I am happy to report that this book is just as good as Illuminae. I should probably take the review below the spoiler cut, eh? But it's also five stars. As some other book review site I read said, this is probably the first two five star reviews in a row for a series!
(Also, props to Amazon: when they sent me a defective book that had a bunch of pages double-printed and then were missing a bunch of pages, sent me a new one within about 36 hours of my mentioning this. Now I can FULLY review this sucker.)
So the powers that be recently canceled the comic book series Mockingbird, which was full of awesome snark, corgis, and feminist agendas. Then the evil male Internet rioted over god forbid, a comic book that used the words "feminist agenda," and suddenly the now-dead series became an Amazon bestseller. Even the dudes at my comic book store were all, "Really?" to this. (We have good people at the stores here.)
Anyway, as a tribute to this series--and to explain to you why you should probably buy the volumes of it because finding copies of the individual issues is hard to do--I'm gonna review the comics I have on hand. (My store still hasn't been able to get a hold of the infamous "feminist agenda" book #8.)
Previous issue here. In Issue 2, SHIELD Medical Lab is unthrilled at Bobbi's flushing their beeper down the toilet. But anyway, let's cut to a month ago when Bobbi was in the middle of a Hellfire Club party in England. The guest of honor, and by honor I mean "locked up in chains wearing next to nothing," is Bobbi's NOT MY BOYFRIEND Lance Hunter, asking if he gets a safeword. She's here to rescue him...or give him pain, or both really. And add to her rescue tally, which she is totally beating Lance at.
"That was emasculating." "Says the guy wearing the collar."
Anyway, Lance's not willing to leave right away because he has to go save the actual Queen of England, and he infiltrated this club to foil an assassination plot. Alas, by the time he kicks in a door barefoot (not recommended) they get caught again. Too bad the vicious dogs aren't interested in attacking, and after a little electrocution...they're free again. Also, when the villain lady keeps trying to use her psychic powers on Bobbi, she gets nowhere. It's that damn Ping-Pong ball, isn't it? Bobbi doesn't get her blather about the ball must be protecting her and blames it on the woman's impending concussion.
In the end, they save Queen and...hey, look, corgis! And this is as much explanation as you're gonna get about that.
After Bobbi discovers ALL of Lance's Hellfire Club memberships, she leaves him handcuffed and alone. Wicked woman.
When the author answers letters, she points out that Tony Stark has completed his course of treatment and that Bobbi will threaten you to do her comic right. Also, is Bobbi a reliable narrator?
"Not a chance. She remembers herself in the best light possible. Me, too! And she gets a few details wrong. (I never get anything wrong.) For instance, in Hunter's version of issue two, he's wearing a tuxedo and Bobbi is topless in a latex thong. Is he right? Is she? Probably in "real" life they are both wearing pleated khakis, golf shirts, and sensible hiking boots."
She then points out that in boy's versions of comics, Bobbi's been drugged and abducted, dated Ka-Zar, and has been duped, tricked, and bamboozled. But I don't think that's happening any more....
Quote Corner--though this week I'm gonna make it all Lance quotes:
"It's not our fault you have freaky dogs."
"NO ONE IMPORTANT HAS CARED ABOUT THE HELLFIRE CLUB SINCE THE EIGHTIES!" (and I'm thinking what, 1880's?)
"I already do your laundry...Have you ever done your own laundry?"
Hunter chained up wearing next to nothing while Bobbi is in black leather bondage.
The waiver Lance signed understanding that "this may involve torture, assault, bludgeoning, leather knickers, and in rare cases, death."
Bobbi can't wait to show Lance the real meaning of pain.
Bad Horse is attending the club, apparently?
Bobbi being the only one that avoids electrocution by picking up her feet in a mildewy building.
There's a paper doll in the back of Bobbi and her new corgi friend.
So Summer and her new friends walk along. The weasel finds Reginald's foppiness annoying and untrustworthy and indicates that the guy would be a fair weather friend. Summer finds this dislike uncomfortable and wants everyone to get along. Then they come across a mysteriously rotted wheat field. Reginald is also going on about a Miss Merope that he and everyone else loves. Summer is disliking her just from description.
