Book Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Title: The Princess Bride
Author: William Goldman
Genre: Fantasy
Date Read:
31/07/2014 – 06/08/2014
Rating: ★★★

Review:

princessbridecoverYou’re probably looking at those three measly stars up there and thinking, “What?! How can she rate such a classic anything less than 5/5?!?!?!” Well… pretty easily, in fact. I feel like this book was trying to be clever and missing the mark. I felt like it told me way too much rather than showing me. I thought the fictional personal of the author was kind of a jerk. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Most people will know the story of the Princess Bride from the classic 1987 movie starring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, even if they’ve never read the book. For those that don’t, it goes like this: Buttercup and Westley are in love, but Westley leaves to make his fortune. Unfortunately, he is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts, and Buttercup resigns herself to never seeing him again. She becomes engaged to Prince Humperdink, who has ulterior motives, including framing the neighbouring country for Buttercup’s murder so he can have himself a war. The book also as an extra layer: supposedly, Goldman is abridging a book his father read him as a child, by the great Florinese satirist, S. Morgenstern . When he gave a copy to his own son to read, he discovered that in fact his own father had chopped out the boring bits and just left in the exciting, adventure stuff. Every now and then Goldman interrupts the narrative to give us a rundown of what he’s chopping out, or commentary on what we’ve just read.

… and that was so fricking annoying. I didn’t like being told that there was description I was missing, or that so-and-so from such-and-such university says this is a perfect example of Morgenstern‘s brilliant satire but he found it boring so out it goes. This would have been a perfectly acceptable fun, adventure story without any of the commentary. That coupled with Goldman’s frankly sexist remarks about his wife (not to mention the sexism that was running through the story itself… at one point Westley tells Buttercup in so many words that she is his property and has to do as she’s told), and his pretty disrespectful remarks about his son, and it felt like he was trying really hard to not endear himself to me. And if he was doing that, why should I care about reading his favourite book in the world?.

What I did like? I really liked the back-stories of the side characters. We got to see Inigo Montoya’s childhood, and his training to become the master swordsman that he is by the time the story takes place. We got to see how Fezzik came to be involved with Vizzini’s group (his obsession with rhymes makes a bit more sense in the book than in the movie, where it just seems to be something he does for the hell of it). Hell, even Prince Humperdinck was well-rounded. A well-rounded manipulative jerkwad, but well-rounded nonetheless. The best scenes were the ones with these characters, as well. To be honest, Westley and Buttercup are pretty bland characters… their only motivation is “twu wuv”, Buttercup’s only talent is her beauty and Westley has the opposite problem of being talented at everything, bordering on Gary Stu territory.

So yes. That’s why I’m giving a supposed perfect, amazing, classic just three stars. I’m sorry.

#WIPpet Wednesday – Doleful Eyes

wednesdaybannerSo it’s 10pm and I’m thinking I’ll write a couple hundred more words on my NaNoWriMo and then turn in for the night, and then I realise that I am yet to write a WIPpet Wednesday post. Eeek! So, a quick update. NaNo has been going well. Apart from last Friday when I spent most of the night cleaning my house and only wrote 153 words or something, I’ve been keeping pretty well on track. I wrote over 6000 words on the weekend, ending up about 2000 words in front, and I’ve managed to maintain a state of 1000 words in front over the past few days. I reached 20000 words this morning, and my aim is to be at about 20500 before bed (yeah, so today I let myself down a little).

This weekend, I really only have Saturday at my disposal, and next week I’m likely to fall behind because I have choir most nights leading up to our production on the 20th and 21st (I’m so ready for this concert to be over, I swear). But that still gives me nine days to catch up again, including two weekends, so I’m not too worried.

There’s a particular plot point in my story that I figured would have to happen around the 25k mark. It took me a moment yesterday to realise that I was at 18k and I could actually start in that plot point’s direction. Which is exciting because it means the characters can stop talking about muffins (peach and cinnamon ones, for the record). So that’s where I’m at right now.

