Friday, April 21, 2006

Bohemia, Butterflies and Books

Although not necessarily in that order.

But first, a little housekeeping. I’ve made some site updates including edits to the home page and moving some items that have sold (thanks, Linnea!) to the gallery. Sadly, no new items to post yet. Well, there are new things, but I just can’t seem to get the time to do the photography…GRRR! Hopefully, with some wonderful tips from my friend, Jenie, I might make some progress this weekend. But don’t hold your breath. Technology and I do NOT get along. Anyway, all the changes I’ve made can of course be seen at Silver Parrot Designs.

Also, there’s been a lot of interest in my bead embroidery work recently (shut up, there has, TOO!) so here’s a link directly to that page. And, just because I'm feeling all full of myself today, here's a picture of my favorite pair that I've made so far:

Okay, on to the books. I’ll do the clunkers first so I can end on a positive note.

Last month, I reviewed Laurie R. King’s
“The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” and I quite enjoyed her take on the famous Sherlock Holmes and his new protégé, Mary Russell. So, I decided to pick up
“O Jerusalem”
- the next book in the series. Well, it was written and published as the fourth or so book, but chronologically, it takes place during an interlude in “Beekeeper.”

Sadly, it was nowhere as interesting or quick-paced as the first book. In fact, trudging through it is one of the reasons the book reviews have been scarce lately because it was blocking me from getting to the next book in my “to read” pile. However, I’m not sure this is due to inherent flaws in the novel. I think it’s more likely that I just found this particular subject matter to not be nearly as engaging.

The book takes place in the Holy Land not too long after the events of the movie “Lawrence of Arabia.” Which, by the way, if you’ve never seen it? One of the greatest movies of all time. Seriously. Netflix, people. How many times do I have to say it?

And if you HAVE seen it, you’ll understand me when I say “I am a river to my people.”

Because, dude, I so totally am.

Anywho…barring my love for that particular movie, I have no real interest in that area or period of history. And then there’s all the trudging back and forth in the desert and Wadi this and monastery that and it’s hot and dirty and there are BUGS and frankly I was just bored, bored, bored. Although I suppose that says something positive for the author’s descriptive abilities because I actually felt hot and dirty and tired and like I had bugs in my hair while I was reading the book.

Yet, those things? So not making me enjoy the reading experience. I want the book that makes me feel like I’ve just come out of the spa and I’m a size 4 and tan and wearing fabulous designer clothes and just generally looking smoking hot. Where’s THAT book, I ask you? Oh wait, that's why I like Mary Janice Davidson's "Vampire Queen" series LOL!

Still, I haven’t given up on the Russell series. The next book gets Holmes and Russell back in jolly old England where they belong and I have high hopes for it. It’s already in the reading pile!

Then, there’s the big pit of suckage that is “Dates from Hell.” This is a collection of four short stories by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong, and Lori Handeland. I was surpised at how bad these were because I love Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong’s other work and so I expected at least two out of the four stories to be worthwhile. I never heard of the other two writers so didn’t have as much in the way of expectations for them. Oh, and by the way, Ms. Sands? It’s spelled L-I-N-D-S-A-Y not Lynsay. And I should know. I’m a descendant of the Lindsay clan from Scotland. It’s true. I have the plaid to prove it so back off! And get your name changed. It’s embarrassing.

The first story from Kim Harrison gives the reader a background look at the character of Ivy Tamwood, the not-dead-yet vampire from Harrison’s “Dead Witch Walking” series. And frankly, I like Ivy a whole lot less now. She’s more twisted than I had realized. And the kind of stuff that makes her go weak in the knees? Kinda sick. Plus, I thought it was poorly plotted. There just wasn’t enough THERE to really make a story. It was just background on the character.

I’d tell you what I hated about Ms. Sands story (besides her stupid name) but honestly, I don’t remember it. And that about sums it up.

