Quotable

Booking Through Thursday asks,

“Do you have a favorite quote from a book?”

I actually look for quotes in many of the books I read because I’ve long wanted a literary quote as a tattoo. Unfortunately, the quotes that speak to me and stick with me most are not things that I want to tattoo on myself. Case in point, here is one of my favorite quotes, from Octavian Nothing:

At long last, you may no longer distinguish what binds you from what is you.

That may be a quote that is more powerful in context, but idgaf because I know the context. It is a quote that still makes my heart ache every time I read it. But you can see what I mean about perhaps not being the sort of thing a person would want permanently inked on their body?

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Cheap books!

First up because I don’t know how long it will last, but Shannon Hale’s Book of a Thousand Days is a mere 99 cents on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (ebook only). I shouldn’t have to tell you again how much I love this book. It is my favorite Hale (though I haven’t read them all) and in the top five of my favorite YA books. I love this book. So did Mia. So will you. And it’s cheap. Go buy it.

Also, and you probably all know this, but Amazon is doing a huge June sale: 400 Kindle books priced between $0.99 and $2.99. It ends June 24th, so go hurry and take a look!

My Miss Marple Readthrough Begins!

I was inspired by the amazing Sarah Rees Brennan’s post on Miss Marple to read through all of her books (Miss Marple’s, that is). My mom is a huge mystery reader and has a LOT of Agatha Christies, so I set out to gather all of the Marples I could find. I don’t know if she has all of them, but I’m sure I can supplement with the library if anything is missing.

Side note before we begin: I tried to find the correct covers (aka the ones I have) for these, but every Christie has been republished to the moon and back and I was only able to find the right one for the third book and I am too lazy to do the scans myself. OH WELL just consider this a purposeful medley.

OKAY first up are The Tuesday Club Murders, a collection of short stories in which Christie introduced Miss Marple. Every week, Miss Marple, her nephew and his girlfriend, and a few other people get together and tell stories of “some mystery of which they have personal knowledge, and to which, of course, they know the answer.” Everybody else is to guess the answer and then the storyteller of the week reveals the truth. Miss Marple, who everybody underestimates and indeed they assume she won’t even want to play, solves every single one through her intimate knowledge of human behavior. She makes parallels from village life in St Mary Mead and, most importantly, never assumes people are good. Or evil.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the stories. Murder mysteries short stories are hard to pull off and, while Christie does a good job of setting up little mysteries, fails pretty well at making you care about anybody. Part of the problem is that murder mysteries of the era were already emotionally detached and having less time with the characters doesn’t help matters.

Still, these are fun and short (derp derp I am so smart) and introduce some important characters in the later books. Jane Marple, of course, but also her nephew Raymond West (a novelist) and Sir Henry Clithering, an ex-Commissioner of Scotland Yard who becomes a great fan of Jane’s.

It feel particularly silly, really, to give a plot summary/blurb for Christie novels. You know exactly what is going to be inside: witty, rich, white people, one of whom will die and one of whom will kill and one of whom will solve.

The Murder at the Vicarage is from the point of view of the vicar, Clement. He and his new young wife, Griselda, were two of my favorite characters in the book. I suppose this isn’t a surprise to anybody, but I love reading about relationships, especially healthy and supportive ones. Clement and Griselda have their issues, but their relationship throughout the book is pretty consistently strong even through the trying situation of having a murder occur in their house and both being under suspicious of the murder.

Anyway, I liked this one a lot! Best out of the three. Seriously I don’t have anything intelligent to say, just go back to the Sarah Rees Brennan link and read what she has to say!

And lastly we have The Body in the Library. It’s a third shorter than MatV, which at least partially accounts for me liking it a lot less. Plus this one is third person omniscient, so we’re even further away from the emotional life of the characters.

I also just kind of wasn’t enthralled by the pacing of the plot. We start off with a body, claro, but it takes quite a while to get to the primary setting and even longer to get any useful clues/knowledge. It felt like it took 2/3rds of the book to introduce all of the relevant characters, which means that there was little time to properly get to know them and develop theories and do the things you do when you read a murder mystery.

OTOH, it’s a Christie. And Miss Marple is always full of awesome. I have no doubt I’ll enjoy many of the rest of the books! The Moving Finger is up next, but I’m taking a short break to read other things.

Lastly, I’m 100% with Sarah when she says that Joan Hickson is the only Miss Marple. Dare to suggest otherwise and, uh, I’ll do something bad to you.

Or maybe I’ll get the ghost of Joan Hickson to haunt you!

Now My For Reals Short Reviews (Or Not)

You will find enclosed: Three short reviews for Taylor’s Tempation (a Romance novel) and the first two Miss Marple books*.

From Amazon: “Bobby Taylor is a Navy SEAL, and his best friend is his swim buddy, Wes Skelly. As Wes ships out on an assignment, he asks Bobby to go to Boston to look out for his younger sister, Colleen, who is doing stuff that has big brother in overprotective mode. Bobby goes, but is full of reservations because his feelings for Colleen Skelly are far from brotherly.”

First off, the whole reason I read this book is cause the heroine is big & tall, and as a 5’10” tall woman, I was feeling a little desperate for representation. But this cover? Makes her look 5’5″. Makes ME grouchy.

Books about Navy SEALs are popular. So much so, that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were way more fictional SEALs that real ones. I don’t really get it, but then, I don’t enjoy romantic suspense much and these SEAL books are all romantic suspense. (I could have sworn I had written about why I don’t like romantic suspense, but I can’t find it! Anybody else want to take a look? If not, I’ll have to write about it soon. I have Opinions, ya’ll.) This book gets a pass on my normal worries (that romance built in times of intensity is at least partially based on those intense times and I need EXTRA proof that what the characters are building is going to last. And no, a happy epilogue is not proof.) because the hero and heroine have known each other for years.

