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Showing posts from October, 2011

Why Does Every Literary Novel Have to Be Described As 'Sensual' Nowadays?

Someone put Reese's Pieces in the reception candy bowl. Why would they do that? Of course I'm going to eat them all. Of COURSE.
As I typed that, I accidentally swallowed one whole. Not really a choking hazard, but not pleasant.
SO. Halloween! The day we're supposed to be all into scary things, only I do not like being scared, so boo to that. I'm very Let's Meditate on Happy, Good Things and Not Force Our Minds into Dark Places, which I guess could be an excuse for being a total wuss, but it's a BIBLICAL excuse, so bam (that's Philippians 4:8, for you heathens).
Let's see, candy, scary things, what Halloweenish thing hasn't been covered so far? Oh yeah -- VICTORIAN LESBIAN GHOST NOVELS.
Sarah Waters is the ultimate in respected ladies-loving-ladies authors, because her stuff is awesome. I usually like it because it takes place in Victorian times, and therefore has ladies bein' all "Oh, my stays seem to be a bit tight; would you loosen them for m…

"Then Miss Lavish said: 'Tut! The early Victorians.' Just imagine! 'Tut! The early Victorians.'"

Some of you might remember how very much I hated The Scarlet Pimpernel, published in 1905 and one of the most sentimental, shitty novels I've ever read. It made me regret my usual stance of pining for a bygone age, because if the people of that age liked Baroness Emmuska Orczy's writing, we would clearly not get along. But A Room With a View, published in 1908, semi-redeems that literary period in English history.
I've long avoided E.M. Forster's novels, partially due to a confusion with English novelist C.S. Forester (how am I not supposed to confuse those two?), who wrote The African Queen, which the 1951 super-awesome Katharine Hepburn/Humphrey Bogart movie was based upon. I read The African Queen while going through my teenage puritanical phase, and my young sensibilities were SHOCKED and thoroughly dismayed by the cavalier nature with which Mr. Forster discusses Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart's characters going to bed with each other. "SEX HAS NO PL…

Of Mysterious Circuses and Gay Teens

As I have commented to several people, I seem to have gotten more reading done after the Readathon than during it. Why this is, I do not know, although it's entirely possible that not being in the same house with my parents has something to do with it, as my father spent most of Readathon Day asking me about dinner and Christmas plans, and my mother spent it asking me if I wanted an electric blanket or, failing that, fleece sheets (answers: no and GOOD GOD YES).
Anyway, I finished more books. Which is good. Here are thoughts, as this is a book blog and should probably have fewer '80s music videos on it and more booky things:
The Night Circus O, Night Circus cover! How very pretty you are! I mean, I dunno what to say. My essential thoughts are that it was good-but-not-great. I'm not upset I read it, like I was with the terrible Time Traveler's Wife, but I don't think it's something that MUST be read by all. I kind of think of it as the book version of Avatar, only …

"and this was the least pleasant feeling in the world."

I have great amounts of love for YA lit. But a specific kind of it, which is what I'm going to term "fanciful and well-written lit for 10 to 12-year olds."
Part of it is assuredly centered in nostalgia, but the other part is that good books are good books. I might have a different reaction to The Mysterious Benedict Society now than I would have when I was 12 (or at least I hope I do), but it's still a Very Good Book and I thoroughly enjoyed it from my current vantage point.
Someone on twitter was discussing atrocities performed on Gaddafi before he was killed, and it made me think of A Series of Unfortunate Events. For those unfamiliar, it's semi-gothic, extremely funny, and consists of 13 books. The first nine are excellent. The others are okay until we got to the last one, entitled The End. I hate The End. It sucks. If I ever meet Daniel Handler, I'm going to scream at him, despite all the good work he did in the others.
...but that is not related to what hap…

Wherein Those Participating Are Awesome

Oh, calloo callay, readalong preparation posting! I know you're all just fraught with excitement, so I thought I'd post now as we're just about a week away from its beginning.
I couldn't find this book at the Open Books warehouse sale. And there's a way long line for it at the library, so today I sucked it up and bought it for Kindle.
I HAVE A SCHEDULE PREPARED. This book is 34 chapters, totaling 444 pages in hardcover. *does double take* WHAT? Ok. Well. It's good we have a month to read it then, isn't it?
We begin on the glorious day of November 1st, aka All Saints' Day. This is a Tuesday. What an auspicious day for beginning! I'll have a post here and whoever wants can comment on expectations/general thoughts pre-reading.
We check in every Tuesday, except for the last week, which is a Wednesday. Here's how I've broken it down thus far:
Nov 1st-8th: Chapters 1-9 Nov 9th-15th: Chapters 10-19 Nov 16th-22nd: Chapters 20-28 Nov 23rd-30th: Chapters 29-3…

Readathon Recap

Phew. Well. I went to bed around 1, which I had kind of sort of totally been expecting, BUT some amazing people stayed up and up and up (looking at you, Laura). The main thing I wanted to get out of this was a deeper sense of community among the book bloggers and that...sort of happened? Kind of? Mostly on twitter?

