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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Books - Grown Up, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Humble Bundle: Audiobooks!

Grave sightLots of stuff, ranging from The Perfect Storm to Fight Club to How Music Works.

Currently, $10 will get you the whole collection, and I have no doubt that they'll be adding more as the sale goes on.

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2. Semi-Grown-Up Gumshoes: Three Adult-Market Girl Detectives.

I've been meaning to read Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead for, well, years.

Finally, tipped over the edge by Colleen Mondor's response to a recent Kirkus column of mine...

...I did.

In so doing, I was inspired to compile a SHORT list of girl detectives who reside in the Adult Stacks.

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, by Sara Gran Claire dewitt and the city of the dead

Claire is now in her thirties, but she STARTED OUT as a teen detective: first, running around Brooklyn solving mysteries with her two best friends according to the tenets laid out in Jacques Silette's detective handbook/philosophical treatise Détection, and then, investigating the disappearance of one of those friends.

She never found her.

It's been years since she's been in New Orleans—she left after her beloved mentor was murdered—but now she's back, investigating the disappearance of a District Attorney who went missing during Hurricane Katrina. It's full of great descriptions and depictions of post-disaster wreckage, New Orleans culture, and gentrification; the dialogue is excellent, there's a fantastic sense of place and atmosphere, and the mystery itself is tight tight tight. It's about innocence lost and about lost innocents, about history repeating itself, about different ways of dealing with tragedy and about how easy it is to lose one's self.

All that would be fantastic on its own, but where the book really shines is in Claire's voice, which reads both totally original AND classic noir. She's got a deep well of sadness and anger, but she's also understatedly hilarious. To say that she's not entirely reliable is probably an understatement—she's got a history of psychiatric problems as well as a penchant for abusing drugs and alcohol on a regular basis—but, at the same time, I never doubted that she was speaking her own truth.

I had a few issues: there is some unnecessary repetition in description and explanation (her truck, what wet is, info about OPP), but more bizarrely, there is a refrigerator that mysteriously appears out of nowhere (at first I chalked it up to her semi-instability, but as there was never another moment like it, I'm pretty sure it was a weird continuity error):

Newish appliances in the kitchen and a hole where the refrigerator had been. p28

Next I took prints from some spots around the house a visitor was likely to touch, labeling them as I went. The doorknobs. The refrigerator. p36

And, this is completely a matter of personal taste, but the Quaker parakeets as a metaphor for the forgotten/lost/unwanted of New Orleans was a little too LOOK IT'S A METAPHOR for me.

But, overall, HOLY COW I LOVED IT, and I'm going to request book two from the library TODAY.

What Was Lost, by Catherine O'Flynn What was lost What was lost

I read this YEARS ago, and apparently never wrote about it. Which is sad, because it was great.

It's about a 10-year-old girl detective who skulks around a shopping mall, trailing suspects and investigating imaginary mysteries... until she disappears, never to be seen again. Twenty years later, a mall security guard—who was a classmate of hers—spots her on the surveillance footage...

A Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley:

June, 1950. When we first meet eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, she's tied up, gagged, and locked in a dark closet. Not for long, though: her older sisters Ophelia and Daphne may have her beat in terms of pure physicality, but they'll never be a match for her brain.

So when a real tangle of a mystery arrives at Buckshaw—quite literally at the front door—Flavia isn't just intrigued: she's ecstatic. She doesn't know what the dead jackdaw means, or why it has a Penny Black postage stamp impaled on its beak. But she does know that it means something to her philatelist father: and whatever it is, it isn't good. When she finds a dying man in the cucumber patch later that night—a man who she saw arguing with her father just hours before—the mystery becomes that much more intriguing... and with her father as the most logical suspect, her need to find out the truth becomes that much more urgent.

Others? There MUST be more.

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3. Challenge update: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Curious incident of the dog in the night-timeFrom the Lebanon Democrat:

The book in question, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time,” was banned from the reading list at the board’s May 5 meeting and was removed from the possession of students soon after. However, the books were given back to students on the advice of school board attorney Mike Jennings due to a possible conflict with a board policy.

“The word ban was a bad choice of words. I wanted it removed from the reading list, but instead we go out and start removing books from libraries and kids arms and they couldn’t do reports. That was not the intent of that,” said board member Wayne McNeese, who made the original motion.

After going back and reading the previous articles multiple times, comparing McNeese's comments here to his comments a few weeks ago... I have written and erased so many snarky responses that I've lost track. Because it seems to me that he wants it both ways: for the book not to be in use at the school, AND for people to not see him as a censor.

I just figure if you're going to go for it, OWN IT.

Previously.

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4. If There Be Thorns, Part Two: Dollanganger #3 -- V.C. Andrews

If there be thornsRomantic Incest 101: Flowers in the AtticPetals on the Wind, and If There Be Thorns: Part One.

p71. PART TWO.

p73-86. JORY. 

Okay, things are ramping up: Jory takes issue with Bart being a puke to Cathy, Bart escalates by TAKING A SWING AT JORY'S HEAD WITH A BASEBALL BAT, they wrestle.

Also, Bart now knows that his biological father was Bart Winslow (duh) and not Doctor Paul.

Jory tries to get Corinne to stop spending time with Bart.

Also, he knows he's super-handsome, but knows that talent is what matters, because beauty fades. (But he still digs beauty.)

Why was she telling me her life story? I didn't care. [ME EITHER, KID. ME EITHER.]

...

"I married for a second time. My four children hated me for it. [Yes, Corrine, THAT'S why they hated you. HOW DID SHE GET OUT OF THE ASYLUM? She must have escaped, because she is CLEARLY STILL BANANAS.] ... "Children always think adults have it so easy. That's not always true. Children think a widowed mother doesn't need anyone but them." She sighed. "They think they can give her enough love, because they don't understand there are all kinds of love, and it's hard for a woman to live without a man once she's been married."[Oh, Corinne, Chris and Cathy are WELL-ACQUAINTED with the type of love to which you're referring, assuming that you're talking about RAPEY SEX LOVE.]

These characters seem to think as long as you SIGH OFTEN ENOUGH, you can convince ANYONE OF ANYTHING.

Also, Corinne gets WAAAAY TMI with Jory about her past.

Including marrying her uncle. OH, EXCUSE ME, HER "HALF UNCLE".

AND SHE CONSIDERS CORY'S DEATH 'ACCIDENTAL'. YES, CORINNE, I'M SURE THAT YOU 'ACCIDENTALLY' DUSTED THOSE DOUGHNUTS WITH ARSENIC. THESE THINGS JUST HAPPEN SOMETIMES.

He gave her a smoldering look of resentment and hobbled into his hole, wherever that was.[AHAHAHA, okay, you get points for that one, Jory.]

After getting her to promise not to hang out with Bart any more, Jory witnesses the UNVEILING OF A PAINTING (because V.C. Andrews) OF THE OLD LADY WHEN SHE WAS YOUNGER... AND SOMEBODY CALL ROD SERLING, BECAUSE SHE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE HIS MOTHER!

And then, all dramatically, she tells him who she really is. Again.

AND NOW IT LOOKS LIKE BART KILLED JORY'S DOG.

A dog that I thought was a cat up until a couple of chapters ago, but whatever.

p87-97. BART.

So, Malcolm's journal continues to be a charming circus of fun and delight: Now he's talking about how his interest in S&M—emphasis on the S, not-necessarily consensual, and DEFINITELY NO SAFE WORDS—led him to God. You know, so he wouldn't go to hell.

Bart doesn't actually think that Corinne is his grandmother. Or that's what he's saying at the moment. She's just some old lady who loves him because he's so damn lovable.

He's peeved that Cathy bought Cindy a new bathing suit. Maybe he expected her to wear his hand-me-down swim trunks?

Jory's dog Clover has been missing for two weeks, but Bart is still building him a doghouse. Why they'd give a kid who A) can't feel pain and B) can't look sideways at a gallon of milk without spilling it and C) is TOTALLY MENTALLY UNBALANCED access to carpentry equipment I don't know.

He's also so in love with his dog that he likes to PICK UP WARM POOPS AND SQUISH THEM THROUGH HIS FINGERS. I barf.

John Amos is still on the blah blah blah, women are naked and sinful and evil, blah blah blah train.

Chris and Cathy are still squabbling about their mother—Chris doesn't understand why Cathy won't "forgive and forget"... THAT SHE LOCKED THEM IN AN ATTIC FOR YEARS AND KILLED THEIR BROTHER—and so on.

At the chapter's end, Bart INJURES HIMSELF, JAMS HIS FINGER INTO THE WOUND TO MAKE IT BLEED MORE, IS NOW GUSHING BLOOD, HAS STARTED DRINKING FROM THE FISHPOND, AND FOUND CLOVER DEAD IN A HOLLOW TREE. 

He's apparently more aware of his deteriorating mental state than I thought, as he isn't sure if he killed Clover or not.

NOW HE'S DECIDED THAT HE, HIMSELF, IS DEAD. 

IF ONLY.

p98-106. JORY.

Bart has GANGRENE and might lose his leg.

And of course Christopher INSISTS on treating him himself, even though he doesn't even know whether or not he's allergic to penicillin. (He is.)

TWO DAYS OF HIVES, AND HE'S ALSO ALLERGIC TO EVERY OTHER ANTIBIOTIC KNOWN TO MAN.

Cathy asks for aspirin and Chris gives her tranquilizers. BECAUSE CHRIS KNOWS BEST.

Apparently the ENTIRE FAMILY AGREES: Given a choice between amputating Bart's leg and letting him die, they'd RATHER LET HIM DIE.

Jory goes home to feed Apple and finds him chained up in the barn, fur all matted, starving and dehydrated. YAY ANIMAL CRUELTY. So he fixes Apple up, which I'm sure will GO OVER REALLY WELL WITH BART, ASSUMING HE LIVES.

Bart's going to live AND keep his leg. It was infected not only because of the rusty nail, but also because of ALL OF THE POOP IN THE WOUND.

He and Jory talk about how Corinne is afraid of John Amos.

If Bart refers to Apple as his "puppy-pony" ONE MORE TIME, I'M GOING TO SCREAM.

Annnnnd scene.

p107-116. BART.

UGH, BART. HE WANTS TO BE LOVED BUT FEELS THAT HE ISN'T SO WHENEVER ANYONE SHOWS HIM AFFECTION HE'S A JERK SO THEN THEY DRAW AWAY BUT THEN HE RESENTS THEM FOR NOT SHOWERING HIM WITH AFFECTION AND HE'S JUST THE WORST.

ALSO, HE HATES WOMEN. SO JOHN AMOS' PLAN IS COMING ALONG NICELY, WHATEVER IT IS.

Good food and smiles and kisses were all parts of "feminine wiles." [TOTALLY! I have an idea, Bart: Why don't you start making all of your own meals? OR JUST STOP EATING ENTIRELY. THAT'LL SHOW 'EM!]

