On Monday evening, I put my beloved companion of nearly fourteen years (about half my life) to sleep. When we came home from our honeymoon, Kitty Girl became ill, and was diagnosed with stage 4 CRF (chronic renal failure, aka kidney failure). We’ve spent the last month and a half hoping that she would plateau and spend many more months with us–or even years. But despite the dietary changes and the daily subcutaneous fluids, her condition gradually deteriorated until last Thursday, when her vet gave us a week, tops. We spent the weekend cuddling, eating salmon cream cheese and tuna, and saying goodbye, but due to her continued deterioration we had to take her in to be put to sleep Monday. It’s been a really rough week since then; I expect her to climb on me purring when I wake up in the mornings, or to be sitting on the toilet waiting for me to finish showering, or to start crinkling about on a nice piece of paper. There’s a furry pudding-shaped hole in my life.
I’m sorry to be a drag, but I wanted to say why I haven’t been posting recently, and also to be a bit self-indulgent by sharing her.I’ve spent countless hours lying in bed or on the couch with Kitty Girl, reading, and she was nearly always on my lap while I worked at my desk trying to get book reports posted. She also had a bizarre affinity for books, always rubbing her face on then, and sometimes making sweet, sweet love to them. I’ve mentioned her a time or two before. Pic-heavy post below the jump.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
originally published 1962
Delacourte, 1st edition, 2000
Genre: Children’s classic, historical fiction, COVENS
Book Report: Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie’s parents leave for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their lovely, once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and, dressed in rags, Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like school for orphans. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease.
With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But where will they go? And how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?
OH SHIT YEAH. I used to have a copy of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and I read it ALL THE TIME. (What the hell happened to that book?) I set so many stories in Aiken’s world, and even had a long-running series of dreams in which I was in a summer camp overrun by giant wolves a la TWoWC (there were tunnels from cabin to cabin, and sometimes we traveled by rooftop). I still want to doze off in a cart full of geese and play with a giant stuffed pony with crystal eyes. Who wouldn’t? So it’s obvious that I was delighted to read Laura Lippman’s treatment of TWoWC in Shelf Discovery and find that I was not alone in my love for spunky orphans. Read the rest of this entry »
Scalped: Indian Country
DC Comics, 2007
Genre: Noir, comics
Book Report: Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from the abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation searching for something better. Now he’s come back home to find nothing much has changed on “The Rez” — short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime.
At the center of the storm is Tribal Leader Lincoln Red Crow, a former “Red Power” activist turned burgeoning crime boss who figures that after 100 years of the Lakota being robbed and murdered by the white man, it’s time to return the favor.
Now, armed with nothing but a set of nunchuks, a hellbent-for-leather attitude and (at least) one dark secret, Dash must survive a world of gambling, gunfights, G-men, Dawg Soldiers, massacres, meth labs, trashy sex, fry bread, Indian pride, Thunder Beings, the rugged beauty of the Badlands … and even a scalping or two.
Indian Country introduces us to Aaron’s world in Scalped: the Prairie Rose Reservation, and all the people therein. The first chapters were slow, and I was readying myself for disappointment, but by the time I reached the Hoka Key chapters, I was hooked. Here was not just sex and violence, but high drama and tragedy, and all the noir a girl could want. Read the rest of this entry »
The Hearth and Eagle
originally published 1948
Chicago Review Press, 1st edition, 2008
Genre: Historical fiction, romance, family saga
Book Report: Hesper Honeywood is the sole scion of one of Marblehead, Massachusetts’ oldest families. Phebe and Mark Honeywood came over from England with John Winthrop, but left the Salem settlement to help found Marblehead, contrary from its very beginnings. Hesper has been raised on tales of their bravery and strength, as well as those of many other Honeywood and Marblehead folk. Young and passionate, Hesper is also heedless, caring more for love and romance than quiet strength or courage. But it is the vigor inherited from her forebears that will carry Hesper through the tragedy and fulfillment in her very long life, one that spans from the tumultuous antebellum years, through the rise and fall of Marblehead’s various industries, to gentrification and the Great War. Hesper will know love and passion, hatred and despair, and she, like her people before her, will endure.
