Friday, June 28, 2013

If you can fake sincerity, you've got it made

I've wanted to read some Neil Gaiman for awhile. He seems like the type of author I would like. I was warned against American Gods as a starting point, but this was the book that was on sale one day, so this is what I went with. It's too bad I can't pass up a sale.

The basic plot, as best I understand it, is the old gods of mythology live all over America but their power is based on their believers. There aren't many contemporary Americans that believe in ancient Egyptian gods. Most people worship the new gods of technology and media. Shadow, an ex-con, becomes a bodyguard for a man named Mr. Wednesday. He's lost everything so why not be the bodyguard for some stranger he met him a bar. Oh and the stranger seems to know more about Shadow than he lets on.

Shadow and Mr. Wednesday travel around America meeting with the old gods to convince them to battle the new gods. Gods that I mostly didn't recognize. I am apparently not up on my old-time gods. There are also a number of side stories, explaining how some of these gods made their way over to America, showing how things are for them now. I liked these subplots more than the main story.

I felt like the main story was trying to make very deep and important points, and I just wasn't following them. I found myself having trouble focusing, or not really caring if I picked up the book again or not. I liked the main character, and when I think about the idea of the plot, I like it very much. But in actual execution I was bored. Bored and lost. I kept feeling like there was something else there that I wasn't getting. But I also didn't feel like I cared so much that I was missing it.

I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it had been a series of short stories. Maybe about the gods coming to America, about their powers waning as people move away from them, about their attempts to grow in importance. Because while I liked moments here and there overall I was on it.

The moments and a few quotes are the reason I'll give some more Gaiman a try but this one was a miss for me. Alice, you were right and I'm sorry I didn't listen to you.

To end this on a positive note, here are some of the quotes I liked
"It's almost hard to believe that this is in the same country as Lakeside," [Shadow] said.
Wednesday glared at him. Then he said, "It's not. San Francisco isn't in the same country as Lakeside any more than New Orleans is in the same country as New York or Miami is in the same country as Minneapolis."
"Is that so?" said Shadow, mildly.
"Indeed it is. They may share certain cultural signifiers - money, a federal government, entertainment; it's the same land, obviously - but the only things that give it the illusion of being one country are the green-back, The Tonight Show, and Mcdonald's."
"Have you thought about what it means to be a god?" asked the man. He had a beard and a baseball cap. "It means you give up your mortal existence to become a meme: something that lives forever in people's minds, like the tune of a nursery rhyme. It means that everyone gets to re-create you in their own minds. You barely have your own identity any more. Instead, you're a thousand aspects of what people need you to be. And everyone wants something different from you. Nothing is fixed, nothing is stable."
Next time I decide to give Gaiman a try, what should I go for? Or what should I avoid?

Title quote from location 4749

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition. William Morrow, 2011. Originally published 2001. Kindle edition

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Book Riot approved well read book list

You know how I love lists? Especially when I don't have another post ready to go. I just finished American Gods so that will be coming soon...ish. Book Rioter Jeff put together a list of books to read if you'd like to be well read. Now, with every list of books that you "must read" there are going to be books you disagree with, books you think are missing, etc. But that doesn't stop me from seeing where I stack up against other people's lists.

Plus Loni over at Eye of Loni's Storm and Sarah over at Sarah Says Read both posted their lists and I want to play along.

Bolded are the books I've read. Let's see how well-read I am

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay by Michael Chabon
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Brave New World by Alduos Huxley
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Candide by Voltaire

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer I've read a few of the stories (in Middle English, so be impressed) but never managed the whole thing
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson complete? No, but I've read a number of them
The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor Well, I have this one and I should really read it. But the book is so big (complete stories and whatnot)
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen Yeah I'll get to this. One day
Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Dream of Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
Dune by Frank Herbert
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Faust by Goethe
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

The Golden Bowl by Henry James
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Gospels
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Oh perhaps you noticed I read this series
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
Howl by Allen Ginsberg
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
The Iliad by Homer
The Inferno by Dante

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exepury In French, no less! I get bonus points for that, even if it took the better part of a school year to make it through
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Odyssey by Homer
Oedipus, King by Sophocles

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Pentateuch
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Rabbit, Run by John Updike
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
The Stand by Stephen King
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
Watchmen by Alan Moore
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
1984 by George Orwell
50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

45 which is surprising. I didn't expect to have so many read. I am going to go ahead and give a lot of credit to being made to read a number of these in various English classes. There are others on here I would like to get to (Invisible Man has been sitting in my pile of books for awhile now. And of course Franzen...) and then those that I'm not exactly clamoring for (50 Shades just...I already read Twilight so that should count).

