Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Fall Break!

And what have I done? Approximately nothing. I turned my Fulbright into the State Department on Friday, and now I have nothing to do but wait until January. So I've nothing since then.

That's not entirely true. I finished one cross stitch project and have moved on to this one. I have no real idea why I've wanted to cross stitch this rooster so badly, but I have, and therefore, I have started, thanks partly to my sister-in-law who gave me my subscription for Christmas last year (which has been delightful), and thanks partly to Snarky Writer who toted me around town Friday, since I'd not had enough sleep the night before to be driving (and who also very kindly not only dragged me around town, but hit three craft stores with me, looking for the proper fabric for this project in a reasonable price range, because I refuse to pay $20 for a piece of 32 count linen).


In other news, I hate AT&T. My phone broke the other night, and then AT&T, in attempting to fix it, broke it more--it now won't turn on it on. Their solution after that was for me to go buy a new phone. Fortunately, I have a very kind friend who is more than generous and who is sending me his old iPhone, though it won't be here until next week. In the meantime, I've been contemplating a response to AT&T. Though it's for bad PR, I thought about sending them a picture of Wil Wheaton collating papers. Still, it's not quite appropriate. I wonder if I could get a ragequit picture of Wil Wheaton shouting into his iPhone.

Actually...*goes running to Twitter for a minute* I should point out that while Wesley Crusher was an annoying little prick, Wil Wheaton is a nerd god.


I noticed something odd when I went to the library to tutor a client of mine. I was looking around and saw some new books that just came out that I would have liked to have checked out. However, the library here does something odd: they charge two dollars to check a new fiction book out for a week.

Being a cheap-ass, and only having made ten dollars tutoring, I didn't come away with any of them, because if I've waited long enough for them not to buy them, then I can wait long enough for it to be free at the library. And Lord knows I have no problem with a library trying to raise some revenue for themselves, especially since I know that the great state of Tennessee is just so incredibly devoted to education and literacy. But something about that seemed just a little bit wrong to me. I did manage to get Kim Harrison's Pale Demon without having to pay extra for it. It joins the stack with Joanna Lindsey's That Perfect Someone. In the meantime this week, I've also got to work on Boswell's London Journal, and some poetry for 18th century and work on studying for a midterm.


Anyway. I'm really behind on reviews, so here is a quick and dirty review of three books I just recently read, and then one really detailed review:

In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster: Fantastic. Generally speaking, Stephanie Laurens follows a certain pattern in her books where the heroine refuses to marry the hero until she gets a declaration of love from him. There is nothing like this here--it's real. They gradually fall in love. The hero is not just a warrior alpha male. He's also a scholar, but one who can kick butt when he needs to. In some ways, he reminded me very much of my husband. I have to say, this truly is my favorite of all of Laurens' novels that I've read, and I've read a good number of them. A+

When Strangers Marry: I've never read any of Lisa Kleypas' work before, and I was very entertained by this novel, in particular because while it's set during the early 19th century, it's not set in Regency England; instead, she sets the novel in a newly American New Orleans. That alone is incredibly interesting, because there are a whole other different set of conventions. Is it the best written novel? No, probably not. To be fair, it was a rewrite of her first novel, Only In Your Arms. B-

Wildest Hearts: This goes under the oldie but goodie category. It was a Jayne Ann Krentz paperback I scored from my mom, and I've read it before. It's really interesting to see something from the early 90s from her; the male character is very different from some of her other heroes. Something about her male characters in her earlier books are rather stuck-up. This one, Oliver, focuses on two things: business and ferns. That does seem to be one thing I remember from her earlier work: the heroes have some odd enthusiasms. Now that I've gone back to it: C.


Now, on to the most important bit of this blog post. Terry Pratchett's Snuff was just released last Thursday, and in our jaunt around town, Snarky Writer took me to Barnes and Noble where I obtained said Discworld book. This one is especially important to me. Not only is it a new Discworld book, but it's a new Watch book, and given that I wrote my master's thesis on the Watch books, you can imagine just how excited I was.

So to my review. SPOILER ALERT. (That means close your browser, Dad, I'll bring it to you the next time I'm home.)

Sam Vimes has been forced to take a vacation, and when the Vimeses go out to Ramkin Hall, trouble invariably ensues when Vimes discovers a murder scene on the property--a young goblin woman. He's out of his jurisdiction, but that has never stopped him before and won't stop him now. We get a interesting look into a new society that Pratchett has put into the Disc, and the goblins are demanding justice--not just for the dead girl, but also for the way that other goblins have been rounded up and taken off.

Vimes, of course, won't let anything like this stand. He discovers that Lord Rust's son is involved, and this brings up one of the main themes of the book: rich versus poor. It's fairly obvious that this was written during the middle of the recession, because the struggle between rich and poor and what someone in Vimes' position--as the Duke of Ankh-Morpork--does to help out those less fortunate. It becomes part of what both Vimes and Carrot term "the terrible algebra of necessity." Goblin mothers, when they cannot feed their children, eat them instead. Then they build a pot, put the soul of the baby in it, and wait for it to return at a better time.

It turns out that Gravid Rust is transporting goblins away to work as slaves on tobacco plantations in Howondaland, where they are all dying, assisted by one rather awful character known as Stratford. One pot makes its way into a cigar, picked up by Fred Colon, who then becomes possessed, as if a goblin. Vimes, through all of this, is assisted by the quasi-demon that he picked up in Thud!, The Summoning Dark, which has left its mark on him and who he can interact with in his own head, Feeney, the somewhat inept country constable who is still learning how to be a policeman, and Willikins, his gentleman's gentleman who grew up in a street gang only a few lanes down from Vimes and who still retains all of his skills.

Stratford, though, is crazy, and does something that no man should ever do if he wants to live--try to kill Young Sam Vimes. But the elder Sam Vimes is a good man and simply would have taken him to jail. Willkins, though, is not a good man, and takes very unkindly to someone trying to hurt his family.

There are a couple of things that I really liked, small things. Vetinari is frustrated as hell with the Ankh-Morpork Times' crossword compiler. Willikins and Vimes have real conversations that are very friendly, even though Willikins works for Vimes. For the first time, it seems like Vimes has a real friend. Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs have been his friends, but he can't talk to them about everything; they don't understand his position between the street and the aristocracy; Willikins does.

I was glad to see that Angua's promotion to Captain has finally taken hold permanently. Wee Mad Arthur's reappearance was fantastic and wonderful. I liked seeing that Vimes is really in love with Sibyl. I would have liked to have seen more of Carrot--the question of what Carrot will actually do as far as the kingship goes remains unanswered. But that's the only criticism that I have of this book.

The last two books, Making Money and Unseen Academicals, had a couple of problems. They weren't tightly plotted, and they relied far too much on poop jokes. That's not to say that there aren't some of those in Snuff, but they're reserved for Young Sam, who at six years old, is interested in very little else, which makes sense. This novel is so tightly put together that you can't see Pratchett's Alzheimer's at all.

At the same time, this is not a light novel. While there are some really great funny lines, the way that there are in all Pratchett novels, this is far more serious than any of his other novels. It's darker than Night Watch, even. It's dark, it's serious, and it's good. While Men at Arms will always be my favorite Discworld novel, I think Snuff has just become the best. This book is an A+, hands down.

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