Monday, December 29, 2014

It's not just a job. It's the rest of your life

My last post was about Christmas, so naturally I'm going to review a horror book I read back in October. Perhaps a resolution for next year should be "speed it up with the reviews".*

I finished Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix in early October. It made an excellent Halloween read. Excellent for me as it's got a bit of satire in it and a LOT of horror.

At an Ikea knock-off store called Orsk, strange things seem to be happening at night. Employees arrive in the morning to see the faux-Swedish furniture smashed and foul smelling substances smeared on the sofas. But the security cameras haven't caught anything. Corporate is getting concerned. The manager, Basil, recruits two associates, Amy and Ruth Anne, to stay up and see if they can catch who is damaging the store before corporate's consultants show up the next morning.

Amy is having money trouble. She agrees to stay no only because it means double time, but Basil has promised to help push her transfer request through. Ruth Anne is loyal to the company she she agrees to stay. Trinity believes ghosts are behind the whole thing and wants to perform a seance and capture the whole thing on tap so she can be the next "real-ghost busters" and get a reality TV show. Matt goes along with Trinity cos he's sleeping with her and also has the camera equipment.

And thus we have the set up for a seriously creepy haunted house/furniture superstore tale. There are these strange texts coming from unknown numbers that just say "help". There's a figure that seems to be darting in and out of the maze of fake home scenes. And some of those furniture pieces really do look like torture devices.

I won't go anymore into the plot, lest I spoil anything. I have to say this was a lot scarier than I assumed it would be. It has it's funny parts, with the whole fake Ikea, but that almost works to let your defenses down so when things start going wrong, you don't expect them to go quite SO wrong. As soon as I finished with this book, I simultaneously wanted to run to an Ikea and alternatively never step food in an Ikea again. The thought of those "false" closet doors creeps me out now.

I wanted to pick up a physical copy of this book, since it does have some things like a map of the store and descriptions of some of the Orsk furniture. Overall though, I don't know that it makes a difference whether you get a physical or ecopy of the book. Especially where the physical copy is larger than a trade paperback, and thus is a little more awkward to hold on the subway. However, I did finish the book in about a day, so at least you're not dealing with it's larger size for very long.

GIF rating

*Not only would this be good cos then my reviews could somewhat fit the season, and I'd actually be talking about a book when it's still fresh in my mind, BUT I wouldn't have to dig through my book suitcase.
As I recently mentioned, we're going to be moving. Which means we need to sell our place. Which means we need it to look neat and not cluttered. And APPARENTLY bookshelves that are double and triple stacked don't look neat. I am also aware that keep books in a suitcase like this is bad for the books. Which is why unless the house is being shown, the suitcase remains out like this. And hopefully we'll be able to store some of this stuff at my mom's while we try to sell this place/buy a new one and they won't have to be in here at all.

Title quote form page 35

Hendrix, Grady. Horrorstor. Quirk Books, 2014.

Friday, December 26, 2014


Merry day-after-Christmas, for those of you that celebrate. For those that don't Happy Friday and I hope you get to take some extra time off without any of the Christmas obligations.
Tom and I spend the last couple days running around. Christmas Eve was spent at my mom's, hanging out with her and my brother. Well, also cooking. We stopped in the city to pick up lots of fresh seafood for paella that night. But other than that, mostly hanging out with the family, watching things like A Muppet Christmas Carol (aka the best Christmas movie EVER, don't even bother trying to tell me A Christmas Story is the best one because you've all been brainwashed by the fact that's literally on for 24 hours. That movie is terrible.) and having make drinks. We opened gifts and had tiramisu and good times.

The next morning was French toast before heading into the city to spend Christmas day with Tom's family. Lots of people hanging out, bad movies watched (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is actually worse than I assumed, which I suppose is an impressive feat and WTF, why aren't you playing Christmas movies on Christmas day?) and food eaten. Tom and I didn't have a huge amount since it was essentially Christmas lunch and we had just had all that French toast. But don't worry, I have lots of pernil leftovers for today. On our way back home we realized that we would probably be hungry later and there wasn't much food at home so naturally we stopped for Chinese takeout.

I realize I just talked about the food we had because, you know, priorities.
But there were also some bookish gifts, and why not point those out?

Julie is an excellent Secret Santa and she sent over hazelnut & coffee chocolate, these caramel wafers that are THE BEST, an adorable dino ornament, wine stoppers (important bookish accouterment), and 2 books (Coronado by Dennis Lehane and Beirut Blues by Hanan al-Shaykh).

Mom got me a Barnes & Nobel gift card so additional new books will be forthcoming! I haven't decided which ones yet. But picking up out is half the fun. And, while not actually a book, Tom got me the entire collection of Harry Potter movies.
A million years ago (or 2007), after the 5th movie came out, Tom was going to get me the set of HP movies for Christmas but decided against it, since not all of the movies were out yet. I commended him on this choice, as having a 1/2 complete set would drive me nuts when the other movies came out and nothing matched up. At that point he promised he would get me the set of movies once they were all out. When I told him how long that would be (and I didn't even know they'd be splitting the last book into 2 movies) he made a comment about how we'd better be married by THAT point. The fact that we got married this summer and he got me the movies this Christmas is somewhat coincidental, as he had been waiting for a movie set that had all of the bonus stuff and not JUST the movies. But it worked out nicely that all promises were kept. And now I can say I married him to get the full set of Harry Potter movies.

