Scholastic

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Book Report: Witches Abroad

Published March 29, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

This time, I’ve tackled challenged Challenge #23, “A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60.”  Of course, as soon as I thought about that challenge for even a moment, I knew there was only one protagonist to look to for this challenge:  Granny Weatherwax.

Yes, that is truly the cover of the copy I read.  (Meaning it would also have counted for Challenge #20, “A book with a cover you hate.”)  When you borrow a book from your father, you usually end up with an old edition.

Aaaaanyway, the book technically has three protagonists:  the three witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick.  Although Magrat (the only one who isn’t an old crone) is a bit at the center of the story, Granny Weatherwax is still the most important of them, though why in the world this cover has fused her with Nanny Ogg I cannot imagine.  (Seriously, she’s wearing Nanny’s red boots and Nanny’s cat Greebo is sitting on her head, but that’s definitely supposed to be Granny.  And the one in the back with the mirror is the villainess, so…yeah, lousy cover.)

So, what’s the book about?  Well, it starts out with Death.  Who, on the Disc, SPEAKS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.  In this particular instance, Death has come for Desiderata Hollow, a witch who’s also a fairy godmother.  Wait, no, actually, that’s not where it starts.  Where it starts is

This is the Discworld, which travels through space on the back of four elephants which themselves stand on the shell of Great A’Tuin, the sky turtle.

Things on the Discworld are both like and unlike things on other, more likely worlds.  For example, Genua, the home of Desiderata’s goddaughter Ella Saturday (nicknamed Embers, or Emberella for not-short, because of the meager fire she cooks over), at first seems to be based on a Renaissance Italian city-state (any of them will do), until you get there and discover that yes, it’s rather like a Renaissance Italian city-state, but it’s also definitely like New Orleans.  (It might also be part of the inspiration for the land of Far Far Away in Shrek 2, but I can’t be sure of that.)

And what brings our witches three to Genua?  Well, when Death escorts Desiderata off the Disc, she leaves her magic wand (and job as fairy godmother) to Magrat, and specifically orders Magrat not to allow Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg to accompany her to Genua, because she knows that’s the only way to ensure that all three of them go.  Because, of course, something is afoot in Genua, which requires the witches three to set it right.  Though they have quite a few adventures in foreign parts on the way there.  (They rarely leave the Ramtop Mountains…and only Nanny Ogg has even the slightest grasp of foreign languages…and it’s very slight…)

There’s more to it than that, of course, but that gives you a good idea of the premise.

And what’s the book like?

Well, it’s a Discworld book.  So it’s clever, funny, and well-written.  I’m not sure what else to say, y’know?

Except this:  I suddenly noticed at one point that Pratchett almost never used any dialog tag other than “said.”  I mean, he even used “said” when “asked” would typically be the tag of choice.  That flummoxed me a bit.  (The “said” instead of “asked” part, I mean.)  The advice people often give about said being invisible is both true and wrong:  you don’t notice it until you happen to notice that it’s the only thing being used, and then you can’t stop noticing it.  Just an odd observation.


Well, it’s not much of a report, I realize, but…well, among other things, I still have a lot of work to do for next week.  I’ve only written two of my April A-to-Z posts so far, and since I’ll also be doing Camp NaNo’s April session, I need to have a lot more of a headstart than that!

Oh, but I have decided on (and even started) the next challenge I’ll take for Read Harder:  it’ll be Challenge #14, “A book of social science.”  It just felt so fitting after this.  (For reasons that will make sense after I finish it and post about it.)

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MLM No L; Movie Reaction: “A Wrinkle in Time”

Published March 26, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, so I saw a movie today.  Can’t write the name inside today’s post, but it’s right up there^.  (Or in my book report on the book, which I posted about a year ago.)

Man….

I wanted to be fond of the movie.  Very fond, even.   The effects work was great.  The acting was good (though the younger brother is…uh…not written in such a way as to showcase if the kid can act…).

But the script was…not great.  Very, very not great.

