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review 2018-03-26 01:04
And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

There was something magical about an island – the mere word suggested fantasy. You lost touch with the world – an island was a world of its own. A world, perhaps, from which you might never return.

Oh, Dame Agatha, you foreshadowing minx!

 

This was a re-read (re-re-re-re-re-read, more like). I don’t feel the need to review this one in depth, but I will say this: If you read this book and liked it, read it again. Come for the mystery, stay for the masterful psychological manipulation that becomes apparent only when you know who the killer is. It’s a mind trip, y’all.

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review 2018-03-21 12:00
Endymion Spring
Endymion Spring - Matthew Skelton

I think I bought this off a bargain book table sometime around 2007. I’d never heard of it or the author before or since. I’d say it’s more Middle Grade than YA, though it’s a bit slow and uneventful for a MG audience. Blake, the main character, is bland and not at all memorable. His little sister, nicknamed Duck (I actually can’t remember if anyone ever says her real name) is less bland and unmemorable, but she’s also kind of (really) insufferable. Oxford and the Bodleian Library make for an interesting setting, and the parts of the story set in the 1400s make a decent short story by themselves, but the novel as a whole is unremarkable. The writing isn’t bad (brief, random, sudden POV shifts notwithstanding), and it’s mildly entertaining. It’s a quick, easy read, but not one I can recommend with any amount of enthusiasm.

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review 2018-03-16 05:58
Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal
Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: The Novelization - Jim Henson;A.C.H. Smith

Full disclosure: At least one full star of my rating is because this was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid and my nostalgic love for it in all forms is strong. If I make an attempt to be objective, I have to admit that the book is a tad on the dry side, and some of the descriptions seem out of place and serve little purpose. Aside from that, the story benefits a great deal from being told in novel form.

 

You know that bone-dry “Jen is the chosen one” expositional voice-over at the start of the movie? Not here! Those confusing rituals of the Skeksis and Mystics (actually called urRu and never referred to as Mystics in the book)? Explained! All that Skeksis political positioning following the death of the emperor? Also explained in greater detail with a clear delineation of factions! I don’t know how many people care about Skeksis politics, but all of that palace intrigue in the movie makes a hell of a lot more sense to me now, so I’m glad it’s covered. My next viewing of the movie will be enhanced as a result of reading the book.

 

This hardcover includes the extensive editorial notes Jim Henson sent Smith after reading the novel’s first draft. While interesting, this section is super dry. Don’t go in unless you’re well hydrated. Also included are a bunch of Brian Froud’s conceptual sketches strewn randomly throughout the book instead of all together at the back in a civilized appendix. Someone in the layout department at Archaia thinks interrupting the story with sketches of usually unrelated subjects is a great idea, apparently.

 

In closing: Fizzgig Forever. ♥

 

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review 2018-03-13 07:43
Jim Henson's Labyrinth
Jim Henson's Labyrinth: The Novelization - A.C.H. Smith,Brian Froud,Jim Henson

I think this is one of those “if you love the movie, you’ll love the book” things. In fact, I don’t think I’d recommend reading the book without seeing the movie first. Several times. A.C.H. Smith tries his damnedest (and does pretty well), but some things about Labyrinth just defy description in print. You’re better off going into this with as much visual reference as possible.

 

As someone who has seen Labyrinth many, many times, I found the book to be an enjoyable if somewhat fickle companion. On the one hand, it gives you interesting insight into things like why Sarah starts out as such an annoying, overwrought drama llama. On the other hand, it also does things like drag out the nightmarish Firey scene for nearly two whole chapters. (Ugh! I freaking hate the Firey scene! *shudder*)

 

This hardcover edition also includes some delightful concept art by Brian Froud and pre-production notes scanned straight from one of Jim Henson’s notebooks. They make for an interesting look into the minds of two creative geniuses. Did you know Jim Henson had messy handwriting? He totally did. I feel better about my own barely legible scribbling now.

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review 2018-03-04 07:22
Railhead
Railhead - Philip Reeve

Once upon a time in the 80’s I saw an anime movie on TV called Galaxy Express 999: Can You Love Like a Mother? It was episodes 51-52 of a 100+ episode series which I’d never seen. It was devoid of context and badly dubbed, but there was a boy on a train traveling through space and I was entranced. I never went looking for the whole series and had mostly forgotten about it until I started seeing reviews for Railhead pop up a couple of years ago. Sentient trains traveling through space? A young street thief caught in a galactic conflict beyond his comprehension? Intrigue and action and complex morality? Yes! cried my inner 80’s child. Sign. Me. Up.

 

Boy, am I glad I listened to her!

 

Railhead is absolutely full of interesting, flawed characters and has an intriguing, twisty plot, but it’s the freaking brilliant world building that really shines.

 

There were things that lived in the deep data: unregistered phishing nets, spam-sharks that would hack your mind and fill your dreams with adverts, half-mad military programmes left over from long-ago wars.

 

I can’t even articulate how much I love the future universe Reeve created, so I’m not going to try. The book does stand alone, but I’m super bummed there’s no sequel. [Edit: THERE ARE SEQUELS! I AM FULL OF JOY!] I want to ride the rails, making friends with the trains and listening to them sing while alien landscapes flash by.

 

I want to be a railhead.

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