It doesn’t feel like the holidays unless my blog is snowing.
My December book reads are as follows:
-Oath of Gold, the third in the Deed of Paksennarion trilogy, off my husband’s list
-Midnight Sun (yes, THAT one), to get it off my Goodreads to-read list
-A Gentlemen’s Game, by Greg Rucka, which is a novel-novel, and not a graphic novel like the series it’s from–again, off my Goodreads to-read list
-my nostalgia pick for the book club, which is either Emily of New Moon, if I can find it tomorrow, or else A Wrinkle in Time
After that, if there’s still time in the month, I will be reading something my friend Vic lent me (not sure which one next, but one of them) and then probably some more nostalgia picks, and maybe Last Chance to See, by Douglas Adams, which was a birthday gift. If I don’t have time for Last Chance to See, it’ll definitely get read in January.
I found another two boxes of books to put away today, but none had Emily of New Moon in it, which is a bit worrying because I KNOW I own that book and its sequel. The third in the trilogy is on the shelf, so it should be there, but it isn’t! The only person I would’ve lent it to was Vic, and she says she doesn’t have it, so…is there ANOTHER missing box? The two I found today were just the last of my husband’s paperbacks and more to-reads, so blargh.
I think tomorrow I will put the to-reads in alphabetical order so that I may find them a lot more easily. But I think I’ll keep the BEA books separate. I’ll decide tomorrow.
And then I’ll figure out which ones I’m reading when. Seriously, I am done with the library except for new books. Did you see the next Lunar Chronicles book is coming out soon?? Thank you, Goodreads newsletter!
Ooh, and I have to restart my lists and goals next month, too. I hit my twenty new books and fifty off my personal to-read shelves no problem this year, but in sheer numbers I didn’t do half as well as usual. I’m only at 346 and a lot of those were children’s books at the beginning of the year when I was still working at the library and reviewing all the new books. Only 177 of those weren’t for work.
It’s been a while, so let’s get an up-to-date cast list:
~*Elena*~: Tragically dead heroine, appearing to Bonnie in dreams and trances. Still only cares about her looks and her fiance. Knows a lot but says little, because God forbid anyone get some timely information in this series.
Stefan: Tragically dead hero, but a vampire, so cue the whining. Lives for four hundred years; in that time, only manages to crush on the girl who looks just like the one who turned him.
Damon: Sulky, petulant child that’s somehow supposed to be sexy. Is he good? Is he bad? Does anyone really care at this point? (No.)
Klaus: Stefan and Damon’s grandpappy; a creepster in a raincoat, ready to flash these teenagers at any moment.
Meredith: Sarcastic, funny when the author remembers, mostly out of the picture for reasons that make no sense, because she’s about twenty times more interesting than ~*Elena*~.
(Door)Matt: ~*Elena*~’s ex, alternately mooning over their breakup–which happened pre-Stefan, although the series tends to forget–and macking on Bonnie.
Bonnie: Psychic, inconsistently flighty, possibly supposed to be showing growth but it’s mostly laughable. Is the Whoopi Goldberg to Stefan’s Patrick Swayze.
Sue: Tragically dead, blonde.
Vicki: Tragically dead, brunette. (So it matters a little less. Hey, this isn’t MY opinion; it’s on almost every page of the book.)
Alaric: Meredith’s creepily-older boyfriend. Not in this book. Too bad, because I like imagining him as Wesley from Buffy/Angel.
And a plot recap: The Big Bad was revealed to be Klaus, who turned Katherine, who turned the brothers–Grimly Unfunny? Karamazoffmypage, you morons? Look, some literary references are funnier than others, okay?
Now everyone (except ~*Elena*~, who’s dead) is fighting Klaus. Everyone but Bonnie is hurt bad. And Stefan is pretty much dead. There. You’re up to speed.
“Klaus screamed, a scream that reminded Bonnie of ancient predators, of the sabertooth cat and the bull mammoth.” Oh God, this book. “Blood frothed out of his mouth along with the scream, turning that handsome face into a twisted mask of fury.”
So Klaus got a white ash stake javelined into him by a pissed-off Damon, who’s decided to let himself be human (well, as much as a vampire can) for a second and not sulk around like a jealous toddler as it pertains to his baby brudder. Damon advances on Klaus, who’s like “What the hell? We should be allies!” But Damon wants none of that. The only one who’s allowed to hurt his brother is him, guy.
So Klaus is like, “Well, then, have at me, bro,” and goes to attack–a retreating crow, because Damon can do that. He bullrushes out of the scene so that Bonnie can assess Stefan’s wounds, which are mortal. Um, immortal. You know what I mean. Dude is going to die twice.
