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November Book

I thought it would be appropriate to give away my November book on Thanksgiving. Now, of course, to me Thanksgiving is a strange and exotic thing, like 'cheerleaders' and 'prom.' As a child, it pretty much just seemed like something made up for the movies.

As a grown-up, I have celebrated Thanksgiving twice, and I enjoyed it very much both times. There is a whole pile of delicious food, you guys. There is DERBY PIE.

What is Derby pie, you may well ask? I will tell you. It is chocolate chip cookie dough pie.

I can best describe the amazingness of this pie by describing to you my vision of a Truly Good Time.

SARAH: *is on her cherry-red sofa curled up with a new book, possibly either Kelley Armstrong's The Reckoning or Megan Whalen Turner's A Conspiracy of Kings, and a bowl of hot Derby pie and cold vanilla ice-cream*
DOORBELL: *rings*
SARAH: *answers door*
ERIC FROM THE TV SHOW TRUE BLOOD: Sarah, my beloved, at last! I have fought hordes and crawled over broken glass, broken women and broken men to be at your side! Come away with me and be my Queen of the Night.
SARAH: Uh. I'm a little busy right now.
ERIC: But only you can truly warm my cold undead heart - and only you can look amazingly fabulous at the helm of the yacht I have purchased for you.
SARAH: My ice-cream is melting, so if you would excuse me...
ERIC: Let me introduce you to a world of dark pleasure and unimaginable luxury.
SARAH: I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR.

Derby pie is that good.

'Sarah,' you might at this point say suspiciously. 'What have blond vampires and pie got to do with your November book? Are you not straying A LITTLE OFF THE POINT?'

You shouldn't doubt me. I am as on point as a ballerina or a stake. For my November book of the month is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margi Stohl.

It may seem eccentric to have a book that comes out December 1st as my November book, but a) it is so good I could not wait! and b) It fits in with Thanksgiving in a key way I will discuss later.

For now, I will say this. I love books set in the South in the same way that I think people love books set in Ireland: it's very strange to me (never been) and there's a rich culture there, and a really different way of doing things. I love other kinds of media set there too - I love the Gone With the Wind movie as well as the book and I love the TV show True Blood. (You see how my earlier mention of True Blood's Eric the Vampire is relevant now, don't you? All my vampires are relevant - I would never present you with gratuitous vampires.) All of them have seeeveral issues, but I love them nevertheless. I love Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird and Saundra Mitchell's Shadowed Summer. So when I was presented with a 600 page teen fantasy novel set in the deep South I was beyond thrilled.

A plentylot (Yes, that's a word. I'm a writer, we know these things) of YA fantasy books are set in Generic Small Towns/Generic Suburbia in the US. I am against this, because - well, because we are all against generic stuff, aren't we? Few people pipe up and say 'What I really like is for my food to be bland.' Gatlin in Beautiful Creatures is a small town that is the furthest thing from bland - even though Ethan, the narrator, feels stifled by the small town atmosphere we get a vivid image of what the town is like, and from the start we know the town is much more interesting than Ethan thinks. It's atmospheric enough to roll around in.

And then there's Ethan. He's a boy. Okay, Sarah, quit rocking our world with your amazing information, say the peanut gallery, but there is a real scarcity of boy narrators in YA fantasy. Now, this is not the same as my generic towns complaint - I love that girls get so much of a voice in my favourite genre, but it is at a point where one looks around and cries softly because one is all alone... I like boys to get a voice sometimes, so they don't seem like Alien Creatures. And I like seeing girls to be awesome through boys' eyes as well as through their own. It is always nice to have variety.

Plus I am glad not to be all alone. *sob*

And not only is the boy our narrator, the girl is the supernatural one who the boy is drawn to. And Lena is awesome, through Ethan's eyes or not - I like her being off-beat but anxious to make friends, but immediately ferocious when challenged. I like that she wears black nail polish and absentmindedly writes on her own hands. She's great - both a teenage girl unsure of who exactly she is, and very much her own person. And Ethan is very much his own person too: I like very much that he's a jock who loves to read.

I really love the romance in Beautiful Creatures because, in spite of the fact there are supernatural complications, incubi, secret libraries, dark pasts and curses to make the whole situation High Drama Angsty, the main characters are also huge dorks about their romance in a way we can all empathise with. (Possibly just me...)

ETHAN: Lena, even though we are TELEPATHICALLY LINKED, I am not sure if you like me!
LENA: I REALLY like you.
ETHAN: Really like like REALLY like?
LENA: Yes.
ETHAN: So - just so I'm clear on this - you like like me. In that special sort of type of way.
LENA: Yes.
ETHAN: OMG yay!
LENA: Yay!
EVENTS: Tragic long-dead soldiers, evil relatives, family curse, did we mention incubi?
LENA: Ethan, even though we are TELEPATHICALLY LINKED, I am not sure if you like me...

