Across the Nightingale Floor: Fun, but oddly constructed

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

Lian Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor is one of those books that most adults reading YA want to like: the prose is good, the imagery lush, the themes serious and involving. It’s the kind of story we all like to imagine teenagers are actually reading, whenever they’re not gorging themselves on fatty comfort foods like the TWILIGHT series and its horde of imitators. My trouble with this novel, though, is not that it isn’t sufficiently adult and meaningful — it’s that it’s just…odd.

Now “odd” isn’t the most technical of terms, admittedly, so I’ll try to explain myself in more detail. Across the Nightingale Floor is about Tomasu (later known as Takeo), a young man whose pastoral life as a member of a peaceful tribe c... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 1, 2015

Supergirl again. Clearly, I just want to write for the comic book at this point. Call me, DC.

Supergirl: You know, I used to admire Green Arrow. Sort of. The guy gave up his entire fortune because he protests unjust distribution of wealth. That takes some courage. You don't see a certain prominent, pointy-eared superhero giving up his seemingly inexhaustible gazillions (I mean, seriously, he crashes the car like every other week and then he just leaves it there -- I'm pretty sure half the citizens of Gotham are driving refurbished batmobiles at this point). Anyway, point is that Green Arrow seemed like a pretty cool guy. But then I found some old press clippings, and I'm starting to think he's maybe just less cool and more... crazy.

I mean, uhhh....
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Sunday Status Update: February 22, 2015

Character update on break this week, but we still read plenty of fun books.

Brad: I've been re-reading Superman Is Jewish?, an excellent work of literary criticism looking at the Jewish aspects of American comics. It's got a nice, pleasant tone without jargon, and the author makes complex, qualified claims that are reasonable, intelligent, and insightful. Best yet, he makes me want to read or re-read every comic he mentions. The book has excellent chapters on Superman and Batman, Will Eisner, MAD Magazine, Marvel Comics, and so much more. I've listened to it twice on audible, and the narrator really picks up on the tone of the book: I feel like I'm sitting down listening to an older, wiser man tell me about all his favorite comics, pointing out things here and there that I'd never noticed or thought about. I've listened to it twice on audible and read a physical copy o... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 15, 2015

This week, a huge thank-you goes out for Marion for securing an update from Granny Weatherwax of Discworld fame (or infamy).

Granny Weatherwax: Hmmph. Saturday. There’s Magrat, running about lighting red candles, rubbing lavender oil on her wrists, capturing oysters and babbling about the Lady of the Arts of Love. Nanny Ogg is down at the pub, belting out her forty-fifth verse of “There Was a Young Lady from Bad Ass.” That town does not deserve its reputation. But it’s Lovers’-Knot Day, they call it now, just another excuse for weak-minded people to go all blurry-eyed with “love.” I’ll admit, I do get a bit misty when I think back, so long ago, to a certain young wizard… But you know what Saturday is in my calendar? Rotate the Turnips Day. Love’s all well and good, but rotted turnips in icy March? That’s a tragedy

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A Memory of Light: It could have been better, but I’m still applauding

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

If Robert Jordan lived in his own fantasy universe, I have to think he’d be the sort of fellow who would ask for the biggest damn sword he could heft. Not because it was practical, or even practicable at times, but because he thought it was just awesome that way. THE WHEEL OF TIME series is, at its core, Epic Fantasy carried to its furthest logical extreme. Isn’t that the only real point we can take away from this? Jordan, never content with one mythology or legend, decided to pour them all into a single body of work. His mission was to compile nearly every trope and plot element that Epic Fantasy had to offer, set the stage for the biggest conceivable struggle he could dream up, and then blow it all to kingdom come and drop the microphone on the whole subgenre. It’s meant, I thin... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 8, 2015

This week, the characters take over. The status update e-mail went out a little late this week, so... yep, time to pad the roster a bit.

Bigby: This week, some sort of magical kerfuffle took place. The Thirteenth Floor bunch seems to think it's a big deal. All universes crashing chaotically into other at the same time. Various versions of reality and thousands of Fables from numerous corners of the cosmos trickling abruptly into dangerously close proximity. Very dramatic. Yep. You know what I call that? A Tuesday.

Frodo: You know, something occurred to me today. Gandalf says that when Bilbo left on my thirty-third birthday, my cousin said and did things that convinced him something "dark and deadly" was at work. Yet we didn't get a move on until now -- that's seventeen years. Good heav... Read More

Firefight: A fun, exciting superpower romp

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Firefight, second book in the superhero-dystopian RECKONERS series, is a good young adult novel. It's fun, it's lively, and the pacing never drags. I do have a handful of quibbles, but none of them are vastly troubling. If all you really want to know is whether Firefight is worth reading or a worthy successor to Steelheart, then you have your answer: a solid affirmative on both counts.

Anyway, our story starts off a few months after the previous novel left off (and shortly after the intervening novella) with the Reckoners struggling to hold Newcago in the aftermath of Steelheart's demise. Numerous Epics (Sanderson's word for superhumans) have turned up to make our heroes’ lives miserable, but a majority of them seem to be coming from Babilar (Graffiti Art New York). Prof, the Reckoners' leader, believes t... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 1, 2015

This week, an observation from Naruto Uzumaki, a shinobi of the Village Hidden in the Leaves.

