Wanderlust

This is Book 2 of Sirantha Jax and sadly I think I shall be stalled for a while. Audible doesn’t have book 3. <Sob.>

I love these books. I kind of don’t want to love them because March “How Do You Like My Darkness Now?” and Jax’s relationship shears a little too close to that Manic Pixie Dream Girl Teaches Man to Live problem that I talked about last week, but in this case it’s okay because:

1. Jax isn’t really a manic pixie dream girl. She’s tough, funny, drinks, swears, has sex, and frequently says the wrong thing. I don’t know why she’s supposed to have such a good reputation as a diplomat for making first contact and dealing with Class-P (Primitive) worlds, but we haven’t actually seen her do that yet, so I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.

2. March was fine before she showed up. Now that he has her, losing her is the potential problem. I have hopes that he’ll get his head together soon.

3. She’s the main character and is there because it’s her story, not because she’s going to repair March and make him feel good about himself. Actually, what she usually does is make him feel bad about himself.

Another thing I love about these books so far is that we get a mission in the first couple of hours – Okay Team, here’s what we’re gonna do! – and within about forty five minutes that all goes to hell and it becomes a completely different book. In my review of Grimspace I talked about how I really never knew what was going to happen next – that’s why, and it’s great.

They’re just fun books – the kind of thing you listen to straight through and enjoy the whole time.

Warm Bodies

What is this, our 5th consecutive week of Zombies? I guess someone has a type.

Warm Bodies wants to say a lot of important things. It’s probably the most blatant metaphorical book I’ve read in a good long while, and I’m usually cool with that. It’s all about apathy and the Power of Love and stuff.

But it’s also not a very good book. To be clear, it’s very well written. R’s voice is incredibly cool and unique – a more poetic Zombie never un-lived. He’s obviously very in his head and he’s really funny and has great observations. My favorite quote, read out in the caressing, seductive narrator’s voice:

I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.

It’s full of great stuff like that.

The problem is that it feels like a “Literary” Fiction book that’s trying to be “Science” Fiction. It has all these great big Character Announcements to make, but they happen at the sacrifice of the plot or, you know, basic common sense.

For example, R, (a Zombie, but a surprisingly self-aware Zombie) meets Julie on a hunting party, when he and his friends personally eat her boyfriend and their friends. R reaches in through Perry’s neck, cracks open his skull like an egg, and eats his brain. It literally says he cracks the skull open like an egg.

As he’s eating the brain he has flashes of Perry’s memories and sees how much he loved Julie and so R falls in love with Julie and takes her back to his nest at the airport. There they bond and gain trust and eat Pad Thai. And Julie forgives him for cracking open Perry’s skull like an egg and eating his brain because R is a Zombie – it’s the Disease! – and because Perry has been despairing since the death of his father last year and, in fact, intended to let himself die on that mission.

What?!

I’m all over that whole seeing-good-in-people, everyone-deserves-a-second-chance, we’ve-all-got-something-to-atone-fer story line. But, what?!

And the thing is, I could have believed it. Hell, I’m the biggest romantic ever; I still cry at that Folger’s coffee commerical – (PETER!). But I don’t understand enough about what supposedly happened.

R and Julie falling in love starts bringing the other Zombies back to life – to consciousness. They all just have to hang out enough and people remember what it’s like to love, ex cetera, but we don’t know how or why it works.

Is it that R is special? That Julie is? That Perry was special and eating his brain caused R to in some senses become Perry and that’s how he remembers how to love – because Perry loved Julie so much, even though he was despairing? And Julie was prepared to give up on Perry, who was a sweetie until her Evil Father got his hooks in him, but she’s willing to take a chance on this new guy who cracked open Perry’s skull like an egg and ate his brain (not the whole brain, he saved some for later.) And how is it transmitting to the other Zombies? And if Love Is All You Need, why didn’t it work during the outbreak – surely people loved at least some of the early people who became Zombies – why didn’t their love bring those people back so we could avoid this altogether?

Someone, I think Joss Whedon, says that you have to establish the rules of the universe so that it means something when you break them. There were no rules established in this universe, so saving the world with love didn’t mean that much.

There are also a fair amount of heavy-handed “Romeo and Juliet” references. You’ve either got to go for subtlety or humor if you’re going to compare your work to “Romeo and Juliet”, and no one is ever going to write the balcony scene better, so let’s just move along.

I should have known it wouldn’t be the book for me as it’s also two kinds of story I hate.

