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review 2018-10-16 04:18
Truly Devious for Baker Street Irregulars
Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

This is weird and why I consider my own ratings to be bunk: In June I picked this up read the first chapter and abandoned it. Just wasn't what I felt like reading. But it was on the list for Baker Street Irregulars, and I usually like Johnson, so...and I made it to the second chapter and then I was reluctant to put it down. Loved it. So Gothic romance and Nancy Drew and Sherlock and a boarding school too. Nom nom nom. I liked Stevie even as she exasperated me.

 

 By this time seems like I should be better at telling the difference between Not for Me and Not for Now, but no. Midnight in the Garden was probably the first book I picked for this Bingo, and I gave up entirely. Twenty five or so years ago I loved it. Go figure. 

 

Library copy 

 

 

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review 2018-10-13 23:57
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Scorch Trials - James Dashner

I have mixed feelings about this book. Yes, it was so good, I had to read one chapter after another, but I'm also really confused. I'm not sure I liked it. Does it make any sense? How do I rate it?

I've been thinking about it. I liked the excitement and new characters. The story was well paced and the setting just as spooky or even more than in the first book. But still, I'm confused, and I don't like it - the confusion, and the fact I have to wait a few months until the third book is being translated into Estonian. Because I started it in my mother tongue, I'm going to finish the series in my mother tongue as well. 
I still have my doubts but here and now 4 stars. You can be sure that five minutes from now it would be 3 stars. I am confused :( 

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review 2018-10-11 20:58
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury for Creepy Carnivals
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

The prologue begins with an opening line reminiscent of A Christmas Carol: "First of all, it was October, a rare time for boys."

 

Forty or so years ago I read this and identified with the boys, of course I did. This time I couldn't. So it was just a bunch of wordplay and monologuing and there was no horror to it anywhere, just an ad for an imaginary place I wouldn't be welcome. He did say some nice things about libraries, though, so I'm giving it a couple of stars.

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review 2018-10-04 23:59
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield  for Deadlands
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield

[10/05/18  Edited to add: I managed to upload a bad picture of my bingo card.]

 

This is such a good book I want to be a better writer to do it justice in my review. Waiting longer for inspiration is just not on though: my memory will let the details blur and the experience fade. 

 

Setterfield is a writer who's greatest flaw is not being prolific. Actually, that may be the only flaw. She has once again crafted a work of fiction that has a convincing Victorian setting with a modern sensibility directing the reader's attention to characters and incidents that a true Victorian wouldn't, but logic suggests that they are all valid. She manages to tell quite a few stories and examples of the craft of storytelling within a greater story of amazing events. While many writers succeed at making a house a character within their fiction, Setterfield has made part of the Thames a character, nor was she stinting in permitting this character moods. Okay, on the winter solstice the usual group are sitting around drinking in the Swan, an inn distinguished by the storytelling within. The door opens, a man, his face a bloody mess staggers in clutching a large doll in his hands.

 

Over the course of one year we watch the repercussions of that moment: how it affects characters major and minor and also, this is the tricksy bit, we watch how those events become stories. Yes, many stories dependent on point of view, and skill, stories becoming more stories as that one event is observed (or not), in light of new events, and then, still later developments. The metaphor is well served: there is an attempt to trace the roots of the story back to the beginning, which you can't do any more than you can trace a river back, fractally there are always more branches feeding in.

 

There is so much: there are clever half-starved orphans, prosperous farmers, the family of innkeepers, the town midwife, the minister, servants and animals, wealthy distillery owners, thieves and blackguards, despite the extensive cast one never feels that the author is coasting by with stereotypes or with every character having the same voice. There is plot and pathos enough for Dickens, and despite the 21st century sensibility there's none of that business of giving a character clearly modern ideas.

 

There is, of course, a supernatural element as well as a few mysteries, dreadful crimes and moments of grace. Everything is here, told my a humanist in the Pratchett vein, but without the jokes and footnotes. It is a lovely, suspenseful book that I couldn't bear to put down in order to post updates. Read it soon: give it to yourself or someone you really like as a gift for one of the several solstice-adjacent holidays. Just the thing for long winter nights by the fire.

 

ARC from publisher

 

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review 2018-09-16 23:48
Fairest - Gail Carson Levine for A Grimm Tale
Fairest - Gail Carson Levine

Meh. There were some nice changes from the standard Snow White, and I  quite liked that she wasn't beautiful at all, but downright ugly. But it will never be my favorite. Weirdly, whereas the musical aspect of Seraphina really engaged me, the constant singing just kind of annoyed me, and that is huge.

 

It's written for a middle grade audience, there's no sex, or drugs, or actual  murder, and the resolution is elegant. But it felt watered-down to me, way more so than the Disney version. It's first person, so there's no worry for the reader, but it goes beyond that: there is reference to revolution but I didn't believe it. The stakes felt really minor. Or maybe I'm bothered that the heroine only twice showed any initiative. She never made decisions she just did whatever she was told. At least Snow White comes up with the housekeeper idea, even if it is a stereotype.

 

Or it could just be that I've been tired and cranky all day despite the lovely rain.

 

Library copy 

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