Friday, March 29, 2013

I must not tell lies

Happy Harry Potter day! We've now read through chapter 20 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Thank you Alice for hosting this suuuper fun potteralong and be warned, there are spoilers ahead. I wrote down random thoughts as I was reading so be prepared for a not-at-all-coherent post.

Fred, George, and Lee trying out their sweets on the first years is not cool. Especially, if Harry is correct, that they didn't tell the kids that they were guinea pigs for essentially a medical experiment.

Hermione tricking the house elves into freedom is creepy too. It's one thing to want to set the house elves free (which I'm still sorta think is Hermione projecting her own wants and cultural understanding on others, even if freedom seems like it should be the way to go), but now she's tricking them. This also brings up lots of confusion how the whole "house elf freedom via clothes" things work.

First, the house elves aren't her responsibility. They work for/belong to Hogwarts, so shouldn't the clothes have to come from Dumbledore or at least one of the other professors? How can Hermione free elves that aren't under her command? In CoS, Lucius is the one that (unknowingly) gave Dobby the clothes. If it didn't have to be him, you'd have thought Harry would have just given him something earlier.

Second, these elves aren't being given clothes. They're just randomly finding them. Don't they have to be presented with clothes? I mean, we have tales of Kreacher snogging Sirius's dad's trousers in the last section, so it's not just picking up clothes that frees them. So even if Hermione could free elves by just giving them her hats, they would have to actually be given them, not just find them around, right? I am confused.

Hermione, quit being a bitch to Luna. She's amazing even if she is a bit spacey. And considering you're a witch you could believe in a little more whimsy. That said, Luna, I heart you but you're crazy. Perhaps don't believe in ALL THE THINGS

Umbridge is so awful, which I know, understatement. Her detention for Harry is so so terrible. I really wish Harry had gone all Bartleby the Scrivner on her and just "preferred not to" to his detention.Or you know, had gone to Dumbles or McGonagall about it cos WTF?
Or this
But then again, I understand why he doesn't go to anyone and just takes it. Well, I understand why he thinks this is what he has to do, even if it's dumb.

It was a dick thing for Sirius to make the "James woulda done it" comment to Harry. Is it worse than the stuff Harry's been snapping at people? Slightly, because Sirius is an adult but it's close*. It's childish sure, and something said when you're frustrated. And figure Sirius's frustration is probably at an all time high after the Daily Prophet story about how he's in London. And he's probably been hearing from others in the Order that he needs to stay inside EVEN HARDER than he has been. He probably figured Harry would think he should come out to visit, even if he wasn't actually going to do it. So yeah, he deserves to be smacked for the comment, but I still feel bad for the guy.

Why is Hermione having such a hard time saying Voldemort? I know this is supposed to be something to show how brave she's being by saying it, but it's not like she grew up knowing you're supposed to fear the guy. It makes sense for Ron and other students from magical families, or those that dealt with Voldie's rein the first time around to fear his name. Muggle-born students, though?

Good planning going to the Hog's Head instead of the Three Broomsticks for your secret meeting. Bad planning to think that just because there are no students around, you can speak freely. Even when you see suspicious characters all around the bar. I'm glad Mundungus was hanging around and hopefully would stop them if they were going to say anything someone around the bar REALLY shouldn't overhear. And glad Sirius told them to not do that again cos COME ON, Hermione. You should know better.

Harry's crush on Cho almost makes up for his angst. It's so cute.

"It would look suspicious if people from different Houses were seen crossing the Great Hall to talk to each other too often" - and this line makes me unreasonably sad. But really? It's THAT unusual for people in different houses to be friends? I'm thinking the hat is even more right in saying it's not such a great thing the students are split up.

I am coming to terms with the fact that I really don't care about the Quidditch stuff. I glaze over whenever these games come up. Just let's get through it so we can get back to the interesting stuff. Because when the rest of the story is all life and death, I don't care so much about a sporting match.

I also sorta glazed over during Hagrid's giant story, but I'm going to blame that on residual Quidditch glaze. But when Umbridge shows up and starts questioning Hagrid and is all suspicious about someone being there. She's very smart which makes her so much worse than the other villains Harry's tangled with.

I apologize because this post is a mess. And I don't know how to end it so

*Also Sirius is an adult who has spent most of his adult life in prison being psychologically tortured. Can we congratulate both Harry & Sirius for not turning into sociopaths? Because really, good job you guys. Color me impressed.

Title quote from page 266

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Scholastic, 2003.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When your rage is choking you, it is best to say nothing

Finding Octavia Butler novels is far more difficult than it should be. I mean, it's not THAT hard (cos, you know, the internet helps) but they aren't readily available in bookstores and even digital copies are rare. Which is lame because she's AMAZING and places need to stock more of her. Of course, that will only happen when demand...well demands it. So please start demanding her.

