16 May 2015

#Minithon Time!!

Good morning, Minithoners! How are you? Ready? I need coffee. In fact, I'm scheduling this post because odds are I'm still crawling out of bed and not fit for human consumption/interaction quite yet.

BUT NO MATTER! It's the Minithon! What are you reading? What are you eating?? I went to Trader Joe's and walked out with a not-very-mini amount of food, but at least I should manage to stay fed for a few days. I bought an entire chicken for roasting. When is that going to happen? Ehhhhhh. Soon. Here's what I intend to eat some of today!

Like I wasn't going to get the MINI PIES. Pfffft. It's not my first day, Trader Joe's.
Those cookies that are front and center? They were in the endcap on the register, and the guy who rang me up watched my entire thought process of, "do-de-do-de-do...what are THOSE..." ::picks up box, eyes light up, throws in cart:: They're made better because of the ridiculous name. I bet they'll go really well with the half-pint of Ben & Jerry's that's in my freezer right now! Breakfast, anyone?

Oh wait books! Okay. Well, it's still Friday night here but I have 40 pages left of Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes,* so assuming I finish that tonight, I'll be starting the next book for the Minithon. There is at least one child in it, and even more important it's set in the gestational age of these United States, and there ain't much smaller than things gestating, so I'm covered there.

I'll also want to knit or spin at some point and I've got the Neverwhere adaptation queued up to start, which is only 3.75 hours and thus an abridgement of the original. Easy.

The clock is ticking, people! Get on Twitter and let's do this thing! (If you feel like blogging about it, here's a linky! If you're micro-blogging -  that is, joining us via social media - leave a note in the comments and make sure to use #Minithon!)

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OH! One more thing. If you do post, feel free to just update it for the end. We're easy around here like Saturday morning, when you're not even expected to get up for church or brunch. 

* Now you know why I haven't been book-blogging since January. This series is so big you guys, but it's a candy floss reading kind of year so far. More on that later, after coffee and the Minithon. 

11 May 2015

It's #MINITHON Time Again!

YOU GUYS I have decided that joining challenges is just not a thing I am good at. I get all excited and post one post (::cough::) and then I wander off, fully intending to actually blog about my reading but I DON'T and it's just a disaster.

So, to reinvigorate my blogging - the reading has taken a hit as well, but a much smaller one - let's have a Minithon this Saturday the 16th, shall we? I miss your faces. Or at least, your snarky comments.

If you're here after I've been away from the blog this long, you most likely already know the rules but a little recap can't hurt!

Accepted and Agreed-upon Minithon Guidelines are as follows:

1) Mini-everything! Mini snacks, mini naps, mini discussions (aka tweets, hashtag #minithon), and of course, some justification of why your reading material falls into the category of "miniature," the sillier the better.

2) Just 8 hours, beginning to end. We will begin at 8am Pacific time (that's 4pm UK, Laura!). And when we end at 4pm PT, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief at a job well done.

3) Two posts: one at the beginning-ish and one at the end! I'll be queueing mine up on Friday night because 8am on a California Saturday is for coffee, not for blogging.

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01 January 2015

Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon

This is BOOK TWO of the Outlander series. If you care about spoilers and have not read book one [or if you have only seen the show (whyhaveyounotseentheshowjustlookathim)], you've been warned.

Amazon Link

I first read Outlander on the longest. planeride. ever. back in 2003, but somehow I didn't realize it was a series because I was in my "punk rock journalist" phase and wasn't reading books (that didn't last long, Music is loud.). So back when book 6? 7? came out, I read the whole extant series. Now that the show is happening and there's a new book out, I'm revisiting over the holidays.

Here is how you feel when you finish Outlander:

And here is what happens when you start chapter 1 of DiA:

Then you go to Goodreads or Amazon or Diana Gabaldon's website and check to see if somehow the publishers are calling any old follow-up a sequel these days, and what is the language coming to? But no, this is definitely book 2.

If you'd asked me before I started this re-read, I'd have said that one of the strengths of the Outlander series is how Gabaldon avoids the trap of having her characters interact with Famous People from the Past at every available opportunity. By-and-large, that's still true as far as I remember, but I had forgotten this book.

