Thursday, April 27, 2017

Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty

Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty

What I drank prior: A bottle of wine and at least 7 beers... what am I to do?

Spoiler-free Overview:
Look.... This is middle grade. So there's that. But anyway. So after what happened in the last book, we have Serafina, the awsome girl, and the nephew of the awesome dude trying to find out what's going on in this world. So there's shit going down.... animals are goin nuts, some weird guy is showing up and hungting down Serafina. In disguise and stuff, just like the last book. She's gotta figure out who it is and why.... ALL OF A SUDDEN there's a new wild character like her, a boy... dun dun dunnnnnn. She's left to determine where she belongs.

Spoiler-free Thoughts:
I adored this. Mr. Beatty has done it again. What a brilliant middle gade.

They are still wonderful. Sera's conflict, Braeden's conflict, THE UNCLE. Man, he's such a great character. He takes care of his own and I love it. I had to remind myself not to be super suspicious of characters because its middle grade... because how oftern do we find good parental figures in fantasy huh? Rarely if ever. Also liked te newly introduced characters.

Also wonderful. great story while leaving it open for more.

Rating: 4/5 Shots.

What to pair it with: Red wine. Something with a good body, because  man, this book was excellent and well rounded and beautiful.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Infomocracy by Malka Older

Infomocracy by Malka Older

What I drank prior:
A whole bottle of wine and eight beers. No judgement. Please. (Autocorrect is my best friend)

Spoiler-free Overview:
So the internet had taken over everything including elections. BUT the world is filled with micro-democracies. Basically, every 100,000 people are districted and each district has its own government. ALright alright, hang on hear me out. There not ALL individual governments, for example, there's one called Heritage and they have what's called "the super majority." They have the most districts on the planet. Elections happen every 10 years and in this story, the election is a couple months away. There are policy-focused governments, enviro-friendly governments, even product-focused governments (Coca-cola and Philip Morris are two examples).  Anyway, there are two MCs, one works for Information (the internet) and one works for a government's campaign. Election is coming, conspiracies happen, they gotta figure it out.

Spoiler-free Thoughts:
This book was slow, but it's because it required so much world building. I thought it was such a great concept that made me think long and hard about what's goin on in our current political environment. And by that i mean, i prefer literally anything to what we have right now. fuggin President Flagrant Citrus Fruit...

This book inspired many a conversation with co-workers and friends. These people aren't big readers but it was so interesting to me that i had to bring it up. Can you imagine the gov't run by Phillip MOrris?


POC?!?! GASP NOT POSSIBLE. Buckle up, its done and its really not a big deal. In fact, it makes perfect sense in this globalized world. It's too often I find sci-fi books written where there are blue people but no hispanic or black people. Thank you, Malka, just thank you.

I really liked the characters. I didn't realize i did though until the very end when it was over.

Mishima is a well written woman. I mean, i didn't expect her to be poorly written, but ive been reading some really shitty written women lately so it was refreshing.

Ken was alright. He's no Mishima, but he got the job done. Doesn't help that's my dad's name so its tough for me to re-brand that name in my head.

Domaine - the secondary though not without POV character, I couldn't get behind. But anyone will tell you I'm not a fan of hippie-dippie shit. He was a nice balancing character though, to the other two fully committed to this new way of government.

So this plot was super slow burn. Its basically a mystery book about who's corrupting the election, on a fuggin global scale. While it was slow burn, i never felt bored. I was always trying to figure out who done it.

World Building:
THIS is where the book shines. It's not super info-dumpy... (see what I did there?)... and its not super-confusing. We get just enough detail when we need it. Big fan

Rating: 4/5 Shots.

What to pair it with: Scotch? Though, I'n not a fan of scotch, but i feel like its what you're supposed to drink whilst sitting around a fire theorizing about a new way. I bet Hamilton drank a hella lot of scotch.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

What I drank:
Finished my bottle offireball then:

Me: are there more beers in the fridge or is this empty case really empty?
Linz: you def can make a podcast, you need to take the next step in your evolution. but we need a decent space to record
Same: totally, we should read the same books for once and actually be a book club
Me: thaaats not what I asked. Takes a drink.
Sam: buffalo. (again).

