had a better impact on me had I read it at sixteen. Some books are clearly meant to be read at sixteen. Still, I may read the next book, if only because of the clearly gay romance and to see if anyone does come up with the firebombing plan, or if they're all just as dumb as they seem.

He places his hands over mine, the feeling so warm and so familiar. "Those days back there, in the house. That is my world. That is my truth," he says. "That is my ocean."

This was pretty awwww. I wasn't surprised that she had to kill Travis, but it still made me think hard. Maybe because I read this on a plane and there wasn't much else to do.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon

I've put off writing this up for ages, because I loved it a lot but I also had some issues with it. As I go to describe the plot I hit one of them: it's EVERYWHERE. I mean yes, it has two protags, so it has two storylines - but they're supposed to be entwined, yet they actually feel like two different books. And I suppose the most - good? bad? - thing was that, although it was supposed to be set in the forties and fifties, it reads like modern day. Which is good because I hate reading these doomed-for-their-time gay love stories, but bad because when it came to Sammy's outing at the trial I was all "... so?"

The romances felt way too ... convenient. Like, I realise they were vehicles to lead to the unlikely event of Rosa and Sammy's marriage and all the other tragedies - like Bacon's death and Joe's immolation - but a little more exploration of why an heiress and a hot film-star fell for these two particular men would have been nice. And while Joe's moving return to the bosom of his family was moving, the reasons why he stayed away were flimsy to say the least.

But that's just me caviling. The two scenes between Bacon and Sammy - their first kiss in an electrical storm and their first sex in a miniature city, oh my heart! They were A-MAZING. I learned quite a lot about comics, too.

There were a couple of quotes about the creative process that made me go "... YES. I DO THAT. ♥______♥"

As he watched Joe stand, blazing, on the fire escape, Sammy felt an ache in his chest that turned out to be, as so often occurs when memory and desire conjoin with a transient effect of weather, the pang of creation.

At such moments, she did not invent her plots or design her characters; she remembered them.

And the philosophical points he makes about the use of books as an escape from reality - really, all I can say is HEARTS. IN MY EYES. HEARTS.

[...] the usual charge levelled against comic books, that they offered merely an easy escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually to be a powerful argument on their behalf.

That was magic - not the apparent magic of the silk-hatted card-palmer, or the bold, brute trickery of the escape artist, but the genuine magic of art. It was a mark of how fucked-up and broken was the world - the reality - that had swallowed his home and his family that such a feat of escape, by no means easy to pull off, should remain so universally despised.

The newspaper articles that Joe had read about the upcoming Senate investigation into comic books always cited 'escapism' among the litany of injurious consequences of their reading, and dwelled on the pernicious effect, on young minds, of satisfying the desire to escape. As if there could be any more noble or necessary service in life.

And some parts made me cry.

He wondered what he would have put on his own parents' tombstones had he been given the opportunity. Names and dates alone seemed extravagance enough.

Sammy felt, that morning, [...] that he would rather not have love at all than be punished for loving. He had no idea how long his life would one day seem to have gone on; how daily present the absence of love would come to feel.

I want to see this, thought Rosa. In fact, there had been nothing in her life that she had ever wanted to see more.

Some parts made me laugh!

"And he was driven mad."
"And that's why he puts on the bat's clothes."
"Actually, they don't go so far as to say that," Sammy said. "But I guess it's there between the lines."

And some amazing imagery.

the iron mantilla of Queensboro Bridge.

Thunder harried the building like a hound, brushing its crackling coat against the spandrels and mullions, snuffling at the windowpanes.

Sammy would feel his small, damp palm and bitten fingers absorbed into the deep, sober Presbyterian fastness of Tracy Bacon's grip.

Bacon ;___________;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby

This book has an interesting premise: Annie breaks up with her long-time boyfriend, who is the ultimate fanboy of Tucker Crowe, singer. Annie emails Tucker about some archived music he released and they strike up an internet romance. It's very much chicklit as written by a man - Annie is thirty-nine and wants a baby for what any woman would describe as totally irrational reasons:

And she wanted a child for all the usual reasons [...] to feel unconditional love [...] she wanted to be held by someone who would never question the embrace, the why or the who or the how long.

Like, hello? Who has unconditional love for their parents or puts up with endless hugs from them? I HATE when people think like that. You're going to have basically the same relationship with your kids as your parents had with you; you won't magically turn into the Brady Bunch through wishing hard enough.

As I said, man's perspective: Annie is 'just as pretty' as a former model who's Botoxed to the hilt, but doesn't realise it. And is kind of ... fine with it. Men just seem blithely unaware of the body pressure women suffer daily and involuntarily.

Anyway, Tucker is majorly fucked up and has an amusing son called Jackson. Some of their dialogues made me laugh out loud. (On the PLANE.) I enjoyed the story, too, although it was a bit depressing - certainly Annie's thought about happiness -

final, incontrovertible truth that there was no point in trying anything that might make her happier, because she'd fail regardless.

- made me cry because I think I'll probably end up forty and unloved, too. Still, I'd probably read it again. When I’m forty.

Luck is a disease/I don't want it near me

Cool (and only, lol) lyrics.

Nobody gets forgotten any more. Seven fans in Australia team up with three Canadians, nine Brits and a couple of dozen Americans, and somebody who hasn't recorded in twenty years gets talked about every day. It's what the internet's for. That and pornography.

I love this. Hornby GETS the internet, the good and the bad bits.

"He was impeccably behaved," said Natalie. "A pleasure to be with. And he knows more or less everything there is to know about snakes."
"I don't know how long all of them are," said Jackson modestly.

See? Jackson is AWESOME.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

This was a very difficult book for an atheist to read, as it was full of the worst kind of pompous, self-satisfied religious prosing. I was recently introduced to the idea of 'questioning the narrator' and I do question this narrator, who perhaps retrospectively embraced religion after KILLING AND POSSIBLY EATING ANOTHER MAN.

The book has two halves, the boring first half where Pi describes his life in Pondicherry - very badly; I usually get a strong flavour of India from Indian writers, but this could have been anywhere, so long as it was beige - and the second half, where he's lost at sea with a tiger. There were a bunch of other animals too, but they devour each other. Then it turns out this might have been an allegory for the death of the other survivors of the shipwreck, one of whom as I mention Pi KILLED AND POSSIBLY ATE.

These are some of the quotes that literally made me gag:

in the thrall of reason, that fool's gold for the bright

I know zoos are no longer in people's good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.

I can well imagine an atheist's last words: "White, white! L-L-Love! My god!" - and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, "Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain," and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.

How dare he, who has no more proof than any atheist of what happens after we die, belligerently assume he is right?!

What if his words had the effect of polio on me? What a terrible disease it must be if it could kill God in a man.

I say what a GREAT disease, but YMMV!

I never forget to include this fish in my prayers.

What a waste of time. Praying and this book.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2010:
The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories, Anton Chekhov | I'll take you there, Joyce Carol Oates | Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides ♥ | The School for Husbands, Moliere | On Green Dolphin Street, Sebastian Faulks | The Famished Road, Ben Okri | Lord of the Flies, William Golding | Moby Dick, Herman Melville A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway | Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell ♥ | The Sea, the Sea, Irish Murdoch ♥ ♥ | Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad | Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy | The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman | The Sea, John Banville | paddy clarke ha ha ha, Roddy Doyle | The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough ♥ | The Godfather, Mario Puzo ♥ | The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman | Possession, A.S. Byatt ♥ ♥ ♥ | Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales | The Mysteries of Pittsburg, Michael Chabon
Tags: book glomp 2010

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