Friday, December 28, 2012

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides Book Review

I want this to be a candid response. I finished this book on 12/13/12 and started this post’s draft immediately after:

I liked this book. I disliked this book. It’s a love-hate thing. 

Because I don’t feel like Eugenides earned the right for his book to be properly analyzed, I’m not going to invest MORE TIME in summarizing it. I want to move on with my life…And my refusal to break it down should tell you something about this book.

Before I started reading, I looked up what this book was about. I found this NYT article that reviewed it, so I would know what I was getting into. And, I have to say, the article is pretty spot-on. After reading it, it sums up my feelings nicely.

But, let’s put my personal opinions about the story in here, shall we?

The first part is (pretty much) all about their graduation from Brown. I have no real graduation experience of my own (I refused to walk), so I found the scenes and character interactions about graduation foreign – not only because I find such rituals ridiculous, but because it was about a graduation from an elitist school.

The fact that they were students going to Brown made me automatically hate them. I judged them from the start. See, if you’re going to write a story about privileged kids you have to make them relatable to even the ‘lower’ classes. The three main characters were already at a disadvantage (to my good side). None of them deserved what they had. None of them.

But I know that's the wrong way to approach people/characters, so I adjusted my opinion accordingly. 

However, that still didn't help things. 

I didn’t care – didn’t give a damn – about these characters. When bad things happened to them, I. Did. Not. Care.

I had no attachment to them. Maybe that’s what Eugenides wanted. Maybe not. The fact I can’t tell what he wanted makes their existence as characters seem pointless. If I can’t formulate opinions about them based on how the author presents them, then I don’t even care. Even if they were supposed to be little a-holes that I could officially hate, then fine. At least let me be able to officially feel something about them.

The three main characters can be summed up as this:

Mitchell, the religious studies major, has a God complex (he wants to control Madeleine).

Leonard, the double major, is too smart for his own good (and his genius never amounts to anything).

Madeleine is… Even though most of the story is from her POV she’s virtually an empty character. Which may or may not have been the point.

The shifts in POV really pissed me off. I felt like J.E. shifted between them because one character’s POV (or even an omnipresent narrator for that matter) couldn’t have carried the story along. The story uses shifts (of POV, etc.) to make you forget there is no plot – to distract you.

I complained about the lack of plot to Hel early on in my reading. She said that it’s because it’s a coming of age story. Which is true. But I think Literary Fiction gets a bad rap because of books like this. I mean, take Perks of Being a Wallflower for example (right off the top of my head). That’s a coming of age story regarded as literary (in some circles. Okay, mine). And it has a plot (why is Charlie so f--ked up? SPOILERS: because his beloved aunt molested him). A good plot has twists. This book, The Marriage Plot, has no twists. It did not awe me. It did not entertain me.

Instead, it tried to cram theological, philosophical, and literary discussions down my throat. Granted, it attempted to cleverly disguise these preachings (that always read as some Socratic method poorly inserted into the story) as plot.

These ‘inserted’ didactic moments wouldn’t be so bad if Eugenides had earned the right to teach me. If he had dooped me with a plot twist or with blowing my mind then yes. Yes, I’d be willing to be instructed. His awing me would have meant I’m the stupid one – that I still had something to learn. But that didn't happen. 

...If I’m going to take the time to listen to you, Eugenides, you need to make sure you’re worth hearing. Did you think that you could ride on your own coattails because of the Virgin Suicides? Middlesex? Well guess what, I’ve not even seen so much as your film adaptation, so it’s not working for you.

*End rant*

TMP is not an important book, though it is a good book. To a point, I needed this book. I recently graduated with my BA and this book brought back a lot of old experiences. It also helped validate the ones I’m going through now. But, the thing is, there are probably better books out there to help you/me during this time in your/my life. There has to be. Granted, I can’t think of any. But this shouldn’t have been THAT book.

Now, I could delve into the irony of ‘the marriage plot’ within The Marriage Plot, but I won’t. I can’t. It’s self-explanatory. It explains itself over and over and over when in reality you can just read this paragraph and get the picture. The irony-slash-brilliance speaks for itself. J.E. thinks he’s clever. Maybe he is. But not clever enough this time.

…What else is there to say? Hm. 

Madeleine is an English major. She likes Victorian Lit but then starts to doubt its modern "goodness" when she experiments with other literature/philosophies. Which is fine. It’s good to doubt what you like. It forces you to make sure you like what you like for the right reasons. And of course Madeleine later realizes how she can still like Victorian lit – it wasn’t so ‘silly’ and ‘overdone’ after all – maybe she shouldn’t have let herself be spoon-fed at Brown (duh).

Madeleine’s character is reduced to a concept – “Victorianism” or whatever. Her entirety relies on what she’s studying at the time. She’s a blank slate compared to the boy characters.

The boy characters suffer from being manifestations of what they’re “studying” too, but I couldn’t help but get the impression that Eugenides made them said “manifestations” without being aware of it. I make this assumption only because… If he had realized it, he would have made the book much shorter – maybe a novella. His moral-of-the-story would have been much sharper and poignant if he had cut to the chase. He drags it out as if the book is going somewhere but he completely misses his own point. He tries to hit the target, but he never really shot an arrow. 

J.E. ties his story up with a bow. He put a lot of thought into the present as well. But it's one of those presents you feel obligated/pressured to accept and pretend to like. 

…All complaints aside, this book was certainly the most thought-provoking and intellectual of what we’ve read so far. lol


Thanks, Panda, for saying everything that could possibly be said about the novel. haha. Kidding, of course. I think we really had very similar views on the novel, aside from a few key issues, and since Panda did such a great job flushing out meat and bones of the novel, I will mainly spend my time addressing the points where we disagree.

For starters, the marriage plot itself. Panda didn't get into what it means for the characters, but telling would be a big plot spoiler, so I approve. The important thing to know is that we disagree. We disagree about how the marriage plot applies to characters. I think this is a  really big deal. You would think the finale would be straight forward. The book wasn't a mystery, or some weird abstract movie that you can't really follow where at the end you are left asking, "What just happened?". The fact that we disagree makes the plot even harder to pin point. I would say two people being able to take away two completely things from a novel is good. It makes it versatile  But I am not sure that is what's happening in this case.

Another thing that I have to disagree with is the POV shift. I love when stories are told from different angles. Maybe because I always want to know what is motivating someone else, what really happened from their point of view. I think Leonard would not be a likeable character without seeing the story from his point of view. He would just be the crazy guy that treats his girlfriend like crap. But that's not really all there is to him.