At this point. Summer is hoping that Reginald's father will be an actual grown-up. Because "Grown-ups are strange creatures, and many of them are useless, but even the worst of them has authority." Also, "A grown-up could explain things like that and have the police listen, whereas if you were a child, even if you tried very hard to speak slowly and clearly, grown-ups tended to steam-roll over the top of you (or worse, smile and tell you what a vivid imagination you had. Summer did indeed have a vivid imagination, but she didn’t know what bearing that had on anything.)."
Update on Summer's mother's dislike of fun activities: "Her mother would never have let her walk on the rocks—they were so slimy with waterweed that she’d likely fall and break her neck, or catch some horrible disease—but Summer went slithering and slipping and sliding over the rocks and didn’t break anything. (She supposed she’d simply have to wait and see on the diseases.)"
Apparently birds expect you to dress for dinner, even if Summer only has the one grubby outfit. She ends up wearing a blanket, having them go through her hair...on the other hand, valet birds can put on quite a fancy feast. Now this is the kind of adventuring Summer can get behind!
Well, that was pretty fun and pleasant overall. I'll go with three and a half stars.
Can I say how much I adore Ursula Vernon's snarky practicality?
"Poets and even ordinary people make much of dew. They point to it on grass and sing its praises on spiderwebs. Words like “silver” and “gossamer” and “a thousand glittering diamonds” are thrown about whenever dew comes up, often by people who should know better.
Occasionally, they will even go so far as to speak of “nymph tears sparkling on the grass” or some such. When it has gotten to this stage, they generally need to be sat down and given a stern talking-to, and perhaps a settling cup of tea.
What these people forget, or never knew, is that dew is real and solid and if you are sleeping out of doors, you can go to bed warm and dry and wake up cold and soaking wet and not at all inclined to admire the sparkling of a thousand dewy diamonds.
The only good thing about waking up cold and soaking wet is that you don’t much feel like going back to sleep."
Anyway, Summer wakes up wet, stiff, and cranky, but the birds give her tea. She's feeling cranky and like she wants to go home, even though she knows people in fantasy worlds shouldn't want to do that. Well, except for Eustace Scrubb, but nobody's supposed to agree with him. The valet-birds take care of her and that perks her up a bit. They go back to hiking, and find a huuuuuuuuge wolf. It's in a cage and begging to be released because bad things will happen if he's in a silver cage come nightfall.
Is he a were-wolf? No, he's a were-house. Seriously.
"I am a wolf by day, and by night I turn into a rather pleasant cottage with white curtains.”
A great deal of Summer’s fear evaporated and she folded her arms and said, very grimly, “This is a pun, isn’t it?”
“Only by accident, I assure you,” said the wolf. “We wolves are prone to such maladies. A cousin of mine is a were-library, and another turns into a very large skylark on solstices.” He scuffed at the ground with his paw. “I believe the hunter meant to trap me and put a silver chain through my tongue and when I change tonight, I will be trapped in that form forever and can be sold on the real estate market.”
Cruel, man. Anyway, they elect to let him out if he promises not to eat them. They get him out, and he introduces himself as Glorious. Summer fills him in on the story so far. What will happen at nightfall? Well, he thinks having people in the house will protect him. Good plan for all.
So Glorious turns into a house, surrounding them. Luckily for him, it doesn't hurt, though it is odd. It even has a few pieces of furniture and wolf carvings on the walls. And the door? It's turquoise! Summer is relieved.
"It is a great relief, when one has thrown away normal life in search of their heart’s desire, to know that one is doing it right and isn’t going to get yelled at for going the wrong way."
I love this sentence.
"She thought that if she did have to go home—and probably she would eventually—she would do everything possible not to forget this."
Awww. Anyway, for those of you wondering what happens in the morning, they wake up outdoors with Glorious snuggling nearby.
“You are a very nice house,” said Summer shyly.
“Indeed,” said Glorious. “But I am a much better wolf.”
Anyway, Glorious and the weasel go hunting. After everyone's eaten, Glorious offers to carry Summer, who's a bit too blistered to walk well. How sweet. It's different from riding a horse, but she enjoys it, and Glorious tells about how he drank from the same stream that houses drink from and became a were-house. It's not so bad. You can get your business done during the day and you're not hungry at night.
