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review 2019-05-18 19:59
Let's Talk About Love
Let's Talk About Love - Claire Kann

Problematic in more than one way—bullet-point style, because I have other reviews to write:

- The writing style didn't agree with me from the beginning, whether the narrative or the dialogues (nobody really talks like that).
- Alice is a very childish character, more a young teenager than a 19-year-old person. Her "Cutie-Code" would've been OK had she been 13, but otherwise, it was pretty much face-palming.
- Which ties into another problem for me: "Alice = childish" so "Alice = asexual" can so easily been read as "asexual = she'll grow out of it".
- Also, Manic Pixie Dream Girl syndrome.
- The romance itself was nothing exceptional. Most of the relationship building even happens off-screen. Such as: Alice and Takumi fly in a hot air balloon, but we don't see it, we only know about it because she tells her friends. I don't know... Just show me the characters enjoying their flight? (At least that would've been better than the chicken soup part, with all its girl = mother/nurse implications.)
- Takumi taking pictures of Alice without her consent is creepy. And it's even creepier to see that it bothers her for, like, two seconds only before it gets swept under the rug. What's with romance stories trying to pass creepy stuff as "romantic"?
- Just communicate with your friends! That will spare you a lot of trouble.
- Not that the Alice/Feenie friendship is very healthy in itself. I kept feeling that Feenie just wanted to keep Alice in reach, and as soon as Alice started to see other people, then it meant Drama.
- To echo Alice's feeling: yes, having to always educate people about being [asexual / trans / gay / bi / lesbian / anything ] is super tiring. So reading such explanations throughout the book was super tiring, too. It tried too hard in that regard.
- Diversity is great, but Alice and Takumi were so generic that it didn't mean anything here.

I was so disappointed here. Ace representation isn't so widespread, so I was really hoping I'd like this book, and... Nope. Just the same old YA romance stuff as in (white) straight YA romance, only with lessons about asexuality.

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text 2019-05-05 19:00
Reading progress update: I've read 183 out of 255 pages.
An Unsuitable Attachment - Barbara Pym

Spent another enjoyable afternoon with Ianthe, the vicar and his wife, and their parishioners and acquaintances.  Things are moving along at a rather surprising pace in Ianthe's life, and not in the right direction at all in Penelope's.  A trip to Rome provides interesting insights (to the characters as well as to the reader).  I continue to like Mark and Sophia a lot, ditto Ianthe.  Rather seriously put off by Rupert lately, however.

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text 2019-05-05 18:48
Reading progress update: I've read 118 out of 255 pages.
An Unsuitable Attachment - Barbara Pym

"He worked contentedly for some time and was deep in the intricacies of a genealogy when the telephone rang.  It was a colleague, Everard Bone, who with his wife Mildred was to be one of the guests at the dinner arty that evening.

'Such a nuisance, Mildred seems to have flu,' he said irritably.  'She thought it would be unwise to come out this evening, so I'm afraid that's that.  She sends her apologies, of course.'

'I'm so sorry, said Rupert, 'but I quite see that she shouldn't come out.  I'd been looking forward to seeing you both, and I had wanted to discuss that Unesco thing with you.'

'Oh, I shall be coming,' said Everard.  'I only rang to say that Mildred can't."

NOOOOO!!!  How could you, Ms. Pym??

 

How could you do this --

 

a) at all,

b) off stage,

c) without ever letting us know how Mildred feels about her choice, neither when she first made it nor now, some years down the road,

d) AND as we learn in the next part of the conversation, to add insult to injury, leave flu-sick Mildred in the care of Everard's mother of all people??

 

[TA howls in frustration.]

 

And granted, a match with Everard is in the cards at the end of Excellent Women.  But still ... (sigh).

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text 2019-05-05 18:33
Reading progress update: I've read 110 out of 255 pages.
An Unsuitable Attachment - Barbara Pym

"'Is Mrs Gammon ill as well, then?' asked Ianthe helplessly.

'Not that I know of.  She's not at home.  It's her bingo night,' the vicar explained.

'Bingo?'  Ianthe gave the word a horriefied emphasis, for it sounded unsuitable coming from his pale lips."

Take that, bingo-loving BookLikers ... :)

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-04-05 12:48
Wizard's, um, Death's Apprentice
Mort - Terry Pratchett
Mort - Terry Pratchett,Nigel Planer

Hmm.  I suspect like other early Discworld books (particularly Equal Rites), I'm going to come to like this one considerably better upon a reread.  Going by first impressions, it begins with a hefty shower of sparkle, and both dialogue and plot hit high points whenever either of the two female leads (Death's adopted daughter Ysabell and Princess Keli, heiress to the throne of Sto-Lat) or, of course, Death himself appear -- I mean, just the mere notion of Death attending a party or

ditching his day job to work as a chef

(spoiler show)

is sheer genius in and of itself.

 

Somehow, though, it's definitely still on the light side of Pratchett, and the main wizard's Death's apprentice plotline doesn't quite work for me -- maybe because Pratchett already did similar things in the first two books (what but a bumbling wizard's apprentice is Rincewind?), only with a pointed spoof of 1980s fantasy conventions added into the mix.  I also have to say that the ending didn't quite work for me. 

Obviously, the idea of a "swashbuckler meets Star Wars meets Pratchett" cloak and dagger sword light saber scythe duel involving Death as such is yet another brilliantly inspired choice.  BUT Death is (as we are explicitly assured over and over again in this book, too) the ultimate impartial arbiter, devoid of any emotions.  (He famously has no sense of humour, and he expressly tells Mort that notions of "right" and "wrong" or "fair" and "unfair" are not for him, or anybody in his line of work, to consider: "You cannot interfere with fate. Who are you to judge who should live and who should die?")  Therefore it felt seriously off to me to see Death displaying not merely anger but outright fury when he learns what Mort has done -- and to duel Mort not for sport (which would have been in character) but to vent his fury and in order teach him a ((near-)fatal) lesson.

 

Then again, Pratchett sure does love to meddle with the bloodlines of nobility, doesn't he?  Is there a single royal family on the whole of Discworld that doesn't have the bearers of its ancient blood replaced, either openly or on the sly, by a commoner at some point?  Not counting the odd witch, of course ...

(spoiler show)

 

Well, at least now I know part of the back story of Hogfather, though.  And I'm still vastly enjoying this journey through the Discworld universe from the very beginning!  After thoroughly having enjoyed several of the later books, it still feels only right to finally catch up with how it all started.

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