I do whole heartedly agree that Med's character is a waste of paper. There is nothing to her. I don't think the same is true for the boys, but that doesn't mean I like them. Leonard is not defined by what he is studying. He is a science major, so he works in the field, yes, but there are things that loom larger than that - his issues with his parents, his disease, his obsession with Mad. Mitchell, on the other hand..... the more I think about him, the more I hate him. Perhaps because I had such high expectations of him. He's a religious studies major, but he's not really a religious person. It's more like God, or whatever might be out there, has this fascination for him. He does undergo a transformation throughout the book, but it is not well executed. I expected the highlight of the novel to be the trip Mitchel takes to Europe/India post graduation. But nothing that really related to the rest of the novel and it's "plot" REALLY happens there. Yes, Mitchell evolves as a character, but it doesn't matter because it doesn't effect Mad or the marriage plot in any significant way. His segment was a waste of space and a disappointment. But, if it has been left out, the book really WOULD be a novella.

In agreement with Panda, I have to say - I hated all the English major talk. It made it very difficult for me to get through, because it wasn't presented in a way that non-English majors could follow. It made the book seem elitist to me (and boring). In contrast, I did like the science portions. Eugenides actually seemed to know what he was talking about, without the Hollywood spin on it that generally makes science portions of books and TV/Movies unbelievable.

In general, I admire Eugenides's writing style. It works well for his genre, whatever that may be. But, I would not call it "A great romance in the Austen tradition" as the USA Today did. Bah!


Saturday, December 1, 2012


Okay, I know this “November” post is technically in December, but we *did* finish the book in November, so I don’t feel too bad about it being one day late (really, it’s my fault it was so late. Hel made a draft a long time ago but I’m just now getting around to finishing mine – so sorry!). But to the reviews! – Panda  

My brain is mush lately, so I am writing this in a sort of dazed, out of body state. Be warned.

I really liked this book, in general. I would really like to know the original fairy tale it was based on (called Donkeyskin), to see what the differences were. I kept wondering how much of the story has changed. I think that hindered my enjoyment of the book somewhat.

Though there were many things I liked, a few major things really bugged me. For one, at times the writing was really dense. A big glob of run on’s. This was mostly the case whenever the author wanted to create a dream-like scenario, described Lissar’s (aka Deerskin’s) depression, or other emotive situations. You could definitely tell that it was an adaptation from a fairy tale, because it had the aura of one. It made the whole thing somewhat annoying.

Another big issue I had with it was the length of the story, mainly because of the fact that it was written like a fairy tale. It’s not a long book, but it felt endless. The story seemed to go on and on, even though not all that much happened. It’s difficult to explain without giving too much away, but let me just say that there were large leaps and changes, filled in with the endless run on’s. It kind of felt like a Lord of the Rings marathon.
        That being said, the positives outweighed the negatives for me. The writing was beautiful, even if I did have to skip some parts. The excitement and wanting to know what was going to happen next even kept me away from Facebook and awake late into the night, reading. This doesn’t often happen to me anymore, because sleep is so rare and valuable with a baby. The book/story line was very versatile, offering violence, romance, and everything in between. The two main characters were big dog lovers, and I really liked that. It made me want a nice, sane, clean, soft, loyal dog for my son that he could grow up with and have such a strong bond with (I have issues with our dog, if you couldn’t tell).

McKinley did a great job of developing the characters, in my opinion. When we first meet Princess Lissar, she is shy, meek and naïve. At the end of the book, she is self-reliant, strong, and independent almost to a fault. Though they are first introduced as – seemingly – heroes, and their country loves them, the King and Queen are both surprisingly awful people, at least in relation to their daughter. .  

I’m still unsure about one point: the ending. I can’t tell if I liked it or not. It did leave me wanting for me, because it wasn’t a happy or a sad ending. Perhaps that is fitting for Lissar. Since the book is about her evolution from timid Princess, to shattered person, to strong, independent, goddess-like woman it would make sense that she cannot hand her fate over to a man. However, I did expect more from a fairy tale. Perhaps Disney has ruined things for us.

Overall, I give this book an 8.5 out of 10 and would definitely recommend it.


I would recommend this book to practically everyone.  

BUT, because I would recommend it, that’s part of my problem with it. (Not trying to sound like a hipster here, but) Deerskin didn’t hit me very personally, and so that’s why I’d be willing to share it with others.

If I had to give this book a grade, it would be a B+. I want to give it an A-, but I think that maybe if it weren’t based off of a fairy tale (someone else’s story) I would be more inclined to give it a higher grade.

Now, to break it down: The Author’s Note tells you what you need to know before reading. I looked up Donkeyskin (which I had never heard of before until this book) on Wikipedia before starting. I still don’t feel like I know enough about Donkeyskin to properly compare it to Deerskin, but I’m excited to find out more (I’ll be keeping my eyes open for this story from now on. Or, if you know more about it, feel free to comment on this post and educate me, son!).

In a time where fairy tales are taking over our mainstream (think of the new Beauty and the Beast and Once Upon a Time TV shows), it’s nice to see a book written that doesn’t focus on an over-done fairy tale.

Now, the book is split into three parts, so I’ll go over each one:

Part one: Now, this book was copyrighted in 1993, so I let a lot of today’s clichés slide. From the onset, you know this is an “adult” book. It’s not your child’s fairy tale. Lissar is the main character. She’s a princess. Lissar’s parents’ relationship made me want to throw up, because they (the king and queen) were so obsessed with each other. They are pure manifestations of vanity, as far as I can tell. As the Queen lay dying, she has a portrait painted of her for the king to always remember her by. The part about the painter goes on and on and on. But every time you get frustrated, Robin McKinley draws you back in with a new concept of her world to read about. Every side character is treated fairly. Even the painter has a personality that adds to the imagery. This whole story is imagery. There is hardly any dialogue (which usually would upset me). Sometimes you even forget about Lissar because of the fanciful world before you – just as her parents and her kingdom did. The kingdom described is so beautiful – a representation of sins, perhaps. The kingdom is so fragile that when the queen dies, it never recovers – because beauty is shallow.

Much of the writing style reminded me of Ursula K. LeGuin’s – but more delicate and feminine. I certainly liked this story more than most of Ursula’s stories (no offense, gurl, you a ground-breaker).

As I said before, Lissar (though our protagonist) is overlooked through most of part one – until she is given a dog from a prince in another land. The puppy’s name is Ash and Lissar starts to have feelings and take on purpose. Even her ‘friends’ have to use the dog to interact with Lissar.

Now, at this point, the “fairy tale” struck me as odd because in most fairy tales the father is the good guy and the mother (or step-mother) is normally evil. But it is clear that while Lissar’s mother most represented vanity, her father represented lust. When he announces he will marry his own daughter, the kingdom blames Lissar – not the mad king for this horrific statement. This is much like in our own culture when a girl is raped and someone says “what was she wearing?” People pin the blame on the female who could have “avoided” such a terrible situation.

