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Fiction: "Witness in Death" by J.D. Robb

So in this latest title of the In Death series, Eve Dallas and Roarke are enjoying the opening night performance of Witness for the Prosecution in Roarke's newly-renovated Globe Theatre in New York. As a theatre snob (as evidenced by how I spell the word), I must state that it is not a theatre-in-the-round as the original Globe Theatre is, but then again, this novel is supposed to take place in 2051, so I guess the point is moot.

Well, ~SPOILER ALERT~: in the scene where the lead female character in the play stabs the protagonist, she accidentally uses a real knife and not the prop knife, and so Eve and Roarke actually witness a real-life stabbing.

Eve becomes the primary investigator for the case, and what I really enjoyed about it was that the book dealt with personalities that you see in professional theatre: the old-timer who oozes charm and poise, but hides a vicious temper; the leading man that seduces everything on two legs and under thirty; the understudy who's desperate to get a speaking role. I appreciated --

Hold on for two seconds. I have to run out and see if the noise I'm hearing is weekend warriors banging on trash cans, or if a squirrel got stuck in the garage again. Be right back.

(plays hold music)

Weekend warriors. We're okay. (I'm *so* glad I don't have to play Wrestle the Squirrel. That game sucks.)

Where was I? Oh right; stomach contents. Anyway. As she always does, Eve solves the case, although this version of events (appropriately) had a more Poirot-esque explanation at the end (Seeing as how Witness for the Prosecution was written by Dame Agatha Christie, the fact that Eve gathered all the suspects and then did a Poirot-splanation was perfect).

Two things: the relationship between Eve and Roarke continues to be perfect and adorable. At one point, Eve and her compatriots at the station are discussing true love, and she realized that Roarke is always giving her things (because he has the money) and she doesn't (because ... no reason), so she goes home early and tries to make dinner. It is adorkable, because clearly Eve can't even order on the AutoChef (no one cooks in the future!), and also, Roarke apparently has five million plates, and that is not an exaggeration. Summerset, the butler (and Eve's nemesis) tries to help her, but she stubbornly refuses his assistance, as this is something "she needs to do on her own." And he steps back and lets her, although he does offer a helpful hint (which I can't remember right now, because even though I got up to check on ghost squirrels, I did not stop to pick up the book so I can quote it, because I am an idiot).

The second thing is a TRIGGER WARNING. More on the warning underneath the cut; cut for discussion of incest and rape.Collapse )

All in all, I still love this series. Eve cares about her job, her coworkers, her friends, and the small family she has so much that (as much as I hate to admit it) there were a couple of times I got choked up reading about it. I continue to recommend the In Death series, and I hope that they continue to be written for a very long time.
So remember last year when I read Beyond Seduction by Emma Holly? Well, this is the first title in the "duo," or whatever they call it in the historical romance field.

And after reading it, I don't have too much to say about it. It is a silly little romance novel set in Victorian England. Actually wait, I do have things to say about it; it just won't be a very long entry. (and Alaina's readers rejoiced.)

There is a love triangle of sorts - Florence Fairleigh travels to London to try her hand at husband-hunting, because her pastor father died and now she has no money. She's not aiming high; she just wants a nice man to take care of the finances, and if they get along that's even better. She's more realistic than romantic, and I do feel that I should make a point to let everyone know that she's not mercenary in any way. Well, her lawyer is the same lawyer for Edward Burbrooke, an Earl who is trying to find a wife for his brother Freddie, because Freddie is gay and has a thing for footmen (oh god, not a euphamism!) and Edward is super-protective of Freddie, and he's terrified what ~Society!~ would do if they found out Freddie liked other boys.

I can't remember where I finally admitted that I read a lot of these historical romances, but I do know that gay romance doesn't usually show up behind those hallowed covers. So even though it wasn't the major romance, having a gay man try and find love in Victorian England was refreshing, even though the outcome was probably horribly unrealistic.

Also unrealistic? The fact that Edward fell into lust over Florence and that lust turned into love and they ended up getting married after Florence found out Freddie liked Frank instead. (Note: he wasn't actually named Frank; I just couldn't resist the alliteration.) It was extremely convenient that the love triangle between brothers resolved itself so perfectly, and it almost makes me hopeful for this season of The Vampire Diaries, but I know the CW wouldn't turn Stefan gay just to satisfy my need to make Damon/Elena go on forever.

Uh, anyway. (Drink!) The whole "Beyond Innocence" thing? Florence is innocent, both in that she's a virgin, but also that she doesn't know how London society and high society really works. She is not, however, innocent as to the ways of ~~loooove. Because she's a country girl, and she knows how procreation works. Whatever.

Overall, the book was fraught with convenience, but again, I don't read these to think too much. I'm just happy when the main female character has her own agency and not only can make her own decisions, but is allowed to make those decisions; and when her love interest is kind to her and respects her.

And how horrible is it that I see that evidenced more often in historical romance than I do in the real world?

Grade for Beyond Innocence: 2 stars
So on the WordPress mirror of this LJ blog, I collaborated with a college friend who also has a book review blog. Apparently it's going to turn into a thing. Anyway, here is the pre-read and the actual review of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire.

