Monday, August 30, 2010

Invisible Monsters

I decided to be a good reader and give Chuck Palahniuk another chance. Partly because I like books that are, uh, darker, so he should be right up my alley. And partly because I was at the library without my to-read list and feeling pressured.

I'm glad I gave this dude another chance.

Invisible Monsters is less about shock and more about actually telling the story.

In this story, nothing is what it seems.

At sixteen, Shannon's brother Shane had his face scarred by an exploding hairspray can in the family burn barrel. No one knows who put the can there, but the police investigate the parents for neglect.

Soon there after, Shane develops a case of strep throat. Tests results, though, show that the sixteen-year-old has gonorrhea of the throat. Presumably, he got it from a tryst with a lover. When their parents throw him out of the house, Shannon refuses to let him back in.

An anonymous phone call a few years later tells the family that Shane has died from AIDs.

Shannon starts her modeling career and meets Evie. No matter how hard Evie tries, she's always big-boned.

Shannon has had her jaw blown off by a gunshot through her half-open car window. The shot may have been fired by Evie or Manus, Shannon's fiancee that was having an affair with Evie.

Before her jaw was blown to smithereens, Shannon has suspicions about Manus. As a detective, he wore Borat-style swimsuits to catch public masturbaters. When he lost his job security because of age and the public masturbaters wising up, he started to do "research" in gay clubs and with gay porn.

Shannon meets Brandy Alexander in the hospital. Brandy looks a lot like Shannon did before her jaw was blown off.

Manus breaks into Evie's house while Shannon is house sitting and tries to kill her. She locks him in the trunk and burns the house down.

Shannon and Brandy Alexander travel the country with Manus in tow. Every city means a new alias as the trio steal drugs from open houses they attend.

Brandy reveals that as a teen she was orally raped by a police detective that blackmailed her to drop neglect charges against her father.

Shannon, Brandy, and Manus crash Evie's wedding. Shannon sets the house on fire again. Manus is caught having sex with the groom. And Evie shoots Brandy Alexander. Maybe.

That about sums it up.
Except absolutely nothing in this book is what it is originally presented as.
But it still manages to tie itself up quite nicely in the last few pages.
And because this only the second Palahniuk book I've read, I won't jump to any conclusions about his earlier work being better. But I'll think it to myself.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Graphic Novels Going Places They Just Shouldn't

I'm not entirely sure on how I feel about this.

Pride and Prejudice (Graphic Novel)

On one hand, you have people reading and being exposed to a classic book that they might never otherwise pick up.

On the other hand, they're reading a graphic novel and not the book as it was intended to be read. You're transforming a classic book into a graphic novel! A graphic novel! A graphic novel!

Uh, if you want you can pre-order here. Then, please, borrow it to me so I can draw my final conclusion.

But wait...

Pride and Prejudice isn't your cup of tea? You happen to worship Jane Eyre?

Jane Eyre by Bronte, Charlotte, Sanders, Joe Sutliff, Bryant, Clive, 9781906332488

You can get that here. Then, you too, could read about Jane and how she's such a sucker for taking her fiancĂ©e back even though he had that pyromaniac wife that tried to kill her and he forgot to mention that they couldn't get married because he did have a secret crazy pyromaniac wife locked in the attic. Not that I have strong, angry feelings about this book or anything.

And is it just me or does the cover look like a movie poster for Gone With the Wind? Only Jane's dude is considerably less attractive than my literary boyfriend Rhett.

Holy Superheroes! by Garrett, Greg, 9780664231910

There's just something about this one that I find hilarious. The trademark free Superman and Wonder Woman? Or that there is a VH1 show about Where-are-they-now-child-stars (which I think is all VH1 is allowed to play) and some ex-child star does a video series as an evangelizing superhero. [If you know who I'm vaguely describing, please tell. It's driving me crazy!]

And don't get me wrong. I don't disapprove of all graphic novels. Some actually sound amazing.

Swiss Family Robinson by Wyss, Johann, Brennan, Kathryn L., 9781555760496
Found here.

Through the Looking Glass by Carroll, Lewis, Baker, Kyle, 9781597071154
I was hoping for something a little trippier, though.
Found here.