I knew going in, of course, that trying to make a movie of that book was pretty much not something that can be done.  (Awkward phrasing…stupid Monday posts…)  I knew that, and yet I kind of assumed that they had figured out the right way to do it.  Or a good way to do it, anyway.

It is a tragedy that the way they decided on was “omit most of it.”  (They even omitted the Murry twins Sandy and Dennys!  Movie Meg has one brother instead of three!)

Even more so, given the time they dedicated to the portion on Earth, and the many, many memory-scenes of Meg’s father before he disappeared.  Okay, yeah, so they wanted more time with Chris Pine to justify whatever overpriced pay he got.  (Not that he was bad, mind you.  Might have been the best performance I’ve seen from him.  Or the best right after Wonder Woman.)  And they may have thought that more time with him was what the audience wanted.  (Who knows, maybe that is what most of the audience wanted.)  But if they hadn’t wasted so much time on Earth, they’d have had the time they needed on Camazotz to do it right.  Or to do it better, anyway.  Much of what happened on the way to Camazotz was not suited to being adapted for the big screen, but the events on Camazotz were so suited.  And they got omitted in favor of stuff that wasn’t even in the book.

Trying to set the Earth stuff in a big city in the present day was one of the worst decisions.  In a tiny(ish) town in the 1960s, it was easy to see why Meg wasn’t in therapy over her father’s disappearance.  In 2018, with her behavior?  Of course she’d be in therapy.  It beggars the mind that she isn’t.  And her brother (who for some reason is now adopted) ought to have been written as a super high functioning autistic, as that’s rather how he reads.  (Or rather, that’s what I thought when I read the book.)  But no, he was just treated as a strange boy who can’t act ordinary except around his mom, sister, and three strange women from some mysterious dimension.  (If their origin point came up in the book, I’ve forgotten.  And the movie sure didn’t say.)  So much of the Earth stuff doesn’t make sense in the new time and the new setting.  And yet it got so much time devoted to it.

Argh.  Just…argh.

As my brother (who hasn’t read the book) said, trying to interpret my reaction:  “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.”


 


I won’t go into anything about the bizarre choice of the unfortunate, distant orb being named after a Mayan bat god, because that comes straight out of the book.  But it’s weird.  Very weird.

Book Report: Roxane Gay

Published March 20, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, this one is for Challenge 22 “An essay anthology.”  And I put the author’s name in the title of the post rather than the title of the book, because I don’t want anyone misinterpreting based on the title of the book…

Honestly, I first picked it up off the shelf because I wanted to know what the title meant:  was it equating being a feminist with being bad, or was it the author saying she was bad at being a feminist?  Thankfully, it’s (basically) the latter.   (Well, duh; I wouldn’t have bought it if it had been the former!)  She explains in the Introduction:

I openly embrace the label of bad feminist.  I do so because I am flawed and human.  I am not terribly well versed in feminist history.  I am not as well read in key feminist texts as I would like to be.  I have certain…interests and personality traits and opinions that may not fall in line with mainstream feminism, but I am still a feminist.  I cannot tell you how freeing it has been to accept this about myself.

The essays in this book cover a range of subjects — literally spanning from the lightest of topics, like Sweet Valley High books, Twilight/Fifty Shades of Gray and competitive Scrabble to the very weighty topics of oppression and social injustice of several sorts — but there’s a very good flow between them, and she starts you out with the light stuff, getting you used to her style before launching into the more serious subject matter.  Many of the essays are on a subject that was mentioned briefly in the essay before it (or possibly the one before that).  There’s a humor that runs constantly through the book, but it’s a very mournful humor in some cases,  combating the worst that society has to offer.  Ironically(?), right after an essay in which she was talking about how she wasn’t sure that trigger warnings actually did any good, she stumbled onto one of my triggers:  the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.  Like most people in my generation, I remember exactly where I was when that happened (watching it in school, like most others my age), and like many other grade school students, at the time I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut.  (It wasn’t actually that disaster that changed my mind on that.  It was more not actually liking math and science much.)  I think it must have affected me more deeply than most, though, because I can’t see a recording of a space shuttle launch without my mind’s eye replaying the Challenger for me instead of letting me see what’s actually in front of me.  Though I like the ill-timed movie Space Camp that came out so soon after the disaster, I can’t watch the part where their space shuttle takes off.

