Beautiful People June: Meet “The Doctor”

IT’S BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE TIME! (No, you don’t have to be as excited as I am)

If you’re scratching your head in confusion – BP is a monthly writing meme run by Cait @ Paper Fury and Skye @ Further Up and Further In, and you can read all about it HERE.

Last month, I featured Mollie, one of the Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar and Grill (Red as Blood) and I decided to continue that theme this month as well. This time around, I’m featuring Doctor Marjorie Pierce, the owner and manager of Henpecked, and the oldest Sister. Just for a recap, here’s her bio and reference pic again:

NICKNAME: THE DOCTOR.

Yes, otherwise known as Doc, or just Boss. While she isn’t a Timelord, Doc is a medical practitioner. Despite her healing tendencies, she’s a vicious warrior in her own right. And you’d have to be a strong personality to have all of the Sisters submit to your rule (a loving dictatorship). She’s a motherly figure, though she never had any children of her own (though there are rumors of a scandalous, tragic love affair in her youth . . .)

Age: A lady never tells – but she’s north of 40 and south of 60

Height: 127 cm  Species: Human

Weakness: Orphans of any species

Weapon of Choice: Bola

Likes: Feeding People, Sharpening weapons. Being Needed.

Dislikes: Whining and Complaining. Inefficiency.

Favorite Food: Fried Chicken and Biscuits with Gravy and Strong, Black Coffee – and Chocolate Cake. She’s not a health nut . . .

Marjorie is the first person to meet Sull in the narrative, and she (presumably) takes a shine to the battered, skinny boy with haunted eyes and too pretty of a face. He needs food.

As Marjorie is the oldest major character, I thought it would be interesting (and helpful) to explore her childhood a bit, since it’s something she never talks about to the other sisters, though it obviously shaped her life.

 

  1. What is her first childhood memory?

Marjorie’s parents were tenant farmers, and her mother was the farmer’s midwife. They all lived with Marjorie’s two younger sisters and grandmother in a longhouse with the other tenant farmers, so Marjorie’s first memories are of lots of noise and people. It was like having a very, very, large family.

2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences

Best: When Marjorie turned twelve, she had her official Welcoming Day. It signified that she was an adult, and fully capable of taking on an occupation like the other tenant farmers. However, what Marjorie liked about it was how she was finally the center of attention, and how her parents managed to make her a real fruit pie, and an almost-new dress that made her really feel like an adult. She felt loved, appreciated, and happy, and she often wishes she could go back to that moment.

Worst: A rival warlord took over the plantation where Marjorie and her family lived. In the chaos, her entire family was killed. Coming back and finding everyone dead or gone was the worst moment of her life.

3. What was their childhood home like?

The tenant farmers lived in a series of longhouses – which are exactly what they sound like – long buildings with almost zero privacy. Families would put up rough curtains between sections, and sleep in a small space on shared pallets. The average number of occupants in each house was around 20, with families that often included grandparents or great-grandparents. The farmers worked long hours, with plantation duties in addition to their other jobs (such as mechanics, android supervisors, medics, etc.) Though many of the farm chores were done by mechanicals and robots, human workers were needed to run things.

4. What’s something that scared them as child?

As a child, Marjorie was frightened of the alien warlord who (basically) owned her parent’s as indentured servants. Though she never really saw the warlord, or his wife (who actually supervised and ran the entire estate), Marjorie heard too many stories about what happened to tenants who broke the rules.

5. Who did they look up to most?

Marjorie had a good relationship with both of her parents and her grandmother, but she looked up to her mother most. Marjorie remembers her mother as a loving, giving, and genteel but capable woman, who never raised her voice above a yell, but was (almost) always obeyed.

6. Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?

Favorite: Other than fried chicken and chocolate cake, Marjorie always loved anything with fresh fruit. Fresh fruit that wasn’t synthetic was a rare luxury that her hardworking parents could hardly afford.

Least Favorite: Slurry. Slurry was the all-purpose name given to the “leftover soup” fed to the tenant farmers twice each day. Morning’s offerings were usually grainy and bland, while evening slurry often had strange, unidentifiable chunks in it. It was so bad that Marjorie never speaks about it, to anyone.

7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

Marjorie would change a lot of things. She’d help her parents more, and daydream less. She would pay more attention, and she would have found a way to get her parents out. That’s what she tells herself, anyway.

8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Marjorie was distracted and flighty. She was curious about the world around her, and frequently disrespectful of her elders. Despite this, she was very caring, and she was devoted to her younger sisters.

9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?

Marjorie loved her whole family, but she felt like they were always disapproving of her, and that she couldn’t be as good as them. Her father was very quiet and stern, and they rarely had conversations, but he silently gave up everything to make his family’s lot a little better. Marjorie’s grandmother and mother were two in a long line of midwife/healers, and they imparted a great reverence for life to Marjorie. They taught her everything they knew, and encouraged her apprenticeships with the other longhouses’ healers. Marjorie’s little sisters were twins, and four years younger, so Marjorie frequently had the care of them. Since their parents were normally working, it was up to Marjorie to feed, bathe, and watch over her sisters on a daily basis. Marjorie resented it at times, but it also made her incredibly close to them.

10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

Marjorie wanted to study medicine off-planet, though she knew her parents could never afford such a thing. She always dreamed of running away, becoming a famous doctor, and coming back with lots of money to redeem her indentured family.