So there you go. How'd you do?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Harry Potter Readalong Wrap-Up - How can this be over?

You guys, this is it. The last Harry Potter Friday. The final wrap up post after this 6 month readalong. How nuts is that? 6 months of reading and writing about Harry Potter. That is crazy impressive. Especially when I think way back to when this readalong was first suggested and the thought of committing to anything for 6 months was crazy. How am I going to stick with it? Now I don't know what I'm going to do next Friday. Who is going to listen to thoughts about wizarding plumbing? WHO I ASK YOU?

Alice, super big thanks and hugs for hosting this thing because it has been insanely fun.
Hug or awk Bill dance. Whatevs
Last minute questions/thoughts that weren't included in the readalong posts (where they belong) and instead I'm going to awkwardly shove them here. Because I'm not ready to admit this is over
  • Charlie riding into the Hogwarts battle on a dragon. I know it would have been ridiculous and the tone would have been wrong but SIRIUSLY how badass would that have been? I mean, he was there fighting right?
  • Firewhiskey, so is this magic whiskey? Or just like normal whiskey but it has to be wizarding so it's just a brand? Except the Harry Potter wiki tells me there are dif brands of firewhiskey but not what makes firewhiskey different than Jameson or something. I need answers to the important questions.
Keeping with the theme of I'm not ready for this to end yet, here's a few GIFs that I tried to shoehorn in to the normal readalong posts but never managed
wizards should use more fairy dust

Thank you not only to Alice but to everyone else that played along with this readalong. We had laughs and cries and arguments and it has been SO MUCH FUN. Best book club ever.

What's that, you wanted to see a list of ALL the Harry Potter readalong posts? Of course you do

Intro Post
Harry Potter readalong - IT BEGINS

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry - yer a wizard
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Nasty temper he's got, that Sirius Black
Your father is alive in you, Harry

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Moody, we never use Transfiguration as punishment
Twitchy little ferret, aren't you, Malfoy?
We are only as strong as we are united, weak as we are divided

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I must not tell lies
The thing about growing up with Fred and that you sort of start thinking anything is possible if you've got enough nerve
HP & OotP final post - all the crying

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
HP & HBP part I - still no quote title
I knew I was different. I knew I was special
Dumbledore's man through and through

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Magic causes as much trouble as it cures

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I don't think you're a waste of space
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death
It's so unfair that you had to die, when you were so good and brave
Do not pity the the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love

And finally, I leave you with this, care of Awkward Family Photos - Pregnant Edition
Someone Slytherin-ed to her Chamber of Secrets

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Overshadowed Sci-Fi Books or My Growing TBR

I feel like I have a lot of posts recently that are like "Sorry I don't have a review written. Please enjoy this rambling instead." And hey, here's another one!

Also I feel like I haven't been visiting other blogs so much this week but things have been CRAAAAZY busy at work, which always seems to be what happens whenever I start Monday thinking "Hey, this week looks like it will be really light." I need to stop doing that. The problem is I have less down time than usual to pop on to blogs while I'm in the office, and then by the time I get home* the last thing I want to do is have to read and understand something and then form a coherent thought in response. Instead I've spent a lot of my time playing Dots.The music when you complete a box is very satisfying.