*clears throat*

Sorry, wandered off topic.

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Book Report: Destiny, NY

Published March 9, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Though I now wish I hadn’t (for reasons I’ll get to at the end of the post), I decided to make Challenge #18, “A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image,” into the next challenge I tackled.  And as I have, for some reason that is inexplicable to me (as a self-described non-comic-book-person), backed a surprising number of graphic novels on Kickstarter, I had several to choose from already lying about my hard drive, waiting to be read.  (Yeah, I tend to go for the non-physical tier on them.  Because I lose things.  And my house is too cluttered already.)

I went with this one:

I chose this one in large part because the Kickstarter I backed was actually for Volume Two, and I figured I probably ought to read Volume One before Volume Two comes out.  Here’s the description off the back of the book (er, final page of the .pdf?):

Adulting is hard.  Adulting when you used to be a magical girl is way, way harder.

Set in a version of New York City where magic is a real and accepted part of life, Logan McBride struggles to find purpose.  She was the subject of an incredible prophecy when she was a child, but fulfilled her foretold destiny when she was just thirteen.  Now in her twenties, Logan navigates through graduate school for Prophecy Kids while searching for her place in a world that tells her sheʼs already finished.

Mostly, I’d say this is a very apt description of the book, with one significant discrepancy:  Logan was not a magical girl by the definition I am accustomed to.  Maybe to non-anime folks, the definition of “magical girl” is a bit more loose, but to the anime/manga crowd, a magical girl typically has a transformation of some sort whenever she’s going to use magic (not necessarily a magical transformation), often (if not always) has a talking animal companion, usually has several very identifiable (and marketable) accessories that feature prominently in her story, generally is having to lead a double life as she hides her magical life from her family and friends, and typically takes a long time fighting monsters of the week before facing off against the big bad.  There are exceptions (Cardcaptor Sakura has neither monsters nor a villain), but for the most part, the formula is as I just described.  Whatever Logan would properly be described as, “magical girl” is not what I would pick, though it is technically accurate, as she was a thirteen year old girl when she completed her prophecy, and she did so magically.  (Sparkler has a property that’s actually a former magical girl trying to get on with her life that I’m very much looking forward to reading…if I ever get the back issues I pledged for.  *grumble*grumble*)

Anyway, that aside, here’s what I feel I can tell you about Volume One of Destiny, NY, without spoiling too much.  Logan (the blonde) is going through a period of personal turmoil (in large part caused by her ex-fiancee not unfriending her before posting engagement photos on Facebook) when she meets Lilith (the redhead), and, as you’d expect, sparks rather fly.  Only Lilith has some very vicious enemies who aren’t afraid of playing very dirty…

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Book Report: Origins

Published March 8, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Whew, finally finished reading this one!  Took me almost two weeks, and just in the nick of the time, as it’s due back at the library today!  (Important note, of course, is that I’m actually writing this last night.)  Anyway, I started reading this in February, wanting to pick something that seemed appropriate for Black History Month but not really coming up with anything that really grabbed me.

Then I had a brilliant idea.  (As Mr. Smee would say, lightning struck my brain.)  Challenge #6 is “A book about nature.”  Something is “nature” if it is natural, that is, not made by humanity.  Space is natural, therefore it is nature.  And Neil DeGrasse Tyson is African-American as well as one of the most awesome people currently living, so one of his books on space would both answer the challenge and be appropriate February reading.  Therefore…

Of the ones available at the county library system, this seemed like the one that was the best combination of being “about nature” and being interesting without being too difficult for someone like myself without any particular scientific background knowledge.  (Introductory biology and chemistry were a looooooong time ago…)  The one that actually sounded like the read I’d most enjoy, unfortunately, was ruled out right off the bat, because it was about the history of man’s fascination with/attempts to pursue spaceflight.  (Or something like that.)

