desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 28 – Favorite title
2010 Answer: A Civil Campaign by LMB

Trying to come up with a title has never been my strong suit.  There's just so many ways to go wrong, and I'm really not a fan of the cutesy theme romance titles.

This time, I'll go with a classic Heyer title - These Old Shades.  It makes more sense if you know that the characters are "shades" of the characters in her earlier work, The Black Moth, as well as the "shades" or ghosts of the past between Saint-Vire and Avon.


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desertvixen: (behold here is poison)
I missed a day due to transit.  We are in Kuwait, but don't spread it around until you see a post on FB that I am home, please!

Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending

2010 Answer: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

As I've said, I don't usually keep track of which plot twist is the most shocking ever.

This year, I'll go with Georgette Heyer's mystery The Unfinished Clue, since I picked up a copy of it someone sent over here to keep me company while in an area I couldn't have my Kindle in, then read it on the Kindle because I realized I had never highlighted it.  It has some memorable lines, but it gets today's answer because Heyer cleverly feeds you a red herring, and then totally redirects onto another character.

The Unfinished Clue features the classic person with too many enemies, so no one is really all that surprised that someone finally did the honors.  The murder victim (unusual for a period mystery that there is ONLY one murder victim) has a wife who abandoned him and their son years before the book opens - maybe 15?  There's a female character who Heyer leads us (well, me) to believe she could be the victim's wife.  The wife is indeed, in the area, but it's definitely not the woman you think it will be.

Much enjoyed.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
2010 Answer: How The Pro-Choice Movement Saved America

So, I don't really do a lot of non-fiction reading to change my opinions.  I do it for a) class or b) to learn more about a subject I'm interested in.

This year, however, I have to go with the reading for my Gender and Women's Studies class, which convinced me I didn't want to screw around with the cert in GWS.  Just not as much my thing as I thought it would be.  Too much navel-gazing, and hopefully I can get something for the books on Amazon.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
2010 Answer: Delia Peabody (In Death series) or Ancilla Trent (The Nonesuch)

 Hands down, still have to go with Delia Peabody.  Why?  Because she's good at smoothing things over, administrating, and finds people telling her things she never really wanted to hear.  She's also concerned about her body (but not enough to really beat up on herself and actually change her habits) and she's got a guy who loves her just the way she is.  (No, this does not make [ profile] desert_sdwndr McNabb...)

 And she's got a smart ass streak.

 My kind of character.

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desertvixen: (you must allow me to tell you)
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
2010 Answer: Cordelia's Honor

Well, I did manage to get another person to read the one above, so my track record goes well... especially since he devoured the rest of the series AND The Hallowed Hunt.

My answer for this one is a little bit of a cheat, since I just read the book today, but it's a definite must-read for Jane Austen fans.

Sanditon by Jane Austen and "Another Lady", where an author finishes this unfinished novel.  She does it so well, in fact, that I couldn't tell precisely where she picked up.  It features a delightful heroine, Charlotte Heywood, and a really entertaining cast of characters, with some twists and turns I really enjoyed.  It's far better, IMO, than the P&P sequels and some of the other attempts at capitalizing on Austen's name.  Apparently, it was actually written in 1975 and I found a copy here in the "take one, leave one" pile.  Sometimes that REALLY works out.

Sadly it is not available on Kindle, but there are plenty of cheap copies here.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
2010 Answer: Equal: Women Reshape American Law

This year's answer is We Were Soldiers Once...and Young.  I've seen the movie, of course (and had to suffer through a recitation of First Cavalry Division History today), and I have the book on my Kindle, but I've never made my way through it.  I never seem to be in the right mood.

It's on the list, though.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
There have been either late nights or technical difficulties the last few days, so I am slightly behind.

Day 22 – Favorite book you own

2010 Answer: Nancy Drew Applewood Press reissues

So, it's story time.

Back in the late 1980s, my dad bought a desktop computer (a Tandy) and I was introduced to the world of computer games.  One of them was called The Scoop.  According to Wiki, it was released for DOS in 1989, but it was probably more like 1990-91 before I got it.  It's based on a 1931 collaborative novel of the same name by the London Detection Club, featuring Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, among others.  I had been introduced to Christie, and would eventually find Sayers after I found Bujold, but I loved this computer game.  There's lots of searching and eavesdropping on the NPCs so you can figure out who did it.

I wanted the book.  Partly to see what the answer was, but partly because I wanted to read it.  My first real stab at writing a fanfiction was based on this game.  Yes, it was pretty Mary Sue.  However, I could never FIND the book, and since I was 12 and Amazon hadn't been invented yet, I was out of luck.  I had tried in libraries and such, and never came up with it.