OK, now that I got that out of the way, I should start talking about her book Fledgling, which was finally available on the Kindle one day. I'd heard very good things about it so I was excited to give this one a try. Especially because I'm nearing the end of the Butler bibliography, which sucks.

Fledgling is the story of a young Ina/vampire named Shori. Shori wakes up one day badly injured and burned, with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Slowly it's revealed that Shori's family was wiped out, most likely by fellow vampires who were unhappy her family was experimenting with genetic mutations in order to produce offspring who can stay awake for the day and have better protection from the sun.

I know Twilight cast a shadow over vampire books, whether you like that series or not. Both books actually came out a month apart from one another (Butler's in September, Meyers in October of 2005) so clearly the two books are in no way related, inspired, or anything with one another. As with most of Butler's novels, Fledgling deals with race. In this case Shori is the genetic experiment. Instead of having the very pale skin of her Ina ancestors, Shori has dark brown skin that doesn't burn so quickly in the sunlight. She's described by some of the vampire as a mongrel and less than Ina because her DNA has been mixed with human DNA.

When Butler is dealing with race the novel really comes to life. Unfortunately, this isn't really the main focus of the story. Or it is, but a LOT of the story takes place with Shori learning about Ina ways and especially about her symbiots.

See, in order to live, the vampires need to drink blood. As they do. And while technically they should be able to survive by just casually grazing (as they call it), the Ina whither away unless they bond with a human symbiot. This is more than just having someone around to regularly feed on, but it's an emotional connection with their people. The bond is so strong that if an Ina dies, their symbiots will likely die as well. If the vampire isn't in regular physical contact with their symbiots, regardless of if they feed on them, they will also die. Symbiots live unusually long lives (200+ years), free from health problems and derive extreme pleasure whenever their Ina feed from them. There are a lot more details about the relationship between Ina and their symbiots and had Butler lived longer, I feel like she probably would have written a few more novels about them, even if she does say Fledgling was just a lark.

There's one thing though that I had trouble getting past. Shori is a young vampire, but vampires live a very long time (500 or so years). Shori's around 53 years old, which should make whatever she does with her adult symbiots fine. Except Shori LOOKS like an 11-12 year old. And she has sexy time with her adult symbiots (in addition to just feeding from them). And that was awkward. And happened a lot, especially in early parts of the novel. Later when she's dealing with finding out what happened to her family, this happens less often and I found I enjoyed the story more. (Also this is when we're dealing more with the race thing, where Butler really shines.) I tried not to think about it too much, cos thinking about it made me think I'm going to be put on a list for reading this book. Though at least nothing is TOO explicit.

The other thing that I was sort of disappointed in was Shori's personality. Butler is great at writing strong female characters (which I've mentioned before) and Shori belongs in that group but near the bottom. She's stoic to the point of being monotone. She's lost everything and knows she can't even properly mourn her family because she doesn't remember them enough, but Shori hardly displayed any emotion. At times she would get angry and others would comment on her temper, but it never really came across to me. All of the female characters (at least those I've read) have been strong and somewhat stoic, but they still felt like real people and that they had real emotions behind their tough exterior. Shori didn't feel this way, which meant I didn't connect with her as much as the others.

Overall, I enjoyed Fledgling although not as much as the other Butler I've read. It's still a good one, and I'm still glad I read it, but if you're looking for some Butler to start with, might I recommend Kindred. Again. Because seriously, you need to read that one. It is superb.

Title quote from location 3242

Butler, Octavia E. Fledgling. Seven Stories Press, 2005. Kindle edition.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bookish centerpieces: I need your help

Wedding post time!

I've done pretty much no wedding planning stuff yet, cos I'm responsible like that. We're starting to look at venues so things are moving forward but yeah. For the most part the little details of wedding planning I'm very "meh" on. I'm also kinda "eh" on the big picture stuff. BUT I did think of something that I'd like to do. But I need your help.

It may not be a full on bookish wedding*, but of course I would like some bookish elements. My friend had book centerpieces which were great and I'm not saying I'm NOT going to steal that idea. Just that I'd like to add something else to it. Also at one point during the evening a drink got knocked over. DON'T WORRY, I saved the books, but it was close. But will other people be that quick if something like that were to happen at my wedding??

I saw a thing on Pinterest (? yeah probably there) where instead of normal table numbers, you use literary couples.
Book Lover Wedding
GREAT IDEA, RIGHT? Except I'm having trouble coming up with those literary couples. I have no idea how many I'd need (because I haven't planned out a wedding list or number of tables or a venue yet. Again, responsible) so I'm just looking for however many literary couples I think of.

I've come up with the obvious ones, but I know I'm missing some good ones. So PLEASE HELP! Let me know some couples in the comments. Here's a few of the ones I came up with.

