恭喜發財! With any luck the year of the tiger will be better than the year of the ox. #TigersOverOxen2022

I’m at the stage in my blogging career where I’m checking my past reading summaries because I don’t remember my format anymore and also I had to see how I handled the last DNF I recorded. Between the new apartment, the new job, and the apartment-hunting rabbit hole I fell into somewhere around December, the last year has been a wild ride, but I’ve stabilized for now and am working on catching up with my reading before I move again in a month. (Yeah, remember when I said I didn’t want to move again for at least five years? Neither do I.)

January Reading Stats

Books Finished:

  1. Oddball – Sarah Andersen
  2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Kate DiCamillo
  3. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

Books Abandoned:

  1. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Total Pages Read: 1,139

Biggest surprise of the month: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which was sweet and adorable. It follows an unbelievably vain rabbit doll as he is separated from his owner and dragged all over the United States, and, while the ending is incredibly predictable, it’s more about the journey than the destination. It was so cute, and I might actually buy it.

Smallest surprise of the month: Outlander, which I DNF’d at page 75. I thought I’d DNF after the first sex scene, but I never actually made it that far because the book is about 200 pages too long, and I’ve got better things to do than struggle through 627 pages of characters I don’t care about. I kind of liked it in the beginning, but it didn’t take it long to get boring. (Also I’m having a hard time picturing Tobias Menzies as Black Jack Randall because I already know him from Game of Thrones and like…….his character is so sad. Fuck, this is weird.)

Currently Reading

Plain Bad Heroines
Emily M. Danforth
Current rating: 2.5-3 stars. I somehow managed to get through the first 100 pages without forming any strong opinions whatsoever, which (1) has only happened with maybe one or two other books and (2) is not good. Then I got to page 216, and I now have one extremely strong opinion, which is that Merritt fucking sucks. She is inarguably one of the worst protagonists I’ve met this year. To be clear, this is a list that includes President Snow.

Plain Bad Heroines starts in 1902 at The Brookhants School for Girls. Brookhants students Florence “Flo” Hartshorn and Clara Broward fall in love with each other, and with the memoirs of a scandalous young writer named Mary MacLane. They embark upon a passionate romance despite equally passionate interference from Clara’s family, but find their relationship cut short when they are both stung to death by yellow jackets. Mary MacLane’s book is found with their bodies, and is promptly blamed for leading young girls astray. Over a hundred years later, combative sixteen-year-old writer Merritt Emmons publishes a bestselling book about Brookhants. Though somewhat prematurely hailed as a wunderkind, she quickly hits a creative wall and produces nothing else. Five years after her big break, her book is adapted into a film starring A-list mega-influencer Harper Harper and B-list child star Audrey Wells as Flo and Clara, respectively. As of this writing, initial script readings have started, and Merritt already hates Audrey.

I don’t know if I can do this. The book is 640 pages. I am on page 216. There are 424 pages of Merritt Emmons standing between me and victory, and I don’t know if I have the energy to deal with her, because she’s spent the last several chapters chewing up my last nerve. Short of an unsolicited surprise lobotomy, she doesn’t seem like the kind of character who’s capable of significant change. Other characters think she’s prickly. I think this word is too kind for what she actually is, which is unreasonably nasty. She apparently hates everyone and everything – except Harper, to whom she is attracted – and, based on her behavior so far, seems to be trying to sabotage the movie in the most passive aggressive way possible. She is vicious, pedantic, and rude to absolutely everybody, though the pedantry honestly wouldn’t bother me if she weren’t so bitchy about it. She spends most of her time careening between unwarranted arrogance and crippling impostor syndrome (so, a pretty typical writer), which would be more relatable if she didn’t also keep trying to tear Audrey down. I suppose there is something ironically amusing about two movie stars trying to pacify a diva writer, but Merritt is incredibly unpleasant, and her scenes are not fun. Given her clear lack of actual merits, I almost wonder if her name is supposed to add another layer of subtle irony. I hope she’s not supposed to be funny, because if she is I’m really going to have to have a talk with modern comedy. I also hope this isn’t going to turn into a love triangle, but a lot of authors seem to think fighting is romantic, so my hopes are not high.

At this point, the only thing that’s keeping me going is the part of the book that’s set in 1902, because that’s actually interesting. I don’t know why, but I am a sucker for boarding school stories (even though in the real world I would’ve hated boarding school), and I also like the way the Mary MacLane book has been woven into the story. I could read about the Brookhants world all day, but it is unfortunately interspersed with scenes from the modern-day film set, which so far do not interest me. The other problem is that there are so many minor side characters, who keep popping in and out like prairie dogs and aren’t particularly memorable if you’re not paying close attention, which I’m not always. I had an easier time keeping track of the characters in ASOIAF. I do want to get at least halfway through before I start to think about DNF’ing, however, so I suppose right now all I can do is pray that Merritt gets that lobotomy.

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