Errrrone be famous in here. It's like one of those movies with the poster full of Name Brand Actors, and I'm really glad that Gabaldon shifted away after this book. There are dukes and duchesses and Ladies of the Court, two kings (or rather, a Real King and a Boy Who Would Be King), a bunch of Highlander chieftains, and probably some other famous characters I didn't recognize. And all of them looooove Jamie and Claire. Which is fine but you have to be willing to take your disbelief and put it on a slow ship to somewhere Far Far Away (Madagascar? Sierra Leone? Rio?). I like fantasy and time travel so I am very experienced at this particular trick. Plus Jamie is an idealized man and Claire is, of course, all of us ladies who deserve an ideal husband, so of course everyone would simply adore them both.

This is the book where the Frasers try to change history so that the massacre at Culloden doesn't happen, and I'm a little embarrassed to say that as much of an Anglophile as I am, approximately 98.7% of my knowledge of Scottish history comes from these books; Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Gaskell, and Hardy have all failed me in this regard and should be properly ashamed of themselves. Needless to say, those of us acquainted with the Rules of Time Travel know that there are fixed points in history that have to happen, and apparently Culloden was one of them. Something something about being able to change little things but not major events, blah blah.

Most of the book is spent at the court of whichever Louis was king at that point - I've returned the book so I can't look it up - and we get some interesting observations about What Life Was Like Back Then. Mostly cold and smelly, it would seem. We also meet Fergus, who is one of my favorite characters; I have a thing for plucky orphans.

The story is crafted well enough that by the end, you've mostly forgotten the WTF moment at the beginning, so when it comes around again at the end, it's a bit of a shock. - quite the clever little device.

Outlander is great fluffy fun with a main course of Historical Fiction, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the whole thing. It is worth noting, however, that no one in these books gets the plague or sails down the river in a punt wearing a boater, so the Jury of Me is still out on whether Connie Willis still wins everything.

Just kidding. Of course Connie Willis wins everything. But the new show of Outlander has some pretty great knits in it, and also kilts.

8 out of 11 Highlanders in Full Regalia

I should also mention that I'm participating in the Cannonball Read 7's Full Cannon for 2015, wherein I intend to read and blog about 52 books. For those of you coming over here from there, a few notes:
- the alphabet tags are for the first letter of the title and the author's last name, respectively.
- I use my own rating system, which shifts around somewhat but always goes to 11.

22 November 2014

It Is Time!

WELCOME TO 8AM, my lovelies. Actually you're in the future; it's 12:39am as of this writing and I've been staying up FAR too late drinking (according to Minithon tradition), although this time I have a valid excuse as my German cousins are in town and there was a Gathering.

If I'm late to the Twitter, it's because I'm currently typing this with one eye firmly held shut. Rest assured I will arrive shortly with a silo of coffee and many apologies.

SNACKS! I went to Trader Joe's (bless) and picked up a multitude of mini-foods, which I fully intend to consume later:

The mini carrots are for HEALTH.
And my reading plan is to drink a shitload of coffee, then finish the audiobook of Gaskell's Wives & Daughters (of which I have less than a chapter left - a miniature amount), then to dive into the audiobook of The Hobbit (hobbits! Dwarves! They're all small and I am generally more appropriate and sensitive I swear). I've got some mid-grade children's books (mini-people!) for if I want to turn actual pages.

Turning actual pages takes effort, you guys. Minithons are not about effort, they are about indulgence and excuses reasons to eat and read whatever we want. Just put the literature in my ear holes and let's have no more about it. I turned down Queen Croissants because they have to proof overnight.

What are your plans? Link them below!
(We've got some newcomers this time around, and welcome! Usually we'll link our initial Minithon posts, then edit that post with an update at the end and point it out in the comments below.)

And now if you'll excuse me, it's 1:01am and there is a pillow that needs to meet my face.