Lizzie & Darcy
Romeo & Juliet (even though they're tragic and possibly the wrong choice for a wedding)
Gatsby & Daisy (cost they're in the picture so yeah)
Ron & Hermione
Thursday Next & Landen Parke-Laine (from the Thursday Next series)

What are other literary couples I should consider?

Suggestions from the comments!
Marius & Cossette from Les Mis
Jane Eyre & Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre
Macbeth & Lady Macbeth from Macbeth
Scarlett & Rhett from Gone with the Wind
Elinor & Edward from Sense & Sensibility
Beatrice & Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing
Anne & Frederick from Persuasion
Charlie & Sam from Perks of Being a Wallflower
Anne & Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series
Emma & Mr. Knightly from Emma
Anne Elliot & Captain Wentworth from...
Tristan and Isolde from Tristan and Isolde
Lancelot & Guinevere from Legends of King Arthur
Robin Hood & Maid Marian from Robin Hood
Katherine & Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew
Jamie & Claire from the Outlander series
Tatiana & Alexander from The Bronze Horseman
Penelope & Odysseus from The Odyssey
Parzival & Art3mis from Ready Player One
Peter Pan & Wendy from Peter Pan
Levin/Bill Weasley (in the movie version) & Kitty from Anna Karenina
Daenyrs & Drogo from Game of Thrones
Mina & Jonathan Harker from Dracula
Frodo & Samwise from The Lord of the Rings
Bill & Fleur from the Harry Potter series
Molly & Arthur from the Harry Potter series
Aragorn & Arwen from The Lord of the Rings
Antony & Cleopatra from Antony & Cleopatra 
Henry & Clare from The Time Traveler's Wife 
Jo & Laurie from Little Women 
Florentino & Fermina from Love in the Time of Cholera
Anna & Vronsky from Anna Karenina
Hermia & Lysander from A Midsummer Night's Dream 

*My idea to get married in a bookstore was veto-ed even though it's an amazing idea, although they probably have a point because I'd inevitably get distracted. I'll be sitting on the ground reading something while people tell me I'm supposed to cut the cake or whatever other wedding things you're supposed to do.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Happy Harry Potter Day! (Or normal Friday for those of you not playing along with this readalong even though you TOTALLY SHOULD). Let's get the basics out of the way:

1. Thank you Alice for hosting this readalong, and all of it's awesomeness
2. There will be spoilers. And also some shouting. And gifs.
3. Enjoy

OK, so this is it. This is the Harry Potter book I've never made it past when re-reading. I've read the whole series through once and then I've re-read the first 4 books a few times. But I get to this book and I stop. I can't go on. Except this is also my favorite book of the series. So go figure. This time I'm going to have to just accept that bad things are coming.
This is Harry at his teenage angsty-est. He has very good reasons for being so moody, considering the whole "seeing Voldemort come back" thing, and the "no one will tell me what's going on and I'm stuck at the Dursley's" thing, and finally the "I'm 15 and teenagers are terrible" thing. He has good reasons for snapping at everyone, and yet I still want someone to smack him upside the head and tell him to shut up. They can hug him after. But Mr. Shoutypants is sounding like a douche. (Especially in Umbridge's class when he's all "Hmm let's think...maybe Lord Voldemort!" and you just want to be like "Really Harry? That the scathing line you went with? Maybe...ugh just sit down.")

Why do I like this book the mostest? Cos we get MOAR SIRIUS.
Not just Sirius, but also Lupin and Tonks and actual Mad Eye, and all the best characters. How much do you want to be friends with Tonks? So much? So much. The order is now hanging out at the Black family home, using it for all important Order business. Poor Sirius can't leave, now that the Death Eaters know his Animagus form (dammit Wormtail, you asshole), and he (quite understandably) HATES his family home. Remember when I said I wanted to smack Harry for his moodiness? I'm more forgiving of Sirius's. Probably because I love him, but also because his moodiness doesn't manifest itself in snapping at his friends. And also cos he has gone through way more. Not to downplay Harry's anguish but Sirius spent 12* years being mentally tortured in Azkaban, so the fact that he's not a raving lunatic is pretty incredible.

How great was the Mrs. Weasley/Sirius parenting styles duel? "Harry must be protected from all nasty things around him!" vs "Harry needs to know what he's up against!" Boom! Pow! And Harry gets to be in the middle of all these people fighting over who's going to be his parent the hardest and HOW GREAT IS THAT?
"He's not your son," said Sirius quietly
"He's as good as," said Mrs. Weasley fiercely. "Who else has he got?"
"He's got me!"
AWWWW. Harry deserves people fighting about who loves him the most. Especially after last week and we were all weeping over the fact that he'd never been hugged "like by a mother" and was so sad Sirius had to leave.

That said, Mrs. Weasley's comment about how Sirius hasn't been a parent to him cos he's been locked up for 12 years is a low blow.
Not cool, Mrs. W
"Sirius, how dare you be unfairly locked up for a crime you didn't commit! Didn't you think of who would watch after Harry while you were being framed and then locked up without trial?"