When Ash threatens the king in order to protect Lissar, the king declares Ash will have to die. This was when I started to find things melodramatic. When the king finally rapes Lissar (as this was obviously going to happen – the buildup was obvious), I almost lost interest in the book. This part felt like it was out of character for the king – especially since Lissar is hurt so badly afterwards. Yes, I know Ash attacks him at one point and this makes him angrier but… I’m not even sure he would bother to rape her. Yes, he was obsessed with her, but the rape scene seemed weak and only served the purpose of creating a reason for Lissar to run away. He could have merely tried to rape her but Lissar could have gotten away. The fact the king wanted to marry her would have been reason enough to run away. However, maybe this has something to do with the Donkeyskin fairy tale that I just don’t know about.

Part two: When the king hurt Ash to get to Lissar, I thought Ash was dead. For sure. But she’s not. (Robin does this a lot with the animals in this story – you think something bad is going to happen to them, but it never really does).

However, where part one was weak, it gets better. Way better. Of course, you have to suffer the after effects of the rape (it is very drawn out). Lissar finds a vacant cabin and lives there for a time. They hunt, but not with bows and arrows. Ash attacks vermin and Lissar kills things with stones. I really liked this point about the hunting. Arrows are so cliché (thanks to The Hunger Games and Legolas) – and her hunting technique made Lissar seem so much more animalistic herself.

Magical elements like dragons are gently tossed into the story to remind you this is a fairy tale. Some scenes in part 2 I really felt like skimming, but the plot was starting to develop so I kept at it.  

Lissar meets Lilac – a girl who talks a lot and works with horses (even though she’s the daughter of someone rich-ish and doesn’t need to work or something like that).

Lissar, in this part, finally calls herself Deerskin. At this point we’re supposed to figure out that she’s suppressed her memory of her former self, but that point is not as obvious as I would have liked – maybe because it was based on the foundation of the rape scene (which I thought was weak).

She makes her way to the yellow city – the kingdom of the prince who gave her Ash (though she does not remember this). And now she has white hair and has gone through a (long story short) physical and spiritual transformation. The prince, Ossin, gives her a job taking care of puppies whose mother died the night before.

Now, Ossin (obviously) becomes the love interest. It is a love story done gently and I felt it made up for other parts that lacked strength in the beginning (like the rape scene). The villagers start to call her Moonwoman – after a folk legend they have.

The fairy tale/story becomes very meta when it talks about other fairy tales and such – which I liked.

When the prince takes Lissar in the portrait room and shows her the portrait of herself (that he had been sent), he is still too stupid (and so is she) to put things together. Ash is in the portrait also, and he even remembers what he named Ash. Granted, I can forgive it because Lissar looks so different (she didn’t always have white hair) and I also think that Ash’s coat grew curly at one point, which none of his other dogs had done.

When Ossin asks her to (eventually) marry him, she refuses. This part seemed silly to me and drew the story out for too long. She runs away with her dogs back to the cabin. At one point Ash gets hurt when the dogs try to take down a…I’m not even sure what it was, but it had horns. You think that Ash is going to die this time, but she never does. In fact (spoilers) no one ever dies. This is part of my beef with the story. It was too happy-ever-after.

Part three: Robin McKinley tries to give the story a twist when Lissar makes her way back to civilization and finds out there is a wedding going on. She thinks it is Ossin’s wedding (but even I knew it wasn’t – it just didn’t feel right). It’s her father about to marry Ossin’s sister. This seems out of character for himself also. He was so obsessed with Lissar that he was willing to marry her, but now he’s willing to betray his old wife’s wishes entirely (that he not marry anyone else unless she’s as beautiful as she was). Granted, yes, he does need an heir now, because everyone thinks Lissar is dead. But I feel like this point could have been drawn out more and the rape after-math scenes could have been cut from the story. The ending was wrapped up too quickly – Lissar exposes her father and she agrees to stay with Ossin (for as long as she feels like it). End of story.

Some final thoughts/points:

I really liked how this fairy tale broke binaries. Lissar didn’t need Ossin. They simply wanted each other. He did not complete her. The climax describes Lissar as both black and white – she needed no Yin to her Yang (or whatever).* It’s a very feminist piece of literature.

I did not like how – sometimes – the prince and Lissar thought/talked about breeding puppies. Yes, their dogs are good dogs with good personalities, but a lot of it is training too. I think this could give dumber readers the idea that breeding is best. Mutts for the win!!! (However, I really loved Ash. I love big dogs. And the way Robin describes Ash makes her the main character, really, in my opinion. Robin captures dogs so splendidly – it made me miss my own childhood dog so much that I found myself crying).

*This is a Taoist twist, in my opinion. This point made Robin’s themes seem much like LeGuins’s – as well as the oral tradition concepts woven into the story (such as when Lissar names the puppies and the names are, to her, a charm to help them live – live long enough to claim their names). These points and more reminded me extremely of Ursula K. LeGuin – but I liked how Robin was not as didactic as Ursula can be on these ideas. Though, Ursula was the first to incorporate them into sf.

The next book we're reading (for Decemeber) is The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides.   Read along with us!   
-Amanda Panda

Friday, November 16, 2012

Punishment Post - The White Tiger and Where We Belong

As you all have probably noticed, Hel and I have FAILED in our one-book-a-month goal. While we couldn’t finish up on October, we will still try and stick to the plan for the rest of the year – but maybe with fewer posts (Deja Dead’s posts took a lot out of us).

Also, to make up for the fact we’ve failed, we’ve decided to review a book we’ve previously read (and that wasn’t on our lists). These punishment-posts will prove we’re serious about book-talk and such…

Now – over a week into November – I’ve finally chosen the book I want to review to make up for October.

I’ll try and do my best at remembering all of this book – but I read it about six months ago. However, I don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to recall everything – and no, I’m not being lazy. I just want to prove how important this book was to me through a raw account. What sticks to memory is usually the important stuff anyway… The rest you can just look up on Wikipedia (that’s what it’s for!).  


In light of the Life of Pi film adaptation coming out, I wanted to highlight a book that talks about Indian religion, culture, etc. as well. Also, it involves a tiger too.

In fact it’s called The White Tiger. It’s by Aravind Adiga. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. And, more importantly, it’s good.

However! Even though I paralleled it to Life of Pi, don’t go into expecting something ‘fresh-faced’ and ‘enlightening.’ This isn’t fluff. It paints a very dark picture of India. It’s kinda like the Pulp Fiction of Indian literature (but don’t worry, it’s written in English…Did you know most Indian novels are? True story).

Also, where books like Life of Pi and Eat, Pray, Love tend to romanticize the Indian ‘way,’ this book doesn’t. It’s also tackling India from an Indian perspective, which gives it an added level of legitimacy (compared to the other titles mentioned). The book deals with Indian religion, politics, and culture in ways that keep you turning pages. It’s a very quick read. (So even though I say it paints a dark picture of India, don’t think it’s like a Bible-sized Rushdie novel or something).