Darlings, it is (nearly) finished. We started off beautifully and late (thank you all for not calling me at 8am) and then we dicked around on Twitter for awhile like usual and I read all your posts and then I settled down to the last 21 minutes of Gaskell's Wives & Daughters which is one of my absolute favorites but was cut one chapter short by Mrs. Gaskell's literally and literarily untimely death. Listening to the final chapter is always hard for me, because Mrs. Gibson does go on and on and I wish she wouldn't quite so much so that the story could have an ending instead. But of course that's not how things actually work, and I'm always left with a

feeling. It's so good, though. And you should listen to the audiobook because it is narrated by Prunella Scales of Fawlty Towers fame and she is an utterly delightful narrator.

Then I started the audiobook of The Hobbit and I am very close to 2 hours in, which means I did the actual activity of reading for more than 25% of the Minithon, which is a personal best! Go me!

What is that face sir? DO YOU MOCK ME?

I also ate half of the puff pastries, all of the chicken pot pie bites (super-delicious), and am about to reward myself with a mini-ice cream cone and then probably continue to listen to The Hobbit and knit for the rest of the day because I can and not because there's some rule telling me I should.

Minithons are the best, even when we have to share a hashtag with some sorority doing weird face-painting stuff for no discernible reason.

So, tell me! How did you fare? Upon what did you snack? WHEN DO WE DO THIS AGAIN? (I'm thinking April.)

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18 November 2014


Wait, is anyone even still here?
Well for those of you who are, IT IS TIME! Break out your comfy pajamas, kids, because it's time for a 

Yes indeed. As announced last week on Twitter, this Saturday, November 22, will be what is by my count our FOURTH miniature readathon. In January, we will have been doing these for two years

Look on our dedication to tiny snacks, talking about books on social media, small things in books, generally dancing around the idea of reading in any actual capacity, AND TREMBLE you 24-hour readathons with your prizes and your cheerleaders. We need none of you, for that is Too Much Effort.

We haven't done one of these for awhile because the one we planned for June went down in a fiery ball of OITNB Season 2 Release Weekend flames (see above re. too much effort...). But as far as I am aware, this weekend there are no major media events and in most of the northern hemisphere things seem to be getting rather chilly outside, so it's the perfect time to curl up with your book on your lap and your phone in your hand and tweet (#minithon) about how much you're really going to start reading any moment now.

Accepted Minithon Guidelines are as follows: 

1) Mini-everything! Mini snacks, mini naps, mini discussions (aka tweets),  and of course, some justification of why your reading material falls into the category of "miniature," the sillier the better.

2) Just 8 hours, beginning to end. We will begin at 8am Pacific time (that's 4pm UK, Laura!). And when we end at 4pm PT, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief at a job well done. 

3) Let's keep it to only 2 posts this time around - one introductory and one to close out the 'thon - so as to leave us plenty of time for... reading.  Alice has ironically proven herself the most motivated of us all and gotten a head start! 

See you at 8am on Saturday, lovers! 

04 August 2014

How to Build a Girl: In Which We Should All Be Kind... Later

It's 2:17am PST on Monday morning and there are 2962 people ahead of me in the internet queue to buy tickets to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet next fall. Not coincidentally, 2962 is the number of people I currently hate. It's up substantially from an hour ago but down from 10 minutes ago, when the number was 3045.

I really like sleep, so this evening before bed I was having second thoughts about this plan to rise at 1:55, buy tickets, and fall back into bed. I texted Megs to make sure I wasn't being crazy:

In the end, this was a sound plan.
Anyway, let's talk about other British Things We Love, shall we? Like Caitlin Moran and her delightful novel - which you can pre-order here! - wherein we spend most of this section learning about Johanna's deflowering, her adorable relationship with Krissi, and that Caitlin proooobably suffers from cystitis much like her heroine.

In time-honored teenaged tradition, Johanna amplifies her sex life before it's an actual Sex Life. But for her, once she actually has sex - a thing that is actually at issue as to when that happens because apparently I am not up on my British slang for making out and doing it (not ONCE has the word "snog" been used) - she is ready to do it all the time, forever and always. A sensible biological impulse, I suppose, but one that clearly amuses all of the adults in the room.