Speaking of the whole Molly/Sirius battle, Mrs. Weasley may have a (slight) point when she tells Sirius to remember Harry isn't James. Of course she's also overlooking how much Sirius did to watch out for Harry in the fourth book. Unless her comment was building on an on-going argument they had been having that we didn't get to see, because we were hanging out with Harry at the Dursley's.

Kreacher is terrible. I forget how awful he is. I know, I know, Sirius is mean to him. Probably because Kreacher spends the whole time talking about how awful everyone is and calling them names that have been established are REALLY BAD. "Mudblood" is sort of "the m-word" of the wizarding world, yes? 

So the O.W.L.s are super important. What happened to the students who were supposed to take their exams but didn't because if the Triwizard tournament? Do they have to make them up? Those kids are just screwed and can never get jobs now.

Also how you do on your O.W.L.s determines what jobs you can apply to? That...that is so scary. You have to make these decisions when you're 15? What do I think of that, you ask?
We get to meet Luna. Luna, Luna, you're so great. Sure, you can be a little tactless sometimes, but I prefer that to you being worried about people thinking you're weird. 

UMBRIDGE IS THE WORST. Remember how bad Rita Skeeter was? Umbridge is about a billion times worse. And the best villain of the series. Sorry, Voldie. And her Hem Hems? I'd like to set he on fire each time she does that. Plus how scary is it when McGonagall is afraid for Harry and his detention? I do not like it when the adults I trust in the series are afraid. It's not quite as bad as when Dumbles is afraid, but it's close.

I'm afraid of/can't wait for next week's chapters. The feels. THE FEELS.

*Was Sirius in Azkaban for 12 or 13 years? Cos he escapes in the third book, which suggests 13 years cos that's how old Harry is in this one. But wasn't Harry a year old when Voldie killed his folks?  What's that? I could just ask the internet? I did, and the one thing says 13 years and doesn't explain.

Title quote from page 40

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix. Scholastic, 2003

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The man loves journalism the way pedophiles love children

Remember a couple weeks ago when I started spamming everyone to make you go buy Lamb cos it was on sale for Kindles? I didn't just make sure everyone knew the best book ever was on sale. I also scanned through the other books and found one to try out. And so I picked up The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter.

I've had this book on my radar since I read Greg's review waaaaay back in 2010. I trust his recommendations. After all, I liked Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You and Norman's Domestic Violets. Apparently he has become my go-to-guy for middle class white guy problem novels.

The Financial Lives of Poets is a funny book about a middle class white guy dealing with his life falling down around him, primarily due to his ability to make terrible decision after terrible decision. It all starts with our main character Matt's grand idea to quit his job and start the website I think he describes it best: "I know it sounds stupid in hindsight, and perhaps in foresight too, but my idea was that someone needed to start a website that gave financial news and verse." Just let that sink in for a minute.

At no time does this sound like a sound business decision, but Matt happens to make it right as the housing bubble burst. He tried to crawl back to his old job as a business reporter, but the newspaper world isn't doing so well either, so that second round job didn't work out. Now he and his wife are drowning in debt and she's spending her free time flirting (or more?) with an old flame. So what's Matt to do?

The book opens with him at 7/11 to pick up an overpriced jug of milk and he ends up partying with some teenage pot heads. Hey, remember when I said Matt is amazing at making terrible decisions? Yeah, he comes to the conclusion that to fix things he should sell pot! Genius! It's sorta like Weeds*. White middle class parent sells drugs to keep way of life!

Except, not so much like Weeds. And overall I wasn't a huge fan of this one. There are a lot of funny lines but overall I went between not carrying so much about Matt or wanting to hit him. I sort of felt bad for the guy by the end, but it was tinged with my thoughts that he brought this on himself. Not a bad book, and not one I regret reading, but one I'm very happy I got on sale.

But, since there are a lot of lines I like, I'm going to share a few here.

"Note: for future marriage-enriching banter, avoid Nazi humor."

"See! Fiscal Ebola? My financial asshole is bleeding? This was exactly why I started; there are money poets everywhere!"

"it dawns on me that Drug Dealer Dave's sales strategy might be a good one for realtors, too, beginning the home-buying process by pretending to want to search your asshole. Because, honestly, after that everything goes pretty smoothly."

*I really liked seasons 1 & 2 of Weeds. After that I'm very eh on it. So my comparison is only for that part and less of the Mexican drug lord stuff that happens later.

Title quote from page 71, location 1110

Walter, Jess. The Financial Lives of Poets. Harper Collins, 2009.

Friday, March 15, 2013

We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided

Happy Friday! Happy Harry Potter day! Thank you Alice for hosting this readalong which is all the fun. We now move on to the final part of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Be warned, there are spoilers.

