Wednesday, February 26, 2014

That there's a besmirchin'

As I may have mentioned once or twice (or a million) times before, I like Christopher Moore. A lot. So when Emily sent me an emailing saying she'd procured me a copy of Christopher Moore's latest book The Serpent of Venice AND got it signed for me, I may have done a stupid dance.  She's pretty awesome, if you hadn't already guessed.

I have been super excited for this book ever since Moore mentioned it while promoting his (at the time) latest book Sacre Bleu. Enough so when it was my turn to get my book signed and talk to him I mumbled some version of "yeah yeah, this current book I'm holding in my hand sounds good and all, but please tell me more about this Serpent of Venice you have in the works." And once I spoke up enough for him to hear, he was very nice and talked about how he had planned to write a bunch of it in iambic pentameter but do you know how hard that shit is? Very, is the answer.

Serpent is the sequel to Fool which is one of my most favorite Moore books*. Fool is, essentially, King Lear but told from the Fool's point of view, with a little Macbeth thrown in. Serpent takes Pocket (aka the Fool) and sends him to Venice in a story that is basically a mash-up of The Merchant of Venice and Othello: The Moore of Venice, with a dash of Poe's "The Count of Amontillado". Now King Lear is not my favorite Shakespeare play, despite the number of times I've been forced to read it,** but you know what I do love? Fool. And while Merchant is also not a favorite of mine, Othello is, so the fact that Serpent is both is just peachy.

Antonio, Brabantio, and Iago decide they need to get rid of the fool Pocket who seems to know too much and of course is just kind of annoying. Of course Pocket hasn't made it so long without a few attempts on his life, so he's pretty good at getting out of tight spots. Not to give too much away, but Pocket ends up on the doorstep of Shylock and his daughter Jessica, ready to begin his plan for revenge.

Of course we have all of the elements of Merchant: the loan, the pound of flesh, Jessica running off with Shylock's jewels and turquoise ring to be with Antonio's buddy Lorenzo, Portia and her 3 caskets, "the quality of mercy" speech and the courtroom. And then there are the elements of Othello: Desdemona marrying Othello, Iago's manipulation, the Egyptian handkerchief, Cassio the light-weight. But if you haven't guessed, since we have lots of plays smooshed together, that things don't go quite as Shakespeare wrote. It all works out beautifully. And hilariously. The scenes between Iago and the Chorus are some of the best. And an explanation for why Iago always seems to be talking to himself.

I always find writing about books I loved to be so much harder than books I hated. Or even just sorta "meh"-ed. And I loved this one. I had to force myself to read my Bleak House chapters/homework because I knew this was waiting for me. I tried to spread out the reading a little bit over the weekend, knowing I had a couple long train rides. And I failed because I NEEDED TO KEEP READING. And in terms of "escape books" (as in "books that let me forget I'm on a crowded subway") this one is way up there. I would look up and suddenly realize I was almost at my stop.

Now I really want to re(re)read Fool. And then probably re-read this one.

*Other favorite Moore books, because this post doesn't have enough links yet, Lamb (my most favoritest of my favorite books) and A Dirty Job.
**And which I can't help but think every time "Dammit, Cordelia. You can't just placate your dad for 2 minutes and exaggerate your love for him the tiniest bit? No? Fine, when everyone dies, it's kind of on your head."

Title quote from page 10

Moore, Christopher. The Serpent of Venice. William Morrow/Harper Collins, 2014.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The one great principle of the English law is to make business for itself

Another Tuesday means another Bleak House post. Thank you Alice for hosting and also for spreading out the reading some more because we're all whiners.
Now, to the random thoughts about chapters XXXIII - XXXIX

Guppy's first name is William. Weevle/Jobling's first name is Tony. And they have an adorable "And then Guppy said "Who are YOU conspiring with?" And then Jobling retorts "Nuh huh!" And then HE said "well I won't take you to the spring fling*" and then I said "Well I'm going with Prince, so WHO CARES" and then they broke up and it was on the quad and everyone saw.

George gave Tulkster the Hawdon handwriting sample because something debts for the Bagnets. I'm not entirely sure who the Bagnets are. I know they have hilariously named children and now I know they were in debt but aren't now because George made a minor deal with...not the devil but one of the lesser demons. Sorry, George. You seem very nice but your chapters are boring.