I have a couple days off so I plan on spending them watching ALL the movies, catching up on blogging, maybe getting some reading done. And of course eating.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Armageddon is kind of a lot to lay on a six-year-old

Last year Alice introduced me to Sarah Vowell's stuff by sending me a copy of The Wordy Shipmates. That was nice of her. Later that year I saw a copy of Assassination Vacation on sale so I picked that up. Then earlier this year I was looking for some other book. I don't remember this one because I am WAY behind on reviews. But I know I was looking in the humor section and the book I wanted wasn't there. But another discounted Sarah Vowell book was! This time I read Take The Cannoli: Stories from the New World

Unlike the other 2 books, the focus of Take The Cannoli isn't historical. At least, not entirely, though of course there is a little of that. This is a collection of autobiographical essays where she covers things like her obsession with The Godfather when she was in college, or when she tried to look more intimidating and decided to get a goth makeover, or when she talks about her vacation following the trail of tears (because there's gotta be some history).

There isn't really a unifying theme to the essays. Other than they are about her in one way or another. Which doesn't bother me because I have a short attention span and that little bit of unification is all I need. And besides that, the essays are funny. Vowell is funny and while I can't say I learned anything, like I did with her other two books, I can say I enjoyed this one a lot. What can I say, I like self-deprecation, like when she talks about she and classmate used to each write music, though of very different styles. And qualities. Her philosophy behind her pieces was "Why not just have every instrument in an ensemble play every kind of note grouping simultaneously? That way, you could make even the sappiest string section sound almost as good as a hair dryer." Meanwhile, her musical nemesis used to write pop-friendly tunes to the delight of the female students. Except for Sarah, of course.
Pishposh, I thought, alone in my two-by-three soundproof practice module that was more than roomy enough to accommodate my admirers. I was convinced that real artists were the kind that nobody understood, much less liked, which was pretty reassuring since nobody liked me. Or my music.
See, teenage pain is hilarious.

She talks, in bits and pieces, about her love of America, while still being upset with it. She talks about hearing the Rodney King verdict while studying abroad in Holland and trying to defend herself and the US to her friend (a local) who said to her "Of course you're not going back there." As I mentioned above, she talks about traveling the trail of tears with her sister, which is not exactly a barrel of laughs (A historical tragedy and five fourteen-hour days behind the wheel? Who could pass that up?)

If you like Vowell, you should read this one. If you haven't tried Vowell, this isn't a bad place to start. It's easier to get into than, say Wordy Shipmates (WHICH IS STILL VERY GOOD, ALICE, but let's face it, if the puritans aren't your jam, might be a bit slow at times) and gives you a good sense of her style, while being entertaining, if a bit light. I can't say a lot of these essays stuck with me. Except maybe the goth one, where I have actually quoted that the rule that you have to stay out at the club at least as long as it took you to get ready. IMPORTANT LESSONS.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 37

Vowell, Sarah. Take The Cannoli: Stories from the New World. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2000.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another survey instead of a review!

I know, I know. I'm doing a LOT of surveys. But here's the thing, they're easier to do than reviews. I still like writing reviews but they take more effort and time, which are harder to come by. Like right now, I need to run to catch a train in a bit so I don't want to start a review and have to stop in the middle and blah blah excuses blah.

Not only has work been busy just...all year practically. But NOW we have additional work/stress. For you see Tom just got a new job (yay!!!) that is in another state (yay?) which means we have to sell our place (booo) and move somewhere else (uuuggghhh).
So all the emotions
I am looking forward to the move, assuming we end up where we'd like cos it could mean cutting my commute in half AND right now his commute is about 2 and 1/2 hours each way so of course he would like to change that. BUT I also really like our current place and why can't I just pick this up and put it over there? That would be ideal. But apparently that's not an option. Thanks, naysayers.

ANYWAY, Sarah recently did a short survey, so of course I'm snagging it for myself. Thanks, Sarah! And I will try to get at least one review written for this week.

1. Why did you start blogging?
I was probably complaining about how I wasn't doing anything with my English degree, and Tom got tired of the complaining and said "Why not start a blog about books?" He has good ideas. Sometimes.

2. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?
Yeah, Tom came up with that too. He's responsible for a lot of this blog. Red because my hair is red and various people over the years have called me "Red". And then the blog is about What I Read, so, you know.

3. How many designs have you been through since you started blogging?
One. How sad is that? I've had this blog for almost 5 years and I've pretty much never changed it. HOWEVER, my dear friend has been working on a new blog design for me. ANOTHER HOWEVER, it's been at like the 90% done stage for over a year now, so I'm not exactly sure when it will actually go live.* But it will be SUPER exciting when it does because I love love love what it looks like.

4. Have you ever switched blog platforms?
See answer above. I haven't even changed colors, you think I've bothered to change platforms?

5. How long does it take you to write a post? What is your process like?
Reviews are usually an hour plus. They'd probably take less if I wasn't usually watching TV while writing them. But that doesn't happen. I sometimes have thoughts and thus write out notes while I'm writing. Other times when I start a review I'm working with a blank page, which is intimidating. I also want to catch up on my reviews so I'm not writing about books I read 2+ months ago.

6. Have you ever been super nervous about a post?
Not many. I am pretty bad at anticipating which posts are going to get the most activity. The ones I assume will be nothing get a bunch of comments, while the ones I think "Ah yes, people will like THIS ONE" get almost nothing.

7. Do you have a blogging schedule?
Ugh, I wish. If I had more time perhaps I'd come up with one. As it is I typically do my writing on Sunday for the week and hope to get something else written at some point after work. That typically doesn't work.

8. Do you tell people in-real-life about your blog? What are their reactions?
Not many. I mean, I don't not tell people about it. But I tend not to bring it up. A few people at work know about it but for the most part IRL people don't know too much about it.

9. Top ten blogs you read/comment on the most:
In no particular order:

Alright I went slightly over the 10 BUT IT WAS NECESSARY.

10. If you could change/improve things about your blog, what would they be?
I would like to repeat Sarah here and say "I want to write better, and more often."

I would also like the new blog design to go out sometime in 2015.

