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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2013
     

    A thread where people can leave ideas for books that they want to talk about. I’m planning to start attempting to post articles on the site because I have way too much free time this Ramadan and frankly, I am sick of being bored of it. The most recent update that I’ve seen talks about having other articles besides sporkings, so I am thinking of maybe reviewing books instead of ripping them apart, mutilating their corpses and setting them on fire. Leave any ideas for me in the thread and I will see what I can do. Thanks :)

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      CommentAuthorSoupnazi
    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2013
     

    Reviews sound great! I can’t say I have any book recommendations, but I’d love to see you review stuff you’re interested in, if that’s what you choose to do.

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 13th 2013
     

    Yay! Thanks, I’ll try and start sometime soon :) First book on the list is a Percy Jackson book, personally because I feel that they are filled with one dimensional characters and abuse of mythology but have some saving graces as well.

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      CommentAuthorResistance
    • CommentTimeJul 13th 2013
     
    I liked Percy Jackson, because it was a fun read. The characters weren't that great though, and the plot was the typical hero story. I'd love to see a review of it, though.
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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 13th 2013
     

    Then it’s decided… PERCY JACKSON IT IS!!! :D

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2013
     

    They are fun to read and have a kind of youthful zest and energy which I appreciate and enjoy myself, but I still cannot really like the characters and see their development done as well as, say, J.K Rowling has done with Harry, Ron and Hermione. And let’s leave Ginny out of this shall we? xD Apparently she’s a really (in)famous Mary Sue of sorts, but I have yet to go back and really comb through the books for analysis. Who knows? Maybe I’ll do a review of a Harry Potter book next.

  3.  

    Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas

    Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

    Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

    The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat

    Nights at the Circus or Wise Children by Angela Carter

    Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

    Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

    Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

    The Road To Wigan Pier by George Orwell

    Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw

    This is strictly longform narrative prose. Would you be interested in reading poetry also? I read a lot of poetry and plays, and can rattle off even more books of poetry if you’d rather read that instead.

    Note: This list was created in the hope that none of these books would be hard to find in an English-language library, except for Soldiers of Salamis, which is about the Spanish Civil War and the nature of memory in people and societies. All of these books are good and make you think.

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 17th 2013
     

    @Orlando Woolf Wow, that is lot of books… sweatdrops and pulls out notepad, muttering furiously Ok, I think I have it. Thanks for the list, this should keep me occupied for a long time! :D Sadly I don’t really know how many of these books are available in the Maldivian Public Library, so the closest time I can get back to you is at the end of the month. I apologize. I think I have the one by Ishiguro already, I’ll have to hunt around my suitcases though.

    And yes, I would be very interested in any poetry you can send my way, thanks!

    •  
      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 17th 2013 edited
     

    Ok, here we go! This is a review of the first chapter of the first book in the ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series by Rick Riordan. I first heard about the series from some of my friends pretty recently (I am late to find out about EVERYTHING) and I thought I would give it a read. No offence, Percy Jackson fans, but it doesn’t really live up to the hype in my opinion. I mean it isn’t a bad book, not by a long shot but it doesn’t click with me, if you can understand what I’m saying.

    Of course, there have been complaints about the book by people other than me. For example, some of them criticise the characters as being one dimensional, blatant sociopaths (especially Annabeth for some reason). For me, the main criticism I have is the pacing. I have finished about two or three of the books so far and what really gets to me is the choppy handling of time. Things just seem to happen really quickly sometimes, and other times the plot is plodding along on its merry way.

    Moving on.

    I’d like to say that the name is pretty damn cool. Who wouldn’t want to be known as a Lightning Thief?!

    Moving on again. Damn, I’m bad at this.

    The first chapter is called ‘I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher’. I am not proud to say that the name had me in mad hoots of laughter for about ten seconds. But it’s a pretty good name, pretty close to something a twelve year old half-human-half-mythical-creature would say.

    He goes on to say how dangerous it is being a half-blood, and how we should be thankful we’re not, and so on and so forth. Well, I’m starting to sympathise with him a little. I mean, the guy’s obviously in a tough situation and it’s taking a lot of his strength not to go, you know, loony.

    So he tells us his name is Percy Jackson, and up until a few months ago he was a student at a boarding school in New York called Yancy Academy.

    Am I a troubled kid? Yeah. You could say that.

    Hmmm… my curiosity has been piqued. Tell me more, Percy Jackson! Pulls up chair

    I could start at any point in my short miserable life to prove it,

    Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Whoa. No, Mr. Riordan, this is not how you gain your readers’ sympathy. He just sounds like a whiny little kid now! And we already know your life’s short, dude; you’re only twelve!

