Special Book Darlings

It should be noted that most of the things I post start out with me talking to someone else, and suddenly realizing that I just spouted a blog post at them. Recently, I was talking to a friend, and started to point out particular books of mine, that have some particular sentimental value. And by particular books, I mean the physical copy that I own, not just the text of the book. If you have read some of my other posts, you will be VERY surprised to hear that no copy of LOTR that I own, has any particular sentimental value (aside from being LOTR). Fear not, I am still me, there is a Tolkien book on this list. 
I apologize for the lack of pictures. 
So without further ado, some of my treasures and why they are special. 

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

Let us start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) with the first book I ever actually owned (not counting some weird picture book someone gave me that I don't have any more). It is a collection of Louisa May Alcott's writing that includes Little Women, Little Men, and a bunch of short stories. Though well read, and missing the dust jacket, this book remains in excellent condition. It also happens to be the first book on my shelf, as a result of Louisa's last name. 


AGATHA CHRISTIE 

Continuing through the shelf, we arrive at Agatha Christie's Death Comes as the End. I think I have mentioned this before, but this is the book that made me want to go write. It is not particularly good, especially in comparison to some of Christie's other works, but for some reason it filled me with a rather overwhelming desire to write a book. I finished it, got a notebook, and wrote the word "Reniseb" in it. The rest is history. I think I was 11 or 12 at the time. Fun fact, I didn't actually own this book when I first read it. But later, it was put with a pile that was being cast out of the house, and I asked if I could keep it. MINE. MY OWN. MY PRECIOUS. 


ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

Next up is a copy of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. My dad used to read aloud to myself and my siblings from this exact copy, when I was quite little. One of my clearest memories of our old house (we moved to my current abode in 2006) is sitting in the living room listening to Treasure Island. For some reason, us kidlets really liked that particular book, as I remember it being read aloud many times. It was also on it's way out to a far away land of books that other people were allowed to touch. Naturally, I rescued it, and it now sits on my bookshelf, safe and sound. The first page informs me that it was a Christmas gift to someone name Ethan in 1994, and later sold for $1.50. Despite that beautiful low price, it is actually a really nice edition, and in excellent condition. 


JRR TOLKIEN

Now we come to something by Tolkien, an inevitable result for any post of mine relating to books (or anything else, really). This is a hardcover copy of The Hobbit, illustrated by Alan Lee. Our family required that LOTR be read before the movie was seen, but did not require that I read The Hobbit, before The Lord of the Rings. I confess, it was not love of LOTR that caused me to pick up the Hobbit from the coffee-table in the living room, all those years ago. I picked it up because it was pretty, and looked interesting. Like a lot of my books, it wasn't mine, but I stole it away. It was sort of a family owned book, that wasn't treated with the proper amount of care (in my opinion), so I spirited it up to my room, and proceeded to read it on repeat for a good long while. 

And now, for a couple of others that don't have much of a story behind them, but are special anyway:

Cheaper by the Dozen: gift from a dear friend who thought I ought to read it, since I want at least a dozen children. 

Pharaoh: Because it's a really good book, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, set in ancient egypt. It's a first edition (there was only ever the one), and I loves it very much. I would put Mara on here, but the copy that I first read isn't in my bookshelf, and this post is about my actual possessions, not just books that are important to me. I also paid too much for Pharaoh, having never read, because I trusted McGraw. I was not disappointed. Worth every penny. (It currently sells for twice what I paid, so I feel better about my purchase. Not that I would ever sell it.)

Mr. Popper's Penguins: It may be childish, but I am very fond of my copy of this (yes, I stole it from an out-going pile of books, hush) I adored this book when I was younger. It was beat up when I first read it, and it is basically falling apart now, but I wuv it. It was also among the first real books I read on my own. When I say "real books" it means that I am not including those weird things specially put together for kids learning how to read. Those are unpleasant and I hate them. I do not care that Bob ran. I can see that, from the picture. Find me something more interesting. (As a young child, I was fond of crawling across pipes, climbing trees, jumping off of top bunks, and cutting all my hair off on a whim. I didn't have patience for reading unless there was something interesting happening.) I maintain that this book about Penguins is still an amusing little read, and I shall definitely be passing it on to my own children. 
 The Author


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THE THIEF
by
Megan Whalen Turner

Megan Whalen Turner has just released her book  Thick as Thieves, seven years after the last instalment of the Queen's Thief series. I have yet to read it (I shall do my best to remember to review it) but there are four other books to review while I wait. 

