Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge (CMMC): Macro or Close-Up

Self’s current obsession with roses continues: She’s an expert now on Up Close and Personal.

Posting for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge (CMMC).

A different rose started blooming today: Moonlight Romantica.

Her Favorite Ruth Galloway Character

Strangely enough, it isn’t Dr. Ruth Galloway. Her favorite character (and she realizes now that he was always her favorite) is DCI Harry Nelson.

Elly Griffiths’ writing is so much better when Ruth and Harry Nelson are apart.

Here is Nelson at home. He has sacrificed so much to be able to keep his house a home:

Michelle goes to bed at ten and Nelson isn’t long after her. They make love in an abstracted, but not untender, fashion and Nelson falls asleep dreaming of buried treasure. He’s awoken by his work phone. It’s ten minutes past midnight.

“Boss.” It’s Judy. “I’m at Black Dog Farm near Sheringham. Gunshots and screams heard inside the house. I think you’d better come.”

The Night Hawks, p. 40

Quote of the Day: From Which Dear Blog Readers Can Infer

He looks up and has to stifle an exclamation. Super Jo has materialised in front of him. How does she do that? Ruth’s cat is the same. You’re sitting there quietly on her sofa and suddenly that orange beast is in front of you, radiating waves of hatred.

The Night Hawks, p. 29

Yes indeed, after a two-book detour into science fiction, self has returned to the Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery series. The Night Hawks is Book # 13, and after this there are only two more: author Elly Griffiths has announced that Book # 15, The Last Remains, will be the final book of the series.

Self looked up Book # 14, The Locked Room, in her local library, but there are 44 holds on just four copies so she probably won’t get around to it.

She started reading the series in April, while she was in Northern Ireland, and blew through ten books while traveling from Downpatrick to Belfast to London to Oxford. After self calmed down and accepted the fact that Ruth and Harry Nelson did not in fact belong together, she began to enjoy the books more. The series have followed the fates of these two from the time Ruth was 39 to the time she is — in her mid-50s? While her life may seem sad — she doesn’t get her man! — she has a lot of professional achievements — she is now head of her department! — and has a delightful, precious daughter who must be about to enter secondary school!

Stay tuned.

Sam the Man!

Sam has a plan to rescue the town of Perdido Beach, California from killer bugs AND baddie Drake.

You GO, Sam! That’s right, never give up!

As he thinks aloud, Toto stands helpfully by his right shoulder, very forthcoming with the ad libs.

Sam: Could Jack do it? If he doesn’t want to, I could do it.

Toto: Yes, Sam would.

Sam: Dekka can fly, that’s her superpower.

Toto: That is true.

Sam: I can find a car with at least a gallon of gas and go tearing for Perdido Beach and maybe beat the bugs.

Toto: Sam believes he can, it’s true.

Everyone ignores Toto, but the kid stands just to the side, saying to himself, “That’s not true” or “That’s true.” Do not ask me HOW this scene works, but it is HILARIOUS.

Stay tuned.


A new character shows up 3/4 of the way through this book. He was a research subject and lived in a lab. When the grown-ups disappeared, Toto just continued living in the lab, because he stumbled across a huge stash of Nutella AND Pepsi. And he lived off Nutella and Pepsi for eight months.

The others found him strange because he talked about himself in third person. Then they discovered this other thing about him: he couldn’t lie. He always had to say exactly what he was thinking. But when someone else lied, he knew it too.

They way the others discovered Toto’s skill was this: they would meet another party, and this party would say something, and Toto would suddenly blurt out: NOT TRUE. And Toto turned out to have 100% accuracy.

That’s all he does, the rest of the novel. He just keeps saying NOT TRUE at moments of crisis.

That is a very useful skill to have before the start of any negotiation.

Stay tuned.

Like Buffy!

Trigger Warning: Killer Bugs, and Drake

So many characters in Plague. Each one has his/her/their own story arc, but she’s beginning to develop affinities.

The insects are coming! They’re led by this bad, bad boy named Drake who, even before the crazy time when all the adults disappeared from Perdido Beach, California, was mini-Jeffrey Dahmer, “burning frogs” and “microwaving a puppy” (!!!) He’s absolutely nuts and becomes a kind of Lord of the Bugs, with his own bug army, which he is leading back to town to kill all the kids.

Just then a rush of bugs, a new column of the creatures came over the ridge and poured into the mass of Drake’s army. Different. These had bloodred eyes.

They were not alone.