Hamlet by Sparknotes Editors, Babra, Neil, 9781411498730
It can't be any more traumatic than reading the original, right?
And it's from the peeps that brought us Spark Notes.
Found here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces (Paperback)

  • I love the cover. I always have.
  • Why does this dude hate quotation marks and indentation so much? Sometimes, I want to cause him bodily harm because I have no idea who is saying what or if it's a thought or a dialog.
  • I understand that he "embellished" certain details. What biographer, auto- or otherwise, doesn't? Does a person really recall every conversation they've had? Verbatim?
    •  To "embellish" that much--Frey exaggerated an incident that involved him hitting a cop with his car and being belligerent at the police station. The officers involved stated that he was calm and polite.--and not expect someone to look up the police report is ridiculous. It's human nature.
    • I do feel bad that Oprah ripped him a new asshole. Funny, considering she's been accused of "embellishing" the details of her childhood.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Girl Got Herself a Shiny New Library Card. Shazam!

I mentioned before that I was denied a library card to the public library in the town where I go to school* because I'm not a full-time resident.

Today, in a search for a now out-of-business Verizon (which is just awesome and incredibly convenient), I wandered into the library again. This time, I decided to look around just to torture myself.

And do you know what? They have a whole room dedicated to YA. Does such a room exist in my hometown library? Psssh. Those people don't know what YA is. Sometimes YA ends up with adult fiction and sometimes it ends up in the juvenile section.

And there were about forty BSC books. And a complete set of California Diaries. (Not that I'm anywhere near that point in my reading, though.) And a complete set of the BSC graphic novels.

And the kids section had about ten kids sitting around reading and it was so idyllic and I swear when I have kids they're gonna go to the library and read whether they like it or not because someone has to help form the angsty pre-teen library-and-coffee-shop kids.

And the grown-up fiction section was frickin' awesome. Like whoa. Just whoa. It was all bright and sunny. (Who knew a library could have windows?) And there were just books and books and books. (I actually live in a smaller town than the one I claim as my hometown. The library there has 3 shelves of books. Literally.) These people laughed in the face of that 3 shelf library and the moderately bigger hometown library.

In my preliminary perusing, I found this intriguing book.

The teaser gets me. What kind of peer pressure is a young Amishman facing? To harvest the corn or not to? (Apparently, Reuben races his horse, Princess, to impress his friends. (Sorry for the spolier!) I suspect that the horse is injured in the race. Just guessing.)

Amish literature at its best. (The town actually has a huge Amish population. It never occurred to me that they might go to the library. Or read non-religious text.)

On a whim, I asked for a library card again. And got one. So excited.

And adding to my mounting pile of Michigan-is-much-too-small-and-people-from-my-hometown-need-to-stop-going-to-the-same-university-as-me evidence, the librarian graduated from high school with my sister. She didn't even see my ID yet and knew who I was. (I definitely had to ask who she was. Awkward.) Then, the librarian-that-graduated-with-my-sister saw my address and mentioned that she had lived in the exact same apartment building**.

So now I have to read all those books I hauled to school with me because I was under the impression that I couldn't have a library card so I can library it up without guilt. Not hatin' it. Not at all.

Good story, right?

Also--Uh, I don't know if anyone has noticed those little ads below posts now. I've got to question who decides what ads get placed. Because right now, I'm seeing advertisements for love spells and baby-makin' spells. What on this blog is in the very least relevant to that?

*"Go to school" is code for: pay tuition, rent an apartment, frequent local businesses, list myself on their Census, and live life for about nine months a year. If this does not qualify for residency, I don't know what does. I'm keeping people employed and paying taxes! The library should thank me!
**The apartment building is one of 26(?) in the complex. And there are at least ten or twelve complexes in the immediate area. So it really is random.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rebel Angels

Nerds, this is my last pre-return-to-school post. Wha'? (It is also the last post I've got sitting in the cooker. There was a point where I had five or six half-finished posts floating around. Now I have none. Uh-oh.) And the end of what is quite possibly my last summer vacation. (Shit. I should have realized that back in May.) Right now, I don't know what school will mean for my blogging abilities. Sometimes it might be a shit storm of posts. And sometimes I might have prioritize and be all academic instead. (Which isn't actually so very different from right now. Just now I have a valid excuse and places to be at 8am.) (And to make up for it, this is a long one. If you need to use the bathroom, I suggest you do it now. Or just skim. Whatever. It's cool with me.) We'll play it by ear, okay? 

