Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Seven Quick Takes, and more Cruel Beauty Giveaways!


1.

Speaking of Conversion Diary, I just had a chance to read Jen's upcoming memoir Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidently Found It, which I read cover to cover in one sitting, not even getting up to turn on the light in gradually-darkening living room. It goes on sale in April, so put it on your Easter list.

2.

Who else has written a book? Oh, my sister-in-law, Rosamund Hodge, author of Cruel Beauty



And because we don't stop being proud the week after the book release, we're giving away two Kindle copies this time. Leave a comment to enter, and we'll draw names out of the tasseled hat on Monday.

3.


I read this book faster and faster so that by the end I knew I was heedlessly missing details. But the plot was the thing that kept me reading until midnight two nights in a row. This is a romance and it's a good one. After all it is based on Beauty and the Beast, albeit very loosely. However, the author tells it with a freshness and immediacy that makes me think of Robin Mckinley's The Blue Sword, which is some of my highest praise. 
I am amazed this is a first book. Hodge took the Beauty and the Beast story and mixed it up with Greek mythology and a few other classics that I won't mention here for fear of spoilers. The result is a completely new soup* that doesn't seem derivative in any way. It is complex, compelling, and Tolkien-esque in the way big themes and truths are woven seamlessly into the story. It is C.S. Lewis-ian (is that a term?) in the way that source materials are woven seamlessly into a completely new story a la Til We Had Faces (yet so much more understandable to a schmoe like me.). 
...Above all I was struck by the underlying themes of the masks we hide behind, the real meaning of love, the many forms selfishness can take, the value of intention in sacrifice, the price of trying to control fate, and the fact everyone has more layers than you can see at first glance.
ADDENDUM: I realized that I never mentioned Melanie's excellent review:
I’m a sucker for fairy tales retold — if they’re done well. But Cruel Beauty is not just a retelling of Beauty and the Beast– is also a retelling of the myth of Eros and Psyche. I’d never realized before that they were really two versions of the same story. More, the story’s cocktail not only borrows from Greek mythology but also from Bluebeard, the Scottish Tam Lin and other sources. I think I’m going to be unpicking fairy tale motifs for a while. Oh and there’s a good dash of influence from C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces and T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets– oh the scene that draws from Eliot is a gem that had me literally gasping with delight. But nothing about Cruel Beauty feels derivative and it certainly does not seem like a patchwork quilt. Hodge develops a believable world with it’s own mythology and history that feel fresh and original and the narrative is seamless.

4.

I like to think I'm fairly mature, but certain things will make me scream like a girl. Creepy the plastic spider is one of them.


 Especially when someone puts him on the sleeping baby's head.

I hadn't seen Creepy for a while, and then when we were moving bookcases back into the library, I picked up a plastic bowl, and there was Creepy sitting underneath, large as life. And you can bet I screamed like a little girl.

Why don't I just throw Creepy away? I don't know. I hate him, and yet, I feel like I would be letting the terrorists win if I got rid of him. So he sticks around, and every so often he scares the living daylights out of me. 

5.

Speaking of the library, and its ceiling, it went from looking like this:


to this:



to this:


The new fixture, besides being more in keeping with the style of the house, actually casts some real light in the room. And we are enjoying the sensation of being secure in the knowledge that the ceiling will not collapse on our heads.

6.

NBC News anchor Brian Williams "performing" Rapper's Delight:


Look, I laughed, okay?

I never knew the name of this song, but I know the opening lines because they featured in a preview of The Wedding Singer (a movie I've never even seen), and the memory has been taking up valuable space in my brain ever since.

ADDENDUM: The other source of my knowledge of Rapper's Delight: it's the first entry in Mr. B's Chap-Hop History:


7.

Here's what you know about the Italian city of Pompeii: it was buried in ash when a nearby volcano erupted with sudden fury in 79 AD. If you're plunking down $12 to watch a volcano erupt and destroy a city - first via earthquake, then via flaming boulder bombardment, then via tidal wave, and finally via superheated ash cloud - then you'll get that. But all that meaningless, computer-generated, natural-disaster carnage gets tedious, and quickly. What's much, much more fun is what comes before. You got yer enslaved "savage" (Kit Harrington, fit and fresh as a daisy) who's more civilized than his imperial overlords, gladiating his way across the Roman Empire. You got yer forbidden love across class lines set against the backdrop of spectacular disaster. You got yer political maneuvering, dominated by a dirty Roman Senator (Kiefer Sutherland, having the time of his life) who's got his eye on the same girl as our hero. You even got yer arena combat narrated by Greek chorus! And hell if director Paul W.S. Anderson doesn't serve up some actually interesting overhead shots of the doomed city pre-destruction. With all this goodness, who needs a script or a compelling lead?

7 comments:

Otepoti said...

Pretty please? Though I would probably buy the enkindlement regardless.

ladyhobbit said...

I'd love to win!

Kate said...

I don't have a book budget this month, though Cruel Beauty is on my wishlist. I'd love to win a free Kindle copy. :-)

Brandon said...

Whoever put the Rappers' Delight video together had mad editing skills; it's not easy getting the rhythm and tone as close to perfect as that was.

MrsDarwin said...

Betcha anything it's partially auto-tuned.

Sildah said...

I read the available portions with fascination. It would be lovely to be able to read the whole book.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Oh, Creepy . . . =P

Your mistake was naming him. Now he's the scary plastic equivalent of a teddy bear. And you don't just get rid of a teddy bear.