Esther is all disfigured by smallpox (at least enough that Charley hid all of the mirrors) BUT not blind anymore so there's that. She then admits that she believes Woodcourt loves her (yeah, thanks for that, couldn't have guessed) but she's very happy that they didn't get engaged cos now she's all ugly and that would be unfair to him.
I'd find this more tragic but now she can 100% go after Ada. Cos Ada won't care about any scarring. Because LOVE.

Are there interpretations of Bleak House that don't talk about Esther being super in love with Ada? If so, how the hell do they argue that? I mean, other than badly.

The Lady D and Esther reunion was...anticlimactic. Dickens take 3 chapters to describe fog, but we get maybe 3 pages for the entire "I'm your mother!" "Of course you are! I love you, mother!" "I love you too. But we may never speak again. I must be dead to you because of my reputation." "Of course! Because I love you so much I shall keep your secret." "OK. Bye then." "Bye."
What the hell? He describes them as sobbing and hugging each other and kissing and it seems emotional except the whole thing happens in a heartbeat and why did we speed right through that scene?

Richard is being a jerk now, all wrapped up in the Jarndyce case. And yet I still didn't really mind him, until it was revealed he's been hanging out with Skimpole. No Richard. No. You've crossed the line now.

Guppy agrees to quit digging into Esther's past in a scene that's sort of adorable when he keeps oscillating between talking to her and running back to the house. But then you remember the creepy stalking and go back to thinking he should just go away now.

Grandfather Smallwood is digging through Krook's things, and Tulkinghorn is lurking in Nemo/Hawdon/Weevle's apartment making vague threats at Guppy. All this stuff about Tulkinghorn collecting secrets. He's Magnassen, right? I bet he's flicking faces too. The jerk.

What will Tulkinghorn do with this information? Is he going to reveal Lady D's past? Or use the information to get something from her? What does he want? Is Richard going to keep being a dick (HA) about this J&J case? Will Esther and Ada finally just get together already omg??

*Why yes, Mean Girls was on TV when I was taking some of my notes.

At least there's only one new character in this section
Mr. Vholes - Richard's lawyer to help with the J&J case. Vholes whines a lot about how he does everything for his daughters. Also is very respectable because he has bad digestion and apparently those go together. Comments about how solid his commitment is by banging on a hollow desk, so...

Title quote from location 9397

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. Amazon Digital Services. Originally published 1853. Kindle edition.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wedding Update: Guestbook

Now that the big wedding decisions are pretty much done, I thought maybe I'd have less updates. Not that I was ever really on fire with these things. But while all of the big stuff is done, I feel like there will probably be more to say about the little details. At the same time, I don't want to talk about EVERYTHING here, lest there is nothing at the wedding itself that's a surprise for the few people I know IRL that also visit my blog.

So far I think the only things I really don't want to reveal here are my dress and my first dance song. The dress because I don't want BF+ to see it before the wedding day (though he's going to see it before the ceremony cos I want pics done first so I can enjoy more of this cocktail hour because mmmm food) and the first dance song because I enjoy people trying to guess it.

What I will tell you is our guest book idea. At least the current one.

See, at first we wanted to do a photo booth. They're fun and I'd love to have pictures of each person/group of people. The plan was people get their photos taken in the booth, they keep one copy of the photo strip and they glue the other down in a book and then they'll sign around it. Fun, right? Here's the thing. Photobooths are kind of expensive. And the space we're in isn't massive. They said they've done photobooths in there and it's been fine, but I fear it's going to be this thing in the way of the dance floor. So we decided to scrap that idea.

We could just do a book, of course. But eh. Seems boring and like something I'd never look at again. And if I won't look at it again, why should I make people sign it?

We thought about one of those thumbprint canvas art dealies. I like the idea of having a piece of art to hang up. Of course the downside (or upside, I guess depending on your view) is people can't really write anything. The idea is guests leave their thumbprint and...that's it. I guess some I've seen have people sign their name but no messages. Which can be fine but if people WANT to write a message they sort of...can't. I haven't ruled this idea out entirely, but it's plan B at this point.