The end of this book is where shit starts to get real in HP land.
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Even in the earlier books, when Harry is fighting Voldemort, things are fun and the kids are playing detective and the danger doesn't seem as real. It's there lurking, but there are other more pressing matters to deal with. The majority of Goblet of Fire was like that as well. Sure, someone wants to harm Harry, which is why he was put in the cup and the whole point of the book. But it seemed far more important that Harry do a good job in the tournament and make sure he find a dance to the ball. But not the end. The end is when everything goes dark and you realize exactly what is at stake and what it means for Voldie to be back.

I ended up listening the this last section entirely on audiobook. I didn't mean to but I ended up spending extra time on the train, which meant more time to listen. Then I thought about reading the end of it at home, cos you know, the sadz and I don't need to be crying over imaginary people while on the subway.
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But I really wanted to finish the book. I knew how it ended but I still didn't want to read something else in the meantime. However, the audio isn't as bad as if I had been reading it. I think had that been the case, it would have been a lot of awkward ugly crying going on.

My favorite part of the book is what happens after Harry comes back and he's told his story to Dumbledore. It's Harry trying to process everything he's been through, it's Fudge being a jackass and not believing him, it's Sirius being so protective of Harry, it's Snape acknowledging he was a death eater and agreeing to take up whatever dangerous post he had previously held when Voldie was in power the first time, it's Dumbledore's speech that everyone remember Cedric Diggory.
Clearly this isn't the happiest part of the book but it's the part I find myself going back to.

Lighter note, for the second and third challenge, what exactly were the spectators watching? The first one it made sense, cos they could actually watch the champions try to get the egg from the dragon. But then at the lake they were underwater the whole time. The merpeople had to tell Dumbledore what took Harry so long, so I think it's safe to assume there weren't some sort of underwater cameras letting the people watch the action. Same deal with the maze. If they COULD have seen what was going on in the maze, then they would have see Mad-Eye clearing the way for Harry while attacking the others, and Krum getting all imperious-ed.

Other than the "the spectators can't spectate anything" I don't really have any random thoughts to list out. Probably because I am just focused on that ending.

Next up Order of the Phoenix which is my favorite book but also one I sorta hate FOR  REASONS that are obvious if you've read the book. If not then just know REASONS.

Title quote from page 723

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Scholastic, 2000

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

[Joshua] needs a friend to teach him to be human.

This review is going to be a mess. I need to warn you about this ahead of time. Because you see, I LOVE this book. Love it.
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There's no way this is going to be a coherent post. I'm going to try to make it coherent. I am. But there's going to be a lot of gushing.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore is my most favoritest book. It's hilarious. It's touching. It's though provoking. It literally makes me laugh out loud and ugly cry. (Not the same scenes. That'd be schizophrenic.) An old co-worker of mine tried to get me to read the book for months and I don't know why I didn't listen to her at once. I'm stupid like that. But I finally did read it and I loved it.

The book is about the life of Joshua (aka Jesus, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua and not like a fake name for the guy) focusing on the parts the Bible missed. And who better to tell that story than his BFF Biff (aka Levi, Biff is his nickname and the sound of someone smacking him upside the head)? The majority of the tale follows Josh and Biff as they travel to the east to meet with the three Magi and learn what Josh needs to know to become the Messiah.

I feel like with that description I need to add two different disclaimers. On the one hand, it sounds like a religious story. I mean it is about Jesus and the Magi and the end of the book deals with the Jesus's teachings in its own ways. I wouldn't say I'm particularly religious. I am technically Catholic, though I haven't been to church in a long time. I know the times to stand up, sit down, kneel; I know what to say at the appropriate times; I know some of the bigger Bible stories, and that's about it. So what I'm saying is you don't need to be particularly religious to love this book.

On the other hand, if you are very religious, you also shouldn't worry about this book being blasphemous and anger inducing. When I went to a book signing for Moore's Sacre Bleu he was talking about Lamb and how worried he was that people would be so mad at this book at him for defiling Jesus. And how surprised he was that he never got any of that backlash. Not only that, but the book is being taught at Harvard Divinity School. So even if you are religious, you should read this book. Cos you'll probably love it.

What I'm saying is everyone should read this and love it.

Like other Moore books, this one has sex and creative cursing and all that good stuff. And things like the origin of Judo (or Jew-do, a form of kung-fu taught to Joshua by the Shaolin monks because "what if Jesus knew kung-fu" is an important question that needs answered). And if Josh is really to understand sin, who better than Biff to explain it to him? It even has characters from other books, like Catch from Practical Demonkeeping and Raziel from The Stupidest Angel. See, hilarious.

It's Biff and Josh's relationship that is the best. Biff is sarcastic (he did invent it after all), a quick thinker, and fiercely loyal to Josh. Besides, who else is willing to hang out with all those hookers, just so he can describe sin to Josh? Josh needs someone to help him learn to be the Messiah, but he also needs someone to help him be human. He needs a friend.