*NOT THAT I AM COMPLAINING because my friend is doing this because he said "Hey I want to make a site and your blog is awesome and I'll make you a new site!" so it's totally something he's doing cos he's awesome. He also recently moved to the other side of the world (China) which complicates things some more. Plus I already sort of made him (and my other good friend) slightly alter their China plans, because they were originally going to move right before my wedding. I maaaay have said "Listen, I'm certainly not going to stop you from moving to the other side of the world for my party. BUT I will be super bummed if you don't make it to my party so...enjoy that guilt." And because they are awesome people and such good friends, they actually did change up their plans a bit and leave out of NYC instead of Boston so they could come to the wedding. I am grateful for my friends. They are good people.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thanksgiving and OH HEY dog pictures

I promised you puppy pictures, and I am here to provide puppy pictures!

As with every Thanksgiving for the past 10+ years I've gone down to South Carolina to visit my dad/play with his various pets. Over the years there have been:

A pheasant. It came with the house. I don't know if it ever had a name.

A watch goose. Geese make WAY better watch animals than dogs. At least this one did. Plus it acted as a body guard for some of the other animals because seriously, nothing will mess with a goose.

Ducks! I think there were 4 at one point. they knew to stay near the goose and thus were safe from the dogs. But once the goose died, the ducks didn't stand a chance (because someone felt that the ducks shouldn't be caged up and should instead be free. In this case that means "free to be eaten by the dogs")

4 chickens. Or I guess 3 chickens and a rooster and guess what? Roosters are assholes. At least this one was. As to their fate, see "freedom" above.

10 goats? I think there were probably about 10 in the end. Did you know goats eat everything? Because they seriously eat EVERYTHING. Also baby goats are the most adorable thing and will use the roof of an old shed as a slide. ADORABLY.

An emu. This was another stray that wandered onto the property and hung out for awhile before moving on. No one knows where it came from. It is another world down there.

20+ Cats. Not all at once but there were a bunch of wild cats that lived in the barn and honestly, 20 is probably a low number for them. I didn't see most of them cos of the whole wild thing. Except for glowing eyes showing up under various bushes. Right now there are 3 house cats. I have no pictures of them, however, because they stay in my dad's bedroom and aren't big fans of people that aren't my dad or step-mom.

20 dogs. Probably. Again, not all at once but over the years. The house came with 2 basset hounds because that's apparently a thing that sometimes happens down south. Some stray dogs wandered onto the property, a neighbor has puppies, some other puppies were born, you know how it goes. Right now there are 3 dogs: Clyde, Lucy, and Puccini. AND HERE ARE THEIR PICTURES

"Sleeping in fields" is sort of the big dogs' specialty. It also puts them in a great position for tummy rubs. The little dog stays on a leash because he cannot be trusted to not annoy the other dogs and get his ass kicked. But they do hang out with him sometimes.

AND now it's Christmas season. I am a pain in the ass pre-Thanksgiving when it comes to Christmas music and decorations, but once Thanksgiving is over I AM FOR IT! And here is my tree. You can't really see the tinsel on it but it is all over.

What are your holiday plans, whatever you may celebrate??

Monday, December 8, 2014

The laboratory study of sex has never been an easy, safe, or well-paid undertaking

I've decided to take a break from throwing tinsel around the house to actually write a book review. I really need to get on these considering I'm still working on reviewing books I read in September. Whoops.

Anyway, to the review. Over the years my friends and I have managed to very far from each other, because we're dumb. Also jobs. Whatever. The point is, we decided we wanted to do more stuff despite differences in timezones and thus set up a virtual book club and our first book was Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach.

I've wanted to read one of Roach's book since I heard someone describe her as sort of Bill Bryson-esque, taking on topics like the digestive system, cadavers, and sex. So hell yes I am down with that. And I'm happy to say that Bonk lived up to my expectations.

Bonk is not only a book about sex, but specifically the intersection of sex and science (you know, if you didn't get that from the subtitle); about sex as studied in laboratories. As she says
It wasn't until the past half century that lab-based science embraced the pursuit of better, more satisfying sex...This book is a tribute to the men and women who dared. Who, to this day, endure ignorance, closed minds, righteousness, and prudery. Their lives are not easy. But their cocktail parties are the best.
She talks  about some of the big names like Alfred Kinsey and Masters & Johnson,* but also about Princess Marie Bonaparte (Napoleon's great-grand-niece) and her quest to figure out the optimal distance from clit to vaginal canal for orgasm during intercourse, or Dr. Geng-Long Hsu, a Taiwanese surgeon who performs operations (which are described in great detail, or at least more detail than perhaps I needed) to fix erectile disfunction issues or Dr. Ahmed Shafik, an Egyptian doctor who studied the effects of polyester on sexual activity by studying a bunch of rats in pants. Roach covers the history of sexual science, where it has come from and where it's going and all of the problems it's run into. Problems like male gynecologists not being allowed to look at female genitalia, which is a pretty big fucking problem.

The book isn't in chronological order, but instead hops around to different topics like "The Testical Pushers: If Two Are Good, Would Three Be Better?" and "The Prescription-Strength Vibrator: Masturbating for Health." It's funny without making fun of those that havedevoted their lives to studying sex. Roach takes the work these people are doing seriously, while admitting all of the ridiculous stuff that you might encounter (see above: rats in pants).

If any of the stuff I've said so far interests you, I absolutely recommend you check out this book. I like Roach's style (so much so I just picked up another of her books, Stiff) and as for the topic really, who doesn't want to learn something more about sex? And it was a hit with the book club.

Gif rating:

*SIDE NOTE, have any of you watched Masters of Sex? Because you probably should. It's sort of like Mad Men, in that it's a drama that takes place in roughly the same time period. And it has Lizzy Caplan, Alison Janney, and Sarah Silverman in it.