Soooooooooooo several? (editor's note: the above interaction is accurate)

Sugar free thoughts (and a note. I’m 10/14 books into Wheel of Time by Brandon Sanderson and I’m having a hard time transitioning back to fiction that doesn’t pay the aauthor by the syllable and therefore doesn’t get googobs of world/character building. I’m real sorry if my ear has thusly been ruined by some of the best American Fiction Ever Written):

So imagine Hogwarts, right. But every character not in the Royal family is high-key poor. It’s like if aberforth’s London was secretly Moscow, but with a way better relation with the Crimean peninsula. You following me still? Me neither. Magic doesn’t play nice and the world is 11% “the matrix.” The Antari, a race of (almost/mostly/former?) humans, are basically the KGB, and the Danes? Oh the Danes are murderous narcissists, so basically Death Eaters, amirite.

Lols abound and our female character is a willful subject, and sassy to boot. Darker Shade is a fun lil read. As the great sage and Nicki Minaj divorcee Sir Meek Mill once proffered, “It’s levels to this shit.”

Double mint plot:
Aight aight aiight, so kell is a wizard, harry, he’s one of two Antari in the whole world. he travels the various, separate-but-linked-by-magic Londons. He meets this lil shawty, Lila, who is the scrappiest lil fella. Yadda yadda yadda, kell’s gotta save the world; maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t; this is apparently the first of a trilogy; his one brother’s a dick, but a pretty dick with like sparkles and well manicured nuts, this other Antari dude is also a dick, but like a gnarly one; I don’t remember semi0colon rules anymore; also what was I talking about?

Doublemint Main characters:

Lila’s a badass pick pocketing androgynous badass. She like knives and guns and freedom and boats and a nice pint of ale, and killing people, but that last one only a little bit, just enough to survive.

Kell’s the prince’s adopted brother. He’s the pureblood magic frowny heartthrob ya ddint know ya didn’t care about. He’s a good guy. I think I mean that as a pejorative.

All the Londons have kings and queens and they range from dumb and decrepit to the evil twins from the matrix with the dreads who chase neo and the team down the highway blwing shit up. All the royars are a metaphor/snapshot for the world they live in, which I litrally just realized, and which is neat

Doublemint Writing:
the hinge point of this novel is the various worls that sit atop eachother. Each world is distinct and has its own perils. It’s an interesting world, that I wish was painted a little more fully, or clearly or something. All the sentences in the book are about this long. I really thought this was a YA novel for like the first 70 pages.

Rating: 3.45/5 shots of Smirnoff vodka because I’d probably be way more drunk if I was 15

Comparison: a good bourbon. Like a weird one. Because you got recommended it, and drank it and it was gross fro like the first 1/3sip, but then you like, “oh. Wait. That’s bit at the end there was nice. Suddenly I want to try this again. So I guess I’ll read the sequel. Maybe that random weird shit will come through stronger the second time.”

Friday, April 14, 2017

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah, by Chimananda Adichie

What I drank. A frew (9?) brews, and about 20 mins ago I chugged half a bottle of wine so, who I’ll probably have to hurl in a few seconds. Buckle up. (Editor's Note: he did not, in fact, hurl)

Spoiler free plot overview: ya girl ifem is a Nigerian who moves to the states for a *scarequotes* “better life”, and as she does so, she interacts with the many contradictions that americanness entails. When we meet her, she’s a wildy successful blogger movingfrom her job at Princeton, back home to Nigeria, after spending about a decade in the US. Throughout the course of the novel, She encounters racism, sexism, and classism from a perspective that is colored by her perspective as an African immigrant. Even this is fraught; some of her contemporaries are “scammers”, some are idealogeus, some are college professors. Ifem has a kind of second coming of age in East Coast Liberal America, which is interesting as fuck. She watches the Obama campaign and presidential election from a unique perspective that is hella interesante.

Spoiler free thoughts: I’m having a great convo with my good friend about what it means to comment on a fictional story that isn’t about you. For her, writing about a novel like Americanah or Homegoing or The Hate U Give felt like an overstepping of bounds, like the story wasn’t for you and even though you learned from it it, in talking about it, you’d be retelling it uglily, bastardizing it. Now, she and I agree: that sometimes a story that isn’t “for you”, that your reading is tangential, and while not inconsequential, is irrelevant. Oh you read it? Sweet. Good for you. We also disagreed, to this end: a story that isn’t yours can still affect you, can still spread its energies through your eyes to your friends’ eyes and thus into their lives. Americanah is where I found that ground, because it’s a story that is in so many ways “for” me but not about me. but anyway the...