Until Amazon, about three years ago.  The one I have is a 1983 publication, but it's still in good shape.  I read it and loved it.  It was better than I expected, and worth all the searching.

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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
2010 Answer: BSC #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day and The Velveteen Rabbit

Still The Velveteen Rabbit.  Despite crying every time I read it.

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

 My Velveteen Rabbit is actually a stuffed raccoon, who looks quite good for being 30 plus years old - probably because he spent many of those years either occupying a spot on my bed or in my cedar chest.  He has absorbed many sad tears and kept me company on many lonely nights.

He is Real.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
2010 Answer: Cotillion

Ah.  There are so many.  I'm going to go with a Nora Roberts title, Savor the Moment.  It's part of the Bride quartet, focusing on four women who run a bridal business.  The series is nicely done, although it has its patented NR moments, but I love it.  I love the two main characters, how they interact with each other and others, and "loved you since we were kids" is one of the tropes I enjoy.  The end proposal has style and emotion, and I just love it.  The four book series fits together nicely, and plays off each other, but Savor The Moment (about the baker and the lawyer) is the best.  I have it in paper, on digits, and the audiobook, because it's just that good.


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desertvixen: (DWD)
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
2010 Answer: Pride and Prejudice by BBC (1980 and 1995)

Books into movies are always a delicate issue.  The reason the P&Ps are both so good is that they went the miniseries route and did six hour long works, which let them really capture the books.  They don't cut a lot of stuff out, or add a lot of stuff in (okay, yes, they did add the swimming in the lake scene in 1995's P&P but I thought it was a worthy addition - the icon is in honor of that scene).  They preserve context for people who didn't read the book, and they pay attention to characters.  I stopped watching the 2005 P&P with Keira Knightley the moment they showed PIGS in the house, demonstrating that they didn't understand one of the primary issues of P&P's plot - not that the family doesn't have money and a reasonable house, but that they stand to lose all of it with Mr. Bennet's death due to entail.

There are several good Agatha Christie adaptations - Murder on the Orient Express is very well done with an all-star cast, including Sean Connery as Colonel Arbuthnot for some enjoyable eye candy.  Death on the Nile features Peter Ustinov, who proves that acting a character properly is not all about the physical, as well as David Niven, Bette Davis, and Angela Lansbury.  The David Suchet Poirot series features some good ones - and Suchet is Poirot to the life.  That being said, there's also some bad ones, notably the 1989 update of And Then There Were None that takes place on an African safari under the title Ten Little Indians.

There's also a lot of good movies that aren't necessarily good adaptations of their book - Gone With The Wind falls under this category for me, because there's simply so much they leave out due to time and sensitive subjects (for one, notice that all of the black characters who appear in the movie - Mammy, Prissy, and Pork from the Tara crowd - are "house Negroes", leaving out one of the more interesting characters in the book, Pork's wife Dilcey who is a field hand)  I would be completely on board with a GWTW miniseries.

So, I would have to go with a few suggestions.

The first Harry Potter movie did an excellent job, in my opinion, of translating the descriptions of Harry's world into reality.  It has a good cast and they put some effort into creating the world without slavishly including everything.

A Night to Remember, based on Walter Lord's book, is also very good.  It's a thousand times better than the Cameron movie, and the book is an excellent read.

And, the best adaptation of And Then There Were None (Ten Little Indians) is a Russian-language one.  It's the only one I've seen based on the book, rather than the play, which means everyone dies.  (It is a Russian movie.)  It's very well done.  The 1945 adaptation is based on the play, and takes what I consider to be too many liberties.


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desertvixen: (lady catherine de burgh)
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
2010 Answer: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy - Two Shall Become One

Okay, so this year's answer was not as bad as the last one.  That would have taken some special talent.

This year's answer is more disappointing, because it could have been really good.  Two For Sorrow by Nicola Upson features a 1930s writer, Josephine Tey (who in reality wrote Daughter of Time, which is quite good - also Tey was a penname for the actual author, to my understanding) and of course, she runs into mysteries.  I tried another book by the same author when it was cheap on Kindle, but gave up on it because it was heavily focused on theatre personalities of the era, something I really don't care about.

My review on Amazon is here.

Two for Sorrow opens with Tey working on a novel based on a historical crime, the Finchley baby farmers.  Of course, because she's a mystery writer in a mystery novel, we know this is not going to go well.


I just wanted to like it more than I did.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
2010 Answer: Several quotes from Barrayar

I could fill a whole book with quotes from the Vorkosigan Saga, because there's just that many.  Instead, I've opted to go for a line from Saved by Scandal.