There are a lot of scenes I like. Pretty much all of them. But I went back and re-read this passage a few times. I don't remember it standing out the first time around, but something about this was so touching this time.
I don't know, having lived and died the life of a man, I can write about little-boy love, but remembering it now, it seems the cleanest pain I've know. Love without desire, or conditions, or limits - a pure and radiant glow in the heart that could make me giddy and sad and glorious all at once. Where does it go? Why, in all their experiments, did the Magi never try to capture that purity in a bottle? Perhaps they couldn't. Perhaps it is lost to us when we become sexual creatures, and no magic can bring it back. Perhaps I only remember it because I spent so long trying to understand the love that Joshua felt for everyone. (26)
I'm sorry this review is rambling and gushing. But I warned you when I started this it was going to be a mess. Cos I can't put into words everything I love about the book. I was actually afraid when I started re-reading this that I wasn't going to love it as much as I remembered. How could it live up to those expectations? What if I built it up too much? But it met those expectations. I loved it just as much this time around (and cried just as hard during the end) as I did the first time.

All the stars and moons and whatever other book rating measurement I could go with, even though I don't actually use them. But ALL OF THEM!

Title quote from page 17

Moore, Christopher. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Harper, 2002.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Twitchy little ferret, aren't you, Malfoy?

Happy Friday everyone. Once again we have another Harry Potter readalong post (and thank you Alice for hosting this potteralong).

As with every week, there are spoilers below. And also bitching about really minor details and the fact that Rowling can't do math. The usual. So let's go

I LOVE Hermione's scenes when she's yelling at Ron about taking her for granted and not thinking anyone else would want to go to the dance with her. Hermione, you rule

Harry and Ron were both jerks during the dance. But not really more than normal 14 year old boy jerks. Doesn't mean it's OK, but it does mean (from my perspective) it's understandable. And had the girls smacked each of the boys upside the head, that would have been understandable too.

When Harry is caught in the trick step and he drops the egg AND the Marauder's Map, and Filch, Snape and Moody show up, how many times did you mumble "Motherfucker"? It was 7 for me. 
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I'd like to get an indication of how much help all of the other Champions are getting. Cos Harry would have been screwed at pretty much every step of that second task. He couldn't figure out the egg without both Cedric and Moaning Myrtle telling him what to do. He couldn't figure out how to stay underwater for an hour without Dobby. Hell, he would have missed the task ENTIRELY without Dobby. And he couldn't find his way to the hostages without Myrtle again.* We know Fleur and Krum were told about the Dragons before the first task by their headmasters (probably) and Harry told Cedric but are any of them getting this much help? This is getting sad.

Another point to add to the 'I love you Rowling, but you suck at math" file, she has Hagrid pull out a picture of him as a young boy with his father sitting on his shoulder. Except then she says in the picture Hagrid is smaller than he is now, about 7-8 feet tall. Which...that's not HUGE. It's bigger than the average person sure, but not so big that a full sized normal adult man can fit on his shoulder. 

Sirius is back. More back than just head-in-the-fire-place back. Now it's spending-most-of-his-time-as-a-dog-and-living-off-rats back. Which he's doing because he CARES FOR HARRY THAT MUCH. Because he's great.
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Though I kinda feel bad for Buckbeak who's probably thinking "What the hell is this? We were hanging out somewhere nice and warm and now we're back here living in a cave that who knows how the hell I fit in AND I'm living off scraps? This is bullshit, food guy."**

Sirius's story about Barty Crouch and him being all I HATE DARK WIZARDS RAWR. I get that it's sad and sucks that Crouch sent his son to Azkaban and that makes him seem all heartless. But if he DIDN'T do this, and he kept his son out of Azkaban and got him special treatment, wouldn't that be what we're bitching about? Poor Crouch was screwed either way.

Winky gets drunk on butterbeer so does that mean butterbeer is kinda alcoholic? Cos even Harry(?) says something about it not really being that strong before Dobby tells him it's strong to house elves. Is the "beer" part of the drink true, albeit very light? I thought it was more like root beer.*** Cos, you know, children are drinking it.

Krum is all nervous Harry is dating Hermione and it's the cutest thing. Aww even though he's a professional Quidditch player Krum is intimidated by Harry. Which he really shouldn't be. Sorry Harry.

Oh hey, Crouch as showed up. And he's clearly delusional and spouting nonsense and apparently wandering around the forest. So that's creepy. And while I'm glad Harry ran to get help, I can't help but think it would have been a good idea to first move Crouch OUT of the forest. Maybe out into the open. Not to say that would have prevented what happened from happening, but still.