The main character, Balram (or the White Tiger, whatever), is born into poverty. He attempts to become financially independent (which is nigh impossible for him) and in the process, helps his bosses cover up crimes, neglects his destitute family, and realizes he must kill in order to escape “the Darkness” that has him – and all of India – caged.

If you read this book you won’t get that tra-la-la all-religions-are-one bull crap that Life of Pi (god bless it) ultimately gives you. You will leave this book disliking the main character, yet completely sympathizing with him (this, in turn, will make you dislike yourself because you’re really no better than him). And lastly, you will see just how much influence the West has had on India and get a taste for how that actually can affect your life/beliefs.

Why should you read this work? Because it will teach you about India – the real India – in a way that is entertaining and meaningful.

Why might you dislike this work? Well, you might have a hard time digesting the gritty plot and the fact that a guy gets his throat cut in the very beginning (which I thought was AWESOME…I love excellent deaths).

Why do I like this work? [Answer will only make sense once you’ve read the book] Because I know what it’s like to touch people’s feet (and the fact I get so angry about it and actually haven’t experienced anything like Balram experienced makes me feel worse – I have no right to complain) [I don’t have a problem with feet, really].

Since Panda kindly left out any blame, I will admit to the fact that it was my fault we are behind. My excuse? My son got sick, I got sick, my husband is never home, his car broke down so he took mine, and I couldn't get to the book store to read, and I started a small at-home business. Good enough excuses for ye?

I had to admit to myself that I couldn't keep up with everything and, in the great scheme of things, this blog is the least important thing in my life right now, so I couldn't let it stress me out as much as it did.

But because I still want to read and all that, the blog goes on; as Amanda said, we will simply be making fewer posts.

Moving on.

Amanda's review makes The White Tiger sound amazing. An excellent review, darling,  and one that makes me ashamed of the book I am about to review. Keep in mind that I had just had a baby, was suffering from post partum depression, was extremely tired, and just wanted an easy read that would make me feel good inside.

So I read Where We Belong, the newest book by Emily Giffin - the author of Something Borrowed, which was made into a cute film a few years ago.

Let me just say, I am a fan of chick lit. Though it is often awful, it makes me feel happy, and that's what it's supposed to do. Which is why I continue to re-read Twilight every year. I have read all of Emily Giffin's books, and liked them well enough. This one, not so much. Her novels are generally centered by a love story, with other smaller stories surrounding it - friendship, family, mid life crises, yadda yadda.

Where We Belong was different because the central story was of an adopted daughter setting out to find her birth mother and connecting with her "real" family. In the process, the author also develops romantic interests for the daughter, Kirby, and the mother, Marian; we see the female leads interact with their friends - for Kirby, this means petty high schoolers; for Marian, petty up scale New Yorkers; and their respective relationships with their parents: Kirby feels like she doesn't belong with her family, and Marian has kept here pregnancy and the adoption of her daughter a secret from her father for the past 17 years.

Another difference was the fact that the perspective switched back and forth between the daughter and the mother, and I never felt like I really got a sense of who either of them are. Also, Emily's attempt to inhabit the mind of a 17 year old social outcast really fell short. Kirby was annoying. Emily tried to make her seem like a musical genius, and through in drum and classical rock references whenever she could, in very contrived ways. Marian was more interesting, perhaps so by default because she is a TV producer living in New York.

I was also left wanting when the two meet for the first time: Kirby shows up on her mothers doorstep after getting access to Marian's name and address for the first time on her 18th birthday. The scene is mostly written from Kirby's perspective, and though we do have access to some of Marian's thoughts and thus know that her emotions are out of control, her actions are far too nonchalant for the situation. Marian invites Kirby in, they go clothing shopping together, eat breakfast, and ignore all deeper issues for the most part.

One thing I liked about the book, and do about all of Giffins novels, is the fact that there are recurring characters. Some of Marian's friends were the central characters in other novels. Other than that, I can't really recommend the book.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

X Marks the Spot - Review of Eleven and Twelve of Deja Dead

The big giant panda here! 

Can I just say that the St. Jean Baptiste Day seems like a lot of fun? Reminded me of New Orleans or something. Not that I would really want to participate, but it would be fun to watch the parade from afar...

The fact that the perp, when running away from them, was wearing an orange hat (allowing Tempe to follow him clearly through that crowd) was... Dude, take the hat off. Orange is the brightest f*king color in the book, man. 

And though Claudel doesn't save Tempe's ass because of some pimp or hooker incident, he still has to save her ass when she gets trampled in the crowd. Tempe is not only the first battered main character (I'm right, right?), but she also fits the battered woman stereotype nicely. In fact, it's her very feminism which gets her into trouble (that silly female, she thinks she can chase down and take on the bad guy alone! She's so cute. Just look where that idea got her! Now, sit there and look pretty, honey). 

*The Panda is not amused* Females should not stereotype themselves, Reichs. 

But all meanness aside...

I was tickled by the Salman Rushdie reference Claudel makes. He compares the "bad guy" to him because of his little hide out. But then I was like... Rushdie shouldn't be compared to a bad guy. Even if I don't particularly enjoy his novels. lol.  But the fact Claudel knows who Rushdie is shows some sort of sensitive side, I'm sure. 

I'm sure there are more, but I only noted one Linguistic reference in my annotations. I'm too lazy (being a panda) to double check. Tempe seems more interested in Linguistics than science,   I'm tellin' yah. 

I have nothing to say about chapter 12 really. I have a few hunches about what will happen, but  I'm not really sure how to put them into words. I'll just read 13 and 14 for now! 

Of course, Panda knows who Rushdie is. Hel doesn't. Sigh.

The interesting thing here is that Tempe gets pushed down and trampled on in the crowd - and gets rescued by Claudel. Although in a way Panda was right about a man saving the day, it wasn't in a "a man is needed for this" sort of way. So I disregard this. Conveniently. It seemed for a moment that Claudel was going to be a nice guy now, but no.

St-Jacques escapes and Claudel goes back to being an ass.

While Tempe was getting pushed around and knocked down in the crowd, I really expected her to bust out some martial arts moves like she does in the TV show. I certainly did not expect her to be such a whimp. Then again, what are you supposed to do when someone yanks your head back by your pony tail to the point that you can hear your neck snap.

But, I love that they now have a subject to investigate. Things are getting exciting :)

The team goes back to explore the crime scene and find some interesting stuff in the basement, including newspaper clippings of crimes (some of which were the ones Tempe is working on, and some random ones), a map with x's marking the spots where the dismembered bodies were found, and a list of names (including the dismembered women) with details listed that only stalkers would assemble.

Despite all this, Claudel is not convinced that St-Jacques is the killer. Really? How much more obvious does it need to be? Then again, maybe it's a little too obvious. A little too easy.

They also find a picture of Brennan with an X made through her. Creeepy.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Allons-y! Let's roll! - Nine and Ten of Deja Dead

Howdy, ya'll!

