Friday, December 2, 2016

Pretty excited about my current to read list

I just got approved for a couple NetGalleys and, you guys, I am preeeeeeetty excited about my current reading stack and thought I would share. Plus this buys me some time to work on my Cuckoo's Calling review, which I should really get to. #procrastinationftw

But anyway, check out my current "I am reading this" list:

The Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (this one isn't a NetGalley but I'm reading it now and it fits)
It's Up To The Women by Eleanor Roosevelt

Virgin Envy: The Cultural (In)Significance of the Hymen by Jonathan Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr


I am going to be SO MUCH FUN. The books are all on my ereader so unfortunately people won't get to see the covers but maybe people will ask me what I am reading. And then regret interrupting me.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Reading Wrap-Up

November. You were the 2016th-iest of all the months, weren't you? But hey, there was Thanksgiving and that's always fun because food is delicious and there were puppies.
They were all interested in something just to the side of me
Let's focus on the stats

Total books read
4
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
Danse Macabre by Stephen King
Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Total pages read
1,471

Fiction
50%

Female authors
50%

White authors
75%

US authors
75%

Book formats
ebook - 50%
paperback - 50%

Where'd I get the book
borrow - 25%
indie - 50%
Kindle - 25%

Rereads
0%

Bookclub/readalong
25%

Blogger reco
25%

Translation
0%

Books by decade
1980s - 25%
2010s - 75%

Books by genre
Essays - 25%
Horror - 25%
Rom Com - 50%

Resolution books
50%
Not 80% from last month but hey, not too shabby
Danse Macabre was published in 1981 so hey, published before 2000
China Rich Girlfriend is by a non-white AND non-American guy so double win

Alright, December. Be better. For reading but also just in general.

Monday, November 28, 2016

You are a servant of Destiny, not its agent. Get over yourself

Have I mentioned before how much I love Christopher Moore? Because it is a lot.* So of course I picked up Secondhand Souls, the sequel to A Dirty Job, which is one of my favorite Moore books. More Charlie, more Minty, more Lilly and Sohpie and the hellhounds and the Emperor and all of those other fun characters? SIGN ME UP.

But here's the thing, I felt like the book was lacking a bit of...soul
HA, I'm hilarious. But seriously though, there was a lot of stuff going on here, with a bunch of subplots and set up and it just felt like there was so much it was trying to do that it didn't get a chance to really spend much time in any area so things weren't as developed as I hoped. A Dirty Job focused a lot on the idea of death and loss and was really moving in between the funny and, yeah, sophmoric humor. There was a depth to the story. Here it seemed that he was setting things up so more would be at stake but ultimately I cared less about everyone this time around.

I was going to say there are some spoilers here for the first book, but I'm not giving away anything the back of Secondhand Souls doesn't already tell you, so I guess mild spoiler warning.
In A Dirty Job, beta-male Charlie Asher is dealing with the death of his wife Rachel, who died giving birth to their daughter Sophie. As if that wasn't enough to throw at a guy, it turns out he's a "little death". He's not the Grim Reaper but he's sort of like a mall Santa, collecting souls and helping people pass on. His daughter, it turns out, is Big Death (the Luminatus) and there are a group of creatures looking to take over San Francisco and Charlie saves the day but gives his life in the process (again, spoilers all revealed on the back of this book so).

This time around, Charlie is back, his soul being housed in one of the creatures his girlfriend Audrey, a Buddist nun, managed to create. He's hidden away while they try to find a body to move his soul into. But in the meantime, it seems that souls in San Francisco aren't being collected and something bad is brewing in the city's underbelly.

While that sounds simple enough, there are a lot of subplots jammed in (Audrey's creatures deciding maybe they could have something better, the Morrigan are back, a big black guy dressed all in yellow seems to know something is going on, souls aren't being collected, a bridge painter at the Golden Gate Bridge starts talking to ghosts, Sophie has lost her hellhounds, Charlie trying to get a body, Lilly and Minty break up but is there still something between them) and while these do tie together, none of them really get a chance to breath.

There was actually one subplot that I think if it was more the focus of the book, it would have been more successful. A painter for the Golden Gate Bridge is strapped into his harness when he's visited by a ghost. She tells him her story about her life and how she died and she believes there's a reason he can hear her and wants him to listen to the stories of other souls who seem to be trapped in the bridge. I'm still not 100% sure how the stories of each of the ghosts he talks to tie into this main story, but I would have liked more of that and maybe less of the other subplots going on.

In the end, it's still Christopher Moore and I still enjoyed it. It was just not a favorite. Perhaps I'll go read A Dirty Job again.

Gif rating:
*What are some of his other books that I've reviewed? Oh well I'm glad you asked: Bite Me: A Love Story, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, Coyote Blue, Fool, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Practical Demonkeeping, Sacre Bleu, The Serpent of Venice, The Stupidest Angel, You Suck: A Love Story

Title quote from page 2.

Moore, Christopher. Secondhand Souls. William Morrow, 2015.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thaaaaaaanksgiving

For those celebrating, hope you have a happy and non-stressful Thanksgiving full of good food and minimal fighting.
There are good things out there or things you can do to make good things happen, so let's focus on that.

And also the pie. Let's all focus on pie.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I see [the Icarus story] as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive

Do you know the xkcd comic series? Because if not, I recommend it. Even if there are many comics that are extra science/mathy and go over my head. And if your wondering, I started clicking around on that site and got distracted for like 10 minutes, so maybe go to that link after reading this review. Yes, that's it.

