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Search tags: better-than-expected
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review 2018-08-16 06:50
Fun running over tropes
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen,Marilyn Butler,Claire Lamont

Why did I take this long to read this? From Austen's big six, this is the last I got to. I mean, I know what my reasoning was: satire and humour was not what I was looking for when I searched for an Austen volume. But I was wrong to, because this was a great romp.

 

(On that note, one day I have to write long and hard on how the prominence of Pride and Prejudice in pop-media puts an expectation on what Austen writes about that is a total disservice to her body of work)

 

If you put this and Persuasion together, it's impossible to ignore that the woman's common thread is not romance, but social critique, and tropes and expectations. In this one she takes Gothic literature ones, and more than run with them, runs them over. Anne Brontë kinda did that in a very understated way. There is nothing understated here, and I was laughing from the opening lines alone... Actually, the overall initial setting is quite similar to Brontë's Agnes Grey's opening, just, you know, absolutely savage. Much like the whole book.

 

The charming part comes from Catherine being a sincerely good-natured soul, and pretty sensible on the whole, so even where she hypes herself from much sensational reading (and hell, like nobody ever got jumpy in the night after reading or watching some horror), and builds some weird fantasies on it, she never quite finds herself carried away on over-dramatic feelings of angst, be it romantic or otherwise. Even when other characters ask about them on hilariously detailed, over the top descriptions.

 

I get now why it is the favourite Austen among many. I had lots of fun with it.

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review 2018-07-21 15:00
No bullshit romance
Silver Silence - Nalini Singh

Big thanks to Ceridwen and her guidance, because I really liked this one.

 

The world is rich but understandable enough, and the author does not go for info-dumping to ensure it. So, from my point of view, extra kudos for being self-contained.

 

I don't know how the romance works in other volumes, but there were a lot of positives for me in this one:

 

- There is a very alpha male. He's very protective, sure. But he's respectful. And he wants his mate to be his equal. Everyone equates capacity for being alpha with capacity for love.

 

- Consent is a huge thing in-world. At some point, the main male character says consent once does not imply consent again. Like wow, how come we don't see that often. So sexy.

 

- Main female character is BAMF. Actually, everyone is BAMF, even the grandmother. World of BAMF. But what I like is that it is in a quiet way. We don't see her engage in any huge display of power here, but it's always there, in the dialogue, her hyper-competence, the way she attends to her looks and literally calls it armor, the no-bullshit directness.

 

- Directly related to that one, the way the romance progresses in a no-bullshit way. Given the uber-praticality of anyone in Silence, and Valentin's commitment it makes sense. It translates into fast paced and big on communication. There are hurdles, but it's more an external, plot related thing. Little to do with hysterical angsty push and pull. Like I said, no bullshit. Such a relief.

 

I don't know that I will love all of the books in this series, but what I see I like, and will certainly read more Singh soon

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review 2018-07-10 20:44
Lots of fun
Quidditch Through the Ages - J.K. Rowling

Madam Pince, our librarian, tells me that it is “pawed about, dribbled on, and generally maltreated” nearly every day – a high compliment for any book.

 

Dumbledore's introduction set the tone.

 

I liked this one A LOT better than Strange Beasts (caveat: my digital copy didn't have the margin notes, so it lost the meta gold extra). Anyway, Bestiaries are good for curiosity, but this one was just plain entertaining. The tong in cheek tone was great, and the amount of laughters it pulled from me with the shenanigans involved in the rules creations, and the fouls mentions can't be counted. I mean:

 

The full list of these fouls, however, has never been made available to the wizarding public. It is the Department’s view that witches and wizards who see the list “might get ideas.”

 

Refereeing a Quidditch match was once a task for only the bravest witches and wizards. Zacharias Mumps tells us that a Norfolk referee called Cyprian Youdle died during a friendly match between local wizards in 1357. The originator of the curse was never caught but is believed to have been a member of the crowd.

 

That last is naturally taking "cursing the referee" to it's expected literal end, and those are just fast examples.

 

I got the edition with the History of the World Qudditch Cup and the the 2014 articles, which was just the cherry on top. Aaand also very fitting in timing *grin*

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review 2018-07-01 08:54
Fabulous
The Prince and the Dressmaker - Jen Wang

And no, I'm not being facetious, I loved this thing.

 

I loved the expressive faces (specially Frances' on-going bemused into blank ones), the colorful tone, the hilarious hijinks and of course, the over all theme of acceptance.

 

To all that, I add three awesome scenes: the devil's wench, Juliana meeting Crystallia, and the King's outfit. I hooted and laughed so much I almost fell from my chair.

 

If I got a lump in my throat from the deep love of every type involved in all of it, well...

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review 2018-01-26 15:43
Marriage bargains across the sea
The Shuttle - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Like it happened to me with the two previous novels by this author, this book happened to me also. As in, there I was reading, and the gorgeous writing caught me and carried me through the pages.

 

The starting issue is difficult to read and heartbreaking. Mixing of cultures, a despicable man and a sweet, naive girl. Reading Nigel's though process was forever icky, and, like I mentioned in some progress update, an abridged manual for abusers. It is startling and scary how accurate many of his observations on human behavior are, and how he uses normal expectations and disbelief as a refuge in audacity (at one point he observes how he's being over-the-top in his villainy, and how it's to his advantage, because who would believe such a discourse happened in real life).

 

Once Betty enters the stage to stay, it becomes more like the standard Hodgson Burnett fare. Much like Sarah Crewe, she's a plucky, resourceful angel. It's one of those unbelievable characters that one still can't help but love and be charmed by.

 

It is a lovely book that tackles a thorny issue in a somewhat rosy but insightful way, and I liked it very much.

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