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Showing posts from July, 2014

Clash of Kings: OH HOW THE KINGS HAVE CLASHED

This post is not very spoilery at all.

So I'm really far behind everyone else in the Game of Thrones series (I KNOW IT'S CALLED A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE BUT THAT'S TOO LONG), and I just finished book 2, Clash of Kings. IS IT STILL GOOD? Yes. Yes, it is. And there are new characters! New characters that I like muchly. I ignored these books for a long time, partially because I assumed GRRM was gross and wanted to write about young girls having sex and being all medievaly submissive.


But NO. I am shocked -- SHOCKED -- by how generally badass his ladies are. But not in a "I'm a liberated woman character" sort of way, which is annoying in its own right. These books pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, despite having a ton of dudes (since it's basically medieval England and who runs the world? -- white dudes).

In this book, you meet Brienne of Tarth, Asha Gryejoy, and Meera Reed. Also Maege Mormont peripherally, who some people ship with Robb Stark, but as fa…

Caitlin Moran's How to Build a Girl Remains An Excellent Book That Should be Read By Probably Everyone

I remain a huge fan of this book. You should probably pre-order it. Maybe here since Amazon is the devil and independent bookstores are the future YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST (no you didn't).

Johanna's obsession with dudes remains nigh-incomprehensible to me, although it did make me flash back to age 12 when I was desperately in love with my brother's best friend (he looked like a teddy bear and gave me half a cookie once, which I was pretty sure meant we were definitely going to happen) and in what I deemed a subtle but cunning gesture, one day sat him down in my oldest brother's room (it had the only stereo in the house), put on the Hello Dolly new Broadway cast recording, and made him listen to me sing along to Irene Molloy's part of Dancing, which goes thusly:

When there's someone you hardly know
And wish you were closer to
Remember that he can be near to you
While you're dancing
Though you've only just said hello
He's suddenly someone who can
Make…

I'm reading through the Bible and there's a lot of stabbing going on

I've been trying to read through the Bible in its entirety for forever, mainly because as a Christian I am EMBARRASSED that I cannot check it off those Books I've Read lists. No. Forget that noise.

Over the years, I've made it up to 2 Samuel, which is the tenth book of the Old Testament. NOT IMPRESSIVE, YOU SAY? Try reading the parts of Exodus that're like "Wait, let me give you exact sewing instructions; these are important for your spiritual growth."



You have to be interactive with the text, or it's impossible to get through. I posted here years ago about a bit in Exodus where Moses's brother Aaron's sons are killed by God because they "offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command," and when Moses basically says "Yeah, well, they should've been not doing that," Aaron says nothing. The text specifically points out he says nothing. Because yeah, God's justice, etc, and maybe Aaron's sons were t…

Samantha Irby and Meaty: "Right now I am living in a post-breakup body"

Meaty took me by surprise, and not just because of its awesome chicken cover.


I found out about it through a GoFundMe campaign for its author, Samantha Irby, who needed serious dental work like yesterday. Her blog, bitches gotta eat, led me to her book, which has chapter titles like 'I Want to Write Your Mom's Match.com Profile' and 'The Many Varieties of Hospital Broth' and 'I Should Have a Car With Power Windows By Now.' Also she lives in Chicago and we should do brunch I'm not kidding Samantha.

What surprised me the most about Meaty was not Irby's writing style, which you can easily pick up from her blog, but rather the ease with which she transitions from tragedy to comedy. That shit takes skills.


One of the first chapters, Awkward First Date, starts with:

Oh, hi. This restaurant you picked intimidates me. I am not wearing the right footwear for a place this goddamned fancy, and I am probably too poor to eat here in real life so I am really hoping …

How to Build a Girl: "I wish these cunts knew about Alexander Woollcott."

Caitlin Moran's debut novel How to Build a Girl continues in this delightful readalong hosted by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads). You should buy this book. Just fyi. It's the pants. And I have made a Spotify playlist for it: How to Build a Girl: The Dolly Wilde Experience. If you've been paying close attention to the book, you will appreciate the hell out of that list. Just saying.

So our heroine is now 16-years-old and a high school dropout, but whatever because she has an impressive job reviewing music and is already an excellent writer who calls the Smashing Pumpkins "the new Emperors of Mournful Grunge." I think we're all pretty positive this is just Caitlin Moran's life, but none of us care, because it is fantastically written.


I don't think a book about teenagers has ever made me relive as much of that time of my life as How to Build a Girl. Shoving brothers off the chair that's used for the one computer? Oh right. I did that. Feeling …

The School for Good and Evil's awesome cover belies the unawesomeness within

When I first saw the cover for Soman Chainani's The School for Good and Evil, I got very excited because 1) I love books for 10 to 12 year olds; they are my jam, and 2) It looks like a Swan Queen high school AU.


For those of you somehow unaware, Swan Queen is the ship I have shipped for MULTIPLE YEARS NOW. It's Emma Swan and the Evil Queen (get it?) from Once Upon a Time. It's the worst and the best thing to ship, mainly because the OUAT writers are experts at queerbaiting, which is....just not ok, guys. But anyway. Swan Queen alternate universe.


The reason books for 10 to 12 year olds are my jam is because the most interesting plots usually come out of them. You don't have silly talk about boys, there isn't a need to be Literary that manifests itself in trying too hard ("the dusky ambrosial night swept across the meadow like a swift-wing├Ęd starling"), and the author can just focus on plot and being occasionally funny.

