Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book 22: Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs

I was home sick for a bit this week and turned to some light reading when my head was too hurty to knit. In two days, I didn't even complete 2 rounds on the Pinwheel! So I picked out of my library stack this book by Molly Harper. The heroine is Jane Jameson (no, not like the porn star: JANE), a recently unemployed librarian whose severance package was a gift certificate to Shenanigans. That's just harsh. Unlike Electric Lemonades and Mudslides. She drinks away her severance, and climbs into her clunker only to have it break down on the side of the road. After Jane gets out to walk, she is mistaken for a deer by a road hunting driver who is even drunker than she. And along comes the mysterious guy from the bar, offering a cure for what ails her. I am deeply disappointed that Gabriel, our vampire hero, would drink at Shenanigans. Or any brass-and-fern place where the staff wears Pieces of Flair.

Jane rises 3 days later with the Unholy Thirst and no clear picture of what has happened to her. She is in different clothes and Gabriel's bed. Naturally, she freaks and runs to her home. Her ancestral home has a name and the sort of Southern Gothic charm that is probably not as common in the actual South as it is in the Fictional South. Everyone in books lives in spacious, charming old places that drip in moss instead of big old places that are hot as hell in the summer and leaky in the rainy season. When Jane gets home she finds her BFF, Zeb and almost feeds off of him.

Thankfully, Gabriel is a little stalkery-- he follows her home, rescues Zeb, tells a cautionary tale and then wipes Zeb's memory on the way home. MAN, I wish I could wipe peoples' memories. Or boost my own. Either way. Oh, and vampires have a variety of ancillary powers here. Strength, speed, heightened senses, blah blah blah. The set up of the vampire code in each series is a bit tedious. Fortunately, Jane has the Welcoming Committee basket, with a guide book even. And Jane has a roommate-- the ghost of her kooky grandmother. So, let's see we have Neophyte Vampire, Broody Sire Vampire, Naive Human Sidekick, Kooky Ghost. Don't worry, meddlesome family and surprise Werewolf will be along before you know it.

So Jane begins to settle in to her new life. She hangs out with Missy, the matchy matching realtor vampire. She meets a nice volunteer donor named Andrea. Jane even goes to Walmart where she gets some super sunblock, synthetic blood, and super vampire vitamins. She debates whether or not to come out to her family. Yes, this book takes place in a world where Vampires are Out. Meh.

It soon becomes obvious though that someone is out to get Jane. She fights with a guy in a bar and he ends up dead. Someone scrawls mean stuff on her car. Everyone thinks she's sleeping with Dick Cheney. Not that Dick Cheney. The Vampire Dick Cheney. No, the one with the gambling problem, the inappropriate banter, and the thirst for blood. Turns out that Dick was a buddy of Gabriel's back in the day. Gabriel was turned and then cast aside by his family. Several years later, a vampire turned Dick so that he'd be assured of being paid back on a gambling debt. Frankly, I find Dick more interesting than Gabriel. I am a big fan of inappropriate banter.

Jane's worsening reputation finally gets her called up before the Vampire Skull and Bones Club. When her enemy is unmasked, it's not a big surprise, and the reason was sort of boring and pedestrian. The Fight to the Death is pretty funny though. Since this is a series, you know Jane wins, right? She also comes out to her family with mixed results.

I am told by my coworker, who is an expert in the vampire contemporary, that there are 3 books in this series. I think that is about enough time to spend on these characters. I will probably check out the others eventually. However, since I haven't finished the Bloody trilogy about the Nazi-vamps, don't hold your breath waiting for more reviews. This was a light read, and pretty funny. Not a lot of sex, but it was umm. . . avidly described. I wouldn't go so far as to call it graphic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book 21: Ghosty Men

Franz Lidz has intertwined the stories of the Collyer Brothers and his uncles. The Collyer brothers, Langley and Homer were New York City's most famous hoarders. The whole Collyer family had moved into Harlem in 1909-- right at the end of the housing boom there. Their father, Dr. Collyer moved out, or was crowded out and left to their own devices the bothers and their mother went Hoarder Wild.