ALSO, so I know Snape is a super asshole and obviously Harry hates him, etc. but I couldn't help thinking it would have probably been a good thing for Harry-Snape relations if he had tried to bring Snape outside when he realized he couldn't get to Dumbledore. Like instead of yelling at Snape that he needed to get Dumbles for him if he had been like "Fine Snape, you have to come quick!!" First up, then Snape sees that Harry is serious because OBV Harry wouldn't be asking Snape for something if it wasn't a big deal. And Snape helping Harry would put them both in a better mindset about the other. They're not going to be besties but less tense? Think how much better Snape's rescue of HRH would have been in Prisoner of Azkaban if Snape actually HAD rescued them instead of sending Sirius to the dementors.
How things could have been****
Next week, we finish things up with Goblet and THINGS WILL BE REVEALED. Can't wait.

*Who he totally blows off when she asks him if she'll visit him again. Jerk. Although she did admit to watching prefects get naked just ALL the time so that's pervy and maybe best not to visit her. Not that I think that was Harry's logic, but you know.

**I assume pets primarily know their owners as the food people. Does Buckbeak count as a pet? Kinda? Pet/fellow fugitive?

***Wow this post has a lot of asides today. Anyway, I once had an actual beer at a bar that TASTED like someone had first filled the glass with butter. It was gross. And the closest I've come to "butter beer"

****Googling "Snape & Harry" brings up a LOT of images that I'm pretty sure if you click on them you get put on a watch list. The more you know.

Title quote from page 404

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Scholastic, 2000

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Comedy is tragedy plus time, right?

Disclaimer: Judging by the comments on my Feb stats post, you guys are all SUPER excited for this review. And you are going to be disappointed. I'm sorry. I cannot live up to all your expectations. Not the book. The book is super fun, but this review. 

So I read Agorafabulous!. And I really liked it! It was a fast read and I couldn't put it down. And then I started a new book and apparently forgot about it completely because not only have I not written a review for it yet, but I've written reviews for books I finished after it. Which I never do. I like to write the reviews in the order I read the books, even if they end up piling up. But I forgot all about it. So I don't really know what that means. When I think of the book, I remember really liking it. But apparently I don't think of it that often.

I put Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sara Benincasa on my Goodreads To Read list after I saw Alice's review. Then one day I had to make a trip to work up to Boston and I was almost done with the book I was reading and was afraid if I just bought it, I would be bookless. These are times I LOVE my Kindle because the night before the trip I can go "Shit I need a book for tomorrow. Oh here we go." And thus, I picked up Agorafabulous.

The book is a hilarious memoir of her struggles with Benincasa's various anxieties, primarily her agoraphobia. The stories are funny without sacrificing the seriousness of her condition. Agoraphobia is serious, even if the results are absurd. Plus she pulled me in cos she's a Jersey girl who went to school in Boston, so I can appreciate her comments like "New Jersey claims to be a state, but it is actually a gigantic slab of cement upon which malls sprout like blisters and corns on the scrubby feet of overworked, chain-smoking strippers,"* because this is not untrue.

Benincasa takes us through her trip to Sicily and her first serious panic attack, her agoraphobia in college when she couldn't even go to the bathroom and instead peed in bowls, to working as a personal assistant for an abusive spiritual guru, teaching in Texas, and eventually becoming a comedian in NYC. The settings are different but she's still dealing with her anxieties and his hilarious the whole time so it's cool.

I can't really think of what else to say but while I was looking through my highlights to write this I realized I would just like to share a bunch of quotes. Because they're GREAT.

"Thus did I end up in Sicily, the Alabama of Italy."

"Our particular trip was enlivened by the presence of a foursome of bitchtastic bottle blondes from the girls' tennis team. This cuntsquare of future real estate agents and PR associates..."

"Any average crazy person can worry one friend into action. But two? That's advanced achievement in the art of being nuts."

"I wasn't rich enough to follow my dream of living among noble brown stereotypes, which is why this book isn't called Eat, Pray, Love."

"On any given block in New York, I was bound to be, if not the sanest individual, at least not one of the craziest."

If I didn't have this on Kindle, I'd stick it on my shelf right next to The Bloggess's Let's Pretend book and I could have a "hilarious memoir by ladies with mental problems" shelf. It can sit next to my "white middle class straight guy problems" shelf. If I ever get around to organized my bookshelves, these are the types of categories I'm going with.

*I realized after I already wrote this paragraph that Alice also quoted this line in her review. Because it's that good.

Title quote from page 235/location 3278

Benincasa, Sara. Agorafabulous! Dispatches from My Bedroom. Harper Collins, 2012. Kindle edition.

Monday, March 4, 2013

February Reading Wrap-Up

This is the first month in awhile that didn't entirely get away from me. Which is weird considering it's the shortest month. But whatever, I won't question it.