Plan A is bookmarks. We'll print up blank bookmarks for guests to sign. This goes along with the (semi) bookish theme and more importantly, I get bookmarks. Which is actually why I thought of it. I was having trouble finding a bookmark, because I tend to leave them in books and can't always remember the last place I had it. I was likely also watching one of those TLC wedding shows and I thought I could just make everyone sign a bookmark and then I will be swimming in the things! BAM. Mom and I are looking for bookmark templates (which I'm pretty sure is just...a long rectangle? I don't know why bookmark templates are a thing) which we'll cut up. Now I need to think of somewhere for people to put the bookmarks once they've signed them. So they don't take them home. Which is FINE but sort of defeats the whole "bookmark guest book" idea. I'm thinking a shadowbox for people to put them in, but if anyone has any other ideas I AM OPEN TO THEM!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Why I LOVE being a reader and a book blogger

The Broke and the Bookish posted the Tuesday Top Ten prompt reasons I love being a blogger/reader. I didn't answer it cos I'm doing the Bleak House readalong, which also posts on Tuesdays. What, post 2 things in one day? You're cute. So yeah, I didn't join in (or know it was a thing until I saw other people posting about it) but I like the prompt. I meant to write my own post answering this prompt pretty much every day since then. Except I clearly didn't get around to it until now because lazy.

Anyway, why I love being a blogger and reader. Let's do this

New worlds/new people - How else am I going to know what it's like to someone/something different without stories? Stories are the best way to experience life from another point of view, and for me I connect with books more than I do with TV shows or movies (not that I don't loooooove both of those other things).

Escape - I know I've said this a jillion times, but I do most of my reading on public transportation. Public transportation I'd rather forget I was riding. Books are amazing for this. I can read and (mostly) forget about the crazy man yelling racist things and his invisible friend*.

There is always something else to read - I know there can't actually be infinite books out there, but it feels like it. I at least know I will never get to the point where there is NOTHING for me to read. Especially considering how often I re-read things.

You can major in it - Seriously, reading is my hobby but also what I literally went to school for. And it's a real major that almost every university has. It's like cheating at school. PLUS, I saved serious money on school books. One math text book: $360 (or something ridiculously high). Every book I had to buy for a every class in a semester: $100.

Connecting with people - I LOVE all of the people I have met through blogging about books. It is such a welcoming community, the people are awesome, and have been introduced to so many new favorite books. And now I can bore the people I see IRL less often about book things.

Readalongs - It's like a book club ONLY BETTER. Rather than discuss the book at the end you're talking about it as your making your way through. And the gifs. OH the gifs.

My space - I love having this space, to write about something important to me and to keep track of all of the books I've read and to see how many opinions change. I'd have vague remembrances of a book I'd read, but a lot of them would be mostly forgotten. Not now! And while this is all through a bookish lens, I can track important things that have happened to me. I've moved (I believe 4 times), bought a house, got engaged, and will soon get married, all since starting this blog.

I'm blanking on other reasons, though I'm sure there are more. Because really, I love love love reading and blogging about reading. I can't stress that enough. And with that, I'm off.
One last boop

*I tweeted the highlights, so you really, you should probably be following me there.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Lady, whose chronic malady of boredom has been sadly aggravated by Volumnia this evening

Another Tuesday, another Bleak House post. Thanks, Alice, for hosting this readalong/BleakAlong. Good times and hilarious gifs.
Much like my last post, this is going to be a series of random thoughts, which means it will be a mess. Enjoy.

Mr. Tulkinghorn has Mr. Snagsby come to his turret and is acting all shifty, as he is best at. There's some guy lurking in the shadows that Tulkinghorn introduces as Mr. Bucket. Poor Snagsby has gotten into something and it doesn't seem like he really understands what. They drag Jo into this mystery, and poor Jo. Can't you just leave him alone? He's so nice, getting medicine for the two women Esther and Ada saw in the first section. Anyway, they show him some lady and ask if this is the person who asked Jo all about the dead guy and he says the person is dressed the same but the hand and voice aren't the same so they figure out it was Lady D asking Jo all these questions about Nemo while dressed as Hortense. DUN DUN DUUUUUN

Richard has negative money because of his awesome financial skills. He could learn something from Confessions of a Shopaholic. Just saying. Maybe the Army will be a better career for him.

Caddy and Prince (hehe) asks Esther to come with them while they tell their parents about their engagement because EVERYONE LOVES ESTHER. Except I'm starting to get suspicious about how much everyone loves and respects and needs her, if only because this is being told from Esther's point of view. Maybe she is this nice and sweet, but given she thinks she is so not you'd think if she's repeating people talking about how awesome she is all the time she'd caveat it. But she does not. So Esther, I'm watching you...

