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Showing posts from January, 2012

Norwegian Wood: Readalong Post 5: The Final Chapter (or two)

Well well well. Here we are. And I'll bet you're all expecting a huuuuuge dose of vitriol from me, but I SHALL NOT RENDER IT FORTH. Or something.
Because while I might have wanted to shout praises when I realized I'd finally read the last words of the novel, I will not say that it is a bad book. It is a book, however, remarkably not for me.
First off, though, let's hit some of the good stuff of these last two chapters. One: did anyone listen to the first song Reiko plays in memory of Naoko? 'Dear Heart'? Because it is FANTASTIC.

And the lyrics are just kind of heartbreaking in the context of the book.

Two: "'Naoko was choosing death all along.'" YES. What an excellent observation, Book. This explains all her choices and attitudes. Too bad it happened like five pages from the end.

Three: Telling Midori she shouldn't change anything about herself? Awwwwwww. I will FULLY admit that a lot of the reason I hated this book is because every character…

The Emerald Atlas, aka Oh, I Didn't Know I Was Going on a Reading Trip to AwesomeTown

I haven't finished this book yet, but screw it, I'm reviewing it now.
First off, I want to point out that I haven't read ANY bad reviews of this. Meaning on the blogs I've seen. I'm sure someone on Amazon was a turd about it, but that's Amazon, so screw it.
Secondly, no bad reviews? DESERVEDLY SO. This is the best YA book I've read in a while. Although wait, I was totally on board with The Mysterious Benedict Society...ok, this is the best YA book I've read since The Mysterious Benedict Society, which I will ALSO laud to the skies.
What's the plot, you ask, O Potential Reader? There are three kids who when they're essentially infants are sent away from their parents (on a cold, wintry night, obviously); the car they're in is chased by mysterious black shadowy men who can climb on the sides of buildings (THIS TRICK ALWAYS TERRIFIES ME), but they are magically whisked away just in the nick of time to -- an orphanage. And then for the next ten yea…

Prussian Royalty & Time Travel (this post isn't as exciting as that sounds)

I get really nasty about people trolling my blog for gifs. And by 'trolling' I actually mean 'searching for the gif and only coming to my blog to download it.' Even though I've TOTES done that to other people. This extends to me going into an old post and changing a gif filename to something obscure so it won't show up on Google Image anymore. And now that I've admitted that, I am done with FridayConfessional™.
Hannah (whose newly-created blog is here) and I are going to end up reading Iron Kingdom: A History of Prussia for a year. We keep assigning ourselves these optimistic readings for next time, and then the day before we're supposed to meet, we text each other with something along the lines of "I've read two pages so far; let's cut that in half." That's because it has sentences like this:Under these conditions Lutheranism, sustained institutionally by the network of local church patronage, became the ideology of provincial auto…

Giveaways By the Lazy

'The lazy' being me. I still owe Red from What Red Read a book (I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN, RED), but it's been a while, and I'm gonna give away some more. Because I don't want to think of a topic today.
ALSO because my friend Katie, whose hilarious anecdotal blog is here asked if I wanted some free books to give away, and I said sure.
This is maybe the weirdest book assemblage ever in the history of giveawaydom. Maybe.
Yeah. These.
Apparently the Sookie Stackhouse is no. 8, so...there's that, and then Roses, Roses is a mystery, and the really awesome part is the Uncle Tom's Cabin which, you'll notice, is by "Mrs. Stowe." Fantastic.

Just leave a comment if you want to enter. I don't care if you're a follower. And do it by...I guess...midnight the evening of Saturday the 28th? Yeah, that.
To possibly some of your chagrin, Katie also offered me The Time Traveler's Wife and I said "ABSOLUTELY NOT" (or something along those lines). That&…

You Go, Glen Coco

Awwwwww damn, look what today is:


LOOK AT HOW SAD SHE IS. WE CANNOT HAVE THAT. Not from the author of Ethan Frome. Good Lord I love that book. We have to RECOGNIZE.
OKAY. Thanks to Anne, occasional-commenter-but-not-a-book-blogger, I was made aware that today is Edith Wharton's 150th birthday. ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FIFTY. A similar occasion will not come around again until we are all Very Very Old, so let us celebrate!

