Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book reviews from memory

I have this new idea, and it may not be my best one.

I want to review books I read as a kid. Without re-reading them.

Like I said -- maybe not the best idea I ever had.

Why would I want to do something so weird? Nostalgia, mostly, but also because I am curious about the elements of fiction that stick with you after a decade. (Yes, just a decade. Why are you casting that side-eye at me?)

The first book I hall review from memory is ... drumroll, please ...

The FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC series by V.C. Andrews.

Now, I've mentioned my experiences with Madam Andrews in the past (see here and here), but this is the first time I am going to attempt a recap/review ... oh gosh ... 17 years after I originally read it. (See, 17 years is just one decade. Hush your mouth.)

The summer after sixth grade, my best friend Ashleigh introduced me to FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. (I suspect the devil himself introduced them to her.) We were scandalized at the concept--a man and women get married even though he's her half-uncle. They have four kids. The dad dies, and the mom (who apparently has never heard of sending out resumes or even just signing up for welfare) decides to go ask the parents who disowned her for money. She also wears a lot of negligees.

Unfortunately, due to the incesty-nature of her relationship, Incest Mom has never told her parents about her four blonde babies. She asks the children if they will hide in the attic of her parents' mansion until she gathers the courage to let them know she's the mother of their granddaughter-nieces, grandson-nephews.

You can see where this is going, can't you? The mother tells the grandmother about the kids, but needs more time to break the news to her dad. More time stretches into two years, and suddenly the incest babies start developing some incesty feelings of their own.

Have I mentioned THIS is the cover?

Cathy, the oldest daughter, and Chris, the oldest son, eventually realize they need to find a way out of the attic, because their mom has clearly swapped them for her life of luxury. It only takes them two years for them to come to this conclusion. They come up with an elaborate plan where they steal the key to the attic from their mother (or grandmother), press it into a bar of soap, and intend to whittle a dummy key from the resulting mold.

At this point, I feel like it has to be acknowledged that they could have, ya know, used their rope ladder to climb out a window. (THEY HAD A ROPE LADDER.) Or just rushed the grandmother and raced for freedom, because there are four of them and one of her. Or just started screaming their guts out at odd hours and hoping the servants would hear them up in the attic. Whatever, their plan is unnecessarily elaborate, and that's what you need to know.

Before they can accomplish their brilliant plan, Chris gives in to his incesty and misogynisticy (and possible mother-lovey) feelings and rapes Cathy. She forgives him because she decides she could have stopped him if she wanted, which means she really did consent.

Even at twelve, I found that line of reasoning pretty questionable.

Then it turns out the grandmother was slowly poisoning the kids with arsenic-laced powdered donuts, and Cory dies. Chris, the creepy rapist teen who wants to be a doctor, somehow had some pretty significant knowledge of arsenic poisoning (but somehow didn't realize that they were being arsenic poisoned as it was happening?) and they experiment with the donuts by getting one of the attic mice to eat one. It dies, and they conclude they have to escape post-haste. So they do.

(Did I mention they had a rope ladder all along?)

The sequel, PETALS IN THE WIND, is even wonkier. Somehow Chris, Cathy, and Carrie (the other sister -- personality-free, don't worry about remembering her name) meet a kindly doctor who takes them in, and immediately (1) starts perving on Cathy and (2) somehow figures out there's a REALLY creepy relationship between her and Chris. Somehow the doctor gets custody of Chris, Cathy, and Carrie, because in the 70s, you can just take kids home with you.

Chris and Carrie go off to boarding school (hmmm ... this seems questionable) and Cathy stays with the doctor (single ... widowed ... handsome doctor) so she can take ballet classes in town. She meets this guy Julian, who is apparently an amazing dancer, and also somehow creepier than all the other men in the novels. CREEPIER THAN ALL THE OTHER MEN. Cathy starts an affair with the doctor, which begins with one of the all-time creepy lines of literature: "I wanted to get you a Mercedes for your birthday, but I couldn't, so I got you second-best: me." (I paraphrase, since this is from memory, but I kid you not that line has been burned into my brain since before junior high.) I want to say Cathy is 16 or 17 at this point.

Then Cathy has a miscarriage, since OBVS she got pregnant with her brother's incest baby up in the attic, and this causes some strain on the technically-not-incest-but-still-illegal relationship between Cathy and her guardian. She runs off with Julian, who promptly knocks her up and somehow manages to break all her toes by doing a grande j'ete on them. (I think.) Adios ballet career!