Mr. Jarndyce gets Charley as a maid for Esther which yay for Charley getting a better life, although now she doesn't get to see her siblings anymore, so that's sad. Also Hortense really wanted to be Esther's maid, so now that Charley is I fear for her life as well as Rosa's.

Richard and Ada decide to dissolve their engagement because...reasons. Well I guess the reasons are Jarndyce tells them to cos Richard is getting involved in the J&J case and also will be living in Ireland. But I dunno.
The reasons seem flimsy and also serves to remind me that the two are cousins. But it's cool cos this means Ada is single again so ESTHER GET IN THERE. (I may be skeptical of Esther's opinion of herself, but that doesn't mean I don't want her and Ada to get together.)

Mrs. Rachel, the person who was so cruel to Esther as a kid (in the "not really caring about her and not having a hard time saying good-bye" and not "beating and feeding gruel" cruelness) is now Mrs. Chadband. Somehow she knows the Snagsby's. Speaking of them, Mrs. Snabsby thinks Jo is Mr. Snagsby's son since they've been acting suspicious. I hope things go all Maury in this story.

Captain Hawdon, who I believe was one of Mrs. Badger's ex-husbands is apparently NOT dead. At least that's the assumption of Grandpa Smallweed. Tulkinghorn wants a sample of Hawdon's handwriting, which he thinks George has. But George won't give it to him, because Tulkinghorn is shady as hell.

Lady Dedlock's housekeeper's son comes to talk to Sir & Lady D about the fact that his son is in love with Rosa and wants to marry her. He will give consent ONLY if Rosa stops work at Chesney Wold (which I keep reading as "Chesney World" so I picture the place as sort of a crappy amusement park) cos he wants her to be better educated. Sir D is all insulted cos she went to one of his (crappy) schools. Looks like another engagement is going to be broken up.

GUPPY IS BLACKMAILING LADY D to prove that Esther is related to Lady D. Ugh, this guy. But we do learn that apparently Esther's original last name was Hawdon like that dead-not-dead guy. Except then back to dead since that was apparently Nemo's last name AND that Esther is Lady D's daughter, who she thought was dead.
Caddy gets married and her little brother Peepys bites Prince. Highlight of the wedding.

JO IS SICK. Esther brings Jo back to Bleak House and Mr. Skimpole tried to get her to throw him out because he's a terrible person. But Esther and Jarndyce do not listen to Skimpole because they are not terrible people. But they do put him in the stable cos they're only so nice. Then he runs away in the night.

Charley gets sick and almost dies. Then Esther gets super sick and GOES BLIND. And is mostly upset because she's been quarantined from everyone, but mostly Ada who she lovingly watches from the window. And Ada keeps trying to get into the sick room but Esther won't let her. BECAUSE OF LOVE
Esther's other condition
Mr. Jobling aka Weevle is acting really suspicious because everyone is suspicious. But now he's acting suspicious towards Guppy, which I think is good suspicious.

Title quote from location 6760

You'd think Dickens would be done giving us characters. But he is not. New characters, or at least ones briefly introduced in the previous chapters that get some more description.

Smallweed family: Grandpa is crazy. Hilariously crazy. Probably because all of the kids are miserable and sad and DON'T KNOW HOW TO LAUGH. I'm sure they grew up in a similar way and it's not too surprising that makes you crazy. Crazy or a serial killer. Poor little Charley worked for these people before becoming Esther's maid.

George: Owns shooting gallery. Owes money/visits with the Smallweeds a lot.

Phil: Guy at George's Shooting Gallery

Mr. Bucket: Detective. Friend of Mr. Tulkinghorn so I'm pretty sure it should be "detective." NATURALLY not to be trusted

Gridley: Had violent outburst in the Army and ran away and is now in hiding at the shooting gallery. Dies while talking to Flite.

Bagnet family: They don't seem to have much to do with the story at the moment, but their kids have hilarious names so I needed to record: Quebec, Malta, Woolwich.

Volumnia Dedlock: HOW GREAT IS THIS NAME? She's Sir D's cousin and I don't remember much more about her than that. I got distracted by the name.

Mr. Rouncewell: Mrs. Rouncewell's son. Doesn't want Rosa to work for Lady D if Rosa and his son get married. Insults Sir D, so that's fun.