Damon flies over and turns back into his vampire self. Letting down his guard, he and Bonnie have a quiet little discussion about just how dying Stefan is. Blood won’t help. Power won’t help. Nothing will help. Damon is holding Stefan’s hand as he’s slipping away. Bonnie is inwardly freaking but outwardly calm. She recognizes that Damon considers this situation terrifying, and that makes shit real.
She reminds Damon that they only have this highly-scripted minute–what is Klaus doing, following a different crow?–and offers some blood to help Stefan, but of course he won’t take it because he PROMISED. It’s the vegetarian/vegan argument all over again. She’s OFFERING. That’s not the same as taking. But since it won’t fix him, it’s moot anyway. He insists that Damon get the humans away, but Bonnie and Damon don’t want to leave him. Stefan makes it his last request. Damon agrees and starts to argue with Bonnie about leaving the area. Again, moot, because: Klaus.
He’s pulled the stake out and is waving it around like the crazy person he is, because every person in LJ Smith books are either really really evil, evil/crazy, or not-really-evil-just-a-bad-boy/redeemable. He hits Damon with the lightning. All is lost! We lost our last superpowered ally.
Or did we?
Klaus then turns to Stefan, and Bonnie gets between them, not because she thinks that she can do anything, but because if she can hold off Klaus, Stefan will die on his own, rather than being eaten by Klaus. (He says “eat.” IDK.) Klaus threatens Bonnie, and she does the only thing you can do when you need to pull a fan’s wet dream ending out of thin air:
You call the ghosts.
Bonnie calls for ~*Elena*~, who brings all of the ghosts of the Civil War to life to get annoyed with Klaus and take him away…somewhere. It’s cheesy and nowhere near as moving as Bonnie’s decision to let Stefan die “naturally.” But hey, I bet it would look good on film, with the wispy ghosts and the tornado of adios, Klaus, he who never died to begin with (okay?) so has to be “killed” in a way that works for an actual immortal.
Tyler FREAKS OUT over this and would rather literally run through fire than be taken by ghosts so he leaves–I guess comically?–by running through the fire, catching fire, putting himself off, and continuing to run.
Then ~*Elena*~ heals EVERYONE.
Yup, everyone is back to normal thanks to the ghostly magic of the solstice. Damon: fine. Meredith: fine. Caroline: fine. Matt: fine. Stefan: fine, but has to stay a vampire because her power can’t undo what Katherine did without turning him into a pile of four hundred-year-old dust. All she has to do is kiss them. But Smith only says specifically that Damon is kissed on the forehead. I’m assuming she mouth-smooches everyone else.
Then she brings rain to cleanse the area of the fire and, I guess, the badness.
But it’s midnight, so the solstice is ending and so is she. Of course we get a mopey goodbye between her and Stefan, because God forbid these two be kept apart. Because they’re perfect for one another. For…reasons. She disappears, and Stefan calls her name to the sky.
Then gold lightning brings her back as human, and everyone hugs and she and Stefan make out and the book is over.
Even as a teen, when the book first came out, I thought this was bullshit. ~*Elena*~ lived as a spoiled child, died as a spoiled child, came back as a powerful vampire, was killed to save the love of her life. She comes back as a ghost to aid them, like the town’s founder’s wife before her, and then…she gets to come back to human life. She gets put back exactly where she was before, where she’s in love with someone she can’t be with in any realistic way because he’ll live forever and she’s dying of that thing we call mortality.
It’s such an awkward, awful reset.
Also, she’s NAKED. Totally starkers. For a teenager, for someone who doesn’t seem to have had sex, being naked in front of your boyfriend, your friends, your ex, your best frenemy, and your boyfriend’s brother who has a thing for you seems like it should be a BIG DEAL. For a book that sometimes tries to remember it’s made of people and people should act human, the nudity thing is kinda handwaved. Even when I first read it, I assumed that she was, you know, tastefully positioned. Except she can’t be, because she gets up and stuff. Finally, Caroline echoes fifteen-year-old me and is like, “Put something on, GAWD,” and gives her a dress, since she’s wearing a slip underneath. Damon gives her his leather jacket, cuz he’s cool like that. And then everyone frolics in the autumn leaves.
Oh yeah, and we’re told that Damon was never really as bad as we thought. He killed Tanner in self-defense, he pretended he was called by the spell when he was really just worried about everyone, and he didn’t help Vickie because he couldn’t, having not been invited into the house. Aww, he was good all along! Too bad that didn’t stop him from being an unattractive sulkmonster.
