Monday, July 14, 2014

How To Build a Girl [Or: How To Embarrass Yourself In A Readalong]

Ughhhh you guys. I was going to try to muddle along until my replacement cable came but this is where me not having a copy of the book really topples my penguin.

Just making up gif-based colloquialisms, here.

I feel like I've read this book before. Not in a, like, Oh, we've seen this a thousand times, but in a literal, that-time-I-unknowingly-re-read-American-Gods-and-got-to-that-part-at-the-beginning-where-she-eats-him-with-her-vagina-and-I'm-like-Oh-yeah-I-remember-this-bit way. Either Moranthology or How to Be a Woman talks about Moran's own childhood, from which I think she draws heavily.

All the best story lines do.

I MEAN ALL THIS IN THE BEST WAY, though. Young girl with delusional father becomes obsessed with rock music as a way out of her small-town existence and I forget at which point I come into spoilertown because I've read ahead, but OTHER THINGS HAPPEN THAT ALSO HAPPENED TO MORAN.

And even though I don't have my copy in front of me, I remember the topic of chapter one, page one, paragraph one, because it is young teenage girl wanking, which is something I haven't met in a book since, like, Deanie. Everyone in the readalong is talking about this because OTHER BOOKS DO NOT TALK ABOUT THIS.

They clutch their pearls instead.

Everyone else is quoting the book as well, which I OBVIOUSLY CANNOT DO so go check out some of those links and LAUGH AND LAUGH and also cringe because there's a Scooby Doo incident that gave me severe Second-Hand Embarrassment.

I am this kitten.

HOPEFULLY MY CABLE COMES THIS WEEK and I can charge my ereader and access all the notes I took when I totally read ahead into this coming week's section.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How To Build A Girl Readalong

I'M DOING ANOTHER READALONG because that's all I blog about these days (aaaaaaand about taking my 7-week-old baby camping, but that's a different blog entirely). Unlike every other readalong I've done ever, this is for a book coming out on 2014, not, like, 1814. Way to be current, me.

Nailing it.

Caitlin Moran's How to Build a Girl comes out in September (pre-order it, cause you'll forget), and I've read How to Be a Woman and Moranthology and I'm STILL LAUGHING. Also, I have cheated on this readalong and started the book weeks ago because I am a toddler about waiting for stuff.

Or I'm like nine but also filthy rich. They amount to the same thing.

That gif and the assurance that at least the first third of the book is clever and heartbreaking may be all I end up contributing to this readalong (hosted by the brilliant Emily over at As the Crowe) because I've lost the cable for charging my nook and the battery is dead. I AM DISTRAUGHT. But I ordered a new cable today, and it should get here in the next two weeks, which means I should find my original charger in about nine days.

Until then, check out the other participants in the readalong (the usual suspects, mostly) and I'll just be over here.

Doing this.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Flight of the Silvers - Daniel Price

I mostly don't even want to discuss the plot of this book. We've all read enough dystopia to know where this is going. Group of unlikely young people comes together in the future/another world/our world but like slightly different, only this time they all have super powers and a group of scientists is either trying to study them or gave them those powers (and is now trying to study them...there was definitely an aura of lab rat) and they're all trying to get to safety. TO BE CONTINUED IN AT LEAST TWO MORE BOOKS PROBABLY.

And I'm totally down with generic dystopia. It's so EXCITING and GRITTY and there's adventures and stuff. But the writing has to be middling to good, ok? I can handle middling writing. I stopped reading Scott Westerfield because his plots became recycled and boring, not because his writing is mediocre (even though it is). But THIS. This is awful.

I'm mostly willing to allow certain quirks. Like, an author needs to have a voice, right? But sometimes I'm like LOL NO, that is wrong. Like, in Silvers, people are always chucking a hand. Which I think means gesturing, like when you throw a hand up in exasperation, and I get that I just used 'throw a hand' when I'm taking offense at 'chucking a hand,' but one of them is a Phrase That People Say, and one is Something No One Has Said Ever And Which Evokes A Literal Chucking Of Hands. Also, they do it a lot. Like, every ten pages or so, someone is chucking a hand. Like, Price is trying to be creative, but only so creative, you know?

Also, on this page in particular, a guy 'chucked a hand in hopeless dither.' People do things 'in dither' ALL THE TIME in this book, and theoretically it goes against my every grain to be like, YOU'RE DOING INVENTIVE WORD USAGE WRONG but...

Gotta side with standardized definition on this one.

