Entries in she's crazy (57)

Thursday
Sep122019

Good Omens

I kind of feel like the last person on earth to have read this book, and my view of it is definitely influenced by having watched the recent Amazon show first, but anyway. If you're not aware, this book is a satire about an angel and a demon teaming up to stop the antichrist from bringing about Armageddon. With amusing results.

To be honest, this doesn't feel like a collaboration. This feels very much like a Pratchett book. It could just be that I haven't read enough Gaiman to recognize his style, but the point remains. The structure and the POV and the sense of humour are all very Terry.

I liked the book well enough but thought the show was SO much better and I'm basically just going to spend the rest of this post comparing the two. My two biggest complaints about the book are the excessive number of characters (resulting in a focus away from Aziraphale and Crowley) and the amount of casual bigotry. I'm glad the show corrected for both.

Because I'm just assuming everyone has either watched the show and/or read the book, I'm just going to talk without concern for spoilers. So if you haven't read or watched yet, maybe look away? And if you read the book and didn't like it, maybe give the show a chance?

Anyway. There are two things I liked about the book more than the show. First, Death in the book was so much better, and of course that's a thing I'd notice because Terry's Death character is one of my all-time favourites. The other thing is at the end where the kids used homemade versions of the Four's weapons against them. I wish they'd kept that for the show, in addition to all the extras. I really thought the book was anticlimactic with Adam just giving his hands a little wave and suddenly Satan is gone. I like understated and subtle, sure, but that was TOO understated and subtle.

And maybe the show is a bit on the nose about things the book is subtle about, but a lot of the show's changes, like the addition of Beelzebub and Gabriel and the trials at the end, leave far more room to explore the book's themes on good and evil and the vast grey area that exists.

I liked that the show brought out more emotion in both Crowley and Aziraphale. If I hadn't watched the show first, I'm not sure the book would have convinced me how devastated Crowley was when Shadwell discorporated Aziraphale. In fact, I'm really not too sure how people managed to ship Crowley and Aziraphale before the show.

It was obvious that Crowley had some minimal fondness for Aziraphale, but Aziraphale didn't seem to have any fondness except for books and food (really though, I can relate). And if that was all a front because he was in denial about liking Crowley (as the show plays with quite well), it's mostly lost in the book. I think the biggest draw is the relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale and I'm glad the show brought that to the forefront.

As with my complaints about Discworld's Death novels (stories about Death that don't have enough Death actually in them and gave too much "air time" to side characters and other plotlines), Good Omens the book focuses too much on other characters. I daresay the whole thing could have been done without the Shadwell/Madame Tracy storyline entirely. Shadwell is awful in the show and completely intolerable in the book, and not in a good way. There are plenty of other ways to have gotten Newt into Anathema's path and plenty of other ways to discorporate Aziraphale and have him possess someone.

I mean, wouldn't it have been an absurd delight if Aziraphale had managed to possess Crowley? Can you imagine the arguments!? Has someone written a fanfic about that? I need to read it.

Anyway, I liked Good Omens the book well enough. It was okay. But I think the show, in addition to some modern updating, took all the good things about the book (the themes and the relationships) and distilled them down to their best parts and then blew them up into something magnificent.

Speaking of fanfic, it's not something I write, but I DO take things like this that I love and make them my own. I've started drafting a book inspired by the show's version of Crowley/Aziraphale and playing with the odd couple theme in it. But genderbent and overtly queer. And set in the Dragon Whisperer universe. Wish me luck!

Thursday
Sep052019

The Lost Coast

I wish I had read this book a lot sooner (like the day after I finished Wanderers) because it was such a palate cleanser for basically everything and a real uplifting book to read. I binged through it in a couple of days. It's like the 90s film The Craft but with queer witches in California.

So, it's basically like the author wrote this book for teenage me and I think I love everything about it. The atmosphere, the characters, the unashamed queerness, THE TREES. I haven't been to Northern California where these particular redwoods are, but if you know anything about me, you know I'm obsessed with their cousins the giant sequoias.

The book follows a coven of witches as they admit a new member and try to discover what's afflicting one of their other members. It's told from first person POV of the newest witch, Danny, and then told through omniscient POV of the coven as a whole and also from the POV of the forest. I really liked how the coven perspectives got a little less hivemind and a little more individual and close perspective as the book goes on and you get to know more about the characters.

Danny, the MC, is a "dowser": a witch whose power is to find things. She's also a late bloomer when it comes to her bisexuality. So I have a LOT in common with Danny. My spouse figured out I was bi/pan before I did! And I've also been especially blessed at finding things. My daughter says it's my superpower.

Every witch in this coven has a different specialty, making it a great ensemble as they solve the mystery of their friend the water witch. They learn more about each other and their own powers while surrounded by this magic forest and the unknown threat of whatever is killing the people on the periphery of their lives.