Mrs. Woodcourt: Comes to stay at Bleak House and annoy Esther. Maybe Esther's future mom-in-law (if she ends up with Mr. Woodcourt instead of Ada).

Miss Whisk: Mr. Quayle's fiancee and talks about how insisting women stay in the domestic sphere is TERRIBLE and I like her a lot. Even if I think we're supposed to find her ridiculous.

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. Amazon Digital Services. Originally published 1853. Kindle edition.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Great (Marginalia) Game

About a month ago my friend messaged me on Twitter with a link to a story and the message that we had to do this. The story is from The Millions and called "Dumbest Thing Ever": Scribbling in the Margins of Dan Brown's Inferno. If you didn't click on the link to read the story (and you really should) it's basically about one guy who read Dan Brown's Inferno and wrote a bunch of notes in the margins. He then lent the book to a friend, who added his own (hilarious) notes. So OF COURSE I am in.
Another friend of ours decided to join in and thus we're doing our own version of this Margin Scribbling. We won't be reading Dan Brown* and we'll be doing a slightly different breakdown. The three of us live in different states so we can't just do a book club type deal. And I'm the only one cool enough (ahahahahaha) to have a book blog, so we can't do our gif-filled style readalong. Hence this, which I have titled The Great (Marginalia) Game because, again, see how cool I am (ahahahahaha) and also I'm a Sherlock nerd so of course I needed to shove a reference in there, even if it makes no sense whatsoever.
While we're at it let's throw this in as well
We'll be reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which I've admittedly already read but that's cool because it's entertaining and I think will be good for this game. I picked up a copy on sale so I get to start. I'll read and mark up the first chapter and then mail it to my friend, who will then read and add his own notes to chapters one and two, before sending it to our other friend. He'll then read and write in the first three chapters, send it back to me, and repeat until we're out of book.

I assume this is going to take the better part of a year to finish, especially considering how long it takes me to get to the post office (even though the post office is RIGHT THERE and I really have no excuse). But I AM EXCITED FOR THIS.
Enough to get over how much I do not like writing in books. I will be writing in pencil though because baby steps.

So expect random posts about this, which I'm sure will be ridiculous.

*At least not for the first book, although if things go well I'm all for trying this with Inferno.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Throughout my life I have been criticized for a perceived lack of emotion, as if this were some absolute fault.

Do you remember in December I did an end of year survey and I maaaay have mentioned Where'd You Go, Bernadette? as an amazing book that everyone needs to read? There's a good chance The Rosie Project is going to be that book when I inevitably do a 2014 end of year survey. I am sure this is a book in my pre-blogging days I would have missed, which is sad. Well, I guess sad for alternative universe me, since this version of me did read The Rosie Project and is much better for it.

Don Tillman is a genetics professor at a university in Melbourne and he's a little odd. It's never definitively determined that he is somewhere on the Autism spectrum, although it's heavily implied. He is very literal, has difficulties understanding social cues, and follows a very regimented schedule with every minute accounted for. He has friends, though not a ton, and he's mostly happy with his life. Except he decided he'd like to get married. However, dates don't typically go well for him so he decides to go all scientific with things and create a detailed questionnaire for women to fill out so he can weed out incompatible possible mates. Sexy stuff. Thus begins The Wife Project.

The Wife Project isn't producing a lot of qualified applicants (SHOCK) so his friend and fellow professor Gene sets him up with Rosie. Although Don can't figure out WHY since she fails so much of the criteria: she smokes, is late, a vegetarian, and a barmaid. Don decides they are completely incompatible. But Rosie is more interested in finding her biological father. Something a genetic professor might be able to help with. Don offers his (and his lab's) services to help solve Rosie's mystery. But then, against all logic, Don finds himself spending more and more time on The Father Project.

And the book is so funny. I love Don... 

We survived US Immigration. Previous experience had taught me not to offer observations or suggestions, and I did not need to use my letter of recommendation from David Borenstein at Columbia University characterizing me as a sane and competent person.

...and I love the interactions between Don and Rosie.

"Wow," said Rosie. "Ever thought of being a grief counselor?"
"No. I considered a number of careers, but all in the sciences. My interpersonal skills are not strong."
Rosie burst out laughing. "You're about to get a crash course in advanced grief counseling."
It turned out that Rosie was making a sort of joke, as her approach to grief counseling was based entirely on the administration of alcohol.