Julian then gets in a car accident and is paralyzed and would rather die than not be the lord of the dance. He has his mom smother him with a pillow. (I think. The details start getting real hazy around this part. Remember, I last read these circa 1996.)

Cathy names her baby Jory and then decides, You know what would be nice now? Some revenge. So she moves to the town where her mom now lives with her hot, younger husband Bart. Cathy seduces Bart. Much like the Mercedes line, I will never forget Cathy's first date with Bart -- she pours herself into some smoking turquoise dress, and then serves him the mac-and-cheese with cut up hotdogs that she made previously for Jory. Then they do it on the kitchen floor. Naturally.

Bart and Cathy's relationship is very weird for many reasons, not the least of which is that Cathy feels that as the hotter, younger version of her mom, she is entitled to be with Bart. (Cathy is in for some nasty surprises after age 35.) I mean, if I were her, I'd be hanging my hat on, "Hey, I make my kid mac-and-cheese with cut up hotdogs, and she locked hers in an attic for years!" But to each their own.

Then there's a ball, and Cathy somehow finds out the exact dress her mother will be wearing, orders that dress, and shows up to the ball in in. Everyone is like, "Whoa, that chick looks exactly like a younger version of our hostess!" Cathy's mom gasps! Bart is understandably very weirded out by everything! John Amos (the creepy butler -- he'll be relevant in later books) sets fire to the mansion! Bart dies! Cathy's mom is left for dead! (Because a sequel is coming!) Cathy's knocked up!

So, fait accompli, Cathy goes back to her pervy doctor from the beginning of the book and they get married. He adopts little Jory and revenge Baby Bart. Older brother Chris is also now a doctor, and despite still perving after his sister, gives the doc the thumbs up for post-marital sex. (Because if there's anyone you want knowing the intimate details of your sex life, it's your wife's creepy rape brother.) There are a lot of sex shower scenes. The old doctor has a heart attack and dies. (Did I mention that I'm pretty sure these books are for teenagers?)

Also, Carrie killed herself at some point because she never grew taller than four feet, and felt unworthy of the cute young pastor she fell in love with because she was an incest-baby. Snooze.

Chris and Cathy get married, since Cathy can't have kids anymore and that's the only part of an incest relationship that creeps people out. The end!

Tune in next time for (much more haphazard) review of the final three books of this terrible series!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You want to know who is amazing?

Erin Summerill.

I am pretty stoked about these head shots and I briefly wanted to brag about it. Sue me.

Yay Erin!

To me, the top one says, "Hey, can I get you a cup of cocoa while you enjoy reading this cozy little love story I wrote? Guest blanket? Fluffy pillow?" 

And the bottom says, "Hope you don't mind comical swearing. Because there's comical swearing in my books. And maybe some monsters."

So, you know, clearly I couldn't choose between them.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

checkin in

So I have been a terrible blogger lately. Not just a terrible blogger, but a terrible writer.

Terrible beta reader.

Terrible house-keeper.

So-so dog owner.

Still a good friend.

And a bang up lawyer. (See a pattern?)

January, February, and March are the busiest months at my work. I have a lot of fun work-related tales, actually, but none of them are blog appropriate.

With--yikes!--five days left in January, I have a few mini goals.

1. Finish beta reading Project F
2. Finish beta reading Projects D & K
3. Finish an essay for a friend's project
4. Finish my application packets for two local publishers (yay!)

And then take a writing break until March 31st.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

You know what's weird?

Checking your blog stats ... and finding out you get A LOT of* traffic from a private blog. That you do not have permission to see.

I cast a side-eye at you, mysterious blog owner ...

* Edited on 1/31/13 -- to be clear, getting one or two hits from a person's personal, private blog is no biggie. Getting 20 all of the sudden from a mystery blog is icky.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tales from Starbucks

It started snowing last night in New Denver, and I have not left my house since.

There is easily a foot of snow outside my house, and it hasn't stopped coming down. As far as I can tell, the last time a plow took on my street was last night at 7 pm. Poor Yaris has no shot of making it out of the driveway, much less all the way to work. So I took my trusty lappy up to the local Starbucks, ordered a scone, and did as much work as a lawyer girl can on an unsecure Internet connection.

Things are rough out there, folks. Last night Diego worked late and ended up staying at a friend's house because he couldn't come home. When he finally pulled onto our street this morning, there was nowhere to park but the middle of the road if he didn't want to get stuck.