We left off with A Great and Terrible Beauty. Gemma had destroyed the runes in the Realms but still needed to defeat Circe. And P.S. Gemma is still confused about why she finds Kartik to be such a lovely bit of brown sugar.

There's a new teacher in town. Ms. McCleethy. Everyone loves her and she loves everyone. Except for Gemma. It might have something to do with Gemma snooping through her suitcase. And finding a list of girls' schools. Spence is the last one on the list. And the schools all match ones mentioned in an article Gemma's mom left her--an article about school girls that are mysteriously killed or gone insane. And there was a book about the occult and secret societies in that suitcase.

And there was that one minor incident where Ms. McCleethy was teaching the girls archery and Gemma might have accidentally shot Ms. McCleethy in the hand. Whoops.

Soon enough, it's Christmas in England. Which, as all Brit lit and Harry Potter taught us, is the most magical time of year.
Magical. But only if you're in the 2% of the population that can afford crumpets and orthopedic surgery for the  kiddos.

Anyway, the Spence girls are packing for vacation. Felicity decides to invite Ann home with her for the vacation. But what? Felicity's parents are no Arthur and Molly Weasley. They don't take in orphans for school vacations. Instead, Felicity concocts this story that Ann is descended from the fictitious Duke of Chesterfield and a Russian Duke. Basically, Ann's real name is Anna Anderson. Foolproof plan, right?

Gemma is headed back to London, too. She's going to spend some quality time with her, uh, tough-to-handle grandmother, obnoxious brother Tom, and laudanum addicted father. Makes for the beginning of a happy Christmas.

In true douchey fashion, Tom forgets to pick Gemma up from the train station. She's convinced that some guy from the Rakshana is following her. In order to avoid him, she picks a random guy to pretend to be with. (Such a classic chick flick move.) Turns out, the guy's name is Simon and he went to school with Gemma's brother Tom. Small world. Simon is devilishly handsome (like the British lingo?) and is incredibly wealthy. He also invites Gemma to dinner. Squeal.

Gemma, Felicity, and Ann keep meeting up at parties, balls, and the opera. They are also making secret trips to see Ms. Moore, the art teacher Pippa got fired from Spence. Felicity and Ann are becoming rather demanding when it comes to Gemma taking them to the Realms. They want to see Pippa.

Gemma doesn't want to go to the Realms, though. She keeps having visions of girls in white asking for help and telling Gemma not to trust "her." Well, that's not vague at all.

Of course, Gemma relents and hauls their snaggle-toothed British asses to the Realms. Didn't see that coming, did you? You should have. There'd be no book if the girls didn't go to the Realms.  They meet up with Pippa and she helps them to begin looking for the Temple, the source of the magic and the place that Gemma has to go to bind the magic. Pippa is spending her day looking for information on the Temple. She also seems to have developed an appetite for raw meat. Strangely, no one is concerned by Pippa's palate.

Gemma learns that Tom (who is a doctor at an asylum) has a patient that claims to be part of an Order and that Circe is trying to kill her. Coincidence? Quick like, Gemma volunteers to read this girl, Nell, poetry. Or to pick her brain. Nell keeps up with the general gist of Gemma's visions. Don't trust her. Help us.

So back to the Realms it is. Time to check in with that carnivorous Pippa.

Pippa's major accomplishment is finding out that there is a gorgon bound to ship. The gorgon was sentenced to eternity there because of some crime she committed when the Realms were open and she traveled to our world. The gorgon can only listen to Gemma, the one with the powah!

Apparently, this is a gorgon. Gorgons drool a lot.

A cruise down the river turns up nothing as far as the temple goes. Though, they girls are very nearly taken by water nymphs.

This whole time, the girlies are meeting up with Miss Moore. That lady really gets off on their stories about the Realms.  She goes along with their story that the Realms are all part of their imaginations.