I feel like it would have been easy for Don's character to become a cruel stereotype, so good job to Simsion for avoiding that. At one point he's describing growing up to Rosie and all of the doctors and psychologists he visited.

"I now believe that virtually all my problems could be attributed to my brain's being configured differently from those of the majority of humans. All the psychiatric symptoms were a result of this difference, not of any underlying disease." 

First Attachments, the Fangirl, and now this. Part of me thinks maybe I do like romantic comedies. Maybe. I'm probably not going to search them out, but I will be less skeptical of ones that come with strong recommendations from trusted sources. And hey, this is a great Valentine's Day read, so that timing worked out nicely.

Speaking of those trusted sources, since I mentioned I read this book because book bloggers brought it to my attention, I should probably highlight some of those reviews that made me want to pick this up.

Title quote from page 134, location 1627

Simsion, Graeme. The Rosie Project. Simon & Schuster, 2013. Kindle edition.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In the matter of gravy he is adamant

Another Tuesday which means MORE BLEAK HOUSE! Thank you, Alice, for hosting this readalong. Good times, good times.

This post, like all my readalong posts, is going to be a mess. I took some notes while reading, so this is going to be all over the place. Apologies.

I am still having a hard time getting into the third person narration bits. I can't focus. I'm pretty sure in the middle of these the narrator could go "And this is the answer to every mystery in the rest of the super long book. I can say that here because you're not even paying attention. And I know you're not. Because I'm going to write several more chapters about fog, and probably one about a puddle near the court house." Actually, that would be hilarious. I did notice they tried to sneak some Dr. Seuss-ness in these chapters. So maybe Dickens figured he couldn't get away with the "mystery solved" thing, but weird rhyming was fine.

Mr. Tulkinghorn continues to not do anything directly bad, but still makes me suspicious with his whole showing up at Chesney Wold unannounced and just wandering up to his room in a tower, and him and Lady Dedlock making "I have secrets and you know them" eyes at each other.
Richard can't decide what he wants to be when he grows up and part of me wants to yell at him to make a decision and then I remember how young he is and I want to yell at everyone to CALM DOWN. He'll be fine. Except for the whole "spending lots of money" thing. Maybe he will get to be a pirate.
Sherlock would approve

Mr. Guppy continues to be super creepy. And Esther feeling like she can't do anything about her stalker makes me very sad.

You know what else makes me sad? Ada telling Esther about how in love she is with Richard and Esther all tries to be strong about it but instead watches her while she sleeps and gives her kisses and it's creepy but also sweet and sad. At least they're planning on having the three of them live together after Ada and Richard are married. So that's sweet.

Mr. Guppy has been giving Miss Flite money and paying for her rent. What is your end game, Guppy??

Hey, remember when we all decided we didn't like Skimpole cos he sucks and is a mooch, but we weren't sure if Dickens wants us to like him or not? Then do you remember the part where he talks about how he's a fan of the slaves in America because they add decoration to the landscape, even if they "don't like it that much". Yeaaaaahh...

Jo, the guy that was sad about Nemo's death and lives in a super depressing neighborhood, takes some lady (Lady Dedlock YES PROBABLY) around to see areas connected to Nemo's death.

Mr. Boythorn put up adorably threatening signs for Sir Leicester to look at over their disputed piece of property. I'm liking Boythorn more and more. Please don't turn out to be Fosco.

Esther thinks looking at Lady Dedlock is like looking in a mirror and WHHHAAAAA? And then she has the same voice. But she won't look at her. Hmmmm. So, they're related? Sekritly?

Mr. Jobling takes over Nemo's old room at Krook's and is very upset that Nemo had the audacity to die in Jobling's (soon to hopefully be) room. THE NERVE of some people.

And that's roughly where we're at. Richard is being indecisive about jobs but not about how he loves Ada. Esther still loves Ada but also keeps cutting off on telling us things and WHAT ARE YOU HIDING, LADY? She also sees herself in Lady Dedlock and Hmmm?? Then we need to know what's going on with the Guppy Gang and why are they renting that room from Krook and working for Snagsby and what's going on there? Will Boythorn and Leicester ever make up? (That would be sweet, but I sort of hope not.) What's up with Hortense? Think she's going to murder Rosa in her sleep? Who was Nemo?

