The last post that has anything to do with 2020, I do believe.
The sheer love of the land in this book, especially the oft-maligned beauty of Kansas (I’m a Kansan by birth, you know, and very fond of the state), would’ve made it a new favorite even if it weren’t for the characters. Tyrell says: “Have you seen those Kansas plains? Have you seen the grass stretch away from you to the horizon? Grass and nothing but grass except for flowers here and there and maybe the white of buffalo bones, but grass moving gentle under the long wind, moving like a restless sea with the hand of God upon it” where most folks say: “Ugh, so much grass. So flat. So boring” and this is why I like Tyrell and not them.
Because, Tye. Let’s talk about Tye. I thought Tell was my favorite Sackett brother, but I’m no longer so sure. Tye is this nineteen-year-old kid, a hard worker and a fast gun, but a kid, a kid who’s competent and dangerous and who knows it. But who’s also a little scared of that side of himself, who is gentle because he’s capable of being so much the opposite. (It’s such a weirdly attractive quality to me.)
He says things like: “There would be trouble, but man is born to trouble, and it is best to meet it when it comes and not lose sleep until it does.” And he’s non-confrontational. He isn’t your stereotypical Western hero with a snarky reply ready for every bad guy. Instead he’s just very calm and cool and in his head he goes: “You stick your finger in the water and you pull it out, and that’s how much of a hole you leave when you’re gone.”
Like, you just got burned, son. If only you knew it.
Tye’s not a talker, see. He’s an observer. He says: “Right then I felt sorry for Martin Brady, although his kind would last longer than my kind because people have a greater tolerance for evil than for violence.” And if that’s not the most true thing I’ve ever heard…
Plus, he’s loyal. He’s friends with everyone, though close friends with almost no one. He doesn’t mind staying in the shadows while other people get all the attention – in fact, he prefers it that way. He’s completely secure.
I love him and I love this book.
The showdown at the end is so good, too. I’m sure many Westerns end with similar showdowns, but this one’s just GOOD. I think I don’t care if stories are original. I just care if they’re good. Which this one really, really was.
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Nowadays, besides the occasional paragraphs snatched between classes or in line at the grocery store, I mostly only read at night. Right before bed. Which is what I tried to do with this book, and which I regretted very much.
…I was up till two a.m., you guys. Most of that time was not spent reading. Most of it my brain was just too freaked out to sleep.
A list of the ways this book hits altogether too close to home (note: all of this is minorly spoilery, so caution is urged):
- Super contagious virus (this is even freakier in the present context BECAUSE of the fact that COVID has such low fatality rates – because so does the Phobos virus! At first! Then it mutates and oh you guys *clutches nearest human* it’s so creepy, it’s so so creepy, it’s so so so so so creepy oh my gosh)
- Terrifyingly effective information censoring from people in authority who refuse to tell the masses what’s going on, are hiding something big and bad, and will go to literally any length to enforce their censorship. *shudders in 2021*
- AI that’s capable of mimicking an actual human well enough to fool someone who knows that person well…….
And a list of (also minorly infested by spoilers) things I didn’t like so much:
- All the cussing. Yes it was mostly blacked out and yes I still knew exactly what was being said.
- All the, erm, content. Seriously. Could you STOP.
- My favorite character died, so thanks for THAT, authors.
- There’s this thing authors seem to ALWAYS feel the need to do, and I’m so tired of it, where if there’s a tense situation where hard decisions must be made and leadership must be assumed, people make the wrong decision at least once. Like, the good people. The good people who were previously mad at the bad people for doing the exact same thing they’re now doing themselves. I had a doubt and can’t go back to check, that actually the new commander of the Hypatia didn’t do what Kady thought she did, that maybe it was all part of AIDAN’s plan to manipulate what Kady saw going on, but I don’t think that’s what happened and I’m just SO ANNOYED. Writing it off as “panic, and the stress of assuming a leadership role you weren’t planning on having to take” is dumb, because she literally could have done the PROPER thing without endangering ANYONE. Morally grey character? Okay, I can deal. Character who randomly acts like an idiot so the book can score mOrAL CoMPLExitY points? aarGRGGHHGHH STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT /rant
In short: this book is Star Trek for the modern teenager. I love Star Trek and I’m not a teenager, but I love Star Trek very much. Hence my feelings for this book.
