We Have Our Winners ~ Bad Monkeys

November 5, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Books | 2 Comments
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After entering the the seven contestants into List Randomizer, I am happy to announce the two winners in my Bad Monkeys contest:

Gina and Literary Feline!

Congratulations!  Please send me an email with your mailing information and I’ll get those out to you this week!

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#114 ~ Bad Monkeys ~ Review and Giveaway

November 2, 2008 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Books, Reading | 9 Comments
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Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

Jane Charlotte is in trouble.  She’s been arrested for a murder that she committed as it was authorized by Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, otherwise known as “Bad Monkeys.”  Bad Monkeys are part of a much larger covert organization.  As a Bad Monkey, Jane Charlotte had the responsibility to eradicate evil in American society.  The Bad Monkeys did what the government couldn’t or wouldn’t.  Bad Monkeys tells Jane Charlotte’s story through her discussions with her court appointed psychiatrist.  As he questions her in an attempt to determine whether she is fit to stand trial, he gets into her story, which is reminiscent of “The Matrix,” and just as compelling almost all the way through to the end.

This novel was much more science fiction than I normally read.  There are some neat gadgets and special powers, such as the gun that can give someone a fatal heart attack or brain aneurysm when you shoot them, educational classes that took place during sleep, cameras that were everywhere and recording everything that you were doing for playback at any time, and some wicked mind altering drugs that allow the characters to move and react exceptionally fast.   Still, the fact that this novel was science fiction didn’t occur to me until nearly the end because it’s all housed within Jane Charlotte, the most deliciously unreliable narrator I’ve come across in a long time.  She is so unreliable that when aspects of her story are called on the carpet by her psychiatrist, she brushes them off using one of the oldest of Biblical stories: Cain and Abel.  After killing his brother, Cain was banished from his family to live with those in the land of Nod.  Given that his parents were Adam and Eve and were said to be the first people on the earth, what was Nod and who lived there?  Those from the Judeo-Christian tradition accept that story on faith, despite the obvious hole in the plot.  So, when Jane Charlotte’s story runs into a wall with her story, the wall is simply just another “Nod problem.”  She believes it and expects her audience to as well, despite its improbability.  To me, this was pure genius.

Bad Monkeys hooked me from the very beginning and, as always, I love going along for the ride with unreliable narrators.  I only wish that it ended as her story did in Las Vegas.  Instead, what could have been an ending that would have kept me pondering whether Jane Charlotte was insane, a supreme and able liar, or a woman caught between the society and a covert operation that enabled society to run despite itself was resolved in a dirty, messy bow.  I suppose one could argue that there are still multiple ways to read the ending, but none of them are nearly as satisfying as what each reader could imagine for themselves.

Although the ending left a bad taste in my mouth, I loved Jane Charlotte and the story of her life.  I enjoyed that she secretly could not get enough of straight laced Nancy Drew but turn on anyone when it suited her.  Because there was a slight little bit of conscious to her, I was squirming along with her when the least savory scenes from her life with the “Pet Boys” were displayed on the big screen in front of her.  She couldn’t leave.  She was forced to confront her ugliest self.  Those scenese reminded me of how uncomfortable it is to  watch Chris Hansen walk out and confront child molestors on Dateline NBC’s “To Catch A Predator.”  She got herself into that situation, but I just couldn’t help wanting to rescue her.

While in the Bad Monkeys, Jane Charlotte helped those her organization determined were beyond the hope of redemption by a heart attack or anuerysm delivered from her gun.  This novel raises interesting questions about living in a civilized society: Who has the right to judge whether another human being is suitable to remain in society?  If the government can’t or won’t, should someone else to up the gun and dole out rogue justice?  What do we really know about the motivations groups and individuals like that?  What should happen with Jane Charlotte?  I guess the answer to all of those questions depends upon whether you are a Nancy Drew, a Bad Monkey or a bad monkey.

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As luck may have it, I received two copies of this novel and I would love to share both copies.  To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment below.  I will enter your name into the List Randomizer and will give the books to those who end up in the first and the last slots.  You can enter this giveaway until midnight EST on Tuesday, November 4.  I’ll announce the winners on November 5th.

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To buy this novel, click here.

The Sunday Salon 09.21.08

September 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe | 12 Comments
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The Sunday Salon.comIt is such a gorgeous day today!  This is the first morning I woke up feeling chilly.  A few months from now I’ll no doubt be complaining about this, but it felt really, really good.  I’ll be wearing long pants and a long sleeve t-shirt today for sure.  And, since I’ve finally gotten my seasonal blahs to a manageable place, I can enjoy the cooler weather and the changing of the colors. 🙂

What a week!  Book Blogger Appreciation Week was an inspiration to me.  Jen at Devourer of Books made my week early on and it just stayed that way.  I enjoyed visiting new blogs and presenting four of the awards and two contests.   It culminated in a wonderful book blogger wide shout out to Amy at My Friend Amy that was really impressive.  It’s amazing what a group of people who don’t know each other can do in such a short period of time. I want to personally thank Trish at Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin’ for the gorgeous button she created for Amy.  It is absolutely lovely!

The Literate Housewives’ Book Club is also back up and running.  After 9 months, we’re giving it another try.  In addition to the blog, I’ve created a forum and will be creating a newsletter.  Our first book is Immortal by Traci Slatton.  A couple of the members have finished the book, but I’m about 10 chapters in myself.  We’re not actually describing the book until we’ve finished, which will probably be closer to the end of the month.  So, there’s still time to join if you’re interested.

In addition to the blogging, I got a good deal of reading done.  I finished Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelly Hall.  I read that novel to help out Andi at AndiLit.  It was really good and I just noticed that in the activity of BBAW that Amy hosted a guest post by the author.  I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the sequel.  I also read and enjoyed The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey.  I’ll be writing and posting the reviews for these novels this week.

I have a question about young adult literature for those of you who regularly read and review it.  Sisters of Misery is listed in the YA Lit category.  It was about a group of high school aged girls, so that fits YA to me.  However, there were quite a few references to drugs, sex, rape, and gang rape.  Two characters, one of whom is a high school character, smoke.  What really stuck out to me as being inappropriate for a YA novel is my least favorite word, c*nt.  Are these topics and the use of that kind of language acceptable or common in the YA literature of today?  It’s been since the late 80s since I’ve read YA fiction and I know that a lot has changed…

I’m starting Bad Monkey by Matt Ruff and The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory in addition to Immortal for my reading this week.  A lot of great reading is heading my way.

Next weekend I’ll be heading to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. and I cannot wait!  I’ll have pictures and a report back on those festivities in my next Sunday Salon.  In the meantime, have a great week everyone!

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