Series that have excelled at this in th…

Neanderthals: Y'know, that entire species of human we maybe killed

I really love Neanderthals.


This has been a slow-growing love, possibly owing its beginning to the Field Museum's exhibit on the cave paintings of Lascaux, which made me realize what a condescending dick I'd been to People of the Past. I was astounded to learn they had needles and thread and candles. This was almost 20,000 years ago. I'd assumed they just walked around grunting and hitting each other with rocks. But no! They had hats. I don't know why hats are a major sign of civilization, but they are.

I've discussed before how frustrating it is that all this took place in our prehistory. We barely know anything. And what we think we know is probably wrong. A book I have on Cro-Magnon man from like two years ago says modern humans and Neanderthals probably never interacted, and then we find out that basically everyone whose ancestors emigrated from Africa has 3-5% Neanderthal DNA, meaning our ancestors totally did it with Neanderthals.


It bugs me that how our civiliz…

How to Build a Girl, Part the Second: "Without explaining why, I break into a very impassioned impression of Scooby-Doo."

The How to Build a Girl readalong is hosted by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) and you can pre-order the book at this place right here.

Okay, so I was unsure how this novel was going to go, and I just want to say

CAITLIN MORAN'S NEW BOOK IS SO GOOD OMG BUY IT WHEN IT COMES OUT I'M NOT EVEN KIDDING I WILL HARASS YOU IF YOU DO NOT


I started it Thursday while sitting in my friend Katie-Anne's cubicle, and the fifth time I laughed out loud she wheeled around and said "You are being SUPER-IRRITATING." But there was no stopping, because "When I start kissing, the world is going to know about it. My kissing is going to change everything. I'm going to be the Beatles of kissing."

Spending time with Johanna is completely delightful, mostly because she's so unabashed when talking about her life.


So our 14-year-old heroine comes from a large poor family that she's trying to help, lives in the north of England, writes, and masturbates a LOT. This la…

First 50 Pages, Installment Maybe the Third

I am yet again reading a stupid number of books because I have no focus or willpower and while starting books is my favorite, getting through the middle part usually blows. Let's make a fun thing out of it and talk about the First 50 Pages!


The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer. Yep. Still in 'The Knight's Tale.' And Palamon and Arcite are being RIDICULOUS. I thought the Tales would be people talking about their own lives, but so far the knight's like "GATHER ROUND, WHILE I TELL YOU A TALE OF ANCIENT GREECE" and then he's all "Here are some knights, because they totally had those in Ancient Greece." Both the knights act in an extremely silly manner. I have not yet found out what happens to them. I kind of hope they joust each other to death.




No One Else Can Have You, Kathleen Hale. The cover for this is delightful. And I like Kathleen Hale's online presence so much, there was almost no way I wasn't going to like her book. Basically: teenage gi…

Netflix Adventures Abound in Chicago

I enjoy the 4th of July the same way I enjoy Labor Day. There's no especial pull to go outside or associate with family members, and you're pretty much allowed to celebrate however you want (people give you shit about Halloween, I'm just saying).

True, I ventured outside my apartment on occasion, going on a not-date with a girl and her pregnant friend, seeing Snowpiercer (excellent except for the stupid, stupid ending) and doing up the Renfair with my roommate. HOWEVER. There was also a lot of Netflix.



Documentaries are excellent to have on while cleaning, as they do not require as much attention. I needed to clean my room, so I put on Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony and quickly STOPPED cleaning, because holy shit, Bronies. I cried four times during that documentary. I'm not sure it merited it, but it happened. Fandoms are a weakness of mine (OBVIOUSLY) and I'm easily reduced to a weepy mess when people start talking about the support…

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop (Odyssey Books, where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have.


INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy the Pleistocene era of megafauna and drinking Shirley Templ…

Hanne Blank's "Virgin": The book that's awkward to be seen with in your workplace's lunchroom

"The more we look and the deeper we see, the more we realize that over the course of the millennia we have recognized virginity to exist, it has never been static or unitary. Answering the question of what exactly virginity is, for once and for all, is probably an impossibility. Even if we could, we would still be left with an even deeper problem: the question of why we care about virginity in the first place."
Ever since I read Hanne Blank's Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality, I've been meaning to read Virgin: The Untouched History. I was tremendously impressed with her research and conclusions in Straight and thought she would do a good job synthesizing information on a topic that tends to arouse strong opinions.  Almost everyone has an emotional reaction to the topic of virginity. Maybe not on the surface, but it's a subject that is so wrapped up in our overall outlook on life, or related to issues from our past that it's nigh impos…

If You Don't Read These Books You Probably Hate America

IT'S 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND which in all probability will involve me sitting on my couch all weekend, eating spaghetti and watching The X-Files. *waves flag*



Let's get down to an arbitarily chosen and inflammatory list of books that IF YOU HAVE NOT OR DO NOT READ make you not an American. So....if you're not from America, I guess you're all set.

NINE NOT TEN BOOKS ON THIS LIST America doesn't use the metric system.


The Cat in the Hat


Right, like you can be an American and NEVER have read The Cat in the Hat. Yeah, I trust your citizenship. Right after you prove yourself by juggling fireworks on a red, white and blue unicycle. AMERICA.


East of Eden


East of Eden is the quintessential American novel I will fight you on this don't think you'll win I'm scrappy. It's Steinbeck's (AND AMERICA'S) best book. Aww yeah, talkin' about a dynastic line of brothers and the changing of America and themselves. What? The immigrant experience is covered too? And the…