We've gotten a wee bit behind here because my family is sick and I haven't able to get any reading done. But hopefully we will get back on track now.

In these chapters, Tempe, Claudel and his partner go after who they believe might be the perp (perpetrator). The man they are after used the last victims credit card at an atm, and a surveillance camera managed to capture a (sort of) picture of him. The owner of the little convenience store where the atm is housed claims he doesn't recognize the man from the crappy picture.

Howver, the trio lucks (sort of) out when they question two old men camped outside of the store. Technically, Tempe questions them. Apparently it doesn't occur to the detectives to question two men who seem to live on lawn chairs next to the atm.


One of the men believes the man in the pictures lives in a seedy apartment building down the road, so Tempe and the boys go to investigate. Sure enough, the perp lives there and his name is supposedly St-Jacques. The detectives enter his apartment without a warrant but with a key. Their breach of protocol will come back to bit them in the ass - though the apartment appears to be empty, St-Jacques is hiding behind the door to the basement, which they somehow overlooked, and manages to run out.

Erm, really? There's three people in the small apartment and no one manages to stop him? A parade is going on outside, and the perp manages to disappear in the crowd. Typico.


Panda here. 

I'm really enjoying the French swear words the characters keep using. I'm learning so much!

In chapter nine I only noted one Linguistic reference Tempe makes. (Yes, I'm keeping track now. It's the main thing that keeps me entertained). She makes a lot of them. 

In chapter ten, the No Warrant Entry really pissed me off. I don't know why. No, I *do* know why. It's because cops breaking rules (even in sly and clever ways that speed up the plot) undermines their authority. People in the entertainment industry need to realize that the way fake law enforcements behave affects real law enforcements. Remember when the TV show 24 was under critique because the torturers of Guantanamo got ideas from the show? When 'good guys' break rules terrible real life sh*t happens. See here and here (they open in new windows). 

But I'm done ranting. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The CUM Police - Review of Chapter Seven and Eight of Deja Dead

Chapter seven was, well... Well, I was kinda right about Gabby needing to be rescued by Tempe - and I'm pretty sure that it's still going to happen later on (in a bigger way). And this next time, well, Tempe won't be able to 'do' it on her own. She's going to need a man. Because that's just how life works, right? Right. 

Now about chapter eight... The CUM police need to change their name. Like, seriously. 

Also, I'm getting tired of Tempe talking/thinking about her menstrual cycle and "yeast infection[s]." I mean, I'm all for accepting the female anatomy (I kinda have to anyway, because that's what I've got), but this is the equivalent of guys talking about sports. I feel like authors put it in there to remind us, "This is a girl/boy character, see? She/he is talking about the monthly curse/sports. I know how to properly depict gender in my novel. I am brilliant." 

We get it. She's a girl. She can, you know, think about other things. 

Oh, Panda! You've stolen the words out of my mouth. I am pretty sure I spat my coffee out in shock while reading at Barnes and Noble when I read "I needed him [Claudel] here like I needed a yeast infection". (And I wasn't even drinking coffee!)

What the crap! I didn't see it as reminding us of the sex of the character, it seemed more like she was trying to show off with how well she could use similes. I HATE it when crime novels do this, because they take it to the excess and it always seems cheesy.

I also thought the name of the CUM police needs to be changed. I mean, come on!

Tempe as a person seems really boring. All she does is eat health food, drink coffee, do Tai Chi and follow the news. Snoooze.

Gabby is as annoying, if not more. Her character is a giant mess right now. Which I suppose is a necessity because Reichs needs to convey her fear but not give away too much of the plot.

However, I disagree about a man showing up to save the day. At least if the book follows the show. The T.V. Tempe is very independent, very knowledgeable in the martial arts, and quick to shoot people. Is that a flaw? Not sure. Her lack of need for a man is what makes her so appealing. We'll see what happens.


Touched for the very first time - Review of Chapter Five and Six of Deja Dead

I have a confession to make.

I have not bought this book. I find that when I'm at home, no matter my intentions, I don't read. I clean, Play with my son, paint, Clean some more. It's a compulsion. And I also know that if I buy the book, I want leave the house to read it. So. I haven't bought it and instead go to Barnes and Noble a few nights a week to do my reading. But it gets kind of hard to make posts later without having a book to look at. I should take noted while I'm reading. But I hate to interrupt myself. So excuse me if I misremember some things.

So, Tempe is plagued by memories of another murder victim she has worked with that seems to be a very similar scenario to the current victim. She mentions this to Claudel, encouraging him to take a look at the older crime to see if there is a connection, but her suggestion makes leaves him furious. It's easy to see that he does not welcome her input in the investigation. She is NOT the detective.

When a third victim is found, the fact that the murderer is a serial killer becomes undeniable.

Panda here! 

I'm on cold medicine so this may not turn out how I intended (by now everyone reading this blog probably thinks I'm a pill popper - sleeping pills and so on. You may not be wrong at this point...).

Chapter five was not worth the time. What even happened, again? lol. 

Chapter six, on the other hand, well... That was horrifying, ha ha. But, now we're getting somewhere!!! I mean, if you're going to write about death, lets do it in style. Make it worth reading about! Shove a Virgin Mary statue up a vagina. Gives a whole new meaning to "Like a virgin." 

*Considers how much of a psychopath I sound like.* 

But, yeah, the whole cut 'em up and put 'em a bag thing's just boring. 

On another note, WHAT DID I TELL YOU?!?! I *told* you Gabby was going to get in trouble, didn't I? I knew it! Boom. One point for the Panda. 

My next prediction? When Tempe goes in to save Gabby, she's going to need some help herself. That's where the leading man will come to the rescue - save the damsel in distress. UGH. (I'm betting myself five bucks right now). 

...Other than that I'm jealous of Hel's ability to read in public places. I can barely read when my cats are looking at me, let alone when B&N customers are around. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Whores are Bores - Review of Chapter Three and Four of Deja Dead

In chapter two and three we learn more of Tempe's character. She is an alcoholic. A recovering alcoholic, I suppose. They do say that once you are an alcoholic, you always are, sober or not. She's divorced, and has a daughter in college. When I learned that Tempe didn't start grad school until her daughter was in preschool,  it really gave me hope as to my own education. Granted, this is only a book and not reality, but it did make me feel a little more confident in my ability to go back to school despite having a child.

Tempe also has daddy issues, as she does in the show. In the show, Tempe believes both her parents to be dead. She grew up in foster care. We later find out that her parents were actually bank robbers who assumed fake identities to safely raise their children. Her mom was murdered (though Tempe thinks both her parents died in a car crash) but her dad underwent facial reconstruction surgery and assumed another identity. They reunite in one of the later seasons and begin to work on the inevitable problems caused when a parent abandons you, for whatever reason.