Do you have any favorite Wharton books? What are they? And if anyone flames her, so help me...IT IS HER BIRTHDAY. No mean comments today. NONE. I don't care if they made you read Ethan Frome in high school and thusly you hate it. We are looking for edifying experiences today.
Personally, my first book of hers was House of Mirth, which I liked but did not love until I re-read it in college. The first time I read it I was 14, it went completely over my head, and I just kept re-reading the parts where she and Selden kissed, because that was all I cared about at 14. When I re…

Norwegian Wood: Readalong Post 4: Omg It's Almost Done

What does 'wind my spring' mean? 
I assumed it was 'wind my watch' but then why wouldn't you just say 'wind my watch'? And why not on Sundays? And that actually doesn't make sense with the context it's in, so WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
I am NOT feeling this book. Just...not. I'm gonna be really, really glad when it's done, and then guess what's probably happening! Unless someone links me to another blog that's doing it and that one looks equally as fun! Woman in White Readalong. April. For some reason, everyone has this on their TBR list for this year, so let's just do it and be delighted by Wilkie Collins.
Toru kind of seems like this clay that gets refashioned by whichever character he's with. Which irritates me a whole lot. Whoever he's hanging out with, he'll adapt to their way of life, meaning he feels like an empty character, and yes, this is of course on purpose and it Says Something about how he's dealing with his fr…

Books That Simultaneously Probably Suck But Are Awesome

It's Monday, I'm currently rejuvenated by delicious delicious coffee, and I want to talk about bad books.
Or rather, books you love that aren't the ones you immediately mention to people. I've done two posts on fanfiction and why it makes me maybe the happiest of all the things I read, but in terms of actual, published works, what are the books you love but maybe possibly hide from view? I feel like this could be touchy in the book blog world, because rather than elevating ourselves by the fantastic works we've read that Suburban Housewives wouldn't touch because they weren't sanctioned by Oprah (thank God I don't have a wider readership or I'd get lambasted for that), these would be books that could and probably are loved by millions -- books that appeal, oh dear I'm going to do it, to our sensibilities rather than to our sense (sorry, had to).
Here are some of my favorite shitty books:
Percy Jackson - I LOVE PERCY JACKSON. This is a less embarras…

Victorian Murderesses - Yeah, NOW You Want to Read This

Do you ever have people whose stuff you read online and you're secretly like "If you knew me we would be BEST FRIENDS but for now I'm just going to quietly stalk you and not comment on your stuff because then I might go overboard and who wants that really certainly not me"?
Yeah, no, me neither.
So it's Friday. A scant 11 days until the dreaded end of January where book reading trends for the year will perhaps be set, and I STILL HAVE NOT FINISHED A BOOK. This is getting ridiculous. I did, however, start two more. Yes, I understand. But I like starting books. And I hate the middle of books. And I keep reaching the middle of books.

This is me today (and I suspect a number of you):


So blame the subject matter for today on that if you will.

This week I was on TruTV's site, reading about serial killers, as y'do, and when I got to the Scottish 'Bible John', there was a little paragraph discussing other Scottish killers. Among them was Madeleine Smith, who p…

I'd Make an Obstetrics Joke, But I Don't Know Any

Er...so I rather unexpectedly won a ten volume set of Poe from Forgotten Bookmarks. He does giveaways pretty often, and they tend to be old books (i.e. nice for one's shelves). This is the second giveaway I've won in like a month (the other was from Laura at The Scarlet Letter). I shall stop entering for a time, as clearly the Giveaway Gods have marked me as The Chosen One, and it's not fair to everyone else.
You know how I made my Excel spreadsheet about what I was going to read this year, and how I wasn't going to go to the library and check out books just to have new books and would finally clear out some of my shelves? Yeah, no. No, that's not happening.
But check out this book that looks kind of popular and crappy, but I shall explain why it might not be!:

As an opera singer, I'd like to say that I hate the word 'diva.' Not just because of its prior-to-the-'80s connotation of someone who's difficult to deal with -- I could handle that -- but b…

SOPA and PIPA - Fun With Terrible Legislation!

My blog's not going dark or whatever, because 1) I don't know how to do that, and 2) Not that many people read this in the grand scheme of things. Or in any scheme of things. So really I'd just be making my father unhappy, and who wants that on their conscience?
HOWEVER. Did you know that if SOPA or PIPA passes, my blog could be shut down because of one of the many amazing gifs I use? 

"WHAT?" I hear you cry. "THIS IS AN OUTRAGE. WHAT CAN BE DONE?"

Omg SO MANY THINGS. But mainly writing or calling (calling is way more effective, AND makes you feel like an awesome participant in the citizen-government relationship) your senator or representative and saying something along the lines of "I violently oppose this bill, sir or madam. Whose leg are you trying to pull here! The constituents', my good sir! The CONSTITUENTS' legs and we do not appreciate the government manhandling our appendages in such a way! Nay! Forswear your support for this piece o…

Norwegian Wood: Readalong Post 3: Wherein I Get More Annoyed With This Book

YOU GUYS -- YOU GUYS. I've figured it out. Naoko is a serial killer, and she killed her sister and Kizuki. BAM. Book SOLVED.

You're supposed to solve books, right?

But seriously, best. twist. ever.