Title quote from page 303

Roach, Mary. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. Norton, 2008.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

November Reading Wrap-Up

OH HEY everyone. I'm back from my food coma. It was pretty great and also warm. ALSO PUPPIES! I will have a post with puppy pictures soon though I'm going to apologize right now at the small number of puppy pictures. Apparently I have used up ALL the space on my phone and I spent some time deleting songs (no, but I NEED all 1500 of these songs on me at all times because what if I need the Grease soundtrack at a moment's notice, HOW CAN YOU MAKE ME CHOOSE?) to get more space but yeah, there are limited pictures. Perhaps I can convince the family to send up some additional ones.

ANYWAY November reading. I did better than I thought, but that's only because I thought I did really really badly. So, hooray for low expectations?

Number of books read

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs (audiobook)
The Collector by John Fowles
What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night by Refe and Susan Tuma

Number of pages read

Percentage of fiction read

Percentage of female authors
16% cos the Dino one is written (or really more accurately photographed) by a husband & wife team.

Percentage of white authors
100% - sigh. Again.

Percentage of US authors

Percentage of ebooks

Percentage of rereads

Percentage of review books

Books written by decade
1960s - 20%
2010s - 80%

Books by genre
Humor - 40%
Health - 20%
Horror/Suspense - 20%
Children's - 20%

So I read more pages than I assumed by that variety is pretty pathetic. Ugh. I don't know how much better December will be since I'm currently making my way through the third Game of Thrones book*, A Storm of Swords and that book is roughly eleventy-billion pages and while they go relatively quickly, that's still a lot of Martin-land. Maybe January will be better.

*Yes, I KNOW it's really A Song of Ice and Fire series but since that name is stupid and everyone knows GoT, that's what I'm going with. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Time!

I hope those of you in the U.S. are enjoying eating ALL THE FOOD. Those of you not in the U.S. should also try eating all the food as all the food is delicious.
As with previous years, I've wandered down south for the holiday* where the internet access is slim, but the puppy access is high so it's a pretty good trade-off. I'd apologize in advance for being around to read and comment on everyone's blog, except I have been pretty bad about that in general. Which I AM sorry for and I'm trying to get better about. Anyway, Thanksgiving.
Bookish things I am thankful for:
1. Time to read: My long commute may suck a LOT but it at least gives me an opportunity to read. Or sometimes not read if I feel like listening to music but the point is I have a bunch of time to read which is nice.
2. Means to buy books: I certainly do not have ALL THE MONEY but I do have enough to cover my bills with some leftover for books. I think I need to make the effort to use the library so some of that leftover can go somewhere other than books, but it's nice that I have the option.
3. This blog: I may not have all the time I used to to keep up with this blog, but I still heart it and I'm still making the effort to be here as often as I can.
4. The people I met cos of this blog: You people (and if you're reading this you can pretty much guarantee you're one of these people) are the reason I'm still writing this blog. I love the readalongs and minithons and general meeting-and-talking-to people who have become great friends.

I know there are more things but I won't continue listing them. There are important things to get to
Hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving/day of eating lots of food and lots to be thankful for.

*And unfortunately, as with previous years, Tom is staying up here because of work. Would-be-robbers should take note the house will not be empty so no funny business.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The mischief began modestly enough

Back in October I got an email from Meghan at Little Brown that said basically Alice recommended that I might like this book that dealt with creativity and awesome things and dinosaurs and OF COURSE I was up for that! (I told Meghan she should probably mention dinosaurs and Alice in all pitches.) A week or so later I got not only the book What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night by Refe and Susan Tuma, but also a couple of my own mischievous dinosaurs and a box of art supplies.
Refe and Susan are parents of 4 small children who one day received a box of hand-me-down toys. Included in the haul were a bunch of plastic dinosaurs. One day Susan set a couple of the dinosaurs out around the kids' bathroom, not thinking too much of it. At least until the next morning when the kids dragged their parents into the bathroom to show them how the dinosaurs came to life. From that point Refe and Susan decided every night the dinosaurs would come to life again. And again. And again, every night in November. And then they took pictures of it and now it's here in this book.

If they just set the dinosaurs up around the house, that would be one thing. But Refe and Susan are COMMITTED to this game and the dinosaurs DESTROY things. Break plates. Smash windows. SPRAY PAINT THE WALLS. Kudos to them for going whole hog when it comes to these dinosaurs.

It's a cute book and it's clear the Tumas are super creative. Hopefully they'll keep dinovember going. I had a TON of these plastic dino toys when I was little, so there's lots of nostalgia here.

As I mentioned, along with the the book, Little Brown sent along a couple dinosaurs and art supplies so we could set up our own dino stories. I do not have the level of commitment the Tumas have to actually destroy any of my things or parts of my home. Instead of destroying my house, I do have a bunch of pictures showing the courtship between these two because I'm an adult and this is what I spent my time doing. You know, before I had the dinosaurs act as my espresso guards.

Gotta work up the nerve to ask Bronti out
First date: coffee & books.
Adventure date. LOOK AT THAT ROCK!
Fancy dinner, popping the question
Wedding day! (with Mr. Met)
Yup. I'm an adult.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 3

Tuma, Refe and Susan. What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night. Little Brown, 2014.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Time To Minithon!

Once again it is time to take part in a mini readathon hosted by the lovely Tika at Reading the Bricks!
For those of us with too much to do/far too lazy to read for 24 hours, we have the minithon which is yes, about reading but MOSTLY about snacks and excuses for why our choices count as mini (the more ridiculous the better).

I was planning on getting things figured out/making up excuses this morning because of course I did no planning ahead of time. But then that didn't quite work out.

