Y'all - I have DISLIKED BOOKS recently! I know - that is COMPLETELY unlike me! And how can I blog about a book I disliked? That's so mean! Jeremy Tankard found my blog when I talked about how much I loved him ... what if some author googles themselves, finds my blog (THAT WAS WRITTEN WHEN I WAS PREGNANT AND SNARKY), and decides that if one random librarian pirate didn't like their book then they shouldn't try again*. On the other hand, it is completely disingenuous** of me to assume I can write a blog that contains tons of book reviews and NOT discuss the books I don't like. I had a dilemma. I have come upon a solution! I tend to link to other reviews anyway, right? Why not just include a link to a positive review along with my negative snark! That way nobody will decide not to read a book just because some snarky pregnant lady told them it sucked - they can decide based on my snark and someone else's non snark. Good idea, yes? Shush - it's BRILLIANT!
*Oh, the narcissism!
**Fun fact: Disingenuous is possibly my least favorite word EVER! People use it when they want to call someone a no good fake liar pants but they don't want to actually be seen calling someone a no good fake liar pants. Therefore I find the word itself to be disingenuous. Did that stop me from using it here? Nope. You want a blog that doesn't hold itself to a ridiculous double standard? Go read something else!
First up, Gossamer. Fuse Number 8 wrote a beautiful review of Gossamer, and it makes me giggle because it begins "And now a book we can all agree on. The newest L0wry* is out and it's loverly. A class act all around." Oh, Fuse #8 - I almost always agree with you, and the one time I don't you are not expecting it! It's a stealth disagreement! Gossamer is a quiet book about dream creatures and a boy who was abused by his father who is now staying in foster care with this lovely older lady who works to help fix his damaged soul.
*did you see what I did there? No? That's because I'm SNEAKY!
I think part of my problem with Gossamer is that I listened to the audiobook. I don't tend to like soft, quiet, smart books on audio. They always seem beyond pretentious when I hear someone reading the words and obviously thinking the words are some of the most brilliant things they've read in awhile. Also, the snarky side of me was getting very annoyed at the trend in children's books for the problem child to be a problem for a reason and that reason is usually his/her home life. AND the child is always fixable (Side note: I am an optimist. When I'm not PREGNANT AND SNARKY I do think that everyone is basically good and I certainly don't want to ever tell my children that someone is just a bad person and there is nothing they can do to fix that ... but right now I am PREGNANT AND SNARKY so I will let my feelings flow!). I think my biggest problem with this is that it is almost always the parent's fault. In this book it was extreme abuse, but in general I get annoyed with people's tendency to think that a child is only acting out because they don't get enough attention at home or the parents don't care or whatnot. I have so many friends who have children somewhere in the autism spectrum who are the best parents ever but whose children "act out" (oh look! CNN even has an article about that exact thing today!). AND as I've mentioned time and time again - I am NEUROTIC. Books like this make me feel like when Kaylee (sweetest baby ever that she is) decides completely randomly in the middle of the store that she wants me to let her hold THAT GLASS JAR OF JELLY RIGHT NOW (which: no, Kaylee. You want to hold this plastic jar of salad dressing? Fine. You want to cuddle up with the ice cream? Well - you're crazy, but ok. When you get bored with either of those and drop them on the floor they will not break. The glass jar will. Let us sing a rousing chorus of Row row row your twinkle twinkle instead) and will scream and scream, I feel like everyone I walk by is thinking, "what a horrible mother. She obviously neglects her child and that is why her child is screaming and screaming and screaming."
SEE? This is why I haven't been blogging. What was meant to be a brief "I was not such a fan of this book" description has turned into a "I AM NEUROTIC AND EVERYONE JUDGES MY PARENTING ABILITIES" rant. Anybody want to count up the times I have used the word "pregnant" alongside the word "snarky" so far? Yeah, me neither.
Another book I disliked was The Underneath. I actually read this one ages and ages ago - before this book won a Newbery Honor. It was perhaps my biggest surprise of the award season because my dislike for this book was SO huge. I read it because Abby the Librarian (who I love and idolize and pretty much always agree with) loved this book. I'm sorry, Abby - you're wonderful and brilliant but SO WRONG on this book! Again, this may have been worse because I was listening to the audiobook and "smart" audiobooks just don't jive for me. The prose in this book is lyrical and "beautiful" and DOES NOT STOP! Let me demonstrate (note: I am not actually quoting the book, but I am barely exagerating ... well, maybe a little at the end):
This tree. This big tree. This enormous tree. This tree that can reach the sky with its branches. This tree that is home to so many animals. This tree that reaches up with its branches and down with its roots. This old tree. This ancient tree. This tree that has stood on this spot for many many years. This tree that has seen the animals live. This tree that has seen the animals die. This tree that remembers back to the days of yore. This ancient tree that whispers on the wind. This tree of life and love. This tree will be chronicled until I run out of words to use to explain this tree. This tree that you will hear about until my keyboard fails on the letter E. This tree? This is the one I'm talking about.
OH MAH GOODNESS.
I could go on ... and on and on, but how about if I mention one book that I've loved recently? I'm about halfway through the first Septimus Heap book and I love it. My only complaint is the name: (this may be a spoiler - don't read on if you don't want to hear my surmise) On the first page, we are told that Septimus Heap is dead - has died pretty much right at birth. I think we are then meant to forget him - his death just made it very convenient for Jenna to join the Heap family! But they named the book Septimus Heap! So while I am halfway through the book and Septimus Heap is still presumed dead, I am fairly certain that he is not in fact dead, I am fairly certain he has been reintroduced as another character, and I am pretty sure I know who he is.
That said, I love it. I absolutely love it.
More, less snarky, book reviews to come. I promise! Maureen Johnson is the reason I am blogging every day, so I really should talk about how great her books are, right? Well stay tuned! Or not. Whichever.