This Week, I Read… (2017 #40)

135 - Just Good Friends

#135 – Just Good Friends, by Rosalind James

This was a mash of tropes I love and tropes I don’t care for.

I’ve never been a fan of romances that rely on bets–even if this one was a “bet you can’t be my friend without making a move on me” bet. Because we know it has to fail for a romance to take place.

It’s an excellent example, however, of You Infuriate Me, But I’m Falling For You. Kate and Koti can hardly have a conversation at first without aggravating each other, and it’s amazingly fun to watch the angry sparks slowly turning into romantic ones.

Kate’s tragic backstory may be laid on a little thick, but this time (as opposed to last week’s Just This Once) our hero isn’t perfect–he’s got major issues with his career and life goals and his motivation to work toward them. Flawed heroes are much more interesting to me than those who never put a foot wrong.

136 - Everything's Eventual

#136 – Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales, by Stephen King

It’s always hard for me to properly rate and review short story collections, because the stories can vary so wildly. I liked more of the stories than I didn’t (only two really bored me) and several of the stories I actually loved.

The “dark” in the title is appropriate, because rather than all of these being classic horror, many of them had more of a psychological or sometimes moral creepiness. I remember reading a different collection of King’s stories as a tween (bad idea) and having trouble sleeping for the next week–but this one wasn’t frightening, just unsettling. Which isn’t worse or better than straight horror, just different.

137 - Carrie

#137 – Carrie, by Stephen King

Considering I’ve had the plot spoiled for me numerous times over the years–I think the first time I heard about Carrie’s “Prom Night” I wasn’t even ten yet–I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this. Yes, it’s clearly early work, without the level of narrative and metaphoric sophistication King has developed since–but I enjoyed it.

Mostly, I think, that’s due to the documentary-style, after-the-fact structure, where much of the information about the climax is given through excerpts from interviews with the survivors, transcripts of wire reports, newspaper articles, books, and so on. Even given that I knew what was coming, I appreciated the level of foreshadowing, and the effectiveness of the structure as a hook to keep me reading.

And it takes a heck of a hook, because not only are none of the characters likable as people, most of them aren’t particularly interesting as characters, even Carrie herself. Maybe Sue, she’s the most developed of any of Carrie’s initial antagonists, and because she gets the pseudo-redemption arc of guilt over her behavior towards Carrie and her attempt to make it up to the girl. But everyone else is flat at best and stereotypical at worst.

Still, I’m glad I read it.

138 - Crazy Sexy Ghoulish

#138 – Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish: A Halloween Romance, by G.G. Andrew

A cute novella that might have been a better read if it were longer and more developed.

I liked Nora and Brendan’s chemistry–their text flirting was absolutely top-notch–but the development of their fledgling romance felt rushed because of the short space it had to play out in, and because so much weight was given to Nora’s ex-mean-girl angst and guilt. Not that that doesn’t send a good message, that bullying is wrong; and a side character she picked on as a kid doesn’t forgive her, which is a nice contrast to Brendan deciding to move on.

But I would have liked to see this as a full novel. Maybe a short one, the story wouldn’t need 500 pages, but I feel like it needs more than it got.

The Wake

#139 – The Wake, by Neil Gaiman

If this had ended after the first half, the three issues directly depicting the wake the Endless held for Dream, then I could have given this five stars. But there were three more issues, each a self-contained story: the first followed Gadling, and was marginally amusing; the next followed an old Chinese man in exile from court, and while I was bored by the slow pace of his story, at least it had a great art style; and the final issue concerned Shakespeare and his final play, The Tempest.

Which I have not read. Not the biggest fan of Shakespeare.

So that last issue probably would have felt like a better ending to me if I had at least read The Tempest, and better still if I actually liked it, but I find myself disappointed that a solid, satisfying ending got muddled by three extra stories tacked on to it.

Endless Nights

#140 – The Sandman: Endless Nights, by Neil Gaiman

Seven vignettes, one for each of the Endless, cap off the series with a flourish of varied art styles. The stories were short and touching (or disturbing, when that was more appropriate) and I LOVED THE ART of all of the chapters that departed from the standard comic style. “15 Portraits of Despair” was my favorite, easily, with its blend of inked drawings, photo collage and pasted-on words.

