I love shopping the Goodwill bookshelves, despite the fact that they’re raised their prices to insane levels since I was in high school (when pretty much any book was a dollar). Eli and I like to cruise for interesting old cookbooks, and I like to supplement my library with both classic literature and trashy novels (I am always on the lookout for forgotten YA novels and VC Andrews). This week, though, I had a yen for trashy romance novels. Notable among those that I purchased is Judith McNaught’s Whitney, My Love, which was one of the earliest Regency historicals. Neat-o. (I also hear it’s got some of that old school objectionable material, which should make for interesting reading.) And I haven’t read Shelters of Stone since it first came out, so I am feeling a little Earth’s Children reunion this summer.
I’m especially stoked about The Shy Stegosaurus of Indian Springs by Evelyn Sibley Lampman. She was a massively popular children’s author throughout the Fifties and Sixties who set most of her novels in Oregon and the West and who also wrote intelligently and responsibly about Northwest Indians, even before the Indian resurgence of the late twentieth century. There’s an award named for her! Sadly, pretty much all of her work is out of print, so I was really excited to stumble across this one. One day I’ll tell you about how I picked out the cover for a reprint of her novel Treasure Mountain.
Eli pointed out a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit with the same illustrations as the one he had when he was little, and since they were adorable, I had to snag it, though I have my own hardcover copy. But the star of today’s trip is without a doubt this magnificent comic we found:
Words fail me.
My sister posted the link to this little toy on Bookface, and I had fun playing with it last night. After plugging in a dozen or so of the longer entries from the stacks my destination, DFW was the clear winner, with Leo Tolstoy and James Joyce tying for second. I’m so sure. I got a good giggle out of it, though, when I plugged in my review of Rhett Butler’s People, and the result was … Margaret Mitchell! Hahaha. (For non-blog results, I kept getting ol’ JJ, with a single nod to Robert Louis Stevenson. Perhaps I ought to tighten things up.)
The Green Flash, and Other Tales of Horror, Suspense, and Fantasy by Joan Aiken
Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1971
Genre: Suspense, horror, fantasy, children’s lit, short stories
Jacket copy: A small self-contained child who dreams reality; the ghost of a love-struck bicycle-riding night watchman; a canary who bears an acute resemblance to the younger sister of Charles II; an old lady, hard of hearing, almost blind, but with a murderous sense of smell–these are just a few of the characters you’ll encounter in this spine-tingling, mind-boggling collection by Joan Aiken.
The impact of the tales is varied and ranges all the way from grisly horror through old-fashioned mystery to comic fantasy. It’s a book to curl up with and enjoy on a dark, rainy night, a book which continues to astound from the first page to the very last.
Book report: So, though it’s been a couple of years since I found out that Joan Aiken had written a whole mess of books in concordance with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (the Wolves Chronicles, they’re sometimes known as)–a shocking discovery for someone who’d read and re-read TWoWC like it was her job–I hadn’t read anything else by her til last winter’s Shivers for Christmas, which included a really excellent little story, “The Ferry.” I not sure why, but I don’t read short stories all that often, though I like them a great deal (especially TALES OF TERROR), but the title of The Green Flash was well-nigh irresistible. I mean, how evocative is that?
It is such an odd little collection of stories, ranging from the, well, grisly to the subtly disquieting, and from pathos to humor. And for the most part, they’re very, very good. I don’t think I disliked any of the stories, but I couldn’t say that I liked them all. Not because they were bad or uninteresting, but because of that lingering sense of disquiet (“Summer by the Sea” has taken me three readings to come to terms with, and it still makes me uncomfortable) they invoke. But that’s a good thing; I’d much rather puzzle over a story and how it made me feel than simply forget it. Read the rest of this entry »
Jane-Emily & Witches’ Children by Patricia Clapp
originally published 1969 and 1982
Harper, 7th printing, 2007
Genre: Horror, suspense, historical fiction
Jacket copy: Emily was a selfish, willful, hateful child who died before her thirteenth birthday. But that was a long time ago.
Jane is nine years old and an orphan when she and her young Aunt Louisa come to spend the summer at Jane’s grandmother’s house, a large, mysterious mansion in Massachusetts. Then one day . . . Jane stares into a reflecting ball in the garden—and the face that looks back at her is not her own.