ANYWAY, Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd wrote a book! And instead of it being just a collection of webcomics, which still would have been pretty awesome, he takes ridiculous hypothetical questions and uses science to answer them. If you're wondering most of the answers are "We would die horribly" but it's OK because it's pretty fun to see in stick figure webcomics. And don't worry, he doesn't just end there but gives detailed answers for exactly what would happen.
Door busted WIDE open
What are these questions, you ask?

  • What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity? (Nearly everyone would die. Then things would get interesting)
  • What if I took a swim in a typical spent nuclear fuel pool? Would I need to dive to actually experience a fatal amount of radiation? How long could I stay safely at the surface? (Assuming you're a reasonably good swimmer, you could probably survive treading water anywhere from 10 to 40 hours. At that point, you would black out from fatigue and drown. This is also true for a pool without nuclear fuel in the bottom.)
  • What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world? (What a nightmare that would be.)
  • Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns? (I was sort of surprised to find that the answer was yes!)
And of course, being an artist, there are the comics. I had been waiting to pick up a physical copy of the book but it was on sale for Kindle and sales win. Luckily, even on my old Kindle, the images formatted fine so I got to enjoy stuff like this:

See. Delightful. 


The book is funny AND informative.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 141, location 1873

Munroe, Randall. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. Kindle

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Where some stand out, I stand back

This was a creepy book and teaches you the lesson of change your locks after moving into a new house.
The main character, Mr. Hemings, is a realtor in a small town who prides himself on knowing everything about the town and the people. How does he do this? Well, in part because he's been there for awhile and as a realtor he's responsible for selling many people their homes, so he gets to know them. But the other part is that he's a super creepy crazy person who keeps copies of everyone's house keys so he can go in and rifle through their stuff whenever he feels like it. (Don't worry, this isn't a spoiler.)

One day a dead body is found in the backyard of one of the houses he's sold and dun dun duuuuun! Murder mystery plus worry that people are going to discover his secret.

I believe I have determined for myself that reading creepy books from the POV of the villain is not my thing. And I don't mean in the style of Wicked where you're seeing a different perspective that even if you disagree with the villain, you understand perhaps why they made those decisions. Those are fun. I mean, when you are in the head of a psycho, of a murder, of a legit creepy person and no. Think American Psycho or Zombie. I now have a third example to add to that, so now it is a trend and no thank you.

That doesn't mean the book isn't good. I mean, it's not great and certainly not a favorite, but it kept me reading. Sure, I never sympathized with the character, despite all the flashbacks to a troubled childhood and spent pretty much the whole book wanting him to get caught, but I wanted to know what happened. I've read reviews that say this is funny (including the back summary which calls it "darkly funny" but I tend not to believe those anyway) and...I mean, no? I certainly never found it funny but I also never got the feeling it was supposed to be. Maybe it was but he failed so spectacularly that it didn't harm the story. Or maybe if the funny stuff had landed I would have had a very different opinion of the book. I guess some of the stuff Mr. Hemings does is so crazy that it runs into the absurd and that's the darkly funny part. Here's an example

Mr. Hemings sees a man from the neighborhood hit a woman's car and drive off without leaving a note. Mr. Hemings already doesn't like the guy and believes he doesn't belong in the neighborhood, so he confronts the guy, who claims he didn't hit the car and refuses to pay for the damages. OK, that is a super asshole thing to do. Here's how Mr. Hemings responds.
  • Fixes the woman's car secretly (so that's sweet).
  • Breaks into the guy's house and loosens the buttons on his shirt so they'll ping off when he puts it on (haha, OK that's funny)
  • Cuts the guy's shoelaces (still in the fine, creep you broke into his house but mostly harmless)
  • Steals the guy's favorite Rolex and pawns it (slightly less harmless but I mean, the guy had multiple so he can afford to be without one)
  • Continuously breaks the radiator in the house so they keep having to get it fixed (OK, multiple breakins now)
  • Keeps breaking fuses so electricians have to keep coming in (haha OK now, maybe we're done?)
  • At this point he quits breaking into the house and starts having stuff delivered, like a 14-year-old-troll. This includes: a washing machine, rowing machine, teak furniture, electric piano, wedding dress, statue, and horse saddle (the guy and his wife have to keep canceling credit cards and arguing with company's about these crazy purchases)
  • THEN he starts signing them up for things (again, using the credit cards that he keeps stealing from them): vacations to Mauritius, New Zealand, Norfolk, multiple tickets to musicals, tickets to sports festivals (which again, the guy and his wife have to keep canceling credit cards and arguing to get their money back)
  • OH DID YOU THINK HE'S DONE COS HE'S NOT. When the couple are gone for a long weekend he breaks into the house, lures a bunch of cats in and then locks them in so when they get back their house is ruined and full of cats
  • Mr. Hemings pays a landscaper to rip up their expensive paving stone driveway and lots of hedges
  • Lastly he steals the man's car, fills it up with gas but drives off without paying and returns the car to the house so the police show up.
Because Mr. Hemings is internet vigilantism. By the way, none of the above has to do with the body or any of that story line. This is just to explain the type of guy you're dealing with. BUT despite the above and the weird creepiness, the guy at times is painted as this super sexy guy that some women just can't wait to jump and that stuff does NOT work for me. You can't make your guy out to be creepy and off-putting and then suddenly women are like "Yes, that is the one for me!". Even the author at one point concedes this makes no sense by having the character say "Perhaps there are still those who find it hard to reconcile my unconventional lifestyle to my success with women" and yeah. Of course. He claims it's cos he's not constantly trying to sleep withe women that he gets to constantly sleep with women.

So this has gone on long enough. The book was fine. Not great, obviously. But fine. And change the locks on your house.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 92

Hogan, Phil. A Pleasure and a Calling. Picador, 2014.