When Homer was found dead in their home in 1947, over 130 tons of rubbish surrounded him. His younger brother, Langley, was nowhere to be found. The boys had long been media curiosities and rewards were offered by the major papers of New York City. Sixteen days after Homer was found, a workman removing garbage found the body of Langley. He had been pinned and smothered under a booby-trapped pile of junk.

Lidz's four uncles were varying flavors of crazy. Obsessive compulsive, paranoid, agoraphobic. I found it unsettling that Lidz dismisses the seriousness of their conditions and is further dismissive of pharmaceuticals to help treat those conditions. Not just unsettling: irresponsible, judgeworthy, crazy in its own way. He's pretty clearly reshaping their problems in a way that makes it tolerable for him to remember his uncles. People don't collect suitcases full of baggies because it makes them happy. They don't hoard shoelaces because it brings them joy. People hoard and keep and collect and squirrel away stuff, meaningless stuff because it helps them push away anxiety. It dampens a fire of misery that springs up out of smoke and nothing and mixed up brain chemistry instead of from some explainable event. If there was just an event, time would heal it, right? But this soup of crazy that afflicts people may as well be left under the pillow by the monster under the bed. And it's my second-hand understanding that long stays in asylums are not like relaxing vacations.

It's called Mentally ILL, not Mentally Awesome. And another thing! Pharmaceuticals are not the easy way out, or a way of making eccentrics conform. For FUCKS SAKE! They don't even make you feel high! If you're lucky, maybe there is a med that works for you. Maybe they make you feel like getting out of bed in the morning is not an insurmountable task with no conceivable reward. Suddenly, you could be able to be out in the world. Maybe the right pill will keep your brain from spinning out anxieties in the middle of the night like tops run by a monkey on crack.

So, if you read this book, or another book or see a movie where mental illness is sort of shrugged off as quirkiness (I could start a list here, but I won't. You're welcome.)I hope you SNORT DERISIVELY at that crap. Because it's not fun like a collection of vintage hats. It pretty much sucks.

Round and Round She Goes

I'm knitting another pinwheel blanket. I just love the way these things look. Babies-- ROUND. Baby Blankets-- MYSTERIOUSLY RECTANGULAR. There is not much difference between a Pi Shawl and a Pinwheel. They are both more based on guidelines than rules. Very good for knitters who like to improvise, who don't like to follow patterns or who can't read patterns.

Last year I made a pinwheel in Knit Picks Swish Bulky, about 650 grams of yarn total. There were stripes of increasing widths alternating in melon and cypress green. I had 12 evenly spaced increase stitches (yarn-overs) in the even rows. I bound it off with an applied i-cord. That bind off about killed me. It took several hours only to end with a kitchener stitch.* Pinwheel 2009 was a bit ripply when done, but blocked out as flat as central Nebraska. The yarn did shed a lot in the first wash. The only pictures of it are on someone else's facebook page, because I'm a tool. I may bogart one for flickr. I am curious how the blanket has endured baby's first year and have sent an email for more info.

I am making the Pinwheel 2010 of Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn, which is worsted weight, using about 22 ounces of yarn. I chose the Autumn Stripes colorway, because it goes with Baby T's crib set. It is hard to find a machine washable striping colorway in heavier yarn. I just cannot face the number of stitches a sock-weight blanket would require. No. Way. I started with 8 evenly spaced increases (also yarn-overs), right before some white stitch markers, in the even rows. On the non-increasing rows, I knitted the yarn-overs to twist them. (For me, this is through the front leg, for conventional knitters it would be through the backleg). This creates a nice ridge for the increases without as much of a hole as a yarn-over knitted in the usual way. Then after 24 increase rows, I added 4 more but on the odd rows, between every other pair of white markers, these marked with green. After 18 of those increase rows, I added 4 more between the unsplit pairs of white markers, these marked with blue markers. So now there are 8 increases in each row. I thought this would help flatten the blanket. Since it is acrylic, I don't want to have to steam block. (Bawk! Bawk!)I may modify the modifications next time. I would keep all the increases on the even rows so that I could sail through the odd rows. I would go from 8 increases to 12 increases sooner so that my move to 16 was a little more balanced. However, my big modification for next time is that I am going to make a super long i-cord and then pick up and knit in an inward spiral. I have an aversion to eternal bind-offs.

