Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TBR Tuesday: It Always Happens This Way

(Subtitle:  When will I learn?)

I'm here in Philadelphia for my medical vacation.  I've gotten the colonoscopy and mammogram done and just have some blood work tomorrow.  I've had a lovely time hanging out with Brit Hub 1.0 -- we went to see How To Train a Dragon (in 3D) last night -- and I have a mediation session this afternoon and dinner with a good friend I don't see nearly enough.

What I haven't been doing enough of is reading.  Yes, I know I brought a bazillion books, but it's looking like I'll be lucky to get three of them finished by the time I leave on Thursday.  I always do this:  I imagine myself with time on my hands and books at my side, but I'm always overestimating the amount of time I'll actually have to just sit and read.

Take today, for example.  I actually got through the mammogram quite quickly (got there early and was out in just over an hour), so no long waits with my book in my hands.  I came back to the house only to find that I had to deal with one thing after another.  Heck, it's been two hours and I'm only now starting to blog.

I really want to have finish the current TBR read:  Mercedes Lackey's The Fire Rose.  It's (yet another) retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this time with a wonderful mix of historical accuracy, early feminist doctrine, and fantasy.  Rosalind Dawson is a scholar of ancient languages when her father (cliché #2: the feckless father) loses all their money in a shady banking deal in Chicago, circa 1890-1900.  She was going to get her doctorate from the University of Chicago, but when her father (a professor there) dies, she's saddled with immense debt, and no way to pay it.

The beast in this version is an intriguing character named Cameron.  No spoilers here, obviously, because I've not read far enough along to learn the spoilers myself!  Cameron is a fire mage; the cover art would suggest he's taken (or been forced to take) the form of a fox.   

Edited to add:  My bad.  If I had only read a bit farther along, I could have reported that Cameron is in wolf form.  But I'm leaving the fox photo because it's so pretty.   
He is very wealthy and lives in a gorgeous estate some two hours south of San Francisco.  He has lured Rosalind with the promise of a job as governess to two fictitious children who are so exception they need a tutor with knowledge of Greek, Latin, medieval French, archaic German, and the like.  When she gets there, though, she learns that no, her job will actually be to translate passages from books, speaking into a speaking tube, for Mr. Cameron's edification.

Rosalind is a smart heroine; when Cameron warns her that she may have to read texts that are odd and even disturbing, he's thinking of alchemy but she's thinking of something altogether different.
Mister Cameron -- I have read the unexpurgated Ovid, the love-poems of Sappho, the Decameron in the original, and a great many texts in Greek and Latin histories that were not thought fit for proper gentlemen to read, much less proper ladies.  I know in precise detail what Caligula did to, and with, his sisters, and I can quote it to you in Latin or my own translation if you wish.  I am interested in historical truth, and truth in history is often unpleasant and distasteful to those of fine sensibility.  I frankly doubt you will produce anything that will shock me.
Cameron is thrilled.  As he later muses, "I had expected a mouse, I have been given a lioness."

Alas, that is as far as I have gotten.  But I commend to anyone who likes fantasy almost all the books by Mercedes Lackey and Robin McKinley.  They are both wonderful writers, and they choose to write very gynocentric stories.  Lackey, in particular, has rethought fairy tale conventions to conform to a much more modern notion of what women can do but also what they don't do.  If you haven't read The Fairy Godmother and its immediate sequel, One Good Knight, you have a huge treat in store.  (Alas, there's a tiny little bit of actual sex in these books making them -- possibly -- unsuitable for little kids.  If you read them aloud, though, you can skip that page with no difficulty, and go back to brainwashing uh, educating your favorite children in the worth of women in this world.)  The third and fourth books in the "500 Kingdoms" series are not as good, but I'm delighted to see she has Sleeping Beauty coming out in July 2010.

Now, if you will excuse me -- I have a book to read.


  1. I'm heading off to South Carolina in the morning - for 10 days. I have 10 books packed...I'm hoping that I have enough. I suppose I could actually buy a book in Charleston, but I'm always beset by doubts about the availability of reading material. If I run out, I'll have to dip into my 15 year old's books - he's taking 3 or 4 books about Galileo for a research paper he's working on.

  2. Do you know what my favourite bloggers ... and I count you as one do ... they make me salivate to read the book! Will you be listening to tapes on the way home?

  3. Did you enjoy How to Tame A Dragon???
    My friend and I absolutely adored it... once we got past the scottish vikings. o_O

    (sorry totally skipped over the rest of the post, as someone just put me onto this series and I am determined to keep hunting for them and get them read. So avoiding info on them. LOL)


  4. Betty Debbie -- Welcome to the East Coast! You're due to get some nifty weather. You won't read 10 books, I guarantee.

    Janet -- I'm listening to The Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman in the car on the trip; read by Lenny Henry (Brit sitcom star) and his dialects are wonderful: Island patois filtered through England and Florida.

    I haven't started to buy books (romances) in audio format mostly because I haven't run out of books in my poor county library to check out!

    Edie -- It's safe to read the rest of the review; I really didn't write anything that you wouldn't have gotten from the back cover blurb. But the next blog post I do on The Fire Rose -- that you will want to skip. :-)

    We loved How To Train Your Dragon -- it's just how I like animated movies: sweet, funny, enjoyable, and with a teensy bit of a moral at the end. Plus "Toothless" is adorable!


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