While on the train home today I read a Cracked article all about sci-fi books that you're probably missing out on. Now obviously, I read a lot of Cracked. And link to a lot of their stuff here. I should probably get paid or get a t-shirt or something for all this free advertising I'm sending their way. This article especially won me over in the intro when Brockway pointed out how few book related posts they do
"Perhaps there's good reason for the lack of book-themed content. Perhaps you, as casual Internet readers, don't care about books. Perhaps you, as casual Internet readers who don't care about books, should go fuck yourselves."
Already, we're starting this off on a good foot. And I mean this sincerely. I was still a little worried about what books would be listed or if they'd be anything I'd be interested in.  I mean, Cracked tries, but they're primary audience is guys and not necessarily the most sophisticated ones. Who's to say any of the books they'd recommend would be an interest to me at all? Guess what? They win and I now have 5 sci-fi books I want to check out.

There's a Murakami on the list AND 2 out of the five books feature a female protagonist. My heart soars a little bit when I see that because, honestly, how many female protagonists are there in sci-fi? Probably more than I assume but given all the crap going on with sci-fi and female authors** right now, I think not enough is a safe answer.

The list isn't perfect. No list of "books you should check out" ever will be. I wish there could have been some Butler on there, although she wouldn't have necessarily fit on this list since they were looking for less well-known books from well-known authors and Butler isn't well known enough. Yet. Though she really should be and I was happy to see someone recommended her in the comments.

Go check out the list, enjoy the Duck Tales reference, and add at least one of these books to your TBR pile because at least one of them has to strike your fancy.

Updated to include the names of the books on the list, even though it's only 5 of them and you should go read the article so you hear the reasoning behind why read these. But anyway
5. Idoru by William Gibson
4. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
3. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
2. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
1. Kalki by Gore Vidal

*When the trains aren't busy derailing and messing up the whole "getting home" part of my day
**I am linking to one post on Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds blog, written by guest writer Karina Cooper, gives a good overview of all the crap going on, as well as lots of links out to other pieces you should probably read. Just try to read them all at once or your bound to want to stab lots and lots of things.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My book buying hiatus, and how well that's going

I found myself with a free afternoon this weekend. It was gorgeous out on Saturday so I thought, why not walk into town. I'll be outside, maybe I'll wander through the stores, grab some food. Good times.

I get down there and figure I'll pop by the bookstore. But I've told myself I don't want to buy anything right now cos I have a whole bunch of books sitting on my shelf that I really need to get to.  But what's the harm in seeing what they have? Here's the internal/text conversation I had

I'll just see what they have on the remainder tables. Probably nothing new just yet. Oh hey, what's this? A Visit from the Goon Squad audiobook, and only $10? Well now, that's interesting. And Boyfriend+ has been looking for an audiobook to listen to while in the car. I should see if he'd like this.

:text to BF+: "Visit from the Good Squad $10 audio. You want?"

Well, now I need to wait to see if he wants it, so I'll browse around a bit. 

Hmm good, it looks like all of the books I would want on the remainder tables I either have or I've read. Maybe I really won't buy anything. I mean, I was killing time in B&N the other day and didn't get anything. That was good.

:text from BF+: "Never heard of it"

Never heard of it?? How can that even be? Oh right, there are some people who don't spend a significant portion of their free time reading about the book world. Well fine then

:text to BF+: "If you read my blog you'd know it"

Wait, that's mean. I can't send just that. But how do I describe it in a text?

:text to BF+: "If you read my blog you'd know it. Won the Pulitzer a couple years ago. Interconnected short stories"

There, OK, well I've gone through all the remainder books, but I still need to know if he wants this. I'll just wander through the rest of the store. Hmm still no more Butler. I bought their only Butler book months ago and they've never gotten more. That's sad.*

I wonder how the hell they do the PPT chapter of Goon Squad on audio. That...that would be awkward if she describes the slides. 

Let's see what's over in the new releases section. Oh hey look, Warm Bodies. I want to read this. But no, I shouldn't get it. I already have enough to read. But I am sort of in a zombie mood, since I'm listening to World War Z**

:text from BF+: "OK"

OK? OK, get it? OK, that was a good enough description? OK, I'll start reading your blog?