Brianna stood, arms on hips, glaring down at him.

“You!” Drake said.

“Me,” Brianna said.

To the creatures he said, “Red eyes, serve me! To the town. Kill everyone but Nemesis!”

“You talking to these bugs now?” Brianna said. “I have to tell you: I don’t think they speak psycho.”

“Blue eyes, with me!” Drake said. “Two columns, two armies: blues with me, reds back to town and kill. Kill!”

“What exactly do you think you’re doing?” Brianna demanded.

“Me?” Drake laughed loudly. “I’m going on an epic killing spree.”

“You’ll have to go through me,” Brianna said.

Plague, p. 308


Here It Is: The Thing (Or Things) That Came Out of Roscoe

RIP Roscoe. Very sad. His best friend locked him in a room and nailed plywood boards over the doors and windows. All Roscoe could do was watch as his friend worked, his face looking ghostly and sad.

Don’t every tell anyone that teenagers can’t make the hard decisions.

Now we’re in a forest, p. 253. That monster, Drake, who is really two teenagers in one (Brittney’s the other one — she keeps trying to kill Drake because she’s good, see? And Drake is bad. Only, they’re the same body. So Brittney hasn’t got it all figured out yet.) hears something approaching. Something big.

It was silver and bronze, dully reflective. It had an insect’s head with prominent, gnashing mouthparts that made Drake think of a Benihana chef flashing knives ceremonially. Its wickedly curved mandibles of black horn or bone protruded from the side of its mouth. It smelled like curry and ammonia.

Plague, A Gone Novel, p. 253

Is that a giant cockroach? Self haaaates cockroaches!

She even hates spiders. Which is why Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time left her feeling a little, how shall we say, detached.

Not content with scaring the bejesus out of his readers with the above description, Michael Grant has to describe how they move:

They ran in a rush on six legs, stopping, starting, then skittering forward again at alarming speed. Their tarnished silver wings folded back against bronze carapaces, like beetles or cockroaches.

Stay tuned.

Penny in PLAGUE, a GONE novel

These characters — a whole slew of them — are as vivid and realized as can be. They talk like teenagers, they drink like teenagers, they swear like teenagers.

p. 220:

“You okay?” Caine asked Diana.

“She’s perfect,” Penny said. “Perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect skin. Plus she has legs that work, which is really cool.”

“I’m out of here,” Caine said.

“No,” Diana said. “Help me lift her back out.”

“Yeah, Caine, don’t you want to see me naked? I’m still kind of hot. If you don’t mind my legs. Just don’t look at them. Because they’ll kind of make you sick.”

Both of Penny’s ankles are broken. And because all the adults have disappeared, and that includes doctors and nurses, “there was no way to fix her legs . . . and nothing to treat the pain but Tylenol and Motrin.” All that’s holding Penny’s ankles together are “two pairs of socks.”

How did both of Penny’s ankles get broken? Caine broke them. But Penny still has to live with Caine and his girlfriend, Diana. She doesn’t wash or go to the bathroom, which is why Diana finally decides to take matters into her own hands, and drags Penny to the tub (at least there is running water).

Diana maneuvered to bear most of Penny’s weight and lower her bottom first into the hot water. Her twisted pipe-cleaner legs dragged, then followed their owner into the tub. Penny screamed. “Sorry,” Diana said.

“Oh God, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts!”

Did self mention that these books are listed as YA? But there is nothing YA about these characters. She can’t believe she never heard about these novels until she saw a stack of them on Charles’s desk on the lower floor of the London Review Bookshop, a month ago (There are nine books in the series). To her great surprise, the author turned out to be American. And the characters were American teenagers in self’s own home state of California. To think she had to go all the way to London — to the London Review Bookshop — to find out about them.

Pretty good reading, this one. And the horror — the horror — is stellar.

Stay tuned.

Flower of the Day: All Dressed Up Rose (Again)

Today there are new blooms on her All Dressed Up rose. So pretty! Self is really glad she decided to move it from the front yard to the back — now she can gaze at it all day through the French doors, she doesn’t even have to step out of her house.

Posting for Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Plague, A Gone Novel: Sentence of the Day

  • Edilio (one of the less self-absorbed characters): “You know, Albert, you want so bad to be the big man, the Donald Trump of Perdido Beach, why don’t you go deal with Drake?”

So Donald Trump is not beneath the notice of the ultra-cool American teens of Perdido Beach, California — ?! Who would have thought? (After reading the sentence, self looked up the book’s publication date: 2011)

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