...

That's all it took—one hour and they were tired of me and wishing I had died. [Bart, if you had died, I wouldn't have faulted them for throwing a party.]

He sneaks out to go and see Apple, and is FURIOUS to find that Apple ISN'T starving and miserable. 

I WANT SOMEONE TO SQUASH THIS KID LIKE A BUG. Maybe they can get Jack Gleeson to come out of retirement to play him. 

Bart walks in on John Amos, who was reading JUGGS. (I don't know if it was Juggs. But judging by how quickly he hid it, I'm guessing it was that or something similar.)

If we cut out the number of times that John Amos tells Bart A) Corrine's name, B) that she is his grandmother, and C) that she was Malcolm's daughter, this book would be four pages long.

John Amos gets him to SWEAR TO WRECK VENGEANCE on Malcolm's enemies, and Corinne slips up, referring to Christopher by name. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

p116-121. JORY.

He has really gone bananas, was all I could think as I listened to him.[NO DUH, JORY. WHAT TIPPED YOU OFF? WAS IT THE FACT THAT HE IS CURRENTLY DIGGING HOLES IN THE YARD... WITH HIS MOUTH?]

Although points for nicely twisting Bible verses to make them ugly. Beth Ellen Hansen's got nothing on Bart.

Oh, nice. So Chris and Cathy have KNOWN that Bart has gone bonkers... they've just been WAITING FOR JORY TO COME TO THEM ABOUT IT. WAIT TO BE PROACTIVE, GUYS. MAN, JULIE COOPER HAS BETTER PARENTING SKILLS THAN YOU DO.

"You've both been so worried about Bart that I couldn't speak." [SINCE WHEN HAVE THEY BEEN WORRIED? THEY'VE BEEN TOO BUSY SCREAMING AT EACH OTHER AND HAVING MAKE-UP SEX IN THE LIVING ROOM TO NOTICE WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND THEM.]

WHO FINDS THE BODY OF HIS MURDERED DOG AND DOESN'T TELL HIS PARENTS IMMEDIATELY?

He tells them all about the toys and Apple and the lady next door... BUT HE FAILS TO MENTION THAT SHE CLAIMS TO BE THEIR GRANDMOTHER. BECAUSE THAT'S NOT VITAL INFO OR ANYTHING.

Erm. Bart says a whole bunch of stuff to Cathy that is CLEARLY based on their family history, but SHE DOESN'T DO ANYTHING.

And then she tells Chris about it (because he's a MAN, so HE'LL KNOW WHAT TO DO), AND HE JUST BRUSHES HER OFF AND SAYS THAT BART WILL BE A GREAT ACTOR SOMEDAY.

Characters I would like to throw off of a cliff, in order from most hateful to most idiotic: ALL OF THEM.

p122-130. BART.

Bart is hanging out, picking scabs and chewing himself swollen and bloody so that Cathy will worry about him. Which, gross.

Emma makes him a birthday cake—like, a month late, but whatever—and he throws it on the ground because it doesn't have the right number of candles.

I'm thinking that Cindy's paddle pool is the V.C. Andrews equivalent of Chekhov's gun. AND BY 'THINK', I MEAN 'HOPE'.

Oh, great, now Cindy is naked and "tormenting" Bart with her "bare flesh". REMINDER: SHE IS TWO.

Ahahahaha, John Amos says that Corrine never "punished her children enough". I guess that imprisonment, abandonment, and arsenic doughnuts don't count.

BART TOTALLY TRIED TO DROWN CINDY. 

Jory caught him, and Bart claimed to be "just punishing her a little", but Jory's not having it. So Bart hauls off and KICKS JORY IN THE CUBES. (Jory, being Jory, chides him for unsportsmanlike behavior whilst writhing around on the ground in pain.)

Everybody hated me, and would be glad to see me in my grave. [WELL I WONDER WHY.]

THEN HE PUNCHES EMMA AND CATHY TACKLES HIM (WHILE WEARING A SKIMPY BLUE BIKINI) AND SO HE TRIES TO BITE CATHY... AND THEN SHE SENDS HIM UP TO THE ATTIC!!!

SHE TELLS HIM TO DROP HIS PANTS (BECAUSE SPANKING HAS TO BE ON THE BARE BOTTOM, OBVS), AND HE TELLS HER THAT IF SHE DOES IT, HE'LL BIDE HIS TIME AND 'GET' CINDY AND HE WON'T GO TO JAIL BECAUSE HE'S A MINOR.

At this point he's making Mrs. Rochester look totally sane.

AND SO HE RANTS A BUNCH MORE AND SHE RUNS AWAY, LOCKING THE DOOR BEHIND HER.

Later, Christopher spanks him—but remember, old Bartie doesn't feel pain, so big whoop—and says that A) they're sending him to a psychiatrist and B) if he "persists in defying" them, THEY'RE GOING TO COMMIT HIM.

NOT BECAUSE HE THREATENED TO KILL HIS SISTER, NOT BECAUSE HE (MAYBE) KILLED A DOG, BUT BECAUSE HE WON'T BEHAVE.

And now Christopher is screaming at Cathy for locking Bart up in the attic.

I NEVER THOUGHT I'D SAY THIS, BUT I'M KIND OF ON CATHY'S SIDE HERE.

He goes to the psychiatrist and disapproves of the fact that she has boobs.

p130-135. JORY.

Man, Bart is a horrorshow, but ALL JORY EVER DOES IS EAVESDROP.

Our nighttime talks were the kind of tucking in he gave me . . . advice on how to handle difficult situations. Man-to-man stuff a woman didn't have to know about.[UGGGGGGGGGGH.]

Jeepers, was the dad from We Need to Talk About Kevin based on Christopher? Because they are equally dense.

Speaking of Chekhov's gun, is Christopher going to die in a car accident like his father? BECAUSE JORY'S ALWAYS HARPING ON ABOUT CATHY SAYING "DRIVE CAREFULLY" WHENEVER CHRIS GOES ANYWHERE.

Cathy offers Bart some lemon meringue pie, so he smashes her porcelain ballerina, then shoves Cindy off of her lap and onto the floor. GOOD TIMES, WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

And now Jory is holding her and comforting her.

As you never can tell with this family, I'll be clear: He's comforting her, not "COMFORTING HER". BUT THERE'S STILL HALF A BOOK LEFT, WHO KNOWS WHAT IS YET TO COME??

Also, Cathy's going on and on about how hard parenting is and she never knew it was so complicated AND IS THIS BOOK ULTIMATELY GOING TO BE ABOUT HOW CORINNE WAS JUST HORRIBLY MISUNDERSTOOD?

IF SO, I WILL RALPH.

END OF PART TWO.

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5. If There Be Thorns, Part One: Dollanganger #3 -- V.C. Andrews

If there be thornsBackstory: Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind.

If There Be Thorns begins:

In the late evening when the shadows were long, I sat quiet and unmoving near one of Paul's marble statues. I heard the statues whispering to me [clearly her Years of Incestuous Bliss with Chris haven't improved Cathy's stability any] of the past I could never forget; hinting slyly of the future I was trying to ignore. Flickering ghostly in the pale light of the rising moon were the will-o'-the-wisp regrets [what] that told me daily I could and should have done differently. [JEEPERS, WOMAN. YOU ESCAPED YOUR MURDERESS MOTHER; YOU GOT REVENGE ON HER THAT INCLUDED GETTING KNOCKED UP BY HER HUSBAND, BURNING HER HOUSE DOWN, AND GETTING HER COMMITTED; AND YOU ARE NOW LIVING AN IDYLLIC LIFE WITH YOUR HUSBAND/BROTHER. WHAT MORE COULD YOU POSSIBLY WANT??] But I am what I have always been, a person ruled by instincts. It seems I can never change.

Also on p3: Cathy found "a strand of silver" in her hair, so soon she "might be her grandmother". Which is a totally reasonable logical leap.

And it looks like Jory and Bart are going to narrate some, if not all, of this book.

Part One

p5. JORY.

In case you've forgotten, Jory's first name is actually Julian, after his father, Cathy's first husband, the abusive rapist ballet dancer. But they call him Jory, in memory of Julian (suicide via embroidery scissors) and Cory (murder by doughnut).

I was hoping that Jory's narration would be less convoluted than Cathy's, but, no: 

Whenever Dad didn't drive me home from school, a yellow school bus would let me off at an isolated spot where I would recover my bike from the nearest ravine, hidden there each morning before I stepped onto the bus. [I... where the hell do you live, kid? A totally isolated, yet high bike-theft area?]

To reach my home I had to travel a winding narrow road without any houses until I came to the huge deserted mansion [because of course] that invariably drew my eyes, making me wonder who had lived there; why had they deserted it? When I saw that house I automatically slowed, knowing soon I'd be home. 

The travelogue continues, but I'll spare you. They live twenty miles north of San Francisco, and in the next three sentences, he tells us that the area is "cold", "dreary", "cold" (yes, again), "eerie", "spooky", "mysterious", and "romantic".

He also has "vague, disturbing memories" about "a southern garden full of giant magnolia trees dripping with Spanish moss".

p6. Oh, good. He wants to be a famous dancer, so his father will have "not lived and died in vain". Because the way to future happiness is in basing your life around proving that your Dead Abusive Rapist Father was a great dancer.

He sees his ballerina grandmother annually, so apparently Cathy reconciled with her at some point.

"Safe in the valley where the wind doesn't blow," my mother said often. Too often, really—as if the wind blowing greatly distressed her. [GOOD THING THEY SETTLED NEAR THE COAST, THEN.]

They have a cook/housekeeper, Emma, who is "pleasingly plump" and waits on Young Bart a lot because he breaks/spills everything he touches.

p7-8. The boys spend a lot of time sitting on a wall.

THIS BOOK IS RIVETING, I TELL YOU WHAT.

Oh, good, Cathy's dancing up in the attic. She is "compelled" to do so, despite the heat and the dust. Apparently airing it out is not in the cards. And she A) hides the fact that she does it from Chris, and B) has "warned" Jory to keep it from him as well. AWESOME PARENTING, CATHY. ALWAYS NICE TO INVOLVE YOUR KIDS IN YOUR CRAZY. MAYBE YOU SHOULD SHOW HIM YOUR STASH OF 'LUDES, TOO, AND THEN SWEAR HIM TO SECRECY ABOUT THAT AS WELL. 

Speaking of, you'd think that Chris and Cathy would have either A) bought a house WITHOUT an attic, or B) bought a house that doesn't have a HIDDEN DOOR TO THE ATTIC.

This time I was going up. This time I was going to listen to the excuses she gave him. For Dad would catch her! [Wow, he's Cathy's son all right: voyeurism and starting sentences with 'for' and EVERYTHING.]

Jory is fourteen; Bart is nine. Wow. I'd really assumed that Jory was, like, seven and that Bart was a toddler. RECALIBRATING.