It is a sweet and really believable romance. They are such dorks, you want to hug them both.

I also very much enjoy that the book is long: I read fast, and especially with such an atmospheric book, it felt right to be able to sink right in and be totally submerged, whether fighting off evil curses or enjoying descriptions of extremely delicious-sounding Southern food. (See, Thanksgiving and pie was just as relevant as the vampires.) The book gives itself time to explore its minor characters, too - my very favourite is Marian, who came along just when I was thinking I'd like to see a cool lady besides Lena. She's a librarian with secret supernatural knowledge! She's a lady of colour and it's not a big deal! I like Marian even more than Lena's Uncle Macon, who is sort of like Edward Rochester cast in the role of Boo Radley. Plus I think it is cool that the book was co-written: I have co-written myself and it is such an interesting process.

To make a long story short, if I was curled up with Beautiful Creatures and Derby pie, I might not even answer the door to blond vampires. Who wants Beautiful Creatures? I'm afraid I can't offer anyone Derby pie.

Comments

( 263 comments — Leave a comment )
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allaboutm_e
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks for a great post that makes me very happy. I ♥ BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, which is known to me, and Eric, although more the book version than the TV version, and I suspect I will ♥ Derby Pie, should I have chance to encounter it.
sarahtales
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
I am glad to be happymaking. ;) I like both versions of Eric, although admittedly both took me time to cotton onto. Also in the books I want Eric and Sookie to be together, while in the TV show I would like Bill and Sookie to stay together and Bill to wear less foundation...
(no subject) - allaboutm_e - Nov. 26th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - empresstria - Nov. 26th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - indigo_jo - Nov. 28th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
thethirdbar
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
man, that sounds like a good book, i would love it if it is as awesome as your recs usually are (...and i can't imagine why it wouldn't be). i need some new reading material because i am too poor for christmas this year and books take away my pain. :D

Edited at 2009-11-26 05:35 pm (UTC)
elizardbits
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
EVERYONE KEEPS TALKING ABOUT PIE TODAY BUT NO ONE IS GIVING ME ANY. This is indeed a sad and vexatious state of affairs.

Nevertheless I will never say no to a book. Er. Within reason.
ate
Nov. 28th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
Your icon says it all. WANT PIE. Within reason... like... GIVE ME FREE REIN ON ALL YOUR BOOKS and I'll sort out which ones comes with me... Hahaha I like the disclaimer!
severuslovesme
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
Sounds fascinating! I would love it!
queenside
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
So hi, random person here, who just happened to be browsing through someone's flist. May I say:

DERBY PIE FTW.

Thank you, that is all!
jkalderash
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
I would like that book! And some pie!
raggedyanndy
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
OMG why have I never heard of this glorious thing called Derby Pie???? It sounds wonderful.

*ahem* I'd also love a copy of this book. It sounds really good! Just like the pie...
anarianothren
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Lol! Too bad about that derby pie. Never tried it, but you've made it sound incredible.

I'd love Beautiful Creatures! The south has always been fascinating to me since I read Tom Piccirilli's A Choir of Ill Children. I think there is a fine degree of mystery to be found in the deep lagoon of the seldom explored southern US.

But that might be that I'm just Canadian and suffer from a horrible lack of lagoons...

~*Anaria*~
(Deleted comment)
sarahtales
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
I am very fond of The Vampire Diaries also. I should write a parody!

... Basically, it seems I really like vampires, as long as they come with a different slant. *pictures herself ordering 'vampire with a twist' at a bar.* I have a vampire book I wish to write one day, when my agent will let me.
(no subject) - basbleu - Nov. 26th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
hapaxnym
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
I have TWO pies.* But I do not have a book featuring an awesome Librarian-named-Marian. This must be rectified.

*Pecan and pumpkin. Which is alliterative happy-making
ate
Nov. 28th, 2009 03:44 am (UTC)
As I read your Declaration of Pie my mouth filled with envy. And drool. But mostly envy.
dimestore_romeo
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow would I love that book!
mitchco
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
I'm lucky enough to have my own derby pie. :) But I would love a copy of Beautiful Creatures.
(Deleted comment)
karit
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)
How have I never heard of derby pie before? It sounds MAGICAL. So does the book!
timeripple
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
*looks guiltily at own Beautiful Creatures ARC, lying forlorn and half-read under a pile of Victorian novels*

I... should finish that some time soon, I guess.

But more to the point, I am salivating at the mere thought of another Megan Whalen Turner book!
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( 263 comments — Leave a comment )

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