So, for the record, this is what my star ratings mean:
5 stars = FREAKING EPIC, gigantic story, everything works well, my mind is blown that a human being thought this up.
4 stars = love this book, it's just not as humongous in scope as a 5. But it's totally awesome and everyone should read it, it's a keeper.
3 stars = mixed feelings (this is where the "I think others might like it, it's just not for me" reviews are likely to go). Not that bad, but has some issues, or it's an okay story but nothing really stands out to me as being memorable. It was a pleasant enough read for a few days, but I'll probably just end up giving the book away rather than rereading it again.
2 stars = generally pretty terrible, but not 100% so. There was at least one thing in this book that made it not totally horrible. This book isn't really recommended to all and sundry, but you might get some value out of the one thing if you try.
1 star (rarely seen here): It's a wallbanger. Nothing is redeemable about this book, it's utter crap, and I probably only finished reading it so I could do an awesome bitchrant about it and I can't justify doing that to books I didn't finish.
Gooseberry Bluff was a serial Kindle story that I pondered picking up, except I hadn't read the author before (unlike the previous serials I reviewed) and honestly couldn't figure out if I'd like his writing style or not. Well, it came out for pretty cheap and altogether fairly recently, and I just finished reading it. I've decided to review it chapter by chapter like if I had been doing it serial style. Why? Uh....actually I started writing this yonks ago (over a year ago!) and then never finished it and then found them in the drafts section while I was fixing Harry Potter links. So I might as well finish it.
The premise of the book is explained by the author very well here, so I'm not even gonna try to top that.
Anyway, here commences Chapter 1's review. It's titled "Heartstopper."
Secret magical agent/community college professor Joy Wilkins is taking over the classes of missing professor Carla Drake. She's looking for her, as well as investigating possible demon trafficking on campus. Something called a Heartstopper happens periodically that stops the heart anyone in the vicinity when it's set off, leaving the bodies in a suspensed state in which they aren't decaying, but are essentially dead. So far nobody's figured out how to heal anyone from this and they're happening all over the world.
I should probably mention that Joy has facial blindness (i.e. can't peg anyone's facial features into something she recognizes), so she identifies people by their auras. This works pretty well most of the time for her. Much to her embarrassment, the college president introduces her by mentioning this to her entire giant class. Gee, thanks.
She goes into the very cat-infested library and meets the librarian, Fredrick Larch, who she finds to be kinda weird. She meets Margaret May, the girl who's already asking about extra credit on the first day. She manages to bust some class-crashers from Arthur Stag (the rival snooty private school) College and takes down their founder as well, hah.
The next day, she tries calling her sister via crystal--magical folks use them in lieu of phones--but keeps getting some ghost who's looking for Wilson, whoever that is. Apparently that's a problem with crystal use--ghosts call everyone randomly trying to find their loved ones. Joy goes in to visit the president but his secretary says he's busy-and her aura gets a bit fearful. She makes friends with Andy Ruiz, the genderqueer departmental secretary. (The author is very good at making everyone diverse, for the record.) And then she gets coffee spilled on her by Zelda Akbulut, alchemy professor, who also falls into the mess.
Later, Joy meets up with her Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs supervisor/mentor/friend, Martin Shil, commenting that she hasn't been able to meet up with the president, her lone contact in the know on campus.
And then there's Ingrid Ingwiersen, conjuration professor, who has a really gray aura ("it's a signal that they could be a danger to themselves and others"). Why is that? Well, her sister Selma died (er, mostly died) in a Heartstopper attack, and her retrieved soul/ghost is hanging around Ingrid's being bitchy at her. Selma has basically lost her sanity and pleasantness since dying, which is a blast to live with. While watching the news and hearing about another Heartstopper attack, she finally figures out how to solve the problem: "I know how to bring you back. I just need to find a major demon and kill it."
Oh, sure, it's that easy... Anyway, four stars for an intriguing start.
So for a long-ass time I have been reading this book, in various stints here and there, and writing chapter reviews of it just for kicks, and also as a way to amuse myself in situations where I couldn't do anything more productive. Now that I've finally finished reviewing ALL OF IT, here's the grand master list of chapter reviews.
This seriously took weeks for me to find all of the links, put them in one spot, and fix broken links, so you're welcome.
What's this book about? Eh, go read the chapter 1 introduction for it. I'm freaking tired now. But the overall review is five stars for EPIC. Even though there's a lot of talk that flies above my head like Douglas Adams's deadlines, the author went into a great deal more deep thinking than J.K. Rowling did, and that's impressive.
"If you think the princesses aren't dangerous, you haven't been paying attention."
Okay, NOW WE'RE GETTING STARTED. With a bang!
