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review 2017-09-05 19:37
Victorian (?) Ghost Snooze
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill

I'll let the book itself tell it

 

my main sensation was one of tedium and a certain lethargy, combined with a desire to finish the job

 

As a love letter and homage to Victorian ghosts stories, it fell very short. Hill clearly is familiar with the elements, which is necessary, but then fumbles them. A little flare is essential in these type of tales, specially when it's a throw-back to the style case.

 

As it is, it managed to bore me and made me struggle to finish the short pages. Everything is telegraphed pages and pages in advance, so by the middle I was just rolling my eyes and waving a "get on with it". No surprises, and a foregone conclusion.

 

It is not dreadful. It might appeal to a kid during that starting-to-read horror-addiction phase. And the beginning was somewhat promising. The jump-in-time matrioshka thing could have been interesting if it had been panned out, but only the framing was kept, and all the head-ache of years-math was for nothing. Seriously, what was with that house-buying reminiscing? Useless fat. And the morning-at-the-office while catching the train... tell it straight if it has no purpose!.

 

Then there are the issues of character calling things Victorian. Given the three times we are working with (the maybe 50 years old man writing, the recount of buying his house when he was some 35, and main story when he was 22/23, where a car appears) it could be that the protagonist is applying more modern terms to his past thinking. But I feel like either the author tried to get a cute wink at the fourth wall and it fell dead, or she forgot to stay in time (since she seems to be aiming for an "authentic" Victorian ghost story).

 

This last might be me over-estimating how long it took people to call the Victorian era such, and identify things and styles with it.

 

Anyway, I'm done roasting. Not awful or offensive, but I'm not reading another of hers.

 

 

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review 2017-09-03 03:12
Not as great a state as you'd think
The Invisible Man - H.G. Wells

Classic cautionary tale of what genius without morals can bring about.

I found interesting that the same disregard for consequences or others was Griffin's doom itself, going beyond the whole typical "evil does not pay", because it tied to an inability to think long term, see down-sides, and plan. He even admits it himself to Kemp, without understanding the weight or scope of what he is saying, and to Kemps horror too I think. He's a petty sociopath, and he was one before the experiment.

Thomas Marvel, now *snicker*. I love how the simple fellow ended up the winner of the story. Slow but deep thinker indeed.

 

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review 2017-05-17 00:23
Incoming Rant
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

You know, I'd read in some posh literary review that Jake and Brett were two of Hemingway's most lovable characters, but I really can't see how that could be. I get he was painting an era, but I had the same difficulties I had with Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby": I was bored by the characters misery (first world high class problems, people, that's what you have!); and I was enraged by the chaos and destruction they sowed all around themselves with their callow carelessness. Stupid egotistical brats.

And that's the other thing: they ARE reacting like brats. "Our parent's culture and ideology crumbled down and betrayed us! Let's rage and get drunk, and screw everyone around!" Except, you know, they are in their middle thirties. I don't say you have to have your shit together by that time or any other, God knows you never really do, and life has a marvelous way of sucker punch you when you think you have it balanced, but the over the top woe-is-me shit you are supposed to learn to manage after the hormones of puberty stabilize.

Every generation has challenges, and I reckon those that were born around the turn of the 20th century had a suck-fest of a raw deal, but what I saw inside this book was not just depression and insecurity over lost direction and of self, but a total lack of care for other people. I saw the phrase "moral bankruptcy" around, and I think that's and exact description, but it was treated as an excuse for how these particular characters act, because apparently it was a pervasive thing all around. News-flash: if everyone is a terrible person, and you act like everyone, you are still a terrible person.

 

So no, I have no love for these characters. Now, do I have any use for this book? *sigh* Thorny issue. If it was an accurate representation of the generation, I have to loose any surprise at seeing them fall right back into war; they all felt suicidal to me, and self-centered enough to blow up the world along with themselves.

 

So here's what I think: maybe it's useful, but I did not like it.

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review 2017-03-15 16:06
Bland seed
Wraiths of Time - Andre Norton

This is my first try on Andre Norton, a hugely prolific author striding the barrier of fantasy/sci-fy, and (I hear) an icon of the genre. I'm likely to dip in again; I finished this one in little time, as much because it was short, as because it was very easy to read.

 

I would have loved (as in capital letters, LOVED) this book when I was about 13. This could be taken as indictment or praise, and I guess I'm wavering between the two. On one hand, my taste has... I don't know if matured is the word, it sounds presumptuous, but having read several run-of-the-mill, I search for the exceptional now, so maybe I've become picky. This book doesn't meet that standard. On the other hand, I'm also reading "On Writing" by Stephen King, and in a clear case where one read influences another, I find that the story, while not amazingly written, was entertaining, the premise just what I'd been searching for and the execution serviceable.

 

So I'm not left with book hangover, but it's a good imagination launcher. Not meaty, but opens a world where you'd like to revel in and keep adding on, daydream or fanfiction style.

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review 2017-03-15 15:40
Bah!
A Painted Goddess (A Fire Beneath the Skin Book 3) - Victor Gischler

No, no, nope. This one didn't do for me. It wasn't bad perse, I guess, but no. I was bored, and I was annoyed, and while I liked some elements, and kinda expected the ending... still no.
 
I think mostly it is that this volume, and the previous one, exacerbated a vague sense I had in the first install of lack of substance. I can't quite explain it, that feeling, but it was as if the story check-marked. Also, vol 2 and 3 was too scattered. It was necessary for the plot, and that's the thing: it felt forced (mcguffing retrieval, all of them, and amazingly serendipitous, which aligns with the "fate" thing the plot has going, but still sucks). The empress pov, while interesting, was totally pointless.

 

So, yeah, so not for me.

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