This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I won a contest.

Notice the lackluster punctuation in this post's title. A period is a very understated full stop. There's none of the provocativeness of a question mark or the enthusiasm of an exclamation point. Forget about the coy suggestiveness of ellipsis marks....

As you probably have seen in the post below, I read and savored Meg Cabot's Insatiable. After having raved about it to those who have no choice other than to listen to me because they're stuck living with me and if they don't listen I will just follow them to the bathroom and yell my review at them through the door as they do inside that which can only be done in a bathroom (keep in mind many a shower has been taken under a tropical waterfall - at least on Gilligan's Island - so obviously I'm not talking about that), I perused the internet for mentions of the book. I did the "simple Google search" that unhelpful people are always telling us we can do to learn about things that they are too lazy or daft to tell us about, even though there is sometimes no substitute for picking a real person's brain. So, on this search I found a contest, entered and was later notified that I'd won a signed copy of Cabot's vampires-in-NYC-tale. I gleefully dashed off a thank you email and received Insatiable today via the US Postal Service. I love getting books in the mail.

So why the listless punctuation? My inner existentialist teenager (named Morticia) is screaming the answer: people are YUCKY. All right, that's my inner existentialist teenager, Morticia, self-censoring her language. Morticia may be into the whole well-the-world-is-hurtling-through-space-and-tomorrow-we-might-hit-an-asteroid-and-die-anyway-so-why-bother-thing that some teens go through, but she doesn't feel it's necessary to use bad words. So, 'yucky.' Use your imagination.

You know those days when work just GETS TO YOU and you wish you could dream up the next big useless money-making idea (like that blanket-cape thing people wear around the campfire on that TV commercial and everyone seems to adore although humans have been doing perfectly well for centuries by draping a proper blanket over their shoulders)? And then you go on errands and someone tries to fleece you and you quite rightly complain to a manager and now you're not fleeced but you invested time and energy in the endeavor when you were all the time wishing that you could be playing Hungry Hungry Hippos like when you were a kid? You know what I mean, right?

Of course you do. Because that is the human struggle: to toil in the workaday world while harboring fantasies of flipping game chips into multicolored plastic hippopotami's mouths and watching the money roll in from your blanket-coat business. Perhaps you'll say, 'Wait a minute. Isn't it nice to come home to a signed copy of a fabulous Meg Cabot book? Count your blessings.' Well, of course you're right. But sometimes yucky people just drain you of the energy needed for enjoyment of good stuff. But writing is a good catharsis, and I'm feeling a little bit better now. So you know about those yucky people?

Yuck them. I'm going to gaze lovingly at my new book.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

'Insatiable' by Meg Cabot

I heard about this one, probably on one of those mass emails the big bookstores send out. I had a coupon and thought this would be a fun splurge given the 40% discount. So when I went to the store (a big one with a grand opening coming soon), I headed to the adult fiction section with the help of a really nice bookseller. It's always pleasant to be in a new bookstore, even if it is one of those cookie-cutter chain stores that have eaten up the market and pushed out the indies. Let's face it, it's not the employees fault these stores seem so often to be soulless.

So, anyway I was a bit surprised 'Insatiable' was in the adult section, I guess since Cabot always seems to be known for kids books (though she writes for adults, too.) I opened her book, took a quick peek and decided I wasn't spending the money. Too bad, it had sounded good when I'd read about it online.

The next week I went back for something else. Once again, I had a coupon. Once again, I was compelled to look at 'Insatiable.' This time I bought it. And, after a quick (for me) read lasting a few days, I have to say I thought this book was delicious.

Okay, that's one of those cutesy words that seem pretentious and overwrought, but you know what? Sometimes it just works. I loved this book. It didn't seem like a Cabot to me. For a long time, this author had perplexed me. I was familiar with the Princess Diaries series and not overly impressed. I'd dipped in to other books of hers and they all sounded the same to me as far as tone was concerned. I like a writer who can slip into different voices the way character actors slip into different personalities for their roles. But then I read her first Allie Finkle book and I thought, yeah, kids will like this. She's good.

'Insatiable,' about a soap opera writer who hates the current vampire trend and is thrust into the world of real-life vamps, is over the top and full of references to pop-culture. (Did I see a stab at the banking industry or did I just imagine that?) It's funny. It's romantic. It takes place in NYC. It features a character who walks around Manhattan in a long leather trenchcoat armed with a sword out of a fairy tale and no one blinks an eyelid. Who doesn't love that?

Points of views are from different characters at different times, though it's always in third person. You'd think this would be jarring, but it's perfect. It's laugh-out-loud funny. And, Cabot's right when you go on her website and find the cautionary note that 'Insatiable' is meant for adult readers. It's a bit sexy, too. And swashbuckling.And it features great supporting characters (caricatures?).

As I was just into the beginning pages of the book - maybe in the 60s - I thought to myself, Why did I ever think I wouldn't like this book? And I was grateful that that momentary misjudgement didn't permanently keep me from this novel. That's how much I enjoyed it.

This seems to be a bit of a habit with me. I laughed and laughed about the 'Twillight' series until I actually read them. Hoovered them, really. I should really write about those, too and fix some bad karma.

So, I liked 'Insatiable.'

And it has a pretty cover. ; )

How I find books

When I was a little girl in grade school, my class would take one class period a week to visit the school library, a sunny big, open beautiful room run by a nun who was lovely and taught reading and who always got my name wrong. It was a great place. After all, 'that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet' so, really, I don't remember the name thing really bothering me a lot.

This lovely library was staffed by volunteers mothers who would check out books to us kids. We would file out of our homerooms, half of the class at a time, for half a class period. Then we'd peruse, we'd read, we'd mingle a bit and borrow a book. Instead of library cards, we had sheets of paper on which we wrote the name and authors of the books we read and then we'd give a rating: poor, fair, good, or excellent, if I am not mistaken.

I'd love to see one of these sheets again. Who would have thunk back then the value a grown-up me would see in these reading records.

I was so soft-hearted that I had a great aversion to the 'poor' rating. For me, 'fair' was as low as it went, unless, truly, it was a pathetic book and, really, nothing but 'poor' would do. In these cases, I was very proud of my integrity overcoming my wussiness.

I could truly be a ditzy kid. One day at the library, I was returning my reading material and I had forgotten to rate the book. The mother sitting at the library desk asked me, "And how did you find the book?" I was stunned that she would ask me a question with such an obvious answer. After all, we were in a library loaded with books. How could you miss them? I squinted my eyes. "I looked on the shelf and there it was," I replied. Keep in mind that I did not mean to be rude; this was pretty much said in complete innocence. That was the day I learned another meaning for the word 'find.' These things happen when you're a kid.

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