Welcome to Childe Prison: the place where you send your fairy tale criminals. Elise, a Type 315, Treacherous Sister (yes, same story as Sloane), has managed to engineer a rescue from the prison, along with five other escapees. Henry's team is pulled off a House That Jack Built cleanup crew and are sent careening through reality to bust a self-made Cinderella.
Self-made, you ask? Oh my, yes. Elise has managed to convert her story into a 510A--Cinderella rather than the stepsister. At which point mice obey her commands and a pumpkin coach hauls her out. She changed her story--and it's the sort of thing that reasonably gives a stepsister such as Sloane hope for a happy ending.
Team members with activated stories come to Childe and find a magical contentment spell whammying them when they arrive--and yet somehow that's deeply unpleasant and an experience Henry likens to "really happy maggots shoved into my brain." Hoo boy. Henry has to insist on getting protective blocking charms for herself and Demi. The guards don't want to give the latter one--turns out Demi did some unpleasant time here at the end of the last book. Demi and Jeff find their story powers to be helpful here in cleaning up broken glass and weird magical doors. Demi is especially useful with her piping skills, especially when the guards are being turned into mice or glass. However, Henry and Sloane find that their outfits are morphing into more fairytale attire--even Henry, who refuses to wear colors because it gives the narrative something to work with, is ending up with a blingy suit. Even though the team kicks ass in dealing with the memetic incursions in the prison, they're still missing a newly minted princess.
Four and a half stars for an excellent, chilling start and a terrifying idea of a converted fairy tale. This is gonna be Sloane's tale, isn't it? Whatever shall she do in this one? I'll wait with bated breath to find out.
"At least the story didn't get my boots. Those things are expensive." --Sloane
"Snow Whites will freeze your heart. Cinderellas will make sure you never make a mess again." --Sloane
"They had chosen to take jobs at the only person in North America built to contain living stories. What had they been expecting?"
While I was looking for recommendations for some other story to do chapter reviews of (it's coming sometime, after I finish my review backlogs), someone recommended Unicorn Western to me. While this didn't exactly end up working for my purposes, as the entire saga is finished and for sale on Amazon and I'm looking for something that isn't going to be a Kindle-ish read, the first volume of it was free online for download and thus I checked it out. Apparently this came from two out of three authors on a podcast wanting to write a Western and the third saying they didn't know enough about one historically to make it right, and then someone said something like, "Hey, if I throw in a unicorn, who cares about accuracy?" Sounds like fine logic to me.
“I weigh fourteen hundred pounds and am magic. Get off my back, Mom.” –Edward
Anyhoo: in this alternate universe where some things are the same as ours and some are not, there's "The Realm," the magical land where magic still works and people are rather rich and snobby about it. Periodically people are thrown out into "The Sands" around there, and after that they'll never be able to find The Realm again. Our main characters are Realm exiles. Mai got abandoned as a child (apparently), while Marshal Clint Gulliver and his unicorn Edward, along with fellow marshal Dharma Kold and his unicorn Cerebus were thrown out. Clint and Dharma traveled together for awhile until Dharma started to go bad and enter into an unholy magical linkage with his unicorn. If you ever see a black unicorn, run!
Anyway, the plot kicks off in the Sands town of Solace, on a blue moon/Clint and Mai's wedding day--apparently she can only get married on blue moons for some reason. Their plans after marriage involve Clint retiring and them moving to the nearby town of Sojourn, leaving Solace behind forever. YEAH, RIGHT. In the middle of a super blunt wedding ceremony asking if he can tolerate her annoying friends and can she tolerate his farts, they get interrupted by bad guy Hassle Stone returning to town. The wedding officiant (spelling?) declares they'll have to get a rain check. Clint's fought the dude before and resigns himself to doing so again, even if nobody else in town will help but an annoying kid named Teddy. (“Plus, if he comes with us, he might get shot.” Edward said the last part as if it were a bonus.”)
Mai argues against it, saying that “Solace tolerates you, and is happy to let you protect them with Edward, but it’s just that, Clint: tolerance.” Should he abandon them? Are these people worth saving? Is it worth it for Clint to give up his married life for this, since Mai keeps insisting she's going to leave town with or without him when the coach comes? Maybe and maybe not, but it's the job and Clint's going to do it. As is Edward, who's a super cranky unicorn who nevertheless has all kinds of happy rainbow magic going on.
“This is the manliest stakeout I’ve ever been on,” Teddy said, staring at the fairy sparkles.”