In the book, Tempe's father is a neglectful alcoholic. Her relationship, or lack thereof, has caused her to have issues with men. She needs approval from men - whether in the form of romantic interest or respect for her intelligence and credentials. Detective Claudel does not give her this approval, and so the tension between the two is heightened.

We are also introduced to Gabby, Tempe's best friend. In the show, the artist Angela is Tempe's best friend and co worker. Gabby, on the other hand, is another anthropologist. She studies the lives of prostitutes in Quebec's red light district. It's obvious by Gabby's strange behavior that something is not quite right with her research, though we don't know what. There is some danger inherent to the situation - pimps generally don't like anyone messing with their workers. I am excited to see how this situation is going to shape up.

Through her relations with Gabby, we see a part of the book Tempe that more closely resembles the T.V. Tempe. The autism Tempe. Though the book Tempe certainly has human emotions, she isn't all too good at following others' emotions or their intentions.

I am really fascinated by this and definitely read the book differently knowing that the author herself is autistic.

I agree with Amanda's point from the last entry that the book reads a little like a textbook. The science thus far has not been good. It has been boring. And that makes me sad.

This is not the reaction it's getting from me.

Panda here! 

I'm still laughing from this post, Hel. Your words are truth - ha, ha. 

First I wanna comment on how the book *is* getting better. Really. now I probably would've put it down because I still don't see enough plot. I have to know we're actually going somewhere before I give myself up to a story willingly. There's just so much set up and none of it is really that entertaining (I say this as if dead bodies and prostitutes are something I see every day). 

But since we're talking about plot...

I think that the prostitutes are a major plot device. This HAS to be connected to the plot, right? I mean, come on. Right? Right? Otherwise we just wasted a chapter on whores. Obvious plot point is obvious. My guess is that Gabby is going to be in trouble at some point because of her work and Temperance is going to have to save her ass. Just throwing that out there. lol. 

The closest thing I have to connect myself to this story is Temperance's obsession with Linguistics and an Ancient Meso-American Anthropology class I took in my undergrad studies. Other than that, this doesn't feel like my world/reality. 

Oh, and I forgot to talk about the map at the beginning of this book...

So, there's a map. A MAP. Really? I mean, reeeeally? Is this a high fantasy novel or something??? 

I instantly assumed this book was going be uber complex because of it, and then I started to cry inside because I don't want to think anymore and I just want to be entertained and I'm not even going to use it and it was such a waste of paper and I can barely read the fine print anyways. *Breathes* 

I mean, if I have to follow a map to follow your plot, I might as well study REAL crimes in Quebec, lol. Maybe if they didn't put the map in there, it would have seemed less pretentious. So far, I haven't even needed it. 

To Reichs's editors: How dare you give me a map.  

And now I must go read chapter 5-6. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Plunge - Review of Chapter One and Two of Deja Dead

Wow. So much to say about this.

So far I am a weee bit disappointed. I wanted to read this because 1) I love crime related things. Forensics are awesome and if I thought I was smart enough, I would most certainly pursue a career in the field. 2) To compare it to the show. Which is amazing. Wonderful. Swoon worthy. LOVE LOVE.

But, as of yet, the book is not much like the show at all. I had heard this ahead of time, but thought that at least the characters were the same. So far all we have is Temperance and a detective she is working with. I assume, but it has not been establish yet, that this is supposed to be Seeley Booth. It's hard to tell because his name isn't Seeley - it's Claudel.

Other differences:
1) It's set in Quebec, Canada. Not Washington, D.C.
2) Tempe is divorced, whereas in the show, as all us fans know, she has commitment issues and doesn't really believe in marriage.
3) Tempe's personality. In the show, she never lets her emotions interfere with her work, however macabre. She rarely struggles with this. The Tempe in the book is much more "human". The book Tempe also talks about how she often makes plan in her head but they never come to fruition. For some reason or another, she puts them off. The TV Tempe would never be dissuaded. Adventure calls and she answers. Period.
4) Her work. It's hard to tell because Reichs does not go into much detail as to the look of the facility, but I get the impression it's not as high tech as the Jeffersonian. Then again, nothing is. Not to mention that she TV Tempe can look at the body and tell you its age, etc., whereas the book version has to perform fancy tests and whatnot. I am not complaining about this - Hollywood will distort reality. Simply noting the difference.

As for the crime featured in this book: the body found has the hilt of a plunger shoved up to the "hilt" in the pelvis of a young woman. Ouch.

All in all, I like the book so far as a book. It falls short when comparing it to the show, but it's early yet. I am hoping to see some more flare and character, and more SCIENCE.


Amanda Panda here (finally). I must apologize to Hel for taking so long to get to this! When did I stop being on top of things?!?

Okay, so, first of all I ordered a used book off Amazon and expected the cover to look like the one in the picture. But no. It's ugly and plain and looks like a common paperback you'd see at a garage sale. Not that I judge a book by it's cover or anything, but I don't want people judging ME when I'm reading it. lol. 

Also, it's so fat it doesn't stay open at the page I need, so reading and typing my annotations is a total b*tch. 

But I'll stop complaining about things the poor book author can do nothing about...

I hate the first person point of view. Give me omni-presence or give me death. I feel limited and restricted to their body and perspective. Granted, some of my favorite books are first person POV, (like _Perks of Being a Wallflower_), so we'll see. 

At first her descriptions of Canada and the weather made me scream, "SHOW, DON'T TELL!!!" but then it got better. However, Reichs also goes into A LOT of historical details about Canadian places. When I read a book, I don't want it to be a text book. I don't need a lesson. I'm not sure I remember half of what the first chapter was about because I zoned out so much. lol. But hopefully that's the last of it. 

Also, I'm already having trouble keeping the characters straight. I'm going to have to pay closer attention. 

However, some facts about her job are really interesting. It's almost like I'm her co-worker observing her work...not that I really understand anything she's doing. 

Side note, I'd rather work with dead bodies than live ones, lol.  

I found her oddly interested in Linguistics: "I wondered if Constable Groulx was capable of a compound sentence." And, "I'd never heard him use a contraction." If she's noticing these things, maybe she should change career fields. lol. 

At one point she mentions Beatrix Potter, and that made me happy. 

I thought that one of her points was very profound: "Violent death allows no privacy. It plunders one's dignity as surely as it has taken one's life...The victim becomes part of evidence, an exhibit on display...It is like looting on the most personal level." 

So, yeah, remind me not to die violently, okay? *shivvers* 

I can't really compare the book to the TV show. I'm not sure I've ever watched a full episode. I prefer comedies over crime shows. But in the show previews, Bones seems like someone with a form of Asperger's, but in the book she's capable of emotion.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Up Next: Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

Well, it's been fun, but we are moving on to the next novel: Deja Dead Kathy Reichs.

Get your copy soon, and read a long with us! We plan on covering two chapters per review, but if certain chapters fit well together, we will group them as needed.

