Books That Lie

I raided the Broke and the Bookish for a topic idea again, and found this one that seemed quite intriguing: Top Ten Books That Are Totally Deceiving…

1) How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain – I am sorry to say that my buddy Johnny was not in this for even a cameo.  He only came up in references–and the book had bigger issues anyway.

2) Dating Hamlet: Ophelia’s Story by Lisa Fielder – It really is Ophelia’s version of Hamlet, but the title (and cover) make it sound much sillier than it is.  It’s actually a reasonably dramatic retelling, and quite good.  The same deception is being cast by the companion novel, Romeo’s Ex: Rosalind’s Story.

3) Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang – You cannot explore rejection if you take all the vulnerability out of the experience, and after doing that, you cannot claim to be an expert on the topic.  Period.

4) Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs – Burroughs has his flaws, but he writes an exciting story–except for the first few chapters of Tarzan.  After the apes show up, it’s all good, but before that it’s astonishingly dull.  I wonder how many people have never got past chapter two?  If they do, they’re set up for a new deception at the end…because Tarzan doesn’t win Jane until the end of the second book, yet many “Classic Editions” fail to note a second book even exists…

5) Starcrossed by Mark Schrieber – You cannot claim to be writing a retelling of Romeo and Juliet if there is no feud parting the lovers.  And just because the heroine has a crack-pot theory about how Romeo and Juliet is her love story…no.  Just no.  As her boyfriend observed (really!), they’re about as much like Romeo and Juliet as they are like Hamlet.

6) Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede – It’s probably just the particular edition I read that is deceptive.  The tagline was “Could his magic be real?”and the answer, revealed by maybe chapter three, is yes, of course it is, and it’s not even very shocking.  The edition offered a completely inaccurate summary of what the actual plot of the book is–and the book was wonderful!

7) The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom – An enjoyable read, but it didn’t really examine its premise.  The inventor of time must help two people who have issues with time…except they don’t.  One has messed-up priorities, one is depressed and suicidal.  Neither is really about time.

8) Wicked by Gregory Maguire – Deceptive because I am sure loads of edition have “The inspiration for the wildly successful musical!!!” blazoned across their covers.  This is true–but it gives you absolutely no concept of what you’re going to be reading, because the two bear shockingly little resemblance to each other (yes, they’re both about Glinda and the Wicked Witch at school…but that’s about the extent of the connection).  See the musical.  Do not (do not) read the book.

9) The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker – Similar deception to above, many editions claim this was the inspiration for Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.  True, I guess…but the entire, complete sum total of similarity is…a girl kisses a frog and turns into one.  That’s it.  Circumstances, characters, setting–all different.  Also, not a good book.  Watch the movie–or read Frogged, which has just as much in common with it but is better.

10) Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson – I have rarely been so irritated by a book, and this prompted what was probably my most scathing review ever (although Underworld is a contender).  There’s the title: the kid’s name is Alcatraz, the book has nothing to do with the prison.  And there’s the opening scene: Alcatraz is tied to an altar of encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed by evil librarians…but he’ll get back to that later.  And many chapters later, he reveals…that scene’s actually in the next book, not this one.  I think that makes this a book that literally lied to me.

Have you encountered books that, in their cover or plot description or marketing campaign (or even in their narration…) are totally deceptive?  I’d love to hear!

Weighing Down the Shelves…

Before I get to the actual focus of this post, just a note about novel news!  Last week I told you The Storyteller and Her Sisters was available for pre-order on Kindle.  If Kindle’s not your thing, you can now pre-order other ebook formats through Smashwords!  All ebooks will be delivered, and the paperback will go on sale, on October 10th.

Now on to other business…

I’m really dreadful at keeping up with Top Ten Tuesday (even though it’s such a cool meme!) but every so often I see that they’ve done a neat topic I’d like to write on…so even though it’s Friday, and even though this was the topic for several weeks ago, today I’m going to write about the Top Ten Authors I Own the Most Books By.

1) Edgar Rice Burroughs: 56
It helps that he was extremely prolific.  There’s probably still a good 15 books I don’t own.  Though perhaps I should point out, of my 56, 54 of them work with the same two plots: the hero is castaway or the heroine is kidnapped, or both.

2) L. M. Montgomery: 47
You expected this one, right?  That breaks down into 21 novels, 12 collections of short stories (200 total stories), 6 volumes of her journals (7, but one is an abridged version of 2 others), 3 books of letters, 2 books of poetry, 2 collections of early writings, and 1 autobiography.  And…that’s going to stay as-is because there’s nothing else to buy, until someone digs out another archive and publishes something new.  (Though I also have two biographies and two collections of critical essays…) Continue reading “Weighing Down the Shelves…”

7 Deadly Sins (of Reading) Meme

I saw this meme pop up on my friend Lynn’s blog recently, and thought it would be a fun one to take for a spin!

GREED – What is your most inexpensive book?