However, I have another entire skein of yarn to go on this blanket before I dive into another blanket. The baby is due in 6 weeks and I think if I keep on with a round a night, I shall be ok. Granted, a round on this thing is now almost an hour long process. I will NOT be doing another i-cord bind off. Probably a crochet bind off. I am deeply irritated by the fact that in 4 skeins thus far I have found FIVE KNOTS. That is some poor QA at the Hobby Lobby Factory.

*You know how many good tutorials there are for left handed kitchener? Not many. Most of the tutorials start out with my most hated phrase in ALL OF KNITTING. "Since Knitting is Two Handed, Left Handed Knitters Should Consider Learning to Knit Right Handed." One day, when I've had too much to drink, I will really go to town on my hatred of that mentality and all the teachers and designers who say that. Bitches. The lot of them!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Book 20: Sleepless At Midnight

I barely finished this book. There was a prodigious lot of skimming. The heroine was in a perpetual downward spiral of low self-esteem. The hero, despite being on the lookout for both buried treasure and an heiress wife, just couldn't stop himself from having his way with the heroine. A Major Violator of the Campsite Rule. It was too bad the villain had to monologue at the end. I'd have found that ending happier.

Book 19: Goddess of the Hunt

After Book 18, I went right to the library and got this Tessa Dare title. I liked this one even more than the previous entry. This is the first of the Goddess Trilogy. On the whole a better name. The kids were with me at the library and in fact I had to bribe them to go, as they were totally in the middle of a level on Lego Batman for the Wii. I bribed them with Sonic. My idea of a great summer day: Giant Coke with Lime, Trashy Book, Low Pollen Count, Gentle Breeze. A Regency Great Summer Day: HOUSE PARTY IN THE COUNTRY! With ladies seeking husbands and gentlemen seeking fortunes. Also, there are picnics, walks to the village to look at bonnets and/or ribbons, hunting, and sometimes people get caught in the rain and are forced to make out shamelessly in gameskeepers' cottages.

Our heroine is Lucy Waltham. She's a bit of a hoyden as she has been allowed to run wild by her brother since the death of their parents, where run wild equals fishing and jaunting about outside. She's decided that she is going to marry her brother's friend, Toby, but that she needs to hone her feminine wiles in order to prey upon him properly. Naturally, she hones them on some other unsuspecting fool. Our unsuspecting fool-- sorry, hero! Our hero is Jeremy Trescott, Earl of Kendall. He's another of her brother's friends. Lucy sneaks into Jeremy's room in the middle of the night and hones him mildly. He promptly scolds her as he knows that Toby intends to marry, Sophia of the Giant Dowry. He's all discombobulated. As we all know, from our extensive reading of the genre, discombobulation is the first sign of True Luv. It is often mistaken for agitation.

The next day, the gentleman have a little discussion about What Is To Be Done. Henry, Lucy's brother, encourages Jeremy to flirt with Lucy in order to distract her while Toby snares his heiress. And so, they distract each other's brains out. Naturally, this is a massive violation of the Dude Code, whereby one may not bone a buddy's sister.

Sophia, it turns out, is a lot of fun. Lucy can't help but like her. There's no Chick Code, in case you are wondering. Mean girls often tell nice girls there is a Chick Code. They are only doing that to snatch a guy right out from under you. And then they are invariably mean to him too. I digress. In the absence of a Chick Code, Lucy keeps honing her wiles on Jeremy, and trying to make Toby jealous. Toby keeps dragging his feet about getting engaged to Sophia because he likes being in demand.