    He goes on to say that things went downhill in May of last year when his class went on a field trip to Manhattan’s Museum of Art. What I really like here is how Mr. Riordan has described his companions in the school bus.

    twenty-eight mental-case kids and two teachers

    Hahaha! No seriously, hahahaha! Because that is great characterisation there, letting Percy describe his class like that. It feels authentic. I know when I was in sixth grade I thought everyone except my friends were crazy. But then again, we were all insane in sixth grade.

    A teacher called Mr. Brunner is then described.

    Mr. Brunner was this middle-aged guy in a motorised wheelchair. He had thinning hair and a scruffy beard and a frayed tweed jacket, which always smelled like coffee.

    This guy’s on the cover of GQ this year for sure! But the motorised wheelchair bit sounds important so I’ll log that away. Apparently Mr. Brunner’s class is the only one in which Percy does not fall asleep, so that says something I suppose. He also has a collection of Roman armour and weapons so that’s pretty cool I guess.

    So after Nancy Bobofit (snerk) is mentioned, we find about his best friend Grover.

    Grover was an easy target. He was scrawny. He cried when he got frustrated. He must’ve been held back several grades, because he was the only sixth grader with acne and the start of a wispy beard on his chin.

    I like the short sentences while Grover was being introduced. They add emphasis, which is nice. And then Mr. Riordan throws this absolute gem at us.

    On top of all of that, he was crippled. He had a note excusing him from PE for the rest of his life because he had some kind of muscular disease in his legs.

    We all love emphasising how disabled our best friends are, don’t we? Especially the ones with muscular disorders. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I don’t like Percy very much. At least counter your descriptions with some good things about Grover, dude! Oh yeah the whole crippled and walks funny thing sounds pretty important so I’m gonna log that away too.

    Meanwhile Percy is getting angrier and angrier at Nancy, who is throwing sandwich pieces at Grover’s head. Is this kid ok? Nancy, I mean. I know she’s in sixth grade, but- oh, never mind.

    And then suddenly we are told that Mr. Brunner is leading the museum tour, moving into one of the reasons why I dislike the series. PACING. Pacing is very important, Mr. Riordan. Before they get to the museum, Percy says:

    In-school suspension would’ve been nothing compared to the mess I was about to get myself into.

    So this is supposed to be an ominous line that leads into a break inside the chapter itself. We’re not told that they actually arrived at the museum, and because he was the first teacher mentioned by name in the book I assume that he is leading the museum tour. I don’t know, maybe I’m just nitpicking but something in that transition just doesn’t sit well with me.

    Percy’s attempting to listen to what Mr. Brunner had to say because he finds it interesting and really wants to learn. That’s the spirit, dude! But since everybody else was talking he takes it upon himself to tell them to shut up, which leads into the introduction of the second teacher.

    Mrs. Dodds was this little math teacher from Georgia who always wore a black leather jacket, even though she was fifty years old. She looked mean enough to ride a Harley right into your locker.

    Right, since everybody who wears a leather jacket rides a Harley. I don’t think age should matter very much when it comes to wearing a leather jacket, because there was this teacher in my old school who wore a leather jacket and rode a vintage motorcycle, and she was in her early thirties. Not to mention we were in India. Plus, a lot of bikers (at least the ones I know) are like fifty year old men. So it’s not really that surprising. But then again, we are reading from the narrative perspective of a twelve year old. We are clearly told the distinction between good teachers and bad teachers in this book. It’s almost impossible to miss. Seriously.

    From her first day, Mrs. Dodds loved Nancy Bobofit and figured I was devil spawn.

    It’s understandable to dislike one of your pupils but I’m pretty sure this is overkill. So we now know Mrs. Dodds = bad news. Percy don’t like her? We hate her goddamn guts. Ok moving on. After one punishment that Percy receives at the hands of Mrs. Dodds, he tells Grover that he doesn’t think she’s human. Grover agrees, completely serious. THIS IS FORESHADOWING AT ITS BEST. You know something bad’s gonna happen, you just know it. She is not human.

    So after a bit, Nancy pushes Percy a bit too far by being an immature little idiot and whispering something about a naked guy on the grave marker and he gets back at her by telling her to shut up. The class starts laughing, and Mr. Brunner starts quizzing Percy on Greek mythology, Kronos eating his kids, etc etc. I learnt something new though! The Titans were the parents of the Greek gods. Yay I feel slightly less stupid now.

    Percy and Nancy hate each other a little more, Mr. Brunner tells Percy to get smarter and they all go outside for lunch. They chat about how Mr. Brunner has astronomical expectations of Percy and how he shouldn’t since Percy has ADHD and dyslexia and all that. No offence meant to people who have ADHD and dyslexia.