Also, if I remember correctly, the hero is Native, so that’s cool. Unfortunately, any coolness of having a MOC as the hero is pretty well negated by the suspense part of the plot, which involves them going to a dangerous developing country to do Good and there were Poor Brown Children and shit. Guys, I am white. I am interested in making the world a better place for all. But my whiteness doesn’t make me some magical being that can go to a third-world country (which is a problematic term to begin with) and have flowers bloom at my feet and heal people just by touching them. My whiteness isn’t a virtue when it comes to helping people and it certainly doesn’t replace actual education and talking to, you know, the people that I want to help. And it doesn’t make me a saint if I did any of the above. Colleen is not a saint for helping the poor brown children, no matter what this book says.

The suspense part of the book, which I am lambasting for the above reasons, was a disaster, but it is thankfully a small part of the book, at least for the genre. My other main complaint is that Colleen is that type of woman who disregards her own personal safety in an irritatingly flippant way. But seriously, overall, I thought it was a pretty alright book. Especially if you like romantic suspense and/or want to read a romance with a “stacked,” tall heroine.

*Man, this turned out fairly long too. I guess Miss Marple will have to wait for tomorrow!

Free books!

First up, Tor has a free YA SF&F anthology called Fierce Reads that you can get more info on over here. (via bookshelves of doom)

Sync YA is all about YA audiobooks and to celebrate their launch they are giving away TWO free audiobooks every week for ten weeks! One of the books in each pair will be YA and the other will be a related classic. For instance, this week’s offerings are The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The first is a dystopia/apocalypse story where 2/3 of the world’s population has died from a lethal flu and the second, which I probably don’t even need to tell you about, is basically the seminal piece of literature of the Great Depression. Here is the link straight to the download page and here is the link for the schedule. (Mia – go look at week 6! I was giggling when I saw it.) (via The Shady Glade)

Skinned by Robin Wasserman

I have been so lax in reviewing, guys.  Hell, I’ve been lax in blogging, period. Partially I just haven’t been reading a whole lot (I fee like this always happens), but also I just haven’t been feeling the need to share my opinions.

Anyway, here’s a short selection, as collected from reviews I’ve started and not finished. It may be a little rough, since I read these as far back as January (!):

From Amazon: “Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular — until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can’t ever truly die. But she is also rejected by her friends, betrayed by her boyfriend, and alienated from her old life.”

Robin Wasserman was sweet enough to send me a whole set of her Skinned trilogy when she needed to make room for its repackaging into the Cold Awakening trilogy. I wanted to read the whole trilogy before reviewing it, but my reading whims cannot be tamed and I have still only read the first one.

You might be thinking that that’s a bad sign, but that’s just not the case with me. I like to read series’ slowly. For instance, I read The Hunger Games way back in January of 2009, didn’t read Catching Fire until last year, and am only getting to Mockingjay now.  I read the first Temeraire book a couple of years ago and enjoyed it a lot… And I still haven’t read any of the others. Throne of Jade has been waiting for me in the trunk of my car for quite a while. Poor thing.

Anyway, I did enjoy Skinned, though not as much as I hoped I would. I was intrigued by the premise – your mind downloaded into a new body that is way too Uncanny Valley for the comfort of yourself or your loved ones. Unfortunately, Lia is the wrong character for the kind of identity ruminations I wanted. In many ways, I think Lia is super realistic in her reactions and not dissimilar to me, actually. She spends a good portion of the book trying to ignore the implications of her situation, most of the rest simply being angry and sad, and she is generally more focused on how the people in her life see her than how she sees herself.

That last, especially, seems realistic. Lia doesn’t know what to think of her situation. She’s freaked out and confused and so takes cues from her family and friends. If they treated her normally, then maybe she was normal. Maybe she could start to feel normal. Unfortunately, it becomes quickly clear that things aren’t normal, that she isn’t normal, that nothing is alright.

There’s a lot more to the book, setting up the plot of the next two, introducing new characters who are like her, etc etc. But I almost wish this had been a quieter book. Perhaps a standalone that focused more on Lia and her immediate surroundings. You know, one of those literary family dramas full of dysfunction. Still, it is what it is, and because I love dystopias (oh, did I mention that this is a dystopia?), I know I will be reading the other books eventually!

Okay, well, this turned out longer than I meant it to, so I’m just going to end it here and go write those other reviews RIGHT NOW and QUEUE THOSE BABIES UP oh yeah that’s right.

Links x2

(Jessica: I just found this post that I wrote back in MARCH, but never published! Shame on me! Still, these are all great links, so I’ll just go ahead and publish it now.)

As a romance reader, I know intimately the embarrassment of people trashing those purple-prosed bodice-rippers. I’m not embarrassed that I read romance, but who wants to constantly defend a genre against people who are only interested in making fun and not interested in a new point of view? In Feb, SB Sarah wrote about reader shaming. She quotes a reviewer of her latest book: Never feel guilty for reading something. A book can mean anything to anyone.
I’d like to add to that: Never feel guilty for loving something. What a book means to you is no less importance for someone else’s opinion.

Keeping with romance novels, here’s a video for Maya Rodale’s Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained.

Ya’ll, I’m in love with this video. It just makes me want to punch my fish in the air and shout, “GO WOMEN!!!”

Have any of you heard of Science in my Fiction? It’s a great blog aimed towards writers of all sorts, though more SF&F, who want to inject a bit of real science into their work. In Feb they did a post on dragons that will give you a good idea what they’re about!