Gemma, Felicity, and Ann stumble upon a bookstore that Gemma had found an advertisement for while she was snooping through Ms. McCleetehy's suitcase. It's a little hole-in-the-wall store. Easily enough, the girls find out what book McCleethy ordered--one on secret societies. Felicity shells out some shillings for a copy. The book has a section on the Order. Dur.

The Order was known for using their names as anagrams. Rearrange some letters and the women have their aliases. Dan Brown would be proud. The girlies start working on who Circe might be using the anagram system. Ms. McCleethy's full name works into They call me Circe. Well, that's certainly troublesome. Ms. McCleethy has been visiting Nell Hawkins in the hospital. Another sign of trouble?

Gemma's visit to Nell climaxes when Nell has a fit and smashes Gemma's amulet around. From this, the girls are able to conclude that the amulet is really a compass.

The girls get a chance to test out the amulet-as-a-compass theory when they sneak away while at the opera. Success. It takes them down a teeny path between trees. The path dead ends inside the Cave of Sighs, the place where the Order use to take their lovers. (Uh, I know what the Cave of Sighs means. And what "lovers" really means. Dirty, dirty.)The Untouchables, the women that live in the cave, show the girls the way out after the girls admit that they have nothing to offer. Some protective face-painting makes Gemma pass out and wake up in front of a large well. Bloop. Gemma wakes up and the Untouchables are disappointed that Gemma saw nothing in her dreams.

The hospital that Tom works at/Nell is a patient at holds dances so the high society people can mix and mingle and act like they're at a circus side show. All the patients give little performances. So it is a sideshow. Nell is supposed to be reciting a poem. Instead, she goes off about slippery, nippery nymphs and the gorgon's grace. Everyone else thinks that she is insane. (I think Nell was just inventing slam poetry.) Gemma, of course, picks up that the poem is really directions on how to find the Temple.

Before Gemma can go hunt down the Temple, her papa goes missing. After two days Kartik, Gemma's secret society counterpart and coach driver, takes her to her father. In an opium den. (I picture the opium den like the dream basement-thing that's in Inception for like fifteen seconds.) Of course, this is humiliating. Especially since Gemma had used some of the magic from the Realms to heal him of his laudanum addiction. It's a big hush-hush keep-a-straight-face-even-if-you're-having-a-brain-aneurysm situation that only the British can pull off.

Gemma has a vision that tells her where the Temple is, so it's off to the Realms again. When the girls get to the Realms, they see Pippa eating a raw hedgehog. 'Cause it was going to attack them and all.

Was this little guy really going to attack them? Attack them with cuteness, maybe.

Pippa gets all pissy about being accused of eating innocent woodland creatures, so she storms off. Then there were three.

Ann and Felicity are majorly convinced that the Temple is near the water. If you had a Temple, wouldn't you want it on a prime piece of water frontage? Gemma, the girl with the amulet-compass and Nell's instructions, tells them they have to stick to the path. So they go Ann and Felicity's way.

And whaddya know! A temple-looking building in the Realms. Inside the cathedral, the girls are confronted with poppets, evil creatures that Nell warned them about in her poetry rant. The poppets take the girls into the basement and tell them that there are seven tunnels and only one leads out. If the poppets can find them first, they die Of course, it's the last tunnel the girls try. Of course, they get to live. (Otherwise, there'd be no book. Or part three in the trilogy. That's suspense for ya.)

Just as soon as they get out of the cathedral and back to the boat, that wet blanket Ann gets taken by water nymphs. Dumb bitch. Pippa and Gemma leave the Realms to get Miss Moore. Of course Miss Moore will help you retrieve your friend! Of course Miss Moore will be completely rational about the fact that you're telling her there really are Realms! Of course the girls rescue Ann from having the nymphs strip off her skin! Miss Moore does not hop back on the gorgon when the girls leave the nymph place. The gorgon refuses to listen to Gemma (as she is bound to do) and cruises on. The girls leave the Realms. Again.