Anyway, here's my very last posting on it for this year. I'm sure your Google Reader feeds have been slowly getting back to normal. I would like to point out that some people posted updates every hour, so REALLY this wasn't terrifically bad. Also that I love you all and shall provide you with snacks if we ever meet in person. There, that makes things better, right? Right.
End of Event Meme
1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I mean, in terms of when I was actually participating, sadly enough, probably from 10-11 pm. I was really exhausted and falling asleep while reading about the congratulatory party for Pooh.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that yo…

Readathon the Third and Final Chapter (...Until I Do a Recap Tomorrow)

I am tired. I am lame. I am going to pass out to Parks and Recreation. But for those of you who are unlame, and for those who aren't doing the readathon but want VIDEO AWESOMENESS, I offer you the following:




I know what you're thinking. Harry Potter? A song from a video game? How could that be good? BUT IT IS. And I scoured the internet for an mp3 of that song, because it is amazing.
I've finished: Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
And they were both fantastic. I giggled approximately a billion times during Winnie the Pooh. Example:
"Christopher Robin!" he said in a loud whisper. "Hallo!" "I think the bees suspect something!"
I'm going to try to read some more of Happy Accidents, but I absolutely must go to sleep soon. I think I did about 300 pages? Which is, of course, padded, as Winnie the Pooh has a huge number of illustrations and fun textual layout that takes up space. But whatevs, I'm countin' it.
And, of cour…

Readathon, The Second Part

Ok, it's almost 7 p.m., which technically means I should've been reading for 12 hours. Has that happened? Well, no. But I DID go for a walk with my mother, go to dinner with my brother, and am now going out for a second dinner (no, I'm not eating) with my dad and other brother. Because of course today is the day everyone decides to socialize.
BUT. I HAVE FINISHED CATCHING FIRE, meaning my goal is done. Next up is Winnie the Pooh. Yeah, that's right. I've never read it, it's always on my readathon lists, I have a really nice copy of it, and I finally want to read it, damnit.

For those actually still reading, I AM MEGA PROUD OF YOU and shall reflect this in comments posted in your blogs soon. For now, have this thing I stole off a readathon cheerleader's site, 'cause, y'know, it's a Doctor Who episode (series 2, episode Tooth and Claw — watch it):

And that is why I love that show.
Lastly, I think we could all do with a Rick Astley dance party. SO LET…

READ-A-THON

Is anyone surprised I woke up at 9 instead of 7? I think not. LET'S DO THIS.

I think it's a good idea to edit posts and then do new ones every few hours, which is an idea I'm stealing from Ingrid at The Blue Bookcase.

Hour Supposed-to-Be 8.5

Yeah, sooo...I've been reading Catching Fire on and off, with kiiind of a lot of breaks as my various family members want to do things. But it's such a lovely fall day outside! And there were walks to be taken and leaves to be joyously kicked!

Let's do the Music Bath challenge.

1. What song does the book I’m reading right now remind me of?
 I don't have an unclich├ęd answer. The first thing that came to mind for The Hunger Games was 'Eye of the Tiger' by Survivor.

2. What song does my favorite book remind me of?
Er...well, that's sort of cheating, because there's a musical version of Auntie Mame (cleverly entitled 'Mame'), but it's the song Open a New Window from that that I think best tells wha…

Behold! As I Get Things Done and Prepare for Lengthy Reading

I'm in Champaign, Illinois instead of my beloved, noisy, crowded and cold Chicago. I decided to update, and as I was just typing this, my little (15-year-old) brother looked over my shoulder and said "Reading Rambo? Rambo doesn't read. Or maybe he does. We never really knew."
So true, little brother.
In preparation for the readathon, I have endeavored to accomplish the things I assumed would slow me down tomorrow. Therefore, today I have:
1. Ordered pizza. 2. Watched many, many episodes of Doctor Who. 3. Had the How's Your Future Shaping Up discussion with my dad.
I've been trying to read a bit, because I know I won't be able to READ ALL THE THINGS tomorrow, no matter how much I might want to.
I plan on going around and shouting encouraging things at those of you participating. And I feel like yelling at people like Red with "WHY ARE YOU SO LAME?" (love youuu) even if you all have perfectly good reasons for why you're not participating, such as &#…