I wondered often about the different facets my parents had. One for the public to view; another for Bart and me, and the third, most fervent side, which they showed only to each other. (How could they know their two sons were not always discreet enough to turn away and leave like they should?) [Um. Ew. So, like, Chris and Cathy just start going at it with the kids in the room? FANTASTIC. That's not scarring or anything.]

Cathy is thirty-seven.

AND HAS GONE 'ROUND THE BEND, JUDGING BY THE SOLO DANCE PARTY SHE'S HOLDING.

p9-10. Um. Cathy has installed twin beds in the attic. FOR THE BOYS? IS SHE PLANNING TO STICK THE BOYS IN THE ATTIC? 

Ever the VOICE OF REASON (<--well, occasionally), Chris is NOT PLEASED.

"Catherine," Dad went on in the same cold, hard voice, "don't stand there and try to look innocent, like some wicked child caught stealing. Why are those beds here, all made up with clean sheets and new blankets? Why the picnic hamper? Haven't we seen enough of that type of basket to last us our whole lives through?"

PICNICS ARE OFF-LIMITS, CATHY. YOU KNOW THIS.

"I ask myself each day how I can come home and not be tired of you, and still feel as I do after so many years, and after all that has happened." [BACK-HANDED COMPLIMENT MUCH, CHRIS?]

Cathy claims that she DOESN'T REMEMBER buying the basket or installing the beds.

Also, she's decorated with "pretty pictures of flowers on the walls". THAT'S A GOOD SIGN.

p11-13. Blah, blah, blah, the grandmother is dead and Momma is thousands of miles away, let's make out and DANCE. 

Shriveled up tight and small, I watched him try to do the difficult ballet steps that would have been so easy for me. He didn't have enough skill or grace to partner someone as skilled as my mom. It was embarrassing to even see him try[YOU'RE embarrassed, Jory? I'M embarrassed. Because suddenly I think I see where this is going and ew.]

Stuff Jory is overhearing has convinced him that his parents may not have been entirely truthful about their past. OH JORY, IF YOU ONLY KNEW. 

"Okay, you're feeling better, yourself again," Dad said. "I want you to solemnly promise that if anything ever happens to me, be it tomorrow, or years from now, you swear that you will never, so help you God, hide Bart and Jory in the attic so you can go unencumbered into another marriage." [WHICH, OF COURSE, TOTALLY DISCOUNTS THE WHOLE REASON MOMMA HID THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, BUT WHATEVER. LOGIC GENERALLY DOESN'T APPLY TO THE DOLLANGANGERS.]

...

Mom wouldn't do that. She couldn't! She loved me. She loved Bart too. [I'm sure he appreciates his afterthought status, you arrogant twerp.] Even if she did look at him sometimes with shadows in her eyes, still she would never, never hide us away in this attic. [NEVER SAY NEVER, JORY.]

CHRIS THROWS THE PICNIC BASKET OUT THE WINDOW! DOWN WITH PICNICS!

Cathy apparently wants to adopt another kid. GOOD IDEA, CATHY.

Sounds like Chris visits Momma every summer. VERY HEALTHY, CHRIS.

p14-15. BART. 

Wish I was graceful like him. Wish I could dance and charm everybody into likin me. Jory was bigger, older, smarter—but wait a minute. Maybe I could make myself smarter if not bigger. My head was big. [BART = CARRIE!!]

Okay, so Bart doesn't feel physical pain because his nerve endings are too short. Or something like that. But that doesn't explain his countrified dialect, which doesn't remotely line up with anyone else's in the book. (Well, except Carrie, but she's dead.)

p17-18. Ah, the wall they hang out on belongs to the DESERTED MANSION. They wander around INSIDE the mansion a lot, too.

None of the bathrooms worked. No water. [How totally odd in an abandoned house.] Crazy sinks with no water and stupid fruit cellar [I can't escape fruit cellars lately.] with no fruit, and wine cellar with no wine.

Jory wants to buy Cathy a house. No word as to whether he's planning to let Chris and Bart live with them.

WORKMEN ARRIVE AT THE DESERTED MANSION.

p19. They immediately begin painting and wallpapering. Because why bother getting the water turned back on and, I dunno, CLEANING IT FIRST.

According to one of the workers (who yells at the boys... for sitting on the wall?), some "rich dame" with servants bought the place.

p20. Chris and Cathy aren't "too happy about neighbors they didn't intend to visit and make welcome." Man, they're charmers.

p21. JORY. Bart doesn't like anything but snack foods. HAVE A DOUGHNUT, BART.

One of Cathy's ballerinas got in a car accident and has a two-year-old daughter who reminds her of Carrie (*shudder*) and what do you want to bet that somehow they're going to end up adopting her? Oh, her name is Cindy. THAT'S A DONE DEAL, THEN.

p22. Cathy doesn't like the house because Doctor Paul's statues don't look right in the garden. Okaaaaaay.

I can't figure out whether Bart is a sociopath or just profoundly weird.

p23. Bart wants to know why Chris looks so much like Cathy's father. DO TELL, CATHY.

p24-25. The rich lady and her butler arrive, and Bart continues to channel Carrie: "Hate black dresses that drag on the ground. Hate ole ladies who want black veils over their heads. Hate spooks."

Jory, meanwhile, is channeling Tim Roth from Lie to Me: "Even from our hidden place, I could tell she felt nothing but scorn for the butler. Gee—intrigue." GEE, INDEED.

Like Victoria Grayson, the old lady in the black veil will be able to SEE INTO THEIR HOUSE from her second floor. LET'S HOPE THAT CHRIS AND CATHY HAVE INVESTED IN CURTAINS.

Maids are running around DOING THINGS, while she's just STANDING THERE, STARING AT THE DOLLANGANGER'S CHIMNEY.

p26. Bart is a caterpillar murderer.

And pulls the legs off of spiders. Nice kid.

Meanwhile, Jory is going on and on about the beautiful sunset and the "music of colors". I hope they both fall down a well.

p27. Lady in Black now has animal topiaries.

p28. Jory has progressed from Parent Voyeur to Peeping Tom. The veiled woman has JAGGED ROWS OF SCARS ON EACH SIDE OF HER FACE, which makes him assume that she must have had a cat in the past.

p29. AND ALSO, SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE THEIR MOTHER.

JORY IS NOW SMASHING HIS FACE INTO CATHY'S BOOBS, AS WELL-ADJUSTED FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD SONS SO OFTEN DO.

p30-1. BART. 

They looked at me, but they didn't see me. They didn't know who I was. To them I was just a thing to sit at their table and try to swallow the stuff they put on my plate. My thoughts were all around, but they didn't read my mind, couldn't figure me out at all. [UMMMMM. NO BART, YOU AREN'T CREEPY AND MENACING AT ALL.]

He's headed off to the mansion.

Plaintively was one of the new words I had to use. One new word each day, and Daddy gave a list of seven words to both Jory and me, insistin we use today's word at least five times in our conversation. Didn't need a bigger vocabulary. Knew how to talk good enough already. [Yeesh, Bart and Chris deserve each other.]

p32. Bart just marches up to the mansion and bangs on the front door. HE MIGHT BE A PSYCHO, BUT HE'S A PSYCHO WITH CHUTZPAH.

The Woman in Black—let's not be coy, we totally think she's Corrine, right?—actually invited him over. That she's concerned about his welfare—"Do you have to slip away from your parents? Do they punish you often?"is just RICH.

p33-34. Wait, did nine-year-old Bart REALLY just roll a cigarette and start smoking it?

Or is half of what he says fantasy?

Anyway, Probably-Corrine admits to standing around on a stepladder and spying on the boys. Because she's lonely, with only her butler John Amos to keep her company.

"Once I had two sons, now I don't," she said with her eyes cast down and her voice sad and tight. [GOSH, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR SONS?] "Then I wanted to have another son by my second husband, and I couldn't." [Because these are the things you say to nine-year-olds.] She looked up and met my eyes. "So I want you to take the place of the third son I couldn't have. I'm very rich, Bart. I can give you anything you want." [WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE???]

...

"I've made so many mistakes, Bart." [AHAHAHAHA, YES, YOU LOCKED YOUR KIDS IN THE ATTIC FOR YEARS AND POURED ARSENIC ON THEIR DOUGHNUTS AND KEPT A CORPSE IN A TRUNK, BUT THAT'S OKAY, BECAUSE YOU DID ALL OF THOSE THINGS BY MISTAKE.]

...

"I've never won any game I've tried to play. I've always gone down in defeat even when I thought I held the winning cards." [OH CORINNE, I FEEL SO BAD FOR YOU. THE EMPATHY, I'M FEELING IT ALL. No, no I'm not.]

p35. Cathy is still not-so-secretly hoping that her "favorite student" will die so that she can have her kid.

And now she and Jory are laughing at Bart for pretending stuff all of the time AND I'M SURE THAT WON'T DRIVE HIM RIGHT OVER TO CORINNE OR ANYTHING. (I almost said INTO CORINNE'S ARMS BUT DIDN'T BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT TO GIVE THEM IDEAS.)

p36. Three days in, and he's spending a lot of time in her lap, being "petted and pampered" and kissed on the cheek.

She's also given him a room full of toys.

And we finally meet John Amos, who is just as creepy as you'd expect him to be: "You like her, don't you?" he asked, slyly smilin, noddin his head up and down, from side to side, so I could be confused if I wanted. "When you want the full truth about who you are—and who she is—come to me." [YES, I'LL DO JUST THAT, JOHN AMOS. WHY DON'T YOU GO UP IN THE ATTIC AND WAIT FOR ME UP THERE.]

p37. I CAN GIVE YOU ANYTHING YOU WANT... EXCEPT A PONY. (Yes, literally. Because ponies MAKE YOU SMELL BAD.)

So she offers him a St. Bernard instead, but he's not having any of it... until she points out that only "the super rich can afford to feed a St. Bernard", which WINS HIM OVER.

Maybe someone will die soon.

Oh, good, now she's got him calling her Grandmother.

p38-39. NOW SHE'S BOSSING HIM ABOUT HIS TABLE MANNERS. THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG.

AND JOHN AMOS JUST TOLD HIM THAT SHE'S HIS ACTUAL GRANDMOTHER. SO MUCH FOR WAITING UNTIL BART ASKS FOR THE TRUTH, JOHN AMOS.

"Now you listen to me, boy, and you will never feel weak and ineffective again. You read a little of this book every day and it will teach you to be like your great-grandfather, Malcolm Neal Foxworth. Never on this earth did there live a man who was smarter than your own great-grandfather—the father of your grandmother who sits in that rocker and wears that ugly black veil." [UH OH.]

Also, women are evil users, especially beautiful ones. WHY EXACTLY DID SHE HIRE THIS GUY?