:text to BF+: "I get it for you? You could always read a story before opening the audio. You don't like and I'll return"

Alright, I'll go back and grab that. And, I mean, since I'm going to the register anyway I may as well get  Warm Bodies.

Because apparently it was just the journey to the register keeping me from buying it? Wouldn't want to go up there with just one thing. That would be ridiculous. Maybe I'll just get the audiobook

Guy at the register: Just these two things then?
Me: Yup!

Yeah, so I'm getting both of them. Whoops

:text from BF+: "Sounds good"

Glad he meant for me to get it, since I already did and all.

My will power is impressive, no?

*Seriously bookstore, get more Butler. I guess I should actually see what of hers I don't have and then see if they can get it but really, I want them to have more Butler so other people will read her. Because she's great.
**It is EXCELLENT by the way. At least so far.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love

This is it. The final Deathly Hallows post. I am out of tears. I've used them all up. Rowling, you have given me hours of entertainment and I Love the whole series, but right now, I hate you. This post is going to be a mess. Just an absolute train wreck. It's just going to be a lot of sobbing and yelling and pictures of hot Neville to help offset all of the sobbing. You've been warned.

Alice, you kick ass for hosting this readalong and there will be spoilers. And tears.
I'm so glad we've started this section with Neville being Neville and hugging people and so happy to see H/R/Hr. And we find out he's been raising hell at Hogwarts and is regularly getting tortured, but he's still so up beat, because he is the best, and I love him.

"'Thank you, Pomona,' said Professor McGonagall, and between the two witches there passed a grim look of understanding." And this is my new couple to ship, now that a Sirius/Lupin love would be awkward, given that Sirius is dead and all. Oh right, and Lupin is married with a kid. But it's mostly the dead thing.

Speaking of Lupin being married and all, we do not get nearly enough Tonks in the series. We get the slightest hints about her. She's so happy and cheerful when we first meet her. Then we have her anguish between being at Hogwarts to fight or staying at her mother's with her son. How the hell could she make that choice? Both of them suck. I addition to the whole Maurauder's prequel, I'd also like to request the events of the current story but told from the other characters' POVs.

DAMMIT, ROWLING, I TOLD YOU DON'T MAKE ME CRY ON THE TRAIN. Why did you have to kill Fred? Were there just too many Weasley's about? We could spare a few? I HATE YOU RIGHT NOW.

"That's right Harry...come on, think of something happy...."
"Something happy?" he said, his voice cracked.
"We're all still here," [Luna] whispered, "we're still fighting. Come on, now...."
Luna and Neville constantly make me tear up because they are both so brave and so amazing and UGH, they are the best. I fully agree that Luna could have talked Voldie out of his genocidal plans and into a career as a rare artifacts curator or something equally benign.

Harry is going to the Shrieking Shack to kill Nagini and Voldie is waiting for him, and then we find out Snape is there and that is it. That's the point that I quit listening to the book during my commute. I'm sorry, I can't be sobbing on the train, even if it would likely creep someone out enough that I'd get to sit down.

We see the dead lying in the Great Hall and I lose it, especially when we see both Tonks AND Lupin are dead and THAT'S NOT FAIR, WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT?

And then I cried all of the tears I had left while reading The Prince's Tale. Thanks for the dehydration, Rowling.

(Remember when we thought Snape was all super badass for being able to curse George's ear off, enough so that everyone thought he was still evil, but not enough to mortally injure the boy? Yeah, turns out Snape actually has lousy aim and George is just lucky he didn't get hit dead on.)

So I drank some water to, you know, re-hydrate, and Rowling ruined it all again when Harry pulls out the resurrection stone and asks his parents and Sirius and Lupin if it hurts to die and I CAN'T EVEN

Voldemort comes back to the castle with an apparently dead Harry and what does Neville do? He charges at him. He charges at him and yells his allegiance to Dumbledore's Army in the Dark Lord's face. Then immediately after being tortured by having his head lit on fire, he kills Nagini. Holy shit, Neville is the biggest badass.
pocket watch & everything
What to say about everything that happens after this? Apparently Harry did have all 3 Hallows for a little while, though someone else is going to have to explain the whole wand switching thing cos I missed it (I think diagrams will need to be involved). Then Harry beats Voldemort because OF COURSE he does, it would have been a lousy series if he didn't. Then we get the epilogue and just, I guess it was nice to see everyone happy, but I'm so sorry Albus Severus. I'm sure you can change your name when you get older. Maybe your mom will even get a say in what to call you this time around.

