Bookish Reviewish~ In Which A Traumatized Doctor Steals My Heart, Mystery Just Isn’t My Thing, And Paul Cannot Catch A Break

Greetings, bloggerly chums!

There are books. I have read books, despite good weather (how is it JUNE already??) and work (much baking) and the madness that is theatre productions (*panicked screeching*), not to mention wedding planning (what IS wedding planning?? How is sister old enough for wedding???). Because I am persistent that way. Books usually become a priority for me, somehow or other.

I don’t know what I would do without books. Maybe I would have to learn to socialize or something drastic like that…

But anyway. Onto the reviewish things.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (reread)

The first time I read this I had NO IDEA what was going on until about three-quarters of the way through the book. (Younger me was very confused, okay?) This reread was quite illuminating.

Doctor Manette has just been recalled to life after spending seventeen years locked away in the Bastille. There are a suspicious number of men named Jacques. It’s the brink of the French Revolution. There will be tears. There will be sweat. There will most certainly be blood.

YEA:

  • Doctor Manette (how is this man so precious? I definitely wasn’t expecting to love him this much. Also, the TRAUMA. THE TRAUMA IS SO HEARTBREAKING, GUYS)
  • Charles (he tries so hard to be good and honorable, despite his sketchy origins)
  • Sydney (poor guy, he just can’t figure it out, can he? Life, I mean. And he gives himself such a hard time about it…it’s actually weirdly relatable?)
  • Miss Pross (THIS WOMAN. There is such sass, such loyalty, such affection. And let’s not forget Solomon Pross, her dear brother…that we all hate)
  • Mr. Lorry (we all know he’s a big sweetheart, okay, bless him)
  • the historical context (the story fits into it SO WELL)
  • Madame Defarge (one of my favorite villains, honestly)
  • THE KNITTING
  • the PROSE (Dickens knows his stuff, man)
  • Jerry’s aversion to “flopping” (hehe…but I feel really bad for his wife, though. Give her a break, you bully)
  • the description of Jerry’s hair (I laughed out loud. It’s genius)
  • the humor in general (‘Tis Dickens. ‘Tis funny.)
  • the doubling/juxtaposition of EVERYTHING (LITERATURE)
  • the way it deals with revenge and forgiveness (vengeance is SUCH A BLACK HOLE when one doesn’t allow for mercy and I love the way this is addressed. I love it SO MUCH.)
  • the ending (YES)

NAY:

  • Dickens has a propensity to make his female characters a bit too “angelic” at times? And Lucie Manette falls prey to this. She’s okay I guess, but a lot more could have been done with her character.
  • I’m not a great fan of love-triangles, even in Dickens, so…eh. Like…could Sydney just move on…??
  • Um, Charles’s dad and uncle are the WORST?? Not that I want them taken out of the story, because they’re important…but also, they’re just the worst.

Verdict: Dickens’ tale is masterfully woven. The contrast between human compassion and human brutality is depicted in a thought-provoking and poignant way, brought to life through engaging, heart-wrenching and hilarious characters.

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

(WARING: the following review contains SPOILERS for Dune)

So yeah, I went ahead and read it. Despite what people said.

It’s been twelve years since Paul became the emperor. And things are…not that great. A lot (and I mean a LOT) of people throughout the universe have been killed by the Fremen Qizarate in the name of Muad’dib, carrying out the jihad that Paul somehow could not prevent. Paul and Chani have thus far failed to produce an heir. And a group of conspirators are plotting to destroy the emperor.

Happy fun times.

YEA:

  • Paul (I still love this kid? Er…thirty-year-old man? Even though he’s killed more people than Hitler…??? Um…concerns)
  • Chani (she is so much more grounded than Paul is, and he NEEDS her)
  • Alia (good grief, this girl gives me anxiety, but I also love her and I want her to be okay)
  • SIBLINGS (we actually get to see Paul and Alia interacting, and it makes me happy and sad at the same time because YES, SIBLINGS CARING ABOUT EACH OTHER but also GOOD LORD THESE CHILDREN ARE SO MESSED UP, THEY NEED ALL THE HELP)
  • Hayt(????) (guys…I kind of liked Hayt more than I wanted to? I also hate him, but???)
  • Ack, he just hurts (SOME OF THESE SCENES, THOUGH. I HAVE SO MANY EMOTIONS)
  • the ANGST (I mean, sure, it’s sometimes a tad generic, but it’s ANGST and it’s these DISTURBED CHILDREN)
  • Irulan (I never wanted her to get what she wanted, but I felt sorry for her and I found her to be a compelling character)
  • Harah (she was creepy to me when she first appeared in Dune, but she’s grown on me a lot)
  • the plot (as in the malicious conspiracy to destroy the emperor)
  • Paul and Alia’s powers eating them alive (…should I have put this in the “nay” section…?)
  • the world-building (still quite solid…though delving deeper does make things kind of more awful)
  • the interview at the beginning (it kind of gave me chills for some reason. It’s just…wow)
  • EYES (I will give you no context for that)