New Characters. Because of course there are a million of them and Alice was right about that whole "you need a character list" thing.
Hortense - Lady Dedlock's...some lady who is French and has a tight face and is jealous of Rosa. Also has pretty good reason to be pissed at Lady Dedlock after she makes her walk home in the rain.

Mr. & Mrs. Badger - take Richard in to apprentice surgery? I think I understood that correctly. Be an apprentice surgeon on a boat. The most important thing about them is both Mr. & Mrs. (but mostly Mr) Badger are super into Mrs. Badger's previous husbands. So they're fun.

Mr. Turveydrop, the junior - Miss Jellyby's secret fiance, LOVES TO DANCE.
Also his first name is Prince.

Mr. Turveydrop, the senior - Real fancy guy. Spends all his money on fancy clothes and being seen in fancy places. So, he's pretty much the Victorian equivalent of a Real Housewife. I'm sure there are wine fueled drunken rages and old timey plastic surgery as well.

Mr. Woodcourt - "Dark surgeon" who was hanging out at dinner with the Bleak House Crew (BHC) and the Badgers, but we didn't pay attention to him cos everyone is too busy focused on how awesome Mrs. Badger's previous husbands were.

Mr. Quale - Someone I should probably know more about. I don't, though. Follows around Pardiggle talking about how great charities are. Friends with Guppy. Don't trust.

Mr. Gusher - See Quale. Not as in they are the same person but more as in that's all I know about the guy.

Neckette family - SUPER SAD STORY about the debt collector that kept visiting Skimpole. He died and left behind 3 small children. The oldest, 13, has to go to work while the 5 year old watches the baby and they live in a tiny cold room and dammit Dickens, must you keep it up with the orphans?

Jo - Another orphan kid. He showed up in the last section but I didn't know he'd come up again. He knew Nemo and was super sad when he died. He lives in a place called Toms-all-alone and it's depressing.

Mr. Smallwood - See Quale and Gusher. *Update* via Megs. Looks like a depressed monkey

Mr. Jobling - See Quale, Gusher, and Smallwood. I should know more about these guys probably. I know they eat a lot of food and are UNTRUSTWORTHY.

Title quote location 4755

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. Amazon Digital Services. Originally published 1853. Kindle edition.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

She regards a ghost as one of the privileges of the upper classes

Welcome to the first post of the Bleak House readalong hosted by Alice! I was so in the mood for a readalong because one, my reading habits since December have been...lacking. And two, I have found many GIFs that need shared with the (book blogging) world so good timing.
I know we're not really doing an intro post BUT I do have a confession before I dive right in.

Every time I say "Bleak House" in my head, I sing it to the tune of Brick House. I feel like this is the wrong tone for the book. Probably. Although maybe Dickens will surprise me.

Alice said we should create character lists. Which sounds like a super smart thing to do and something that I knew I wasn't going to. I am not nearly coordinated enough/have enough space to be taking notes while reading on the subway. This also means I keep mixing up character names. After reading the first 11 chapters, here's the character list I've come up with, which will also serve as my post, cos man are there a lot of characters.

Lady Dreadlock: Yes, I'm aware it's actually Dedlock but I kept saying "Dreadlock," which led to a fun character visual so it's staying.
Getty Images
Let's see, what do I know about her? She is married some some guy and was bored in this big house so she went to another house and commented on some handwriting.

Mr. Tulkinghorn: Dreadlock's old fashioned lawyer guy, whom I do not trust. He seems sketchy.

Esther: Girl with really depressing childhood cos its a Dickens book. I mean, come on, a little kid is told that their birthday is the saddest day of the year and her godmother (who is actually HER AUNT and I bet that will be important at some point) tells her she wishes she was never born. I want to like more cos she's the narrator and all but she's sort of boring and REALLY just wants to please everyone. Especially Ada. Because she loves her.

Ada: Lady who has something to do with this Jarndyce case (which I really don't understand, but I think that might be the point) and also sorta loves EstherAlso loves her cousin Rick, who I'm hoping is a distant cousin. I don't know much about her yet. She's as interesting as Esther.

Richard: Except people keep calling him Rick, so let's go with that. Also part of this Jarndyce case...somehow. None of them (Esther, Ada, Rick) seem to know exactly what's going on, but hey, a place to live. That's cool. He loves his (again hopefully distant) cousin Ada. And people seem to want them to get together. Except Esther probably doesn't. He has some ideas about money that match mine, which means they aren't great.