ALSO. Everyone is always doing everything with 'adjective noun.' 'Mia hugged Zack with gushing relief.' 'Esis crossed her arms in a showy pout.' 'She studied Theo's cerebral tomogram in furrowed bother.' 'Amanda suddenly realized, with dizzying inertia, what a good thing it was to have Zack around.' FIRRRSTLY I'm not sure that's what inertia means, and secondly, adjectives fucking everywhere. A veritable SEA of adjectives. Adverbs. Modifiers coming out of your ass.

Is this review just going to be examples of places I think Price uses language incorrectly? PROBABLY. 'Amanda cracked the door three inches, studying her sister through an anxious leer.'

What proper leering looks like

I couldn't even really get behind the story. The characters are stereotypes having blandly indistinguishable conversations with each other and superpowersing all over the place.

It is perhaps needless to say that I won't read further in the series. It's the adjectives that got me, in the end.

Three caterpillars.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lady Audley's Secretalong: Because I Just Can't Let This Go

Summing up our feelings on George Talboys:

We are all Doug in this scenario, amirite? Dead people should be dead.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lady Audley's Secretalong: The Finishing [Or: Whomp Whomp]

Ok so remember when Lady Audley was like, You know the secret of my life, and we were all like, Yessssss, because the fact that she'd previously been married hasn't been a Secret since, like, chapter six? And then we finished the book and her Secret-Secret was that the taint of madness lay on her house, and perhaps she also was a little bit mad maybe? And we were all like...

Because that's kind of lame. Should have had her lock Robert Audley up in the madhouse, Braddon, because THAT would have been SOMETHING. Also, George should have stayed dead. Dickens would have stayed him dead. But 'all the good people [are] happy and at peace,' and WHY DO WE THINK THIS IS? Why does Braddon have to have a perfect jolly ending when other Victorian authors felt like they could kill off a character or two (and NOT EVEN JUST THE FALLEN WOMEN ONES) in the name of verisimilitude and pathos? Are you allergic to pathos, Mary Elizabeth?

I'm also disappointed that Alicia became kind of a non-character at the end, and ended up marrying Harry Whatzit, and that Lady Audley was discovered and quietly shuffled off somewhere. I heard echoes of Sir Leicester in Sir Michael's 'remember in all you do, that I have loved her very dearly and truly,' but then he's all like, Never speak to me of her again. I guess he's justified.

This is becoming my defining theme for this book.

Lady Audley boarding a hackney drawn by 'a pair of horses -- which were so small as to suggest the idea that they had been made out of one ordinary-sized animal' is jarringly adorable.

That there're TWO of them, Ben Wyatt.

Oh the 1800s, when a 'detective police officer' was 'stained with vile association and unfit company for gentlemen,' and where it's an event of note that a gentleman would take 'off his his hat in the presence of [a] common peasant man' WHO IS ALSO DYING, PS, SO TAKE OFF YOUR DAMN HAT, and when you only lock up your pharmacy if there's money in the till because surely 'the most daring housebreaker' wouldn't bother trying to steal all y'all's drugs, .

Just...everything was weird about you, Victorians.

So. This book held a lot of promise and sometimes the writing was great but OFTEN IT WAS NOT and Robert got RULL boring, rull quick. I preferred him as a lazy beast, not a man of singular fortitude and purpose. Purposeful Roger was NAVEL-GAZEY and repetitive.

Would I read this book again? Probably not. There's still so much Wilkie I haven't read.


Opportunity: missed.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lady Audley's Secretalong

Sorry I missed last week, guys. I was busy BRINGING HUMAN LIFE INTO THE WORLD.

I'm basically an anti-Lucy (we all agree she killed George, right? Although let me say this: if no one had mentioned that well at the beginning and if I were reading this alone, I'd be all like, What did happen to George?).

Where were we. Oh yes, Robert was being a total gonad to Alicia, all, Oh I'm sure the man you prefer will make you an excellent husband someday, so carry on dangling after him and don't accept any other offers of marriage. Robert, I'mma PUNCH you. Also, most men prefer a girl with a little 'bounce.'

YOU know what I mean.

Robert questions Phoebe and remarks, like, eleven times that she would be good at keeping secrets, that the prosecution would have trouble getting anything useful out of her, that it would take a clever lawyer etc etc etc

Luke, on the other hand, has a loose mouth, especially in his cups. THAT is coming back to bite somebody in the ass.

Parts of this section are so tedious. And when I say 'parts of,' I mean 'all the bits where Robert is monologuing.' I'm really enjoying him as a character, all languid and wry, but 'Is the radius to grow narrower day by day until it draws a dark circle around the home of those I love? How is it all to end?' Probably exactly like that first thing you said.

Or whatever, aliens is fine.