My diversity stats are pathetic this month. Which is extra sad considering it was Black History Month and I failed at that. Entirely. I forgot. I think had I remembered I might have at least gotten ONE black writer in. I'm sure I could have found some Butler. Alas, twas not to be. I should probably make a effort for March. We shall see. Anyway TO THE STATS

Number of books read
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Care to Make Love in that Gross Little Space Between Cars?: A Believer Book of Advice edited by Mike Sacks and Eric Spitznael
The Will to Kill: Explaining Senseless Murder by James Alan Fox and Jack Levin
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sara Benincasa

Total pages read

Percentage of fiction

Percentage of female authors

Percentage of white authors
100% ...again. Whomp

Percentage of US authors

Percentage of eBook

Books written by decade
1990s - 20%
2000s - 40%
2010s - 40%

Friday, March 1, 2013


Another Harry Potter Day! I assume at this point you know the drill. Except I'll repeat it again or else I don't have an intro.

So first THANK YOU Alice for hosting this readalong which is so much fun and I'm glad we focus on the important things like work for squibs and wizard taxes.

Next, there will be spoilers so, heads up.

Thirdly I ended up listening to the majority of this section as an audiobook because the fourth one is where Rowling decided to triple the size of her books. Plus this is the copy I have in hardback, just to make it that much heavier. And since I do most of my reading on the subway I decided screw that. I'll do any actual reading when I'm at home and anything while commuting is audio.

Oh as with last week, I still can't upload gifs like I used to, so I have to make due with the ones I already have, which unfortunately isn't THAT many since I normally just find them as I'm writing this deal. If anyone would like to offer advice on how they do this, I am ALL EARS because Photobucket is frustrating the hell out of me.

And with that, onto my random thoughts!

Hermione, Hermione, Hermione. You named your cause S.P.E.W.?
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S.P.E.W. is an awful name. She really needs to think how these things sound if she wants to get people on her side. It's been pretty well establish that the wizarding community is TERRIBLE towards anyone that's not a magical human, so already she's fighting an uphill battle. No need to shoot herself in the foot. That said, I do appreciate her suggest to retitle Hogwarts, A History to A Highly Biased and Selective History of Hogwarts, Which Glosses Over the Nastier Aspects of the School. Still not a great name, (and certainly not a fun acronym) but it's at least funnier.

Last week I wanted to give Harry a big hug after he was thinking how much he wanted a parent to talk to. This week it's Neville right after Moody's class. Or when he's still sitting up late, even though Harry totally doesn't notice this because Harry is not the most observant of other people. Neville needs a big hug almost more than Harry, cos Harry is at least SUPER beloved and amazing at Quidditch and has lots of money and other wonderful things that happened to him. Poor Neville is mostly a bumbling mess.

Speaking of hugs, I was recently watching Pushing Daisies and Chuck has a great quote about hugs. PLUS that show is narrated by Jim Dale, who also narrated the HP audiobooks so see, it's all connected. Anyway that quote:
Chuck: I can't even hug you? What if you need a hug? A hug can turn your day around.
Ned: I'm not a fan of the hug.
Chuck: Then you haven't been hugged properly. It's like an emotional Heimlich. Someone puts their arms around you and they give you a squeeze and all your fear and anxiety come shooting out of your mouth in a big wet wad and you can breath again.
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Chien-Po gets hugs
I love seeing the other wizarding schools. Do the students who came have to take all of their classes in English? That seems difficult, but I guess everyone just speaks English?

Rita Skeeter is an amazing/terrible character, just behind Umbridge in characters you most wish would die in a fire. But as a reporter, Skeeter is terrible. She's not actually the one writing her stories, her magic floaty pen deal does that. And she makes shit up constantly. I mean going beyond manipulating the story to just flat our writing stuff that never happened, quotes that were never said. I'm not saying this doesn't happen in the real world, but I'd like to think it's less obvious. The Daily Prophet needs to up their standards.

Ron and Harry fighting is so sad. Almost sadder than Harry and Ron being mean to Hermione, except that was way worse and they were way doucheier. But since the story is from Harry's POV and we see how sad he is, that makes it seem worse. Poor guy, getting yelled at for something he didn't even do.

Yay Sirius is back! Kinda! Head in the fireplace but good enough.
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How much do you want one of those little dragon things the Champions pulled out of the bag? So much? So much.

I'm really glad Harry didn't outfly Krum in the first task. I know Harry's a great flyer and all, but being better than a professional Quidditch player would have been a bit much.

Poor Winky. I'm glad Dobby is doing well, with his one Galleon a week and one day off a month. Quite the negotiating skills, that one. Although I don't know what to do about Hermione's S.P.E.W. Cos on the one hand (other than the name) it's obviously a good thing to make sure the house elves have rights and are treated respectfully. But then there's the fact that they don't seem to want everything Hermione is trying to give them. And then I don't really know what to think.

Well I don't really know how to end this, so let's go with some great advice from Metatron
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Till next week!

Title quote from page 217

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Scholastic, 2000