“Would you prefer I let you die in a manly way, rather than use my fruity unicorn powers to pull that slug from your body?” –Edward
As the day goes on, Clint finds out the situation's worse than he thought--Kold's unicorn has lost his whiteness and started following Kold's orders, which is totally against the unicorn way of life and having independent friendships/partnerships with humans. Clint straight out doesn't think purity can win against evil and admits as such. Will he win? Is it possible? And what about the chapter called "Epic Unicorn Fight"?
“That, my friend, was a prance. Something most humans will never see.…Think of the worst things humans sometimes do, but that the sane among you never would. It's like that.” --Edward.
The story ends on a cliffhanger, promising a long saga. Will I eventually follow up on it? I don't know. It's interesting, and the surprise snark and interesting details (like "Joelsingers," because they have Billy Joel here?) are intriguing. On the other hand, I don't know. I'm interested but not quite addicted, and keep thinking things like "Well, I've got that giant Diana Gabaldon in e-book to work through first before I buy more e-books." Maybe later?
“You're Regina Luporum,” Ned, Master of London had said. “Of course strange things are happening to you.”
This is the final Kitty Norville book (at least for now, according to the author, though she doesn't rule out returning to the same world with different characters or to Kitty again in 20 years--link) and it finally wraps up the whole "Long Game" war she's had going on with Roman/Dux Bellorum. After the events of Low Midnight, Kitty, Ben, Cormac/Amelia and her old friend Tina from Kitty Raises Hell get together to attempt to meet Roman and assassinate him. You can already guess that doesn't work out right, but when Kitty gets home, she finds her restaurant burned to the ground, her pack mysteriously missing, and the current ruler of the vampires, Angelo, is being incredibly unhelpful and definitely weird about pretty much everything. As Kitty tries to track everyone down and figure out if Roman's really going to use volcanoes as a means to his end, she wonders who's the Caesar really holding his leash. Well, she finds out, and hooooo boy. Let's just say that Roman has interests in Denver beyond just pissing her off. She also finds out the origins of lycanthropy and vampirism while she's at it, and spends a lot of time in nature trying to thwart the plan. And what's with the Men in Black periodically following her around and saying they won't really talk to her until it's over?
This book also welcomes back some other characters, including at least one you didn't expect to return and one that you kind of do expect (and should!), so that's nice. And in the end, well, you've seen the book title. Kitty kicks ass, and it's lovely. There's also a...let's say, magical exception thing that happens that will make most readers (if not me because I'm not into that sort of thing) very happy. I have a few comments below the spoiler cut, but other than that I'm giving it four stars for a job well done wrapping up the series and thwarting super evil.
This is the sixteenth book in the Discworld series. This is also the sequel, of sorts, to Mort, which I haven't reviewed here. That was the story of Death taking on an apprentice, presumably in hopes of matching him up with Death's adopted daughter Ysabell. Sixteen years later (if you've read the book, you can probably figure out why that time period), Mort and Ysabell die in a coach accident. However, you're probably going to have a hard time figuring that out, as the book is kind of cagey and hinting about that for awhile and I remember being pretty confused about that the first time I read it. Anyway, Death is feeling pretty down about the whole thing and like in Reaper Man, goes on holiday-ish to figure out how to cope. He's heard joining the Klatchian Foreign Legion makes you forget, right?
Mort and Ysabell have a daughter, Susan, who's currently in boarding school. She's a super practical girl who has a few extra powers like disappearing when she wants to, but hasn't really noticed that there's anything unusual about that. However, when the Death of Rats, his raven friend, and Binky the horse show up at school, she's forced to confront the idea that she may be in one of those weird adventures that turn girls strange. More specifically, this time when Death is on holiday, he's got a relative who inherited the power and can step in when necessary. And now it's necessary for her to fumble about and figure out how being a temporary Death works. She vaguely remembers visiting Death as a kid, and gets more memories as time went on. Apparently her parents were disturbed at how well she took to the place and didn't want her influenced by Grandfather. Too late....
At the same time, 1950's rock music (or in Discworld parlance, "Music With Rocks In") is sweeping the world. A young harpist from Llamedos (note backward spelling) named Imp y Celyn* goes to the big city in hopes of becoming famous. He meets some guys and forms a band, but loses his harp. He ends up with a very mysterious guitar as a replacement, which he...well, I don't think he even needs to play it so much in order to make it go, and suddenly EVERYONE is crazed for this music. Especially the wizards at Unseen University, who are usually the first to pick up on weird magical stuff going on. Archchancellor Ridcully wants to crack down on this nonsense, but meanwhile people like the Dean are giving themselves duck hair, getting suede shoes and a long leather jacket. What should he get put on the back of it, "Born to Eat Big Dinners?"
* it's a punny name, which will be explained later in the book..