Wasn't really surprised by nothin he said, except I hadn't known women were that bad. Always suspected they were, but never really knew. I should warn Jory. [YES, IT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE THAT THIS GENERALLY-SUSPICIOUS KID BELIEVES EVERYTHING OUT OF THIS TOTALLY CREEPY DUDE'S MOUTH. Maybe he's been taking Inconsistency Lessons from Hannah Gruen.]

...

"Now, if you want to save your everlasting soul from the fires of eternal hell, you will read this book and grow strong and powerful like your great-grandfather. Then women will never rule you again. You will rule them." [WELL, OKAY THEN. YOU'VE CONVINCED ME.]

YOU'LL BE HAPPY TO KNOW THAT THE JOURNAL SUGGESTS THAT THE DOLLANGANGER PROCLIVITY FOR INCEST GOES BACK FURTHER THAN CHRIS & CATHY'S PARENTS.

ALSO, IF YOU HATE YOUR MOTHER, WHY WOULD YOU NAME YOUR DAUGHTER AFTER HER?

OH, WAIT, probably to REMIND YOURSELF THAT WOMAN ARE EVIL.

p40. Just so you know, woman are "basically weak and stupid". So says John Amos, Bart's new best friend.

p41. JORY.

Cathy: "Possession is nine-tenths of the law...!" SHE IS TALKING ABOUT A PERSON HERE.

p42. "If we have Cindy before Nicole dies, the agency won't have any reason to investigate." THAT... MAKES... SENSE. (No. No, it doesn't.)

Christopher points out that Nicole might recover, and that even if she is "permanently crippled", she'll PROBABLY STILL WANT HER DAUGHTER.

To which Cathy responds, "But what kind of mother will she make?"

WOW.

DID WE ALREADY KNOW THAT CHRIS TALKED CATHY INTO GETTING STERILIZED?

IF NOT, WE DO NOW.

AS DOES JORY.

p43. Apparently every choice that Cathy has ever made has been Christopher's fault. 

p44. Nice. After being berated for PAGES, he threatens to leave, and she's all sorry and didn't mean any of it...

p45. ...but now she's berating him again.

HOLY COW, I DON'T EVEN LIKE HIM AND I WANT TO LOCK HER IN THE ATTIC.

p46. And then they have make-up sex. Or I assume that they do, because Jory backs away because he doesn't want to "see too much". Liar.

ALTHOUGH I GUESS HE STAYED FOR LONGER THAN I THOUGHT, BECAUSE "Did a woman ever pull down a man's fly zipper of her own free will—even a wife?"

And then he runs off and overhears CORRINE sobbing.

Man, after tonight I'm betting he'll think twice before getting out of bed for a glass of water.

p47. Jory is now spying on Bart and Corrine. 

p48. Now HE'S banging on her door. And in he goes.

p49. Nicole died; Cindy's moving in.

p50. Psycho Bart tries to ATTACK HER, and Christopher uses the incident to squeeze in an I TOLD YOU SO.

I BET CINDY IS SUPER-JAZZED TO HAVE BEEN BROUGHT INTO THIS HAPPY FAMILY.

p52. BART. Well, Bart's misogyny is coming along swimmingly: He's now referring to the two-year-old as "wicked" because she isn't modest enough about her naked body and to his grandmother as "a tease" for not buying him a pony. JOHN AMOS MUST BE SO PROUD.

p53. Bart's word of the day is 'devious'. NICE CHOICE, CHRISTOPHER.

p54. Corinne warns Bart about John Amos. Who is her hired man. Um. Yeah.

p55. Jory barges into Corrine's place and drags Bart out, but he still doesn't mention the situation to Cathy and/or Chris. Then again, it's not like they're particularly stable, so.

p56-7. She gives him a St. Bernard, he's peeved because he's "suffered through" all of that ice cream and cuddling AND SHE STILL WON'T GET HIM A PONY.

SHE BOUGHT A SADDLE FOR THE DOG. A SADDLE. FOR THE DOG.

p58. I know that this dog is fictional, but I want to rescue it.

Also, I think that Corrine is finally realizing just how bonkers Bart is.

YOU KNOW IT'S SERIOUS IF CORRINE THINKS YOU'RE CRAZY.

p60. Bart is demanding that no one feed his dog while he's gone. FOR THREE WEEKS.

p61-63. Between John Amos and the journal, Bart is getting very fire-and-brimstone-anti-woman. And sometimes says 'I' instead of 'he' when talking about Malcolm. SO THAT BODES WELL.

p63-64. JORY.

Cathy, on Bart and Mrs. Next-Door: "If he's over in that other yard, you tell me. I don't want you children bothering an old recluse, though I wish to heaven she'd stop climbing that ladder and staring at me over the wall." So, if the neighbor is creeping YOU out, Cathy, don't you think that you should maybe be PROACTIVE about keeping your kids away from her? Rather than making it your son's responsibility to police his brother? I CAN'T BELIEVE I AM STILL SURPRISED BY THIS STUFF.

Also, Jory has the hots for Melodie Richarme, another dancer. Because boobs.

Bart is trying to feed the puppywho he's named 'Apple'hay. Because he wants a pony, so.

p65. Sure, Jory. Your beloved mother asked you, LITERALLY ONE PAGE AGO, to tell her if Bart was hanging out next door, but you decide to keep the puppy thing to yourself, NOT TO MENTION THE WHOLE SHE CLAIMS TO BE YOUR GRANDMOTHER THING.

p66-70. BART. 

Corrine tells John Amos off for not knowing his place. YET CONTINUES TO EMPLOY HIM, so clearly there's more to it. OR MAYBE NOT, AS WE'VE ALREADY ESTABLISHED THAT LOGIC DOESN'T NECESSARILY FACTOR INTO THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS OF ANY OF THESE CHARACTERS.

Speaking of, Bart is now mixing more and more hay into Apple's food. Because he thinks he can train a dog to live on hay.

ALSO, BART TEARS UP JORY'S GARDEN AND REPLANTS THE PLANTS IN HIS OWN GARDEN.

AND HE KILLED A CAT.

HE. KILLED. A. CAT.

END OF PART ONE, THANK THE LORD.

I never thought I'd miss Cathy and Chris, but man, these kids are killing me.

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6. Kindle Daily Deal: Angry Robot.

BetweenTwoThorns BetweenTwoThornsEmma Newman's Between Two Thorns and Any Other Name are $1.99 today.

They LOOK intriguing, with cover art that somewhat reminiscent of Cassandra Rose Clarke's Assassin's Curse books, and they deal with magic and faery in the Regency Era, which oooooooooo.

Have you read them? Should I snap them up?

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7. Rumor has it...

If there be thorns If there be thorns...that Lifetime is going to go ahead and adapt If There Be ThornsSeeds of Yesterday, AND My Sweet Audrina. (No word on Garden of Shadows.)

Guess I'd better GET READING.

______________________________

Previously: Flowers in the AtticPetals on the Wind.

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8. Kindle Daily Deal: Jim Butcher!

Storm front Storm frontSeven of Jim Butcher's TOTALLY AWESOME Harry Dresden books are $1.99 today.

Even though we have them all in paper, I am sorely tempted to buy them. Sigh. The trials and tribulations of being a book addict.

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9. Teaser trailer: Outlander.

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10. What I read yesterday.

Relish RelishI read Relish, by Lucy Knisley, which is an adorable graphic coming-of-age memoir that's centered around food and travel. I loved how she showed her parents' parallel interests post-divorce: both parents are extremely food-oriented, and both are world travelers, but they prefer to experience food and the world very differently, which in turn allows Lucy a broader range of experience. And I loved her philosophy about food, which lines up quite neatly with mine about books: like what you like, and make no excuses for your taste. ALSO. Each chapter ends with a related recipe (huevos rancheros! pasta carbonara! sushi!), and MAN OH MAN, if Knisley wrote an entire cookbook in this format, I'd buy it in a hot second. Love.

I also read Stephanie Kate Strohm's Confederates Don't Wear Couture, which, like its predecessor, is funny and light and chock-full of cool historical facts. While the rom-com angle wasn't as strong as in the first book—I never find it as satisfying when characters have gotten together and then conflict is introduced purely to Create Tension—it's still an entertaining, fun romp, and I very much hope for more. (Yay for more Dev Ravipati in this one, though I do admit that I was completely thrown when he used the word 'tranny'. Use of the word—in that specific situation, especially—would be in keeping with his personality, though, as he tends to not be remotely interested in political correctness, etc. See: his response to Libby's surprise about his lack of qualms re: the murky ethical questions that surround Civil War reenactments.) Bonus points for all of the info about historical reenactments (cultural as well as mechanical), for the suggestions for further reading, and for discussing the problematic aspects of celebrating and glorifying certain parts of history without ever completely taking sides on the issue.

_____________________________________

Book source(s): ILLed through my library.

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11. IndieGoGo Campaign: Altered Perceptions.

From the campaign page:

Altered Perceptions is an anthology of great authors, donating their work to help author Robison Wells, who's crippled by debt, caused by his mental illnesses.

Some of the authors included are: Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Ally Condie, Lauren Oliver, Sara Zarr, Brandon Mull, Jessica Day George!

There are lots, lots more, so click on through for the full list.

Related: Tanita Davis' post about the campaign.

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12. The Fun Home debate continues in South Carolina.

Fun homeFrom the NYT:

The College of Charleston, a public university, provided copies of Ms. Bechdel’s memoir to incoming students for the 2013-14 academic year, as part of its annual College Reads! program that tries to encourage campus-wide discussion around a single book each year. The books are not required reading.

But one state representative, Garry Smith, told South Carolina newspapers this winter that he had received a complaint about “Fun Home” from a constituent whose daughter was a freshman at the college. Mr. Smith contacted the college to ask about other options for College Reads!, and said he was told there were none. Mr. Smith then proposed cutting $52,000 – roughly equivalent to the cost of the reading program, he said – from the college’s $20 million appropriation from the state. The budget cut is now moving through the legislature; South Carolina news media coverage indicates some sizable political support for the cut.

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13. Retail sabotage.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

As historian Clare Wright tours the country to promote her book about the women of the Eureka Stockade, she often notices "the dick table" - a display at the front of a bookshop of books by and about men, including some about Eureka.

She has been known to move her book from the Australian history shelves to sit with them.

"Retail sabotage," she calls it. "How are you going to know what these books left out unless you're offered the alternative?"

While I understand both the philosophy and the intent here, speaking as a former bookseller who used to witness authors engaging in similar shenanigans on a semi-regular basis, that is SO obnoxious. Like, why not ask the manager to move it? Sure, that might feel pushy, but that way, the employees will A) not move it right back to the Australian History section where it "belongs" when the stealth migration is discovered, and B) ACTUALLY KNOW WHERE THE BOOK IS WHEN SOMEONE ASKS FOR IT.

Does she also move items around in the grocery store so that they are more to her liking? Does she rearrange the tables in restaurants, or her friends' bookshelves? What about library displays? WHERE DOES IT ALL END???