Many years earlier, a child of rage and malevolence lived in this place. And she never left. Now Emily has dark plans for little Jane—a blood-chilling purpose that Louisa, just a girl herself, must battle with all her heart, soul, and spirit . . . or she will lose her innocent, helpless niece forever.
One of the most adored ghost stories of all time is available again after thirty years—to thrill and chill a new generation!
During the winter of 1692, when the young girls of Salem suddenly find themselves subject to fits of screaming and strange visions, some believe that they have seen the devil and are the victims of witches.
Book report: It’s funny: Though both I’m Deborah Sampson: A Soldier in the War of the Revolution and Witches’ Children were favorites of mine in elementary school, I don’t recall ever happening upon Jane-Emily in the Mililani Library. And don’t doubt me; I read Deborah Sampson (about a girl who dresses as a boy and FIGHTS IN THE REVOLUTION) probably seventy-odd times in second and third grade, and around that time Witches’ Children introduced me to the joys of both historical research and the occult shelf in the Children’s section. Actually, a decade or so later, when I was in The Crucible (Ann Putnam, Sr, whut whut!) and our director was going over historical notes with us, I brought up the cake Tituba makes of rye meal and the girls’ urine (my director–Stephen Clark–was nonplussed at that detail being in a children’s book). Yes, a good ten years later, I still vividly remembered that detail, and it was because the book was THAT good. But yeah, Jane-Emily? Never heard of it, so of course it went on my Shelf Discovery reading list, though there it only merited an Extra Credit mention. If Patricia Clapp wrote it, I was going to read it. Read the rest of this entry »
Miami Blues: A Hoke Moseley Novel by Charles Willeford
originally published 1984
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 1st edition, 2004
Genre: Crime fiction
Jacket copy: After a brutal day investigating a quadruple homicide, Detective Hoke Moseley settles into his room at the un-illustrious El Dorado Hotel and nurses a glass of brandy. With his guard down, he doesn’t think twice when he hears a knock on the door. The next day, he finds himself in the hospital, badly bruised and with his jaw wired shut. He thinks back over ten years of cases wondering who would want to beat him into unconsciousness, steal his gun and badge, and most importantly, make off with his prized dentures. But the pieces never quite add up to revenge, and the few clues he has keep connecting to a dimwitted hooker, and her ex-con boyfriend and the bizarre murder of a Hare Krishna pimp.
Chronically depressed, constantly strapped for money, always willing to bend the rules a bit, Hoke Moseley is hardly what you think of as the perfect cop, but he is one of the the greatest detective creations of all time.
Book report: Why the subject came up on one of my news aggregate sites, I still don’t know, but someone there posted a short excerpt from Miami Blues, and I had to read it. And because of that anonymous person, I have a new favorite author. Charles Willeford, I love you. Why I didn’t catch on back in the days of MCBF, I do not know (because I do remember Cockfighter–and its desirability–being mentioned at least once by John Marr), but I shall be catching up posthaste. Read the rest of this entry »
The Briar King: The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 1 by Grey Keyes
Del Rey, 4th printing, 2004
Genre: Epic fantasy
Jacket Copy: Two thousand years ago, the Born Queen defeated the Skasloi lords, freeing humans from the bitter yoke of slavery. But now monstrous creatures roam the land—and destinies become inextricably entangled in a drama of power and seduction. The king’s woodsman, a rebellious girl, a young priest, a roguish adventurer, and a young man made suddenly into a knight—all face malevolent forces that shake the foundations of the kingdom, even as the Briar King, legendary harbinger of death, awakens from his slumber. At the heart of this many-layered tale is Anne Dare, youngest daughter of the royal family . . . upon whom the fate of her world may depend.
Now, I have something to say, so PAY ATTENTION. If you are a spoiler fanatic, note that the jacket copy on each volume gets progressively more explicit when explaining the story in the volume(s) preceding (though for the most part, it’s vague enough that I wouldn’t be bothered, but then, I love spoilers). This is common sense. Consider yourself warned. Read the rest of this entry »