Whoever said that every cloud had a silver lining ought to provide a looking glass to find it. And an umbrella in the meantime.

Even if you don't inhabit a Regency romp, this is a true line.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 16 – Favorite female character
2010 Answer: Cherry Ames, Charlotte, Elizabeth Shelby, Kristy Thomas & Mary Anne Spier, Amelia Peabody Emerson, Elizabeth Bennet & Fanny Price, Ariadne Oliver and Jane Marple, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Caroline Quiner Ingalls, Parker Brown, Jenny Chawleigh Lynton & Lydia Lynton & Kitty Charing & Ancilla Trent & Anthea Darracott, Prudence Merryweather & Emily Faringdon & Lucinda Bromley & Venetia Jones, Eve Dallas & Delia Peabody & Nadine Furst & Charlotte Mira & Mavis Freestone & Louise Dimatto, Judy Bolton, Anne Shirley Blythe, Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan and Alys Vorpatril, Nancy Drew

As you can tell, I really love female characters.  There are never enough.  I still love all of the ones listed above, but Nancy Drew remains my number one choice.  Part of her appeal is that she's a character so many people have written for and about, but Nancy was also one of the first characters who inspired me.  I love her in all her incarnations: 1930s Nancy, who knows she's someone and acts accordingly, even if the early books have their issues, the more demure Nancy of the revised yellow spines, 1980s Nancy of the Files and SuperMysteries (especially when paired with Frank Hardy - those two were my first OTP), even the newer revisions that seem to talk down a little.  And of course, the Nancy who inhabits my fanfic.

However, there's one character who would have made this list if I'd read the book then, and that is Lady Tej Vorpatril.  She's such a match for Ivan, and she is definitely a worthy addition to the ladies Vorkosigan.  She's funny and brave and smart and useful, and she has excellent taste in men.  I wish she'd been in more than one book.


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desertvixen: (Admiral Vorkosigan - See That)
Day 15 – Favorite male character
2010 Answer: Top 11 - Ramses Emerson, Hercule Poirot, Peter Dobbs, Inspector Hemingway, Archie Goodwin, Gabriel and Caleb Jones, Delaney Brown, Gilbert Blythe, Alistair McKeon, Frank Hardy, Aral Vorkosigan.

Not going as crazy as last time, and sticking with my previous #1 pick, Aral Vorkosigan (although Simon Illyan and Ivan Vorpatril are tied for second).  He's one of Lois McMaster Bujold's most compelling characters, a man of integrity and loyalty, no matter the price.  He has humor, and he isn't always right, but he's always dominated the stage. A man well worth reading about.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
2010 Answer: Death on the Nile or And Then There Were None (Christie), The Perfect Poison (Quick), and Q-Squared (David)

So, picking a favorite Christie is hard.  There's SO many good ones.  Out of the 76 titles in my "desert island" file, 14 of them are Christie titles.

For Hercule Poirot, I'll still go with Death on the Nile.  It has a classic "how DID they do it?" plot, a pair of victims who you don't really feel too badly about, and a good film adaptation featuring Peter Ustinov, David Niven, Angela Lansbury, Mia Farrow and others.

For Miss Marple, I have to give the point to A Pocketful of Rye, where she isn't really invited in, but comes to solve the crime anyway.  I love how she does the plot, and there's a lot of room for stories to fit in, including some of the alternate ideas in her notebooks.  Point for dysfunctional families, a favorite of mine.

For standalones, it's a tossup between The Sittaford Mystery (snowbound murder, Ouija board, crossword puzzles, an intrepid reporter, a girl out to defend her man) and Murder is Easy (no one listens to little old ladies - what happens when a bored police type DOES).  And Then There Were None belongs in its own category, I think.

Out of the 76 "desert island" titles, 15 of them are Heyer novels.  For her mysteries, I have to go with Envious Casca, which has all the elements I love - dysfunctional family, character who (surprise! not) ends up dead, plenty of people with motives and no alibis, and an Inspector who's always paying attention.  For her romances, since I've already talked about The Nonesuch, I'll go with another dysfunctional family of hers, the Darracotts who star in The Unknown Ajax, which is just fun all by itself.  There's a good romance and good characters, and you will have a few good laughs while you read it.

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desertvixen: (behold here is poison)
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
2010 Answer: Agatha Christie, Amanda Quick, Peter David

I still can't pick just one.

So, there are two authors who could probably mostly fill one of my bookshelves by themselves.  Their books were among the first to be downloaded onto Kindle.

Agatha Christie is still my favorite, although this time she is joined by Georgette Heyer.  The two of them have given me many, many happy hours of reading.