Anyway, in one respect, my casual use of Goodreads to select a book steered me wrong on this one.  Specifically, I didn’t look too closely where it talked about the publication date.  I saw the date 2014 and thought “oh, nice, it’s pretty recent,” without noticing that right below that it said “originally published in 2004”.  And, of course, the library’s copy was a first edition.  So it was a bit out of date, which was particularly noticeable when it was talking about a space probe that had just reached Saturn’s moon Titan, but its pictures hadn’t arrived back yet.  (Thankfully, I was able to look up the results on Wikipedia.)

All that aside, let me get back to the subject of the book itself, setting aside the datedness of some of the material (which would be much less dated in the second edition from ten years later).  The purpose of this book is to outline everything currently known and theorized about the entire history of the universe, from its beginnings to the present day, and to do so in a way that laymen can read and understand it.  The authors aren’t coy about admitting that there are things science still hasn’t figured out yet, most of those things centering around, well, origins:  the origin of the universe (yes, the Big Bang was a thing, but why and what came before it?) and the origin of life being the two biggest question marks.

So, do they achieve what they set out to do?  The answer is both a big “yes” and also a moderately loud “no.”

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Book Report: Goldie Vance, Volume 1

Published February 25, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

To call this review overdue is a bit…I’m not sure if it’s an understatement or an overstatement.  I actually read this on Friday, but it was too late when I finished to write a review then, and yesterday I was in the most foul mood and didn’t want to in any way deal with other human beings, not even in the absurdly remote format of writing a blog post.   Aaaaaanyway, that aside, I actually interrupted another book to read this.  Because since I finished the last book, after a day of “what am I gonna read next?”, I’ve been working on Challenge #6 (possibly too loosely interpreted), only then I went to Book Riot’s site and saw that they’d posted a list of suggestions for Challege #21 “A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author.”  When I read the description of this one, I knew it was the one to use for that one.  And it seemed appropriate to read and review it really quickly, so it’d still get posted in February.

This is a graphic novel (well, trade paperback of comic books, actually) about a teenage girl, the titular Goldie Vance, in what I can only call an idyllic alternate early 1960s.  It has to be after 1961, because her friend Cheryl has a crush on Alan Shepard because of his trip to space (I can think of worse reasons to have a crush on someone), but it can’t be much later than that, based on the visual style.  But it’s utterly unlike the real 1961, because no one in this entire volume has any problem with (or even mentions) Goldie’s, her father’s or Cheryl’s skin color.  Not to mention that Goldie’s mother is white — with Goldie being about sixteen or seventeen (it’s unclear what her age actually is) in the very early 1960s, she was probably born around 1945, possibly a year or two after.  There were states where a mixed race marriage was still illegal in the 1940s, particularly in the south.  (I think the south didn’t purge those laws until the 1960s, in fact.)  So, like I said, this is an idyllic alternate 1960s where racism doesn’t exist and apparently never did.  (Perhaps this is what America would have looked like if the northern colonies had stuck to their principles during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and had left in the clause about the abduction of innocents from Africa was one of King George’s crimes against which the colonists were rebelling.)

Uh, anyway, all that aside, let’s get to the book itself, rather than talking about its world.  Goldie’s father is manager at a Florida resort inn, and Goldie has a (summer?) job as a valet, parking cars.  Her best friend is Cheryl, who works at the desk and is studying to be an astronaut.  (Cheryl is the pink-jacketed girl on the cover.)  Goldie also spends a lot of time hanging around with Walter, the house detective, because she really likes trying to do his job for him.  The last person we need to mention is Diane, who works at a local record store, and is the object of Goldie’s affections.  (Yep, she’s not only a woman of color, she’s also a lesbian.  This, of course, is why I had to read this!  That and because it’s aimed at younger readers, so the mystery isn’t a murder.)  I have trouble getting a good read on Diane — though she’s undoubtedly cool — because I keep getting distracted by her design, which for some reason reminds me of the unaired-pilot-episode version of Susan from Doctor Who.  I’m not even sure why she reminds me of Susan, she just does.