Anyway, did I mention there's a magic forest and giant trees? I read this book based on that alone because I am that kind of tree-hugging hippie. But the book didn't disappoint for a second and the book was fantastic. The mom in me would have liked a little more between Danny and her mom right at the end there, even like one more line, but it's still a fantastic read and I want a whole series of these witches solving mysteries in the forest.

And just for fun here's a pic of a giant tree from my trip to California last summer. (This is the largest tree by volume in the world, General Sherman, and those little specks at the bottom where the fence is are people)

Wednesday
Jun192019

The Geek Feminist Revolution

While there isn't a single author who is an insta-buy for me (mostly because so many authors write in a variety of genres, some of which are genres I'm "meh" about), Kameron Hurley is one of the few who's pretty close. And while non-fiction is a genre I'm "meh" about, I've always enjoyed reading Kameron's essays.

So this book is a collection of essays on geekery, being a woman in hostile geek spaces, revolution/resistance, and the intersection of all three. Most of it is preaching to the choir and sometimes she's a little on the nose, but all of these essays are excellent and worth reading. Even if I was just nodding my head through the whole thing. I've been audience to a lot of what she talks about.

But there's a lot of great writing advice and publishing advice and a few things that were new to me. It was really interesting to see her talking about how her day job has influenced her fiction writing and made her a better writer. My favourite part, though, was how she took apart shitty old tropes and offered so many fascinating ways to make them fresh and new.

How to tell the same stories about new people.

And it's made me excited to start some new projects, to deconstruct the same old tropes and assumptions that get written into stories and to try something new. To make sure I'm not spreading bad stories about llamas.

I'm sure it will have plenty of inspiration and learning opportunities for others, even if you're not a writer. Highly recommend this book!

Monday
Mar252019

The Light Brigade

This novel is far darker and more brutal than I usually read, but I always make a grimdark exception for Hurley because her books are always so amazing. And like with The Stars Are Legion, this one also ends on a hopeful note that made the viscera-soaked journey worth it.

This is the brutal, hard-hitting, anti-fascist, capitalism-eviscerating, hopeful time-travelling military SF this timeline needs. Inspired by Starship Troopers (film version), the book follows military grunt Dietz through basic training and the long, impossible journey through war.

In this bleak future, soldiers are busted down into particles of light and beamed off to war. But it does not always go right. Some soldiers come back with their body parts in the wrong place. Dietz keeps coming back to the wrong time with the wrong memories.

She has to struggle through memories and events that don't make sense, trying to keep a tenuous grip on sanity while navigating the dictator corporation she belongs to. This is an excellent sci-fi thriller/mystery mash up with some time travel for fun and I'm probably going to have to read it again just to keep everything straight.

If you're already a Hurley fan, this won't disappoint. If you haven't read any of her books yet, this is a fine place to start.

Thursday
Feb282019

The Family Plot

I used to primarily read horror when I was younger, but moved away from it as I discovered fantasy (mostly through King's Dark Tower series which is more weird epic fantasy than horror). I have continued to read things that fall under "spooky" but are primarily another genre, like dark thrillers and urban fantasy and... whatever Chuck Wendig's books are.

And I used to watch a lot of horror too. But in the recent past, I lost whatever shielding I had against the scares and no longer find it enjoyable. Back in the day, The Grudge creeped me out a bit, but I didn't lose any sleep. And then I recently watched Annihilation and that godsdamn screaming bear kept me awake for a literal week. And I wanted to watch the Haunting of Hill House but couldn't even look at stills from the show without getting creeped out.

And not in the good way. Not in the rollercoaster, this is scary but fun kind of way. I stopped being able to enjoy watching horror. But since reading and watching engage different parts of the brain, I decided to give reading horror another try.

I picked this particular book because I like Cherie Priest, she's got cute and hilarious dogs, and this sounded like everything I love about horror. But holy shit, it's scary! No nightmares, didn't keep me awake, but it got to the point I had to read the second half of the book during daylight hours. But it was SO GOOD.

So this is your basic haunted house story, with creepy as fuck ghosts. But it's about so much more than that. And I liked seeing the family dynamics play out, because I've been part of a family business and hell yes I know what that nonsense is like. The family politics. The bullshit. And I very do love old houses, just like the main character does. I live in a relatively old house, built in '39 with all the charm and surprises of an old house.

And I have been in a very old, moderately haunted house and experienced things I could not explain.

Anyway, this story was fun and spooky and endearing and terrifying. It's so atmospheric. When I think back to the things that actually happen, very few of them seem that scary out of context, particularly before the last third of the book. But the atmosphere? So spooky!

As much as this book freaked me out, I still loved every last bit of it. I read it in three days, which is about my top speed for novels. And it answered my question about whether I can still read horror. Haunted house fiction is about as scary as it gets for me, and I survived! Yay!

Highly recommend if you love ghosts and old houses.