Oh Wow, People Actually Still Comment on This!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2013 by penempress

My last post here was a whopping three years ago, and I’m tempted to delete this blog, but since people are still finding it and enjoying the posts I’ll leave them be, but be warned I will most likely not create new posts. The reason I stopped in the first place was that running a blog like this with well thought out posts was very time consuming, and time I did not, and do not have. Sorry about that!

A Company of Swans, By Eva Ibboston

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2010 by penempress

Personal:6.4
Technical: 8.4

From the back Cover of A Company of Swans,
“For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy academic father and her oppressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. There, in Madame Lavarre’s famed school, Harriet is finally able to come to life for a few hours each week. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching got dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet’s world changes. He chooses her to be the “eighteenth swan.” Defying her father’s wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the Russian ballet on their journey to the Amazon. There, in the wild, lush jungle, they perform Swan Lake in grand golden opera houses for the wealthy and culture-deprived rubber barons, and Harriet meets Rom Verney, the handsome and mysterious British Exile who owns the most ornate opera house. Utterly enchanted by both the exotic surroundings and by Rom’s affections, Harriet is swept away by her new life, completely unaware that her father and her would-be fiancé have begun to track her down…”

Personal Review
Hello again, this would be the INFAMOUS romance novel. Or maybe not so infamous. Anyways, I must say that reading this book was like eating mildly sweet candy, and then every now and then finding there’s a TACK in the candy. Some characters were great, (Henry, Simonova, *sniggers* Edward) and the plot itself wasn’t bad. It was tense at the right moments, had the proper ANGST of love, and so on, however…
IT WAS INFURIATING. I mean, in my area of experience, there are two kinds of romance plots.
Character driven and plot driven. Just like books, if any of you know that. In romance, I can enjoy it when it’s the outside forces causing the character to move through. But in character driven forces, such as this book, it makes the main character (who, for the most part, was rather sensible) act like an idiot to further the plot.
The Oh, he couldn’t possibly love me, and the Oh, she couldn’t want to stay with me if it ruined her dancing career got really old, really fast. Even the main character thought Romeo and Juliet was silly because Romeo didn’t bother to check if Juliet was still alive, and both of them did the same thing. They jumped to outrageous conclusions and thus amped up the tragic meter as well as the stupid meter.
And it’s not that I HATE romance. On the contrary, I love it when it doesn’t make the characters idiots. Example, the Princess Bride. FULL of romance. But none of the characters were stupid about it.
Anyways, I’m veering off topic.
More things I was pleased with were the correct usage of ballet terms, and ballets themselves. I myself am very fond of ballet, and was happy to understand every reference to it.
I also very much liked the descriptions of the Stavely estate, the Amazon and of Brazil itself. They did not overpower, yet were rich and gave a perfect image of what was to be seen.
Oh yes, and the ending was rather epic. I was pleasantly surprised to see so much action in the end, and the epilogue made me giggle. You’ll see why when you read it.

Technical Review
Narrative Pace: It’s much like a dance. Quick, quick, slow. Quick, quick, and then slow. In the times that required character interaction, (aka time for the characters to actually fall in love with each other) it was slow, and as necessary events took place, quickened to match the mood.

Writing Style: I have reviewed one of Eva Ibbotson’s books before, and I found that in either Young Adult or Independent reader, her writing style is quite the same. Although in this book, her euphemisms were a little hard to get straightaway. Things were to be inferred quite carefully.

Beginning: Depicts in a rather lengthy manner the dreary life poor Harriet lives in, and sets up the premise for her trip.

Ending: A suitably good ending, without the use of any childish duex e machinas.

There! I’m done! Now I can’t say I’ve never read a romance novel. BUT NEVER AGAIN. For all of you romance addicts, this is just what the doctor ordered. For those who enjoy a taste of romance with a big helping of action, find something else. Might I recommend the Princess Bride?

Till the Next Review,
PenMaster

Ten Romance Novel Cliches

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by penempress

1. The main character dies. Or the love interest dies. The point is, SOMEONE DIES.

2. The main heroine is escaping an arranged marriage.

3. The main heroine is a plucky adventurous girl.

4. The main love interest is “cute but troubled”

5. The main heroine is kidnapped by a rival love interest.

6. There must be at least ONE misunderstanding in the plot that causes conflict.

7. Either the love interest or the main character must be “so humble it’s to the point of self loathing.”

8. The love interest must be rescued at one point or the other.

9. The male love interest is always “handsome” “hot” “beautiful”

10. The main heroine’s rival is obviously prettier than her, yet the main hero will love the heroine indefinitely. Even though the main heroine generally loves the main hero for his looks.

Yeah, I made this cause I’m currently READING a romance novel. *is shot* I figured I couldn’t be biased against romance novels without READING one. But I can’t help but be infuriated by these things anyways so yeah.