"“A hundred houses in a herd, stampeding across the savannah, the big bulls slashing at each other with their rain-gutters…”
Summer was very suspicious that they were making fun of her, but then she thought of Baba Yaga’s house, walking about on enormous bird feet. Perhaps the house had come from this world initially."'
Hmmm, good point. Can you build houses here? Well, yes, but they're not great work. And the big manor houses are almost all gone from over-hunting--
Then everyone gets interrupted by riders coming. Hide!
It's been a long time since I read the beginning of the Princess Mia series, but like other series of late, the author's bringing her back for an adult take on her life. For those of you who didn't read the series, Mia Thermopolis was the bastard child of the Prince of Genovia and was pretty much kept in the dark as to her father's princedom until after he survived a bout with cancer and was no longer fertile.. which made her suddenly a legit princess in her teens because otherwise there's be no heir.
"But if you think about it, I have no real problems. Aside from my obviously annoying housing situation, my mentally disturbed family, and the fact that a stalker says he wants to kill me."
As an adult, Mia's still with her high school boyfriend Michael and still friends with her high school friends who knew her before she was royal. She's getting stalked and hiding out in the Genovian embassy in NYC, her father had a little race car incident and is having some kind of nervous breakdown, and she keeps compulsively checking her royal popularity ranking on the Internet. Girl, stop doing that.
As you figured out from the title, Michael finally proposes to Mia and it's time for a royal wedding...or, you know, distraction from the family scandals. Like her dad's impending nervous breakdown...or the fact that his sperm had one last gasp 12 years ago and Mia has a black sister nobody knew about. Upon discovering this fact--and that sister Olivia's being raised by a jerk aunt and uncle who want to haul her off to a country that's shitty for women--Mia literally jaunts off in a limo to her rescue. Olivia, however, takes this a lot better than you'd think. Go figure.
This is definitely in the "fun fluff" category of reading. It's a bit goofy and silly and while I'll admit the end was a bit much for me all at once (let's say Mia is surprised twice), it's the sort of thing fans would probably like. It wasn't a monumental book for me, but a fun enough time. So, three stars.
Mia, comparing herself to her elderly cat Fat Louie: "Of course I don't revenge-poop on things when I don't get my own way."
"Michael and I are an anomaly. Hardly anyone stays together forever with their first significant other, except maybe in YA novels. And usually when they do, it's because he's a vampire or a werewolf or owns a beautiful estate called Pemberley or something." -Mia
Mia comes from a long line of warrior princesses. Princess Rosagunde strangled her husband in his sleep with her braid, which got her named ruler of her village. (Princess Mathilde smashed her cheating fiance's furniture with a battle ax, then rode off with his hunting dogs, servants, and horses. Her own grandmother Clarisse sued her ex fiance for the cost of her new wardrobe when she found out he was married.
"The first rule of being a royal is that you have to learn to take a joke." "The first rule of jokes is that they have to be funny." -Mia and Michael
"Seriously, if my life were one of those romance novels with a love triangle, Lars and Michael would be the sexy paranormal alpha males, but the two of them would be in love with each other and just ignore me." -Mia
"Why do you think your father would be so ashamed of loving a spider man?" -Clarisse
"Famous? Being famous isn't a job! Then I realized that it is. Being famous is very hard work, but it's also empowering, because you have influence over a large number of people and can do amazing things with that power. And it doesn't even matter anymore how you happen to come by that fame, singing or dancing or posting a sex tape on the Internet or finding out that you're a princess. It's what you do with your fame that matters." -Mia
"If I recall correctly, when you were a tween, you would walk around with a cat stuffed down your pants while my sister filmed you for her public-access TV show." -Michael
"I guess that's what brides--kind of like princesses--are for. We might think we're in charge, but when all is said and done, our main purpose is to give people something to admire, and also to make them feel better about the world." -Mia
"And besides, that school obviously isn't a very good one if it can't handle a young boy's perfectly normal interest in flatulence." -Mia's dad
The word "twunt" is used. and sadly, they don't finish the "that's a cross between a--" definition.
