Final Thoughts on The Fireman #firemanalong

The Fireman

Now that's it's officially the last week of July and The Fireman Readalong, I think it's safe to write my final thoughts on the book.

From my last post:
There is a contagious fungus that causes spontaneous combustion in the human carriers. This contagion is spreading all over the world, with the added bonus of burning down just about everything.

Harper is a nurse in New Hampshire, trying to help as many people as she can. A difficult task since with the whole world in a panic and entering Mad Max territory. People with the contagion are being rounded up and sent off to death camps. Or worse, murdered by vigilantes who see sick people as murderous criminals.

Inevitably, Harper catches the pox, er, fungus and with the help of the Fireman escapes to a utopian abandoned summer camp inhabited by other sick refugees. But we all know what happens to utopias. Eventually they become dystopias.
I dunno. I liked The Fireman but didn't love it. It was a quick read. There were periods of action between long periods of people doing nothing. I had to push myself through those sections to get to the interesting bits. It's a book that's 750 pages and could have been cut down to a more reasonable size. It's not like we got some intense character studies during these slow bits. Nobody seems all that deep.

Speaking of shallow characters. Jakob is a one dimensional guy. He really ends up being a cartoonish woman hater. He very quickly becomes a murderer and shows no affection for his wife or their unborn child. He was too much. The Cremation Crew he hangs around with are just a bunch of guys who probably troll feminist websites in life before the plague.

Stuff I liked:
  • Women are front and center in this novel. They aren't damsels and can take care of themselves in this terrible world.
  • The fisherman. He might be my favorite character. Maybe it's because he is the quintessential East Coast older man. Rough around the edges, but kind at heart.
  • The lady in her forties got a love interest!
  • The whole idea of Dragonscale. It's a plague unlike any I've read in books before. It's beautiful, but deadly.

Stuff I didn't like:
  • All the pop culture references. I'm not a fan of too many references in a book (Ready Player One). I suspect it will date this book. 
  • If Dragonscale is set off by stress, I don't understand how these characters survived some of these very stressful situations. (Note: I'd be dead within a day with my anxiety!)

Iffy stuff:
  • Not sure how I feel about the ending. It's hopeful, but also everything leading up to it is pretty crappy. 
  • The title. I get that the Fireman is a mythological being to outsiders, but I'm not sure why he's the namesake of this book. Then again, I'm not sure what I would title it. 
So, kind of a mixed bag of feelings on The Fireman.

Hey Readalongers! I'd love to discuss this more with you. Leave comments and questions in the comments section.

The Fireman

Media Madness...Tuesday?

This is sorta Media Madness Monday but it's not Monday.

Since I'm not doing a lot of reading, I am doing a lot of other things. Including watching Netflix.


Grace and Frankie is a series I've been watching the last couple of weeks. The title characters' husbands have been having a twenty year affair and just announced that they plan on leaving their wives to be together. Both women are shocked, to say the least. As they watch the lives they've built crumble around them, they realize that no one else can understand what they're going through except each other. Despite their differences, Frankie is a hippie artist and Grace a retired business woman, they form a friendship.

The men find that happily-ever-after isn't as easy as they thought it would be. They still have ties to their ex-wives: children, grandchildren, and affection for the women they did love at one time. Getting disentangled from their past is complicated and messy.

The cast of Grace and Frankie is top notch. Jane Fonda (Grace) and Lily Tomlin (Frankie) have great chemistry. I forgot they were in 9 to 5 together. (Maybe Dolly Parton can have a cameo!) Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston play the ex-husbands. There are guest appearances by Ernie Hudson, Sam Elliot, and Craig T Nelson.

The writing is great. The characters aren't one dimensional. They all have anxieties, fears, and dreams. The women are given love interests and aren't shuffled off to the pasture. Their children are a big part of their lives, but not the only part.

What I like about Grace and Frankie is that it's something different, but still familiar. It's a sitcom, with the situation being great life changes in these characters' "golden years." They don't have to be in their 20s to have an interesting story. It's about relationships, family, sexuality and aging. No one is a bad guy. They are all just people trying to do the best they can.

Give it a try, if you don't mind lots of swearing and pot smoking.




The Black Tapes Podcast is a podcast I recently came across. It's a pseudo-serial type show. It follows that investigative journalism podcast formula, only this investigation is fictional. Alex, the journalist, investigates the creator of the Strand Institute, Dr Richard Strand, a skeptic whose life work is to debunk claims of the paranormal. He offers a one million reward to anyone who can prove existence of the supernatural.

Strand has a wall full of white tape cases, each one an investigated and debunked claim. On another smaller shelf, is a collection of black tapes. These cases are "as yet unsolved." Alex convinces Strand to let her investigate these black tapes. As the series progresses, Alex starts to see a connection in all these cases and discovers secrets in Strand's past.

The Black Tapes Podcast is for people who like The X-Files or Millennium. There is a apocalyptic theme to the series, with people  trying to begin the end of the world. It's fun, but don't listen to it after dark!

What have you been watching/listening to?

Random July Thoughts



Today was a sunny day. I am in a good mood and hope to stay that way, so I thought it was time for a blog post. Maybe just some Randomness!

I finished The Fireman for the Fireman Readalong. I flew through it. I put some thoughts together for a review post.

I'm not into Pokemon Go. Just not going to go there.

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens is coming later this month. Are you excited? Do you think this series has, ahem, jumped the shark?

This season of Outlander wrapped up this week with the season finale. The older Roger is super cute, like a young Paul McCartney. Brianna doesn't look like Brianna. Clair is a witch, she must be to look like that 20 years later. Loved the 60s fashion though. So mod!