See, this week commuting has been super annoying, and it came to a head yesterday morning. I was heading towards the subway when I saw the people in front of me start to run. So I start to run because shit, the train is here. But there were too many people moving WAY too slowly and by the time I got to the bottom of the stairs, the doors closed. As I was cursing that, the strap to my laptop bag broke. WEeeeeee.
You, sir, are an asshole
Tom and I spent this morning looking for a laptop bag and FUN FACT, apparently no one uses these anymore? Or at least those that do either like A) really ugly bags or B) super expensive (and still ugly and not super practical) bags. So this morning was a bust both in bag acquiring and 'thon planning. So let's see what I can manage now.

For snacks, I haven't really made it that far. I still have leftover Halloween candy* and those are tinier than full size candy bars, so probably that. I'm thinking of making some sweet potato chips which are much smaller than whole sweet potatoes so, mini. I also made myself an espresso which is in a teeny cup. MOAR MINI. Other food...I'll come up with something.
Mmm caffeine
I have my reading nook made up with the most COZY BLANKET EVER. I also have the new coffee table which I still love (cos fancy TV tray) despite the fact that it tried to hobble me. I realize none of that is mini BUT I have a couple mini-dinosaur mascots so, mini.

As for reading (oh yeah. THAT) I'm thinking I'm going to finish listening to the audiobook Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs which is about a bunch of things you can do to be the HEALTHIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD and some of that is to lose weight and thus become smaller, so.

Then there's What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night by Refe and Susan Tuma and it's children's book and children are little people.

Then lastly I'll probably keep making my way through The Collector by John Fowles, which is about a crazy person that kidnaps this girl and keeps her in a little room. Again little. I am so good that this.


UPDATE: Minithon is completed.
I managed to finish Drop Dead Healthy and I think audiobooks are the way to go for these 'thons cos then I can be on Twitter and whatnot WHILE STILL reading.

I also finished What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night but given that book is 90% pictures (more if you don't count the intro in the beginning, but you should probably read that intro) perhaps not that impressive. BUT STILL, 2 books down! I'll have a post about that book soon, along with the collection of pictures I took with the caffeine guards.

I read a bit more of The Collector and might do some more later but for now I'm done.

Snacks were had. Some snacks. Some candy, some cake, some sweet potato chips (the kitchen still smells like fried), some eggs (little pre-chickens), and plenty of caffeine. Tom has come home so now it's time to figure out dinner (MOAR FOOD) and I guess stop laying on the couch for awhile.

Thank you again Tika for hosting this minithon. As usual, lots of fun and there was even some reading done!

*BTW for those of you who won soap I AM SO SORRY I haven't sent it out yet. I have no excuse other than I'm stupidly lazy. BUT you'll be getting a bunch of Halloween candy as well. And if I take that much longer to make it to the post office, prob some more treats. I'm sorry.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hyperbole is alright

HaHA I bet you thought I was going to say something hyperbolic there. You'd only be mostly right, since that was the original plan.

Anyway, it's been awhile since I shared a PBS Idea Channel video and also I don't have anything else to write about (except, you know, several reviews I should probably get to) so hey, why share the video titled LITERALLY OUR MOST AMAZING EPISODE EVER!!!

For those of you who haven't watched it (yet) it is about our (meaning us denizens of the interwebs) use hyperbole pretty much all the time and what happens if you need to talk about something that is actually THE BEST THING EVER.

I was trying to come up with something clever to say here but I got nothing. I was thinking well I agree with what's said here and I use hyperbole ALL THE TIME and perhaps I should stop doing that. Then I thought about it some more and I'm good. I'm good with my hyperbole, at least right now. I agree with everything in this video. I think he makes good points and I'm sure at some point I'll change. Or the general internet culture/language will change. I just follow the crowd. But the point is, I needed a post and here's a video you guys should watch.


Monday, November 17, 2014

"Can we go back and start over?" "How far back?"

It took me a long time to pick up Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I have no idea why but this seems to be a thing I do with all of her books. I know it's going to be AMAZING but I don't pick it up right away. Or maybe "so I don't pick it up right away." Perhaps I'm holding onto it as a "I know I'm going to love this so when I'm in a slump I'll have something to read that will suck me in." You'd think I'd know since it should be as easy as asking myself, but myself doesn't really know why it does what it does. I think it was Meg's review that finally made go "I need this in my life now" and thus I began.

Unlike her previous books (Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl) Landline isn't about new love. It's about worn in love. It's about a couple that has been together for years. They've gone through the first glances, the first kisses, the butterflies. Now they've been married for 15 years, have 2 kids, and the butterflies aren't really there. It's not that they don't love each other anymore, but when Georgie decides to stay in L.A. and work on a pilot for her dream show instead of going with Neal and the girls to Nebraska for Christmas, well, is love enough?

But something strange happens. While staying at her mom's Georgie finds she can talk to past-Neal using an old yellow landline phone at her mom's house. The Neal from when he and Georgie were early in their relationship, still in college. Can talking to past-Neal help her fix the problems with present-Neal? Should she?

The tone here is closer to that of E&P, more serious, less fluff, but don't think that means it's missing Rowell's humor and banter. I love Rowell's style.
Neal didn't take Georgie's breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay - that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.
Seth and Scotty brainstormed. Georgie brain-hurricaned.
And the banter! Have I mentioned the banter?
When were you smiling? No one in your family smiles. You're a dynasty of wasted dimples.
"You didn't make me go," he said.
"You can't
make me do anything - I'm an adult. And I'm much stronger than you."
"Upper body strength isn't everything; I have wiles."

"Not really."

"Yes, I do. I'm a woman. Women have wiles."
And I haven't even mentioned all of the other characters. Georgie's writing partner, Seth, her mom, her sister, her kids. They're full characters who feel like they exist outside of Georgie and Neal's story.