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Book Report: The Heart of a Woman

Published February 20, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

As I said before, this next book is really appropriate for Black History Month.  In looking at the (uniquely finite) list of choices for Challenge #13 “An Oprah Book Club selection,” I was admittedly a bit torn, as Middlesex sounded like something I’d like to read.  (How many books have intersex leads?)  But in the end I decided to go with this one.

Rather than make any futile attempt on my own to describe the contents of the book in summary, let me quote the summary from the book’s Goodreads page instead:

Maya Angelou has fascinated, moved, and inspired countless readers with the first three volumes of her autobiography, one of the most remarkable personal narratives of our age. Now, in her fourth volume, The Heart of a Woman, her turbulent life breaks wide open with joy as the singer-dancer enters the razzle-dazzle of fabulous New York City. There, at the Harlem Writers Guild, her love for writing blazes anew.

Her compassion and commitment lead her to respond to the fiery times by becoming the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King’s history-making quest. A tempestuous, earthy woman, she promises her heart to one man only to have it stolen, virtually on her wedding day, by a passionate African freedom fighter.

Filled with unforgettable vignettes of famous characters, from Billie Holiday to Malcolm X, The Heart of a Woman sings with Maya Angelou’s eloquent prose her fondest dreams, deepest disappointments, and her dramatically tender relationship with her rebellious teenage son. Vulnerable, humorous, tough, Maya speaks with an intimate awareness of the heart within all of us.

While that does sum up most of the content matter, it doesn’t really do justice to the book.  There’s so much more involved, and the summary doesn’t put nearly enough emphasis on her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement.  Also, it doesn’t mention that there are places where the narrative grips you so much that you have to keep reading, desperate to know what will happen next, even though the events all took place fifty+ years ago.

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Book Report: Ascension

Published February 15, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

All right, so this time I’ve tackled challenge #17, “A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author.”

I decided to go with this one in February because the heroine is, well, if there was a movie, she’d be played by an African-American actress.  (This being sci-fi, if these humans have any connection with Earth, it was so far back in their society’s collective past that they’ve essentially forgotten about it.)  The author, as you might guess by her last name, is of Asian ancestry, so in that sense it’s actually not appropriate for Black History Month.  Also it lacks, you know, history.  But the book I’ll be borrowing from the library today actually does have history and is appropriate, so that’s something, yeah?

Uh, right, but about this book.  This was a debut novel, according to Goodreads (and why would it lie?), and it’s a very impressive one.  The heroine/narrator, Alana Quick, is a “sky surgeon,” an engineer who works on starships, but thanks to the combination of an extreme economic downswing and the presence of the magic-like technology of the “othersiders,” people who literally came through a rift from another dimension, there aren’t many repair jobs to be had.  And Alana has more financial needs than most, because she — and her aunt, who’s her partner at their repair shop — has a particularly horrible degenerative disease called Mel’s Disorder which leaves Alana in pretty much constant pain, and if she doesn’t constantly take her preventative medication, the disorder will take over, destroying her muscular control to the extent that within a few short years her perfectly functioning mind would be trapped in a shell of useless, agonized flesh.  Alana’s sister Nova, however, is a “spirit guide,” a possessor of psychic abilities, whose powers and job take so long to become fully clear to the reader that I feel like if I go into any detail, I’ll be spoiling things.  The important thing is that Nova makes a lot of money, and at the start of the novel, Alana rather resents her, especially in that Nova actually owns the building that houses Alana’s repair shop/home, and has the gall to charge her own sister rent.  (Not that Nova is threatening to evict them, of course.  Instead, she’s threatening to forgive them their back rent, which would carry a heavy toll in pride and guilt.)  Then the Tangled Axon lands at Alana’s shop, looking for Nova.  Nova’s on vacation, and doesn’t want to be disturbed, but the Tangled Axon crew is determined to find her, and the ship calls out to Alana in a way that she’s never encountered before, so she decides to stow away on the ship, hoping they’ll hire her on as the ship’s engineer if she helps them talk to her sister.  They’re not looking for Nova for themselves, but for a powerful othersider named Birke, because they want Birke to do something for them, and they hope Nova will be the leverage they need to make her do it.  Alana agrees to help, but they’ve no sooner gotten Nova aboard the Tangled Axon than an act of unspeakable horror is committed, and the Tangled Axon crew is framed for it.  They’re left racing against both enforcers and the clock, trying to get to Birke before it’s too late.