The Outsiders, By S.E Hinton

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2010 by penempress

Personal Rating:7.9
Technical Rating: 8.7

From the Back Cover of The Outsiders,
“Ponyboy can count on his brothers. And on his friends. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kinds whose idea of a good time is beating up “greasers” like Pony boy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.”

Personal Review
When I first started to read this book, I knew it was a classic. I mean, most bestselling books written in the 60’s-80’s are written off as classics. And naturally in this “classics” someone dies.
I won’t say who though, just to keep from spoiling it. The story was great, not particularly original, but when you’re going for realism, originality is the key point here. This is a character based story anyway. And what wonderful characters there were indeed. (Even if some have really weird names, like Ponyboy and Sodapop.)
Although all the characters were great, my favorites would be Sodapop (and you should see this coming) Dallas. Of course, the happy supportive brother with good looks and the blonde bad boy with no ties. You really can’t blame me.
What I also liked about this book was the way the characters sought to resolve their problems. Matthew more often than not got drunk, Darry worked, Sodapop ignored it and Dallas made himself feel nothing.
There was also the difference and the similarities between the Socs and the greasers. They dressed differently, and they spoke differently, and maybe some had better break than the greasers, but they were human also. The greasers were human, and the Socs were human, both with their problems and worries.
It was nice to see the same kind of social division from the past and how it was like the present day. I once also read a book called Black and White, about two guys (one black one white, as you can imagine) living in the same neighborhood. This reminded me of that book, but instead of a racial difference, which almost naturally breeds hate, it was a social difference. It kind of made me feel weird seeing kids all the same age, same race, same problems, fight like animals because of difference in wealth and style.

Technical Review

Narrative Pace: since this is a character driven story, the pace does not move particularly fast. But it’s not too slow either. I’d say medium.

Writing Style: Talks a lot about feelings. The characters when first seen are introduced completely and thoroughly before moving on with the narrative, and almost after every significant event, how the character feels about something.

Beginning: a little drawn out. Ponyboy’s inner monologue is a little repetitive, but then goes straight to the action after a few pages.
End: one of those warm and fuzzy ones where it goes, “and he died and stuff happened THE END.” But it was suitable, tied up loose ends and was rather heartwarming.

And thus ends another book review. Man, I wonder why I went ahead and read a book I’d love for the characters and hate for the plot? I guess its just nature.

Till the Next Review,
PenMaster

1984, By George Orwell

Posted in Book Reviews on May 29, 2010 by penempress

Personal Rating: 9.4
Technical Rating 9.6

Excerpt of the Back Cover of 1984,
“The world of 1984 is one in which eternal warfare us the price of bleak prosperity, in which the Party keeps itself in power by complete control over man’s actions and his thoughts. As the lovers Wintson Smith and Julia learn when they try to evade the Thought Police, and then join the underground opposition, the Party can smash the last impulse of lover, the last flicker of individuality.”

(I say excerpt because the WHOLE back cover reads with extra reviews that do not pertain to the actual summarization of the plot. I have a re-print version of this book)

Personal Review
This has to be one of the freakiest, scariest things I’ve ever read. EVER. To think that such a society could ever be conceived and make so much sense is frightening. What’s even creepier is that the term used in the book, doublethink, is actually used, even if most people don’t realize it.
Doublethink is a Newspeak word that signifies believing with all your heart in a lie, yet also unconsciously knowing that that truth you hold so dear IS a lie. You would have to be oh-so-vaguely aware it IS a lie to maintain the illusion.
Throughout the book, the ideology of Ingsoc (aka English Socialism) is portrayed as both a good and a bad thing. For example, the main slogans of Ingsoc are:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

The War is Peace signifies the eternal war that the three super states, Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia maintain to keep their people with just enough to get by while using up their surplus goods. The only way for the High to stay High is to keep everyone ignorant by deleting any other trace that might prove otherwise. Thus, the three states war with each other to maintain this balance, aka peace. So War is Peace.
This leads into the Freedom is Slavery. Since there are ways to monitor every person everywhere, showing anything resembling freedom or independent feeling is immediately squashed. If you’re lucky, you get sent to a labor camp. Also, independent feeling is what nowadays contributes to most decision making. Thus, you are a slave to your independence. And so Freedom is Slavery.
And the last, Ignorance is Strength. This I think is one of the most simple concepts of the Ingsoc thinking. It also involves doublethink, since the less you know, the higher you can climb. Also, the less you know, the less likely you’d be caught by the Thought Police.
And so Ignorance is Strength.
It’s such a fantastically perfect lie, one which can only be achieved by completely forcing one will over the others.
In this world, the Party controls life, they control your mind, and forever seek power. In my opinion, power for the sake of power is kind of pointless and stupid, but the method of taking it and maintaining it written here is nothing short of genius. However, I hated the ending. I suppose it DID kind of suit the theme, but I still didn’t like it. Other than that, Kudos to you George Orwell. (Not sure if he’s still alive or not. Probably not though.)