The two plots tie in together when Susan has to go reap Imp when he's about to die on stage...except he doesn't die and the music seems to be keeping him alive. What the heck is going on?! Can Imp be saved? Can Death be tracked down in time to help with this mess?
This is an interesting book: half ludicrous in the whole "Music With Rocks In" craze and half a sad meditation on death, where the two characters involved really, really hedge about the whole thing. Susan pretty much has no reaction to her parents' deaths until the end, and Death, well, he's always odd to us. Eventually they stop hedging and get around to discussing what happened, which is a relief when it does. And then there's the weirdness of the possessed guitar getting more and more disturbing.
I'm going to give it three and a half stars, mostly only because what Death is moping about takes quite awhile to become clear and that kind of hampered my ability at first to get what was going on. But it's still a pretty dang good book.
I wasn't so into the original plot setup of this-- a random island surfaces out of nowhere in between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch and both locations start a war to fight over it--but the book gets better as it goes on.
Vimes gets drafted into doing diplomatic crap like parties and parade leading, which of course he turns into crime busting and assassination preventing. He suspects a dubious Klatchian called "71-Hour-Ahmed" (it's explained later) of being up to something. Another person who's definitely up to bad shit is Lord Rust, an A-M noble who's clearly deposing Lord Vetinari and pretty much running things into the ground. Vetinari "resigns" somehow and cleverly disappears, along with Leonard of Quirm, the mad genius he keeps carefully locked up so his inventions don't hurt others. Uh, most of the time. And then he recruits Nobby Nobbs and Fred Colon to help him do something in Klatch involving a submarine, Vetinari spontaneously juggling, and Nobby dressing up like a girl . Hooo boy.
As Lord Rust is determined to rustle up a war and force people into joining regiments, the Watch is harassed to do the same, which leads to a lot of temporary resignations and the Watch disbanding. Vimes uses his noble title to start his own independent group of former Watch members, and then they all head off to Klatch after Angua goes in pursuit of Ahmed. They make some fierce new friends, and how's this mess going to resolve?
Well, if Vetinari's involved, the answer is "creatively." If Vimes is involved, the answer is "arrest everyone." Hah.
And then there's Vimes' Dis-Organizer, the irritating personal assistant imp his wife gave him that was annoying him in the previous book. Some bizarre little slip in time happens as Vimes has a "Sliding Doors" moment, and somehow he ends up with the organizer of the version of himself who would have stayed home rather than going to Klatch. Hearing what happened in an alternate universe is disturbing and depressing...but imagine what the other Vimes heard.
Anyway, while it took me awhile to get into this one, once I did it was enjoyable, so four stars!
I'm gonna do a quote corner on this one since I slacked off on the other ones:
"I said I'd like to start a club for the street kids and he said it was fine provided I took them camping on the edge of some really sheer cliff somewhere in a high wind. But he always says things like that. And I'm sure we wouldn't have him any other way." --Carrot on Vimes and street kid gangs.
"I don't call putting something in your trouser pockets just before they go into the wash losing it." --the Dis-Organizer.
"And 'Troubleshooting: my owner keeps trying to drop me in the privy, what am I doing wrong?" --Vimes to the Dis-Organizer.
"Corporal Angua was so shocked she couldn't stop laughing." --Carrot recounting the time when he got a book called "The Garden of Delights" and found out it wasn't about what he thought.
Rust and Vimes's snarky argument about whether or not he's an actual knight. Sure, Vimes is, he watches his armor every night, prays he'll get through every day alive, and he'll prove himself in combat to you right now if you'll have someone hold your coat...This conversation finishes off with: "You, sir, are no gentleman," and "I knew there was something about me that I liked."
"It is always useful to face an enemy who is prepared to die for his country. This means that both you and he have exactly the same aim in mind." --General Tacticus.
"Obviously it was a consideration that if someone had captured Angua you knew that the rescue you were going to probably wouldn't be hers."
"Look, sir, I know Angua. She's not the useless type. She doesn't stand there and scream helplessly. She makes other people do that." --Carrot
"I've only been a woman ten minutes and already I hate you male bastards." --Nobby in disguise. HEAR HEAR, NOBBY.
"Oh gods, I arrested an entire battlefield." --Vimes
This is one of the Watch books, I forget in what order it's in, but it's the 19th book total. As you might have guessed from the title, this one features golems. When a few men get murdered--a priest and a bread baker--and turn up with words stuffed in their mouths, this seems a little weird.
In more major news, someone's managed to poison Lord Vetinari--and really, HOW?!--and Vimes sets himself to work on bodyguarding the guy, investigating everything in his room, and figuring out whodunit. Luckily there's a new forensics expert hire in the Watch, Cheery Littlebottom, a dwarf who wants to come out of the closet about being a girl. She makes friends with Angua (who knows all the secret girls in the Watch) and gets some accessories and makeup from her, but Cheery's blatant hatred of werewolves lead Angua to keep her mouth shut about why she's an odd duck in the Watch.
