Size Doesn’t Matter (103): James and the Giant Peach; True Letters from a Fictional Life; Chimes at Midnight; Full of Briars

Size Doesn’t Matter (103): James and the Giant Peach; True Letters from a Fictional Life; Chimes at Midnight; Full of BriarsJames and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Narrator: Julian Rhind-Tutt
Length: 3 hrs, 18 mins
Published by Listening Library on July 25, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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James Henry Trotter's parents have been eaten by a rhinoceros, so now he lives with his two repulsive aunts.

One hot day something peculiar happens and an enormous peach grows in their garden. Soon James and the Giant Peach are rolling away from his horrible aunts, towards a most marvellous and wonderful place . . .

The magic of James and the Giant Peach really hasn’t lasted. I loved it as a kid, despite the bugs, but even a brilliantly put-together audio can’t give this book’s charms back to me. The plot’s weak and random, and I’m seriously bothered by the demonization of the Cloud Men who are only attacking the peaches denizens because the centipede was super fucking rude to them. And the centipede’s actions (which are hateful and seem like a stand-in for racism) are viewed as unfortunate but part of his gruff charm.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (103): James and the Giant Peach; True Letters from a Fictional Life; Chimes at Midnight; Full of BriarsTrue Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan
Published by HarperTeen on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy.

But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world--letters he never intends to send--he spills the truth: he’s trying hard, but he just isn’t into Theresa. It’s a boy who lingers in his thoughts.

He feels trapped by his parents, his teammates, and the lies they’ve helped him tell, and he has no idea how to escape. Is he destined to live a life of fiction?

True Letters from a Fictional Life is excellent, but it’s also one of those books that spends most of its time intentionally offending you. I’m always a bit at a loss with these books, because it meant to make me feel that way but also they’re kind of unpleasant to read.

James has suspected, very secretly, for…well, a while, that he might be gay. Actually, he’s pretty sure of that, but he’s clinging very desperately to that shred of plausible deniability within himself, because he really, really does not want to be gay. His friends regularly use gay slurs as insults and the one openly gay kid at school, Aaron, is bullied horribly. James himself used to take part in these sorts of behaviors because he wanted to make sure he didn’t become a target. Sometimes, you will kind of hate James, while also feeling really incredibly sorry for him.

In True Letters from a Fictional Life, James comes out, mostly against his own will, another anger-making aspect. He has a long road to accepting himself and loses some friends along the way. The relationships are complex and real. My favorite character is probably Hawken, James’ crush, who’s the person in his life who remains consistently supportive and turns James down nicely. Unfortunately, like some of the people in James’ life, I totally shipped James and Hawken more than James and Topher. Though Topher’s very nice, he felt a bit distantly perfect and understanding.

This isn’t so much the LGBT story I want to read these days, preferring fluffy, shippy romances to the tough coming out narratives that initially predominated. However, though it’s well-trod ground, Logan does a nice job with it.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Size Doesn’t Matter (103): James and the Giant Peach; True Letters from a Fictional Life; Chimes at Midnight; Full of BriarsChimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #7
Published by DAW on September 3, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 346
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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Things are starting to look up for October "Toby" Daye. She's training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby's efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets--and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there's the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne....

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists--and they'll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

You know, I’m pretty sure I’ve been underrating these for a while now, but it’s actually kind of hard to rate the Scary Place books because I care SO MUCH that I actually get kind of mad when my babies are in danger so it’s tough. Chimes at Midnight truly is a spectacular installment though.

I will say, though, that you definitely want to have read McGuire’s free short story “No Sooner Met” before you read Chimes at Midnight though, if you’re invested in Toby and Tybalt, which how could you not be; otherwise, the lack of time focusing on the ship might annoy you. They have some good moments in here, but their relationship is not the focus. I particularly love when Toby and Tybalt have a little talk about the degree to which she will accept his protection and basically they are OTP-goals.

In Chimes at Midnight, Toby’s taking on the goblin fruit trade and, by extension, the Queen of the Mists. The Queen’s been a problematic figure since the very start of the series, and I was surprised that she was being taken down this “soon,” but omg it’s so badass. It’s really fucking amazing how McGuire manages to consistently raise the stakes when they were fucking high to start with. This series is a masterclass in plotting. Also, like the fact that I can be so fucking terrified for everyone with so many books still planned is amazing.

I love this series super fiercely, but I sort of don’t want to write that much about it because I’m so far in that basically everything is monstrous spoilers if you haven’t read this far. So basically READ THIS SERIES, ALL OF YOU. IT IS AMAZEBALLS. SEANAN MCGUIRE IS A QUEEN.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Size Doesn’t Matter (103): James and the Giant Peach; True Letters from a Fictional Life; Chimes at Midnight; Full of BriarsFull of Briars by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #9.3
Published by DAW on August 2, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 44
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

Meet Quentin Sollys. Squire. Hockey fan. Canadian. And Crown Prince to the entire continent of North America, known as “the Westlands” to the fae, currently ruled by his parents, High King Aethlin and High Queen Maida. Not that most people know that, since he’s a blind foster squired to a changeling—not exactly something that screams “hidden royalty.”

But with a new Queen on the throne in the Mists, his parents have finally come to town to see how he’s doing…and to take him home with them. That’s going to be a problem, since Quentin doesn’t particularly want to leave, and his knight, Sir October Daye, doesn’t particularly want to let him go.

Set after Chimes at Midnight and before The Winter Long, it’s finally time to meet the parents in our first-ever story narrated by Quentin himself.

Full of Briars isn’t the strongest novella, which is a bit unfortunate given how it’s the only one that DAW actually sold. It’s good, and you definitely shouldn’t skip it if you’re reading this series, but it’s not the best of the October Daye novellas, that’s for sure. Also, FYI, the GR numbering is publication order, but chronologically, this story is what happens immediately after Chimes at Midnight ends.

The problem with this one is the first person narration. Quentin’s narration is bland. If this one had been in third person, I think it might have been totally fine. So yeah, that part’s unfortunate.

However, I totally called the ship and I am so happy right now. Official confirmation that Quentin is bi AND now he has a hot boyfriend and life is good. Do not skip because ship.

Bless Seanan for more excellent LGBT rep. This series just makes me so damn happy.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

6 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (103): James and the Giant Peach; True Letters from a Fictional Life; Chimes at Midnight; Full of Briars”

  1. Shira says:

    I’ve read books 1-8 of the October Daye series and just started book 9 because of you. So really all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Love them so much.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Ha! That’s two people I’ve gotten into October Daye who have passed me! I need to speed up. :-p So glad that you love them too! *high fives*

  2. I remember next to nothing about James and the Giant Peach but it was also one of my childhood favorites… and I apparently really need to get on board with October Daye!
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