I keep trying to think of a pithy way to start this post, and I cannot so rather than succumb to the writer’s block, I’m going to just move on. My week was busy but not really because a friend was in town for work, so I spent most of the week with her on a staycation of sorts. The June Gloom was in full force so we mostly just hung out in her room and/or ate an exorbitant amount of food, even though what we both really wanted was to get in the pool. She’s coming back this week, and we’re both hoping the weather will cooperate, but the forecast is not promising. On the plus side, the sun was out yesterday and is out today (I’m writing this on Sunday), so that’s good. And oh my god, all I have talked about is the weather so it’s time to move on.
I read two books since my last post:The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I somehow had never read this book even though I (a) thought I had and (b) read all the other books in the series. I don’t even know. I just know that when I read The Ghosts of Ashbury High, none of the characters felt familiar (except Bindy Mackenzie, of course). That’s not to say the books have to be read in order because they don’t, but also–never mind. This is just a long-winded way of saying that I read this because I realized I hadn’t. ANYWAY.
Since I had already read The Ghosts of Ashbury, I was familiar with Lydia, Cass, and Emily, so this book helped me appreciate them even more. I love that they’re so different but you can see why they’re friends, and I loved that this showed different ways Lydia and Emily tried to support their friend who was grieving the death of her dad. Seb and Charlie are also great characters, and I appreciate that they kind of are criminals just like the girls really are kind of snobs because, you know, the stereotypes of the schools had to come from somewhere. Still, it’s a nice way to push expectations and look beyond the stereotypes.
I continue to love the way Moriarty uses the epistolary form since she frequently pushes beyond letters, and I like the inventive ways she includes other forms.
I listened to this with my ears, and it’s pretty close to a full-cast audio with different narrators for each of the six main character. What the audiobook shows very clearly is how different and distinct the six characters are. My only complaint about the audio is that–while the character of Lydia is very sardonic–I found some of her narrator’s intonations/emphases distracting. However, as a person who is often told I’m being sarcastic even when I’m not, I can say that if you consider the fact that you kind of have to suss out exactly when Lydia is being sarcastic or not, then it works for that. So, it’s a good choice from that end, though I wish the narrator hadn’t sounded so smug so frequently.
So, obvs, I listened to the audiobook, which is the first time I’ve listened to a Jaclyn Moriarty book on audio, and it was great.
Audiobook narrators, who for some reason aren’t listed on any of the audiobook options here: Charlie Casano, Bronwen Coleman, Anushka Carter, Nancy Wu, Andy Paris, Drew DeCarvahlo.
We all know I’m a Jaclyn Moriarty stan, so I will say this book did not disappoint. I enjoyed listening to it a lot.
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The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The beginning of my review for Lost in a Good Book works here as well. To wit, I said:
Me, reading this book: “I dunno. Is this too clever for its own good?”
Also me, reading: *delights in all the word play and literary references*
In conclusion, I am the target audience for this series, and I am okay with that.
My only complaint about this is that Thursday’s real plot/caper doesn’t start until well into the book (maybe a third of the way?), which is why I thought Fforde might have just been being clever for the sake of being clever. However, he was laying the groundwork for the rest of the book so in the end, it felt worth it.
[/end previous review that also applies to this book]
How can I not love this book when the detective character from the book Thursday is hiding out in as part of her character exchange says this about how he became a detective after first starting out as a generic:
“We all aspire to be ourselves, an original character in a litany of fiction so vast that we know we cannot. After basic training at St. Tabularasa’s, I progressed to the Dupin school for detectives; I went on field trips around the works of Hammet, Chandler, and Sayers before attending a postgraduate course at the Agatha Christie finishing school. I would have liked to be an original, but I was born seventy years too late for that.”
I mean, are you kidding me? The school is named St. TABULARASA for starters, which is effing brilliant and then the rest of it just made my English major heart so happy because I got all of those references. Then, at one point, Thursday tells the detective to do something different to change the story, which is a nod to how authors say the characters went in directions they weren’t expecting or the characters told them what the story was about.
Then there’s this gem from the Jurisfiction meeting she attends:
“All of the punctuation has been stolen from the final chapter of Ulysses.”
“[Y]ou will recall the theft of chapter sixty-two from Moby Dick, where no one noticed? Well, this theft was noted, but initial reports show that readers are regarding the lack of punctuation as not a cataclysmic error but the mark of a great genius.
Anyway, I don’t want to give too much of the fun with literature away but, you know, INJECT IT STRAIGHT INTO MY VEINS. (If you want to know more of the fun lit stuff in a non-spoilery way, this review totally gets it.)
As for the plot, it took me until the end of the book to realize this was a Macbeth retelling of sorts. Do not ask me how when the three witches showed up more than once with a prophecy. They literally had to say “ambition” for me to make the connection.
(Aside: do we have a name for this type of story? It’s not a fairytale so fractured fairytale doesn’t work, but I would classify it as a fractured…something. Anyway.)
I continue to love Miss Havisham. I absolutely delighted in the fact that the characters in Wuthering Heights were required to participate in rage counseling sessions.
I also love, love, love Granny Next. I need to get on her level with the youngers. Granny Next asks Thursday if she (Thursday) would like for her (Granny Next) to make Thursday an omelette, and after Thursday says yes, Granny Next gives Thursday instructions for how to make the omelette and gets Thursday to bring her a cup of tea. GOALS.
So, in general, I enjoyed it. I did have one other complaint besides the slow start (which is a feature, not a bug so I get it), and it’s that (view spoiler). Maybe more will come of it in the next book. I certainly hope so. It’s a bit of a letdown in an otherwise pretty perfectly fun book.
Some other quotes:
“After all, reading is arguably a far more creative process than writing; when the reader creates emotion in their head, or the colors of the sky during the setting sun, or the smell of a warm summer’s breeze on their face, they should reserve as much praise for themselves as they do for the writer–perhaps more.”
“Poor old Macbeth took it a bit too seriously–all they were trying to do was sell him a mortgage and insurance on a bigger castle–when the Birnam wood and ‘no woman born’ stuff all came true, the witches were as surprised as anyone.”
“Failure concentrates the mind wonderfully. If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.
“I have a husband back in the real world who doesn’t exist and needs me.”
3.5 stars, rounding down because of the spoiler
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Have a great week, everyone!