So until next week when we have our final Harry Potter readalong wrap-up post, wherein we'll gush about how this was the best readalong ever (because Siriusly), how sad we are that it's over, and I'll share all of the GIFs I collected specifically for this but didn't get a chance to use.

Side note, I decided to Google "death count for Harry Potter" to see what the totals are for the series and when I type in "death count" Google said "Oh do you mean WWII? 9/11? Some other actual tragedy?" and then I felt bad. STOP JUDGING ME, GOOGLE.

Title quote from page 722

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Scholastic, 2007

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Naturally I did not wish to use my education in this robber's service

Many times when I'm reading, I'll jot down some notes in blogger for when I get around to writing a review. Sometimes there will be lots of thoughts and the review is pretty much written by the time I'm done. Other times there's just a line or 2. For True Grit, here's the only note I took:

I want to be clear, this is no indication of how good the book is, or how much I liked it. Just that this was apparently the only thing I felt the need to write down, because it was so important I didn't want to forget it.

I don't know what it is that made me pick up True Grit. I'm not really a fan of Westerns. The Sisters Brothers is the only one I can think of having read. I wasn't a fan of the movie. I wasn't not a fan of the movie. I haven't seen the movie, is what I'm trying to say. It was on sale, but there were loads of books on sale and I can't say what made me pick up this one and leave another one behind. But I'm glad I did.

This is a simple story* about Mattie Ross avenging her father's death by hiring US Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Mattie is fourteen and...I'm not really sure what other word to use here. The whole time I was reading it I tried to come up with something. Spitfire? Kind of but she's more reserved. Solemn? She's certainly very serious, but she's not dour. She knows what needs to be done and she is single minded in making sure Tom Chaney is brought to justice. Or killed. Western justice.

Mattie is one hundred times more mature than I am even now. Or probably will ever be. She's so young, she's just lost her father, but she never waivers from her goal. She goes to Fort Smith to settle her father's affairs and retrieve the body. Wait, let me say that one more time. She goes to retrieve her father's body. I would be a wreck and she's so, not fine with it, but it has to be done and so she does it. And she doesn't just do it, but she does it so well. She haggles and threatens to bring in lawyers to sell back the ponies her father bought, but now that the family no longer needs. She finds out Cogburn as "grit" and she makes it her mission to not only hire him, but to go along. She doesn't always get her way. She did everything she could to keep Texas Ranger LaBoeuf from joining in the hunt for Chaney, but ultimately he joins them, though she makes it clear she wants Chaney tried for her father's murder and not the bounty Chaney is hunting him for.

I love Mattie. She's wonderful and very funny, though she doesn't really intend to be. She's just so adorable when "the biggest story [she] ever told!" is that she's not tired when actually she is quite sleepy. And of course there's that cat quote I felt the need to make note of:
I had hated these ponies for the part they played in my father's death but now I realized the notion was fanciful, that it was wrong to charge blame to these pretty beasts who knew neither good nor evil but only innocence. I say that of these ponies. I have known some horses and a good many more pigs who I believe harbored evil intent in their hearts. I will go further  and say all cats are wicked, though often useful.
She's so sincere and earnest and naive. One more example of how she's a great narrator? Oh well, if you insist
He passed over the check. "Is this any good to me?"
It was a cashier's check for $2,750 drawn on the Grangers Trust Co. of Topeka, Kansas, to a man named Marshall Purvis. I said, "This is a cashier's check of $2,750 drawn on the Grangers Trust Co. of Topeka, Kansas, to a man named Marhall Purvis"
Love her.