"The two rivals for Amalia's affection, "Mick" and "Jared," come from enemy factions. Jared is blond and warmly creative, whereas Mick has dark hair and is more coldly analytical. Amalia seems to be leaning more toward Jared. But none of it really matters since they're all dying of radiation poisoning." --Mia on the plot of her annoying ex's novel
"Any day that begins with you trying on wedding dresses and ends with your fiance beating up your ex-boyfriend is a good one, right?" -Mia
"Your dad did it! He finally impressed your mom! And he didn't have to injure himself in a high-risk sport to do it!" "Yeah, right. All Dad ended up having to do to win my mom's admiration was alienate his own country's populace by hiding a love child for twelve years in a small town just off the New Jersey Turnpike. Easy!" -Tina and MIa
"In addition to the usual antiroyalists, anarchists, misogynists, and general wackos, we've now acquired a few white supremacists and even some anti-Semites (Michael says he's very proud he was finally able to bring something to the family, even if it's only a hate group)." -Mia
"Reader, I married him. Ha! I've always wanted to write that!" -Mia
"I read J.RR.Tolkein's Lord of the Rings series when I was pregnant with you. I've always wondered if that's the reason you turned out the way you have." -Mia's mom
Previous book here. I was blown away by The Fixer, and this book is also another one for blowing away. It starts out relatively mildly, with a bit of blackmail and a student council election--Emilia, Henry, and John Thomas are running and John Thomas presumably drugged Emilia, photographed her and spread it around school. (And I'd guess it was worse than that, but the book doesn't specify.) Tess does an excellent job of coming to the rescue on this one--not that the head of the school appreciates that.
This book may start out relatively fun--if you count drugging girls to be fun-- but things get really crazy when it turns out that the President's son has knocked up a terrorist in a secret infiltrative organization. If that wasn't bad enough, both John Thomas and the president get shot and the Hardwicke campus ends up being taken hostage. Yes, the entire campus. Tess ends up being let go--but if she can't get the terrorists what they want, kids will start dying. Oh fucking hell. Even worse, Tess turns out to have family ties to the entire situation, making it even more of an emotional lulu. And at least one ship will go down in FLAMES. Dammit! There's so much betrayal and double crossing and implied suicide/fake death ...hell, most adult action spy governmental crazy novels aren't this intense. The author's a freaking genius (actually if you check her bio, she really is).
I'm still wondering exactly what happened with Ivy, William, and the President, but you at least get some sense in this one of why William's not his biggest fan. He's still a heavy presence in Tess's life, as he's determined not to lose her. But when you've got relatives like these...you better be a genius level manipulator even at age sixteen.
Anyway, if there's ever a third book, you'll know I'll be on it. Damn, girl. Four and a half stars.
"You might think I’m a troublemaker, Headmaster, but believe me when I say that I solve more problems for you than I cause.” -Tess
"Hypothetically speaking, if one were planning to execute an act of derring-do to draw any and all disappointing murmurs away from one’s twin, would it be better if said act involved a handmade hang glider or--” Asher
“It’s really sweet that you want to do something for Emilia, in a completely inadvisable sort of way.” -Vivvie “Exactly. I am the very soul of altruism, which is why I’m trying to decide between hang gliding off the chapel roof and--” Asher
“You’ve reached Asher Rhodes. I’m off being interrogated for crimes I didn’t commit, but if you leave your name and number, I will get back to you as soon as possible."
“Asher would have a sense of humor on the way to the gallows.” -Henry
“I’ve gone to school with these people half my life. If they think I might be capable of murder, I have clearly been doing this lovable-pacifist thing all wrong.” =Asher
Asher sends thank you cards. He sends Tess a wedding one repurposed as a “Thank You for Trying to Prove I’m Not A Homicidal Maniac” card. Henry’s had a sparkly pony on it.
“We’re all liars sometimes, Kendrick.” -Henry
“If you get yourself killed, you’ll never get to see the interpretive dance I plan to create based on this experience.” -Asher
“I think we both know she’s probably composing a college essay about the whole experience as we speak.” -Asher on Emilia
“Answers don’t matter to me. People do. And if not knowing is the cost I have to pay to keep any of us safe--I don’t need to know.” -Vivvie
“Do you know what heroically surviving a terrorist’s bullet does to someone’s approval rating?” -Emilia
"But I was Ivy Kendrick’s daughter. I’d been raised by Gramps and taught strategy by the kingmaker. When I saw a problem, I solved it. I wouldn’t stay powerless for long.” -Tess
This book reminds me a lot of "Adventures in Babysitting." The setup is that Zak Duquette's about to go to Washingcon, his favorite geek con of the year, until he gets busted for plagiarism in health class and the teacher forces him to join the quiz bowl team for their competition--on the same weekend. This displeases Ana, a team member who's obsessed with being as perfect as possible after her older sister had a giant fuckup and got kicked out of the family. Her little brother Clayton is also on the team, and kinda hits it off with Zak as Zak tells him some of the crazy things that happen at the con.