Regarding the poisoning of Vetinari, Vimes is worried because if this is a power grab, the first couple of suspects would be himself and Carrot--but he knows it isn't either of them, so... And then there's his wife wanting him to get a coat of arms--turns out that thanks to his ancestor "Stoneface" he can't--but he does find out that Nobby Nobbs, of all people, may be a duke. EEEEK!
And then there's the golems in town, which Carrot and Angua investigate. People consider them to be mindless slaves, but are they really? And when one of them confesses to murder, it seems to have ah, drawn a short straw. Turns out the golems were doing something to try to help their situation...but uh-oh, it didn't go so well.
It's a very cool, crafty case to figure out, and I enjoyed reading this one very much. Four stars. Especially for anything involving Angua, who rocks it here. And Cheery's a lovely new addition to the world.
This is well, one of my least favorites of the Discworld, pretty much because it's a Rincewind book and does anyone really super like those? They're pretty much one joke about how he always runs away like Brave Sir Robin. Except this book is filled with Faust jokes (including the title, which is frequently written as Faust and then crossed out), because Eric is a teenage demonologist and this is a Faust parody. After Rincewind gets trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions (in Sourcery), Eric can summon him and insist that Rincewind give him the mastery of all kingdoms, meet the most beautiful woman ever and live forever. Despite not actually technically being able to give those things, plus he's supposedly not a demon (except he got summoned like one, so he sort of is one...yeah, it doesn't make sense), all of this happens anyway, but it doesn't go how you'd think it would.
Ruling the world: Eric and Rincewind, upon Rincewind snapping his fingers, end up in the Tezumen empire, where everyone worships a demon named Quezovercoatl. Little does Eric know that they plan to sacrifice their ruler because it's all his fault anyway...but when it turns out that Quezovercoatl shows up and is six inches tall, he's easily squashed by Rincewind's Luggage. Whee.
Next up, they go to meet Elenor, the parody of Helen of Troy, but she's had a lot of kids since this whole war started and she wasn't that hot in the first place. They find out that the builder of the large wooden horse was probably an ancestor of Rincewind's, and also the parody version of Odysseus. Should we warn him about all that stuff?
As for living forever, you can do that if you hang out outside time, just before the beginning of existence. Which is super boring, so Eric has him reverse that...so then they go to hell, where boredom is the ultimate form of torture. Running into the various people they met during their time travels helps them find out where the exit is, and it turns out that Rincewind is being used by another demon lord to start a revolt against the current moron running things. The revolt wins, and the loser is shuffled off to his own bureaucratic prison. The new ruler lets Eric and Rincewind out.
In all honesty, the Wikipedia summary I used to write the plot of this was more interesting than the actual book itself, though there was a bit of snark here and there. I'm giving this two stars for well...hoo boy, was I not into it. Like all the Rincewinds, really.
Someone left some Pratchett on a free table recently, so what the heck, let's reread and review.
Reaper Man is the "Death Takes A Holiday" book, or more specifically, "Death Gets Forced To Retire And Die Himself" because the Auditors of Reality on the Discworld don't like it when anyone starts to develop a personality. So they fire him and he has to get a normal job with the time he has left. Calling himself Bill Door because he's not so good at line-of-sight aliases, he gets hired by Miss Renata Flitworth to work on the harvest. Bill Door finds it hard to adjust to living within time, and the weirdness of a small child who can see that he's a walking skellington ("HARK HARK HARK. WILL YOU LOOK AT THE CHILD," he says as he attempts to blow/laugh it off in public. Lucky for him that nobody else notices.), but does make friends with Miss Flitworth, a lady who thwarted any Miss Havisham tendencies she was likely to have.
Meanwhile, a lack of Death being around while the old one is not working and the new one is formulating means that folks aren't dying so much. Notably, one super old wizard named Windle Poons is surprised to well, reanimate after his death happens. Not to mention that poltergeists, ghosts, and weird stuff starts happening when an excess of Life is going on, and even the wizards don't know what to do about it. Meanwhile, Windle starts living his afterlife, which is a lot clearer than his old one, and starts hanging out with the Fresh Start club, led by town zombie Reg Shoe. And a bunch of little Deaths start forming for pretty much every species--trees, rats, fleas...
When a new Death comes, he's still got a personality--a drama-y, show-off-y one that disgusts his predecessor--and our Death decides to fight back against it. Not to mention arguing with Azrael, the Death of the Universe, about this whole thing.