Okay, sorry. A good amount of this outrage clearly stems from My Stuff, but holy entitlement. (And entitlement couched in social justice, which is even more annoying.)

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14. A few morning links!

Sendak hobbit

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15. Today, Eleanor & Park faces off against Doll Bones AND The Lowland...

Eleanor and park...in SLJ's Battle of the Kids' Books and the Tournament of Books, respectively.

Click on through for the results of the match-ups!

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16. Kindle Daily Deal: Lawrence Block.

Ten of Lawrence Block's hilarious Bernie Rhodenbarr books are 99¢ today.

SQUEEEEEEEEE!

[ETA: Oh, wait. The heading says they're 99¢, but the books are listed as $1.99. CONFUSING!]

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17. "[Tove] Jansson put her foot down at sanitary towels and Disney."

Bwahahahahaha. I fell over laughing when I read that sentence.

Anyway, it's from an article at the New Yorker about Tove Jansson.

So click on through if you are so inclined!

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18. Free book: It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

From Open Culture:

danah boyd (she doesn’t capitalize her name) is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, where she looks at how young people use social media as part of their everyday lives. She has a new book out called It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, and she’s made it available as a free PDF. On her website she writes, “I didn’t write this book to make money. I wrote this book to reach as wide of an audience as I possibly could.  This desire to get as many people as engaged as possible drove every decision I made throughout this process. One of the things that drew me to Yale [the publisher] was their willingness to let me put a freely downloadable CC-licensed copy of the book online on the day the book came out.”

Related: NPR interview with the author.

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19. Lifetime is so sure that Flowers in the Attic will succeed...

...that they're already working on the sequel:

At the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena on Thursday, Lifetime announced its developing author V.C. Andrew’s second novel in the incest-peppered Dollanganger series, Petals on the Wind. Screenwriter Kayla Alpert describes the sequel as taking place 10 years after the first film, “and I’ll just say its a very juicy and compelling revenge drama.”

"Incest-peppered." AHAHAHAHAHA.

Man, I need to find a friend who gets Lifetime.

LET'S WATCH THAT TRAILER AGAIN, SHALL WE??

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20. Longbourn -- Jo BakerVolume One, Chapter Ten... and then some.

LongbournUm, whoops?

I have no self-control whatsoever, and I accidentally blew through the rest of Longbourn yesterday. I really only meant to read one chapter, but I Just. Couldn't. Stop.

Rather than spoilerize the whole rest of the book for you—if you've found these posts even vaguely interest-piquing, you really, really should just pick it up because it's super in every way—I'll just wind this up with a few comments:

  • Wow, Mr. Bennet. As has been previously discussed in the comments of some of my previous Longbourn posts, Mr. Bennet is... kind of a jerk. More than kind of. Did he marry below himself intellectually? Yes. Does he have anyone to blame for that but himself? No. I can understand being bitter and being unhappy, but the way that he takes it out on his wife—not to mention Mrs. Hill—makes me despise him. I really don't think I'll ever be able to read him with any measure of affection again: Baker added some layers of unlikable behavior to his character and past, sure, but the majority of it came from Austen's original. I just never really looked beyond the entertainment factor of his zingers before to consider the effect they'd have on the target of his "wit".
  • The Hills. I was right about SO MANY THINGS! Due to Mrs. Hill's behavior towards and affection for James, I Had Suspicions about her past, and those Suspicions panned out, and the reveal was so well timed. (In addition to the realism and the period detail and the character development, I was so impressed by Baker's plotting: parallels to Pride and Prejudice abound, but they never feel contrived or obvious or unnatural.) I have such difficulty in understanding how Mrs. Hill didn't despise Mr. Bennet, especially—in addition to the way that he wronged her personally, though much of that is obviously heightened by my modern sensibilities—given her empathy and affection for Mrs. Bennet. The reveal about the comfort and trust behind the Hills' marriage did a lot to soften... well, everything, but especially Mr. Hill's storyline. It's nice that, given the era, he could find at least some measure of happiness.
  • Mrs. Bennet. Oh, laudanum. That makes so much sense. And is so depressing. It's so easy to imagine Lydia eventually going in exactly the same direction, albeit for slightly different reasons.
  • Wickham. Gross. I might need to re-watch Lost in Austen to regain some amount of affection for him.
  • Ptolemy Bingley. He was the only character who got short shrift, which was really too bad: his background and history would make for some super plotting & psychology, and I'd have loved to get to know him better.
  • I can imagine some readers having a hard time with Elizabeth and Darcy's not-exactly-happily-ever-after, but I A) found Lizzy's difficulty acclimating to her new life quite believable, B) reminded myself that this was all being filtered through Sarah's own unhappiness at Pemberley, and C) have confidence that Lizzy will find her footing eventually.
  • POLLY! MARY! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! I loved what Baker did with them. LOVED. Poor old Mary, she deserved some happiness. Of the younger Bennet girls, she's the one I've always felt for.
  • Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine. Oh, Mr. Collins. I do tend to feel bad for him in all of his awkwardness, and he seems so lost here. Lady Catherine, as always, is both hilarious and awful. I loved that Mr. Collins' servants live in just as much fear of her as he does.
  • And finally, James and Sarah. The chapters that finally give us his backstory are BRUTAL. But they're also wonderful, in that they make his showdown with Wickham all the more wonderful: when you realize what James has been through, and then compare that to the cockiness of these young bucks in the Militia... well, no wonder that James has zero regard, time, or respect for them. I loved, too, how James and Sarah's stories paralleled each other, in that they both had to leave home to find it again.

Long story short: LOVED IT.

Man. Now I need a new grown-up book. Suggestions?

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21. Teaser trailer: Outlander.

 

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22. Free: MEGAZORD ANNE SHIRLEY COLLECTION.

Currently free for the Kindle:

Anne of Green Gables Stories: 12 Books, 142 Short Stories, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne's House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles and More

So, you know: Even if you have the physical copies at home, now you can BRING THEM EVERYWHERE YOU GO WITHOUT THROWING YOUR BACK OUT.

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23. Petals on the Wind: Dollanganger #2 -- V. C. Andrews

Petals on the windWell, now that the Lifetime movie has aired (man, I hope it's streaming somewhere SOON) and they've already got the sequel in the works, I figure that it's FINALLY time for me to return to the Dollanganger saga.

I can only hope that I'll make it through semi-unscathed... though that seems unlikely, given that it's taken me FIVE YEARS to get over the trauma of reading the first book in the series.

So, let's just dive right in, then.

p3: Cathy's narration continues to amaze. The book begins:

How young we were the day we escaped. How exuberantly alive we should have felt to be freed, at last, from such a grim, lonely and stifling place. [But?] How pitifully delighted we should have been to be riding on a bus that rumbled slowly southward. [BUT?] But if we felt joy, [DID YOU?] we didn't show it. We sat, all three, pale, silent, staring out the windows, very frightened by all we saw.

Okay, yes. Yes, it makes sense that they'd be scared. But I very much hope that Cathy becomes less of a miseryguts in this installment.

Their nerves! Are growing frazzled! Because the bus driver, shockingly enough, occasionally STOPS THE BUS TO PICK UP PASSENGERS, including a "huge black woman" who took lots of time to carry all of her parcels on board! The nerve.

Cathy continues to exhibit unfortunate romantic feelings towards her rapist brother AND her dead father. AT THE SAME TIME, EVEN: His straight and finely shaped nose had just taken on the strength and maturity that promised to make him all that our father had been—the type of man to make every woman's heart flutter when he looked her way, or even when he didn't. HIS NOSE. IT IS MATURE.

That was the first page. I think we're in for a bumpy ride.

p4: Oh, nice. Chris made a point of bringing his guitar with them when they escaped. I look forward to some original love songs dedicated to Cathy. Like this one, sung to the tune of Clementine: "Oh, my Cathy, oh sweet Cathy / I raped you, it's true/ but because you're my sister/ it meant I love you, times two. WOW. I'm... oddly proud of that. Oh, right. Back to the book. I think they're still on the bus.

Oh, dear. Now he's singing Oh, Susannah. I bet all of the other passengers on the bus hate them: We looked at each other and felt sad with the memories the tune brought back. Like one we were, he and I. I couldn't bear to look at him for too long, for fear I would cry. The rhyming just MAKES it, Cathy. Keep it up.

In case anyone cares, it's November 1960. Chris is seventeen, Cathy is fifteen, Carrie is eight (but looks three), Cory is dead, and I'm still on page four.

Petals on the wind 2p5: Carrie just barfed. I'm sure that the bus passengers continue to hate C3. Also, Cathy is dreaming about revenge AND becoming a prima ballerina.

p6: Annnnnd she barfs again. A mean passenger is being a jerk, but then the "huge black woman" comes to the rescue! She is mute, but reassures the kids via pen and paper that LUCKILY, her son is a doctor!

p7: Despite her kindness to them, Cathy continues to describe her body with words like "mammoth" and her movements with words like "waddling". Which is annoying.

The bus driver is hemming and hawing about going off route, but I'm pretty sure that having a little kida little kid who looks like she's threedie on the bus would be worse for the company, publicity-wise, than being late to its destination.

p9: Um. The doctor—Paul Sheffield—TOTALLY checked Cathy out. May I remind you that she is fifteen? Gross.

p10: Cathy is rather happy about getting a rise—SO TO SPEAK, HAR HAR—out of the doctor. Also, she just told him that A) they're runaways and that B) they're planning to "hock stuff" to get by. Because he's a doctor, and therefore trustworthy... and she knows this because CHRIS WANTS TO BE A DOCTOR. Excellent logic, Cathy.

p11: Even though Chris was all disapproving about Cathy being a blabbermouth, he just gave the doctor THEIR REAL NAMES. What is WITH them?

p14-16: And now the floodgates have opened, and we're rehashing the entire plot of the first book. IN DETAIL. 

p17: Despite the ridiculosity of their story—Cathy includes the method of poisoning, even—the doctor is convinced by their "expensive clothes, [their] watches, and [the] sneakers on [their] feet, [their] pale skin and the haunted look in [their] eyes". And so he invites them to live with him. OF COURSE HE DOES.

p19: Chris is concerned that the doctor will suspect the true nature of the relationship he has with Cathy. "There's nothing to suspect. It's over," I answered, but I didn't meet his eyes, guessing, even then, that it would never be over. FORESHADOWING!

p20: Yep. It foreshadowed was was about to happen on the NEXT PAGE. Fast-forward version: Sibling make-out session leads to more THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN declarations and lots of tears. I have a sneaking suspicion that this scene will play out again at some point. And then again, and again, and again some more.

p21: Doctor Sketchy-McLechy is thinking of making the C3 his wards. Won't that make his romantic designs on Cathy problematic?

p22: Chris told me I was silly to think a doctor of forty would get any erotic pleasure from looking at a girl of my age. AHAHAHA, Chris, you moron. Most people would say the same about an older brother looking at his little sister... how's that working out for you, buddy?