“Last year, some engineers built a functioning AT-AT out of an old motorcycle. Year before that, the SCA reenacted the Battle of Hastings. Eight people wound up in the hospital.”
“Two years ago, the Lovecraftians tried to summon Hastur in the boiler room. And when they turned the lights back on, one of the guys in the circle was gone!” I don’t mention that two purses and a laptop vanished with him.
“One time this guy proposed to his girlfriend with an alien that ripped out of his chest. And she said yes!
And my friend James swears that Bill Murray cornered him in a hotel hallway, yanked the pizza he was carrying out of his hands, said, “No one will ever believe you,” and walked off.”
Naturally after hearing about that stuff, Clayton decides to sneak off that night and visit the con, and when Ana finds out, she forces Zak to take her there so she can grab her brother before their parents find out. Good luck with that. Anyway, they veer like pinballs between crazy and crazier situations, finding look-alikes of her brother (dude is such a McGuffin/White Rabbit), setting off fire alarms, discovering drug deals, attending a gay geek wedding...you know, the usual. Naturally, Ana's archery skills come in handy in an environment like this. Oh yeah, and Ana and Zak start, of course, having some romantic feelings for each other in the midst of all that chaos. If they survive the night, that is, which is really seeming dicey.
Anyway, this is a crazy fun roller coaster ride of a read, which is exactly what it's going for and what it's intended to do, with geek references ahoy and the darkest hour lightening up to a brighter day. So, four stars.
“Below that, a towering painting of a cybernetic George Washington mows down an army of zombie redcoats with what appears to be a coal-fired machine gun.”
“Cthulhu For President: This Time, Why Choose The Lesser of Two Evils?”
“Lest We Forget: Donate To the Red Shirt Memorial Fund.”
“I squint to see what is written or tattooed on her shoulders: BEAT ME UP, SCOTTY.”
“It’s like the Walmart of the damned.”
“You know, for years now, I’ve been calleda freak, a pervert, a deviant, a weirdo. It’s been even worse since I came out as gay”-
“I almost ask him why he’s dressed like President Theodore Roosevelt, but stop myself. He might tell me.”
“Yeah, well, they said we’d have moon cities by 1990. And no one predicted the internet or digital cameras. Sometimes the best guesses turn out wrong, and the most improbable theories come to pass.”
“My own brother is going to get us in worse trouble than we’ve ever been in, and the only thing standing in the way is a guy who believes in hobbits.”
“So nice when people can make a mixed marriage work.” “Is one of them Jewish?” ”No, but John’s a Star Trek fan and Mark likes Star Wars...”
“Because tonight I saw this really interesting guy fight a samurai, crawl through the ventilation system, and beat a bunch of excellent quiz bowl players without trying. And I’d hate to see him end up some sad, overweight, middle-aged fanboy who never did anything with his life.”
“I haven’t done anything wrong. Except for possessing cocaine.”
“How on earth has Duquette gone from quiz bowl alternate to hostage in less than twelve hours?”
“Oh, this is so not jolly! This isn’t jolly at all!”
“Oh, Ana Banana, I don’t think that’s a berry creamalicious idea!”
“She risked everything for me. Faced down a heavily armed drug dealer. That’s one for the old college application.”
“Oh, uh, guys, this is Roger, my mom’s husband. Roger, this is Ana, Clayton, and um, an angry mob.”
“We were at a comic book convention. Snooze city.”
“And as it turns out, the gun wasn’t even loaded.”
“I've always considered myself a guy who had some wild times in his teens. After hearing you talk about last night, I realize I was an amateur."