Why Readathons Never Actually Work for Me

The 24 hour readathon is swiftly approaching, and I have started pondering how the day's going to go. I'm on Central Standard Time (i.e. The Best Time), so I'm technically supposed to start at 7. But I'll be visiting my parents. Judging by my knowledge of me -- which is fairly extensive -- and my family members -- which is extensive enough -- this is how I see the day going down:
9 a.m. - Awaken two hours late and immediately feel guilty for staying up late with my 15-year-old brother Brandon the night before, watching Doctor Who and eating tacos. Despite said guilt, I will immediately search for my laptop that surely fell off my bed some time in the night,as I have the hideous habit of falling asleep with my laptop open on my bed.
9:30 a.m. - Finish checking social media sites and maybe pick up one of several books that have surely also fallen off my bed. I store a lot of things on my bed.
10 a.m. - 12 p.m. - Consider my half hour of reading good enough, give myself rewa…

I'm Not OPENING a Book to Find Out If It's Good

I'm reading two books right now that I'd recommend to pretty much anyone. Not in a 'YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK IT WILL BE YOUR FAVORITE OMG' kind of way, but in a 'these are just kind of objectively good and I think everyone will at least enjoy them' way.

Those are, of course, The Night Circus and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Just read them. At some point. They're really good. Well. At least halfway through, which is how far I am in each one. If the second halves suck, not my fault.

Now, let's see. Top Ten Tuesday, book covers that made me pick up the book. This SHOULD be easy since I judge books by their covers like nobody's business, but my brain, she is lazy. Let's see what I can recall.

The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt - So...I haven't exactly read this yet. But I bought it the week it came out, because POSSESSION, YOU ARE THE GREATEST BOOK EVER. And look at the cover. LOOK AT IT. I would've bought this if I'd never heard of Byatt…

More Books? Sure, Why Not.

This pile is Julie's fault.
Our favorite bookstore, Open Books, had a warehouse sale. This means they had a big room with books laid next to each other in absolutely no particular order, so you had to scan every single book. So it was like treasure hunting for books. That's just not safe.
I went in having just purchased a bunch of books at another sale, so I thought 'Well. I'll get maybe a couple, see if they have The Help, but let's not load ourselves down with even more books that will sit on the shelf for forever and a day, because, missy, you already over over 150 unread books on your shelves — oh, I've counted! — and this will only add to the problem.'
You can see from the picture on the left that I completely suck at everything.
We ended up going halfsies on a boxful for $30, so this pile cost me $15. Let's list them, shall we?
Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi Anna Karenina, Tolstoy The No. 1 Ladies' D…

Real Life Interferes With Burying One's Head in Books

I've got all kinds of tumbly feelings inside because of a singing competition I'm in tomorrow (ah, opera), so it's been a bit hard to for-reals blog this week. I know you've all felt the loss.
True to form, I have started a ridiculous number of books and finished none. Here's what I've worked on this week:
Happy Accidents, Jane Lynch: How can you not love Jane Lynch? I mean, yeah, Glee sucks, but she doesn't. And her book is super-easy to read AND entertaining, which is really all I ask for.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Green & Levithan: I believe I've mentioned how I avoided this before, because while I AM pro-gay boys doing what they want, I don't really want to read about it. But then someone (er...do not remember who anymore) posted a review that actually kind of said what it was about, and that looked interesting. I have the Kindle version checked out from the library and I really love it so far.
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern: Does anyone e…

I Love Everyone and Books, and They're Both Not Here, BUT Both Are On the Internet

I love my book blogging peoples. Why do ALL OF YOU live foreverly far away? Mostly in New England. And some in Actual England. I'm usually a very satisfied Midwest-dweller ('Midwesterner' is gross) but when someone posts something hilarious or makes their general loveliness as a person evident, I am saddened that I cannot gather them up and drag them to the Open Books warehouse sale this Saturday and then on to food. Instead I'm stuck with Julie, who is indeed a book blogger, but we met through a Craigslist ad I posted about finding a roommate (we didn't room together, but found each other awesome anyway, so now we are friends), and is therefore not a book blogger friend. Alas. This is why we all need to go to BEA next year and room together and then ATTACK ALL THE FREE BOOKS. ALL OF THEM SHALL BE OURS. THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.
Speaking of books (on my book blog too!), Dewey's Read-a-Thon is coming up. The timing's kind of perfect. I'm going to my p…