I'm going to try to steer clear of major spoilers, but I'm not very good at that, so tread carefully.  In the plot section, I have let loose what I believe to be a spoiler. 

If you don't want to read a long review: I liked it (unusual for me) and you should read it. The Queen's Thief is a series, but each book stands alone and does not leave you on an annoying cliffhanger. 


I'm feeling lazy, so I'm going to steal the blurb from the back of the book. 

"I can steal anything."
After Gen's bragging lands him in the king's prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king's scholar, that magus, needs the thief's skill for a seemingly impossible task – to steal a hidden treasure from another land. 
To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own. 

First off, a YA book that isn't about a teenage girl is already promising. 

Setting

The book is technically fantasy, but very realistic fantasy. The place itself is made up, but with strong grecian influence. Turner's world building is impressive, and I quite like the mythology she made up for her world. Rather than just throwing about obscure sounding names, and vaguely referencing other countries, she provided different cultures with their own unique beliefs and interpretations of things. She wrote the stories of the gods, complete with different versions for people with different backgrounds. Instead of a bizarre and unlikely system of government, she went for something practical that actually made sense, and added to the historical feel of the book. I'm quite fond of it. I like my fantasy well thought out, full of background and history, practical, and VERY realistic. That doesn't mean there can't be elves and goblins, but they need to be realistic elves and goblins (ahem TOLKIEN). 

Plot

The plot is a simple plot, with complex sub-plots. Or rather, it is a simple plot, made complex by the characters. Everyone has hidden backstory and motives, and it messes with things. A plot twist is thrown in at the end, which I have heard people object to, but I rather like it myself. Allow me to explain, while trying not to spoil anything. The book is written in first person, from the POV of Gen, and he is hiding something from the reader. If you don't think that someone in first person is allowed to hide things from you, you may not like this book as much. I don't really care, as long as it is handled well. If you look back through the book, you were being told, all along. Certain things were never said outright, but it doesn't look as though Gen is deliberately hiding them. I like that, and it is actually pretty realistic. If someone was looking at the world through your thoughts, how often would they hear your name? I have run into the problem, when writing first person, of introducing my character's name and age, because it is weird if your character says things like "I, Reniseb, walked into the room. How fun to be 15." So if you have a book where none of the other characters know the person's name and origins, it is actually unlikely that you would find out, without forced exposition. 


Characters

Gen: I'm very fond of Gen. Like myself, he is small, grumpy, and sarcastic. (Although he doesn't like horses. Tsk tsk. I adore horses). He is very talented and clever, and kind of annoying (in a good way?). He is very childlike in a lot of ways, but also mature beyond his years. His arc, in this book, is excellent, and his character matches his backstory. I have read books where a character doesn't make any sense, given the backstory provided. For example, Someone who has had a life full of people being kind and loving, having major trust issues. A person's past shapes their present self, and if the two don't fit together, the character ends up rather weak and confusing. 

Magus: I have mixed feelings about the magus. In this first book, I like him, but in the next two, I feel like his character isn't exactly consistent. I dunno. I guess I like him. 

Sophos: To be honest, I really didn't like Sophos when I first read this book. In fact, I disliked him. He was too clueless and annoying. But during my first re-read, he grew on me. He is very young, after all, and had a rather sheltered upbringing, so it makes sense that he would be the way he is. Just give him a chance, readers. I think you will end up liking him. 

Everybody Else: All of the characters were complex, well-developed, realistic, and interesting. Particularly Pol and Ambiades. 

Objectionable Content

I can't really think of any, off the top of my head. With different gods, cultures, and languages, you end up with cursing that doesn't really have any connotations in our society. 

In Conclusion 

I'm quite fond of this book. It was well written, had good characters, good setting, and a good plot. It's a pretty short book, and does not take long to read. Engaging throughout. I really liked the way Turner integrated her mythological stories into the book (they also have bearing on the actual plot, which is cool). They were not at all forced. When people are camping in the middle of nowhere, what else are they going to do around the fire but tell stories? I would certainly recommend this to anyone who likes mythology and historical fiction, or thief-y mystery type things. 
 The Author
You can find my other reviews at: writeornotwrite.blogspot.com/reviews


~ RENISEB ~
Beautiful People: Parental Edition


I wanted to do Amenhotep III or Tiye, because they are my main characters, but Amenhotep's parenting is too weird to fit these questions, and Tiye's mom and dad are just plain strange. So Reniseb it is. (I may do this again with Tseskos, because I have been wanting to really delve into her childhood, but haven't gotten around to it yet). 



Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
Her relationship with her father was fantastic. She was his pet, and he was her hero. Unfortunately, he is now dead. His position was sort of filled by her brother, but that is another story. Now her relationship with her mother is more complicated. Overall, it isn't great. Reni's mother had a boy for a first child, and that was all she wanted. A husband who loved her, and a son to dote upon, who could support them in their old age, and carry on the family line. Then a daughter showed up. Reniseb's mother does care about her, in an absent sort of way. After the death of Reni's father, her mother grew more absent, and completely ignored her. She barely speaks to her. Reniseb does not like her mother, is hurt by her apparent apathy, and is generally selfish, arrogant and obnoxious. 



Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence, and how has it affected their life?
As I said, Reniseb did know her father, but not for very long. She knew her mother, in the sense that she has always lived with her, but there has never been any kind of closeness between them. She copes with the absence of her father by setting her brother up on a pedestal, and making him fill the role of friend, brother, and father all at the same time. Naturally, this young man (while VERY mature for his age) isn't quite up to that, and fails her pretty often, though he tries his best to be everything she wants. One of the main ways this has affected Reniseb, is to make her long for some sort of strong, heroic male figure in her life, preferably a romantic one. Hence falling in love with Ukani, because he "rescues" her. 

How did their parents meet?
Ah. Well. It isn't really romantic. It was an arranged marriage, and they happened to fall in love. They met when they were kids, were friendly acquaintances, were married as teenagers, and ended up happy. 

How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
Reniseb would consider that that made her a selfish fortune-hunter. Which she is, in a way. So.... Reni, you aren't turning out like your mom, but you are turning out to be what you THINK your mother is. 
From Reniseb's point of view, her mother selfishly married for money, dragging Reni away from everything that she loved. The reality is that her mother gave up her home and life with her beloved son, to marry a man she didn't like, so that her children would have a better chance of success in the world. Yahmose wouldn't have to support a mother and sister, and Reniseb would have a step-father with money (increasing her chances of good marriage). 

What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?
Falling in love while trying to figure out how to parent a son. 

Is there something they adamantly disagree on?
The parents, or the parents and the child? Well, Reni's mum and dad disagree on the value of a daughter. Reni's mother considers her an unnecessary addition to the family, who serves no purpose (sort of true, in a way). Reni's father considers her an adorable treasure. I don't know that Reniseb and her mom have had the chance to adamantly disagree on anything. They never fight. Her mother doesn't really care enough to fight. She ignores Reniseb. If she says no to something, she doesn't enforce it, and it is up to Yahmose to keep an eye on Reniseb. They disagree on moving Reniseb from her brother's house, to the home of her mother's new husband. That is the only thing Reni's mom has ever forced her to do.  

What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
I'm starting to realize that Reni was perhaps not the best choice for this beautiful people. Um. Since Reni's mom didn't really raise her, let us say one of the things Yahmose found difficult. It is worth noting that Reniseb never really took the time to consider that Yahmose had also lost his father, and his best friend. Yahmose always struggled with bringing her up the way his father would have wanted, while also not making an enemy of her. He felt sorry for her, and wanted her to be happy, and was far too indulgent as a result of this. He was never able to deal with her obstinate nature, because he always ended up caving out of pity. 

What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
While her father was still alive, Reni's mother cared for her more. Not because she cared about Reni, but because she loved whatever her husband loved. Reniseb clings to her only happy memory of her mother, which was a day spent with both parents, and no Yahmose (he was off with friends). Her father was out of work that day, and the three of them spent the entire day wandering around the city, enjoying time together. Oh, most vivid, not happiest. Well, her most vivid memories of her mother would always be the most recent ones. 
Now her FATHER, on the other hand... tis rather sad actually. The thing she remembers MOST clearly is the only time she ever fought with her father. She doesn't remember what it was about (something stupid, she hated being told no, even if it was something she didn't really care about), she just remembers yelling at him, and his face being sad and disappointed. 

What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
As long as things were going her way, she was very sweet and kind-hearted. She was always willing to share, as long as she wasn't told she HAD to. She sang to herself, and investigated every nook and crannie she could find. She often hid in obscure corners (or boxes, if they were big enough) and had the household constantly worried that she would wander out into the streets and get lost. 

Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?

Reniseb was the name of Reni's deceased paternal grandmother. Her mother didn't really care what she was named, so her father did the honors. 

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