This is a book intended for any kid, such as myself, who was REALLY REALLY GODDAMNED SICK OF READING ABOUT DEAD ANIMALS IN SCHOOL BOOKS. Seriously, how do they expect that they're going to get kids addicted to reading if all they read about are dead pets? I'm not gonna get started on my rant about this, but I could go on awhile if I did.
Our hero is the redundantly named Wallace Wallace, who after growing up with a compulsive liar for a dad has sworn always to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, no matter how blunt it is, so help him God. This gets him into whopping trouble with his English teacher Mr. Fogelman when Wallace straight up says he hates Fogelman's favorite book, "Old Shep, My Pal." The author does an excellent job of describing every single middle school English class, ever.
"Old Shep, My Pal by Zack Paris is the most boring book I've read in my entire life. I did not have a favorite character. I hated everybody equally. The most interesting part came on the last page where it said "The End." This book couldn't be any lousier if it came with a letter bomb. I would not recommend it to my worst enemy." "Old Shep, My Pal is a timeless classic!" roared the teacher. "It won the Gunhold Award! It was my favorite book growing up. Everybody loves it!"
Upon taking a poll of the room, the teacher gets a "murmur of mixed reviews" along the lines of okay, not too bad, why did it have to be so sad.
"What a heartbreaking surprise ending!" "I wasn't surprised. I knew Old Shep was going to die before I started page one." Why? "Because the dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down."
Old Yeller, Sounder, Bristle Face, Where the Red Fern Grows (double whammy)...Suffice it to say that Wallace gets detention and misses football practice...for quite a while. Mr. Fogelman is now putting on a play he's written that adapts Old Shep for the stage, and he's going to force Wallace to watch play rehearsal until Wallace caves in and admits the book (and play) are good. This cheeses off the town's football fans, because even though Wallace, by his own admission, is an average player, he did make The Big Play To Win last year, and thus is somehow a middle school town hero. Also, his best friend Steve is no longer his best friend after that.
Here's what Mr. Fogelman didn't know: Wallace turns out to be a budding genius director. (Hell, he even has a Tom Sawyer knack for getting friends to come over and help him do chores for his mom.) Wallace has plenty of suggestions for improving this turd of a plot, and the kids absolutely eat them up. Pretty soon the show becomes a musical with a rock band and original songs, roller skating, rapping, and special-ish effects. Hell, the dog might even live! Except someone's also vandalizing the play, and Wallace is naturally the chief suspect. Wallace knows he's not, and says so, but what's going to happen when he finds out whodunit?
I thought this book was a hoot. The play gets crazier and crazier (hell, I'd want to see it, especially given the joys of rap in musicals that is 2016). There's great lines. And while I wasn't so thrilled with the main female characters (Rachel the "love interest" isn't all that much of one and the other option, Trudi, is a stereotypical boy-crazy idjit) and Mr. Fogelman manages to get over his issues surprisingly quickly, overall I was so delighted with the ensuing crazy that I loved the book. Four stars from me.
"Any resemblance you may find to actual persons or dogs, living or dead, proves that you have a lot of strange friends." -narrator
"The Lamont kids, Corey, Lori, Morry, and Tori, are always fighting. But when they find a dog that has been run over by a motorcycle, they all agree to nurse him back to health. They call him Old Shep, since he's a German shepherd. Then just when it looks like Old Shep is going to get better, he dies. This could have easily happened on page one when the motorcycle got him, but then this book would never have existed. What a shame." --Wallace's second review of the book.
"I couldn't resist blurting, "Do you want to come to the mall with me this afternoon?" "I'll never forget his reply from the floor as he tried to pick up the slop." "No." What a great guy! On top of everything else, he was so nice! After all, he could easily have said something really negative! That's when I knew it was more than my third crush of the year. This time it was, like, love. You know?" --Trudi
"If I can't put on a simple little school play, why should everybody else be able to get on with their lives?" -Mr. Fogelman
"That parking lot is paved with the bones of teachers who are still waiting for Wallace to see it their way." -Coach Wrigley
"Go shop for a canary, or a turtle, or a frog. 'Cause you no longer own a dog."
"I suppose that was a jock's idea of poignant and beautiful." -Rachel
"Wallace taught me a lesson: if you force the students to fit into the play, it'll come out lifeless and boring. But if you mold the play to showcase the talents of the students, the sky's the limit." -Mr. Fogelman
"Directed by wallace wallace and mr fogelman"
"This is no hype, this is no jive, your dog, Old Shep, is still alive!"