Naruto: Have you ever had one of those days that just makes you question everything about your life? I just did. I was at the ramen shop like I would always be if I had the option, and I was talking with somebody who isn't a ninja. It was weird. I don't even know what the term is for someone who isn't a ninja. In fact, it's tough sometimes to remember that there actually is a world out there, sort of... beyond whatever we ninjas are doing. I mean, do we have laws or something? Should I be worried about, like, taxes or whether I have health care? Oh well. Point is, this non-ninja was asking me about what ninjas do, and he finally got around to asking me why we shout out the names of our attacks right before we make them. He said something like "Doesn't that seem like pretty much the stupidest friggin' idea an... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 25, 2015

Today, Shallan from THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE. Mild spoilers.

Shallan: So I've been stuck in company with Kaladin, Brightlord Kholin's Captain of the Guard. I didn't think much of him at first, but now that I'm getting to see beneath the grim exterior, I find myself admiring him. He's been hurt before but he's healing, and he's tall and muscular and -- I admit, handsome in a rugged sort of way. Also they say he's a peerless spearman. And a brilliant commander. From what he's told me himself, he has the undying loyalty of his men, and he came from nothing to shake the fate of kingdoms. It's remarkable! And I would never have known, had a series of improbable events not forced us to seek shelter together, huddled in intimately close confines where we have no alternative but to bare our souls and...

... wait just one moment here. Am I in a novel? Storms, I'm... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 18, 2015

This week, Legolas returns.

Legolas: Journal Entry 3448968: Lots has happened since my last entry. First off, we left Lothlorien, which depresses me to a significant extent because I'd kind of gotten used to having regular baths again. And, more importantly, to no longer having to hold my breath when Gimli was upwind. Anyway, then a lot of other stuff happened involving some sort of Super-Orc race Saruman's apparently been breeding (trying so very hard not to think about how Saruman apparently breeds orcs now). Merry and Pippin got kidnapped, Sam and Frodo evidently went up in a puff of cowardice (why exactly is this group so Hobbit-heavy again?), and Boromir fell in battle. Aragorn and I did most of a pretty decent funeral dirge for him, but then Gimli completely left us hanging on his verse. After all his boasting about dwarves and their misty mountains bold or cold or whatever. And h... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 11, 2015

Supergirl again this week.

Supergirl: Saw Lex Luthor at the movies the other day. At least, I was coming out of the movies at the same time he was going into the connected mall, and we met by the doors and just kind of stared at each other. I was in civilian wear, but he definitely knew me. It was crazy awkward. What do you say in that situation? Well, I mean, I know what I said. I got flustered and blurted "cold one, huh?"  So naturally he looked at me like I'd sprouted antlers until I got so embarrassed I sort of crumpled up and blew away like tumbleweed. But what should I have said? Anyone? Hero/villain banter for the casual encounter? Uggghhh, why do these things never happen to Wonder Woman?

Brad: I've been reading manga lately, and I've found two works I recommend: Tezuka's Phoenix Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 4, 2014

This week, another entry from the favorite (and only) sheriff of Fabletown, Bigby Wolf.

Bigby: One of the three little pigs came by to crash at my apartment again. Should've sent his curly tail straight back to the Farm, but damn if he didn't look too pathetic to waste time on. So I let him sleep on the air mattress. At least that was the plan. Couldn't get the damned thing inflated, and the walking side of ham had the stones to tell me I'd gone soft. Well, piggy, how about you try chain-smoking cigarettes for a few years without it affecting your huff and your puff? Yeah. Didn't think so.

João: As the first book of the year I'm reading Neil Gaiman and Read More

The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

In the world of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine, gods are reborn amongst men every ninety years. They live as immortal beings for two years. Then they die. In between, humanity wonders what it meant to have gods walk among them, or whether the so-called deities were in the end anything more than trickery and illusion.

That is what is called a killer premise. It’s clever, packed to the gills with opportunities to express themes from subtle to blatant, and most of all it’s good, fantastical fun. Even better, The Wicked + The Divine — at leas... Read More

Sunday Status Update: December 28, 2014

This week, a Mr. Kringle.

Kris: Ugh. So many cookies. So much milk. Bloated like you would not believe.

João: Is there any book that evokes that traditional Christmas feeling more than a K.J. Parker book, I ask? Which author, more than any other, is able to get across that idea that people are, in general, nice to one another, that almost everyone is kindhearted, and that the world is, in a sense, benevolent and inspiring? What, you don't get that from Parker's books? Weird. I am in wholehearted agreement with the tagline in Kat's review of Sharpsthis definitely is a K.J. Parker book, and a very fine one at that. Since this year is about to end, I was thinking about what books I want to have read by this time next y... Read More

Sunday Status Update: December 21, 2014

The Hogfather! What's that? Why yes, I've read Hogfather. Yes, even though I'm not a Pratchett fan per se. Everyone likes Hogfather, it turns out. Even a Discworld-Grinch like me.

HogfatherHo. Ho. Ho.

João: Starting this weekend I will have a bit more control on how I spend my time, now that classes are over for the semester and finals are only in January. I'll probably spend this two week holiday season reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Prisoner of Heaven, which, just as his previous books, is pretty great, and will move on to K.J. Parker's Sharps, Read More

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