I loved this book. Obviously. It's Rowell and I expected to love it and of course she didn't disappoint. I've given up trying to rank her books. I love them all, don't make me choose. If you haven't read
any of her stuff yet, I encourage you to reconsider your life choices and rectify this problem. Landline isn't a bad place to start.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 127

Rowell, Rainbow. Landline. St. Martin's Press, 2014. Kindle

Friday, November 14, 2014

Come along with me, in search of Dr. Seuss

I was hoping to have another review to post this week, but clearly that didn't happen. A couple late nights, a broken toe*, and here we are, with only one review. BUT THEN Alice wrote a post about Andrea Martin aka Aunt Vuola in My Big Fat Greek Wedding which made me think of Dr. Seuss (for reasons) and I decided I wanted to write about that! And now here we are.

I loooooved Dr. Seuss. I love him now. When I was little TBS used to do a month dedicated to Dr. Seuss, which mainly meant they'd show a bunch of the cartoons made from his work. Among the cartoons was this movie, In Search of Dr. Seuss.

In Search of Dr. Seuss is sort of a documentary. I mean it is in the sense that it is about the life of Dr. Seuss. BUT it's still about Dr. Seuss so how much sense would it make to have a documentary about the guy be very serious and dry? No sense at all, is the answer. Or something that rhymes and also includes a made up animal is actually the right answer but I'm not nearly as clever as Seuss so I can't come up with that.

In the documentary/movie Kathy Najimy plays a reporter looking to get the inside scoop on Dr. Seuss so she goes to this crazy house and meets this sorta creepy guy (Matt Frewer) who tries to get rid of her. She sees this book and creepy guy starts freaking out when she goes to open it (yet he doesn't actually move to stop her so...) Once she opens it, she's sucked into this Seussian world and that creepy guy is now a sort of creepy Cat in the Hat (but 1000x less creepy than Mike Meyers CitH)
I'd trust him with children
and they go on this journey exploring Seuss's life, told mostly by his characters. It answers important questions like:

What if we had Eileen Brennan play an adult Cindy Lou Who (with a little bit of PTSD) reminiscing about the Grinch?
How awesome would it be to have Robin Williams read the Cat in the Hat to a couple small children?
Why don't we tell the story of Yertle the Turtle via gospel choir AND ALSO rap?
Why not, indeed?
WHO ELSE IS IN THIS? You're asking yourself? WELL
Patrick Stewart
Christopher Lloyd
Billy Crystal
Howie Mandel
Andrea Vuola
David Paymer
This guy

Obviously, this is the best thing ever. Would you like to watch it? It's on YouTube (naturally, and with Spanish subtitles so, bonus?) so there you go. Enjoy. Now I'm going to go sing that intro song for awhile.

*Have I mentioned that I'm basically a human disaster? The short story is I wanted to put together this new coffee table we got and while doing so I dropped one of the (very heavy) legs on my toe. I cried and yelled for about 10 min, wrapped my toe in a tissue (cos of course I cut it also), finished putting the table together, made dinner, then sat on the couch admiring the table and icing my foot. It's all sorts of pretty colors now. The toe, that is. The table does not change colors. I band-aided the toe to its neighbor to keep it from moving around too much, and otherwise I'm pathetically limping around.The broken toe goes well with the stitches on my head.**
**I had this NON-SERIOUS bump thing removed after having it for a gazillion years. The stitches weren't an accident, but that hasn't stopped me from whining about them.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What is the most villainous move on the market?

I keep checking my drafts folder thinking "Maybe I was smart and started a post about this book around the time I finished it, so I have something to work off of now." And every time I check I am disappointed that there's nothing there. I also continue to NOT start a post about whatever book I just recently read, thus continuing the cycle. Hooray, responsibility.

At some point I was wandering around my local bookstore thinking about how I would change the layout and looking for something new to read when I stumbled on Chuck Klosterman's book I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) and I thought "Why not".

I read his Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs a while ago (pre-blog) and I think I read Fargo Rock City around that time as well, but I can't really remember which doesn't say much for that book. It does, however, serve as a good reason for me to keep this blog up so I can, you know, remember what I read. Anyway, I haven't read any books from Klosterman in awhile BUT I do read the guy regularly cos at some point he took over writing the NYTimes Magazine column "The Ethicist" and while I read embarrassingly little of the newspaper (despite the fact that it's delivered every weekend AND comes with an online subscription so I could read it ALL THE TIME) I always read his column. So I figured this would be an entertaining option.

Klosterman talks about the concept of villains in pop culture and what that says about us. How villains may be evil, but they're also the character people seem to like the best. He talks about the thin line between vigilantes and criminals a la Death Wish and the guy, Bernhard Goetz, who did his own version of Death Wish. He talks about 80s hair bands and 90s gangsta rap, how terrible we collectively were to Monica Lewinsky and not Bill Clinton, and what a successful dick Perez Hilton is.

Here's what Klosterman says the book is. Or rather, what it isn't:
And most notably, [this book] will not be a repetitive argument that insists every bad person is not-so-bad and every good person is not-so-good.  Rational people already understand that this is how the world is. But if you are not-so-rational - if there are certain characters you simply refuse to think about in a manner that isn't 100 percent negative or 100 percent positive - parts of this book will (midly) offend you. It will make you angry, and you will find yourself trying to intellectually discount arguments that you might naturally make about other people. This is what happen whenever the things we feel and the things we know refuse to align in the way we're conditioned to pretend.
Here's the thing. Much like his other two books, I honestly can't remember much about this one. I know I'm behind on my reviewing but it hasn't been that long, yet I can't remember any details of this book.  And I read Bad Feminist longer ago, and yet I remembered enough of that one. I do remember vague feelings while reading it: entertaining but kinda pretentious. Even looking at the titles of the essays isn't bringing back any memories, although skimming through random pages is helping. And It's making me think "Hey, this sounds good! I bet I'd like this" before I remember that "yes, I've read this. Supposedly."