The descriptions of Henrietta Beech (the lady from the bus) continue to be terrible: Her smile shone big and wide when I came in, lighting up a moon face with skin as slick as oiled rubber. What. The. Hell. With the apron tied about her middle she resembled nothing more than a rolled up goosedown comforter, waddling about speechless. What. The. Hell. Squared.

p24-25: "I really don't like the way he keeps looking at you, Cathy. His eyes follow you about all the time. Here you are, so available, and men his age find girls your age irresistible." MAKE UP YOUR MIND, CHRIS. Meanwhile, Cathy is developing The Hots for Doctor Paul, but it's more like 90% fascination with having sexual power over him, 10% actual interest.

p26-29: In order to become C3's legal guardian, Doctor Paul has to get permission from their mother. THIS OUGHT TO BE FUN.

p31: Um. Carrie is so small that only toddler clothes fit her, and the Doctor's solution is to BUY A SEWING MACHINE SO THAT CATHY CAN MAKE CLOTHES FOR HER. Nevermind the fact that Cathy doesn't know how to sew. Or that she has no interesting in learning how.

p32-33: In a shocking coincidence, it turns out that Momma's new husband grew up in the next town over. Cathy is now even more determined to ENACT REVENGE UPON HER. And now Henny has her sewing buttons on Doctor Paul's shirts. I FORESEE A SCENE IN WHICH HE WALKS IN ON HER WHILE SHE'S DOING SO, AND HE GETS ALL WEIRD.

p34: Due to years of malnutrition and arsenic poisoning, poor old Carrie has an "overlarge head".

Also, Momma didn't show up at the hearing, and C3 are all sad, because it proves to them how little she cares. Yes, because the years in the attic—not to mention the doughnuts—hadn't already proved that.

p35: Cathy begins planning her revenge: This very Christmas I would send her a card, and sign it with this, "From the four Dresden dolls you didn't want," and I had to change that to "The three alive Dresden dolls you didn't want, plus the dead one you carried away and never brought back." Wow. That Cathy. She's got a way with words.

But wait, THERE'S MORE. She goes off on a tangent in which she parallels her life story to that of Snow White, and wraps up with this: All along I knew who was the witch. And that was the saddest part of being me. At the next Kidlitcon, I feel that we need to do DRAMATIC READINGS from this series. ARE YOU WITH ME?

p36: More making out leads to more NEVER AGAINS. And that's the end of Part One.

p41: Due to Christopher's impassioned speech, Cathy suddenly has an audition with a ballet company. Never mind that she hasn't had formal lessons since Before The Attic, or that Christopher knows jack about ballet.

p43: "You look . . . so divine," I said in a tight voice. "I see candy in your eyes and the crown jewels of England too." BARF. "No—that's what I am seeing in your eyes, Cathy. You're so very beautiful in that white nightgown. I love you in white nightgowns with blue satin ribbons. I love the way your hair spreads like a fan, and you turn your cheek so it rests on a satin pillow." DOUBLE BARF.

p44: "How beautiful your breasts are," he said with a low sigh, leaning to nuzzle them. "I remember when you began to grow. You were so shy about them, always wanting to wear loose sweaters so I couldn't see. Why were you ashamed?" BECAUSE YOU'RE HER BROTHER, YOU TOOL.

p44-46: Errr... they get hot and heavy and head up to Cathy and Carrie's room—because Chris' room is too close to Paul's and Carrie "can sleep through a war"but The Sex is derailed when Chris discovers that Cathy has been hording food under her bed. And then she tells him that there'll be no sex for him unless he gives up his dream of becoming a doctor and stays with her forever and always. Ag. 

p49: She's at her ballet audition, and things are going swimmingly (of course)... and suddenly she's, like, HEMORRHAGING BLOOD and she wakes up in the hospital. 

p50: Of course she's accepted into the ballet company.

p51: But now it looks like Doctor Paul has SUSPICIONS about Chris & Cathy's relationship.

Ugh, Carrie continues to be just horrible. Like, push-her-down-the-stairs horrible. Lots of screaming and tantrums and whatnot. And I'd love to find out where she picked up her fascinating dialect: "Don't want no private ole school for funny lookin' lil' girls!"

p54-57: Now Carrie and Chris are both away at school, leaving Cathy at home alone with Doctor Paul. I WONDER HOW THIS WILL PLAY OUT.

Also, while Cathy's Electra complex has come up a few times, it turns out that Chris has some Oedipal issues to complement it: "Cathy, you're awfully pretty. Maybe too pretty. I look at you and see our mother all over again, the way you move your hands, and the way you tilt your head to the side." Rad.

p57: OKAY, IT HAS LITERALLY TAKEN LESS THEN 24 HOURS FOR CATHY AND DOCTOR PAUL TO GET ALL GRODILY ROMANTIC. LIKE, THEY WENT HOME AND CHANGED INTO SEXY PAJAMAS AND NOW THERE IS CHEEK (FACE, THANKFULLY) STROKING GOING ON.

p58: Oh, good. Now he's going the I-clearly-want-to-bone-but-I'm-going-to-be-a-jerk-to-push-you-away route. Yes, I just said 'bone'. Also, he refers to her sexy pajamas as 'flimsy', and pretty much just called her a trollop, but HE WAS THE ONE WHO PICKED THEM OUT AND BOUGHT THEM FOR HER. Way to send mixed messages, Doctor Paul.

"A fig for respect! I'm not any different than other men. A doctor isn't infallible, Catherine."

"Why are you calling me Catherine?"

"Why shouldn't I call you Catherine? It's your name, and it sounds more grown up than Cathy."

OH MY GOD, DOCTOR PAUL IS TOM CRUISE.

"You're a witch. In a second you change from a naive girl into a seductive, provocative woman—a woman who seems to know what she's doing when she lays her hand on my face." Yep. Blame the fifteen-year-old who you've been eyeballing for months, who's swanning around in the see-through nightie that YOU BOUGHT HER.

And now he's demanding to know what the deal is with her and Chris.

p59: HE JUST GRABBED HER AND PULLED HER INTO HIS LAP.

p60: Man, for a dude who is this girl's legal guardian, who is twenty-five years older than her, and who is currently FORCING HER TO SIT IN HIS LAP, he is being AWFULLY JUDGEMENTAL about some minor incest.

Um. There is breast fondling going on right now, and he's acting like it's her fault. I mean, she DID rip her robe open, but he's the one who stuck his hand up her nightgown. THIS GUY IS SUCH A DIRTBAG. Also, NO WONDER SHE'S SUCH A DISASTER ABOUT SEX AND LOVE AND ROMANCE. BOTH OF THE DUDES SHE'S BEEN INVOLVED WITH HAVE DONE THE THIS-IS-DIRTY-AND-WRONG-BUT-I WANT-IT-BUT-IT'S-YOUR-FAULT-BECAUSE-YOU'RE-SO-HOT THING.

"What the hell are you doing sitting on my lap half naked? Why did you let me do what I did?"

OH MY GOD I HOPE HE DIES BY THE END OF THIS BOOK.

p61: And now Cathy is all, I LOVE YOU, and YOU CAN TAKE ME WHENEVER YOU WANT ME. Ag.

Yes, she's still sitting in his lap.

p63: GAH. KISSING. THEY ARE KISSING. I BARF.

"What kind of little devil are you to let me handle you intimately and kiss you? You are very beautiful, Catherine, but you are only a child."

I love that he doesn't mention the fact that he's the supposed adult in the room. Drop dead, Doctor Paul.

"If I so much as lay a hand on you again, I want you to scream for help. If no one is here, then run to your room, or pick up something and bash me over the head."

Yes, Doctor Paul. You could put all of the responsibility for not hooking up with your fifteen-year-old ward on said ward... OR YOU COULD JUST USE SOME GD SELF-RESTRAINT.

"Don't tempt me too much, Catherine—for your own good."

I hate you.

p64-65: Ballet, blahdiblah. Cathy continues to be AMAZING at it, and I suspect that Julian The Hotshot Ballet Dude is about to become another "love" interest.

Um. As he just grabbed her boob, now I KNOW that he's going to be a love interest. SIGH.

p66: Yikes. Now Cathy is actively flirting with Paul. 

And very deliberately emulating her mother.

p68: In asking why Cathy doesn't want to run away to New York with him, Julian asks: "Why? I won't rape you." No, Julian, IT'S NOT AT ALL SKETCHY THAT THAT WAS YOUR FIRST THOUGHT. All of the guys in this book should be set on fire.

p69: So now, of course, she's going out on a date with him.

He drove to a very elegant restaurant where colored lights churned and rock music played. Yep. Sounds elegant, all right.

p70: Julian puts the moves on her, she rebuffs him, he blames her for being someone who "tantalizes but won't come through". Seeing a trend here? EVERY GUY IN HER LIFE BLAMES HER FOR HIS OWN ATTRACTION TO HER. BLERG.

p71: "Cathy, I don't want to say and do anything wrong with you. I want to make you the best thing that's ever happened to me." UGH. God forbid that someone want to be the best thing that's ever happened to HER.

p73: Less-than-brilliantly, she goes out with Julian again. And then he goes for The Sex, and she rebuffs, and he calls her a "tease", and she cries, and he twists her arm behind her back and gets all ranty. ...and then the scene changes, so I dunno what happened after that. It's a sad state of affairs when the new love interest is so terrible that he makes Doctor Paul look good by comparison. Ag.

p74: Cathy is now planning on breaking up her mother's marriage. Super.

p75-76: And now it's two in the morning and Paul's not in his room (who knows what would have happened if he'd been there when she checked, ag), but then she finds him downstairs and freaks out because he has a job and isn't always at her beck-and-call and over the course of these pages she compares him to BOTH of her parents. Which, as she wants to sex him up, is gross.

p77: Annnnnd more cheek stroking.

p78: Another excellent line for a dramatic reading: "She said nothing to let us know our grandfather had died, and kept right on letting us stay locked up—for nine long, long months—and in those long months we were eating poisoned doughnuts!"

