I have meant, since publishing UnBonded, to make more blog posts, and make my blog more accessible to people who haven’t read my books. I have failed, and instead totally dropped off the radar for over a month. Oops. So I am planning a series of posts, starting with this one, My Favourite Books, soon to be followed by My Favourite Kindle Romances, and keep your eyes peeled for My Top 5 Weird Dicks and Tips for Aspiring Kindle Authors. If anyone has any requests for a post, let me know, and I will try to accommodate you. But let’s start at the beginning, with the broadest topic.
So my favourite books. It’s impossible to just have one. But if I could make everyone in the world read what I want them to, these are the books they would read, in no particular order.
- Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
The sexiest of period dramas. I just love that Rochester is like “Run away with me to my villa in France and we shall LIVE IN SIN!” and Jane is like “Damn, tempting, but no.”And they kiss a lot and throw themselves into storms and set beds on fire and an aristocrat dresses up as a travelling fortune teller woman rather than ask his employee about her feelings? Their whole relationship is based on LUST. You KNOW Rochester’s got a boner in like 80% of his scenes with Jane and she’s THINKING ABOUT IT, and that is a BIG DEAL for an olde timey novel.But all that juicy stuff aside, Jane Eyre is PERFECT for the wounded Byronic hero. Mr Rochester is THE classic rugged asshole emotionally-withdrawn love-interest. He just needs someone to save him with the power of love. And that is gooooooood stuff.
Looking for my favourite lines, I can’t choose. It’s the scene when Jane emerges from her room the morning after she finds out about Bertha, and Rochester is literally lying on the floor outside her door. I just can’t get over how he wilfully refuses to accept what she is saying. It’s… adorable???
“I pass over the madness about parting from me. You mean you must become a part of me.”
Is that what she said, Rochy? In this scene he is mad. He starts talking to himself. He threatens her that he will become violent, then says “If I storm, you have the art of tears.” He would never hurt her.
He also tries to SEDUCE HER, which I honestly don’t see enough. She tells him she’s leaving and he kisses her and says “How ’bout now?” basically.
But I also love this bit, very quotable: “I could bend her with my finger and thumb: and what good would it do if I bent, if I uptore, if I crushed her?…” and so on and so on.
Charlotte Bronte gets it. She’s one of us.
- The Princess Bride, by William GoldmanAnother fairly unoriginal choice. This is a lot of people’s favourite book. I can’t even say what I like about it. It’s the love. Westley and Buttercup are just so perfect.
My favourite bit is the scene starting from when Buttercup goes to Westley’s hovel door and gives her confession, and finishing when they kiss before Westley leaves for London/America. When I read it the first time, I was reading the book in English class while the teacher labouriously went through the assigned text, which I guess he allowed me to do because I was basically a good student and I wasn’t causing any trouble. It was a copy from the school library.
When Westley gave his line “My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches,” I actually gasped out loud, making the girl in front of me turn around and I had to assure her I wasn’t gasping over The Merchant of Venice or Lord of the Flies or whatever it was, and I was in fact reading something else.
Now, that scene isn’t in the film, which is why I don’t like it. Controversial, I know. I adore Carey Elwes and fancy the pants off him, but without that scene, I simply cannot condone any adaptation. Sorry.
- The Hard Goodbye, by Frank MillerThis is probably my favourite book. I know I said I didn’t have one, but this is probably it. It’s the first in the Sin City graphic novels. The story of Marv and Goldie, Marv was played by Mickey Roarke in the film for reference.
Hard-boiled pulp noir is my favourite genre. I did my BA dissertation on Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series, which as far as I’m concerned, is the absolute nirvana of the genre. I like it because I like heroes, and beautiful women, and promises of violence, and justice.
The Hard Goodbye has them in spades. I have the first page memorised, which is not too hard since it’s a graphic novel. It’s this:
“The night is hot as hell. Everything sticks. It’s a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town. The air conditioner’s a clanking piece of junk that couldn’t keep a drink cold if you sat it right on top of it. I’m staring at a goddess. She’s telling me she wants me. I’m not going to waste one more second wondering how it is I’ve gotten so lucky.”
It’s worth noting that this is the first page with words on it. The real first page, as well as the second and third, are Goldie walking up to Marv and silently seducing him.
This book is the story of a thug, Marv, who’s been in so many fights he can’t even pay for sex because even the Sin City professionals won’t go with him, who is seduced into a one-night stand by the beautiful Goldie. When he wakes up the next day, she has been murdered, and he vows to avenge her, and goes on a rampage through the whole city. Now who doesn’t love that? Who among us doesn’t just eat that up with a spoon? Marv loves Goldie purely and truly, and does baaaad things to make her murder right. God, I love him.
My other favourite lines are the ones they put on the back, of my edition anyway. Marv is told “Ask yourself if that corpse of a slut is worth dying for.”His response is “Worth dying for. Worth killing for. Worth going to Hell for. Amen.” written over panels showing him shooting the man who asked. Delicious.