The Quiet Gentleman
I like Georgette Heyer but only occasionally do I love her. This is a rare case where the heroine is better than the hero (ridiculously sensible and prosaic; it’s quite fun) and a sadly normal case where I was not satisfied by the fate meted out to the villain of the mystery. (I feel like we shouldn’t just turn murderers loose on the world, you know?)
Possibly my favorite of the three Murderbot novellas I’ve read so far. Set on a remote planet outside Corporation Rim, in an abandoned terraforming facility, where humans are actually sometimes used for security (our favorite curmudgeonly SecUnit is aghast at their inefficiency and once again reluctantly ends up looking out for them) and the company is up to no good (OF COURSE) and the ending kind of rips your heart out a little bit because wow, Murderbot. Maybe you aren’t quite as smart as you think you are. Maybe you could stand to be a little kinder. And maybe you need a very big hug.
The illustrations in this are so pretty. I meant to take some pictures before I gave it back to the friend who kindly lent it to me, but…I forgot.
Anyway, it’s a collection of folk tales from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany, and I actually hadn’t read most of them! The Witch of Lok Island is a new favorite story of mine, though. Two peasants want to marry but they want to have money when they marry, so the guy goes off to seek his fortune first. Unfortunately, he gets turned into a fish.
The girl, being sensible, knew something like this would happen and goes off to rescue him.
It’s so…decadent. And sad. (Just like the interwar period in which it’s set, I guess.) At least, the first two sections are sad. The last section is more just sordid. I actually think I would’ve liked the book if not for the last section, but that completely ruined it for me. It’s all so messed up and awful and adulterous.
Sebastian, though. Sebastian grew on me slowly (I was…about as enchanted by him and his teddy bear as Anthony Blanche was), but I really, REALLY loved him by the end. He said some very thought-provoking things. And his ending was pretty much perfect, even if getting there was a thoroughly heart-wrenching affair.
Guns of the Timberlands
In which a bunch of guys who work on a ranch don’t appreciate some city slicker trying to come in and take all their timber. But mostly, if you hurt any of their friends, they will fight you.
This is my sister’s favorite Louis L’Amour novel, so I’ve been meaning to read it for quite a while now, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The Lord of the Rings
J. R. R. Tolkien
I love this book and cannot really talk about it without sort of…gushing. For a long time. Because it’s a long book with lots of stuff in it.
I think it’s really cool, though, how it blends the old, mythic form of storytelling with the modern form of the novel. Tolkien calls it a romance, but it’s a romance written as a novel rather than an epic poem or a fairy-tale. The two things are blended so well, and I actually think that’s what gives The Lord of the Rings so much of its power and timelessness: in old myths you can miss the depth of character achieved by going inside someone’s head and the level of immersion achieved by descriptive prose, and in a novel you can miss the poetry of soaring words to describe heroism – the gravity and full glory of a tale can be lost, I mean, in the somewhat mundane way you must tell it – but The Lord of the Rings blends the two storytelling styles such that you don’t really lose any of the elements. It’s almost the perfect book, you could say, at least for someone who likes the things in stories that I do.
The Gift of the Magi
Read this at 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve in order to make my Goodreads challenge (I’m never setting it at 80 ever again), but I’d been wanting to reread it anyway, so that was nice! It’s a perfect little story about “two foolish children in a flat” on Christmas, and between it and The Ransom of Red Chief, I’m excited to read the collection of O. Henry stories I found recently at Half Price Books.
I find I have a great desire to blog but little time. Also WordPress won’t let me insert images all of a sudden, idk what’s going on. I would like to make things more professional-looking roundabout here, but we’ll see if that day comes. For now, tell me how your reading life has been! Any good books, any annoying elements that crop up a lot, any opinions on these books?