This should be fun. I have high expectations!


Kicks to Six - Review of Part Six of Treasure Island

Amanda duh Panda here!

So...This is the last part. I'm happy to finish up the first book for this year! I feel accomplished. But, I'm not really sorry to see this book go. Not to say I didn't like it, but it didn't change my life. It's not really an old friend. Maybe a second reading in the future will give us a chummy relationship, but right now it feels like I finally got rid of an unwanted house guest! Not that I dislike them, but it was just really hard to entertain them and make time for them and they threw off my schedule.


Now, this is going to be short because I've got to get stuff done. I'm going to be busy reading J.K. Rowling's new book A Casual Vacancy - which we didn't think to consider putting on the list! So, hopefully I can cram it all in, in a few days. Otherwise, I'll be reading two books at the same time for this 'month'!

Okay. Here it goes.

I really really really started to fall in love with Silver in this part. I still didn't know if I could trust him, but Stevenson gives him a lot of the spot light. I love how Stevenson describes some of his actions - like talking with his pipe and his long 'speeches'

They talk a little more about the black spot in this section, but I'm still confused. I don't know if I get it or not. Really, it just seems like a jury vote. Did I miss something? Why all the dramatic mystery surrounding it? Why not call it a vote again?

I liked the part when Gunn shows up. Situational irony right there.

Then, it pretty much ended the way I wanted/expected it to. I wish I had read this as a younger girl. I would probably have enjoyed it more.

Move on over and let me at it, Panda.

First off, we were really daft not to add Rowling's new book. What were we thinking?!

Second, your opinion is the same as my own. Silver is definitely a hero-villain, but an evil one, through and through. His allegiance will change depending on who can benefit him the most. Whatever role he's in, he plays it perfectly. He's like the bad boyfriend who has his sweet moments and you can't bring yourself to leave him because when he's sweet, he's sooo sweet.

When it comes to Ben Gunn, I really thought he was going to be a bad guy. The way the doctor was hinting at Silver, I imagined something gruesome had happened to them when they went to find the treasure, and that's why they had given up the map. Obviously it was all a ruse. Disappointing.

I don't regret reading thing, but I can't really recommend it. As Panda said, I am glad this unwanted house guest is gone, and now I can change back into my sweats, kick my feet up, and not have to worry about Silver stabbing me in the back....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

5 Bottles of Beer on the Wall - review of part 5

Hey there, it's Hel!

So here we are at part five, second to last section of Treasure Island. If I had been reading this for fun, I would have given up by now for sure, but I am finally starting to enoy it.

Our hero Jim really begins to blossom. As you will see if you read the book , he actually saves the day - although everyone assumes he has abandoned ship. I laughed out loud when he sees sea lions for the first time and confuses them for giant slugs. I guess that kind of makes sense if you've never seen a sea lion, and giant slugs would be a nightmare. Another thing that really tickled me was his description of big things - one more than one occasion he says the phrase "goodish bigness". Har har.

One thing that really frustrated me about good ol' Jim was his stupidity with Isreal Hands. He knew Israel had a knife and was planning on attacking himself, yet he didn't do anything to arm himself. But, it all turned out alright and his interactions with his enemy show that he has grown as a person, over all. Blossomed, as you will. Just as my Wen conditioning shampoo is supposed to do to my hair, but it doesn't. Alas.

It's really easy to compare Jim to Frodo, as Panda has done in the past. After Jim kills Israel, he talks about having become used to dead bodies. It's really sad that anyone would get used to that, and it reminds me of the loss of innocence even the hobbit Frodo suffered. But I suppose we all grow up at some point. Except Peter Pan.

Panda here! 

First off, Hel made a Pan reference and that makes me happy. 

Second, I just took a sleeping pill, so I'm going to keep this short. 

I could forgive a lot of Jim's stupidity because he is so young. A lot of the time it was like this was all a game to him - a game he eventually wins at (despite his high risk taking). He even calls it a game at one point - one he "thought [he] could hold [his] own at." It's an ode to youth. They think they're invincible. But then again, if he didn't do something he'd probably die on the island. He didn't have a lot to lose at this point, I guess. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dooty is dooty - Review of Part Four of Treasure Island

Amanda here!

When the narrative switched perspectives, I was a little pissed. I knew I would have to start paying closer attention then.

...Don't judge me.

Most of this part I had no idea what was going on. This is probably because there were a bunch of action scenes. But I powered through it.

At this point in the story I realized that all my going-in assumptions about T.I. were completely wrong. For some reason I thought there was going to be a little magic and a few mermaids in the story. I don't know why. I think I saw a Disney version when I was a little kid and there were mermaids in it.

Disney clearly took creative freedom.

...Davey Jones is mentioned at one point. And that made me happy.

This is Hel, hear me roar!

Anyhoot, yes, confusing section! I think what makes this section so confounding is the ship talk. Poop deck, starboard, yadda yadda, blah... As a Navy wife, maybe I should know a few of these terms. Alas, I do not. And so I really didn't follow very well. I do know this -

Most of the crew has joined Silver in the mutinee of Captain Smollett and the good doctor, squire, and our hero, Jim. The pirates have taken over the ship, and the two groups are coming to blows, losing lives on both sides (though our main cast remains unscathed). This is the part that is really confusing. Though I usually like action sequences, these just don't make any sense to me. I've still got a grasp of the big picture, but many of the finer details are lost on me. What a headache.

Panda and I agree that this book, thus far, is not written for our time and is somehow "lost in translation".

As a side note, I'd like to add that the book has been made into a movie at least once. I saw it at one of my local Reboxes last week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gunns blazing - Review of Part Three of Treasure Island

Amanda here!

So, in this part everything you expected to happen...happens.

Ben Gunn is dear to my heart. Especially since he likes cheese so much. I suspect that his name is a play on words for "Been Gone." Because that's what he's been. He hasn't seen another human in quite some time.

I want to parallel him to Friday from Robinson Crusoe, because he's the non-human human - the character portrayed with below-average intelligence, yet he still has something to offer. He's described as "lurking" like some animal, so that's where I'm coming from.

I thought it was funny that Jim automatically assumes he might be some sort of cannibal. Jim had obviously been reading too much Defoe. But I will admit, the dude is crazy.

Hey-ho, it's Hel :)

I have to agree that Ben Gunn is an interesting/funny character (nice observation about his name, by the by). He seems to be what I imagine Captain Sparrow would be like if he remained stranded on an island instead of continually managing to escape. Ah, good old POTC.

The way he is introduced is hilarious. He is described as being really fast. I guess he's gotten good at maneuvering on the island since he's been there. But the way he was described, I pictured the whole thing like a Scoobie Doo cartoon or something - Ben creeping from behind one tree to the next, stealthily but quickly, on tip toes.