On the way home from Felicity's house, Gemma hops in her carriage to find Ms. McCleethy inside it. Gemma is drugged with a poisoned toffee and awakens inside a warehouse. Whoops. Apparently, Ms. McCleethy isn't Circe. Ms. McC says that Kartik is really trying to get Gemma to bind the magic for the Rakshana. And then, his next mission would be to kill Gemma. Well sonouvabitch. But little Gemma doesn't want to believe it. Nope. Not a word. Gemma decides to high tail her ass out of there. She shouts Miss Moore's address to Kartik so he might know where to find her.

At Miss Moore's apartment, Gemma decides to see what Miss Moore's name would be anagrammed out. Hester Asa Moore becomes Sarah Rees-Toome. Sara Rees-Toome calls herself Circe. Miss Moore is Circe. Didn't see that one coming, did you? And Gemma totally let her into the Realms. Irresponsible!

When Gemma heads back to the Realms, she's prepared for shit to start going down.

Again, the girls follow the same little path through trees and end up in the Cave of Sighs. This time, Gemma knows what to offer the Untouchables--hope. (Which I'm associating with that god awful McDonald's commercials where the little kids are all looking for hope in their Happy Meals. I suspect that kids that age have a handle on the abstract emotion situation.) 

Gemma steps through a waterfall curtain to the same fountain she saw earlier in a vision. This time, Miss Moore is there with Nell Hawkins. To keep Miss Moore from sacrificing Nell's life to giver herself power, Felicity shoots Nell. And that girl shoots to kill. Better to kill Nell than have Miss Moore gain power, right? Oh, ethics.

After a brief scuffle, Miss Moore falls into the Temple well, and Gemma seals the magic (and Miss Moore) into the well. Rather than giving the magic to the Rakshana or keeping it all for the Order, Gemma is diplomatic and gives the magic to all that will help keep the balance of the Realms. And she makes the magic live within her. It's a regular Disney movie over there.

And so concludes the middle portion of the trilogy. 

  • There is no denying that Judy Blume romanticizes the act of an innocent young girl getting her first period.  Judy makes it sound magical and wonderful and full of glitter and rainbows. Libba Bray just took a shit on that image. Gemma gets her first period (which is called the "curse" because it is apparently comparable to the bubonic plague) while at a school assembly. She makes this discovery after passing out in front of the school and awakening to find her white dress looks like Carrie's prom dress. That's more like it.
  • Every time I hear "Happy Christmas!" (most often from the lips of Ron Weasley), I want to claw my skin off. The proper word is "merry." You crazy Brits.
  • Can anyone tell me why this picture came up when I googled 'gorgon'?

    • It's from this role playing website.  I get that's his (it's?) name is Gorgon. But it's not a gorgon! He/it is a role playing thing. His real "oomph comes from his kicks and footsteps" and is "capable of punting your team's Powerhouse halfway to the next zipcode with a good kick." 
  • Ann is a cutter. I am a little disturbed at how much she brushes this off. For a YA book that I checked out of the kid's section (making me feel like a major creeper), it doesn't have a very strong Cutting is BAD! message. It's has more of a 'meh' attitude.
    • I mentioned this cutting issue before. But this book takes on a whole new badbadbad issue with a 'meh' attitude--Felicity's dad likes little girls. He molested Felicity, and now Felicity is trying to protect her little orphaned cousin from being molested.
      • Why is this brushed off so much? Why has Judy Blume not written a book about molestation (or did she and I just missed it?)?
  • The dance at the asylum reminds me of my high school honor society days volunteering at the prom at the school for students that are cognitively impaired. I remember a woman asking me if I was pregnant. When I said no (and struggled to hide the fact that I was completely offended), she asked, "Are you sure?" Yep. That's a real self-esteem booster. Fun times, fun times.
  • Simon tries to hook up with Gemma at Felicity's family ball. He kisses her neck. Oh, lord! Not the neck! He basically just took Gemma's virginity right there. No wonder she ends it with him.
  • Felicity's butler's name is Shames. Such a British stereotype.
  • I'm taking a shot in the dark here, but I'm assuming that the final book will feature the girls getting rid of Pippa. She's all evil and soulless now. And eating hedgehogs.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Almost Moon

The Almost Moon: Large Print Edition

I give up.

I can't do it. I can't even pretend.