Flipping Between Victorian Lit and Fanfiction

I think as we observe our reading selves, we learn a bit about what kind of reader we are.
I'm a shitty reader. I read in order to have read. What can I say? I like checking things off lists, even if they're lists that only exist in the Ethereal Space Around Alice's Head and not fun real ones I get to draw lines through.
And this is why fanfic is maybe the most relaxing and enjoyable thing I read. Reading fanfic is not impressive in the least. It's an activity that one probably isn't supposed to admit to people, but I've been doing it so long that that social acceptability filter didn't attach properly, and here we are.
The thing about fanfic is that yes, it's one of the lowest forms of writing, if not the lowest. And bad fanfic is the worst thing you'll ever see, because it (presumably, since you chose to read it) involves characters you love, and when they're written terribly, something inside you screams. 'WHY ARE THEY DOING THAT; SHE WOULD …

Listening to Wicked. This Is Not a Proud Moment for Me.

But you guys — you GUYS. Night Circus. I am enjoying it.
The Burgess sisters arrive together. Tara and Lainie do a little bit of everything. Sometimes dancers, sometimes actresses. Once they were librarians, but that is a subject they will only discuss if heavily intoxicated.
I HAD TO PAUSE MY READING EXPERIENCE, SUCH WAS MY ENJOYMENT.
It's actually way, way different than I was expecting it to be, but I've somewhat assiduously avoided spoilers, so I don't know where I got what I expected it to be except...maybe...the snazzy cover? Not that the text itself isn't snazzy. But it's...different.
And yes, you can 'somewhat' assiduously do something. Don't question me.
It's Sunday night, which means not that many people are online, which means maybe no one will care if I post this, THE GREATEST INTERNET THING EVER:

Night, all.

Fancy Authors I Would Have to Dinner

If you could invite any three literary figures from different eras to a Sunday Dinner who would they be?
I usually avoid the Literary Blog Hop because the questions intimidate me far too much. My blogging is about me typing whatever comes to mind, not sitting down and really thinking through a question, formulating some kind of response in my mind and carefully typing it out and revising it along the way. If I operated that way, do you think I'd be posting songs from Mannequin? And how much poorer we all would be.
But this week's is easy enough for me to do. I mean, if I wanted to do it right, I'd painstakingly consider all the variables, make a top ten list, and then slowly narrow it down to three.
As it stands, I scanned my Goodreads books and then chose three people based on how much I've wanted to yell at them/kiss their feet.
You know, I've never really been into meeting authors. I've heard enough stories about them turning out to be assholes and ruining their…

In Which I Again Ask You Guys to Suggest Things

Julie over at Contractually Obligated to Like Books and I went to see The Spirit Play last night, which is a lovely play about the 19th century Spiritualist movement in America. It's set in Illinois (repreSENT) and concerns a medium, her "brother", and a respectable group of people holding a seance. She, her brother (read: actually husband) and sister, who plays a ghost during the seances, use the standard tricks of the time to make money off people looking for connection with the dead, but then Jane (the medium) starts getting real communications from the spirit world. 

It was pretty kickass. And obviously seasonally appropriate.
Which brings me to my question: Any favorite ghost stories/novels? I checked out Affinity from the library last night, because I'm a big ol' Sarah Waters fan, but I mean, I haven't even really read any Poe. So my knowledge of ghosty things is lacking, to say the least. And no, I haven't read any Wilkie Collins. I know, I KNOW, but…

Left to My Own Devices, I'd Do Nothing But Watch Bad '80s Movies and Read Dickens

For some reason, Tuesday feels rough this week. But I guarantee this will make you feel better (unless you're a heartless monster):



Every time I hear this song, I grin like an idiot and sway while lip synching, for only I and the dulcet strains of celestial music from the ever-acclaimed (by me) film Mannequin exist. Yeah, I'm at work, but they can deal.
The Night Circus finally came in at the library, and I read the introduction expecting, I dunno, whirling sparklers to leap out of the pages and do a dance, because OMG people love this book and that's obviously the only explanation I could think of. The first few pages are interesting, and I'm expecting it to get better. SO HIGH MY EXPECTATIONS ARE. We shall see how it goes.
Let's do a new thing called What Did Alice Add to Her To-Read Pile This Week?
The Discovery of France, Graham Robb - I saw a real-person review (shh, it's a thing) of this and it looked good. Plus despite French lit being half my major, I know …