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Search tags: better-than-expected
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review 2018-10-21 06:10
Surprised me
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

I was not expecting to find such a flawed, three-dimensional cast and a sad grim tone in a short, children's book. I don't know why, really, since I've come across both of those separately often enough in them (Dark Materials, Little Princess) paired with the big questions too. Specially given the fact that I've been a heavy reader since my tweens, and a firm believer in that Cabal's quote "when I want to write something that I think adults will have trouble understanding, I write children books" (I'm paraphrasing, I don't have that good a memory, and she likely borrowed too).

 

Here is the deal: this was way dramatic than I expected. And when I say dramatic, I mean angst, grief, homesickness, the loneliness of being an outsider. Really sad. Also maddening.

 

It is maddening because human nature is maddening. And because everyone, MC included, are flawed people with some good qualities and reasonable ideals and opinions and stances, and some appallingly wrong mixed in, so even with the best intentions they rub the wrong way and clash, misunderstand, work at cross-purpose. And there is always a little bitch witch shit ready to hate.

 

It was an interesting read even before the context of publishing-time kicks in (though I suspect there were some interesting witch-hunt related things coming out then... wasn't The Crucible a contemporary of McCarthyism too?)

 

At any rate, it was a really good book (totally deserves those awards), and it ended all sweet, happy and neat.

 

Hey! I keep missing my read for making another bingo. At this point, I'm not even pretending to curve my mood-reading. (There is also the bit where there is no magic here, but I'll let the title excuse my being misled)

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review 2018-10-17 18:55
Guess who has a new favourite author?
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

This was bloody amazing!

 

The writing was gorgeous, the braided in stories colorful and as bizarre as you could expect, and even when at their most tragic, always running this underground hilarity out of sheer cynicism and pragmatic pizazz. All seasoned with a good dose of feminism and magical realism.

 

I laughed a lot, but it actually ran me through the whole gamut of emotions and I did not want it to end. Loved it, will read more by the author, and will buy whatever of hers I can find around here.

 

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review 2018-09-20 02:59
First half to see good, then the shots are fired
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt

When I was around two thirds in, I started idly concocting a review in my brain, about how the almost surreal elements and characters was what gave this narrative such a verisimilitude. Cue me over the 80% mark, just going to search for a detail, and finding out this is nonfiction. Sure, there are artistic licenses, but in essence?

 

I love it when knowing absolutely nothing about a book pays up in such ways.

 

As I mentioned previously in an update, the general tone reminded me a lot of latinoamerican writing. This has a lot to do with the conservative (and quirky) societies that brew in relatively small, isolated towns. You have the sedate and beautiful surface, and the decades, generations, long ugly undercurrents. Everyone "behaves" in public out of a certain need for society and peace, and whomever "pops" may as well go the whole nine-yards and wear it like a flag.

 

So, that's basically the aim: to illustrate Savannah. The plot as it were serves the theme. We go into the deep ugly undercurrents. Almost every ugly you can imagine. Sometimes you are enraged and amused at the same time from the sheer hypocrisy rampant. I spent most of the book in some queer state of entertained stupefaction because it is so grotesque you almost can't believe it. But you do. You recognize it. It is your hometown.

 

 

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review 2018-09-06 01:54
Deserves the Hype
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did.

 

Beyond the absolutely endearing dragon (and a book-lover dragon at that, how can you pack more win?) and the lovely friendship with Laurence, the setting goes into many issues I would not have expected it to, but that would be the logical result of dragons existing, being intelligent, and drafted into the military.

 

It made me laugh, and think, and I mowed through most of it in one sitting. Full stars.

 

 

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review 2018-09-04 22:39
Not what I expected, but I could not stop reading
Strangers on a Train - Patricia Highsmith

I think I enjoyed this one exactly for the same reasons everyone disliked it: the characters were so messed up it was nerve-wreaking to read.

 

I've likely commented many times before how I love those books that engage me enough for me to get emotional over the characters, even if it is rage enough to want to strangle them, and that's pretty much what happens here. Bruno is a messed up cookie, and Guy is a derrotist moron, and that's what drives the slide-down-the-slope plot.

 

There is the thing too: I think most people think this will be something that is not. It is not a mystery. It is not a heist type of book of two guys planning perfect murders. What it is, is the very, very, very messed up relationship between a sociopath and a coward. The murders are just the thing that binds them and the theme is something like "all the wrong choices". While it made most dislike the book, it made me want to bitch-slap Guy and continue to read the train-wreak.

 

I think Highsmith was trying for this high-minded "either guilt or law will punish" poetic thing at the end, but it felt like an unnecessary convolution that made me go "NOW you find your spine/brain/cold-thinking to live with your actions, you moron", which, yeah, OK, poetic irony or something but... 4 stars

 

 

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