This is a pretty touching book in some ways, particularly Bill Door and his relationship with Miss Flitworth. Toward the end of the book, he decides to give her a very good time, in an adorable way, including combing the ends of the earth to give her the best diamond. Which he presents as "AND HERE IS A DIAMOND TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOU." I don't even like diamonds and I was all "D'awwww!" about it. Overall, it was a pretty good story and I give it four stars.
This is the book in the series that fans have been waiting for: the one where Big Changes happen and Fort is finally circumstantially forced to grow up all the way....in the vampire way.
Things start out slow at first, with the book starting out with Fort, Suze, and assistant Loren meeting refugee succubi from Las Vegas who are fleeing the skinwalkers who slaughtered the rest of their population. Succubi don't have much to recommend them in this universe--they're not exactly the most appealing folk on any level, they're obviously broke, and when they feed on people repeatedly, they get syphilis. Fort's a sympathetic guy and even cleans out his entire savings to help them out and ah, asks those accompanying him to kick in a few bucks. But arguing the point with his relatives goes about as well as you'd expect, with Prudence being "No way" (and frankly, I kinda agree with her, there's really no benefit to having people who can cause an STD epidemic around) and Chivalry being "don't really care, could go either way, whatever." The usual tiebreaker, Madeline, however... says they're going to need to figure this out for themselves, and if they can't, then maybe the succubi will have to wait for awhile.
In other news, Fort and Suze's budding romantic relationship is going well, with him giving her a "What does the fox say?" shirt for Christmas (she hates it) and a job at a karaoke bar that the Hollis girls love, and her, well.... this is how Loren finds out about it.
"She surprised me with it by hiring someone to break into my car, take it to a chop shop, install the new stereo, and bring it back.” “You're not sounding appropriately appreciative of the awesomeness of my gift presentation.” “It was a great present, and I really was happy to not to have it installed. I just wish that the installer hadn't permanently broken the passenger door while doing it, and stolen my tire iron, cell phone charger, and flashlight.” “No one likes an ungrateful gift recipient.” “They broke the passenger door?” (Loren) “Not too badly. They just broke the lock pin, so you can't unlock the passenger door without the key any more.” “So I can't open my door from the inside?” (Loren) “No.” “So you now essentially have a kidnapper-mobile?” “Some people would regard that as an added feature.” “Yes, Suze. But those people would be kidnappers.”
I kind of want to see the kidnapper-mobile as a plot point in the future now.
Anyway, there's also some added weirdness when Fort finds out that Suze is charging his brother for overnight visits--poor Chiv thinks Fort needed extra bodyguarding or something and then is SUPER embarrassed when he finds out what happened. Fort is ticked at Suze and says so, she basically says she did it because she could get away with it, but didn't mean to hurt his feelings. While these two do have disagreements in this book, they do manage to resolve them maturely--so good for them! Even though Fort does think Suze going fox at certain moments (i.e. sleeping, especially one moment where he finds her in a really weird position) is kind of weird, her sister Keiko says she's envious of how Suze can be herself around him--so it's also flattering.
But all of this fun gets super serious when Madeline's time to die comes. Prudence has been expecting to be sole heir and ruler of all--and any reader is already screaming about how this would be a terrible idea and she'd just end up slaughtering everyone in the territory. However, Madeline is smarter than that, and her final deathbed wish is that all three kids rule the territory together. Which I totally agree with, but...all readers know that since Prudence and Fort think oppositely most of the time and Chivalry is dedicated to the path of the mushball middle (or just not upsetting what his mother set up), most of the time they end up in a total stalemate. The only thing they ever end up agreeing on is getting rid of a pornographically carved staircase, and even then Chivalry balks at first about getting rid of fine art.
“Therefore, I believe that we should not move from this table until we can come to a unanimous consensus on one issue.”
“If Julie Andrews had been male and a vampire who dated back to the Civil War, this was what sitting at the table with her would've been like. I could only count my blessings that Chivalry had always considered spontaneous singing outside an opera house to be incredibly vulgar; otherwise I could quite easily see him try to motivate togetherness through a Disney-style song and dance number.”
Anyway.... as Fort becomes various races' go-to-guy for actual assistance (the Neighbors want to start up a breeding program again and some of them are homicidal, Ambrose the witch needs immediate relocation, the ghouls are being driven out of business by a fancy grocery store and can't afford their tithe, the metsan kunigas want more of a say, the kitsune want to keep their independence....), he becomes more and more determined to actually Do Something About This Stuff, and starts thinking it's easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission of his siblings. Plus it might just no longer be doable to keep his low-rent jobs. But he's not the only one thinking that after awhile, which leads to Fort deciding to force change on his siblings, like it or not!