...Plot is kind of stationary, not a lot “happens”, but that’s not what drives the novel. It’s all about Ifem and her experiences, and whereas they are informative, they do not necessarily drive the action, far more compelling are the...

...Characters. Our cast is wildly diverse, and intentionally so. This is not a novel where one can pontificate about the symbolism of one certain character bc all have a value here. Ifem’s first love Obinze, her aunt and fellow American expatriate, Uju, and Uju’s son Dike, Hot White Boyfriend Kurt, and a whole host of (intentionally) forgettable Americans help to compose a tapestry of identity and (be)longing that is made tactile by the...

...Writing syle: ifem’s blog posts are interwoven with the third person narrator. The narrator’s limitations highlight Ifem’s shortcomings and fears, and the blogposts that intersperse the novel highlight the identity crises that the protagonist undergoes. They are rarely topical, that is, they rarely “fit” the chapter that they go in, but the light that they shed is illuminating, all redundancy intended. They are witty and irreverent, to boot.

Separately and crucially to me, she writes about the 2008 Obama campaign, and holy fucking shit, I wept on a plane three separate times during that one chapter. I’m literally crying over my favorite episode of Dr Who rn because I’m reflecting on the thoughts I had those nights, nights I had forgotten about, or contextualized before she brought them back to the surface. It’s just powerful, powerful stuff.

Spoilers, honey:

Rating (in brews) uhhhhhhhhhh 4.3/5 all-day ipa’s (Founder’s) because it took a while to build momentum, but then I realized I was largo sauced.

Pairing: tequila, triple sec and mango, because this feels like a summer, tropical novel, and especially at the end, there’s a complicated and inevitable pull of two lovers together that can only be recreated by tequila or, perhaps, a comet.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Hero of Ages

Hey everyone, long time no write.

I'm debating whether or not to do a review of the second book because apparently I reviewed the first book (thanks Sam for reminding me?  Also here's a link) and I might still do it (I guess we'll see).  Regardless, I'm finally on the right coast, both literally and figuratively and it's good to be home and writing while Parker and Sam are nearby. It's increidbly comforting to listen to them debate while I"m attempting to write in a way that is eloquent in literally any way.

For this I drank quite a bit of white wine; Its a personal favorite of Sam and mine. It costs about five dollars from Trader Joes, and my favorite kind of wine is a five dollar wine so I'm a happy camper.

Into the real stuff, this is Brandon Sanderson's Hero of Ages:

Spoiler Free Review: So a ton of shit has happened and if you haven't read the first two books please don't read this; In the first book they overthrew the lord ruler, in the second book they took control of Luthadel, and in this book they're dealing with the inevitable heat death of the universe. Quite literally; Vin and Eland are together trying to diplomacy their way into the control of the city while knowing they will probalby have to fight their way into ownernship, while the rest of the crew is completely split up. It's actually one of the things I had problems with is that so many of the characters were split up into different areas, and therefore not interacting, which made me not thrilled. Between Sazed having lost his faith, and Vin and Eland not being able to act the way they normally would and Spook bieng Sppok in this book, it just didn't quite click for me for a long time. There was definitely a slump in the middle of the book and I had to push myself to keep writing. And the slump surprised me becuase there wasn't a slump in the other two books. Straight up, I wasn't expecting for everything to be slow. And it wasn't like things weren't happening, there was always something happeneing; whether there was diplomacy, or sneaking around a city, or fights where people were trying to take over a group of koloss (creatures that pretty much fought and did nothing else) but the way things happened seemed pretty much blah for about 400 pages. And that is a long time to deal with blah. That being said, the last 200 pages picked the fuck up. I mean honestly, if even one of the revelations in the last 200 pages had happened earlier, whew.
Spoilered Review:

Rating: While I loved the ending of this book, I have to give it four out of five shots. The fact that the book had such a slump, the kind of slump where I would have put the thing down if I hadn't known that the ending would be worth it (thanks Sam), doesn't negate the ending and how amazing it seemed. I mean, it was really hard to get through even if the end seemed perfect.

Pairing: I honestly don't know what to paid this with. On the one end I feel like it should be the kind of drink that you get at the ren-faire (a combination of mead and hard cider which let me tell you is delicious on a hot day if you drink it before it gets warm) or, like, a long island ice tea. The kind of drink that in the short term doesn't seem like it's going to be a problem but it's you at the very last second you think it would. I'm gonna stick with teh mead/hard cider drink because it seems to fit just a little bit better.