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Book Report: Let’s Talk About Love

Published February 8, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I can’t believe it took me over a week to read this book.  (Especially when you consider that it took me half that time to read a book published in 1818, compared to this book published 200 years later.)  This was my selection for Challenge #10 “A romance novel by or about a person of color.”  And I think the big take-away here is that I really don’t like the romance genre.  Last year’s challenge to read an LGBTQ+ romance worked out great for me, because the book wasn’t actually about the romance:  it was about who’s trying to use magic to force Lucien Vaudrey to kill himself, why, can Stephen Day stop them in time, and when are the two of them finally going to start having the hot sex the back of the book promised?  (*cough*)  But this one…is really mostly just about interpersonal relationships, and that wasn’t enough to hold my interest for very long at a stretch.

So, there are two reasons I picked this particular book to read.  One, the lead is a biromantic asexual, which is totally awesome.  Two, that cover:  that is a fantastic cover, though it turns out to be a misleading one.  Misleading for two reasons, one big and one small.  The small reason is that our lead, Alice, has long hair that she keeps in braids, so the hair is all wrong in that picture.  (Like I said, very small reason.)  The big reason is that it’s tonally misleading:  that cover image promises a heroine who never lets anything bring her down, and always greets her life with an “I’m on top of everything” smile on her face.  That is not what Alice is like for the majority of this book.  She spends most of the book in a deep emotional funk for one reason or another.  If I’d known that was coming, I might have picked another book.  (Then again, I might not have:  it’s rare enough to come across an asexual lead in a book at all, let alone in a romance.)

But let’s talk about the story for a bit.  We start out as Alice is being dumped by her roommate/girlfriend, Margot, who just can’t stand the fact that Alice only has sex with her to make Margot happy, and clearly isn’t getting anything out of it.  Margot doesn’t understand — and doesn’t even want to — what it’s like being asexual, and does (of course) suggest that Alice should see a doctor about it.  That scene actually made me think of a movie trailer I saw recently (I think it was called Love, Simon, or something like that), for a movie about a high school boy who’s contemplating coming out (I guess?):  the trailer overall was mostly very generic and nothing I hadn’t seen before, but there was one really good bit where the boy wonders why only gay people have to “come out,” and then there’s a fantasy sequence of kids coming out to their parents as straight.  But the thing is, that wasn’t right:  it’s not just homosexuals who have to come out, it’s everyone who isn’t cis heterosexual, including asexuals.  (Though it’s less necessary for asexuals, particularly aromantic ones.  Most people aren’t going to know the difference between aro-ace and just-plain-out-of-luck-in-love, not when it’s in someone they don’t know super-closely.  I’ve known my (sort of) boss at work for longer than I’ve understood my own sexuality, but she had no idea about it until she and my other hetero co-worker were discussing the plans for the other hetero co-worker’s upcoming wedding, and asked me what I’d like my wedding to be like.  I mean, she was a little awkward in phrasing it (I am over 40 and unmarried, after all), but she was still really surprised when I explained that a wedding was an impossibility for me because I was aromantic and asexual.  (And yes, btw, I do only have two heterosexual co-workers.  Admittedly, I only have four total co-workers, but still.))