That's not to say the other characters aren't also great. Cogburn is curmudgeonly and a drunk and has seen better days, but under it all has a real sense of loyalty and honor. LaBoeuf is a lot of bluster and a lot of personality, but like Cogburn, he comes through in a crisis. Chaney and his gang of criminals (or really Lucky Ned Pepper's gang) are just as fun to watch, for the opposite reasons. They have no honor, but they aren't really evil.

And there's suspense! They're hunting down this murderer so of course there's suspense. It's not constant which is nice cos you need a breather but it's done so well.  Even if you don't typically read Westerns, just read this one. I have no idea if it's anything like "typical Westerns" but this is just so good.

I haven't seen any of the movies, so I have no idea how they compare. Anyone seen them? Are they good?

*Simple, but not easy. It's an important distinction.

Title quote from page 195

Portis, Charles. True Grit. Overlook Press, 2010. Originally published 1968

Friday, June 7, 2013

It's so unfair that you had to die, when you were so good and brave.

It's another Harry Potter Friday, after our BEA break last week. You guys, we're almost done with this readalong and I'm not ready for this to end. What will I do for my Friday posts??

Thanks Alice for hosting this potteralong and beware for there are spoilers.

I didn't write down any notes for this section. I kept thinking "Oh that's a good point. I should write it down so I don't forget." And then I proceeded to do whatever it was I decided was more important than following through with writing shit down.
Mostly this

So, let's see what I can do.

How bad did you feel for Xenophilius? I did not correctly remember this chapter at all. For whatever reason I was thinking Xeno tried to turn Harry over for selfish reasons that had nothing to do with the fact that his daughter had been kidnapped and was probably being tortured RIGHT NOW. I'm not saying I forgive him for calling the Death Eaters. I'm just saying he was between a rock and a hard place, and I don't know what I would have done.

I'm very happy Hermione let the DEs see Harry and therefore the odds that they'd kill Xeno are slightly less? I hope. I'm just generally happy Hermione is there for everything because seriously, Harry and Ron would be so lost without her.

Greyback making vague rape threats towards Hermione: DO NOT LIKE. Obviously I'm not supposed to like it, but maybe we could stick with just the Cruciatus curse?

The Taboo curse on Voldie's name is actually really clever. Good job, Death Eaters.

I don't know what it was, but I didn't cry during Dobby's death. I remember bawling the first time around. Maybe because I knew it was coming. Maybe because I was on the subway. But it didn't hit me like I thought it would. I didn't tear up until Dean and Ron jumped down to help Harry dig Dobby's grave. And then it sort of subsided until Luna spoke. Luna and Neville can always make me cry.

So, that blind and abused dragon guarding the Lestrange vault. There's no wizarding version of ASPCA, huh? They need some Sarah McLachlan guilt commercials.

I like Aberforth, that goat lover. I don't like that he's given up and is ready to give in to Voldemort's reign, but he helps out H/R/Hr. And he gives us more insight into Dumbledore's past. As with everything, it's not quite the rainbows and unicorns version that Elphias Doge told, and we all knew it wasn't like Skeeter's horrible rendition, but instead it falls somewhere in between. I enjoy these shades of gray.

NEVILLE IS BACK! And he is roaring with delight. Neville, you're the best. And thank you for ending this section on a (relatively) happy note.

Also this, because I'll never tire of looking at hot Neville

Until next week. I'm going to have to start stocking up on crying GIFs because no matter how many I have, there are not enough for what is coming.

Title quote from page 480

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Scholastic, 2007

Thursday, June 6, 2013

All sorts of people are calling themselves kings these days

It was roughly a million years ago I started reading A Clash of Kings, the second in the A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones series. I downloaded it as part of my I'm-going-abroad-and-need-to-make-sure-I-don't-run-out-of-books frenzy. I thought maybe it was overkill and then finished my other books and started this on the flight back. So it all worked out for me. Actually getting around to reviewing the book has been less successful. Because I am lazy. I'm also not quite sure what to say.

Do I describe the plot? I did a bit with the first book but that was different. If you're starting the series, you should know what you're getting into. By the second book, you know what's up. A bunch of characters are all vying for the crown and I kept thinking of the song Why Can't We Be Friends because I think it would have solved a lot of problems. Or at least made a funny soundtrack to all the fighting.