Song titles: "Puppy Chow Blues," "Shep's the Man (Even Though He's A Dog)"
"What's the point of having a whole story about a dog if he's only going to die?" -Nick
"Shep is okay! Hip hip hooray! He'll live to bark another day! Shep is okay! His health is super! He's strong as the shafter of his pooper scooper!" --This, combined with what's going on at that moment in time, is especially a hoot, but I won't ruin it.
"If he picked up a paintbrush, they'd call him Picasso." -Rachel
"'I've starred in enough romantic comedies to know one when I see it." --Julia Roberts
Summer spent the next evening trying to figure out her heart's desire. As a 12-year-old who has to spend all her time looking at books....
"Summer had read a great many books about magic and animals and changing your shape. Summer’s mother believed that books were safe things that kept you inside, which only shows how little she knew about it, because books are one of the least safe things in the world."
I love this. Anyway, Summer eventually realizes this is impractical because if her mother found out, she'd never get to leave the house again. You'll notice this is a trend...she thinks of something fantastic, realizes it's impractical, and then her mother gets offended because Summer wasn't speaking.
"I wish I was an orphan, thought Summer, and was so immediately horrified at her own thoughts..."
And then this is another thing that's super familiar to the likes of me in some respect: Summer's mom has another crying night because her job sucks, and Summer knows what she has to do. Again. There, there. Performs the role over and over again.
Then later that night she wonders: does she really want to be an orphan? No, no, she doesn't...she just wishes things could be different.
The next day, Summer finds the house again after school and the skull doorknocker warns her that while Baba Yaga is in a good mood, she's excellent at loopholes. Summer goes in and ...end of chapter. Grrr.
I find myself relating to this kid all too well. Kinda scarily well in some respects. I probably didn't have it as bad as she does, but the whole "My precious baby, I just worry about you!" and the "performing the role" every time the same kind of emotional breakdown happens stuff is pretty deja vu to me. Except Summer does her half-mindedly and I do mine in the "if I don't do this exactly right I'm going to make it worse" sort of way.
Yeah, I'd say Summer's heart's desire is to make her mother less of a helicopter parent/stage nine clinger. Though one wonders how Baba Yaga would execute that. If this is gonna be a portal fantasy (we're warned that it is), you've gotta get rid of the mother. Maybe make her forget she has a kid? I don't think it'll go full murder, but some kind of parental amnesia is necessary, because mommy can't follow her daughter to Orcus. Or wherever this is going. Kids with mommies can't have adventures, after all.
I'm going to give this three stars. Giving me the chills on a personal level, but short!
Summer is a girl after my own heart: she's loved too much. She's being raised by a very clingy single mom who can't bear to let Summer have the slightest bit of risk or danger or anything that might take Precious Baby away from her. Oh honey, I relate. I relate hard, though Summer's mother is worse than my parents were.
One day Summer gets lucky when Baba Yaga and her distinctive house walk into her neighborhood. Apparently the house took an interest in Summer and Baba Yaga checks her out as well.
“Glorified chicken coop! I’ll take you apart and sell you for scrap!” cried the old woman. “You’re not my first house, you know! I had a marvelous cottage that padded about on leopard feet, and I had it shot and stuffed and turned into a storage shed for a much more minor infraction than this!”
Baba Yaga was rather alarming (if quite interesting) and if her mother saw her talking to a strange old woman in the back garden, with the gate open, Summer was going to be in more trouble than anyone had ever been in in the history of the world."
However...somehow they seem to get on. Or at least Baba Yaga promises to return tomorrow to give Summer her heart's desire, or, y'know, just suck the marrow out of her bones. Whichever, yo!
Interesting...I'm intrigued so far, and super sympathetic to this poor trapped kid. I FEEL YOUR PAIN GIRL. So far, three stars for a promising if short start.
This book is told over the two days of USA Gymnastics Women’s Olympic Trials, from the POV’s of five aspiring Olympians, all of whom have to appeal to their personal god, Katje Minkovski, in order to get selected. The girls are:
Grace Cooper, age 17: has one of those perfectionistic jerk coaches for a dad, and pretty much hardly ever eats, does nothing but gymnastics and feels bad for say, having interest in a guy in a boy band, very very competitive even against her best friend. She’s supposed to be a shoo-in for the Olympics, but who knows these days?