We nearly had a postal strike here in Canada. We're still not out of the woods yet. It was frustrating to me as an Etsy seller. It made me more productive when it comes to creating cross stitch patterns for download though. I have a bunch of new ideas. I just need the time to work on them.

I've been spending more time on Pinterest, since every time I go on Twitter it's a new nightmare. Also Bullet Journal YouTube videos.

I ran 10K last week! I've been using an app to push me to 10K from 5K. It's hard and my feet look terrifying, but I did it. Now I just have to keep it up. I hope to run a long run once a week for maintenance.


That's about it for now! Stay tuned. I'll be back again.

Ooooh, I'm Halfway There!!!! #Firemanalong



I'm halfway through The Fireman for the Fireman Readalong. Not sure where other participants are or what they think but here are some of my thoughts at this point.

I didn't know much about the plot starting out. Turns out there is a contagious fungus that causes spontaneous combustion in the human carriers. This contagion is spreading all over the world, with the added bonus of burning down just about everything.

Literally
Harper is a nurse in New Hampshire, trying to help as many people as she can. A difficult task since with the whole world in a panic and entering Mad Max territory. People with the contagion are being rounded up and sent off to death camps. Or worse, murdered by vigilantes who see sick people as murderous criminals.

Humans always end up here in catastrophes, don't they?

Inevitably, Harper catches the pox, er, fungus and with the help of the Fireman escapes to a utopian abandoned summer camp inhabited by other sick refugees. But we all know what happens to utopias. Eventually they become dystopias.


I love that the main characters are women: Harper, Carol, Allie. Maybe the book should be titled Firewomen instead.

Anyone else imagining Tom Hardy as the Fireman?

Jakob is the most obnoxious, despicable person in the world!

Carol is bonkers.

This book is making me anxious. I might have to put it in the freezer, but it's on my tablet and that would be a bad idea.

Finally...


What Is Happening to Mr Fox



I wanted to give Helen Oyeyemi a try but didn't know where to start. When I read an author for the first time, I like to find something they wrote at my library. It's a safer risk. My library had Mr Fox.

Mr Fox is an author who writes books in which women are murdered. He says that the murders aren't senseless, but they must die. His imaginary muse Mary Foxe has had enough of this and is becoming sentient. She confronts Mr Fox and proposes a game, in which she writes him short stories from the point of view of women. She places him in their places. He must see the world as they do and feel how they feel. In the meantime, Mr Fox's wife Daphne isn't sure if he's having an affair or losing his mind.

Mr Fox is a misogynist, though I doubt he's see it that way. Women are plot devices to him. Their deaths carry the plots in his books forward. He compares his real wife to a woman that he's made up. Of course Mary is everything he wants in a woman- he created her. He doesn't start seeing his wife as a person until Mary becomes real and asserts her own personality.

I was getting fed up with the 'dead girl' trope in review pitches I was getting via emails. They all start the same: "After a girl's body is found..." I was tempted to write to the sender of the last one I got. To tell them to find at least a new way to pitch this kind of book. It's beyond aggravating to see girls/women being used as plot devices this way. I realize that mysteries and thrillers usually start with a body, but the sexual violence in a lot of these books is tiresome. I was looking forward to seeing Mr Fox get a taste of his own medicine.

The drama of Mr Fox, Mary Foxe, and Daphne weaves around Oyeyemi's short stories. Though the main plot is set in the 1920s, the stories hop around in time. There are stories set in that time period, but also in the modern era. What can get confusing is that Mary is sometimes a character in these stories. I didn't know what was happening. I also think a lot of what Oyeyemi is trying to say was lost on me. It was a bit over my head.


But I still liked Mr Fox. I thought Mary and Daphne were excellent characters. I liked the writing style and the book is sufficiently weird. In a lot of ways, Mr Fox reminds me of some of Angela Carter's stories. They're also weird and feminist.

If you want to read something strange, something that requires a lot of thought, you might enjoy Mr Fox.

Mr. Fox

Currently: Hello?


I haven't posted in over a week. I remember a time when if this happened I would be freaking out. Now I'm not that concerned that I haven't posted in 10 days.

I'm feeling pretty blah about the internet. I'm probably not going to be posting as often for some time. Maybe if I get inspired to write something. I have reviews to write and books to read. I've been running. And knitting. Taking lots of photos. It's time to get away from the computer and start enjoying things more. Summer is here!

Maybe I'll do some mini-updates on what I'm reading or doing for a little while. Like Heather's Currently lists!

Currently:

Reading/ Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

Listening/ The Devourers by Indra Das (haven't actually started yet)

Watching/ Grace and Frankie on Netflix

Making/ Hermione's Everyday Sock

Loving/ The warmer weather is finally here. I'm going to enjoy the outdoors as much as I can.

Hating/ The state of the world

Anticipating/ The Fireman Readalong. I hope it gets me out of this funk.

Anyway here's a bee.



Frankenstein and #FiremanAlong

Fireman Readalong

First look at this button! It is very dramatic. Heather from Capricious Reader created it.

What is the Fireman Readalong? A bunch of people reading The Fireman by Joe Hill in July hosted by Care and co-hosted by Heather. It's a 768 page book. So, it might require some encouragement. I'm on the wait list for the book and I think I'll be getting it soon. Should be a good time! Join!



Do you know what today is? It is the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's 'waking dream' that inspired....FRANKENSTEIN!
I could not so easily get rid of my hideous phantom; still it haunted me. I must try to think of something else. I recurred to my ghost story - my tiresome, unlucky ghost story! Oh! If I could only contrive one which would frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that night!
And then she did. I really need to read Frankenstein again. Mary Shelley you are amazing and so is this gif.


Great books for hard times.