Kelley Armstrong introduces two new characters in her story, but uses the same background world as her “Women of the Otherworld” books. This story was probably the best of the four, but there was a lot of wandering from room to room in a museum (see annoyance above about wandering the desert and frankly, wandering in general) and a lot of the typical Romance-genre-required overdoing of the anatomical detail stuff which I’ve probably mentioned before I’m not so keen about.

Mystery, people! Romance! Great kissing! What happened to this stuff? If I wanted porn, I know where that section is at the video store. Not that I've ever been IN that's just hard not to miss the cordoned off/secret roomness of it all and the furtive, guilty looks of the people (guys) who go in there.

Hey! When you've been standing in the video store line for an hour because the be-pimpled teenage geek at the counter has huffed away a few too many brain cells to be able to operate the cash register in a timely fashion you have to find SOMETHING to do. And I like to glare at the pervs heading for the porn section. I did actually make someone leave without getting a movie once. That was a highlight. But, eventually, the game got old. And then Netflix came into my life. LOVE you, Netflix.

Still, at least Armstrong's story had a beginning, middle and end and a resolution of the plot.

Lori Handeland’s story was just silly. I’ve never gotten the romance of falling into overwhelming passion with some dude you just met literally two seconds before. I mean, really. I get that you can notice someone is hot in that amount of time but to go from 0 to doing the nasty in an alley two seconds later (maybe three if complicated lingerie is involved)? I believe there’s usually money involved in that type of transaction. Oh, and the whole incubus thing? Not well done. If you want a better book on that subject, check out Katie McAlister’s “Aisling Grey, Guardian” novels.

So, on the whole? This book? Waste of a cute title.

And now to the positive.

As much as I am uninterested in the Holy Land at the turn of the century, I am IN LOVE with Europe during the Napoleonic era. I mean, look what you get. Jane Austen, empire waist dresses, great battles, "Horatio Hornblower" (Hi! LOVE you, Ioan Gruffudd...for YOU I would go from 0 to nasty in two!), passion, romance, men with swords, swashes being buckled, etc.

So, I was thrilled to learn that Naomi Novik’s debut novel, “His Majesty’s Dragon” takes place during that period and is a wonderful combination of “Horatio Hornblower” and Anne McCaffrey’s “Pern” novels. In fact, I can truthfully say I don’t think dragons have been so skillfully handled by an author other than McCaffrey until this book came out.

And, in a stunning move of marketing genius, the publisher has decided to try the “innovative” tactic of releasing three books in this series IN PAPERBACK and ONLY A MONTH APART! Yes, folks, this book came out at the end of March and book #2 is due on April 25th. That’s NEXT WEEK! The third book is due May 30th.

Genius, I say. How DO they come up with these things? By the way, everyone IS getting the sarcasm here, right? Okay, just checking.

Anyway, here’s my take on how this happened.

Fade in.

Interior of a conference room in some fancy-schmancy high-rise New York publishing building. It’s 2 AM. The table is covered with empty coffee cups, crushed soda cans, takeout containers and crumpled pieces of paper. Four desperate marketing executives sit in a circle on the floor with their jackets off, shirt sleeves rolled up and ties askew. The camera begins panning in a “That 70’s Show”, Eric Foreman’s basement, you know what this scene is supposed to be even though there’s no smoke and you don’t see anything being passed around kinda way.

ME1 (marketing exec #1): Dude, we are so hosed if this book doesn’t sell.

ME2: Dude.

ME3: You are so totally right, dude. And some idiot in acquisitions already bought two more books from this totally unknown, unproven writer.

ME4: Stop giggling. Does anyone else hear high-pitched giggling coming from the microwave in the break room?

ME1: Dude, you are so baked

ME4: Dude, I know. But what about the giggling?

ME3: I mean, how are we supposed to market THREE WHOLE BOOKS.

ME2: Tthhhhpfpffff inhaling noise. I know. It will take YEARS. And the universe is entropying, too. All that time. Entropy. Down the tubes. Dude.

