Mini-Reviews: The Amazing Maurice & His Educated Rodents, The Romance Readers' Book Club, Psmith in the City

222. The Amazing Maurice & His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
Publication: HarperCollins (April 29, 2003), Paperback, 368pp / ISBN 0060012358
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Buy it
Read: November 23, 2010
Source: Bought (used)
Summary from Amazon:

The Amazing Maurice runs the perfect Pied Piper scam. This streetwise alley cat knows the value of cold, hard cash and can talk his way into and out of anything. But when Maurice and his cohorts decide to con the town of Bad Blinitz, it will take more than fast talking to survive the danger that awaits. For this is a town where food is scarce and rats are hated, where cellars are lined with deadly traps, and where a terrifying evil lurks beneath the hunger-stricken streets….


I actually love this book so much I had a hard time thinking up something to say about it besides “omg read it now.” My favorite Pterry books are the ones that have a bit of oomph to them, the ones that say something about humanity and life and how we should approach things with both excitement and respect. This one has that! Maybe not as much as Nation, but then it’s really hard to top Nation.

It’s also one of those fun Pterry books that turns standard fairytales or myths up on their head! I love it when he does that, because he does it so WELL. Plus, it keeps things from getting boring. Yay! Also loved Maurice, the rats, and the human characters as well. The rats sort of reminded me of the ones in NIMH? Except less grave and/or scary.

If you haven’t read a Pterry book before, this might be a good one to start with. (Or maybe Nation first, THEN this one.) Definitely recommend it!

234. The Romance Readers’ Book Club by Julie L. Cannon
Publication: Plume (December 18, 2007), Paperback, 278pp / ISBN 0452288991
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Bin it
Read: December 16-18, 2010
Source: Paperback Swap
Summary from Amazon:

Bored with her sheltered life on the family farm in Rigby, Georgia, fifteen- year-old Tammi Lynn Elco senses things can change when she acquires a stack of forbidden romance novels. Eluding the watchful eye of her Granny Elco, Tammi forms a secret book club with two girlfriends and her eccentric Aunt Minna, reading about weak- in-the- knees passion and sharing their own stories of love and heartache. When Rigby is seized in an economically damaging drought, local preachers are quick to proclaim sin as the reason for the devastation, forcing Tammi and her fellow book club members to come to terms with the emotions they’re feeling and the strict expectations of the community surrounding them.


Just as I had a problem thinking up a way to say “omg I love this book” for The Amazing Maurice & His Educated Rodents, I had a hard time coming up with a way to say “omg I am so disappointed with this book” besides, y’know, actually coming right out and saying it. But maybe straightforwardness is the best policy: this book was really disappointing. It’s like a subpar version of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood with a bunch of old school romances thrown in. I don’t particularly object to the bodice rippers, but the fact that Tammi thought they were representative of real life (or at least the sort of life she wanted to live) and the fact that she never really woke up out of that belief actually kind of upset me. It’s okay to dream, and it’s okay to want something better, but old school romances are not the things you should be basing your life choices on. I mean, I’m right, right? Read ’em for pleasure, sure, but don’t then go project romantic hero stereotypes onto your uber-religious, wants-to-be-a-preacher cousin just because you want a bit of excitement and thought he fit the bill. Yeah, he’s hot, but he’s not a character in a book! And neither are you, Tammi! Sheesh.

Also there were a few plot threads that started out strong and then were snipped off mid-story, which was irritating. So, basically: not my favorite book.

(Everything I know about old school romances comes from this, btw.)

236. Psmith in the City by P. G. Wodehouse
Publication: originally published 1910, ebook published 2004
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Buy it
Read: December 21-24, 2010
Source: Project Gutenberg
Summary from Amazon:

Mike Jackson, cricketer and scion of a cricketing clan, finds his dreams of studying and playing at Cambridge upset by news of his father’s financial troubles, and must instead take a job with the “New Asiatic Bank”. On arrival there, Mike finds his friend Psmith is also a new employee, and together they strive to make the best of their position, and perhaps squeeze in a little cricket from time to time.


I liked this one MUCH more than Mike and Psmith. For one thing, there’s less cricket (although it’s still in there. Mike’s obsessed with it, after all). For another, it’s got more Psmith in it being funny and snarky and wonderful. Psmith is rapidly becoming one of my favorite Wodehousian characters. I’m thinking he’s sort of like a mix between Bertie (upper class whatsit with panache) and Jeeves (smarts and cunning), and that’s always fun. I even liked Mike more in this one, mainly because I wasn’t forever reading about how many centuries he got or about how he was hitting the ball really well or something. It was extremely enjoyable, and I’m going to like reading the next one in the series.

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