For WIPpet Wednesday this week, I have six paragraphs, because 12 (of November) divided by 2 (from 2014) is six. Armand, Josephine and Armand’s sister, Bianca, are headed down to the police headquarters because they want to hunt out their dad and hear the details about what’s going on with some high-profile disappearances. They’ll have a slightly better plan in later drafts, but this’ll do for now. I really like Bianca, her mouth runs away with her an awful lot. The keenness Armand remarks upon is due to Bianca getting them all up at the crack of dawn to go out.

“You’re really keen about this, aren’t you?” Armand remarked as they walked see by side along the pavement.

“What can I say?” Bianca replied. “I’m kind of excited about being the annoying kid who wants to see her important dad while he’s at work again. Haven’t done it in a long time.”

“Yeah, well, just as long as you remember that you’re not five years old anymore and staring up at the desk sergeant with those doleful eyes of yours is not necessarily going to cut it anymore.”

“Hey, don’t underestimate the power of my doleful eyes.”

“Oh, god, you’re going to flirt with the desk sergeant.”

“Only if he’s pretty.”

Join us for WIPpet Wednesday by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date and link up with us here. K. L. Schwengel is our wondrous host. I’m going to go back to my writing for a bit now, and I’ll catch you all soon.

Book Review: Devil’s Dilemma by Sirena Robinson

Title: Devil’s Dilemma
Author: Sirena Robinson
Genre:
Supernatural
Date Read: 10/10/2014 – 18/10/2014
Rating: ★★★☆

Review:

devilsdilemmaGriffin is the Chosen, probably the most important person on Earth, for she will be the one to choose whether Heaven or Hell gets to rule Earth for the next thousand millennia. If she doesn’t make her choice, the Apocalypse begins. Devils from Hell will do anything within their power to see that she doesn’t choose Heaven, but Griffin has Angels on her side, as well as a number of Warriors, humans dedicated to casting the creatures of Hell back to Earth.

I was little bit torn about what to rate this book at first, because while there were parts I quite liked, there were other parts I didn’t, and I wasn’t sure which way the balance tipped.

I honestly liked the plot, and it was the sound of it that made me offer to write a review in the first place. I’ve watched a bit of Supernatural and things like that (okay, I’ve watched five seasons of Supernatural, don’t judge me), but I haven’t read that many books that deal with these types of religious themes. There were lots of familiar aspects, such as salt and holy water repelling demons, but I liked Robinson’s incorporation of things like religious sites around the world. All too often, the Apocalypse seems to happen in the middle of the USA, or the UK/Western Europe, not really taking into account that Christianity is more far-reaching than that.

Having said that, I found that sometimes the structure got in the way of the storytelling. While I sympathised with Griffin whenever horrible things happened to her, the fact that we missed so much of her life in between the events the devil Alaria forced her through meant that it was sometimes hard really empathising properly. It was probably in the last third or so, in the immediate lead-up to the Choosing, that I was really able to get into her character and share her journey.

My other main criticism is the number of sex scenes, which was a lot. This is just a personal preference of course, but I’m not a huge fan of reading that kind of content. The first one or two were fine, the first was arguably even plot relevant, but after that it got a bit much. I also felt that Griffin and Braxton’s relationship happened a little too quickly – I can’t remember exactly how long they’d been in each other’s company at the time, but it didn’t feel very long, and given the prickly beginning to their partnership, it all seemed a bit fast.

My favourite character was Alaria. She had an interesting (tragic!) backstory, and a unique motivation. While she seemed somewhat repulsive in the beginning, once we started to learn her side of things, I began to sympathise with her most of all.

The preview chapter of the next book was actually enough of a teaser that I would be interested in picking up the second. Some of the characters from book 1 remain, while there will be new introductions as well. All in all, this was an enjoyable read.