Let's see...the lesbian part bugged me. I think just because I was watching the Daria episode last night where a bisexual woman attempts to "seduce" Jane, and Jane's like "Hey, shifty spiderwoman temptress, don't try to make me gay." And I'm not saying that was Murakami's goal, but it just kind of furthers this vision of lesbians as trying to convert others, or being into all women. Meaning Reiko's statement of "I never feel desire when I look at a woman," ok, that makes sense, but not wanting to have sex with Naoko doesn't NOT make her a lesbian. It's not like you're attracted to every single member of your gender if you're gay.
Ahem. Not to go off on a tangent that doesn't really matter to the overall plot. Let&…

BEA Post, Number the First

Ok, I wasn't going to update today, but tomorrow's Norwegian Wood day (no, I haven't finished the reading as of yet) and THUS, I ask now: WHO IS GOING TO BEA IN JUNE?
I am currently planning to. My brother lives in Queens and so it's really only the admission price plus airfare from Chicago, which caaan be reasonable. The plan is to fly in Friday night, go to the Book Blogger Con Monday, then BEA Tuesday and maybe Wednesday morning, and leave Wednesday evening. Because, y'know. I got work and shit. 
TRUE it is four and a half months away, but LET'S PLAN, PEOPLE. Also I want to meet you so we can be all awkward around each other. It will be good times.

A Detour and a Little Quote

The best laid plans of mice and men, etc etc. I went to the library today, eschewing my carefully planned out reading list for the year. I AM SORRY, but I saw The IronLady Saturday, and by gum I think I might see it again. Not because I thought it was an absolutely stellar bit of filmmaking (although it was quite good) but because I went into it knowing about Thatcher only what was provided by Billy Elliot the Musical (by the way, I hate Billy Elliot the Musical), and now I am reading a book about her and so I would see it again with a different perspective. Important.
Now, I want to quote something from this book — it's not politically polarizing in any way, so don't get all in a premature huff — but first I want to tell a story about the extreme determination evinced by one (me) at the Chicago Public Library around 1:30 p.m. today.
I saw this movie yesterday. I went home, looked up what books the library had on Thatcher, picked one, looked at Amazon reviews, and promptly enter…

In Lieu of Staying Home Watching Doctor Who Reruns, I Am Doing This

January! What are you doing to me!
It's the 13th and I have as of yet to finish a single book. Why? BECAUSE I'M BUSY YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE. No, for reals, it's because I've started a billion books and so I've read like 40 pages of each and finished none. But this being a book blog and me having stayed up until 1:30 last night scrolling through tumblr and therefore having NOTHING relevant to say aside from this, here are my thoughts, O Denizens of the Internet!:
Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia - Hannah and I have shortened our rather optimistic reading amount for each week. Here is a sample sentence from the current, deathly chapter: "In 1723, after much deliberation, Frederick William decided that the solution was to merge the two rivals into an omnicompetent super-ministry that bore the unwieldy title ‘General Chief Directory for Finance, War and Domains’, but was known simply as the General Directory (Generaldirektorium)."
...it's n…

Norwegian Wood: Readalong Post 2: The Readening

Ahahahaha MAN what a terrible place to stop reading, right? But did I go on? No, I did not. Partially because I just now finished, but ALSO because I have my superpower of always being able to put down a book, no matter how close to the end/cliffhangery it is. Some would say this makes me a bad reader. This is probably true.


All right. Chapters 1-4 of Norwegian Wood. Let's all agree that all the parts with Naoko are REALLY REALLY DEPRESSING AND HARD TO GET THROUGH. Or maybe that was just me. Whenever she showed up I was like "ARGH LEAVE" and then she left and things were good again.
Here're a couple things that bugged me, both of which have to do with the translation (cultural AND linguistic, tyvm):
1. "It's really, really deep,” said Naoko, choosing her words with care. She would speak that way sometimes, slowing down to find the exact word she was looking for.
...what? Do you know when I assume someone ISN'T choosing their words with care? When they use &#…

I Took a Two and a Half Hour Nap and Am Now Updating My Blog. As Befits a Winner of Life.