This book was all battles. And battles. Then there was another battle. Then when you're like "Wow, there have been a lot of battles so I guess we should probably have something else...oh another battle. So. That's neat." At one point I realized I wasn't quite skimming the battle scenes but I found myself hoping the fighting would hurry up so I could get on with the story. Then I realized that the fighting was the story and I was going to need read the next book to (hopefully) hear something different.

I also realized far too late that the book has an appendix in the back that explains who all the characters are and what their connections to each other are. The whole time I'm reading I kept thinking "I need to be taking detailed notes about who the hell all these people are". I blame the Kindle and the fact that I can't just flip through the pages and notice that OH HEY, there's exactly what I need just stuck in the back. So dammit me. I'm sure I will forget when I get around to the next book. I still wish there had been a little "Last time on..." before the chapters because sometimes you go hundreds of pages in between one character's POV chapter and it would take me awhile to realize where we left them.

But there were things I liked about the book:
Arya's story is just getting more and more interesting and she rules.
Sansa no longer makes me eye-roll myself to a headache and her story is actually pretty tragic.
Tyrion continues to kick ass and it was a good thing he kept talking about his sister or brother or father because I kept forgetting he was part of the Lannister family. Because see, they suck and he rules.
Catelyn continues to be strong and tries to hold things together. Plus she pairs up with Brienne who is a fearsome knight AND a lady, so love that
Dani still has her dragons. I like dragons

OK so, I didn't really realize this until now, but despite the fact that I question how much GRR knows about lady-bits, he does have some interesting, fleshed out female characters. It almost makes up for lines like this: "Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest." This line is from one of Dani's chapters. As in from her point of view. If I may paraphrase a Cracked list* obviously ladies are constantly thinking about what their boobs are doing..well, all the time. It's sort of two steps forward, one step back, but at least we're still moving forward with female character development.

I enjoy the series. I do. I mean, it would suck if I didn't considering I've read something like 1,700 pages of it so far and I'm only two books in. But this book didn't exactly get me excited to continue on. Whatever the hell happened on the most recent GoT episode that got Twitter and Facebook all hot and bothered makes me want to hurry up and read book three so I can figure out WTF just happened.

So, overall, the book is meh. If this had been the first book, I probably wouldn't continue on. But I shall continue on. Not right away. Perhaps the next time I'm sitting at an airport and I realize that I better download another behemoth so I won't run out while I'm travelling.

*You know, as I do. 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained To Hate Women

Title quote from page 37, location 857

Martin, George R. R. A Clash of Kings. Bantam Books, 1998. Kindle edition

Monday, June 3, 2013

May reading wrap-up

May has flown by. I can't believe it's already June and it pretty much feels like summer has come to NYC. Air conditioning, have I mentioned how much I love you? This isn't actually in May, but I met up with a bunch of fellow bloggers* this past Saturday, so that kicked ass.

I only got 3 books read this month, but two of them were 700+ pages so that makes up for it. I'll even get around to writing a review sometime this week. Probably.

Anyway, the stats! Here they are

Number of books read
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
True Grit by Charles Portis

Number of pages

Percentage of fiction
100% - all fiction, all the time

Percentage of female authors
33% - thanks JK, for keeping up my stats these past few months

Percentage of white authors
100% - whomp

Percentage of US authors

Percentage of eBooks
33% - only the Game of Thrones/Song of Ice & Fire book because that is a billion pages

Books written by decade
2000s - 67%
1960s - 33%
True Grit is the first book I've read this year that was written before I was born. Apparently I'm really having trouble with that category

Prior to this book blog I never really had an actual TBR pile. Now however, I have one so I'm trying to make it through that before buying new books. So far it's not going so well. It's not my fault these books keep going on sale.

*In case you're wondering who was there: Alice aka Reading Rambo, Rayna aka Libereading, Amanda aka Dead White Guys, and Emily aka As The Crowe Flies (and Reads). If you don't already, you should subscribed to their blogs because they're all wonderful.