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Thoughts: Promise of Shadows, by Justina Ireland

This book found its way onto my TBR list because a friend found it on Goodreads and the summary sounded like amazing, silly fun to fill the impending Kitty Norville-shaped hole in my life. I want to say it sounded “trashy”, but before I do I want to make it clear that to me, “trashy” means fun, easy to read, dramatic, audaciously pleasure-seeking (which I don’t mean to sound like an act of radical whateverism, just that I envy people who can write without embarrassment about angst and badassery and fun, a concept I find perfectly embodied in the phrase “super-hot Brazilian were-jaguar“). I hold good trashy novels in very high esteem. They take a lot of skill to write well, and I hate that “trashy” contains the word “trash” and that there’s no other good word that means the same.

Anyway, all this is moot because Promise of Shadows wasn’t very good.

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Thoughts: A Tale For The Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

This isn’t going to be a nuanced piece at all, just to warn you. There won’t be any analysis of technique or meaty musings on style and technique and effect. This is going to be a gush. You have been warned.

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Thoughts: Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare

Thank you all for accompanying me on this journey. I feel much better now that I’ve written out my feelings on this trilogy. Also, spoiler alert ahead. All the others had spoilers alerts too, but this is the finale so spoilers are bigger.

The thing is, getting out all my frustrations on Clockwork Angel/Prince has made it a lot easier for me to just sit back and enjoy the pure ridiculous drama of the climax. And you know what? After her regrettable Jem blip in Clockwork Prince, I think Clare did the love triangle a lot more justice this time around. It felt like a proper triangle, where every side held up the others, and I do like the idea of being able to love more than one person, especially in YA fantasy, where everything is fated this and eternal that. See? She can do it when she tries!

Well sure, her secondary characters will always and forever be paired off with robotic efficiency, but still!

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Thoughts: Clockwork Prince, by Cassandra Clare

You’ll be glad to know that this is much shorter than my ramble on about Clockwork Angel. Most of what I said there still holds here, so let’s just take all that as a given. Now that we’re in the middle of the story, I want to get into the meat of the themes and plot.

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Thoughts: Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare

This is going to be an absolute monster post, so bear with me.

I don’t usually talk much about the authors of the books I read, because I like a work to stand on its own merit. But Cassandra Clare is a bit of a special case. I was very aware of her before she ever got her first book deal, and what she was known for was plagiarism. Fanfiction plagiarism, so the stakes are in some ways lower, but as fanfiction really exists on sufferance (especially nowadays, with more crossover between fanfiction and trad publishing) it’s a crime of honour. And Clare did particularly well out of fandom in general – it’s hard to imagine, for instance, that her huge internet following played absolutely no part in her being given the publishing chance she was – and people have long memories. Perhaps if she’d ever taken responsibility or apologised then things would be different, but here we are.

Anyway, I’ve read all of the Mortal Instruments books, and by the end she started to weave them in with the Infernal Devices trilogy (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess) despite the time difference between the two series. You can imagine how annoyed I was that the ending of the Mortal Instruments loses something if you haven’t read the apparently separate, standalone series set over a century earlier. Not to mention the spoilers for the Infernal Devices ending (which, admittedly, I had mostly forgotten by the time I got there). So I put the Infernal Devices on my TBR because why not, and people had said her writing had improved and I wanted to see if they were right.

So, has she improved?

Hmm.

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Thoughts: A Hologram For The King, by Dave Eggers

This was my first Dave Eggers, and I was almost sad it wasn’t the extravagantly-titled, Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever? but we can’t have everything. This is another starkly-written one, and it took me a little while to settle into it. It’s a very jerky style, with lots of little sections that don’t always deserve to be standalone sections.

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Thoughts: Sympathy For The Devil, by Howard Marks

I deserve all of this. I brought this one on myself. Howard Marks has written memoirs and all sorts but I was just not in the mood for more non-fiction and he seemed like a bit of a dodgy character, to be honest, so I put down his first foray into crime fiction on my list, despite the, er, mediocre reviews. Let’s say it had some interesting features, but on the whole wasn’t deathless prose.

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Thoughts: Fateless*, by Imre Kertész, translated by Tim Wilkinson

This is going to be a hard one for a few reasons. The book is a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s/main character’s experience in concentration camps, so yeah, that’s heavy. And as it’s a translation from Hungarian, a language that I have zero familiarity with, it carries with it the usual tangle of curiosity – how much of the style of the prose is the author’s and how much the translator’s? And the ending may not be what you expect, either. The ending is difficult.

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Thoughts: Legends of the Fall, by Jim Harrison

I’ve definitely seen the film of this, a long time ago, and all I can remember is an expansive film score and a lot of gorgeous scenery, so I wasn’t sure what to expect of the book. All I really remember of the film is bigness, so it was a surprise to find that the book is in fact a novella, collected here in a volume with two other novellas.

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Thoughts: The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue, by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman

Yeah, can non-fiction books have shorter titles, please? It’s like German film titles. Anyway, we saw a lot of films based on true stories last year, and most of them were books first, so here we are.

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