- The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy FarmerThis is a Young Adult novel, published when I was only 11, but it has always stuck with me. It’s basically got the plot of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, but the world-building is so incredible. It’s definitely Sci-Fi, but it doesn’t have any space-age technology.
It’s the story of a young boy called Matteo Alacran, who it is revealed is the clone of the patriarch and Godfather, the original Matteo Alacran. Matt is raised in a country called Opium, which sits in between the United States and Mexico. Basically, Matteo Alacran the elder was so rich and powerful, and the American government so corrupt, that he got them to agree to letting him set up his long but narrow state on the border to stop the influx of Mexican immigrants to America. All the costs and responsibilities of policing the border fall to him. He uses the land to grow opium in fields that stretch from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans.
The only people who live in Opium are the four or five generations of the Alacran family (Matteo the Elder is well over 100 years old), all of them jostling for power, and their servants, and their slaves. Matt, the hero, is a clone on the estate, but clones are legally required to be chemically lobotomised as infants. Only Matteo Alacran is rich and powerful and scary enough to break this law, taking a perverse pleasure in raising Matt almost like a son.
It’s great. Much better than Never Let Me Go. It’s been years since I read it last so I can’t swear to the writing, but it is a story that has never left me.
- Queenpin, by Megan AbbottAnother noir entry, but this one is recent, from 2009, and the author actually wrote a non-fiction book I used in my dissertation. Megan Abbott does feminist noir better than I ever thought it could be done. Her noir series is made up of Queenpin, The Song Is You, Die A Little, and Bury Me Deep. The Song Is You is the weakest one in my opinion, as the protagonist is a man and it just doesn’t work as well, while Bury Me Deep is based on a true story. My order of preference is Queenpin, Bury Me Deep, Die A Little, and The Song Is You. Queenpin has lesbian overtones which only makes it better, while Die A Little has faint incest overtones.
I read Queenpin first and it blew. me. away. I instantly bought the other three, and got my best friend to read it, and have been slowly rationing them to myself ever since, dreading running out. I have just never read such an authentic female voice… ever, I don’t think. Forget Gone Girl. This is noir. It’s got the lingo. The Narrator – I don’t think she has a name – is a delicious villainess. She’s not shoe-horned into the detective role. She’s the femme fatale.
She’s a normal girl. A regular girl. She gets a job in a counting house and runs up against Gloria, the best of the mob molls, who takes her under her wing and trains her up to be the best in the business. Gloria is on her way out, and the protagonist has everything it takes to take over.
- Downside Ghosts, by Stacia KaneWhoooooo boy. I am in agony for this damn series. I want the next book… SO BAD. It starts with Unholy Ghosts. It’s Urban Fantasy. It’s the story of Chess Putnam, a Debunker for the Church, a.k.a. a Church witch.
In this world, there was a week-long apocalyptic uprising of ghosts some time in the 1990s that killed billions of people, it was a massacre. The ghosts can go through walls after all and have only one thing they want, to kill the living. Only lead can keep them out. People were defenceless, except for a small fringe Church of Real Truth who, it turned out, had the magic to repel the ghosts, so they quickly took over and now rule society absolutely.
They train people with innate magic abilities to work for them. Chess is a Debunker so that means she investigate claims of hauntings. The Church have promised humanity to control the ghosts and keep them in the underworld, so any time a ghost manages to get out into the land of the living, they have to pay out a huge settlement. Obviously, they don’t want to, and obviously people try to fake hauntings to get the money, so Chess is sent to prove that the haunting is fake, whereupon the perpetrator will be prosecuted, or to banish the ghost if the haunting is real and report it.
Chess is also a drug addict, addicted to pills like Valium or Xanax, though she will partake of basically anything, and she is in deep. So she lives in the ghetto known as Downside, where she has easy access to dealers, and the Church has less presence. This puts her in close contact with the local drug baron Bump’s enforcer, whose only name is Terrible. Terrible is like Marv, a man who’s been in so many fights his face is just a lumpy terrain of scars. But God. God.
Naturally, where I’m going with this is that Terrible and Chess fall in love, and just… kill me. The basic formula of the books, of which there are currently five, is that Chess is given a haunting to investigate by the Church, while at the same time Bump demands she investigate some magical goings-on in Downside and she has to co-ordinate both without the Church finding out anything they shouldn’t about her.
It is also worth mentioning that there are several novellas available for the series on Kindle, including one from Terrible’s POV, and another like that is on the way. But seriously, if I could force people to read any book, it might be this one. I know you might be thinking that Urban Fantasy isn’t your thing, or that the premise sounds far-fetched or unrealistic, but the world-building is incredible. The Downside natives even speak a totally original patois that to me is a mix of modern slang and Puritan formal speech, using “ain’t” but also “thou”, “aye”, and “yon”. Again, I can see how this might be a turn-off, but trust me when I say it isn’t when Terrible is speaking to Chess. I check this author’s blog for updates probably once a week.
And those are my favourite books! I don’t think I’ve missed any. I honestly encourage everyone to check these out. My next post will be my favourite Kindle romances, which I expect most of you are more invested in. Again, if any of you have any requests for posts, let me know!