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review 2018-03-01 22:48
The Book of Joan, by Lidia Yuknavitch
The Book of Joan: A Novel - Lidia Yuknavitch

More a novel of ideas than a "yarn," The Book of Joan's characters exist primarily as symbols, vehicles for ideology. This quality brought to mind older modes of storytelling, such as ancient Greek and Roman epics, fairy tales, and didactic poems. Everything is heightened--the language, the stakes, the characters. At first I highlighted many passages, dazzled by the prose, but the lyric language reached a critical mass about a third of the way through, and I became distracted by linguistic tics such as the overuse of "wrong" as an adjective. It could also be hard to read some of the graphically violent passages.


Nevertheless, I applaud this novel's ingenuity, its reworking of Joan of Arc's story and interesting notions regarding gender and sex.

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text 2018-02-03 14:06
Reading progress update: I've read 15%.
Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars Prose Novel - Alex Irvine

Enjoying this.  


Got my internship set, and it's very close by to my house, yay!   So I'm slightly more relaxed, but I also don't know when I'm working and probably won't for another week.   I'm going to do my best to relax until then, but I'm better off with a regular schedule, so I'll be better... soon.   

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text 2018-01-29 20:20
A lot of the Marvel prose novels are $1.60 as Kindle books
Rocket Racoon & Groot Prose Novel - Marvel Comics
X-Men: Days of Future Past Prose Novel - Marvel Comics

This includes the new Who is Black Panther novel.   I'm buying a bunch that I don't already own.  

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review 2017-10-23 05:31
Pros and Cons (Magical Bookshop Mystery, #2)
Prose and Cons - Amanda Flower

I wavered between 3.5 and 4 stars for this one, but ultimately, I enjoyed reading it, so 4 stars it is.


Amanda Flower is a pseudonym for an author that wrote an Amish series under another name, Isabella Alan, which I started off really liking and ended up being totally fed up with after 4 books. The best part of the series was the protagonists attraction to an Amish man who was, of course, impossible to have.  Beyond that, the plotting and characters just ended up being irritating.


But so far, there's none of that nonsense here; I like the characters, especially the front-running love interest, the sheriff, David Rainwater.  I like the story setup too, with the tree growing through the middle of the bookshop, the crow, the cat and the mystical properties of the nearby spring that brings the bookshop to life.  I love that the bookshop throws books at people.  Seriously, that might be my favourite part of the whole series.


What I do NOT like is the similarity in spinelessness between Violet in this series, and whoever the protagonist was in the Amish series.  I don't admire waffling women (or men), and Violet more than just waffles - or should I say she does less than waffles? - she just doesn't do anything in terms of steering her own life.  The author has setup a love triangle of sorts (why? because we hate them!) and Violet doesn't even want one of the men - a childhood sweetheart - but rather than just tell him to bugger off, she neither does nor says anything. If she doesn't grow a spine, it'll ruin this series.


The mystery plotting was... ok.  I didn't see the murderer at all, but I'm not sure you could say this was written to be a fair play mystery either.  The first in the series touched on Native American mythology, and I love that the author made the sheriff, one of the romantic interests, a Seneca.  I'd have liked a bit more of that in this book.


In general - it has potential.  Make that MC someone worth admiring instead of a noodly, passive aggressive character that lets men push her around, and the author will be onto a solid cozy series that could be a lot of fun.

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review 2017-10-07 18:29
Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories, by Herman Melville
Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories (Penguin Classics Edition) - Peter M. Coviello,Herman Melville

Well that took me long enough! I've been desperate to read some horror, but these Melville stories have been hit and miss, his prose sometimes impenetrable. This is my second encounter with Melville (I read Moby Dick some years ago), and it's been a while. I was prompted to pick up this collection of his shorter works by recent references to both "Bartleby" and Billy Budd.


I began with "Bartleby, the Scrivener," which turned out to be my favorite. Melville is an excellent comic writer, and this portrait of a law office made me laugh out loud. Yet it's also incredibly poignant. The narrator is a lawyer who hires Bartleby as a scrivener (a copier); Bartleby joins three other employees, hilariously nicknamed Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut. Bartleby goes about his copying, but when the lawyer asks him to read aloud his copy to proofread, he simply says he "prefers not to." From this point he "prefers" not to do all sorts of things, including leave when his boss attempts to fire him. The lawyer is non-confrontational and fancies himself a good man to the point where he actually changes the location of his office to avoid dealing with Bartleby (who is also found to be living there) further. Yet the problem of Bartleby persists.


Why does Bartleby "prefer not" to comply with requests made of him? Melville does not offer a black-and-white answer. The introduction likens Bartleby to a Wall Street occupier, someone who occupies spaces of capitalism without using them for that end, but the quote I found most insightful describes Bartleby as a man of preferences rather than assumptions. How much does our daily behavior and actions depend upon assumptions? As with other Melville works, a queer reading of the text is also possible: the relationship between the lawyer and Bartleby involves exchanges and behavior not dissimilar to those made in romantic partnerships.


The stories I liked next best were "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" and "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids." The former is a series of sketches by a sailor who has been to the Galapagos Islands; some sketches are more engaging than others. The language in the first few is lovely as Melville describes the hostile, lonely island landscape. The latter is a pair of tales told by the same American narrator, first in London then New England--a lawyer's club and paper mill, respectively. These are apparently based on Melville's own travels. I preferred the second piece, which I read as feminist and potentially Marxist. There's some fantastic prose detailing the paper machine, the women, and their work. 


There are five other stories, but the last I'll mention is the novella, Billy Budd, which Melville was working on at the time of his death. It's become key evidence for those who feel Melville may have been bisexual or simply held progressive views on gender and sexuality. Billy Budd is a "Handsome Sailor" who is conscripted to serve on a British naval ship. Everyone likes him, as he's pretty and good-natured. But one (also good looking) sailor envies his beauty and goodness, and it leads to tragedy. The most interesting thing about this tale for me was the fact that this is a story often told about women, to illustrate their vanity, jealousies, and pettiness or cattiness. In this context, in a time after two serious mutinies and during hostilities between Britain and France, such personal jealousy results in catastrophe.

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