Interestingly, Ben claims to be very rich, which leads me to believe he is in possession of the treasure. I guess we will see!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two fer two - Review of Part Two of Treasure Island

Hel here :)

I hope you enjoyed "International talk like a pirate day" yesterday! It was very fitting for our theme.

Moving on to business.

Part Two of Treasure Island introduces the infamous Long John Silver, who is the "hero-villain", as my copy of the book describes him, and your stereotypical pirate, peg leg and all.

Silver is an interesting character because you never know whether to believe him or not. He is very charismatic and everyone loves him. I love the way he uses the word "dooty", but I find the pirate/sea talk hard to follow. Half the time I feel like I don't know what's going on.

Arr, matey.

I love love (double love means it's true love) the captain that the squire hires to run the ship. He is, clearly, a bad a**, and very suspicious of the crew the squire has hired. However, everyone, including the captain, agrees that Silver is trustworthy.

Is he? Is he? I guess we have to keep reading to find out. Hopefully I can stay awake through the rest of this.

Amanda Panda here!

Okay, so, at this point in the story the hero starts on the adventure. The Fellowship - er, I mean, crew - is assembled and they are on their way. No surprises yet. Same old same old. 

Silver steals the show - kinda like when Orlando Bloom was supposed to be the main character in P.O.T.C. but Depp ended up in the spotlight. To me, Silver's a Mad-Eye Moody character. And we all know how he turned out. 

I love the names of the others. Israel Hands's name, for some reason, reminds me of the old line "Call me Ishmael." Don't know why. Maybe someone else can elaborate on this point, if there is any possible connection - I've never read Moby Dick and I don't intend to. 

Silver's parrot, Captain Flint (named after the real Captain Flint), is a direct ancestor of the Monkey from P.O.T.C. "We named the Monkey Jack." ...Seriously, you guys, Pirates of the Caribbean is making this book less enjoyable because it's all been "done before." But the sad thing is, is that this book was actually first. 

But on another note, I think that they should do a film adaptation of this. Is there one out there that I don't know about? Is it any good? Well, whatever the case, I would watch this. 

Now, for my opinion of this 'Part.' ...Of course the first thing you do when you find a treasure map is to collect a crew of rascals to help you search for it. Forget telling the government about it and asking for their help and their men. I mean, there is NO POSSIBLE way when you bring the treasure on board that the men will want a cut of it. No, all the men will just stick to what they're paid and never give the gold a second glance. 


Heck, even I would overthrow the captain if they were dumb enough to hire me and wave gold in my face - a history of piracy or not. There is NO good way to bring back treasure. Why do you think the last dude had to leave it behind? 

Only money-hungry men would bother with this futile mission. This should tell you something about our main characters. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Treasure Island Review Part One

Amanda Panda here!

Okay, so apparently there are six parts to Treasure Island. And, after some confusion (on my part) we decided to do a review-thing for each one.

So, here it goes.

First of all, the reason I wanted to read this book is because one, Stevenson wrote Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which I loved, and two, J.M. Barrie references T.I. several times in the novel version of Peter Pan. And, I’ll admit it, if Barrie likes something then I’m going to like it too (don’t ever make me choose between Peter or Harry because the decision will make my head explode).

Okay, now. Down to business. The first part is promising. I was having fun. All the brilliant pirate tropes are there – the man with one leg, the drunkard, the secret chest. I can see where Pirates of the Caribbean got a lot of their inspiration.

I’m still trying to figure out how to think about the black spot. And the blind man that gave it to Billy Bones, well, he was freaking creepy. Billy Bones is a Gollum character – one whom Jim begins “to pity.” And speaking of Gollum, Jim is a Frodo character. All the normal plot set ups are there – the story gives its main character an object that catapults him into adventure. Thus, you know where the story is going. (And yes, I’m going to be referencing LOTR a lot in this blog. It applies to everything).

The only bad thing about it so far is the lack of strong female characters. Granted, I did not expect this from Stevenson. So far, I’ve gotten what I wanted. I give it four out of five peg legs. Let’s see how the score changes as we go along, matey!

                                                                                  ~ ~ ~
Hel's Turn!

To start off with, let me apologize for the format/font issues our blog is having right now. We are still trying to figure out the best way to make a distinction between Panda and myself, but copying and pasting fonts into blogger isn't working so well!

Anyway, to get to the review of Part One...

I was thinking much the same as Panda. She tends to be on my wavelength a lot. However, I am not a huge Barrie fan like she is. I loved  Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but I honestly had no clue that it was by the same author. I don't pay much attention to author names. So I wasn't looking forward to this book very much, even though I love pirates. But so far it's been good.

I really like the character Pew. I think he was entertaining and well defined. (I especially like the part where he gets run down by the horse; made me laugh a little). The other characters seem a bit wishy washy in their personas. In novels where the personalities are well defined, you can get to know a character and predict their reactions in given situations. This isn't the case here, and I suppose it often isn't in classics. Take Billy Bones, for example. I can't decide if I like him or not. My opinion is probably influenced by Jim's view of the pirate, as he too fluctuates between loyalty and hatred. I do agree that Pirates of the Caribbean got a lot of inspiration from this book.

I'm curious about the black spot as well. It remind me of the Death Eaters mark in Harry Potter, which appeared whenever Voldemort wanted to summon his minions. 

Stevenson was on a roll during the squire and doctor monologue after Jim handed over the treasure map. The conversation was witty and entertaining. Here's a brief clip:

" 'That we shall soon know,' replied the doctor, 'But you are so confoundedly hot-headed and exclamatory that I cannot get a word in' " (pg 33).

I hope this sort of dialogue continues. 

Amanda and I both listened to a CD of real-life pirate music (collected and produced by Johnny Depp) called "Rogues Gallery". So now we leave you with a sampling from the CD: Baltimore Whores.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Chosen Few

The suspense is killing me! Is it killing you? I’m sure it is, so sure…
Here are MY picks, i.e. the books I chose off of Panda’s lovely little list:
1. Treasure Island
2. The Last Oracle
3. Redshirts
4. The Fault In Our Stars
5. Deerskin
6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Yay! I’m very excited to be reading all these great picks. I hope you guys will read along with us. If not, what are you reading right now? More importantly, I wonder what Panda has chosen from my list!

Amanda here! These are the six I picked from Hel’s list! 
2.Déjà Dead
3.All the Pretty Horses
4.The Grapes of Wrath
5.The Marriage Plot 
6.The Paris Wife

(In Captain Planet voice) WITH OUR LISTS COMBINED…these are the 12 books we’ll be reading this year.  

The reading schedule isn't fixed, but we’ve decided to read Treasure Island first (it’s actually the shortest!). It will give us time to get our act together (I need to buy used books off of Amazon, etc., etc.).  

So…you should totally read along with us. Or, if you've already read it, check in sporadically for when we put our discussion-things up. I already have A LOT to say about Treasure Island. (Where the f^ck are all the mermaids I thought were in it?)