I can't read this book. I made it about 40 pages. Those 40 pages dragged. And irritated me. A lot.

  • I freaking loved The Lovely Bones. (And for the record, I read it long before it was sold with a screen shot as a cover.) Lovely Bones is why I was so pumped to finally read this book. Problem? I think my hopes were too high. 
  • It really feels like Sebold is trying to shock you. Your mother soiled herself? Meh. You want to fuckfuckfuck your best friend's son? Do what makes you happy.
  • The first paragraph in Lovely Bones tells you that hey, Susie Salmon was murdered. It's like zoinks! right there in your face. The Almost Moon went for the same thing. The first paragraph tells you that the narrator (whose name I can't remember because I loved the book that much) murdered her elderly mother.
    • I realize that authors have their own styles, but that was too much. It was too similar. It's like when a band finds one song that does really well. After that, you can hear that song in every other song they ever play. Yes, the influence and experience will always be with the band. But a little range would be nice. Go out on a ledge. Switch it up. I don't want Sebold to be a four-chord wonder. She's too good for that.
  • This might sound really nit picky. But hey, I noticed it. The narrator references Mackinaw. Yep. Mackinaw. Now, as a life-long Michigan girl, I have to ask--Just where is Mackinaw?  I can tell you were Mackinaw City is and where Mackinac Island is and where the Mackinac Bridge is and where Mackinac State Forest is and where Fort Michilimackinac is. I cannot tell you where Mackinaw is. 
    • It's like telling people you're going to...Guinea. You might be going to Equatorial Guinea or Guinea-Bissau or Papua New Guinea...or just regular Guinea. For this example, though, we're going to ignore the presence of plain Guinea.
    • There isn't even any kind of context to let you know which Mackinac is being referenced. Because the reference involves art sales, it really could be the city or the island. But which? And why does this matter to me so much? The city and island are only a twenty-minute ferry ride apart.
    • Notice how I'm not even commenting on the spelling? Okay, now I am. I'll excuse it. Both spellings are acceptable and interchangeable. Mackinaw is the more phonetic spelling. It's the same spelling officially used for the city. I'll dare to assume that Sebold was referring to the city. Or, god forbid, Mackinaw, Illinois. Unlikely, though. 'Cause Mackinaw, Illinois doesn't have a world famous suspension bridge, island, fort, or key site in the War of 1812. Also, Mackinaw, Illinois is not where a 19th century doctor discovered that stomach acid broke down food. It also is not the setting for that one Christopher Reeve movie.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Kiddos, check out my guest post at The Hindsight Letters. I wrote a lovely letter to my 16-year-old self  about my mistakes in fashion and angst. It's a real tear jerker, I assure you. Okay, probably not. But I promise that my parents very nearly did cry every day during my weird punk-80s flashback phase. And yeah, totally wearing a band shirt and bright purple shorts today. Old habits die hard.

Dudes. I am such a Gail Carson Levine fan girl that it's reeeediculous. Ella Enchanted was basically the only book I read between third and sixth grade. It's the book I was reading when my parents told me they were getting divorced. And I read and read and read it as my way to deal. But then in a Haley Mills-approved twist, the parentals remarried each other. And then, I didn't need this book quite as much. For those 3 years, though, I read the hell out of this bad boy.

Please note photographic evidence.

Awesome photography skills, right? And I know you're lovin' the hot pink laptop/couch background. And the purple nail polish 'cause after realizing my fingernails would make an appearance, I painted them to avoid y'all from thinking that I have the man fingernails that I really do have. But really, this book is loved. 

Levine was the first author that actually meant something to me and that I sought out. Meaning that I might have a mini-collection of her books. (Sorry, Annie M!) And that I might have shrieked a little bit when I found this book at Salvation Army for a dime. (The coin, not the drug measurement. Although, I don't know why I feel the need to specify that.)

Aza is the adopted daughter of some hard-working innkeepers. She was abandoned in the Lark Room as an infant. Aza has no idea who her parents are, but she finds out later that she might be royal. The gold stitched baby blanket was a bit of a give away.