That’s hard, because I regularly go to the Library Warehouse Sale to buy books for 50 cents…  Here’s one, not actually the most inexpensive but the most jaw-dropping “it’s really that cheap?” purchase: A Window in Thrums by J. M. Barrie, 1897 edition, with the lovely handwritten inscription “For Grandmother from Mary Eunice, December 25th 1898,” sold online for the ridiculously low price of…$2.62.  !!!

I kind of feel like Greed should really ask about my most expensive book…which is a massive, two-volume set on my favorite artist, William Bouguereau, one volume of which is almost entirely images of his gorgeous paintings…and it cost me $300.  It was a moment of madness in a museum gift shop–but I’m pretty sure this is THE definitive book on his work.  And I haven’t regretted it yet!

Now I just need to muster up the courage or madness to drop another $300 (or so) on a signed J. M. Barrie.  Signed L. M. Montgomery, sadly, is FAR out of my price range.

WRATH – What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Edgar Rice Burroughs comes to mind.  I love reading his books–I have over fifty of them!  But I sigh a lot about his pathetic heroines, a few of his books have some pretty appalling racism in them, and after reading a biography…yeah, I’m pretty sure Burroughs and I could not have been friends.

GLUTTONY – What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

I Want to Go Home! by Gordon Korman.  I think by the time I was twelve, I had read it twelve times–and it stayed just as funny.

SLOTH – What book have you neglected reading due to laziness?

I neglected finishing Winston and Clementine, a collection of letters between Winston Churchill and his wife, for years.  And there’s no excuse, since I loved the first part that I read–then got distracted–and didn’t get back to it. But I finally got it read as part of my chunkster challenge last year.

PRIDE – What book do you talk most about to sound like an intellectual reader?

But I never name-drop books to sound intellectual… 😉  Actually, I really don’t, mostly because all my friends like fantasy and sci fi and we have too much shared reading experience to impress each other.  Although if I was going to name-drop, Les Miserables would probably be my best bet.

LUST – What attributes do you find attractive in male or female characters?

Give me a green-eyed book hero and I am lost.  Which is funny, because I don’t particularly look for that in actors or, you know, real life!  It’s strictly a book thing.  I also have kind of a thing for brooding heroes with hearts of gold (in books.  Ahem).

ENVY – What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

Yeah…I don’t know.  I have an Amazon wishlist, but nothing particularly jumps out as MORE desired than any other.  I’d actually really like the soundtrack of Once Upon a Forest, because I love the one song on the soundtrack that Michael Crawford sang but, um, I can’t quite bring myself to spend $25 for basically one song (well, three, I like two of the others…)  I’ll probably do it eventually, I’m just working up to it…but that’s not a book.  Though kind of on the subject, I’d be over the moon if someone gave me an autographed J. M. Barrie book!  And autographed L. M. Montgomery–I would be your best friend for life!

But I’ll feel friendly towards you too if you leave a comment with your answer to any of these questions! 🙂

Blog Hop: Favorite Genre(s)

book blogger hopThis week’s Book Blogger Hop question: What is your favorite genre? List two of your favorite books in that genre.

Well…I’m pretty sure you all already know the answer to that question!  So to make this more interesting, I’m going to list favorite genreS, and try to find a couple of favorite books in those genres that I may not have mentioned frequently before…

Fantasy: The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint and A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones

Science Fiction: A Fighting Man of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl–and also Star Trek: First Frontier by Diane Carey and Dr. James I. Kirkland and Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn

Historical Fiction: Bloody Jack series by L. A. Meyer and The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

Classics: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Whew, it’s harder than I expected to think of third and fourth favorite books–I’m so used to going to the top two for this sort of question!

Your turn: what’s your favorite genre and favorite book within it?  Don’t feel obliged to come up with your third favorite if you’d rather just share #1!

Blog Hop: Missing the Ending?

book blogger hopThis week’s Book Blogger Hop question: Have you ever ended up reading a book with its last or last few pages missing? What book was it? And how did you manage to get the end?

I’m pretty sure this has never happened to me, which says something good about the reliability of my library (and the sellers of used books on Amazon).  However, I do have a similar story to share…

I have about 45 battered paperbacks by Edgar Rice Burroughs, picked up from all sorts of different places, and I think all of their pages are intact…except one.  My copy of Tarzan of the Apes starts on page 13, missing any title pages and the first half of Chapter One.  I’ve known this for years–but I’ve never taken any steps to do anything about it.

You see, Tarzan starts slowly.  It’s odd, because there’s a mutiny going on, but even still, the first few chapters are dull.  The story doesn’t get really interesting until the last page of Chapter Three.  So somehow I contrived to be very fortunate–of all the pages of all the books I could stand to spare, it’s definitely these few I can live without!

Do you have any books with missing pages?  Or are there any books you think you could easily lose part of without distress? 🙂

Wrapping Up the Sci Fi Experience for 2013

13sfexpIs February over already?  I don’t know about you, but January lasted forever and then I blinked and February was gone.  That means it’s time to bid farewell to another year of the Sci Fi Experience, hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings.