NAY:

  • the “sexual” nature of some of the scenes (nothing explicit, but still…no?? I do not need that in my life)
  • especially surrounding Alia (did you hear me say NO??)
  • the romance (and I don’t mean Paul and Chani because they are precious)
  • There are so many issues with the romance (SO MANY)
  • Irulan just kind of…dropping out of the story
  • Hayt (because…even though I love him, I also…don’t)
  • Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam being the ABSOLUTE WORST (I thought I hated her before, but this book just made her so much more awful to me. What is WRONG with this woman??)
  • the politics felt denser and harder to follow than they did in Dune
  • Me being confused about…various things
  • Not enough Paul/Alia scenes (I am here for the siblings, guys, where are they?)
  • No Gurney (I was very disappointed that both Gurney and Jessica spent the entirety of this book on Caladan and had nothing to do with the story)
  • the whole Tleilaxu thing (’twas sort of creepy in a good way…but mostly it was creepy in a bad way. Just…very, very disturbing)
  • Several Things about the ending that I will present to you cryptically:
  • 1) Eyes (different than “Eyes” mentioned above. But COME ON, I WAS SO UPSET by what this implied, even if the scene itself was kind of cool)
  • 2) Gone (this is actually the least upsetting thing, but on top of everything else…yeah, it’s upsetting)
  • 3) THAT ONE FREMEN CUSTOM (GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH I AM SO MAD AT EVERYONE)
  • (So yeah, these were Things that were kind of Depressing for Reasons)
  • the writing in this one felt more clunky than it did in Dune, though that might have been my imagination.

Verdict: This book and I have a love/hate relationship. I don’t really know what to do with it. I still love the characters somehow (I really, really do), but I don’t like how depressing and bleak things have become. Frankly I’m nervous about what could come next.

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

‘Tis just after the famous events at the Reichenbach Falls (which, of course I already knew like the back of my hand before reading this…hm…actually, no). Both Sherlock and Moriarty are presumed dead. Meanwhile, an American crime boss has come to Europe, and he’s probably not here on a peaceful visit (OR IS HE? No…the answer is no).

People who are Sherlock Holmes experts say that this book is in keeping with the style and spirit of the original stories. I, who am no Sherlock Holmes expert by any means, cannot tell you whether or not this is true. I have read a handful of Sherlock Holmes stories, but don’t expect me to remember them…I confess that BBC’s Sherlock TV show with Benedict Cumberbatch is the main thing I think of when I hear the name “Sherlock Holmes”.

That said, true fans ought to take this review with a grain of salt. Or perhaps a tablespoon of it.

YEA:

  • Frederick Chase (is quite the endearing narrator. He just gets so worried about his people and does everything he can to take care of them)
  • Athelney Jones (is quite the idealist. He gets so excited about crime-solving and he genuinely cares about things)
  • the setting (gotta love 19th century London)
  • the, um, violence (but only sometimes?)
  • the plot (’twas entertaining, for the most part)

NAY:

  • None of the characters were that endearing?
  • Character development in mysteries always seems to fall flat for me.
  • Mystery really isn’t my genre, so.
  • The writing style sometimes felt contrived.
  • Perry (hm…no)
  • when the violence was unnecessarily creepy and/or gory just for the sake of being thrilling
  • not being blown away by the plot twists (nope…not even THE plot twist)
  • what happens to [] (I wasn’t surprised. Just mad)
  • the whole thing coming across as rather depressing, somewhat nihilistic, and extremely cynical

Verdict: Eh…it was entertaining? But mostly underwhelming. Not to mention a little bloodier than I prefer. (I guess mostly I’m still feeling mad about the Thing.) It was clever, but a book that is just clever and has no heart won’t find a home in mine.

City of Illusion by Victoria Ying

This is a graphic novel. And a sequel, actually, to a book I haven’t read (I bought this at a library book-sale). So that was slightly confusing.

Hannah and Ever presumably saved their city a bit ago by flying a giant robot. But now they are going on a trip to another city, which may hold mysteries of its own…and children…and possibly another flying robot?

(Eh, I did my best.)

