30 January 2013

Attachments - Rainbow Rowell

This is a book aimed at people who read the internet, who love snark, have a soft spot for the cute IT guy down the hall, who are lonely for romance sometimes but know they have great friends, who are flawed, and who have the ability (along with said friends) to find themselves endlessly entertaining.

Basically, Rainbow Rowell wrote a book-cannon that is aimed in my exact direction. A paginated SCUD missile with the coordinates of my person embedded in its little wiry bits.

And it. is. great. Like, Kirsten Bell-loving-sloths-great.

Lincoln is the "internet security" guy hired to read and send threatening responses to any emails that get flagged through his company's email system - when really he'd pictured himself as a white hat hacker, saving his company from the Evil Internet. For you babies out there, this used to happen back in the 90's when bosses thought that if people had unlimited access to email, they would chat back and forth all day and not get any work done. (They were not far wrong, we've all just moved to gchat.)

Onward! Lincoln starts reading the email exchanges between Beth and Jennifer, discovers that they're talking about... him, and adorable hijinks ensue. I read this over Christmas and had to return it before I wrote down quotes, which is probably for the best because I would have just quoted the whole damn thing and that would probably have landed me in hot water with Rowell, who - aside from being a charming author - is an absolute HOOT on Twitter.

SO! Attachments. If you have not yet read it, you should do so! Tout de suite!

9.5 out of 11 Late Night Snack Machines

28 January 2013

Things I Learned while on a Juice Fast

For those of you not in The Know, Alice and I decided to go on a juice fast for 3 days last week and have been whining about it on Twitter for... well, let's just say we pre-gamed by complaining. A lot.

All of you, that is. I already did.

1) Chewing food is a privilege and I will treasure it henceforth.

2) Grease 2 is my go-to quoting movie. At least thrice in those 3 days, I have likened a Serious Conversational Subject to this paragon of film-making camp.

Well THIS needs to change.
3) There are plenty of puns and double entendres to be made about juicing.

My friends have done their best to make them all, multiple times. The advantage to drinking only juice for 3 days is that the jokes just get funnier.

4) Juice fasting can tear friendships apart. We never used to argue (about food) on the Twitter, but now we do - or did. It was mostly being lovingly told to STFU.

5) My digestive system clearly rides the short bus to work. People everywhere (and by "everywhere" I mean "on the internet," duh) said that when they went on juice fasts, their intestines rose up in revolt - so I was prepared to be thankful that my desk is close to the ladies room, and that the ratio of ladies restrooms to ladies in my office is 1:1. But no! MY intestines are pleased with this new direction and would like to continue along it, thankyouverymuch. Fabulous.

6) Pulling the meat off of a rotisserie chicken on the last day of a juice fast requires an ASTONISHING amount of willpower. That posole had better be worth it!  (ETA: It was. Recipe here.)

24 January 2013

Harry Potter HFriday - Post the Fourth

Hmmm, Chamber of Secrets, you are my least favorite Harry Potter book. I don't know precisely why - there's polyjuice potion and Moaning Myrtle and the Whomping Willow - which is one of those wizarding things that you think will just show up in book 2 but NO! we will need to remember these secrets for many books to come! Also, it is the FUTURE, people. Where is my flying car?!?

The Dursley's continue to be gross, Aunt Wassername is VILE, and then Harry goes to the Burrow and we see the wizarding world outside of Hogwarts. Is it everything you dreamed, my dears? The Burrow is the epitome of everything Harry always wanted: a boisterous, inclusive family, a loving mother, and Arthur Weasley who is so charming and bumbling and whose Spirit Disney Princess is obviously Ariel.

And then there's THIS GUY:

Gilderoy Lockhart is the best. Did anyone in the Harry Potter movies have more fun than Kenneth Branagh? I do not think so.

23 January 2013

The Emerald Atlas - John Stephens

Hey January, where did you go? I have been a busy bee, but let me tell you, this year is starting out so much less stressful, hurtful, and heartbreaking than last year. Not that it doesn't have another 330-some-odd days to kick me in the teeth, but the outlook is definitely brighter and I think 2013 and I just might be friends.

BOOKS! I have read several this year according to my Goodreads challenge, but I have reviewed none of them because I have been - as mentioned - BUSY. There was a read-a-thon! It was great. And now there is the Harry Potter Read-a-long (ALL THE GIFS!) which happens on Hfridays (the H is silent).

And for the second time, I have read this book!