I am now fully recovered from the disappointment of the second half of The Wake.

141 - The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.JPG

#141 – The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, by Stephen King

I’m not even remotely a baseball fan, so this wasn’t for me. I know that’s an odd thing to say about a horror novel, but so much of Trisha’s story involved her hero worship and eventual hallucinations about the (fictionalized) baseball star Tom Gordon–and I simply can’t relate to that. I barely watch any sports, ever, and when I do, I much prefer individual sports (tennis, figure skating, gymnastics, etc.) to team sports.

With that out of the way, it wasn’t by any means a bad book. The more survival-oriented parts I found interesting, though my disconnect from Trisha as a character meant that I didn’t really find the horror bits frightening at all.


Mind-Mapping Goes Digital


Over the course of my vacation last month, I covered five sheets of notebook paper with mind-map-style notes about one of my possible NaNo projects, a non-hierarchical wolf-shifter-society romance.

As I was working outside of my usual space and without the benefit of a computer, I didn’t mind mapping it all out by hand. But when I got home, I knew that trying to work from paper to screen would irritate me.

Fortunately, around that time, Tumblr introduced me to RealTimeBoard, a free virtual whiteboard app.

From the short introductory videos I watched, the app is clearly geared towards team project collaboration, but as you can see from my consolidated mind-map above, it works perfectly well for single-person projects too. With a little forethought, I managed to plan a layout from the center outwards that incorporated all of my individual maps into one massive, color-coded monstrosity.

As with any new program, the learning curve on using all its features will take a little time–I’m sure I haven’t explored everything yet–but once I got past the initial five minutes of the WTF-does-this-do, I was fine.

And on a more personal level, I discovered I quite like mind-mapping as an outlining tool, and now that I have an app for it, I’ll probably use it again in the future.

Reading Challenge Complete: PopSugar 2017!

  1. A book recommended by a librarian: Throne of Glass
  2. A book that’s been on my TBR list way too long: The Mabinogion Tetralogy
  3. A book of letters: The Martian
  4. An audiobook: A Short History of Nearly Everything
  5. A book by a person of color: The Alchemist
  6. A book with on of the four seasons in the title: The Summer Tree
  7. A book that is a story within a story: Wizard and Glass
  8. A book with multiple authors: Beyond Possession
  9. An espionage thriller: The Girl Who Played With Fire
  10. A book with a cat on the cover: Life of Pi
  11. A book by an author who uses a pseudonym: Rewritten
  12. A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read: Falcon Saga
  13. A book by or about a person with a disability: The Blind Contessa’s New Machine
  14. A book involving travel: Fangland
  15. A book with a subtitle: Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness
  16. A book published in 2017: A Court of Wings and Ruin
  17. A book involving a mythical creature: The Wandering Fire
  18. A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile: The Martian Chronicles
  19. A book about food: The Recipe
  20. A book with career advice: Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer’s Guide to Getting It Right
  21. A book from a nonhuman perspective: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
  22. A steampunk novel: The Iron Duke
  23. A book with a red spine: Rebecca
  24. A book set in the wilderness: The Snow Child
  25. A book you loved as a child: A Wind in the Door
  26. A book by an author from a country I’ve never visited: People of the Book
  27. A book with a title that’s a character’s name: Mr. Cavendish, I Presume
  28. A novel set during wartime: Between Shades of Gray
  29. A book with an unreliable narrator: Alias Grace
  30. A book with pictures: Seveneves
  31. A book where the main character is a different ethnicity from me: Tiny Pretty Things
  32. A book about an interesting woman: Paula
  33. A book set in two different time periods: My Dream of You
  34. A book with a month or day of the week in the title: Tuesdays with Morrie
  35. A book set in a hotel: The Shining
  36. A book written by someone you admire: The Drawing of the Three
  37. A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017: The Gunslinger
  38. A book set around a holiday other than Christmas: Finding Destiny
  39. The first book in a series I haven’t read before: Poison Study
  40. A book I got on a trip: Magic Bites

The Advanced Section:

  1. A book recommended by an author I love: Fantasy Lover
  2. A bestseller from 2016: Lab Girl
  3. A book with a family-member term in the title: The Basket Maker’s Wife
  4. A book that takes place over a character’s life span: The Poisonwood Bible
  5. A book about an immigrant or refugee: Say You’re One of Them
  6. A book from a genre/subgenre I’ve never heard of: Misfits
  7. A book with an eccentric character: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
  8. A book that’s more than 800 pages: Drums of Autumn
  9. A book from a used book sale: Mélusine
  10. A book that’s mentioned in another book: Watership Down
  11. A book about a difficult topic: A Thousand Splendid Suns
  12. A book based on mythology: The Dark Wife

My final list for the 2017 challenge! (If you’re curious about last year’s list, it’s here.)

This year, 14 of these books earned five-star ratings from me–that’s 27%, more than twice the proportion of awesome books as last year. So I guess I’m more confident in my tastes now, even when stretching myself for a reading challenge? A mere six books got the dreaded single star (11%).

I’m eagerly awaiting the 2018 challenge list, because even with my desire to cut back on the reading pressure I’ve put on myself, I still want to do at least one challenge, and PopSugar is so flexible!

This Week, I Read… (2017 #39)

Sunday Tomes and Tea - Say You're One of Them

#129 – Say You’re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan

I wanted to like this book far more than I did, and at times I had to force myself to keep going. As a collection of short stories/novellas, it spans several countries in Africa and follows the lives and troubles of kids in terrible situations. It paints a bleak picture of what life for the poor can be, and is supposed to display “the resilience of children.”

The narrative voice, however, is so devoid of inflection or emotion that the horrors supposed to chill us readers feel distant and flat. I didn’t cry or laugh or feel moved or shaken…I felt bored.

On top of that, the dialogue is nearly unintelligible across all the stories. Depending on where each story is set, the patois spoken might be a mix of English and/or French and whatever local languages are spoken there, few of which are named and none of which I could identify if I weren’t told. (The few that were I’d never heard of, so at least I picked up some extra knowledge of the incredible wealth of languages on the African continent.)

I’m all for using local language/slang to add authentic flavor to a character, but this went far beyond that, to the point where I literally could not understand what the meaning of any given sentence of dialogue was. Far too much non-English was used without any sort of translation or context. It got to the point where I was only reading the English and French words (since I did study French for several years and most of the basics are still there in my head) and tried to interpret the meaning from that. It didn’t always work.

Honestly, if this hadn’t been the final book I needed to read for the PopSugar reading challenge, I would have DNF’d it, but I just did that to the second-to-last book, so I stuck this one out. I shouldn’t have, it wasn’t worth it.

Brief Lives

#130 – Brief Lives, by Neil Gaiman

Can I give this six stars? Ten? Fifty? I was absolutely blown away. Delirium is now my favorite Endless, though Death is still awesome. I was overjoyed to (finally) get so much of the history of their odd family, and so much interaction between them. Knowing what I know now, I look forward to rereading the earlier volumes (someday) and appreciating more of the hints and foreshadowing and family lore.

Especially after the relative disappointment of Fables and Reflections, this is what I needed to get excited again about reading the series. It’s my new favorite volume.


131 - Just This Once

#131 – Just This Once, by Rosalind James

A sweet romance about a holiday fling becoming happily ever after–who wouldn’t enjoy that? I give this story the high honor of including the most realistic instance of Heroine Moves Across the World For Her Man–Hannah has to deal with finding a new job, getting her work visa approved, selling off her old stuff and buying new stuff and everything. Deciding to do it is first an internal conflict, and once she has, the process is a drawn-out external one. Utterly believable, unlike some romances I’ve read.

However, our hero Drew is simply too perfect. I can’t find even the tiniest character flaw to pick at, while Hannah has a healthy share of them–so the dynamic between them skews heavily towards her needing to get her shit together while he’s waiting for her to realize he’s the one.

Since I like both parties in a relationship to improve themselves through their romance, that definitely irked me. But as I said for James’ Kincaids series, her writing style is so smooth and readable that it’s still a pleasure even when the story’s not perfect. I picked up the first three books of the Escape to New Zealand series in a bundle for next to nothing, so I’ll at least read the other two–then we’ll see if I buy the rest.

