Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pirates, Heading West, and Book Reviews

(I wrote this post yesterday)

Today is shop day for me (I work at the bookstore Tuesdays and Saturdays). I just finished my lunch, a yummy hot soup which caused a flood to pour forth from my nose. Ahhh (deep sigh) nothing like a good congested cough and nose to start off the month of December. Business was slow all morning...more like ghost town. I spent it reading and finishing the book The Outlander by Gil Adamson. Then I dusted and suddenly around 1:30 I’m bombarded (in a good way) by a grandmother and her daughter-in-laws. Grandmothers make the best book buyers. Money seems to be no object to them. Funny I’m poor now and unless my scheme to sell my kidney goes through I think I’ll die poor too. I won’t ever be a rich Grandmother. One can hope though, right? :) Anyways they made my day they bought almost 25 books total! Ok I can go home now.

As mentioned I finished The Outlander, but before I tell you about it I want to talk about the book I finished prior to picking it up, The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King. It was only because of the cover and my sister reading the back cover that I knew this book was about pirates. You know me A. I love a good pirate story ( have a shelf dedicated to them) and B. I never read the cover. I will warn you, I may give away key events about the book (spoiler alert!). I didn’t like the book right off. I mean in the first chapter (prologue really) the main character dies. I’m thinking come off it! You can’t kill the characters off in the first chapter. Emer Morrisey (girl pirate!) is killed and cursed shortly before falling dead. As the title would suggest, if I would bother to pay better attention (sorely lacking), she is cursed to 100 lives as a dog. Over the next, roughly 362 years I think, she lives out the dog lives with her memories as a human intact. As well as all the dog memories. She emerges finally human in the 1970s (can’t remember the exact year) as Saffron Adams. Once again a female. The story bounces back and forth between her life in Ireland when she was Emer (plus how she came to be a pirate) and her life now as the daughter of a lower class family living in Pennsylvania. Her modern family burdens her with the task of all their dreams coming true for wealth via her. Well dammit she’s smart! Who wouldn’t be after 300 years, dog or not. The author also interjects dog facts, including a dog memory that Emer/Saffron has.

My initial disappointment was soon set aside. While this isn’t your typical pirate story, you do get the yummy piracy you’re craving. I could be here for a while talking about the book, so I’m going to narrow it down a bit.

Things I really liked the book:
- Ireland! I’m in love with Ireland (can you marry a country?). The fact that part of the story took place there and you learn some history even better.
- I liked how the author had Saffron imagining pirate things that she would like to do to people. I’m with you Saffron!
- The book made me think. Not only puzzling it out, but thinking about what it could be like to be thrust into a modern body. Especially since things are much different now than 300 years ago. (I know pirates...who wouldn’t want them around today still. Hand up for girl who would like to be captured by the Black Pearl first, thank you!)

Things I didn’t like (or people):
- Fred Livingstone – you’re messed up. I have maybe a smidgen of sympathy for you...(not much though) once I figured out why you are the way you are. I think he was the only thing I didn’t like. I give the book a 5!

Ok if the post isn’t getting too long I’ll talk about The Outlander too. This was another book that I purchased solely on liking the cover. I really need to be careful about doing that.

Mary Boulton is fleeing her brother-in-laws after killing her husband. The story is set in 1903 as Mary struggles west to escape her past.

It took me a while to get settled with this book. At first it was odd reading through Mary’s perspective of things because she’s a bit off. However, I found myself really connecting with the story the more I read. The book was never boring and it had a nice steady pace. My favorite character (after Mary of course) would have to be Arthur Elwell, the lunatic. Although his appearance in the book was brief I related to him more than I care to admit. I really like Giovanni, the giant catskinner, too. I won’t tell you anymore because I think you should read it. This got a 5 as well.

After finishing both of these books I was struck by something. This is going to sound strange and I don’t know how to say it without making a fool of myself. Ok here goes. These books bring to light to me how different the laws of today are. There was a time that going out and killing someone in a duel or by other means resulted to during piracy era and western settlement (in America) that it was ok. That was that, you moved on. Things were settled. In a way something seems appropriate about it. I don’t know, I don’t think I’m getting my point across right. I'm not saying murder should be allowed, please don’t hear me saying that even though I kind of am.

Both of these books I want to read again and slower the second time around. Unfortunately it can’t happen for a long time, too many unread books are in line before them for me to consider reading a book a second time. Maybe later...

Quote of the day:

He took to reading books because, for some reason, he heard nothing when he read.
(Quote from The Outlander about Arthur Elwell page 181.)

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