In addition to losing his mother, it's time for Fort to lose his last remaining host parent--the fatal way--go full-bore vampire, and start drinking blood, especially directly from the tap. None of this is something Fort's ever wanted to do, but he does an excellent job of manning up here. He and his father have one last, good conversation, which is mysterious--Madeline might have been designing for a rebel baby, and Fort is certainly that. While his siblings are adorably super helpful about his feeding issues--giving him take-home containers of blood and Prudence even offers up her current blood donor again--Fort's going to have to figure out how he's going to handle it, and he does. And good for him.
This is an excellent coming-of-age novel. Okay, so the whole series counts as this really, but especially this book. Fort continues to figure out how to actually govern the territory in a decent manner, and he's horrified at how pretty much everyone else hides in their own little groups, living in fear. By the end of the book I was thinking that Fort's gonna become the most beloved guy in New England at the rate he's going, for actually standing up and doing his best to stop the shenanigans that his mother let pass with a blind eye, and that his siblings would do the same about.
“This can't keep going, Dan. I mean, we can't possibly stay in a situation where people have to thank me for not massacring them.”
I'm giving this four and a half stars, it's near epic. GO FORTITUDE! You rock!
“I'm going to tell you about something very important that I learned about from watching lots of TV shows about spies—it's called compartmentalization. Bad things happen, Fort, and people get hurt. But you need to limit your efforts to the people who are most important to you, or you'll just get burned out or rubbed out.”-Suze
“I don't want you to change, Fort. I'm not trying to nag you into not caring. I like who you are right now, and I'm not going to suddenly try to remake you just because I've lifted tail for you. I just don't want you to end up like a marshmallow Peep in the microwave of the world.”-Suze
"'Dan tied your tie, didn't he?" -Suze “I might've outsourced some aspects of my appearance, yes. But in an entirely managerial sense.”-Fort “He made use of local artisanal talent.”-Dan “This is an organic, farm-to-table tie knot." -Fort
"I knew for a fact that Suze had, in fox form, peed on every one of Buttons's favorite spots, just to piss him off. It was kind of hard to figure out how I was supposed to respond to that one. Discussions of relationship boundaries, after all, so rarely involved actual urination boundaries."
“And you, my last born, my rebel, fool, and foreseer both.”--Madeline to Fort
During the staircase debate, Prudence points out Madeline's Covert Pervert tendencies, especially when she got a ton of dirty Egyptian artwork that she insisted on decorating with before Fort's birth.“We'd be sitting in that room trying to have tea with callers, and none of those poor women could take their eyes off the wall mural of a fully erect pharaoh about to sodomize some poor handmaid. And do not even get me started on just how many individual pieces seemed to focus on male masturbation.”
“Let's not give me a medal for just deciding not to act like a complete dick and ignore problems. I mean, I haven't gotten a damn thing done yet, Valentine. I don't think that 'good intentions' counts as an accomplishment.”-Fort
“I got so proud when you tried to dodge that punch.” -Suze
“We all have to get real jobs eventually, Fort. No one can do shitty postgrad jobs forever.”-Suze
“Hey! I didn't get to punch a single dam elfling!”-Suze
“Prudence, are your suggestions ever not based on mass murder?” -Fort (No. NEVER.)
Fortitude Scott—Holy Shit, We're Glad You're Not Your Sister.
“You don't have to thank me, Fort. It made me happy to help you. Isn't that something?” -Suze
"Though perhaps the staircase remains our best moment of unity.”--Prudence
This is the twelfth and last (for now, anyway?) Pink Carnation book. I haven't read the eleventh book as yet, but the review of book ten is over here. This book also spoils the end of book ten, so I guess I have to put the review behind the spoiler cut. I'll just say that this is an excellent finish for the series and gets four and a half stars.
Indexing is back! Here comes the serial sequel! As i I did previously, I'll do chapter reviews.
This is pretty much the "welcome back, here's a re-introduction to everyone in case you forgot since last year" sort of chapter. Henry and her team are having a formal review to see if they will be kept together, split apart, and/or if any or all of them (except Andy, still memetically free) will be sent to rehab. Henry and Demi seem particularly at risk for that, given what they got up to in the last book. However, Henry's pretty much taking things in stride, even if the birdies are still dying to greet her at 5:45 in the morning. She's also dating and having sleepovers with her coworker Jeff, which is pleasing them all. Life's actually perked up for her since making that life commitment. Heck, she even picked up an apple crueller for Sloane! And when the fairy-tale-touched members of the team has to go in and do their intrusive personal interviews, they all do well in the interviews. Were you worried? I wasn't really.