    Then Nancy comes over, acts like a fool and drops her lunch on Grover. Damn, if Mr. Riordan wanted me to hate her he’s doing a pretty good job of it. Percy gets pissed, and the next thing we know Nancy’s in the fountain. Naturally, the first teacher on the scene is Mrs. Dodds, who immediately blames Percy and not Nancy for acting like an idiot. So Mrs. Dodds drags Percy away to the Greek and Roman section so she can murder his face off, thus ending the series on a horribly sad note. Not really, but I expect that is what she wants to do. But then THIS happens:

    Then the weirdest thing happened. Her eyes began to glow like barbecue coals. Her fingers stretched, turning into talons.Her jacket melted into large, leathery wings. She wasn’t human.

    NO SHIT.

    She was a shrivelled hag with bat wings and claws and a mouth full of yellow fangs, ad she was about to slice me to ribbons.

    I think there are a little too many uses of the word ‘and’ in that sentence. Doesn’t sit well with me.

    And then Mr. Brunner appears from out of nowhere, throws Percy a sword and Percy then kills Mrs. Dodds.This is also another part of the novels that some people dislike. When monsters are killed in the series, they explode into powder. I can see why this is trying to lower the gore factor a bit (it’s aimed at a young audience) but still. When things die, usually there’s residue left. Usually. But these are Greek monsters, so hey! What do I know? shrugs. Also try and make it last a little longer! It feels like I could’ve blinked and missed the whole thing.

    After the smoke clears, Percy finds out that there’s nobody else there but him. Did he imagine the whole thing? He goes around asking people what happened, and is told that Mrs. Dodds never existed. LOLWUT?! What a trip.

    So that is the end of the first chapter which Amazon so graciously provided. I’d like to say that it really did make for an entertaining read, and I wouldn’t blame people for going and buying the book. It’s pretty good. Now I’m not going to be all snobbish and say,

    “Oh I have higher standards than the drooling masses, it’s such a shame that wonderful literature is not available for esteemed literary CONNOISSEURS like me. Oh the pain. There is no meaning to life anymore!”

    No. Some teen fiction is good once in a while, but because of some books that have been on the market recently, YA fiction has gotten a bad rep and a lot of people now steer clear of those books. Now I know there is a lot of excellent YA fiction out there too, but personally I haven’t read any particularly good ones. I’ll probably go book hunting in a month and comb the local library to see if I can find something awesome.

    But until then, this is Potatoman signing off. Hope you liked the article, and I’ll see you later! :)

    •  
      CommentAuthorResistance
    • CommentTimeJul 17th 2013
     

    That felt a bit like a beginning of a spork, to be honest. I would have liked a more comprehensive review. I felt like a review format would have been better, since spork-type things are usually reserved for books that are really hate-worthy, and it sort of sounded like every time you started to dislike it, you liked it, which is probably what actually happened, but . . . it felt a little weird [?].
    It was good, but some of it was a bit boring, especially really long things, some of the things seemed a bit nitpicky, but that might just be my view.
    Other than that, it was okay, but you could improve! I’d really be looking forward to a ‘review’ type review. I’m anticipating what more you can do!

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 18th 2013
     

    Haha I knew I was nitpicking a little too much! Sorry… :P Maybe I’ll try a review of a book that I’m more familiar with next. To be completely honest, reviews are a little outside my comfort zone. Writing prose? Fine with me. Writing an analytical review? I’ll… get back to you on that. But I’m glad you read it though. Thanks for the well rounded criticism, I appreciate it. :D I’ll try and review better next time.

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      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeJul 18th 2013
     

    No offence, Percy Jackson fans, but it doesn’t really live up to the hype in my opinion. I mean it isn’t a bad book, not by a long shot but it doesn’t click with me, if you can understand what I’m saying.

    Well, I would say that Rickman did do his homework on the mythology of the books despite trying to make the gods ‘good’ rather than more or less amoral but in charge because they were more powerful then thou, but that makes sense for a children’s series. I’d agree that the pacing feels strange, and the camp itself never seemed to feature much in the stories, other than being a staring place for Rickman to reenact various myths. Now, I’d say that of all the stories that took after Harry Potter, it was one of the better ones, still I feel like it’s a little too much in the shadow of the Potter series.

    It’s still infinitely better than the movie though.

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 18th 2013
     

    @Pryotra Very true, I liked this series a lot better than some of the other books that came after Harry Potter.

    still I feel like it’s a little too much in the shadow of the Potter series.

    Yeah, Harry Potter set a pretty big milestone in children’s literature (in my opinion) but Percy Jackson is a brave attempt to step out of that shadow. I just wish people would stop likening EVERYTHING to Harry Potter. The series is amazing and I got my childhood nickname because of it, but people move on, please!

  4.  

