Sometimes, I wonder if I live in a parallel book universe and so the super popular books I read are not the super popular books everyone else read. Because this book is terrible.
I am just under a hundred pages into Throne of Glass, and if this wasn’t a buddy read with the lovely Tash whom I do not want to disappoint (and a library book), I’d have cut out the pages to make small, angry-looking origami animals.
But I don’t want to have to pay the library’s book damage fine, and I don’t want to disappoint Tash, so instead, I made a Bingo game. (Because Bingo is safer than drinking, kids.)
You too can play along at home.
Just 300 pages to go.
I am viciously devouring a lot of chocolate right now. Please send more.
The soft, vintage tones. The flowy dress. The dramatic clockwork moth. The lovely font on the cover. I had to read this.
The premise: Diedre is a teen in a futuristic underground city where the caste system is all, sleep and dreams are manufactured by the elites, and anyone who turns 35 is eliminated from the system. In a dystopian world frantically obsessed with youth, Diedre’s best friend, Flynn, was born with a genetic condition that ages him prematurely. If anyone finds out, he’s as good as dead.
Impressions: I was looking for some Lana Del Rey summertime sadness with this – a touch of hipster, a bit of romantic subplot, a dash of dystopia.
Instead, and despite the incredibly clever world concept, the novel reads like a kind of morality tale, in which teen characters speak out against the system in eloquent, full sentences and rhetorical questions. Continue reading
Canary friends! Remember when I posted about how great it would be to diversify my own reading, dip my toes into some non fiction, try some new stuff out?* The dip turned out to be an all inclusive two-year stay.
But I’m back now. Fantasy and sci-fi, here I come.
2015-2016 Books Read List:
*This is why I am not allowed to have reasonable sounding goals anymore. These things escalate quite quickly.
I suspect everyone has a few of these books. They’re the guilty secret – the great books you want to read, but over the course of weeks, months, and years, just can’t seem to get around to opening. Ugh.
The mental block.
Here is my short-list of books I want to read, but just can’t seem to.
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
There really is no excuse for me not to have read this book – or this entire series, really. For about three years now, I’ve put it off.
Thing is, I have it on good authority that the Hunger Games series is awesome. That Collins is awesome. That I will read this book and feel that happy zen zing of a great book devoured. I know I can munch my way through all three books over a weekend, then finish off with the movies.
And that brings me to the other reason I really ought to read The Hunger Games. I can’t watch the movies until I read the books. It’s a rule. But it just doesn’t seem enough yet.
2. Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay
This book sits on my shelf. It’s been sitting on my shelf since my birthday two years ago. And it judges me. Oh man, it judges me.
I even read the first page (and liked it!) but then the book went back to my shelf.
Where it sits to this day.
Judging me. Continue reading
Those of you who follow the The Canary Review even a bit might know that I have a weakness. This weakness comes in the form of popcorn fiction of the romantic sort. Gimme chick lit, and paranormal romances, and romantic fluff, and I am set.
…or the respective eye size and placement (see above).
However, those of you who’ve been around me a little longer may also know that I am a born again feminazi of the most lovable sort who enjoys constructivist theories on the side and watches adorable Disney movies with one eye trained on the waist-hip ratio of the characters.
So what’s my trick? How do I manage to get through the truly ridiculous without throwing books against the wall?
Easy: I have a very well developed coping mechanism. Let me pull out an example.
I’m going to pick on Feehan’s Dark (Carpathian) series because, well, I haven’t been able to get through a single one of her books without eye-rolling since I was sixteen. But my love-hate relationship with them means I can’t resist the books whenever I spot them.
From what I’ve sampled, this series has all the hallmarks of overblown paranormal romance, from the Good & Noble Vampires™ to the Irresistible Soulmates™ trope used in lieu of relationship-building. Gender roles are crisply defined: The Carpathian Male (read: the vampire guy) is an instinct-driven creature, overwhelmingly possessive and territorial when it comes to “his” woman. Even if our petite, lovely, and compassionate lady is independent and modern, she finds that she much prefers to cuddle with Dominating Male, courtesy of the aforementioned Irresistible Soulmates™ effect, than do her own stuff. Continue reading
Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson
In the world of shapeshifter stories (and urban fantasy, in general), it’s pretty common for the female protagonist to be a rarity among her kind. This trope pretty much guarantees that the main character will have endless material for romantic subplots (and romantic angst) and a deep well of built-in turmoil.
They’re endangered, and in danger!
So when I saw Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson had gone all the way to the extreme of the spectrum, I was curious. Werewolf Jessica McClain isn’t just rare – she’s the only female werewolf ever. This odd fact comes with a lot of baggage.
On the one hand, the werewolves think she’s the lupine version of the Antichrist. On the other hand, hiding the fact that she’s a werewolf from her kind and from regular humans is getting harder and harder. A disgruntled cop is stalking Jessica, trying to catch her doing something illegal so he can put her away for a couple dozen years, and Jessica’s wolf instincts keep waking up and telling her to eat people she doesn’t like. Oh, and she’s also a private detective to pay the bills. Continue reading
To everyone, even those who don’t know my long love-to-hate relationship with the books, I refer to Pittacus Lore’s series exclusively as IAmSexy Number Four. There is a whole legion of very confused people wandering around the Midwest trying to find such an excellently titled series. Sometimes they actually stumble upon the real books and, after reading the first, they say, “Meg, this is utterly terrible. Why did you make them sound so good?”
And I always tell them, “Wait, read the second one. It gets better.”
And that, canaries, is how I lose friends. Continue reading
Dear Paranormal Fiction (and you too, Urban Fantasy),
There is a place and time for your heroine to volley smart-ass remarks. There is a place and time for your hero to be an insufferable bastard. Everywhere else, please make your characters act like human beings (even if they aren’t).
View our other grumbles here.
Conversation from early yesterday:
theOtherCanary: I was just rereading my review of Alchemyst.
Is it a sign of sickness that the review made me want to read the second book just to find out if its as bad as the first?
And not just any review.
Your own NEGATIVE review.
theOtherCanary: I mean seriously? What does that say about me?
CanaryTheFirst: Meg, let me stage an intervention.
Your intervention will end with me reading it for your profit.
CanaryTheFirst: if you are inclined to read terrible books, let me switch out that one and switch in–
…you know me too well.
Five hours later, I get a text from Meg saying that the book in question had leaped across the expanse of teal carpeting, dodged a mystified reader, and dove into her bag at Barnes and Noble. As she explains, she has no option now but to read the poor, desperate thing.
Canaries, ever get jumped by a book?
Small Chirp: Select Pet Hates from the Fantasy and Paranormal Genres
When in doubt, make your character sigh.
In fact, make your characters sigh all the time! It adds depth to their already angsty personalities and highlights how tortured and put upon they are. It can also be used while daydreaming of that hawt actor look-alike across the room, to convey impatience with the police line that just won’t let the character ogle the corpse, or to express pure frustration when the villain, once again, slips out of a clever ambush. It can even convey boredom. It’s a very versatile act.
For an even better use of this elegant action, have your character (if female) fiddle around with the strands of her black-dyed hair as she stares about the bookstore sighing or (if male) glance broodingly around the coffee shop as he slumps in his seat with as sigh. Life is meaningless. This story is boring. The characters are deep.
What age difference? It’s true love!
Sure the human girl may be super mature for her tender age of 13 (or 20, or 30) but you have to wonder what a 100-year-old (or 500, or 10,000 depending on how far out we’re going) immortal sees in her. Continue reading