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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 2018-10-02 20:21
1K thrill ride
Under the Dome - Stephen King

That was a trip and a half.

 

For being such and unwieldy mammoth, the tension never lets up. Everything goes to shit fats and through infinite pages. Something to have in mind before taking a stab at it. Gave me quite the bit of anxiety (which is part of what I liked but, you know).

 

The set up had my mind working. I was raised in a small town, so I could more or less envision most of the human-failure troubles to come (though here they were running on a rocked fueled schedule), but some of the environmental issues I had not considered till I read about the stream. Then I knew that even in fairytale land everyone was fucked. And King does not write "friendship is magic" worlds. He likes to put the devil at the wheel.

 

There are many bit thoughts running through my head theme wise, like cooperation vs dictatorships, the cruelty of children, the old terrible memories of shame and guilt, that remark about how skewed the numbers between genders were (because who do you think gets scalded first, when the water starts heating? Duh), their positions (librarians, doctors, press, liberal priests, smart kids), guilt for bad deeds vs guilt for having enjoyed them. Also, the surprising bits that made me laugh (mostly bleak Gilligan's cuts that proved I have a very dark sense of humour) and the bits that made me suck my snot (most of Sammy Bushey, Ollie and Ames).

 

I don't know that it is a book for everybody, even King's fans, and many of the paths trailed are a rehash of The Stand in a way, but I actually liked this one's pace a lot better (grueling is not always my choice, but it's a good one when I go for thrillers or scares, so plus).

 

On the whole, there were no big surprises, but I quite like it. And I'm exhausted.

 

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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 2018-09-11 20:05
The more things change
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell

How to tag this.

 

Know this though: if you expect a romance... well, there is romance, but it's not really the meat of the story. More like a sprinkled seasoning to give the excuse, and a happy ending I guess.

 

What this is about is industrialization, the theme for most characters was the failure point of their principles or what they considered their cornerstones, and the running one on interactions was misunderstandings arising from lack of enough knowledge to "wear another's shoes" (and no, I do not mean empathy), and it was masterfully done (if long-winded). So masterfully actually, that I had a raging fit and had to stop reading at one point (workers vs owners/strikes), because it is still such an on point analysis today.

 

The vehicle for all that is us following Margaret Hale through a three-year-long trauma conga line, through which she carries herself with so much poise and holding herself to such impossible standards that I could not help but want to shake her.

 

I'm a bit addled still by how packed this was, and I confess I'm downright intimidated by the prospect of her other books. I think I'll leave Wives and Daughters for another year's reading project.

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