132 - World's End

#132 – World’s End, by Neil Gaiman

World’s End is another collection of short stories of new/side characters, only tangentially related to the Endless themselves. That format was a goodly chunk of what I disliked about Fables and Reflections, but in this case, there’s an actual bit of story tying together the characters’ tales–they’re all stuck in the inn at World’s End, hiding from a reality storm.

And at the end, when I found out what the storm truly was? I teared up a little.

It didn’t stagger me the same way Brief Lives did, but the writing and art were still solid, and it felt far more cohesive than Fables.

The Kindly Ones

#133 – The Kindly Ones, by Neil Gaiman

While I was slightly intimidated by the length of this volume compared to the others (it includes 12 issues, where the other volumes mostly range from 5-8 issues) I spent part of an evening and most of the next day plowing right through, because holy cow, this one’s gripping.

So many characters return from earlier storylines, providing some closure, often in sad or downright heart-wrenching ways. Delirium’s back and still adorable; Lucifer makes an appearance that had me laughing at what he decided to do with himself after forsaking Hell; we even get Rose Walker and Hal and Zelda back, and Larissa the Witch, and so many more. I was truly impressed by how all these disparate plots came together along the themes of loss, revenge, and longing.

And Death is still the coolest older sister in the whole Universe.

134 - Blood of Elves

#134 – Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski

My husband adores The Witcher games, so Geralt’s been a part of my life for some time now. I read The Last Wish last year and it was… okay. But it was a collection of short stories–I wanted to see what a novel would look like.

Well, it has a lot less action and a lot more talking heads. Every character, major or minor, has an identical tendency to soliloquize. Paragraphs of dialogue often go on for entire pages, which gets soporifically boring when no one in the whole room is doing anything but listening to some dude talk about politics. No ones sneezes or coughs or even interrupts, just lets whoever say their piece for five minutes.

Not only is it hard on the reader, in what is supposed to be heated political debate (since this book is 90% politics) it’s simply unbelievable.

On top of that, this story doesn’t really go anywhere. When the narrative bothers to focus on her instead of politics, we follow Ciri’s training first with the witchers, then with a magician–but the novel ends on nothing more momentous than her leaving the temple where she’s been living, followed by a dire single-sentence cliffhanger. I mean, I know she’s in danger in a general sense because she’s a former princess in hiding, but whatever is actually threatening her is distant and vague.

I have no desire to continue reading the series to find out what that danger is. Absolutely none.

NaNoWriMo ’17 Prep #1: Clean Your Desk

Desk Before

This is what my computer desk looked like when I woke up this morning. I’ll admit, I was tempted to dust it off and straighten it up a bit before taking this picture–but in the interest of complete disclosure, my working area is usually a mess.

It’s been on my mind to fix that.

I hated that my monitor’s been propped up by three of my fat cookbooks since…well, since I got this desk years ago. I meant to replace them with something more useful, some kind of storage unit. But what could I possibly find that would be the right size? So I never did.

But it’s not a very inviting place to work, is it?

A week or so ago, I stumbled across a blurb on making cardboard furniture, and I had my answer.

Desk After

This is what my desk looks like now.

It only took me about two hours (including the glue-drying time!) to put together an incredibly simple structure. The whole thing is 7″ deep, and the three units are two 5×5″ and one 7×5″ tubes, glued side by side, then topped with a single continuous piece of cardboard to give the monitor base something flat to sit on. After I had that all together, I measured and cut the brace pieces to divide the smaller sections and make the whole thing more stable.

It doesn’t buckle, it doesn’t shift, and it supports the weight of the monitor easily. I’m sold.

Yes, it’s still obviously made of cardboard, glue, and reinforced paper packing tape. (That stuff’s magic, let me tell you.) I’m going to leave it as is for at least a few days to see if it’s a comfortable height for me–it’s a bit taller than the book stack was. If I like it, I won’t need to make a new one, so I can paint and finish it. (Black, of course, to go with my desk.)

I dusted, I sorted through my random stack of papers and threw out the old stuff. My pens and lip glosses don’t have to share a teacup anymore. I have room for my journals in the center unit, hurray! And my camera goes in the space that’s empty in the picture, because I’m using the camera to take the picture.