The first time was in April of 2012 on Alice's recommendation, and by November when her review of book 2 come out, I had completely forgotten I'd read it, and that is shameful because this book is utterly lovely and also hilarious. There are orphans (possibly the most over-represented demographic in literature), dwarves, sarcasm, and no poncy centaurs to let us in on the little secret that Mars is bright tonight. ::side-eyes JK Rowling and her send up of the centaurs::

But by far the best character is one of whom we see but little: Miss Sallow, the old crab-backed housekeeper.

"I've made dinner, I doubt it will be up to the gourmet standards of the King and Queens of France, but it will have to do. Chop off my head if you don't like it; I'm past caring. This way, Your Highnesses." 

This being one of the first meals the children have had outside of an orphanage, mind you. What a delight.

And it's kiiiind of a standard story line, in that they are The Ones Who Will Save The World and their parents gave them up to Keep Them Safe, etc., but it's also charming and the kids have this really great relationship with each other that makes me want to hug my brothers. ALL of them.

Plus, it's one of THREE. I do love a trilogy.

8.5 out of 11 Wicked Countesses

17 January 2013

Harry Potter HFriday - Week the Third

Hey my favorite internet people!

I had A Thing to do involving family and stuff. But I read ALL your posts last week and chortled so much that my mom made me read some of them out loud, which was embarrassing because she caved and asked right about the time you all were making inappropriate comments about wizard pokers or some such. So good job making me feel like a teenager again!

Suffice to say I agree mightily with ALL of your quibbles and questions and queries and conundrums, especially the ones about wizard sewage and JK's rather fluid relationship with currency.

And here we are at the end of the book, and oh, JK. I am so pleased that you grew as a writer even though we have to get through Chamber of Secrets before the Good Stuff can happen.And while the first half was all fun and games and getting shut in the cupboard under the stairs for shit you didn't do, the second half is more OMG Harry has NO PARENTS and has never had Christmas presents and is probably a serial killer based on his upbringing. You know who else besides the Dursleys locked people in dark spaces for imagined sins?

This guy.
And we all know how Jodie Foster turned out. (On second thought, keep on keepin' on, Harry. She's pretty awesome and you wouldn't look like Jennifer Garner in drag. *sob*)

But back to the point I was trying to make, which is that this book is all about Harry finding his true home in the wizarding world. And gets an invisibility cloak like it's NBD, because he's Harry Potter. Speaking of which, WHERE did James and Lily get all this super-rare awesome shit and wizard dollars? How did they get rich? Not fighting the dark forces because Wizard England is not like Jane Austen England where captains got a portion of the spoils of war (where is my Temeraire movie, Hollywood? Dragons, costumes, ships! Get on that. ::glare::).

I particularly like the moment when MacGonagall says she couldn't looks Snape in the face after Gryffindor's loss to Slytherin the year before. And also the moment where Hermione is being such a snot about the levitating spell

Pretty sure I was like this as a kid. Pretty sure sometimes I still am.
But then it's the thing Ron remembers when push comes to shoving a wand up a troll's nose.  Awwww.

And there was the Mirror of Erised and the Christmas flute and Harry learning chess from Ron and possibly my favorite moment in the WHOLE SERIES is when Hermione loses her shit, goes full Muggle and shrieks that there isn't any wood to start a fire and Ron is all, "You're a WITCH!"

9.5 out of 11 Illegal Dragon Eggs. Onward!!

07 January 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Carla Rifka Brunt

How great is that cover? So great. 
I generally consider myself a stone cold (fox) of a woman; not a lot of things in real life make me cry - which my therapist says isn't something to be proud of, but what does she know? However, this book... this book, you guys.

I read the book jacket before starting in order to remind myself of what I was getting in to, which is always a stupid thing to do. Book jackets are designed to sell books, and they do a Very Bad Job of it. But my point is that the book jacket says those dreaded words, "debut novel," so I promptly tweeted this very snarky thing:

And then 40 pages later, when I was in a figurative flood of tears, I took it back. Because this is what a "debut novel" should be, written by someone with proven writing chops who has turned her face to long-form fiction, and it. is. gorgeous.

It is 1987, Junie is 14, and her best friend is her uncle Finn, who is a fabulous artist in NYC and also dying of AIDS. Quickly. Like, definitely before THIS narrative is over, let's just say that much.

So, here's the deal. This book is about loneliness and growing up and learning about yourself, and also about family relationships and how complicated they can be. And really,

because *I* have a gay uncle who is my favorite, and I am his favorite, and we both love art and Mozart's Requiem and while this isn't our story, it could have been, and I...

I actually had to put the book down a few times to SOB. So nice work, CRB. Puffy eyes at work is my best look.