(This post is taking forever. It turns out that I have the focus of a particularly manic squirrel on crack at 3:01am, and there are still 2315 people on my I Hate You All list.)

Johanna's attempts to learn more about sex are hilariously true and so, so cringe-worthy. In the days before Internet porn, brought up in a strictly religious household in a small town with one high school, I learned about sex by piecemeal.  I built my own dubious library of knowledge based on Jean Auel and Jilly Cooper, with a fair bit of VC Andrews and Danielle Steele thrown in. Needless to say, reality did not match my imagination the first few times around. Perhaps if I'd had this book, I might have been better prepared for the "wait, what are you doing? Does that go there? Am I supposed to cuddle you now? Is it normal for you to fall asleep so qui-... okay I'm going to just lay here then. Can I reach my book?" realities of the relations between men and women.

Please remember it's 3:45am and there are still 1564 people I hate.
You can order this book here from Odyssey Books, employer of the fabulous and ever-patient-with-me  Emily Crowe, who is our hostess!

EDIT: 5:15am - I no longer hate anyone and am now in possession of an email that says I have tickets. Feeling pretty damned smug right about now.

03 August 2014

How to Build a Girl - In Which We Do Not Have Nits

Last week I had a case of the Serious Mean Reds and couldn't function beyond Work/Come Home and Watch Merlin - a show which has managed to keep my attention despite 1) the use of the words "okay" and "wotcha" in Camelot, 2) the costumers use of zippers and bare shoulders, and 3) the writers completely ignoring Actual Pre-Medieval Behavior Guidelines whenever it suits them.

So this week I owe you two posts, and two posts you shall have!

Okay but for serious, first you need to pre-order this book because it is amazing. And then go thank Emily for the GIF-Fest that this readalong has become.

We begin with Johanna on a plane for the first time, and this whole sequence is adorable. She recognizes a thing that never fails to surprise me, too: it's always sunny above the clouds. This is the kind of "every cloud has a silver lining" cliche that should make me crazy, but doesn't because it's true. Awwww.

And then she falls in Teenaged Love with a Celebrity, which is surely the worst kind of love ever and paradoxically doesn't only happen to teenagers, as evidenced by the Victorian-lass-worthy swooning I did earlier this year over a person I will never, ever meet in real life (probably for the best...). Anyway. Back to Johanna, who is at least of a proper age for this kind of thing.

This book is mostly hilarious "oh god, I remember that bit of being a teenager...::cringe::", but it's peppered with heartbreaking moments that feel familiar and... not... all at once. Johanna carefully brings her father a glass of Guinness from Ireland - one of those pre-2001 things that will absolutely confuse younger readers - and his reaction is merely, "Christ, that's flat." Christ, I would like to flatten YOU, sir. Do you not see the gesture she is trying to make? The approval she is trying to win? That she lost her father the day he fell off that building, and now she's lost her mother to post-partum depression and she's struggling in a family raised by ghosts and being a teenager is just. so. awful. already you are making it worse and giving me italics?

I slap you! 
And then, everything that Johanna feared comes to pass. Her father's benefits are being reduced, and... oh my heart. Oh, Johanna. This cannot be your fault. Caitlin couches her extremely pointed, very cogent remarks about poverty behind an extra layer of novelization - John Kite's remarks in a magazine article - but they are powerful, nonetheless. And how will Lupin ever discover who killed Laura Palmer? Spoiler: he won't. But neither will we, so you dodged that one, kid.

And now, Johanna, we need to have a sit-down discussion about your Drink of Choice. Don't worry, it'll be quick:

Class dismissed.
How you made it onto your train after a bottle of MD 20/20, five gins, and whatever else came afterward will be a matter of cognitive dissonance forever more. Was it one of those magical nights when you can drink everything in sight and not get shitfaced? Because I've had those. They're fantastic and you can't plan them or trust that they'll ever happen again. The one thing you can trust is that they will assuredly not be those nights in your 30s and you've waited for 3 months for all of your friends with babies to have babysitters on the same night and you finally get together. Nope.