Apr 27, 2016

A Taste of Time & The Skinniest Mermaid

What if time travel is like alcoholism?

Shouldn't mermaids have blubber to stay warm in the ocean?

Short stories by my, freely available to the public!

Apr 17, 2016

Book Review: Fortune's Children

Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of VanderbiltFortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you expect this book to be about the loss of a family's wealth, then you should readjust your expectations before reading. This is mostly about several generations of (very intense and fascinating) family drama. There are a lot of descriptions about Gilded Age balls and Newport mansions. Only the last 30% really details their loss of wealth, and although that was partly due to family dysfunction, it sounds like changes in law and social standards also played a major part. I suspect that a lot of Gilded Age families are no longer among the super-rich of the 21st century.

Although I was disappointed that this book wasn't quite as-advertised, I'll still recommend it as a fascinating and starkly honest glimpse into a bygone era.

 It also really drove home, for me, the idea that inherited wealth can be a curse as much as a blessing. Have you ever wished you'd inherited a billion dollars? Okay, great, so has everyone. Now, imagine how your family--your parents, your siblings, your children, your relatives--would treat you if you inherited 99% of the family fortune. Or if you only inherited 1% while your brother or sister got 99%. Or if your parents inherited it, but withheld it from you. Or if your child inherited it, but you did not. Now add a layer of family dysfunction--domineering mothers, megalomaniac fathers, unexpected deaths, raging alcoholism, etc.--on top of that.

 It's ironic how the Vanderbilts and their contemporaries were trying *so* hard to live like the French aristocracy before the Revolution--imitating their lavish balls, their style of architecture, and struggling to get their children married to European aristocracy so they could inherit castles and titles--and yet they didn't seem to understand why aristocracy lasted for centuries. They were just imitating the superficial trappings of it. They didn't have armies or social codes of honor to back them up. They tried to fool themselves into thinking that their power was in their family name, but it was really just the wealth.

Feb 22, 2016

LIBRARY OF SOULS, by Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 4.5 stars.

A page-turner, and a fitting end to the trilogy. Same tone and pacing as Book 2, but with a more substantial plot.

This series is all-around fun. It almost falls into the same vein as "Harry Potter" and similar MG series, but it has a macabre flavor, sort of like "Beetlejuice" or "The Addams Family." I like the twisted things Jacob faces, and his matter-of-fact way of dealing with them.

When Jacob is with his parents, his tone (the narrator's voice) becomes a little more entertaining and realistic, for me. It's fun to see him interact with normal people.

SPOILER WARNING: SKIP THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ BOOK 1 YET!

My only criticism is that I feel as if too many of the characters remain sketchy sketches, or cloaked in mystery. At the end of this book, I'm still not sure if I would trust Miss Peregrine. She acts like an Aes Sedai. Friend characters such as Addison and Bronwyn seem like one-note personalities, so it's hard to care about them the way Jacob does, and the way I expect the author intended. One is boastful, one is nurturing, one is fashionable, one is bubbly, one is dour, etc. Like the seven dwarves, each has one defining trait (plus a peculiar power). Only Jacob and Emma seem more fully fleshed out, with inner conflicts and personalities that contrast with and compliment each other.

I wanted to know more about Miss Peregrine and her family, and Ymbrynes in general. I want to know how Emma feels about being 100+ years old and in the body of a teenager. I want to know if Enoch will ever have a redeeming quality. I want to know if Jacob's peculiar power can manifest in any other way. So in short, I wish there was more! But all the same, this was a satisfying ending for Jacob's tale.


P.S. -- Can you believe the author made this trailer? This book is probably the best material that Tim Burton has chosen to work with in years. I can't wait!