Also, I don’t intend to burn the candles where they are now–I’ll bring them forward when I do. Setting the small one alight while it’s directly underneath my monitor is a terrible idea.

So there’s my first recommendation to get ready for NaNo this year–clean your desk. Or wherever your working space is. Make it pleasant and comfortable, because next month, you’re going to be spending a lot of time there.

Vocabulary From Books, #2: The Paula Edition

Sunday Tomes and Tea - Paula

Last week, when I reviewed Paula, I left out the part where it was the most challenging book, vocabulary-wise, I’ve read since I committed to looking up unfamiliar words. In the first ten pages alone, I had to look up three–and having to stop so often was breaking my flow, so I rummaged in my craft box where I thought I had some tabs. I did! Once I started marking sentences, I could look up several at once instead.

Paula gave me a record-shattering seventeen new words. (The previous title-holder appears to be Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin with five.)

My hat’s off to both Isabel Allende and the translator, Margaret Sayers Peden, for the astounding range of words I got to learn.

Some few irascible types died frothing at the mouth, although the cause may not have been rage, as evil tongues had it, but rather, some local pestilence.

irascible: having or showing a tendency to be easily angered

By then the name Salvador Allende, the founder of Chile’s Socialist Party, was being bruited about.

bruit: to spread (a report or rumor) widely

In appreciation, one of them, a furrier by trade, gave Memé a luxurious coat of gray astrakhan.

astrakhan: the tightly curled fleece of the fetal or newborn karakul lamb

Crossing the cordillera of the Andes is engraved in my soul as one of the true epiphanies of my existence.

cordillera: a system of mountain ranges often consisting of a number of more or less parallel chains

I had never experienced anything similar with my grandfather, or any other member of family, all of whom believed that paucity is a blessing and avarice a virtue.

paucity: a smallness of number or quantity

Memé’s ghost was lost in the gelid crannies of a house built for summer pleasure, not winter wind and rain.

gelid: icy; extremely cold

When my grandfather had made the last repairs on the house and tired of fighting the ineluctable erosion on the hill and the plagues of ants, roaches, and mice, a year had gone by and solitude had embittered him.

ineluctable: unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable

He bought the gin at a corner liquor store whose proprietress often disturbed the sleep of that concupiscent patriarch.

concupiscent: filled with sexual desire; lustful

A glacial silence greeted my peroration.

peroration: the concluding part of a speech, typically intended to inspire enthusiasm in the audience

From the first issue, the magazine provoked heated polemics.

polemic: a strong verbal or written attack on something or someone

The country seemed nearly out of control, and Salvador Allende announced a plebiscite that would allow the voters to decide whether he should continue governing or resign and call new elections.

plebiscite: the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question, such as a change to the constitution

She listened quietly to my disquisition, from time to time casting an eloquent glance out of the corner of her eye.

disquisition: a long or elaborate essay or discussion on a particular subject

Celia learn to flagellate herself and wear a cilice with metal barbs made by La Candelaria nuns, disciplining herself out of love for her Creator and paying for sings, her own and those of others.

cilice: a hair shirt

Bomber planes flew like fatidic birds over the Palacio de La Moneda, dropping their bombs with such precision that they exploded through windows and in less than ten minutes set ablaze an entire wing of the building, while tanks lobbed tear gas canisters from the street.

fatidic: of or relating to prophecy

I had come from winter, the petrifying order of the dictatorship, and widespread poverty to a hot and anarchical country in the midst of a petroleum boom, an oil-rich society in which profligacy reached absurd limits: everything was flown in from Miami, even bread and eggs, because it was easier to import than to produce them.

profligacy: 1) reckless extravagance or wastefulness in the use of resources; 2) licentious or dissolute behavior

In the afternoons, this ironic grandmother sits down with her knitting beside her granddaughter’s bed and talks to her with not thought for the sidereal silence into which her words fall.

sidereal: of or with respect to the distant stars (i.e., the constellations or fixed stars, not the sun or planets)

On a shelf I saw ugly crystal and porcelain bibelots but almost no furniture, except in the dining room.

bibelot: a small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity; a trinket

As always, have fun reading and keep looking up those unknown words!