    I never liked Percy Jackson much….I’m outside the demographic now, but I’ve enjoyed other kids books at this age. It just seemed to silly and insubstantial to me.

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    trying to make the gods ‘good’ rather than more or less amoral

    Yeah, it’s not Disney’s Hercules level, but still softened. However, I appreciated that

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2013 edited
     

    Can I just say, in defence of the Percy Jackson gods

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    I know, right?

    •  
      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2013
     

    There are a lot of things that the Percy Jackson series got right. It’s just that after a book that was written on such an epic scale as Harry Potter, it’s not easy to capture the attention of the audience again. Mr. Riordan did do an admirable job, but it just seemed a bit… I don’t know… amateurish(?) compared to the Harry Potter series.

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      CommentAuthorswenson
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2013
     

    I never read Harry Potter, so perhaps that helped me enjoy Percy Jackson more. :P

    Seriously, though, it’s a totally different scale. I don’t think the Percy Jackson books are really trying to be Harry Potter.

  7.  

    Well, there are lots of similarities, I have to admit- boy with black hair and green eyes is the center of a prophecy , is in a trio with a Smart Girl and Funny Guy, they go to a magical educational place that is probably a lot more dangerous than it should be, etc. etc.

    For the record, Percy is way less angsty than Harry- probably for good reason. Harry has a witheringly dry sense of humor, while Percy’s is a bit more aware of the absurdity/weirdness of his situation (as evidenced by his chapter titles, which I’ve always found very entertaining).

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      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2013
     

    The first book was pretty HP inspired, but as time went on, it kind of moved away from it’s origins, and started to get more confident.

    I’d say that the biggest thing that it had against it were the titles that started Percy Jackson and the _____ which sound like all the other HP readalikes Full Name and the Whatever.

  8.  

    ...What? I was under the impression that the titles were just ‘The Lightning Thief’, ‘The Sea of Monsters’, etc. If there was a ‘Percy Jackson and a ____’ in front, I never noticed it. :P

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2013
     

    :P Any suggestions for books that I should review? I want to do as many as I possibly can, since the Lightning Thief was my first review. Personally, I think it sucked. I nitpicked too much, and I think my humour was a bit forced. Ugh… oh well, keep the suggestions coming. Please! :D

  9.  

    I’m curious if you’re in the love it or hate it category for Name of the Wind.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2013
     

    @organiclead Hmm… I haven’t heard of it. I should look it up. Thanks for mentioning it! :)

  10.  

    :P Any suggestions for books that I should review? I want to do as many as I possibly can, since the Lightning Thief was my first review. Personally, I think it sucked. I nitpicked too much, and I think my humour was a bit forced. Ugh… oh well, keep the suggestions coming. Please! :D

    Sporking/reviewing gets easier with time.

    as far as being funny goes….don’t try to hard. I haven’t sporked anything in awhile, but from my experience your first reaction is generally the funniest (thinking too much about reacting to a certain line will kill the joke).

  11.  

    I want to do as many as I possibly can, since the Lightning Thief was my first review. Personally, I think it sucked. I nitpicked too much, and I think my humour was a bit forced.

    In light of this comment, my suggestion would be that you revise your review of The Lightning Thief (and make it more of a review and less of a spork). Unless you just have no interest in the book anymore, you should try to make what you’ve already done better. If you think it sucks, figure out why and work on those things. It’s hard to get better at something if you give up after an unsatisfactory first draft.

    If you really want to be done with this particular book, though, I would suggest picking a book you are really passionate about (either positively or negatively) and reviewing that rather than reviewing books that people suggest to you, at least at first. It’s a lot easier to write about things you have a genuine interest in than it is to pick up a book that you may not care anything about and attempt to review it. It doesn’t have to be really great book or a really bad book. It can be obscure or popular. It just has to be something you are interested in. Once you get better at writing about books you have an interest in, you will be better able to write reviews of books that others suggest to you.

    Just my two cents.

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2013
     

    @Inspector Karamazova Alright, thanks for the advice :) Maybe I should pick up some more books.

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2013
     

    @NeuroticPlatypus Your two cents are worth a lot :D That’s actually a pretty good idea. I have a couple of books lying around the house that are pretty good (at least to me) so maybe I’ll review them next. After I decently revise the draft of the Lightning Thief’s review, as you said, of course. Thank you!

    • CommentAuthorNo One
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
     

    Have you read Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey? It’s basically an Australian version of To Kill a Mockingbird (which is also really good) and I really liked the settings in the novel. There’s also The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is my all-time favourite. :D

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      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2013
     

    Oh I think I’ve read the Book Thief, it sounds familiar… but I haven’t read Jasper Jones. Thanks for letting me know about them.