Christie is all about the plots.  How will it get pulled off this time?  I enjoy the characters, but many of them are sketched rather than drawn and finely detailed, despite the fact that Christie's plots hinge on people and how they act.  I love the novels.  I love the short stories.  I love the plays.  I've always been a Poirot fangirl - Murder on the Orient Express was my first Christie - but I've come to appreciate "Aunt Jane" and all the other detectives who populate the books, even if they don't intend to be detectives. (Emily Trefusis of The Sittaford Mystery comes to mind.)  The romantic elements often seem quick and spare, but fit the sentiments of the times.  She also does a good job of sketching in social details.

Heyer is all about the characters.  The characters make the story, whether you love them or hate them. The stories live and breathe.  Heyer made the Regency what it is, and everything else is an imitation - many of them enjoyable, but they lack what makes a Heyer story live and breathe.  Her mysteries are good as well, and her other historicals.  She inspired a lot of writers (including a close second place Lois McMaster Bujold, who acknowledges her in the intro to A Civil Campaign, and who has at least one Heyer-inspired moment - Miles' ride in the end of Barrayar marks him very clearly as a possible Darracott descendant) as well she should have.

Both are well worth reading.  In fact, both could probably have their own 30 day meme.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
2010 Answer: Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series

Going with another series, and that is Anne Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series.  It used to be really good in the beginning, when I discovered The Cater Street Hangman and devoured the rest.  It was reliably good up to book 19, Bedford Square, and then it fell into a problem a lot of series suffer from - characters get overburdened with roles.  Also, Charlotte's role in the investigations dwindled (which for me, that was the whole hook).  I haven't been tempted by one side book 25, Buckingham Palace Gardens, in which their maid seemed to be supplanting Charlotte.  It's also on the list of books series that is slowly being released into the wilds from my bookshelves.

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desertvixen: (Initial D)
Day 11 – A book you hated
2010 Answer: Oliver Twist

So, this year's answer is brought to you by the Fourth Infantry Division's deployment reading list.

1. The Punishment of Virtue by Sarah Chayes.  This one came HIGHLY recommended by a ton of higher-ups in our unit, and I hated it.  Hated it with a burning passion.  So, it's written by this former NPR journalist who goes to cover the initial AFG effort, and then ended up going back and getting involved in things.  Too much navel-gazing, and too much complaining about how corrupt people in Afghanistan are while she worked for members of the Karzai family.  (Pot and kettle much?)  Also, too much talking about how different she was.  There was only one other officer who agreed with me on how bad it was, and he used to be an enlisted man.  And yes, when I'm saying you're too liberal for my tastes, that says something.

2. In My Father's Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate by Saima Wahab.  Another "highly recommended" title, in this case recommended by the Commanding General of the Third Infantry Division (that should have been a sign).  More navel gazing, more "I am the only person in my situation" (I am noticing this a lot in books written by women about dealing with AFG), more getting on my nerves.  Especially the part where she was a translator who got involved with the officer she worked for, and made everything a big drama, and then didn't understand why people didn't like her.  Spare me, please.

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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Couldn't post last night as LJ wouldn't load, so I've gotten a day behind.

Day 10 – Favorite classic book

2010 Answer: Anne of the Island/Anne of Windy Poplars

I still have a deep and abiding love for Anne Shirley,

However, to avoid giving the same answers as last year, I'm going to pick Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game.  It's one of those books they made us read for class that became something I actually enjoyed.  The book is funny, the characters are well-drawn, and the game itself keeps you engaged and trying to figure it out.  It might have been written for middle-schoolers, but it didn't talk down to us.

A dressmaker, a secretary, an inventor, a doctor, a judge. And, oh yes, one was a bookie, one was a burglar, one was a bomber, and one was a mistake. Barney Northrup had rented one of the apartments to the wrong person.


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desertvixen: woman reading a book (reading)
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
2010 Answer: A Tale of Two Cities

This remains a hard one.  I don't pick up books I don't think I'm going to like, unless I am picking them up to shred them into pieces... or if they're for school.
Unless it happens to be free on Kindle.  Then I get a lot more adventurous.

So, after some deliberation, going with Perry Mason: The Case of the Howling Dog.  Despite having grown up with the movies, having sought out some of the TV show, I had never read an Erle Stanley Gardner novel before.  It was pretty good, better than I expected it would be, although a touch pulpy.  It is one of the earlier ones.  He had a couple of red herrings that worked well (they fooled me, at least).  I'm not sure that I "loved" it but it was better than I expected.

And it was on sale for ninety-nine cents on Kindle.  Score.


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