Mr. Guppy: Guy I really liked at first when they described his technicolor neckerchief but then got all creepy with his aggressive engagement proposal to Esther. I'm sure there are reasons for his sudden proposal that comes after all of meeting her two times and also she doesn't know who you are and also, Ada.
Mr. Guppy, pretty much
The Jellybelly family: I know it's actually Jellybys but please see my "dreadlock" reasoning. The matriarch is REALLY into doing...something for Africa. Charity I think. The whole house is a mess because she's so focused on writing all these letters. Except she actually just dictates and her daughter writes. The husband is meek and doesn't really do anything and I don't know why HE can't just take care of the house if he's not doing anything else. But instead I think we're supposed to hate her cos she's putting her other work before her family/housework.

Mr. John Jarndyce: I keep calling him Jaundice guy. He must have something to do with the Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit (try not to be too impressed by my detective skills) and he sends Esther to this school after her godmother/aunt dies before having her move to his house and be his housekeeper. He also has his cousins (everyone is a cousin) Ada and Richard. I think I like him. Really focused on the way the wind is blowing.

Harold Skimpole: Hehe, skinpole. Anyway, he's sort of an ass. He seems all nice and fun and not concerned with things like working himself to death but instead wants to enjoy the little things. Things he also enjoys: not paying any attention to his money so when he's about to get in trouble for his debt he makes other people pay it. Cos he's so childish, you see, and children don't deal with money and shut up, jerk. Esther and Richard pay off his debt and then Jarndyce laughs at them and pays them back and makes them promise not to give him anymore money.

Mrs. Rouncewell: Housekeeper at Lady Dreadlock's boring house. Has a son who is an engineer and thinks being an engineer is a FAILURE and I think I'm going to have to send some quotes to my (engineer) brother. Tells a story about how the boring house is actually haunted by some rich lady that walks back and forth all the time. Not the scariest ghost, so I guess I see why Dreadlock thinks the place is boring.

Mrs. Pardiggle: Like Mrs. Jellybelly, in that she's a lady obsessed with her charity work and also her family hates her. In this case her family seems to have a point cos she is very brash and she keeps dragging her 5 kids with her and taking all of their allowance money to give to different causes. She drags her sons along with Ada and Esther to this bricklayer's house. He beats his wife and he drinks all the time and his kids are flithy and they all hate Pardiggle, who insists on reading the Bible to them.
Here's Mrs. Pardiggle
Boythorn: A friend of Jarndyce. He's fun and loud and has a pet bird that sits on him. He hates Lady Dedlock's family.

Mr. & Mrs. Snagsby: Law writer guy and his wife. They hire people to copy law stuff. Things that you would do before copy machines were invented.

Krook: Guy that owns this shop that seems to only buy things but not sell them, which seems like a bad business model. Also rents out some rooms, including one to this old lady that seems crazy but might also know what's going on with the J&J case.

Miss Flitt: Crazy lady that seems to know about the lawsuit.

Nemo: Means "NO ONE" as Tulkinghorn deduces and is found dead in one of Krook's rooms from an opium overdose.

So. What is this J&J case? What's with the dead body at the end? What is Mr. Tulkinghorn up to? What was up with Guppy's proposal? Will Esther quit being boring and going on about how awesome she is at housekeeping and making kids like her? WE SHALL SEE!

Title quote from location 1588

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. Amazon Digital Services. Originally published 1853. Kindle edition.

Monday, February 3, 2014

January reading wrap-up

Last year my strongest reading month was January. This year...not so much. I'm not exactly sure why but I didn't get much reading done this month. No reason. I wouldn't even say it was a reading slump, although I suppose that's exactly what it was (a slump in reading that is). I managed 2 books this month. One of the books I had a) read before and b) had read about 1/2 of in December. But I'm not too upset about this. Besides, now I can pretty much only get better this year.

Now, those stats.

Number of books read

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Different Seasons by Stephen King

Total pages read

Percentage of fiction

Percentage of female authors

Percentage of white authors

Percentage of US authors

Percentage of ebooks
0% - which is odd, considering how many ebooks I recently picked up

Percentage of re-reads

Percentage of review books

Books written by decade
1980s - 50%
2000s - 50%

Books by genre
Travel memoir - 50%
Horror - 50%