I guess if you see this sitting around, give it a try. If you're a fan of Klosterman, you'll probably like it. If you're not, it's not bad, just not really memorable. I may read it again at some point and at that time I'll update this if I come up with any new thoughts.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 9

Klosterman, Chuck. I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined). Scribner, 2013.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

October Reading Wrap-Up

How did October go for me? I honestly forgot that one month ended and a new one began and therefore I didn't get around to writing my wrap-up post till now. Good job, me. But now I've remembered that November is actually a different month (and by that I mean I'm finally getting around to reading blog posts and saw Kayleigh's wrap-up) which means it's time for me to tell you what I read last month! Hooray.

Number of books read
Misery by Stephen King
Maus II by Art Spiegelman
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
I'm Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Number of pages read

Percentage of fiction read
50% - whoa 1/2 non-fiction

Percentage of female authors
50% - BAM

Percentage of white authors
100% - sigh

Percentage of US authors
100% - double sigh

Percentage of ebooks

Percentage of rereads

Percentage of review books

Books written by decade
1950s - 25%
1980s - 25%
1990s - 25%
2010s - 25%

Books by genre
Horror - 50%
Graphic novel - 25%
Memoir - 25%

Look how even last month was! That's nuts. Except around white US people. That was pretty much status quo, which I really need to work on.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Change requires intent and effort

I should really catch up on my reviewing because I feel like every book I've been writing reviews for I read roughly a billion years ago. At this rate December is going to be FULL of horror story reviews.

Anyway, remember how awhile ago how people were reading and raving about Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and how having a review around that time would have been really relevant? Yeah, I'm just getting to it now.

I'm not sure when I first heard about Roxane Gay's collection of essays, but I know a bunch of people with good taste were reading it and saying good things about it so at some point I saw a copy on sale at my local bookstore and decided I must have it. It was a good call.

As I pretty much literally just said, Bad Feminist is a collection of essays. Most of them deal with feminism. Actually, I guess all of them deal with it in varying degrees, some more overtly than others. Some are about how she's a bad feminist because she falls short of certain feminist values, others are about feminism and race, my favorite is about Gay's love of Scrabble. There are a bunch of pop culture references (Hunger Games, Gone Girl, Django Unchained) that I'm sure are going to date the book in the future but for now I enjoyed. The pop culture reference make difficult topics more accessible.

The book is split into 5 sections:
Me, which, duh, focuses on her with essays like "Typical First Year Professor" and "To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically" (the Scrabble essay)
Gender & Sexuality, which is the longest section and has pieces like "How To Be Friends With Another Woman" and "Blurred Lines, Indeed"
Race & Entertainment, which has "The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods and Other Quaint Remembrances of 1960s Mississippi: Thoughts on The Help" and "The Morality of Tyler Perry"
 Politics, Gender, & Race with "The Politics of Respectability" and "A Tale of Two Profiles"
and finally Back to Me with Bad Feminist, Takes 1 & 2

She's tackling some serious topics, and while the essays aren't necessarily light-hearted (at least not all of them) they don't feel like you're being lectured to, or worse yelled at. Things don't feel hopeless and those pop culture references give you a way to think about and work with these ideas and a language that is easy to understand.

To the title. She calls herself a "bad feminist" saying:
I openly embrace the label of bad feminist. I do so because I am flawed and human. I am not terribly well versed in feminist history. I am not as well read in key feminist texts as I would like to be. I have certain...interests and personality traits and opinions that may not fall in line with mainstream feminism, but I am still a feminist. I cannot tell you how freeing it has been to accept this about myself.
Pretty much she is a feminist, if not a "Professional Feminist." So you know, she's an actual feminist instead of some idea of what one should be or has to be. Love it.

I wish I had this as an ebook (or I guess had it as well as an ebook) so I would have a bunch of quotes already highlighted to share with you. You should probably just read this.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 172

Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist. Harper Perennial, 2014.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Memory meme. How long can I go without cheating?

I realize my blog has been a bit survey/meme happy this month. There's a reason for that: I am lazy. Wait, no, I'm always lazy. This month is different because work has been intense throughout October. Quarter closes are always more hectic than usual, and the fall is always when things start to pick up after the relatively-slower summer and October is when both of these come together in a hurricane. My mantra for most of this month has been "Just get to the 31st. Get there. Once we get past that, it's clear skies." I was going to try to write another review but instead Sarah (who has been my survey/meme source this month and THANK YOU for that) graciously posted this meme so I'm gonna do that instead.

The rules to this thing are answer the questions in the image below without searching your books/the internet for answers. Also something about tagging 5 people to do this but I'm going to skip that part cos REBEL. But you should probably do it too, so we can all see how terrible our memories are. I'm sure Google has ruined mine.

1. Name a book written by an author called Michael: OH MAN, look at me being able to answer the first one. The Poet written by Michael Connelly, which I read for a college class AND he came into the class to talk so I also got my book signed. So there you go. One question DOWN

2. Name a book with a dragon on the cover: That Ergon one? It looks like "dragon" but with vowels at the beginning. Some copies of The Hobbit probably have a dragon on the cover.

3. Name a book about a character called George: Curious George the monkey. That's a George character. Now, let's see. I'm supposed to name the book so...Curious George Goes To The Zoo? I have no idea if that's actually a book but it sounds like it could be, right?

Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith: Zadie Smith? Is that her name? If so White Teeth? Am I right?

5. Name a book set in Australia: In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. Oh, I'm sorry, did you want something other than a memoir/travel type deal? Then The Rosie Project DOUBLE ANSWERED.

