Sarah Rees Brennan (sarahtales) wrote,
Sarah Rees Brennan

A Plague Is On My Flat

The time has come to confess this: I am wretchedly ill. I have been in sniffly denial for some time, but today it is beyond my power to deny. I was sitting wrapped in a blanket writing fighting scenes (almost as good as make-out scenes!) and I kept thinking 'Must buy milk!'

Eventually I tottered weakly down to the shop.

SHOPKEEPER: Love, I think you've had enough.
SARAH (peers intently at the carton): But this is - I mean, this is milk, isn't it?
SHOPKEEPER: Yes. You've been down here and bought milk three times today.
SARAH: ... Huh.

Some time later, the Durham Lass came home and flopped on the sofa.

DURHAM LASS: I need tea. Do you know, I think if I developed an allergy to tea, I would have to top myself.
SARAH: I am glad you want tea! Let's all have tea! With lots of milk!
DURHAM LASS: Oh, good, did you buy milk?
SARAH: Don't look in the fridge!

Out of pity the Durham Lass has been entertaining me with many interesting historical facts! And I have been contributing to the conversation as well.

DURHAM LASS: Do you know that the ancient Greeks used to make puns with their coinage?
SARAH: My head feels all fizzy!
DURHAM LASS: The Chinese Emperor was buried surrounded by mercury, in an elaborate tomb that may resemble the universe and that is definitely filled with treasure. We can't open it yet, but someday we may have the technology to do so and, er, not die.
SARAH (seriously): If I had a car... I would make it go vroom.

I am not updating to tell people merely that I am sick. That would be very dull for you all! It's also been a while since I made a books post, so I decided to recommend two books I enjoyed recently - and also to make a point connected to both of them.

My friend Susan and I were having one of those writing days that turn into writing nights and, since it was four a.m. and all, she decided to sleep over. Once in bed, we both broke out books: I was reading Evernight by Claudia Gray and she was reading Northlander by Meg Burden. I went to get a glass of water.

SUSAN: Oh God, not another redheaded heroine!
SARAH: Stop reading my book this instant!
SUSAN: ... I wasn't.
SARAH: ... Oh God.

Look, I've liked many a redheaded heroine. But being a redhead is rare, you guys. And I'm saying this as an Irish person. And the fact it's rare is reflected in that you see an appropriate amount (i.e. few) minor characters with red hair. But redheaded heroines are everywhere! To the point where when I opened Diana Wynne Jones's House of Many Ways and found a redheaded heroine, I winced.

I winced at a Diana Wynne Jones book. Such a thing should not be.

The redheadedness of their heroines aside, these were good books!

The blurb on the back says Diana Wynne Jones ought to be crowned with coloured garlands because she is the best. I agree with that. I love her writing with all my heart. Read this book! Unless you haven't read Howl's Moving Castle, in which case read that book, and then read this one.

Despite my initial wince at the red hair, the heroine of this book is grumpy, spoiled, amazing and a realistic portrayal of an avid reader. In that moment of despair, Charmain could only think of doing what she always did in a crisis: bury herself in a book. Sometimes crazy readers are annoying! Sometimes they are very impractical people! Sometimes you should put the book down and do the laundry.

And yet all the book lovers are sympathetic people, some books are really magic, and the villain of the story, while perfectly able to threaten the lives of charming tots, is turned from going into the library by the sheer horror of his spectators. I love Diana Wynne Jones! I love how down-to-earth about everything she is, especially magic.

I also love Howl, who I entirely believe would sign a letter 'Alluringly yours.' He is cowardly and vain and truthful and handsome and his hair is obviously dyed and he is one of my favourite characters ever.

Um, I can do something besides gibber with love for Diana Wynne Jones. There are characters called 'lubbockin' - half-human half-lubbock (insect headed monsters) creatures that are 'almost invariably evil.' The idea of any creatures being 'almost invariably evil' always pings me wrong: it's too easy to just have a designated villain race. I hope to see a good lubbockin in another Diana Wynne Jones novel!

That aside, my gibbering with love for Diana Wynne Jones will now resume. Fetch me the garlands!

Vampires. Creepy boarding schools. Two great tastes that taste great together! Plus L.J. Smith liked this book, which makes me very happy. When I was sixteen I ran home every day from school hoping that a package of L.J. Smith books had arrived from the wild Americas. I got the book at once. And I liked it a lot, too, though I do have a couple of reservations.

There are two very cool twists. I am not certain I entirely bought the first twist, but then I have high standards for twists and because of a childhood spent betting on Agatha Christie novels (to this day my family is bitter about Murder on the Orient Express) I always want sufficient signposting. Though not so much that I am sure what the twist will be. I am hard to please! But I do love a twist and I always appreciate books that contain them and like I said, these? Are very cool twists.

There is also a romance. The romance itself became True Love too fast for me - kids, get to know each other first! - but oh my holy Lord, I have not read such excellent make-out scenes in a really long time. The best thing about them is that the girl is in charge. And it doesn't make the boy look weak! The boy is a badass. He is also overwhelmed by how super-fine the girl is. And there is no bad there. Because really, I have no objections to boys overwhelming girls with how super-fine they are, but we see so much of it. (They're like redheaded heroines.) Imagine how those marriages will turn out!

HERO: Here I am with my rippling muscles, come to overpower you with the force of my raw masculinity! Again.
HEROINE: Awesome! Here I am, shy and girlish and inexperi-
HERO: Except we've been married for five years.
HEROINE: I am not sure I take your point.
HERO: Well, I'm just saying you're not exactly inex-
HERO: Why does it always have to be about overpowering you with my raw masculinity all the time? What about me? What about my needs?

Which is to say that a scene in which the girl says, 'C'mon honey' and the boy says 'No, I don't know oh God maybe, yes!' is in my opinion? Absolutely fantastic. Definitely my cup of vampiric tea.

So, any book recs for me? Equal romances? Down-to-earth magic? Only non-redheaded heroines may apply. (Unless the book is really awesome.)
Tags: book recommendations, book reviews


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