Due to the traumatic events in #2, Marjorie’s interests turned from healing to revenge. She was thirteen when the rival warlord wiped out the plantation, and she fled for the neighboring plantation. There, she convinced the tenant farmers to take her in as one of theirs, and she enrolled in the warlord’s guard. Through cunning, knowledge of anatomy and herbals, and determination (and aided by her small stature), Marjorie developed a reputation as a capable assassin. She finally caught the attention of the Matron (formal title of the warlord’s wife), and after many successful missions, her indentured servitude was lifted, and she was formally employed. Having achieved this goal, Marjorie set to undermining and destroying the warlord who had wiped out her family. She did eventually receive her medical training, and become a renowned doctor, but the planet she left behind never knew her as anything resembling a healer.

Well – that was darker than anticipated. That’s what I get for writing a book about a bunch of assassins-turned-restaurateurs taking in a troubled runaway . . .

Did you do BP this month (or do you plan to?) – if so, leave your link in the comments so I can go read it 🙂

What do you think about Doctor Pierce? Does she sound like an interesting character to you? Anything else you’d like to know about her/like clarified?

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

Book Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (and Why You Should Read It)

My avalanche of 1-3 star reads finally stopped this last weekend, when I picked up Ryan Graudin‘s Wolf by Wolf. Thank you to Little Brown and Co. Books for Young Readers/Hachette Book Group for this ARC! (Wolf by Wolf will be available October 6th, 2015) Note: Cover and quote might not be final.

Love this cover.
“These were the names she whispered in the dark.
These were the pieces she brought back into place.
These were the wolves she rode to war.” 

I read The Walled City earlier this year, and really enjoyed it. Wolf by Wolf was better, with a tighter story and more developed main characters.  Like with TWC, Wolf by Wolf takes actual history for its inspiration. But this time, there’s a fantasy twist. Here’s a rundown for you:

 

Set in an alternate 1956, Wolf by Wolf imagines a world where the Axis powers reign triumphant, and their victorious alliance is celebrated each year by a cross-country motorcycle race. The 1955 victor was the only girl, Adele Wolfe, and she had a rare opportunity to dance with Hitler himself after winning the race. That up-close look at the elusive Führer is one that resistance groups would gladly die for. But it seems impossible.

Yael, a young resistance member, just might be able to make the impossible happen. A Jewish girl who survived terrible experiments and escaped from concentration camp, Yael can skin-shift, altering her appearance to resemble any girl she has seen. If she can imitate Adele Wolfe, infiltrate the race, and win, Yael might get close enough for a second Operation Valkyrie.

Yael has been trained to fight and survive, and she has spent the last year practicing both racing and imitating Adele Wolfe down to the tiniest detail, but there are two major problems: Luka, who has a bitter romantic history with Adele, and much more serious, Adele’s twin brother Felix. Yael will have to fool them both, and defeat them along with all of the other competitors, if she wants to complete her mission.

 

Alternate history, what-ifs, human experiments, motorcycles, infiltration, how could this not sound amazing? But all that aside, this was a strong novel with an epic concept. And here are five reasons you should read it:

1. Yael. I loved Yael so much. A little Winter Soldier and all survivor, she was sympathetic, hardcore, and brave. She (understandably) had a hard time trusting others, but she wasn’t afraid to love or feel for the people in her past. She wanted to think well of people, and she put her mission ahead of her own interests.

Also, I loved her interactions with Adele’s brother Felix. Felix was brave, adorable, and loyal and Yael really didn’t know how to handle this. Humor, and some surprisingly touching moments, resulted from this. (But she’s not Adele, so, ouch!)

2. The story. I really enjoyed the movie Valkyrie, and I find revolution/resistance novels tend to resonate with me. Wolf by Wolf was definitely character centered, with Yael’s inner war against the Axis ideals, and what it took from her, taking more of the focus than the overall plot. Also, the fact that Yael was Jewish, while important to the story, wasn’t shoved in your face. Likewise with a cast of mainly German and Japanese teens.

3. Alternate history. Though Graudin definitely had to bend and shape history to her story, she did a great job of projecting how the world might have looked if things were different. From the tensions between Germany and Japan, to the disinterest of the US, to the eventual fall of Britain, it felt like she put a lot of time and thought (and research) into this historical fantasy novel.

4. The skin-shifting. I guess this relates to #1. I loved how the story just went with this slightly outrageous premise. I mean, scheming Nazi scientists? But it just worked, and the shifting was worked into the greater themes and character development. Also, Yael’s ability reminded me a bit of X-Men’s Mystique. Yael had similar identity problems due to always wearing someone else’s face. Also like Mystique, she tended to distance herself from her feelings and thoughts because of this.

5. Nothing was neat, tidy, or easy. Everything from the motorcycle race, to the ending, to Yael herself unraveled a bit. There was no quick fix. Especially when it came to playing Adele while dealing with Luka and Felix. Yael was always teetering toward failure, and I really wasn’t sure (till the end) how things would pan out. That’s a rare occurrence.

Minor Quibbles:

Yes, I loved this book so much, but I did have a few tiny issues. Like with TWC, the characters (other than Yael) were a bit thin for my liking. In particular, I would have liked to read more about the Japanese racers (there was some, but I wanted more).

Luka was a James Dean meets Thor type, and I wasn’t particularly interested in reading about him, but that’s purely personal. However, I did like how Yael handled his interactions with “Adele.” Talk about an interesting situation there.

Other than that, this was one of my favorite books this year, and I am so thrilled that she is writing a sequel! The fallout from the ending just begs another round, and Yael is a heroine I would gladly read a series about.

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars. An exciting alternate history with a strong heroine, lots of action, and a fascinating premise. Recommended for fans of The Hunger Games, Valkyrie, The Scorpio Races, The Maze Runner, Code Name Verity and X-Men.