In Ayortha, beauty and singing are incredibly important. Aza has one of the best voices ever heard. She is able to use ventriloquy when singing. Aza can even make her voice sound like it's coming from different directions or mimic different people. (She calls it "illusing." Apparently, there are no Jeff Dunhams in Ayortha to tell people that this is a known skill.) Unfortunately, she's built like a linebacker. Girl has herself some thick thighs and a little junk in her trunk. But, hey, her family loves her.

Inn visitors are pretty shitty to Aza. They like to point out her bodacious bod in the rudest way. The only kind patron is a gnome, zhamM. Now, everyone knows that some gnomes can see into the future. What does this gnome dude see? That he and Aza will meet again in Gnome Caverns. And she's be in danger.

Aza brushes the prediction off. After all, gnome predictions can change as one makes different directions. Anyway, Aza has other things to worry about when the Duchess shows up for a stay at the inn. A difficult guest, she somehow takes to Aza. This is especially lucky when her lady-in-waiting becomes ill and can't accompany the Duchess to see the wedding of King Oscaro and Ivi, a commoner from Frell.

Accompanying the Duchess is a life changing opportunity for Aza. It will give the Featherbed some prestige. It will give Aza a taste of the world outside of the Featherbed.

As Aza expected, the royal wedding is amazing. (Think Di and Charles. As a jumping off point.) The only problem is that Ivi has a sore throat, so her voice is barely audible. In a country based on singing, this is a bad omen. Bad.

Aza is horrified to find out that after the wedding, she has to join the Duchess in the receiving line. She's sure the King and new Queen will be appalled by her voluptuous body. Girl has some serious body image issues. She fails to escape 'cause, hey, she is there to be the Duchess's bitch. Everything in the receiving line goes well. Except for the part where Aza is a stereotypical klutz. Girl is top heavy or something. It ends well, though--Prince Ijori finds Aza charming. And his dog likes her, too. Aza even exchanges pleasantries with Ivi.

It's not long before Ivi makes Aza her lady-in-waiting. (The Duchess is pissed that Ivi stole Aza from her. Catty bitch.) Aza doesn't like where this is going, though. Ivi wants Aza to illuse for her. All the time. Turns out, that was no sore throat on the wedding day. Truth is, Ivi and I have similar singing voices. Which is not good.

Now what could be the problem with this plan?

On one hand, Aza now has a title, land, and a good salary to help the Featherbed. People will stay at the Inn just because she is the queen's lady-in-waiting.

On the other hand, Aza will never be able to leave Ivi's side. Ayorthians sing all. the. time. And if Aza gets caught, it'll be her word against the queen's word. And that could mean being arrested. Or worse.

Aza doesn't really have a choice. She has to stay and illuse for Ivi.

It goes fairly well. For like the first fifteen minutes. Then, the juggling centaurs at the post-wedding celebration slip in mud and a golden ring knocks the king in the head. A concussion is not so helpful to a dude trying to rule a country. The king is in a coma, so Ivi, the brand spankin' new queen, is called upon to be queen. To a country she just moved to. Hi-jinks ensue.

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely" was the theme of AP Euro way back when. Ivi's absolute power corrupts her absolutely.

She doesn't want people to sing anymore, even though Ayorthians believe that singing will help heal the king. She gets rid of the song birds that live inside of the castle because one plopped somethin' nasty on her. She breaks up the counsel so she won't have to listen to anyone else's advice. She refuses to help the people suffering from a drought. She has anyone that is more beautiful than her or questions her authority thrown in jail. She has a secret magic mirror that Aza looks at and shows her as being gorgeous. She has potion that Aza takes to become beautiful. She encourages Sir Uella when he tells people that Aza is the cousin of an ogre. And, oh yeah, she has Aza thrown in prison after they're caught illusing. 'Cause Aza apparently forced her to illuse.

A guard, Uju, helped Aza escape from prison. On a whim, he takes her to Gnome Caverns to hide. No one will look for her there. zhamM's prediction has come true. zhamM takes Aza under his wing. He reveals to her that he doesn't think she's an ogre's cousin. Instead, she might be a gnome's cousin. Humans can't stand being in Gnome Caverns for extended periods of time. Aza perfectly happy to chill there. Aza's hair is a color called htun. It can only be seen by gnomes, and it's considered the most beautiful color in the world. Aza is the only human known to have htun colored hair. Also, gnomes can illuse like it's their job. Humans? Not so much.

