Dispatch From the Price Palace

Well then!  It’s been far too long since I checked in, and for that I apologize.  Funny thing about crazy weather: it leads to crazy illnesses.  I have dodged the flu bullet so far (thanks flu shot!), but the pressure changes and unreliable temperature patterns have led to multiple headache days for yours truly.  I’ve also been working my tail feathers off at the Day Job.  The flu is practically an epidemic in my home state.  Schools are closing, people are boldly venturing out in masks, and my pharmacy has been ultra busy.  The latter is compounded by a coworker being out sick for the last week.

Plus, Mr. Price is getting ready to leave on an adventure of epic proportions (more on that another time), so we’ve been doing a lot of preparations for that trip.  This has included descending into a nigh doomsday prepper level of food preservation.  I have learned a great deal.  For example, a huge can of green beans dries down to just enough to fit in a sandwich sized Ziploc bag.  Also, there is definitely a difference between generic and name brand canned corn.  I’m surprised.

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I’m still well within my goal of one book per week in 2017.  Some recent picks included Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library and two novellas: Passing Strange  by Ellen Klages and Final Girls by Mira Grant.  The latter of these was obtained via Humble Bundle’s newest Fantastic Fiction bundle.  It’s a fantastic deal and you should pick it up if you get a chance.  It’s more than worth it.  (PS: Look for reviews of the two novellas by yours truly on Speculative Chic sometime in March!)

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As for The Invisible Library, I tore through it madly.  It was supposed to be a placeholder until my copy of S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong arrived.  I expected to like it, but I didn’t expect to get a stay-up-too-late, read-obsessively sort of story.  It was amazing.  I immediately ordered the next two books in the series: The Masked City and The Burning PageI did start reading Wintersong when it arrived, and I’m enjoying it, but the back of my brain is simply itching to get back to Cogman’s series.  I’ll probably review Wintersong here, though, so keep an eye on this spot.

(You should keep an eye on this spot anyway, I’m awesome.  Ha ha.)

Lizzie Borden Took an Axe…

…and gave Cthulhu forty whacks.  Sort of.

If you haven’t read Cherie Priest’s marvelous Maplecroft, you are doing yourself a disservice.  I purchased the novel when it first came out.  I started reading it in December of 2014.  Then, unfortunately, Jay and I had to make an emergency trip to Texas for what turned out to be our last visit with his grandfather.  When I was throwing things together for us to leave, I didn’t pack Maplecroft. It was an oversight.  By the time we returned home to Virginia, I was reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.  Somehow, I never picked Maplecroft back up at any point during 2015.

Then our kitchen caught fire late last year, leading to extreme smoke damage throughout that level of our home.  Most of my books were ruined.  Maplecroft, fortunately, was among the books in our basement bedroom.  It miraculously survived with zero smoke damage and was returned to us in good condition.  I decided to pick it up last week after coming across it by chance.

Isn’t it pretty?  I adore this cover.maplecroft

The novel is fantastic as well.  I didn’t remember enough about it to simply pick up where I had left off (and my place had been lost anyway), so I began again.  It’s chilling!  Priest is an amazing writer.  This reminds me a great deal of Dracula (one of my favorite novels), both in style and mood.

I’m really enjoying the experience of reading this, too.  I’ve taken to reading primarily via e-book in the last several years.  I simply do not have the space to house as many books as I would love to own.  This, though, I am reading via dead tree format.  There’s a certain joy to be had in carrying around and showing off a book that one is reading.  Don’t get me wrong; I love reading with my Kindle and iPad.  It’s efficient, easy on my hands and wrists, and super convenient.  Reading something on paper, though, gives the experience a warmth and tactile pleasure that’s missing with e-books.  Also, I’m one of those wicked readers who enjoys underlining the especially important or meaningful passages in books.  You can underline with Kindle editions, but nothing’s as satisfying as marking a significant passage in a favorite book.

Here are a few lines that I especially loved from early in Maplecroft:

…I fear to the point of fretful, bowel-clenching sickness that I might chase her away even without the secrets that darken the space between us.

and

…I value beyond my life the time I spend with her beside me.

(pages 4-5)

Beautiful, old-fashioned lines, both of them.  Priest has gorgeously captured the language of this era.  She is one of those authors who is able to skillfully shape her prose to match her story.  I love it.  If you haven’t read her fiction before, give it a try.  Don’t care for Lovecraftian historical fantasy?  Maybe old west steampunk is more your speed?  Try Boneshaker and sequels.  Like comics and smart YA stories?  I Am Princess X might be for you.  Urban fantasy addict?  Bloodshot and Hellbent deserve your time (though, be warned: I don’t think there will be any more of those).

Join The Revolution

I would say something witty and a little self-deprecating right now, but I don’t think that’s the best way to go about saying this.  So I’m just going to say it:

I’ve been sick.  I had to take some time off from most of the things that I usually do.  Internet usage was one of those things.  Unfortunately this particular illness flare came about at the same time that I was trying to begin building my page here.  It also lasted for a really, really long time, SO MUCH LONGER than I thought it would.  But I’m getting over it and I’m trying to take back my life.  Go me!

What, you may ask, have I been doing in the meantime? (You probably aren’t, we just got acquainted and all of that.)  In between sleeping a lot and working not much at all, I managed to read a few things that I really loved.  Here’s a bit about a couple of them. (PS: links will open in new tabs/windows.)

 Borderline

Borderline by Mishell Baker is one of the best things that I’ve read this year.  It’s a strong contender for most enjoyable piece of fiction, certainly.  It was refreshing to read an urban fantasy that bucks so many of the trends of the genre.  From Baker’s website: “A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.”  Millie also lives with borderline personality disorder, which is an extremely misunderstood psychological condition.  Baker skillfully weaves her tale around a set of characters who aren’t always likeable, but who are compelling nonetheless.  I can’t wait for the sequel, Phantom Pains, to be released next March.

GFR

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley is easily the best nonfiction that I’ve read in a long, long time.  Not all of the material is new, if you’ve followed Hurley’s online presence in any sort of capacity.  Having it all collected in one handy, llama-covered volume is excellent either way.  Hurley is insightful, straightforward and powerful in her call to arms to geeks and feminists of all flavors.  I would recommend this volume to anyone who considers themselves a part of any of the above mentioned camps.  Pick it up.  Read it.  Re-read it.  Give it to your friends.  Read it yet another time.  And then pick up your sword and get to it.

Vive la revolution.