1. Manic Pixie Dream Girl Teaches Man to Live and Smell Flowers and Dance in the Rain.

Often the girl is damaged through past abuse and is dying or dies at the end, having been nothing but a tool to help a white man enjoy his life more, while also allowing him to “save” her (not necessarily from death, but from herself or her abusers) proving that he’s a good white man after all. Julie’s not manic and doesn’t die, but she is a dream girl who listens to The Beatles all the time and has a bad past with an alcoholic father and sexual experiences she doesn’t feel good about. And her teaching R to feel again basically saves the planet.

2. Gosh Darn It, I Know He Kidnapped Me and Killed People, But He’s Just So Sensitive. And Hot.

Also known as Stockholm Syndrome, this only works in In Time. Because Justin Timberlake really is that hot.

To draw the longest blog post ever to a close, I will say that there are really good things about this book – The Boneys are a cool idea, and a scary one. I love Julie’s Polaroid Farewell. The whole section at the airport gives a really good sense of place. R’s gradual recovery is very subtle and good to watch.

But overall, I’d give it a miss.

My New Favorite Thing

So, for the last Fiber Factor challenge I bought some hand cards so I could blend wool. My girl at the yarn store suggested running some coarser wool through the cards first to season them, so I did. Of course, if I was going to be carding up one of my braids, you can bet I was going to spin it up too.

This was the coarsest braid I had:

It’s a Pandia’s Jewels braid, I got at Round Rock last fall. And this is the beautiful spinning I got out of it.

As I’m writing this post I realize I’m not sure what kind of yardage I got. It’s so much closer to balanced than the yarns I usually spin that I didn’t ball and then re-skein it after washing it to get it straightened out. I think pre-washing it was in the high 200 yards. Close to 300, but I don’t think I’ve cracked that yet in 4oz of 3ply.

I’m so delighted with how great this came out. I love how the carding went – not only did it make it crazy easy to spin, but it also muted and blended the colors in the coolest way. The carders were expensive, but I’ll be using them for the rest of my spinning life, and that’s going to be a good long time.

Achievement Unlocked: #21

 21. Finish the Christmas Quilt.

I actually finished up before Challenge 5 started, but then had to run things through the wash and dry, and then I faded from the face of the Earth. But I did finish!

I am so happy with this project. Not only did I finish – FINISH – a quilt, but it looks great and I’m so happy with the final project. And I completely made it up out of my head, so there’s that, too. The quarters in the patchwork squares are all Moda, as is the sashing and the backing – the bias edge is some pretty red batik I picked up at that quilting show once upon a time.

I’m really glad I made the dashed corners like this. It’s probably breaking some Quilting Rule, but I don’t care because I love how it looks.

The sashing isn’t actually Christmas fabric – it’s from a little boy collection – but it reminded me of the toys the Grinch steals from the Whos of Whoville. Man, I love that movie. Maybe I should watch it right now.

The backing is a Christmas fabric and has very tiny lyrics to Christmas songs on it, underneath the Christmas balls/lights. I found it at my favorite Quilting shop ever – B&B Quilting and Gifts in Buda. It sort of matched my sashing, with the little balls, and the red was right to go with everything else.

I wish I’d something fancy on the backing, like Pepperknit always does, but . . . I started quilting this two years ago, before she started posting all of those amazing quilts. Or maybe she had, but they just hadn’t penetrated into my brainspace yet.

It’s about 50ish by 50ish inches; it actually ended up really square and symmetrical and close to the dimensions I wanted – hooray! – so I’m happy about that as well. It’s machine pieced, but hand-quilted. I’m building up quite the pile of blankets the dogs aren’t allowed near.

And now, to celebrate, my favorite Christmas song:

The Junkie Quatrain

And with that, she had read all of the Peter Clines books currently available on Audible. (I don’t know why that Modern Scholar book is down there, we’re talking Science-Fiction-Mostly-Zombies here.)

The Junkie Quartrain is a small book with 4 short stories in it, about the intersecting lives of some people in Los Angeles after, you know, the Fall of Humanity. This Zombie Apocalypse is a little different – Junkies, as they’re called in this universe, aren’t dead and shambling. They’re quick and still have some of their wits about them, but they definitely still want to eat you. Also, they’re claustrophobic.

Each of the four stories has a different protagonist, and over the course of about two days in the city you start to be able to see a larger picture – just how did this happen and what is responsible?

It’s a fun book. One of the four chapters is included as a little freebie at the end of Ex-Patriots, so I’d already heard that one, but the other three help you add context and show the actuality of the story. It’s pretty short so I bought it with money rather than a credit, and it was definitely worth it. It made for a nice evening of freaky entertainment.

God, I’m so glad it’s October!