This Week, I Read… (2017 #38)

124 - A Thousand Splendid Suns

#124 – A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

A book about a difficult topic? How about several difficult topics, like bastardy, forced marriage, domestic abuse, war, military occupation, murder, and execution?

I put off reading this for a long time because of the dreaded second-novel syndrome–I adored The Kite Runner and I was afraid Suns would be a disappointment. My fears were groundless. If anything, I loved it more–the story is profoundly feminist in its brutally uncompromising portrayal of what an Afghan woman’s life can look like, both at its best and worst.

Despite all the difficult topics, the book isn’t depressing, but beautifully hopeful, even when what’s happening on the page is graphic and horrifying.

I’m so glad now that I have a copy of Hosseini’s third novel, And the Mountains Echoed, waiting for me on my TBR shelf.

125 - Paula

#125 – Paula, by Isabel Allende

If this is what her memoir reads like, I can’t wait to get into Allende’s fiction. (I have a copy of Daughter of Fortune, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.)

Despite the inherent tragedy of reading a work dedicated to and written for a dying daughter, Allende’s incredible gift for absurd metaphor and exaggerated melodrama injects a great deal of humor into the narrative. She’s quite up front that she’s going from memory, not history, almost daring readers to take the time to fact-check her–but I would rather enjoy the roller coaster of family anecdotes and political upheaval that describes and defines who Allende had come to be as she sat at her daughter’s bedside and penned this long, deeply moving letter. Love and devotion come across in every word.

126 - Misfits

#126 – Misfits, by Garrett Leigh

It isn’t that I wasn’t aware menage romance was a thing–I’ve read and reviewed two already–but they were both MMF, whereas this one was MMM. Not a genre that had hit my radar until a friend on Goodreads rated this book and it came up on my feed. I was intrigued.

The premise laid out is that a long-term, committed couple has an open relationship, where from time to time both partners take other lovers. What’s suddenly different is that one of the hookups becomes more.

I loved how Jake, the hookup character, got excellent development not only as the third-wheel-turned-partner, but also as a person looking for a career. I love how un-rushed the timeline of the story was–too many romances take a week or two from start to Happily Ever After, whereas this one took months. I love how Tom and Jake’s attraction was instant and gratifying, where Jake and Cass took a long time to heat up, becoming friends long before they crossed over into lover territory.

What I didn’t love was the last arc of the story. An out-of-left-field external conflict throws a wrench into things and makes the worst of Cass come out, causing what is supposed to be breakup-level tension…but it felt all wrong to me. There were barely any hints of it coming, just a few passing mentions of Cass’ dark past which meant little without more context or development, then WOMP! his past is front and center…in the last 20% of the story. It was an abrupt tonal shift, and I didn’t like it.

CYS 8-7-17 Ebook

#127 – The Basket Maker’s Wife, by Cait London

DNF @ 10% from extreme mental fatigue due to the word “basket(s)” appearing 53 times in the first chapter alone. Yes, I was so frustrated I went back and counted.

Even setting that aside, the writing style was excessively repetitive. The tragic backstory was laid on thicker than a clay face mask, and how often in one day does a person really think about their employer dying? I mean, I know she’s ninety, but is she so incredibly frail you can’t go five minutes without praying she doesn’t drop dead?

128 - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

#128 – Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie

I was completely enchanted by the exploits of the two teenage boys sent into rural China for their “re-education” under Mao’s regime; the narrator’s tone was filled with exuberance and sly humor.

But that was part of this book’s problem for me, as well–for all that dire consequences were mentioned often for every transgression the teens made . . . nothing happened. They stole the forbidden books from Four Eyes, Luo had an illicit affair with the Little Seamstress, and the narrator aided her in obtaining an abortion–and they got away with it.

The specter of prison and torture loses its very real sting if nothing comes of it.

I was also completely bewildered by the sudden jump near the end to three separate POVs–the miller, Luo, then the Seamstress. While each provided a new level of detail about the affair, not one of them told me anything new about the larger plot–it all seemed unnecessary. The transition to the ending, too, is incredibly abrupt, jumping three months forward and telling the highlights in past tense, explaining how both boys were too stupid to realize the Seamstress was going to leave.

So…I really liked the first half, and the second half fell apart for me.