Now she's in his lap again, BUT IT'S OKAY, because he comforts her "as a father would, with little kisses and kind, stroking hands." YEP. TOTALLY NOT SKETCHY.

p79-82: Doctor Paul's backstory. He married his childhood sweetheart. She was scared of The Sex, so he raped her occasionally until she got pregnant. Turns out, she survived sexual abuse at the hands of her cousin when she was a small child. So, like the fine, upstanding man that he was, he stopped raping her and started having affairs instead. One of his ladies got pregnant, but he knew it couldn't be his because A) she was on the pill and B) she was boinking other dudes. (<--I'd like to point out that neither line of reasoning is remotely logical.) So then he told his wife about the affair (that one, anyway), and she flipped out and killed herself and their three-year-old son. The end.

p83: BONUS: His wife got the idea after watching Medea on television.

p86: April, 1961. Cathy turns sixteen.

p90: And then Chris and Julian get in a fight over her at her surprise birthday party and Julian storms out while yelling, "May all your birthdays be hell on earth!" Gosh, Cathy, he's a KEEPER. You should TOTALLY keep dating him.

p93: "...Lorraine DuVal, my best friend..." Yeah, your best friend who we've never heard of before one of your many suitors turned from you to her.

p94-110: A brief rundown of Carrie's short stint at school: Bullying and hazing and a broken leg, OH MY.

p110-111: Cathy has reached Emily Thorne-ish heights in her revenge obsession: she's keeping a scrapbook of every society column that mentions her mother. I'm pretty ready for that storyline to kick in.

Oh, goody, she actually SENT a note to her mother. She signed it:

Not yours anymore,
The doctor doll,
The ballerina doll,
The praying-to-grow-taller doll, [there has been so much about Carrie's overlarge head that I wish she'd gone with that]
And the dead doll.

BUUUUUUUUUURN!

p112: Okay, this make-out-with-Chris-and-then-freak-out-about-it thing is getting old.

Also getting old: Chris' bizarre continuing love for their murderous mother.

On the bright side, Carrie's cast is off, and her legs are still the same length! PHEW! And now she's going to public school.

p113: Shocker, despite her "pretty face and sensational hair", Carrie has no friends. Cathy blames all of Carrie's social problems on the size of her head. I rather suspect it has more to do with her being almost entirely unlikable, though.

p114: Just so you know, I'm not including all of the examples of insanely wooden dialogue, because then I'd end up transcribing the entire book. But I can't pass this one up: "She stared at me with those big blue haunted eyes and I saw her disappointment. I had failed her. I could tell from the way she ambled off with her shoulders drooping and her head hung so low. Her hopes must have ridden high when those cruel kids at her school chided her about finding a 'stretching machine.'" HERE'S A THOUGHT, DOCTOR PAUL: WHY NOT CONTACT THE SCHOOL ABOUT THE BULLYING??

p115: I'd thought once we were free of Foxworth Hall and I was almost an adult, life would lead me down a clear and straight path to fame, fortune and happiness. Holy cow, Cathy. You'd think that with the childhood you had, you'd have revised your expectations about what life is like. Then again, you got taken in by the first rich guy who you talked to after The Escape, and snagged a spot with a premiere ballet company because your brother-lover said you were a good dancer. So, except for the years in that attic and the fact that EVERY SINGLE GUY YOU KNOW IS SOME SHADE OF RAPEY, you do seem to be weirdly charmed.

p116: Cathy is continuing to send hate mail to her mother. I WANT A REUNION. BRING IT ON, ANDREWS.

Apparently Cathy's family was part of the Roanoke disappearance? And so was Bart's (<--Evil Mom's Young Rich Husband, in case you've lost track.) Or something?

p117: HER MOTHER IS IN TOWN. I REPEAT, HER MOTHER IS IN TOWN. CATHY HAS JUST SPOTTED HER ON THE SIDEWALK AND IS DEBATING ABOUT SPITTING IN HER FACE. FURTHER BULLETINS AS EVENTS WARRANT.

BART IS DESCRIBED AS HAVING "VIRILE, PANTHERLIKE HANDSOMENESS". THAT IS ALL.

p118: And, other than going home and throwing a tantrum, Cathy does nothing. How surprising.

p119: Wait, Chris is at DUKE? How the crap did he get in THERE? I guess he must have written one hell of an admissions essay.

p120: Doctor Paul is late coming home ON HIS BIRTHDAY, and Cathy goes full-bore fishwife on him.

p122: "I've got a yearning to walk in the garden by moonlight. Do you ever have yearnings like that?" Oh, gag me, Doctor Paul. Also, he grew a moustache for Cathy. And apparently stands in the doorway of her practice room all of the time and watches her dance. BECAUSE IT WASN'T CREEPY ENOUGH WHEN IT WAS HER BROTHER DOING IT.

p124: "A man likes to take care of the woman he loves and his children. A man likes to be leaned on, looked up to, respected. An aggressive, domineering woman is one of God's most fearsome creatures." I hate you, Doctor Paul.

p125: Happy birthday, Doctor Paul! Forty-two years young, and boinking your seventeen-year-old ward! YOUR FAMILY WOULD BE SO PROUD!

"Hot juices spurted forth..." Ewww.

p128: For Christmas, Cathy asks to go back to Foxworth Hall to find Cory's grave. SEASON'S GREETINGS, Y'ALL!!

p132: After reading the word 'sensational' for what felt like the fifth time, I just did a search using Amazon's Look Inside feature... and it popped up nineteen times. So no, I'm not imagining Andrews' love for it.

p134-138: After her first starring role, Cathy agrees to go to New York with Julian. And he's leching all over her IN FRONT OF CHRIS AND DOCTOR PAUL. Classy moves, all around.

January 1963. Cathy graduates high school and heads off to New York with Julian. Bad idea, Cathy.

p138-150: Five minutes after getting to New York, Cathy is a star.

Post-ballet performance, Cathy and Doctor Paul get All Het Up dancing to a "jungle beat" (no comment), check into a hotel as a married couple, Doctor Paul proposes, she says yes, and then their boink their brains out. Shocker of shocks, they decide to keep the engagement a secret.

p151: Julian puts the moves on Cathy AGAIN, she rebuffs him AGAIN, so he drives like a crazy person all over the city, and then chucks her out of his carbleeding from a head wound, no lessinto the rain. ADDING INSULT TO INJURY, HE STEALS HER PURSE.

p153-154: THEN, she finally gets home and proceeds to have an ACTUAL BRAWL with her roommate Yolanda, who is apparently Doing The Deed with Christopher. Which, of course, sends Cathy off of the deep end.

p155-156: Julianwhile wearing only a towel—throws Cathy on a bed, straddles her, and yells about how he'll kill any man that comes between them, and that he'll kill her, too. And then, to prove what a Good Guy he is, he gives her her purse back. HE'S A KEEPER, CATHY. YOU SHOULD TOTALLY CONTINUE HANGING OUT WITH HIM.

p157: Still sending hate mail.

Seriously, Cathy: WHY WOULD YOU LET JULIAN INTO YOUR APARTMENT?

p158: The company is going to London, she tells him she's engaged, and then he screams, "Goddamn you to hell for leading me on!" Which... yeah. I'm not sure how her rebuffing his advances fifty-seven times equals 'leading him on', but whatever.

p160: Chris wrote Cathy a poem for Christmas, and it is AMAZING:

I give you gold with a diamond you can barely see,
But the gem would be castle-sized if it expressed all I feel for thee.
I give you gold because it endures, and love like the eternal sea.

I THINK I MIGHT NEED A TATTOO OF IT, IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL.

162: CHRIS CATCHES CATHY COMING OUT OF PAUL'S BEDROOM! HE THROWS HER A LOOK OF "OUTRAGED DISGUST"!

p164-165: Cathy finds herself standing next to her mother at a department store. No, there is no confrontation. Just more angry sobbing.

p166-7: Chris tells Cathy he still wants her, blah blah blah. WHERE IS THE REVENGE?? I DEMAND REVENGE! Here's his argument against Doctor Paul: "You want everyone, and everything! Don't ruin Paul's life when already he's suffered enough! He's too old for you—and age does count! He''ll be old and dried up sexually when you're at your peak! Why even Julian would be better!"

p171-174: Doctor Paul's sister shows up after one of Cathy's performances and informs her that A) that time hemorrhaging blood at her audition was due to a miscarriage, and that the baby was two-headed and had three legs AND B) that Doctor Paul's wife IS STILL ALIVE. So that was rather exciting.

p175: CATHY JUST MARRIED JULIAN. WHAT. THE. HELL.

p185: Errr. So, it turns out that Doctor Paul's wife was in a coma for years, but IS dead now. Also, Cathy wasn't ever pregnant. So Cathy married Psycho Julian for no good reason.

p190: Julian's father died. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

p192: Julian's mother's marital advice: "If you have flaws, hide them."

And now that Cathy's married to Julian, Chris flips out and says that if she was going to marry one of them, that it should have been Paul. CHRIS. MAKE UP YOUR MIND. THIRTY PAGES AGO, YOU TOLD HER TO MARRY JULIAN.

p193: Carrie is now vowing to marry Doctor Paul and have six children. 

p197: PART THREE. GOOD LORD, PLEASE LET THE REVENGE HAPPEN NOW.

p200: Julian is now insisting that Cathy and Chris not see each other. I predict that this marriage is headed for HAPPY TIMES INDEED.

p201: It's been three years. Apparently Julian has an eye for EXTREMELY YOUNG GIRLS. Gosh, just when I thought he couldn't be any more dreamy.

p205: Annnnnnd now Cathy wants to go to Chris' med school graduation, so Julian beats the crap out of her AND rapes her. Charming.

p206: So she drugs him and heads back to the US, leaving him in Spain. He can't speak Spanish, ahahahahaha.

p212-213: Back to make-out-freak-out with Chris.

OOO! It looks like Julian threw Cathy over as a dance partner, and has taken up with Yolanda!

p217: Ugh, now Cathy is convinced that she DOES love Julian. AUUUUGH!!

p218: Chris is going with her to New York to make sure that everything is okay before leaving her alone with Julian. I'm sure that'll make Julian's behavior OH SO MUCH BETTER.

p221-223: Cathy shows up at the filming of Giselle just in time to save the day, since Julian is crap at dancing with anyone else... AND HE REPAYS HER BY JUMPING AS HIGH AS HE CAN AND DELIBERATELY LANDING ON HER FEET. So... it looks like her career is over for now, and we can only hope that that goes double for her marriage. I CAN HAZ REVENGE TIME NOW?

p224-225: Post-hospital, Chris brings Cathy back to her apartmentwhy she'd go back there to recuperate, I HAVE NO IDEAand they discover that all of her belongings have been destroyed. It takes a page or two for them to figure out who did it. No comment.

p227-229: Make-out-freak-out. (This time Cathy is drugged up, though, so STAY CLASSY, CHRIS.)

ANNNNNNND SHE'S PREGNANT. And determined to stay with Julian, because THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, and IT'S TOTALLY ALL HER FAULT THAT HE BROKE HER TOES.

So Chris storms out.

And then she has a dream about dancing with her mother's husband and then going up to the swan bed... and the phrase "powerful male shaft" is used and I am now feeling a tad traumatized.

ANNNNNNNNND JULIAN HAS BEEN IN A CAR ACCIDENT. 

p233-234: He's still alive, and tells Cathy to get an abortion. *JAZZ HANDS*

YOLANDA DIED IN THE ACCIDENT.