Ivi shows up at Gnome Caverns disguised as an old woman. The beauty potion had a sister potion--Disguises. Ivi gives Aza a poisoned apple. Aza, exhausted of the root-based gnome diet, is too thrilled by the prospect of a fresh apple to question where this old woman came from. As the poison enters Aza's body, she enters a limbo between life and death--the world of Skulni, the keeper of that magic mirror from earlier.

Skulni is...strange. He is trapped in a room in a different realm or something. He can only leave for a brief vacation between the death of the mirror owner and the mirror being given to a new person. He gets his kicks by getting the mirror owner to kill herself or die otherwise. Hey, dude's gotta get out of the mirror once in a while. Aza learns that he has been influencing Ivi. Besides causing the death of his master, he also gets his kicks from causing political turmoil and changing history--sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

When Ivi, forever vain, stops by to look in the magic mirror. From there, Aza illuses her voice outside of the mirror to tell Ivi about Skulni trying to get Ivi killed. And to show Ivi that Aza is still beautiful. As Aza had hoped, this pissed Ivi off enough to smash the mirror, thus releasing Aza from it.

Aza wakes up back in Gnome Caverns. She's finally spit out the bite of poisoned apple. Shortly thereafter, Ijori showed up. Silly him, he regrets not believing Aza when she told everyone that Ivi forced her to illuse. Convenient, isn't it? Either way, the duo head back to the castle to deal with Ivi.

Ijori and Aza show up at the castle just as Ivi returns. Ivi has been hiding out for the past few weeks, and the king's health has suffered because of it. Ivi sees Aza and is all, 'Hey, sorry I was a complete bitch earlier and had you thrown in prison and then tried to kill you. Can we still be BFFs?'

Just in the nick of time, King Oscaro comes out of his coma. He abdicates so Aza and Ijori can get married and have a coronation. Oscaro really does love Ivi, so he moves Ivi as far from the castle as possible so she can't try to take over the kingdom again.
  • Oh, hell. Did you know that GCL kept writing after my childhood? There are books, books, books missing from my GCL collection. I. Must. Have. Them.
  • My copy of this book has a teacher's name written on the edge of the pages. This makes me sad. Teachers get rid of books? Having enormous book collections would be the biggest perk to being a teacher.
  • I freaking loved that Fairest was a companion to Ella. There are character overlaps. Aza's sister Areida is Ella's BFF from finishing school. Sir Peter of Frell stays at the Featherbed Inn.
    • Oh, hell. Ella and Fairest are part of the Enchanted trilogy. Trilogy! Where have I been? When I got Ella there was no sign that it was a trilogy.
  • There's a very clear message about body image. Kiddos, love your body, don't let kingdom standards keep you down, and who cares if you're cousins to an ogre or a gnome?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Roald Dahl Was a Playa

And a spy.

And an ace.

And drop dead gorgeous.

And wrong about which headmaster caned him.

And there's a new biography out about him.

And there's a snazzy article telling you all this.


Bad news. That article won't open. Hm. As a consolation, here's a similar article on the playboy. This article actually has a picture of a young Roald Dahl. Evidence that he didn't always look like a middle-aged man. Evidence that he was pretty foxy looking.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

BSC #1 Kristy's Great Idea--Graphic Novel

I finally got my hands on it.

And I have a few thoughts.

1. The cover totally destroys my previous belief that I was a Stacey-trapped-inside-a-Mallory. Nope. Fashion-wise, I'm a former Claudia. Right down to the (previously) selectively-dyed pink hair.

2. Mary Anne looks creepy.

3. Andrew Brewer really is adorable. I'm just a sucker for toddlers in booster seats. And his pants have knee patches! Swoon!

4. Sadly, even Karen Brewer looks adorable. Like she didn't make me want to harm her. Instead, I was all Oh, she's just an itty bitty wittle girl with perky wittle pig tails! And she's just worried about her mommy and hates being a divorced kid!

5. Sheep are not in! Rainbows are IN!