6. Name a book with the name of a month in the title: Uh oh. I think I'm in trouble now. OK I've tried to come up with something for a solid 5 minutes and I'm getting nothing. But I double answered 5 so yeah, I'm still good.

7. Name a book with a knife on the cover: Kitchen Confidential by Antony Bourdain? I actually think it might be a sword, but he probably USED it like a knife.

8. Name a book with the word "one" in the title: Um. Crap. I'm blanking. Does Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? count? There's a one shoved in there. Cos otherwise the only thing my brain is giving me is "This one time, at band camp" and unless that's a memoir from Allison something (I remember her first name cos it's mine. Her last name isn't mine and thus I forget it. Hannigan? Something like that?) I got nothing else.

9. Name a book with an eponymous title: So, since I'm not supposed to internet things, I suppose this means I can't double check what eponymous means. Does it mean the title is a name? Like Hamlet?

10. Name a book turned into a movie: Thank you for the easy one cos I was struggling with the last few. The Shining by Stephen King because Halloween time.

PHEW OK, now that I've gone through and answered I NEED to check if I'm right on some of these.

2. Dragon book? Got them both right! WIN!

3. Did George go to the zoo? I found one book Curious George Visits the Zoo and thought I was screwed, but apparently the bugger has made several trips and another book is called Curious George Goes to the Zoo. Win again!

4. Is it Zadie Smith? It is! And she did write White Teeth!

6. Month book: I asked Tom if he had any ideas and he sounded really confident for like 1/2 a second before going "Oh wait. Ummm" and finally giving up. I Googled it and found a list of books I've never heard of plus The Hunt for Red October by...some guy. I literally looked that up 10 seconds ago and already forgot. Good job, me.

7. Is that a knife or sword? I'm looking at the cover I have and I'm honestly still not sure. BUT I found a different cover of Kitchen Confidential that most definitely features knives. So. I still win.

8. Does "everyone" really count? Yes, it does. Dammit. But in case it doesn't (in this quiz no one is scoring) I looked through my shelves till I found Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.

9. Have I forgotten all my vocab lessons? Possibly. I looked up eponymous and I think I got it right.

Alright, now to go actually read Sarah's post, since I couldn't do that BEFORE answering, lest I influence my own responses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Will you free us from the tyranny of William Shakespeare?

In my quest to expand my graphic novel/comic book knowledge*, I decided to give Kill Shakespeare Vol 1, written by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col, with art by Andy Belanger a try. Cos, you know, Shakespeare. Seems like a good bridge between things I like and things I want to like.

This is only the second graphic novel I've read that was more along the lines of, at least what I think of as, a traditional comic. I've read Maus I & II, Fun Home, and Hyperbole & A Half which are really their own thing. I also read The Watchmen back when the movie came out and I borrowed it from my brother and I thought it was...fine. Later I tried the first issue of The Walking Dead and gave up after about 10 pages when I realized I was barely skimming it. I've found the style difficult to get into. I fly through the panels with no speech, missing every detail and I have trouble slowing myself down. All of this is to say I went in with some trepidation but ultimately everything worked out.

Kill Shakespeare is a mash-up of all of the most well-known Shakespeare characters: Hamlet and Richard III and the Macbeths and Falstaff and Juliet and Othello and Iago AND MORE! The plot is its own thing. It opens with Hamlet waking up on an unknown shore. Hamlet got on that boat with Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, but a vision by a specter calling him the Shadow King and a pirate attack changes the course of the original play a bit.

Richard III finds Hamlet and strikes up a deal with him. See Hamlet's arrival has apparently been predicted by the stars and he's fated to be this Shadow King. The Three Witches (from Macbeth) will bring Hamlet's father back to life if Hamlet will find the wizard Shakespeare and bring Richard his quill. Richard's teamed up with the Macbeths and Iago in the hopes of gaining power and in general being jerks. As they do.
During the journey to find this Shakespeare, Hamlet gets separated from Iago and winds up with Falstaff who introduces him to Juliet and Othello. The three of them are very much on the side of this wizard Shakespeare and just as Richard III said it was prophesied he would show up and help them kill Shakespeare (like the title!), Falstaff believes the prophesy means Hamlet is supposed to find Shakespeare and bring him back to defend his believers.

Who to trust? Well, I mean, we know but will Hamlet figure it out? What will happen if Richard III gets all the power he desires? Will Juliet be able to help the believers?

If comics aren't really your thing but Shakespeare is, I would give this a try. There are lots of references to the original plays thrown in here and there but overall you don't need to know the plays to enjoy this. Though I do think it'll help. Some of the layouts I really liked, especially those of Hamlet and Falstaff wandering through the forest. And others I was less into. Some of the battle scenes that I think were supposed to be really tense made me laugh. Female representation isn't bad. It isn't great. There are really only 2 main female characters (Lady Macbeth and Juliet) compared to 5 guys, but given the character pool we're working with, it's not super surprising. They also sort of fall into 2 typical "strong female character" tropes, but given most of the characters fall into some sort of stereotype, it's again not super surprising.

I've been on the lookout for Volume 2, though so far no luck. But I will keep my eye out for it cos I would like to see where this story goes. It's not my favorite graphic novel (when you're up against Maus it's really not fair), but I enjoyed. And I'll slowly make my way into more graphic novels.

Gif Rating

*If you want a great list of graphic novels to check out, but you're not really sure what to go for, take a look at Kayleigh's post Pages to Panels: A Bookish Guide to Getting Into Comics. It has given me a BUNCH to pick up. Cos my TBR wasn't long enough.

Title quote from some page but I dunno which one cos there are no page numbers. Early-ish

Belanger, Andy, Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery. Kill Shakespeare: A Sea of Troubles (Volume 1). IDW Publishing, 2010.