Technical Review

Narrative Pace: Rather uneven. It starts slow, then speeds up, then slows, and near the end, makes a very long time skip, and then slows, and then speeds.

Writing Style: Verbose, crisscrossing between points and thoughts to make a bigger point. Not very clever descriptions, although you do find a few gems here and there.

Twist Quality: Scary and frustrating.

Beginning: A little slow, but the length helps to integrate all the new terms such as the telescreens, Newspeak, etc.

End: It was suitable from an objective point of view.

In a few ways this book reminded me of V for Vendetta. Although in comparison, the London under the Ear, Eye, Voice and Finger pales in severity under the Ingsoc of Oceania.
So there you have it, a late book review by yours truly. And it was more rambling than anything oh my…

Till the Next Review,
(or random list I put up to procrastinate)
PenMaster

Ten Things to Do if you Happen to Have a Black Cape

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2010 by penempress

(Because I’ve been slow at reading the book I’m going to review next)

1. Stand to one side in a hallway. Even though you’re not hiding, you will still scare someone.
(Warning: results might vary from neglect, to fright, to violent reactions from fright.)

2. Pretend you’re an evil advisor to a gullible king.
(Very fun, but might give you a sore throat from speaking in a raspy voice)

3. Pretend you’re a Sith lord.
(There is no repercussions to this one)

4. Hide in the dark folds of the hood and take a nap.
(Very relaxing, and you get to freak people out into leaving you alone)

5. Pretend you’re a princess in exile running away from an escaped marriage.
(Er, no comment)

6. Pretend you’re the uber-cool antihero that seems like a villain but saves the hero in a nick of time in the end.
(Yeah, cause it’s just awesome)

7. Sit in a tavern and wait for suspicious hobbits.
(This doesn’t even NEED an explanation)

8. Go to a funeral wearing a skull mask and when asked what you’re doing, say, “Picking someone up.”
(WARNING: this might offend some people. Make sure they have a sense of black humor before attempting)

9. Use as a disguise while offering your enemies delicious looking apples.
(No comment on this either)

10. Procure a Guy Fawkes mask and hat with said cape, and then dramatically recite, “Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.”
(Yeah, BEST FUN THERE IS.)

Yeeeeaaah, I’ll post a book review sooner or later.

Till Then,
PenMaster

World War Z, by Maz Brooks

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by penempress

Personal rating: 10.0
Technical Rating: 9.9

From the Back Cover of World War Z
“We survived the zombie apocalypse, but how many of us are still haunted by that terrible time? We have (temporarily?) defeated the living dead, but at what cost? Told in the haunting and riveting voices of the men and women who witnessed the horror firsthand, World War Z is the only record of the plague years.”

Personal Review
Before reading World War Z, I had already read The Zombie Survival Guide, also by Max Brooks. I must say, this book did NOT disappoint. It reads like a wonderfully awesome hybrid of authorical fiction and a history book. There even footnotes for all the abbreviations, and small concise descriptions of all the equipment and weapons.
The book is written as a series of interviews from around the world, and how each country combated the threat of the undead.
From soldiers to children to normal people, all are recorded. Each ethnic voice resounds that it is clearly from its country, like the Russians sound Russian and the Americans most definitely sound American. I thought this was just awesome.
There’s also the places people decided to hide, in catacombs, in castles, in submarines and boats… as well as the eerily chilling mystery behind what happened in North Korea.
As the review on the cover stated, it’s a literary scare only rivaled by the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.
And somewhere in some other dimension, this book is an actual historical document, and not a work of fiction.

Technical Review

Narrative Pace: As it’s technically a “historical recording” the pace moves slowly, but surely. You are not lost in the jargon and slow political processes, since it would be as a person is speaking to you. And from each interview you learn something, the next will no doubt mention it and it only adds to the connection.

Writing Style: The style itself changes subtly throughout the book, since each “chapter” is interviewing a different person. However, a distinct style of writing is found consistently in the entire book.

Twist: There were no “twists” in this book.

Beginning: The book is divided into phases in the zombie war, the beginning of the book are accounts of the people that first encountered the signs of the living dead.

End: the end was very resounding, almost epic. It was labeled, “Good Byes” the last words of some of the interviews, and a look into the future after the dreaded World War Z was ended.

So, in conclusion, THIS BOOK IS PHENOMENAL. And if some of you are wondering why the technical review never gets a full ten, it’s because there is no such thing as a perfectly written book. Well, except for maybe the Bible, but that’s a matter of opinion amongst people as well~

So Till the Next Review,
PenMaster

(Also, is it just me, or are these reviews getting shorter and shorter? Hmm…)

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