YEA:

  • the artwork (the style is cute without being saccharine, and overall quite aesthetically pleasing)
  • adorable orphans (I do love adorable orphans)
  • especially Tanan (not to be confused with Biff Tannen)
  • the aesthetic of the city (it’s kind of steampunk, I guess?)
  • Cake (and just food in general)
  • the spunky female mechanic (it seems I have a weakness for those?)
  • Lisa and Joseph (not that they were in it that much, but SIBLINGS)
  • the angst (there was some angst)
  • the peril (there was also some peril)
  • the Ghibli feel (I don’t know, but I was feeling it. Think ‘Castle in the Sky’)

NAY:

  • the artwork sometimes not working? (occasionally the characters looked a tad creepy- like, not the ones who were supposed to be creepy- and the action didn’t always feel as fluid as it could have)
  • awkward dialogue (maybe ’tis the fault of Middle Grade)
  • rushed storytelling (do all graphic novels do this?)
  • not enough angst or peril (maybe ’tis also the fault of Middle Grade?)
  • the ending being too…happy? (not that I don’t want them to be happy? but also?)

Verdict: I quite enjoyed it. The world was engaging, the characters charming, and the overall effect was decidedly pleasing, if a bit juvenile. Now I just need to get my hands on the first one so I can figure out where all these people came from…

Epilogue

There you have it! Just four titles today. Clearly I’m not doing these reviews on any kind of schedule.

Are you a Dickens fan? Have you read A Tale of Two Cities? Are you of the opinion that the Dune sequels should not exist? What is a book sequel that you think ruined the original? Do you like Sherlock Holmes? Do you like to predict plot twists in books? What is your opinion on books with no redemptive qualities? Have you ever read a graphic novel? What is the best book you’ve read recently? What is the most disappointing? I would love to hear your bookish thoughts!

6 thoughts on “Bookish Reviewish~ In Which A Traumatized Doctor Steals My Heart, Mystery Just Isn’t My Thing, And Paul Cannot Catch A Break

  1. I think it was in my mid high-school days when I read Tale of Two Cities. I remember enjoying it. I should read another Dickens, maybe even pick up Pickwick Papers again.
    Never was too keen on Sherlock Holmes, though. (Poirot and Wimsey are so much better!)
    I checked my library, and it seems City of Illusions is preceded by City of Secrets. I checked it out, as I’m always on the lookout for a good graphic novel! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same! At least I think…it was some time in high-school, anyway. I haven’t read The Pickwick Papers yet, but I kind of have this vague idea that I am going to read every Dickens book eventually. Have you read Great Expectations or David Copperfield? Both are excellent, though you could read them for Herbert Pocket and Tommy Traddles alone. 😉

      I haven’t read any Poirot or Wimsey, I confess, but perhaps I shall have to try them at some point. would you recommend any for starters?

      Yes, I ordered City of Secrets on Ebay (since my library rudely doesn’t have it). It hasn’t come yet, but I’m looking forward to reading it. You are most welcome, I’m glad it piqued your interest!

      Like

      1. I have read Great Expectations, but not David Copperfield… not yet, anyhow!

        For Poirot I recommend Death in the Clouds or Murder on the Orient Express (don’t read the Big Four, unless you like silliness). For Wimsey you can start with the first story Whose Body? but I advise you jump ahead to Strong Poison. If you like, you can check the reviews I’ve done.

        Again, what is it with libraries and their refusal to stock the first book of a series?! As another example, my library seems to have every Mouse Guard but the first.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for the recommendations! I shall have to add them to my list. 🙂 Ooh, and I shall have to see if I can find your reviews.

        Libraries are wonderful and we love them, but these failures are difficult to understand sometimes. *shakes head sadly*

        Like

  2. A Tale of Two Cities!! So good! I didn’t realize I could actually? like? Dickens? a lot? until I read this book. (I mean, I’d *enjoyed* other of his books, but this one was phenomenal.) THE KNITTING. THE SUSPENSE. THE LOVE (both familial and otherwise). GAH.

    My dad is a big fan of Dune, and he says all the other books in the series are awful, so…I have no plans to read Dune Messiah or anything else in the series. So…yeahhhh. Your review has not made me change my mind on that. XD

    There was definitely a LOT of violence in Moriarty, but somehow I liked it anyway, and THE plot twist did blow me away, so…*shrugs*. To each their own, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Tale of Two Cities is indeed phenomenal. There are so many glorious things about it. SUCH A GOOD BOOK. SO MANY FEELINGS. (But are you familiar with the musical? It took me a while to warm up to but at this point I am in love and I would totally recommend it.)

      Eh, well…he’s probably not wrong. But for some reason I keep reading them…? (I actually know the reason, it’s because Paul exists.) I do think that it’s probably best just to let Dune stand on its own though. Because…stuff just keeps down-spiralling and it’s…kind of awful. Yup.

      Yeah, sometimes books just rub me the wrong way? And sometimes I think maybe I would have liked them better if I was in a different mood? But plot twists are such a tricky thing. Sometimes they get you and sometimes they don’t. So yeah. This one just wasn’t for me, though I can appreciate a lot of the craft elements.

      Like

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