I won't lie, I'm not loving how prescient Robert is, or how easily and conveniently this mystery unfolds sometimes. Like, oh, I'll just keep these books out of everything else in George's trunk, because 'there may be something to help me in one of them.' And then lo, for maximum suspenseful effect, it is the LAST BOOK which holds a VITAL CLEW (after much emotive monologuing. 'Am I tied to a wheel, and must I go with its every revolution, let it take me where it will?' DAMN, Robert, when did you get so boring). So that's seeming lazy and predictable to me.

Little Georgey, though. 'I shall say damn and devil when I am old; and I should like to go to school, please, and I can go to-day, if you like.' Georgey, you adorable scamp. And then Robert just leaves him with a waiter, all 'You can contrive to amuse the child for this afternoon, I dare say.' I'm going to try that with Eleanor, just leave her at the coffee shop with the staff. I'm sure they'll have hired her on as a greeter by the time I get back.

So, Lucy is a devious stinker, OBVIOUSLY, but Helen seems to have been just awful. It actually makes me like George less, that he could be married to someone who complains so ENDLESSLY about being poor, and still love her (probs because she's pretty. Mens, amirite?). I mean, 'If there were any selfish feelings displayed in such speeches as these [where she goes ON and ON about how she thought dragoons were supposed to be rich]', HAHAHA 'if.' That is a hilarious subordinating conjunction, right there.

(Did anyone else think, before we started this, that Lady Audley was supposed to be the sympathetic heroine? Because *I* did, but I think I was thinking of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Anyway, I like seeing a prominent lady-villain in a Victorian novel, even if she has to wield her childish, flaxen-haired wiles to get done.)

Robert goes to see Mr Talboys, who lounges at his breakfast in 'a buff waistcoat, a stiffly starched cambric cravat, and a faultless shirt collar,' all topped by a gray dressing gown. I love a man who can unwind. Mr Talboys is as devoid of emotion as previously reported, but George's sister Clara is a fucking badass. Let us hope he is still alive, says Robert. 'No,' says Clara. 'Let us hope for nothing but revenge.'

I guess the real question is, how is Braddon going to fill the next...what. Hundred and eighty pages?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lady Audley's Secretalong!

I've said this in the comments of basically half of last week's posts but I totally thought Helen Talboys was Lucy, even after George saw the obituary I was like,

death faked, obv

but then he met with her father and they were like, And then she went into a decline and died, and I am like, That is harder to pull off, especially for a woman of little means in Victorian England. But THEN George noted that the lock of hair was different than his wife's and the landlady was like, Oh yes, an illness can change the nature of the hair, so now I am firmly in Camp Body Swap (which, seriously, if Helen/Lucy/Hellucy managed to pull this off, I will like her so much more now matter HOW perfect her every curl is).

(Also making me suspicious is every time Lady Audley narrowly misses having to meet with George Talboys face to face, or Robert is like, Come check out the sexy penmanship on this letter, George [Victorians, you were SO WEIRD], and he is like, Doo be doo, no thanks. Although the portrait scene, where he notably DOESN'T holler HOLY SHIT THAT IS MY DEAD WIFE, gives me pause. M.E. Braddon, keeping me guessing.)

So George returns to reclaim his son, or something, and is all, 'I am your father, come across the sea to find you. Will you love me?' and his son is (very sanely) like, 'I don't know you.' So, no. Stop saying he's spoiled, Helen's Father, that is a very practical and sage reaction.

I'm warming up to Robert Audley, who can only understand feelings of foreboding as the result of a heavy supper. Also, Robert on marriage: 'Who is to say which shall be the one judicious selection out of nine hundred and ninety-nine mistakes? Who shall decide from the first aspect of the slimy creature, which is to be the one eel out of the colossal bag of snakes?'

I also really enjoy things like 'If any one could at that moment have told the young barrister that so simple a thing as his cousin's brief letter would one day come to be a link in that terrible chain of evidence afterward to be slowly forged in the only criminal case in which he was ever to be concerned, perhaps Mr Robert Audley would have lifted his eyebrows a little higher than usual.' So, good work on the foreshadowing and the wryness, Ms Braddon.

I know I said I'd like Lucy more if she'd turned out to have faked her own death, but the 'innocence and candor of an infant' in her 'large and liquid blue eyes' and her 'fragile figure, which she loved to dress in heavy velvets, and stiff, rustling silks, till she looked like a child tricked out for a masquerade' are just killing me. The Victorians were so gross about their infantilization of women and I feel like Lucy does it on purpose and even if it's part of some nefarious scheme I'm still throwing up in my mouth a little bit.

Me when faced with basically a lot of Victorian shit.

Also, the dog doesn't like her, and when the dog doesn't like someone...

So. Is Lucy Helen? Is Robert adorable? Do we pity George? HOW SHORT ARE THESE CHAPTERS, AMIRITE?