You guys kick ass. When my friend wrote her "Suggest things for me to read" post on facebook, I got to be all smug and think 'Oh, you want book suggestions? Let me ask the HORDE OF EDUCATED PEOPLE I HAVE ACCESS TO.' And you all recommended things that made me proud to be your fellow book blogger. *wipes away tear*
Now. Europa Books at State and Chicago. Do you know how much French lit they have? THIS MUCH:

They're all new. Omg. I cannot even. The only French books I own that are new and therefore weren't purchased from some weirdass independent used bookstore were either for a class, or given to me by people traveling back from France. So most of mine are kind of beaten up. And the foreign language pickings at weirdo used bookstores? They are slim. Meaning you'll find like five copies of Le Mariage de Figaro and then some random translations of Stephen King. But THIS. THIS place has Balzac and Zola and de Beauvoir and ERIC-EMMANUEL SCHMITT and Sand and basi…

A Challenge to Be Met on the Field

All right, book nerds, impress me.
My friend is looking for fiction to read. She usually does non-fiction (meaning 84, Charing Cross Road was perfect for her and yes, she's already read it and possibly its sequel), but wants to branch out. This is what she's looking for:
- Smart and thoughtful- Including books/libraries is good but not required-Tedious = bad
From personal experience and what she's recently told me, I know she likes Ender's Game (although who doesn't?) and its ensuing books; she just read The Name of the Rose, Middlesex, and re-read The Historian, but she only likes the beginning of that because, let's face it, that's the best part.
She's studying to be/kind of is a rare books librarian, and she likes Reformation history, because she's a lovable weirdo.
OH and she loves Gone With the Wind. A lot. Because she's good people.
SUGGEST THINGS. I will only make fun of you if you skimmed this post and suggest something I said she already read…

How Many Maps of Germany Is Too Many?

I should be reading about Prussia at this very moment, but instead I'm listening to Spotify and eating Dirt Chocolate (my office friend Doug got a box of chocolate that he dropped on the floor by me and all the chocolate spilled out and now we're slowly eating it, but it is now Dirt Chocolate).
I will, however, share one of the more hilarious of the sentences I've read thus far in Iron Kingdom: "He was the feudal overlord of the Duchy of Prussia, a Baltic principality that had been controlled by the Teutonic Order until its secularization in 1525, and was ruled thereafter by Duke Albrecht von Hohenzollern, a cousin of the Elector of Brandenburg."



Screw you, Europe! You know what history consists of here? "This used to be a colony and is now a state." "Oh, ok."
I have printed out four maps of Germany/Prussia that I keep by me so that when they refer to Frankfurt/Oder, I don't get confused by going "BUT THIS IS DISCUSSING THE EAST AND FRAN…

Top Ten Tuesday: Wherein This Year Shall Be Awesome

All right, for those not participating in the readalong, I'm posting this (lies! I just really wanted to do this Top Ten Tuesday). Also, ARE YOU WATCHING SHERLOCK? Because the new series premiered in the UK on Sunday and OMG it has Irene Adler and I watched the new episode twice yesterday. Damn, people.
Oh right, Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The topic this week is Top Ten Books I'm Excited to Read in 2012. I have this whole year mapped out already, so here we go:
1. The Iron Kingdom - My readalong book with my friend Hannah for Jan/Feb. I read like three nonfiction books last year, which is UNACCEPTABLE. We shall learn about Prussia and it shall be glorious.
2. A Doll's House - The completely awesome actress Janet McTeer was in a production of this (no, I didn't see it) and ever since then, I've wanted to read it. Plus people reference it a LOT, so cultural..help. With reading it. It'll be useful for that is what I'm saying. 
3. Barnaby…

Norwegian Wood: Readalong Post 1: The Thinkening

So here we are. 2012 and we're going to read Murakami's fifth-but-first-really-popular-here-as-far-as-I'm-aware novel. Have people read other books of his? I have not. I've avoided him for quite some time, mostly because I tend to read jaunty works from the earlier part of the 20th century, OR comedic essay collections OR Victorian novels. And he seems very Not That Way. 
Also, I should face it, I don't read a lot of foreign novels. BUT that's at least partially because Complit makes one very big on reading things in their original language, and translation bugs me. But since I'm probably never going to make myself learn Japanese, I need to get over that.
I'm assuming this'll be good. I haven't heard anyone say they hated it, which tends to be a positive sign. We shall know as of next Tuesday! Chapters 1-4! If everyone wants to just plow through, we can amend the reading schedule, but let's see how the first week goes, yes?

You can find the oth…

Auld Lang Syne and Typhus

Ah, a new year. Welcome to 2012, book bloggers! If the world ends this year, I'll be a little disappointed, but in case it does, let's all try to have just a bit more fun. And I guess be nicer to people.
You know what's lovely? Reading books that belong to people we love. More specifically, parents or grandparents, because most of the time, they're books they enjoyed when they were closer to our age and reading them can make you feel like you understand them just a bit better.
All my grandparents have passed away, as my parents skew a bit on the older end of the spectrum, and we got most of their books. These, and a bunch of my parents' older books reside in their basement. When I visit home, I like glancing around down there, and I usually pinch at least one and bring it up to Chicago (shh — don't tell them; only my dad apparently reads this, so Hi Dad! I'll return them!).
Last Christmas I found this completely fantastic gem from 1935, reprinted in 1967 (when…