I’ve had an excellent time in sci fi reading over the last two months.  I started out with a big stack, and have read my way through nearly all of it.  I dropped a couple of titles from my plans (one Trek book, after looking more closely at the writing, and one Pellucidar book when I realized it was later in the series than I thought) and I have one unread Star Trek book still sitting on my shelf and patiently waiting its turn.  But other than that…  Well, here’s the full list with links to reviews:

P1020254Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (reread) – Group Read, Week One and Week Two

At the Earth’s Core and Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Star Trek
Federation by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (reread)
The Abode of Life by Lee Corey

Star Wars: The Callista Trilogy
Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly
Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson
Planet of Twilight by Barbara Hambly

I also got some Sci Fi on Screen viewing in.

I’m a bit sad to wrap up the Sci Fi…but mostly I’m looking forward to diving into some fantasy!  And I have no doubt I’ll be continuing to read more science fiction anyway…if only because I added so many titles to my To Be Read list throughout the Experience. 🙂

Back to Pellucidar

PellucidarFor my second Vintage Sci Fi read, I went back to the world at the Earth’s core, with Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  This picks up where the first book left off, following the further adventures of David Innes in the world within the Earth.

There’s not much to be said about the plot–after all, it’s Burroughs, and that tells you most of it.  David makes it back to Pellucidar where he sets off through a hostile landscape to search for old friends, encounter new and old enemies, and of course to rescue (repeatedly) his poor beleagured true love, Dian, who is captured on at least three occasions.

It’s all good fun and good adventure, with strange landscapes, a never-ending parade of action, and quite a lot of death but nothing gruesome.  Like the first book, Pellucidar is striking me as a kind of Barsoom-lite.  The same basic shape, still very entertaining, but somehow not quite as striking as John Carter’s adventures on Mars–and this may have more to do with which order I read the books in than the books themselves.

Rather than dwell on the plot and the characters, I want to talk about some of the themes.  Lately it’s been uncanny how books I’ve picked up have unexpectedly fit into the larger discussion going on.  First it was Star Trek: The Abode of Life and the examination of transporter technology.  Now Pellucidar hits on a number of points that have come up recently.

First, The Abode of Life and Pellucidar both present a man from a more technologically-advanced society choosing what effect he will have on a new world he’s encountering.  Kirk went to great lengths to not be a conquistador (his words) for Mercan.  David plunges into precisely that role with abandon, becoming David I, Emperor of Pellucidar, and using advanced weaponry to conquer all the natives.

I realized long ago that I can’t look too closely at Burroughs’ philosophy, if I want to continue enjoying his books.  Still, I don’t feel like I can just pass right over the last twenty pages of Pellucidar, which are especially, um, troubling.  David simply takes it for granted that as the civilized man, he has both the right and the knowledge to assume a leadership role and impose an entirely new form of civilization on the natives.  His attempts to eradicate the Mahars, the dominant, lizard-like race, are particularly disturbing.  Though the Mahars do treat humans badly, they mostly seem to be condemned for the crime of not being human.  The emphasis is much more on their lizardness than on their actions.

It’s also a bit interesting that David doesn’t introduce money (calling it “the root of all evil”), but doesn’t mind introducing guns and cannons.  He does insist that his real interest is to spread education and trade and the Industrial Revolution…after obtaining peace by conquering everyone.

While I look askance at all of this, at the same time, I know Burroughs is a product of his time–Pellucidar was written while “the sun never set on the British Empire,” and decades before Kirk got his Prime Directive in the 1960s.  For the Dragonflight group-read, we discussed extensively how classic books carry into the modern day, and Burroughs definitely requires acknowledging that this was a different time.  In a way, it may help him that he’s so obvious about it–it makes it easier to draw a line around the objectionable bits, and move on.

That’s something I have to do most of the time with Burroughs’ heroines too.  The portrayal of the genders was a fascinating discussion with Dragonflight, and it was interesting to still have some of that in mind reading Pellucidar.  Burroughs heroes never treat women badly, or with the disdain that the dragonriders show–they generally worship the ground their heroines walk upon.  And yet, at the end of the day…the heroine is pretty much a beautiful face who plays the role of a prize to be won.

I noticed here that Dian is more than once referred to as very fierce and brave–but she never actually does anything.  She brandishes a javelin now and then, but is completely ineffectual at actually accomplishing anything (including using the javelin to fend off a kidnapper).  As comparison, Lessa is frequently marginalized and often treated (and depicted) as childish…but she does things!

To be fair, Dian may be a bit two-dimensional…but so is David, so it’s not entirely a gender thing.

And to be fair on another point, I don’t read Burroughs for his brilliant political insight, or his explorations of the human character.  I read him because he tells an exciting adventure story–and he’s never yet failed me at that!

Author’s Site: http://www.edgarriceburroughs.ca/

Other reviews:
SFF Audio
I couldn’t find others!  Anyone else?

Buy it here: Pellucidar