Probably the most stand out thing about this chapter is their interviewer, Dr. Ciara Bloomfield from Human Resources, who's also fairy-tale-touched. She's a Bluebeard's Wife in abeyance, which for some reason means she has naturally blue hair herself, and she keeps her marriage happy by keeping her nose out of things. ("Their relationship was a healthy one, built on mutual respect, shared interests, and her never unlocking the door to the garage.") I would guess this makes her at least somewhat sympathetic to our team, even as she asks if they have more sympathy for the stories than they do the humans these days. The team members note that it seems like she's being forced to ask these questions rather than wanting to ask them for herself. Hmmm. Anyway, the conversations cover Henry's brother's gender issues and why Henry also goes by a male name in solidarity, how Sloane needs to be paired with a princess or a second son or else she burns down the world and has been around since at least the 1900's (poor girl), how Demi was forced into the job and yet went willingly and accepts the situation, and Jeff is blunt and honest about how he knows exactly where this is going.
In the end, Ciara gives them the all-clear, as Sloane notes that "the whole 'ragtag bunch of misfits' trope came out of fairy tales a long time before it came out of movies.'" And in two weeks, I think we get some actual story going on. I wonder if we'll see Ciara again--she's rather intriguing to me. Maybe so and maybe no. Anyway, I'm giving this three stars since it's more of a "dipping your toes in" sort of chapter more than anything else. More will come later.
"You're like a horoscope in horticulture." "I'll be sure to put that on my business cards." --Jeff and Henry
"I'm his first wife. I may have triggered his story when I agreed to marry him. As long as I never use this," she fingered the key around her neck, "he never starts killing. Can we really punish people for what they might do?" --Ciara.
"Shit. Who knew the kid was so good at telling stories?" -Sloane about Demi.
"If I'd known Henry was such a great lay, I would've seduced her years ago." --Sloane
Even though I read this book in chapters when they were being individually released--and I talked about them In Great Detail here already-- for the entire book's release I am going to attempt to write up an overall review for folks who are reading the book in one go. As per my usual generally-observed-unless-that-makes-review-writing-awkward spoiler policy, I'm going to attempt to not talk about the latter half of the book's events so much because that seems spoilery.
What's the book about, overall? It's the followup to the end of The Human Division, in which we have an inkling that for once, the Colonial Union and the Conclave aren't actually attacking each other--there's some mysterious third party trying to set everyone up to kill each other and basically implode. The frustrating thing about the end of the previous book was that it felt kinda cut in half--I liken it to what happened with the Merchant Princes series. The whole saga is around 800-ish words, but this book feels a little shorter compared to the other (well, because it is), and I was kind of weirded out at how brief the book felt, for whatever reason.
Anyway, this book consists of four stories featuring four different characters. The previous book had the crew of the Clarke as recurring characters off and on through the chapters, but this book mostly ditches the ambassadorial team, who make brief cameos (or at least Harry Wilson does) in the first three sections before coming back in full force in the fourth. I rather missed them in the book and somehow it made the reading experience feel more fragmented to (mostly) lose our thread and our heroes. Not that I don't like the narrators/featured characters of the other sections, two of which are returning from the previous book, but it was a little weird. But overall, given the plot and how it goes, it does make sense that the ambassadorial team has the involvement in others' lives that they do.
The first section is narrated by Rafe Daquin, a programmer turned pilot who is unfortunately abducted and turned into a brain in a box to be forced to do bad things by the enemy. However, Rafe uses his programming skills to thwart the enemy, get all of the information he can about them, and take in a traitor. Rafe is awesome. Anyway, once he gets the information on the enemy--disgruntled humans and aliens that don't like the Colonial Union and the Conclave and just want a universe without superpowers already, and call themselves Equilibrium-- it's time for the ambassadorial team to go to the Conclave and let them know what's going on. Hafte Sorvalh, second in command to General Gau, has to deal with the knowledge of a potential assassination attempt on her boss and how to deal with 400+ races, all of whom aren't gonna be sympathetic to what the humans are saying and doing again. Meanwhile, the poor bastards still stuck in the CDF (as narrated by Lieutenant Heather Lee) are being forced to brutally put down rebellions of planets that want to declare independence, and they're really unthrilled about that. And finally, Harry Wilson, his buddy Hart, and their boss Ode Abumwe finally get somewhere and figure out a way to trump Equilibrium and their most recent evil plan once and for all--while ahem, reuniting with Danielle Lowen :) I wasn't as thrilled with the CDF chapter because I was all, "well, of course the CDF would be dicks about that," but the other three were top notch adventure and strategic thinking. Yay!
Overall, I enjoyed the book very much and give it four stars for everything!
The novella/chapter/episode/whatever section reviews are below.