Finally, Bonnie goes home and writes in her journal that the night’s not worth writing because no one would believe it anyway.
You’re not wrong, sister.
And that’s it. Book four, completed. The entire series, completed. I wish I could say I feel an amazing sense of completion, but mostly I just feel relief that it’s all over.
And a little excitement for my next project: Harlequins! Not just any Harlequins, but the ones I read as a kid, that helped form my perception of male/female relationships.
Here’s a bit of a teaser for you: pirates come into play in both the books and my real life. Coincidence? Let’s find out together.
Happy National Blog Posting Month, guys. It’s been fun.
Maybe I do the “I’m tired” thing more often than I think. But if SOMEONE hadn’t been playing BioShock all night and being all “Whee, Chinese food!” before that and uh, someone else who MAY have been me but MAYBE NOT hadn’t said, “Oh, I should do my blog post–hey, this place could use a cleaning”…well, all I can say is that I emptied like THREE BOXES of stuff today. So, uh, yeah.
I always loved the Taffy Sinclair/Fabulous Five books by Betsy Haynes when I was growing up. It was a pain trying to get my hands on all the Taffy Sinclair books back in the old days. Finding the one where she’s on a soap opera was a big deal! But the series humanized bullies on both sides–the snobby Taffy and the gossipy Jana. So I decided to pick up another of Haynes’s books, The Great Mom Swap, where neighboring bffs with mom issues go live with each other’s families. Not the mom switching, as the title would have your believe. That’s a whole other…TV show?
Oh, the days before 9/11! When you could just jump on a plane and go to Hawaii, and your parents don’t care that you’re going with someone else’s par–wait. That makes no sense. I cannot imagine a scenario where this would be a thing. “Three days in Hawaii with someone else’s parents! Sure thing, middle-school-age-pumpkin!” My mom wouldn’t even take me to Hawaii when I was in high school. (Yes, still bitter.) One kid’s mother make a lot of health food. One kid’s mother feels her daughter is too unmotivated. Don’t ask me which is which, because I’ve mostly forgotten. One of the things I liked about this book is that the chubbier one whose mom bugs her about food is the prettier one that gets more attention from boys. That’s a nice change from any book I’ve ever read ever. The non-chubby one is obsessed with how tall she is, and decides to eat junk food and drink coffee to stop growing so much.
The chubby one is a Writer and thinks she can sell her I-hate-mom fan fic.
At the end, NOTHING FREAKIN CHANGES except they all kinda miss each other, especially the non-mom parts.
Also, they reference Flowers in the Attic and never once mention the incest. I can’t tell if this is a reflection of how normalized adult reading was for kids before the Young Adult genre blew up like crazy, or just the author’s lack of knowledge about the book? Or a weird way of foreshadowing her crush on her “new brother,” her bff’s brother? I don’t even know, man.
Losing Joe’s Place shows me that Gordon Korman, in his younger days, used a LOT of the same themes. A lot. But it’s still its own book. Three teens take over one’s brother’s apartment for the summer and have to deal with the craziness of the city (some Canadian city, sorry Jillz), their weird landlord (who could be named Stock Crazy Guy #1, until about the middle of the book) and girls and whatnot. It’s super-fun, really, and includes a guy whose name translates to Rootbeer Rootbeer, one of the most zany of Korman’s zany crew.
Quick read, lots of giggles, good for tweens, probably out of print.
On the way other side of the spectrum, I finally finished up Stripped Down: Lesbian Sex Stories, because I got a signed copy at BEA. As I usually skip the sex scenes in romance novels, this was a tough read for me, but made tougher by the fact that gender-bending in writing is a tougher mind-tweak than gender-bending in film. Seeing the word “he” over and over again for a male-identified character was difficult for me to resolve with the whole “lesbian” thing. And I’d like to think I get it, and I’m open-minded, and I don’t care if a woman identifies as a man in any or all aspects of life, or vice-versa, but my brain still had a tough time getting over the he/lesbian thing. I think a big part of that is that suburban sexuality is heteronormative, and I don’t think I even met someone who identified as butch in the suburbs until I was in my mid-twenties. I just assumed if you were suburban and butch, you got the hell out immediately. (She did spend most of her time in Philly.) And even that was where she identified as a butch woman, not a queer “he” or any of the combinations in this book.
But yeah, lots of stories by lots of authors, something for everyone, I suppose, if maybe only one thing for each person, because the range is so wide. Taormino states that this book is about talking and relationships as much as it’s about sex, and I agree with her that there’s a lot more going on than just sex in many of the stories. But ultimately, I rushed through it because I wasn’t all that interested. I’m not the target audience anyway.