ANNNNNNND JULIAN COMMITTED SUICIDE BY CUTTING HIS IV TUBE SO THAT A BUBBLE OF AIR REACHED HIS HEART. OR SOMETHING.

p235: The whole gang is back together again at Doctor Paul's house.

p239: Life seemed to me nothing without a man. Cathy really is her mother's daughter.

Chris comes in and finds her on Doctor Paul's lap, so he storms out again. Good times, WHEEEEEEEE.

p242: She has the baby (three hours of labor) and names him Julian Janus Marquet, but in true Bella Swan fashion, will call him Jory, for Cory + Julian. SORRY ABOUT THAT, KID.

p245: PART FOUR.

p247-248: Cathy continues to dream of stealing her mother's husband away from her, but also continues to take no action. Meanwhile, Chris and Paul are vying for her attention while Carrie, like the cheese, stands alone.

p251: Chris makes yet another play for Cathy before he leaves for his residency (at the Mayo Clinic, naturally), but no dice. 

p253: FINALLY. IT IS TIME FOR REVENGE. Cathy writes a blackmail letter to her mother.

p254: But she gets no reply... SO SHE GOES TO BART'S LAW OFFICE...

p255: ...and finds out that he and her mother have attended many of her performances.

p256-257: She intrigues Bart by insulting him while looking sultry. He finds it IRRESISTIBLE. DUDES ARE SO WEIRD. He gets the life insurance company to pay out on Julian's claim, and tells her that there's no charge... except for going to dinner with him while wearing "blue to match your eyes". YECCH.

p258-259: Five seconds later, she gets into a monster-ass fight with Julian's mother and tells her that she'll never see her grandson again. So hopefully THAT storyline is finally over.

p261: Carrie turns twenty, and she, Cathy, and Jory head off to Virginia to GET SOME REVENGE. (Well, Cathy's going to get revenge. The other two are just along for the ride.)

p264-265: Carrie has a beau, FINALLY...

p270: ...and he's proposed but now she's being all tortured about it because he wants to be a minister and she's worried because minister's wives have to be perfect, but she never will be because she's DEVIL SPAWN. (<--See book one for the explanation on THAT ONE.)

p272: AUUUUUUUUGH, APPARENTLY JULIAN MESSED AROUND WITH CARRIE. AUUUUUGH.

p276: BART KNOWS ABOUT THE HATE MAIL!

p277: CARRIE IS SUPER-SICK! RETURN OF THE ARSENIC DOUGHNUTS???

p280: OH MY GOD, I WAS RIGHT?? SHE'S BEEN POISONING HER OWN DOUGHNUTS!!? These books are bananas.

p283: Ah. Carrie ran into Momma on the street and Momma pretended not to know her. THUS, THE DOUGHNUT BINGE.

p284: DEAD! CARRIE IS DEAD! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT.

p285: Despite—because of—her grief and fury, Cathy's showcasing some serious narrative flair: My thoughts were like the dry leaves blowing in the strong wind of hate... WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN.

p286: She sees her mother at the cemetery from afar, and swears she'll see to it that "all of her remaining days on earth will be black. Blacker than the tar put on my hair. Blacker than..." well, you get the idea.

p287: PART FIVE.

p289: Cathy has now dumped Jory with a maid and is running around town, trying to "accidentally" meet up with Bart. Apparently she doesn't see the irony in dumping her child to run around after a man... in pursuit of getting revenge on her mother for doing exactly the same thing. WILL SHE FIGURE IT OUT AND SPIRAL INTO YET MORE SELF-LOATHING AND REGRET? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.

p291: Bart is demanding answers.

p293: So... she lies? I am at a loss as to why. I feel like if she told the truth, everything would all come out and her mother's life would be ruined and YAY HAPPY ENDING. But, no. Cathy, you ass.

p300: Well, Cathy is batting a thousand, guy-wise: Bart ALSO has rapey tendencies... and as usual, said tendencies make her melt. Yick.

p309-312: Bart is over for dinner. And he is from Barf Central.

p313: By way of Rapeville. 

p315: AND THEN HE SENDS HER ROSES. OH MY GOD I HOPE HE DIES.

p317: She runs into him in town, expresses her lack of interest in the roses, so he sends her A DIAMOND ROSE THING.

AND THEN SHOWS UP AGAIN FOR DINNER.

AND SHE LETS HIM IN.

*headdesk*

p318-320: They argue about whether or not he's a chauvinist and/or she's slutty... AND THEN HE PROFESSES HIS LOVE FOR HER AND THEY GO AND HAVE THE SEX. (Consensual this time.)

p320: Part one was done. Part two would begin when my mother knew I had Bart's child [wait, is she pregnant again?]—and then there was the grandmother who had to pay as well. And when I looked I saw that the mountains curved upward into a satisfied smirk. [What?] At last I had responded to their call. Their vengeful, tormenting wail. [I have no idea what she's talking about anymore.]

p321: MAN OH MAN, THERE IS SO MUCH WOMAN-HATE IN THIS BOOK. Cathy—and actually, pretty much every other character—never misses an opportunity to make a sweeping generalization that maligns womankind, and that's on top of the fact that she can't seem to even turn around without getting sexually assaulted. Ag.

p322: Cathy sneaks into Foxworth Hall when all of the servants are in town...

p324-331: ...and tells off The Grandmother (who is immobile due to a stroke) while threatening her with a willow switch. And also while wearing a sheer white leotard and pointe shoes. Because, as you may have noticed, Cathy has a taste for DRAMA.

Good lord, now she's whipping through family history at a rather alarming rate. Apparently Bart is a blabbermouth, because she suddenly knows WAAAAAAY more about The Grandmother's history than she did before. Isn't there a prequel series or something? I AM NOT SAYING THAT I'M PLANNING ON READING IT. I'm just CURIOUS.

Oh, NOW SHE'S ANGRY DANCING. THEY'D BETTER NOT CUT THIS BIT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cathy strips her down, flips her over, and whips her. Just one good one on the butt, though! NO MORE BECAUSE, TRUE TO FORM, SHE IMMEDIATELY STARTS CRYING.

SO OF COURSE THE GRANDMOTHER IS (SILENTLY) SUPER-GLOATY ABOUT IT, WHICH SETS CATHY OFF EVEN MORE: SHE RUNS AND GETS A CANDELABRA, MELTS SOME WAX, AND DRIBBLES IT ON WHAT LITTLE HAIR THE GRANDMOTHER HAS LEFT.

And then she runs away. But her exit loses a bit of the drama when she realizes that she forgot Carrie's hair (as part of her Angry Dance, she did a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon routine with Carrie's braid) and has to go back for it.

p333: ANNNNNNND NOW SHE'S IN LOVE WITH BART. SIGHHHHHHHHHHH.

p335: RUN IN WITH MOMMA AT THE POST OFFICE: "Some women don't deserve to have children." I paid for my roll of stamps and dropped them in my purse. "Some women like you, Mrs. Winslow, would rather have money than the bother of children who might get in the way of good times. Time itself will sooner or later let you know if you made the right decision." Sometimes I really wonder if English was Cathy's first language. Anyway, BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRN.

Annnnnnnd Cathy's pregnant.

p338: Cathy has her hair cut to match her mother's from that Christmas party way back when, and has a dress made to match the same one she wore. MAN, THIS IS LIKE REBECCA, EXCEPT REALLY BAD.

Chris tells her that he won't see her until she breaks it off with Bart.

p342-346: She breaks into Foxworth Hall AGAIN, but before crashing the party, she goes up to her mother's room (she still has the swan bed, gag) and puts on all of her mother's emerald-and-diamond jewelry (to go with the dress).

Then, she goes and revisits the room they lived in PRE-ATTIC.

THEN, SHE HEADS UP TO THE ATTIC.

THEN, SHE CRASHES THE PARTY.

p347: And she introduces herself to the entire party. And tells her story. 

p348-351: Bart puts a stop to it, but now they're dancing, and I rather think she's going to convince him that she's telling the truth. WHAT HE'LL DECIDE TO DO WITH THAT INFORMATION, WHO KNOWS?

p352: OOOO, CORRINE FINALLY FLIPPED AND IS NOW SCREAMING THAT CATHY'S A LIAR.

And now Bart and Corrine and Cathy are off to the library to (hopefully) HAVE IT OUT.

And, yep, The Grandmother is in there.

Cathy brought the birth certificates as proof. Good show, Cathy. (Well, as long as they don't get destroyed somehow.)

Corrine admits it! Well, that Cathy is her daughter.

Turns out that THE GRANDFATHER KNEW ABOUT THE KIDS THE WHOLE TIME.

Corrine is now claiming that she was just trying to make the kids sick enough so she could take them to the hospital and pretend that they died...

...to which Cathy points out that the arsenic doughnuts didn't start until after The Grandfather died.

p361-366: WHAT. WHAAAAAAAAAAAT. CORY'S DEAD BODY HAS BEEN IN THE HOUSE THE WHOLE TIME.

CHRIS JUST SHOWED UP.

AND CORINNE SEEMS TO THINK THAT HE'S HER DEAD HUSBAND, BECAUSE SHE'S ALL, "MY FATHER MADE ME DO IT! ETC., ETC."

AND THEN SHE STARTS SCREAMING AND RUNS AWAY.

AHAHAHAHA, NOW THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!

AND BART THROWS CATHY AT CHRIS AND HEADS TO THE ATTIC IN SEARCH OF CORRINE! (Is it just me, or was V.C. Andrews going for Jane Eyre in this one? Paul's secret crazy wife? The multiple times that Cathy talks about hearing dudes call to her from fall away? And now Bart running into a raging fire to save a wife he doesn't love? Anyway.)

BART GETS CORRINE OUT, AND THEN GOES BACK IN FOR THE GRANDMOTHER.

CORRINE GETS HAULED AWAY IN A STRAITJACKET.

BART AND THE GRANDMOTHER DIE IN THE FIRE.

MEANWHILE, HENNY HAD A STROKE AND PAUL HAD A HEART ATTACK.

p366: Cathy is now married to Doctor Paul, who is seriously ill...

p368: ...and so he's working on convincing her to go off and be a family with Chris, which he argues won't be "evil" because she can't have any more kids.

p371: Doctor Paul dies...

...and Cathy and Chris and the boys move to California, where siblings can live as man and wife in peace. Or something.

p372: Corrine is in an insane asylum, either ACTUALLY bonkers or just trying to avoid prison and/or the death penalty.

p373: AND CATHY IS NOW WORRIED THAT SHE'S GOING TO LOCK HER KIDS UP IN THE ATTIC.

THE END.

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24. Choose Your Own P.G. Wodehouse Adventure.

At the Toast:

4. The girl you love is engaged to the local squire. How many kippers would you like with your breakfast?

If you will have four kippers, select A. If you ask for kidneys, select B.

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25. Least shocking headline ever.

From the CBC:

50 Shades of Grey movie will be less explicit than book

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