Um, sorry, got side-tracked there.  Anyway, so Alice spends a few chapters moping about Margot so heartlessly leaving her, and then, just as Romeo forgets his Rosaline after he meets Juliet, Alice practically forgets Margot ever existed after she lays eyes on her non-decoy love interest, Takumi.  (It’s not a perfect comparison.  Among other reasons, because this is not a tragedy and no one kills themselves, but also because Margot is still brought up a few times after Takumi is introduced.)  Takumi is described as having a divinely perfect appearance, but without much in the way of details (so I tried to imagine a twenty-something Gackt, because that sounds pretty damned divine to me) and as soon as she sees him, Alice starts acting like the stereotypical love-struck teenager.  Which, of course, she is.  She’s aware that she’s acting like a cliche, and doesn’t like it, but doesn’t manage to stop acting that way.  Maybe that’s how it really is when you fall for someone?  Having never experienced it, I couldn’t say.

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Book Report: Persuasion

Published January 31, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

In perfect time, I’ve finished reading my selection for Challenge #1, “A book published posthumously.”  I had some other books I was contemplating, until I was reminded that two of Jane Austen’s novels were only published posthumously.  Then I realized it had to be one of them.  (I will admit that I selected Persuasion over Northanger Abbey because a look at the table of contents showed that Persuasion had seven fewer chapters.  And since I really wanted to be able to start on February-appropriate reading come the first, that was a good thing.)

This cover image is not representative of what I read, though:  one of the first things I bought for my first Kindle when I got it was a collected works of Jane Austen.  (Also a collected works of Shakespeare, and a massive collection of ancient plays and epics.  (Because who wouldn’t want seven or eight excruciatingly stilted 19th century translations of the Odyssey, most of them using Roman names?))  None of the collected works covers on Goodreads matched the one I had, and after actually looking at the cover, I decided I was better off not showing it anyway.  (Seriously, it shows a woman in a bright red dress with a scandalously low neckline.  She looks like someone who would be a bar wench in a particularly salacious adaptation of The Three Musketeers, not someone at all appropriate to English drawing room dramas.)  It would have been appropriate to use the cover of the 1909 version whose illustrations were included in an exceptionally low-res manner, but Goodreads didn’t have that, either.  (Not exactly surprising…)

Aaaaanyway, before I get to the review, two things.  First, a basic idea of the plot:  our protagonist is one Miss Anne Elliot, still unmarried at 27.  She and her older sister Elizabeth (who couldn’t be less like Elizabeth Bennet if she tried!) are both unwed because of failed arrangements in the past; in Elizabeth’s case, nothing was ever firm, and he just withdrew from her society, whereas Anne was actually engaged to Frederick Wentworth, and was persuaded to break the engagement, as he (a mere naval Lieutenant) was beneath her station.  Because, you see, her father, Sir Walter Elliot, is a baronet and excessively proud of his title…even if he no longer has any money to go with it.  To compound their unmarried state, their younger sister, Mary, not only has a husband, but two little brats — I mean, boys — to take care of.  When the Elliot family finances sink to the point that the best way to keep them from going bankrupt is for them to move from their family manor to Bath and take in a lodger in the manor house in the meantime, Anne doesn’t go to Bath right away with her father and sister (having bad associations with the place), but instead stays with her sister and then with her great friend, Lady Russell, who had been a close friend of her late mother.  The lodger in the manor house is one Admiral Croft and his wife, who happens to be the sister of Anne’s former fiance, who is now Captain Wentworth, having made not only his career but also his fortune in the Napoleonic wars.  I’m sure you can guess where it goes from there, but the path it takes from point A to point B was not at all what I was expecting.

But before I can talk about that, there’s the other thing that needs to come before the review.  And that is a brief explanation of my history with Jane Austen.  Because it’s rather odd.  You see, I count Pride and Prejudice as one of my favorite novels of all times, but I’ve only read it a couple of times, and this is the first time I’ve read any other Austen.  (Though I’ve purposely avoided reading Sense and Sensibility because I love the movie so much, and I’m afraid that if I read the book then I won’t like the movie anymore.)

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