Naturally, Lucy backs herself into a corner with the wiles and suchlike. WHAM! Compromised! Parson's Noose! At this point, Henry starts acting like a cross between a concerned older brother and a garden variety jerky older brother. There is some fighting with Jeremy but in the end, the wedding happens and they are off to Jeremy's family home. Cue ominous music. Jeremy had an unhappy childhood. He wasn't supposed to be the heir, but his older brother died. His mother was a big old crazy drama queen and his dad was a first rate asshole. Oh, and all the tenants hate the family. So Lucy and Jeremy have to work their way through the pile of whackadoodle to get to the happy ending part. Naturally, the very end of the book contains the lead in to the next book-- Sophia has jilted Toby and R U N N O F T! That book comes out in a couple more weeks.

Book 18: One Dance With a Duke

It's always a Duke, isn't it? So rarely One Dance With an Accountant. Sorry, accountants. I'm sure you're lovely. This book is the first in the execrably named Stud Club series. This is the first pick for the Smart Bitches summer reading club, which I inexpertly linked in the sidebar. (I can haz tek support?) Overall, I quite liked the story, but the hook for the series as a whole is sort of lame. But what do I know? I don't follow sports of any era.

The Duke in of the title is Spencer, who wants to get full ownership of a particular horse. He has cultivated an air of mystery about himself. The heroine is Amelia D'Orsay, a noble lady of genteel poverty, presumed to be on the shelf. OF COURSE. She's nearly twenty or somesuch nonsense.

Where was I? The Stud Club. Oh yes, there is a horse, Osiris, that was originally owned by a group of friends, and they each had a token signifying their share. The tokens could only be won and lost in games of chance, never sold or gifted. The horse has excellent bloodlines, and only token holders may breed him against their mares. Spencer wants to be the exclusive owner for mysterious reasons to be revealed later. Spencer has managed to win 6 of them in games of chance. In the last match, one of the unlucky gamesters at the table was Amelia's wastrel brother. Wastrel is Regency Speak for LOSER. He drinks too much and gambles excessively because of his tortured, tortured soul.

One of the 4 other token holders was killed after a boxing match in a dodgy neighborhood. One token holder feels responsible because he had ditched him. The other toke holder thinks Spencer offed the dead one. Spencer and Amelia get backed into the parson's noose. Every one is worried about the dead guy's deaf sister. After the wedding, the newly married strangers go off to rusticate in the country. Amelia hates riding horses. Spencer's teenaged ward hates Amelia. Spencer hates the other token holders. Jack needs more money. Spencer's other horse is ill tempered and moody. It goes on and on and on. I don't even remember who killed the dead guy!

The romance part of the story was good. Spark, humor, gradually coming to understand each other. A little ripping off of the clothes. Just too many threads in this one in order to plot out general direction of the other 3 books. It seemed to me that because this is the first of a series, another character in the book pretty much had to die. Besides the dead guy at the opener.

This was the first Tessa Dare book I've read, and I did actually go ahead and grab another title by her from the library.

I read this one as an Ebook that I downloaded from in the Adobe digital editions pdf format. I read ebooks on a Dell Mini 10. The reading quality is not at all taxing to my really terrible eyes. (Dry, old, at a computer for far too many hours per work day.) The price was a bit higher than Amazon, but the book club has a rebate going on for participants which edges them out on price by the end of it all. Download was just as easy as the ebooks I get from the Omaha Public Library. All Romance has a much bigger selection of the really, really smutty ebooks than Amazon does. I wish they had a little better cross referencing. I am not sure how to say this without really, really putting too much out there. You can't adequately search for nuances of sexual proclivities besides orientation. Some Stuff I Don't Care To Read. At the same time, a tag cloud on a site that sells erotica would probably be pretty funny. Especially when you factor in the terrible spelling of others. What the hell is throbbingpens?