I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself (I guess because I picked up some discards), but I keep reading Anne Stuart’s Blue series even thought I don’t like it. But I tell you now, I am done. Ice Blue has ended it for me. It’s incredibly readable, if you don’t mind a lack of making sense. And the characters are great, if you don’t mind yet another underwritten heroine because the author is obviously in love with her hero, who doesn’t have a lot of growth so you spend the first half of the book with him basically going through the same conflict cycle over and over and over until you want to throw the book down, but you don’t because Stuart was your first romance love. God I’m afraid to reread Catspaw and Catspaw II.
Summer Hawthorne is less wishy-washy than most of Stuart’s gals, but often as dim. Takashi O’Brien (whatever, Miguel O’Hara) gets called “Taka” by the author a lot, and then suddenly by Summer, as if we should all know that very common nickname. Still, if a guy introduces himself as William, you don’t start calling him Bill or Will, do you? And yet that’s what Summer does, because that’s what Stuart does, and it’s sloppy.
There’s a lot of sloppy writing in this. Plot holes. Characters introduced at awkward times, half-written, whatever. Stuart needs a better editor, I think, but that seems to be an issue with a lot of long-time writers; the companies will just publish whatever instead of asking for a tighter, better book. I guess everyone’s on a schedule.
Anyway, Blue heroines seem to always be forgiving the guys for almost killing them, but in this one, dude actually drowns her. Stuart is the mistress of Stockholm Syndrome, basically.
Marilyn Singer edits I Believe in Water: Twelve Brushes with Religion but forgets to edit Gregory Maguire enough, in my opinion. God, I hate that guy. Most of the other stories are great, though. One author writes teen pregnancy from three different religious viewpoints, which is interesting, and Singer’s own story is about a tween who’s trying to understand relationships and religion at the same time. One story is the same as another I read in an anthology, so I skipped it. M.E. Kerr writes a story that’s pretty much everything she wrote early on. Woodson writes about Jehovah’s Witnesses, which I always find fascinating. This is less a something-for-everyone and really an everything-for-everyone book. This is a great way for tween and teen readers to interact with other religions using the written word.
Finally, I knocked out Darth Vader and Son, a cute collection of comic panels by Jeffrey Brown, which spoofs Star Wars in a very adorable way: Luke is just a little guy being raised by his dad. Kids might miss all of the references, and adults might too, but it’s still a quick, adorable flip-through with lots of funny and sly jokes.
That was my week in books. Join me next week when apparently all I did was read horror.
I ended up staying up most of the night reading the end of The Shining (holy crap) and then woke up not too long before my husband came home from work, then my daughter had a half-day and declared a family day of hanging around watching my husband play BioShock Infinite. We don’t have a lot of shows we still watch together–Doctor Who being an exception–but we do have games. This was her choice, and I’m of course being hypercritical of it because it should be much better than it is.
Some things I’m sure are just coding things, like the money in the trash cans, but omg, the guy who does the voice for Comstock drives me absolutely batty. Here’s this guy, back in the 1910s, who’s older and religious and an authority figure.
WHY DID THEY GET A TOTAL DUDEBRO TO DO HIS VOICE?!?!?!
Seriously, EVERY TIME HE SPEAKS, all I can hear is “bro.”
“DeWitt, you are the False Prophet…bro.”
“Elizabeth, girlbro, you’re my heir.”
How long is a stretch?
I’m going to win two NaBlos and utterly fail my NaNo. I have written about 10K altogether, in the three things I tried to write. I suppose I could try to go crazy tomorrow while my husband’s at work, but his shift is such that even if I pushed myself, I couldn’t get more than, say, about 5K tops. Nowhere near what I wanted to get done.
So what happened? Was it poor time management? (Yes.) Was it writer’s block? (Not that I’d call it.) Was it writer’s anxiety? (Yes.) Did I write through the tough times? (No.)
And that’s the thing. I didn’t write through the bad times. I freaked out about my inability to write instead. I’m totally happy writing blog stuff. Completely comfortable, if still putting off that damn recap. (Will do it tomorrow, I swear. There’s nothing going on tomorrow. I’m not going to home for Thanksgiving.)
So yeah, I’m doing that, and I’m doing last week in books, and then I still have two days to fill, the last of which I’m sure will be me putting myself on the back. I’m still nowhere near my old number of hits, but the Vampire Diaries TV show pretty much killed that. (And here I thought I’d get more hits from it–instead, my site got buried in show results.)
After the last recap is done, though–ooh, Harlequins. And job hunting.
Ughhh. Real life.