9.5 out of 11 Clandestine Trips to NYC

05 January 2013

Mini Read-a-thon: Wrap Up!

Well, that went SWIMMINGLY, didn't it? How did you all fare? Myself, I managed to wake up late due to the mind-reading fail of my iPhone, and then I puttered around a bit and couldn't settle and then there was laundry to do because I do like clean pants (both the US and the UK kinds).

I have so far completed the reading of approximately a zillion blog posts and comments, snarked on Twitter with my read-a-thon buddies, eaten 4 mini-eclairs and 1/3 of a bag of mini-corn chips, and read a grand total of 106 pages.

All in all, a very fabulous afternoon with my bookish internet friends, I'm excited about books again, and everything is wonderful. As Megs said, one of these days we'll have to do re-enact this day while we're all in the same room - but then we'll probably abandon our books to talk.

Which is exactly how I like it.

Are You Reading Yet? Because I'm Not...

It's 2 hours in and I just woke up because that is the kind of leader I turned out to be. The kind who is too clever for herself and assumes her regular alarm will go off at 7:30am and then it DOESN'T because it is the WEEKEND. And I was so prepared for this last night you guys - I even filled the electric kettle ahead of time!

Oh iPhone, why can't you read my mind?

Anyway, yesterday I stocked up on mini-snacks at Safeway, which was probably a good idea if I wanted to survive the weekend as my fridge has looked like this since I moved in to my apartment in October:

Now I have mini-Tostitos on the counter and mini-eclairs and mini-cheese puffs in the freezer and the fridge part has an addition of salsa. Way to go on filling the fridge, T.

But I now have tea and a bra on and brushed my hair, so to the books, allons-y!

Half-way point UPDATE! 

I have read approximately 15 blogs, eaten a handful of mini-eclairs and mini-corn chips, had several distinctly non-mini cups of tea, and read exactly 23 pages of my book.

But there have been life/family things going on and I may have to abandon you all completely for the dreaded world outside my comfy apartment.

Clearly this does not merit a full check-in post. TWENTY-THREE pages.


04 January 2013

It's Harry Potter HFriday! (the H is Silent)

You guys, it's FINALLY HERE!!

This thing began - as so many things in our little segment of the book blogging world do - with an argument in the comments of Alice's blog about the merits of the Marauder generation and whether Sirius is awful or awesome, and then Megs mentioned that she's never read Harry Potter at all and we SELFLESSLY volunteered to read it with her so we can argue about what she should think. I think that was some time in August, so please behold our follow-through, Universe, and give unto us a brilliant read-a-long, culminating in a meet-up at BEA in May.

I'mma tell you right now that I'm a Ravenclaw, always have been, and all you who talk smack about my House because it's suddenly more popular than "brave" Gryffinwhore can eff RIGHT OFF; I've been here since you were all in elementary school.  Also I know how to use a semicolon.

If you need a bit of a kick-start on this or really on anything, you should hang with us on the Internet (shut up we are COOL) on Saturday for a Mini-Read-a-Thon! HP1 totally counts as a) it was written for mini-people and 2) there are goblins in it, which are ALSO mini-people but magical.

I hope all of you who are not doing this are prepared for Fridays for the next 5.75 months. We've been trawling tumblr for HP gifs for WEEKS.

03 January 2013

The Thing about Thugs - Tabish Khair

"Ranging from skull-lined mansions to underground runnels a ghostly people call home, The Thing about Thugs is a feat of imagination to rival Wilkie Collins or Michael Chabon." Book jacket, The Thing about Thugs
Well I've never read any Michael Chabon, but if you haven't yet discovered my deep and abiding love for this guy,

My favorite forehead in literature.

It was with only a little trepidation that I walked into this one because other members of the Cult of Wilkie read and recommended it - which is how it ended up on the library hold shelf in the first place. It  may shock you to be told that I am a sucker for great packaging, and things like full-edge bleeds and different fonts for different narrators in books make me happy. Also, language like this:
"It is the ghost of a true story that I tell in these once white pages." (4)
"Is that all we are: stories, words, breath? . . . Are we then nothing but the playthings of language?" (177-8)
Keep talking like that, Khair. 
And while the story is fantastic, this book is really all about the language. Khair is a master weaver of both words and story, which is so rare and precioussssssss that I want to close him up in a tower of my Enchanted April castle on the Italian coast - complete with rock-n-roll party boat, obvs - and make him write beautiful things for me forever (with access to the Internet, of course. Inspiration must come from somewhere).

8.5 out of 11 Uniques Phrenological Specimens