ME4: Oh. My. God. Do you HEAR it? Gnomes. There are gnomes giggling in the microwave.

ME1: Dude, shut up. I’m having an idea. What if it didn’t take so long?

ME2: What if what didn’t take so long?

ME1: Between books.

ME3: You mean if they came out closer together?

ME4: Gnomes. Giggling. In the microwave. Shhh…don’t let them know we’re here.

ME1: Dude, you are so totally cut off right now. And stop hiding under the table. And yeah, what if the books came out closer together.

ME2: But…but…but…that’s never been done before. Think of the consequences.

ME3: Yeah. Dudes, I think the world might totally spin off its axis.

ME1: Actually, it has been done before. In the 70’s. My grandfather told me about it. Books used to come out in paperback and only three to six months apart. Dude, it was like totally awesome because people could actually REMEMBER what they’d read in the FIRST BOOK by the time the second book came out. Plus, with the whole paperback thing? People could actually afford to BUY all three books. Without a coupon.

ME2: Hey, yeah. Now that you mention it, I remember learning about that in my “Archaeology of Publishing” class at Over-priced Pretentious East Coast University.

ME4: Make it stop. Whimper. Hide me. Gnomes coming.

ME1, ME2, ME3: Dude, SHUT UP!

ME1: Yeah, it was great. Then this dude Robert Jordan came along and fucked everything up.

ME3: Yeah, fuck Robert Jordan.

ME2: Who’s Robert Jordan?

ME4: I know! He’s a gnome. He’s the gnome leader. And he’s giggling and he’s coming to get us all!

Brief interlude while ME1, ME2 and ME3 tackle ME4, wrestle him to the ground, tie him up with phone cord and stuff a gag in his mouth.

ME1: Okay, where were we? Oh yeah. Publish the books closer together. Whaddaya think?

ME2: Could work. And we market it as this genius new idea. No one will know. Hardly anyone else took that class I was in except a few football players who took it as a “mick” and most of them have brain damage from repeated concussions and probably never really learned to read anyway because of the whole football-trumps-grades thing.

ME3: Take THAT, Robert Jordan and your umpty-zillion novels of neverending spewage of crap!

ME1: Besides, the boss is in the Bahamas until at least July so by the time he finds out about it, it’ll be too late to stop it.

ME2: And if the idea does tank, we’ll just blame HIM!

All three turn and look at ME4 who’s slowly rocking in place with his eyes closed and mumbling something around the gag about the gnome king.

Fade out.

Dude. You SO know it’s true. And you should’ve seen the advance release notice I got on this book in my e-mail from the publisher wherein they actually CONGRATULATE themselves for having such a bold and innovative idea. Publish books closer together and in paperback. Whew! Took a think tank to come up with that one, I tell ya! What’s next? Can the cure for the common cold be far behind?

Well, anyway. That’s it for the books this week.

In other news…

Vacation rocked. Sun. Swimming. Shopping. New shoes. Zoo. Kid’s Museum. More shoes. Food. Frou frou drinks. Baby Ducks. Butterflies. Picture taking. Boat rides. Yadda yadda yadda.

Did I mention the shoes? I may have to take some pictures now that I know how to download things from my camera to the computer like a real adult techno-savvy person. Because the Anne Klein sandals? To. Die. For.

Seriously. I will probably break my neck in the damn things, but I will die a happy woman. With hot shoes.

And just to prove that I can SO download pictures all by myself (uh, thank you camera schmo at Sav-On for helping the crazy and dumb blonde lady) here’s a butterfly picture from the butterfly exhibit at the Living Desert Zoo (which, by the way, if you EVER have a chance to see it, you MUST check it out. It was amazing!) According to the brochure, these are “Julias.” I don’t know why, but that’s what it says in the little booklet. So, um, anyway, here’s the picture:

Because butterflies? SO pretty.


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