Diego and I broke out our trusty shovels to clear a spot. Spence supervised.

Normally, Spence is never off-leash in our neighborhood. Not because it's a particularly busy neighborhood--it isn't--but because he can't be trusted. Spencer would befriend an armed robber if he broke in, forget about a car. But with so much snow, and so few drivers, I figured a few minutes of frolicking in the snow couldn't hurt.

Until a taxi slowly made its way up our street.

I looked around for Spence in a panic. I couldn't see him anywhere. So I leaped in front of the taxi, which was probably traveling at about four miles an hour. "Stop stop stop!" I yelled. The startled driver reduced his snail's pace to a slow, snow-crunching halt.

I glanced around, and there sat Spence, sitting in the taxi's path, looking up at me expectantly. I snatched him up and smiled apologetically at the taxi driver--who was now stuck in the snow.

I walked back to where Diego was still shoveling. "You know Spence was totally standing by me until you ran in front of the taxi, right?" he said softly, so the taxi driver wouldn't overhear.

Uh ....

Finally the taxi driver was able to get going again and he pulled even with us. He rolled down his window, but his face was friendly. "Don't worry, I saw your car!" he yelled. "I wouldn't have hit it!"

Diego and I glanced at each other. Given that Diego's car is pitch-black and parked in the middle of the road, I don't think a legally blind driver would have missed it. But rather that pointing that out, we both smiled as widely as we could and waved back. "Ok, awesome! Thanks so much!"

All I can say is, where is Mr. Plow when you need him?

(Name that television show.)

Monday, January 7, 2013


I don't know if you know this, but it's really freaking cold here in New Denver.

Enjoy the snuggly picture.

So cozy

Friday, January 4, 2013

Feel the need for some sass?

Dresses from Shabby Apple

January can be kind of a bust. I mean, other than The Bachelor, what is there to look forward to until March Madness?

If you, like me, need a little spring in your step, click on the ad above (yes, there is totally something in it for me, thanks for asking!) and get your shop on. For a limited time only, everything at Shabby Apple is on sale, AND you can get an additional 20% off your order by using the sale code NewYears.

So have at it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What resolutions?? TIME TO RANT

Hey, don't you all worry. I plan to post some resolutions soon, mostly just to keep me honest as I try to fulfill them. But I figure, why not start 2013 off right -- by losing some followers?

I'll be honest, in the last few weeks, I've had an idea or two for a post, and then said, "Self, this is a poor choice. Why would you write that? You think it's funny, but you think a lot of things are funny that actually offend and annoy others. Keep that one to yourself." I don't know if that's a sign of growing cowardice, or growing maturity, but there you are.


I have something that I absolutely MUST share. Or my head will explode. (And I really need to get some stuff done this January, and a lot of it involves my head.)

So just a forewarning: If you have done the thing I am about to mention, bless your heart. I'm not talking about you, specifically, but rather a greater trend I have noticed on these here Interwebs. I have nothing against you, personally, but rather, a vague and persistent beef with the following behavior:

My new favorite adulthood activity is logging on to Facebook or Twitter the day after a major, universally acknowledged holiday where PARTYING is a signature feature of said holiday, and finding out which of my friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and foes thinks that now that they have procreated, the rest of the world should STOP PARTYING.

Ugh, the trick-or-treaters ringing the doorbell kept little Janie up until 10! :(

Fireworks on the 4th of July???? Really??? I'd like to send my fussy baby down to spend an evening with whoever planned THAT ONE.

 I know it's New Years Eve, people, but did you really have to whoop and holler at MIDNIGHT last night?

The 2013 stats? No fewer than SEVEN people on my friends list apparently think that, due to their one child, the rest of us need to give up New Years Eve.


People, if you are reading this, and you happen to be a parent, I need to you stop for a moment now and ponder: Am I guilty of parental-narcissism? If so, please commit to making a life change today. No one is saying it isn't inconvenient to soothe a fussy baby after he/she/it was awoken by the sounds of cheering and supermarket poppers, but if the entire industrialized world thinks that on this one particular evening, late-night cheering and popping is permissible, then perhaps you ought to just suck it up. Like diapers and diminishing disposable income, having a crappy evening here and there is just part of the package you accepted when you popped out a kid. Learn to live with consequences.

Hint: For future reference, it is always permissible to just hire a babysitter on holidays, and then you can be one of the hollering, popper firing, shrill giggling, fireworks admiring revelers yourself. WIN WIN!