#WIPpet Wednesday – Honest Face

So NaNoWriMo has been a thing the last few days. So has complete exhaustion on my part, though I did manage to get a day ahead on the weekend and have mostly stayed that way. Here are some stats:

Day 1: 3355

Day 2: 1946 (5301 total)

Day 3: 1377 (6678 total)

Day 4: 633 (7311 total)

nanoI am yet to call it a night yet tonight, so I’ll leave it there for now. The story is pretty much sticking to plan, though it is moving very quickly. And even so, I still feel there’s a lot that will be junked come December. But we all know that I tend to write novels on the shorter scale of things anyway. There’s also a lot of world-building I need to do, because I decided only a week before NaNoWriMo that the story would actually work better set in a magical society rather than a non-magical one. While I’m making a few things up as I go, it’s mostly still non-magical. I’m actually thinking of taking maybe Friday evening and letting myself get behind but do some more detailed planning so that I know what the hell I’m doing.

Anyway, today’s WIPpet is 5 lines from this NaNoWriMo, which is still untitled. Armand works as a tour guide in his country’s house of parliament, and this is him going through security in the morning as he heads into work. As someone who works in a government agency, I can attest that this is how we chat with out security guys. :)

“After all my time working here, I can’t believe you still think I might blow the place up,” Armand replied, shaking his head dramatically but grinning at the guard. This sort of banter was usual between them.

“It’s your honest face,” the guard replied. “I don’t trust it.”

“You wound me.”

I’m going to leave this here for tonight and see how much more I can get written before bed. To join in on WIPpet Wednesday, simply post an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date, then link up here. I’ll catch y’all later. Hopefully. I’ve been a bit flaky lately.

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The NaNo Blues

Emily Witt:

This is also my attitude to NaNoWriMo, and I hope more people view it this way!

Originally posted on The Story of Ink and Papyrus:

nano

It’s day three of National Novel Writing Month and if you’re a first time participant you may be feeling super proud of yourself and realised what you truly can achieve in a few days. Or maybe you’re disheartened, the stats bar not quite reaching the daily target. Maybe seeing that one of your writing buddies has already reached a huge milestone while you’re scraping by.

While it may be easy to fall into the trap of despair, remember, NaNoWriMo is not a competition between you and other writers or even between you and the daily target. It is a competition between you and yourself. If you only write once a week, then writing twice a week is winning. If you write everyday but only manage a hundred words, then two hundred words a day is winning. If, at the end of the month, you have only a few thousand words…

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#MirthMusicMon: Alphabet Aerobics

I accidentally missed MMM again last week. I really need to start scheduling posts while ever I’ve got things on on Monday nights. I have half an hour before I have to leave for choir rehearsal, so here is a video of Daniel Radcliffe doing a seriously good rap.

We Mirth and Music Monday-ers hang out here. You should join us. *nods sagely* And now I’m off!

#MirthMusicMon – With One Look

I’ve been rather terrible at showing up to Mirth and Music Monday the last few weeks, but look, I am actually back this week! In fact, I’m so keen, I’m writing this on Sunday night. I went to see a local production of Sunset Boulevard and it reminded me how much I adore Andrew Lloyd Webber’s schmaltzy musicals. So of course, I’m going to foist it on you lovely people today. This song, With One Look, is performed by Norma Desmond, a silent movie star who by the 1950s is mostly forgotten. She’s never stopped believing that she will one day return to the silver screen. Glenn Close played Norma and Broadway and won a Tony Award for it. There is a bit of scene work before the actual song, which starts at 2:40 if you want to skip ahead.

Since Sunset Boulevard is a story about Hollywood, it only made sense to find something quintessentially Hollywood for the mirth part of my post today. For some reason, despite being 10 years old, this clip has always stuck in my head. We were trying to find a particular Steve Martin opening monologue, but none of the YouTube clips had the specific bit, so this one will do instead. This is Jack Black and Will Ferrell informing the 2004 Oscars audience of the lyrics to the music the orchestra plays when a person’s speech goes on too long. My favourite part is the shot of Sean Connery.

To join in Mirth and Music Monday, post some things and link up with us here. I’m going to head off now because I am yet to watch the new episode of Doctor Who, so I’ll catch you on Wednesday! :)