Are all of Anya Seton’s books back in print now? When I first started reading her in 2005, it seemed like there there were just a couple, so I had to scour libraries and used bookshops looking for antiquated hardcover books and pulp paperbacks. But now there are all these sleek trade paperbacks with lovely covers! (It’s kind of funny, because in Olivia Goldsmith’s The Bestseller, there’s a lonely, half-senile old woman who wrote blockbuster historical fiction in the Forties and Fifties, only to be long out of print when the novel was written, and an editor at one of the publishing houses has to keep soothing her. I have a feeling Goldsmith based Anna Morrison on Anya Seton, but who had the last laugh there? Ooh, burn!) Unusually this edition of The Hearth and Eagle features only a short Author’s Note prefacing the novel, rather than the Forwards that have accompanied most of the others I’ve read form the Chicago Review Press. Is that because it was a less popular work, or have they just gotten lazy in the Windy City? Read the rest of this entry »
Taking Terri Mueller by Norma Fox Mazer
originally published 1981
William Morrow & Co, 1st printing, 1983
Genre: Young adult, suspense, juvanalia
Book Report: Thirteen-year-old Terri and her beloved father Phil never stay in one place long. By car, or camper, they travel around the United States, going wherever Phil’s restless feet take them, with only each other and their dog Barkley for company. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, they meet a woman named Nancy and her young son Leif while apartment hunting. As they settle in, Phil starts dating Nancy, and it gets serious, while Terri makes another in a long line of best friends, Shauna. It seems like maybe they might be able to stick around somewhere for once, but then Terri’s Aunt Vivian visits, and Terri overhears something that makes her finally question their lives. Why must they always keep moving? Why are there so many inconsistencies in Phil’s explanations? Why won’t Phil ever tell Terri about her long-dead mother? And finally as her suspicions grow Terri wonders what really happened to her mother. Is she even dead?
Once the truth is out, there is no putting it back the way it was again, and Terri is caught between her past and her present.
Caroline B. Cooney, step aside. Norma Fox Mazer (NMF to the initiated) won a Edgar Award for this sucker. If you don’t get that reference, it’s okay, but it’s a major spoiler, so don’t read below the jump if you’re at all concerned about that. Read the rest of this entry »
Babyface by Norma Fox Mazer
originally published 1990
Harcourt, 1st printing, 2007
Genre: Young adult, juvanalia
Book Report: Toni and Julie have been best friends forever. They’ve lived next door to one another since before they were born a week apart, and though their families couldn’t be more different, they get along great. The girls themselves also couldn’t be more different: Julie is a tall blonde extrovert/drama queen, and Toni is a shy petite brunette. Regardless, they are inseparable, spending all their free time together and celebrating birthdays together.
Then, the summer they turn fourteen, Julie’s parents decide they need something different. Her father takes off for Alaska, and rather than be left behind wondering, Julie’s mom takes her two daughters to San Francisco for the summer. Toni is all alone for the first time in her life, and when her father has a heart attack, she feels even more bereft. While staying with her estranged older sister for a few days, Toni discovers a disturbing secret about her family, one that she just can’t get over, not by herself. When school starts up again in the fall and Julie still hasn’t returned, Toni handles it with the help of Julie’s old crush. But when Julie comes back, will she see it as an innocent friendship? Or is it something more?
Norma Fox Mazer was Some Big Deal in YA during the years I was a young adult (and before and after them, too). I remember seeing her name on books at the library on in book orders, but for whatever reason, I never really read any. Except for Silver, which I read in one afternoon when I was trapped in an afterschool program in sixth grade. And I think that’s unfortunate, because what’s I’ve read so far has been excellent. I randomly picked Babyface and Taking Terri Mueller out from the MCL’s catalog, inspired by my inability to recall Norma Klein’s name while looking for books related to the Shelf Discovery Challenge. How fortunate for me. Read the rest of this entry »