Leigh Becker, age 16: Grace’s best friend and rival: actually has somewhat of an outside life (she attends high school, which boggles the minds of everyone else) but wonders how much better she’d be if she didn’t. She’s a closeted lesbian who doesn’t want to come out while everyone will only think of her as the lesbian gymnast—and it’s not like she has the time to date anyway, so what does it matter? (That said, she does have a crush on Camille.) She’s supposed to be a shoo-in for the Olympics, but who knows these days?
Wilhelmina Parker, age 19: thanks to an incredibly badly timed birthday, she got screwed out of being eligible for the last Olympics. Her coach has put her on a lower maintenance workout plan—don’t go to every single training camp every month so you don’t break your body before 4 years are up. While it’s worked in that Mina hasn’t gotten injured, it’s made Katje the Olympic god HATE HER GUTS and consider Mina a threat to her entire operation, and Mina will have to be absolutely perfect to trump Katje’s hate. (One wonders why it never came up in conversation over the last four years as to how not going to constant camps would prejudice Katje against you, though. Seems kinda late to figure out NOW, eh?) She’s very much on the borderline of whether or not to quit after the trials are over—and if she doesn’t make it, she’s out. She and Camille are kind of friends because they’re the oldest ones left in their age cohort.
Camille Abrams, age 20: WAS going to be an Olympian until she got in a car wreck a few days after trials (she wouldn’t have broken her back if she’d weighed enough to be sitting in the front of a car!), and in the last for years has learned to eat, got a new body, and has become “Comeback Cammie” on her second try. However, sampling some regular life has made her have less ambition for the Olympics. Her mom desperately wants an Olympic daughter, her recent ex-boyfriend desperately wants her to quit. Camille is somewhere in the middle—hey, why not do college gymnastics instead? Who should she be pleasing and what does she want to do? After having had a taste of normal life, it’s a lot harder to get back into her old 16-year-old driving Olympic mentality.
Monica Chase, age 15: Nobody’s had any expectations of Monica, and she’s a nobody in the gymnastic world. Until she has a really good first day and suddenly ends up on everyone’s radar, and discovers that the world she’s in is a lot meaner when you’re a contender. She has Grace’s dad as a coach (he neglects her) and gets along with Wilhelmina. These two days are quite a mental readjustment for her.
As for Katje, she pretty much ticks everyone off, especially when she refers to the sport they’ve all given up their lives and bodies for as “little” during an interview they all watch. She plays girls off each other, she tells people to fail or that they’re safe, and she badmouths “good surprises” who managed to succeed without going to her camps every month. After all, how can she know if you’re peaking or tiring or good enough to make it at the Olympics if she doesn’t see you all the time? I can see her point, but still….what a jerk.
Anyway, in two days of heated competition, there’s plenty of drama. The girls may want to be friends (and who else can they be friends with, really?), but at the same time they are catty and competitive and wonder how much they should be trying to take others down on their way to the top. Should, for example, Grace drop the bomb about Leigh’s sexuality in public or not? (Well, she hints….) Or can you win while still being nice? Also, do you still want the Olympic dream after all of this time and all of this cost? What if you want to have an outside life sometime—or can’t it just wait a few months or years longer?
These poor girls are so overwhelmed. You definitely get the POV of these girls and what they’re going through and what they will continue to go through if they stick with this world a few more years. As the cover warns you, not everyone is going to make it (hoo boy), and it’s quite a book to read before the Olympics. While I felt like this article I read recently didn’t do a great job on answering the question it was headlined with: “Is Watching Gymnastics Worse Than Being an NFL Fan?” well…. I suspect it is. Little girls in pretty boxes, indeed. This is hardcore, shitty, stuff…and yet it’s fascinating. I started reading this book last night and steamrolled through it very quickly. The quick-changing narrations among five girls may sound hard to follow, but it wasn’t. It was gripping.
Anyway, I’m giving it four stars. It’s not exactly an upper of a book (definitely has ups and downs), but resolves in unexpected ways, and it’ll hook anyone who’s into reading about gymnastics for sure.