Here's the pre-review reviewCollapse )

The actual review.Collapse )

Grade for Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: 3 stars

(Oh hey, PS: apparently the Disney Channel made a crappy movie version of this book starring Stockard Channing as Margarethe? If that shows up on Netflix, I smell a tie-in!)

Fiction: "Moonraker" by Ian Fleming

My Friend Sarah was watching all of the James Bond movies chronologically over the past two weeks. During that time, I needed to find a book to read in-between Gone Girl and what I'm currently reading now (but more on that later), and Moonraker is less than 300 pages; I figured I could finish that in a week.

And holy shit, I did! For those keeping track, August is the first month since March in which I have been able to read more than two books. Okay sure, I topped out at three, but I have a feeling I'm going to be doing a lot more reading in the future (but more on that later).

The James Bond Movies totally ruined me for the actual chronology of the series. Here I was, believing that Dr. No was the first book in the series, but it turns out to be Casino Royale. Okay, then, Dr. No has to be second, right? Nope! Dr. No is, like, seventh. And I've never seen the Roger Moore movies, so I just assumed that the ones he did came later in the series ... but no, and so Moonraker is actually the third in the series.

Moonraker follows Bond when he returns to London after the Live and Let Die caper. And the whole thing starts off innocently enough. In fact, what I really liked about this book was that it gave us an insight into the typical day of a double-0 agent:
It was the beginning of a typical routine day for Bond. It was only two or three times a year that an assignment came along requiring his particular abilities. For the rest of the year he had the duties of an easy-going civil servant - elastic office hours from ten to six; lunch, generally in the canteen; evenings spent playing cards in the company of a few close friends, or at Crockford's; or making love, with rather cold passion, to one of three similarly disposed married women; weekends playing golf for high stakes at one of the clubs near London. [7]
In the movies, we never see the drudgery. Apparently, his role as 007 is one that reads a lot of reports in-between bouts of super-duper espionage. And we only see his living quarters in one movie - Dr. No, and even then, I'm not sure if it's actually Bond's apartment or maybe just a room he rented, but in the movies, he doesn't have any sort of personal life (and I've said it before and I'll say it again - but more on that later).

The plot of the book almost doesn't even sound like it would be worthy of Bond's "particular abilities." Bond is called into M's office, and instead of being given a brief and sent out to a distant-yet-exotic corner of the world, M starts talking about Sir Hugo Drax, some hoity industrialist that has manufactured the Moonraker rocket, which is supposed to be the most technologically-advanced rocket that Britain has ever made, and I'd like to remind everyone here that Moonraker was written only ten years after the end of World War II, so British defense was top on the country's mind. Anyway. M doesn't want to talk about the Moonraker, which is set to have its inaugural test launch later that week; he's concerned that Drax is cheating at bridge.

Now, I know even less about bridge than I know about baccarat. So that whole section of the book is like reading a technical manual on flanges and widgets. But apparently it was very high tension stuff back then, when everyone played bridge. All I got out of it was "Three No Trump," and the only reason I knew that term was because that was the game that Norma Desmond was playing when the repo men came to take back Joe Gillis's car in Sunset Boulevard. I don't know how she played it, and I don't know how she won pennies at it, but I know that's what she was playing.

Anyway. You can see how this goes. Bond, being the 'best card sharp in the MI-6 office,' easily sorts out that Drax is cheating and calls him out on it during the bridge game, winning 15,000 pounds. The next day, Bond is deciding to upgrade his Bentley (*snort* written in 1955, there is no 1964 Aston Martin DB5 to aspire to at this point), when M calls Bond into his office again, and informs him that the security officer at Drax's compound killed himself in a murder-suicide while Bond was beating the pants off Drax at cards. (Hm. Y'know, that's a way worse thing in Britain than in America.) As Bond is the only stateside agent in all of British Intelligence that speaks fluent German as well as being a pretty good spy, he is sent to Drax's compound to ensure that the Moonraker gets launched without a hitch.

Bond quietly investigates the goings-on at Drax Compound, complete with an ally in Gala Brand, a female officer from Special Branch of MI-5, working undercover as Drax's secretary. When Bond and Brand investigate the nearby cliffs of Dover for security measures and one of the cliffs happens to almost collapse right on top of them, Bond realizes there is definitely some shade where Drax is concerned.

I am going to stop with the plot there, for two reasons: 1) someone may want to read this book in the future, and I am bound and determined to stop ruining things for people, and 2) I don't want to hear how it happened in the movie, because GUESS WHAT, GUYS? I'm going to do a tie-in to Movies Alaina's Never Seen for the first time ever! I've never seen any of the Roger Moore-Bond movies, and why not start with the book I just read?

Full Disclosure: 1) I had hoped to have the companion piece up at the same time as this review, but ... Netflix stopped streaming the Bond movies two days ago. I completely missed the boat, and I'm actually kind of pissed at myself for not attempting to power through Moonraker at 3 a.m.
2) My Friend From College Bryan unfortunately ruined that the book is nothing like the movie. THANKS, BRYAN, THUNDER-STEALER.

Here's what I liked about Moonraker: in a couple of ways, we the reader have seen a different, more human side of Bond than in Casino Royale or Live and Let Die. (And if I haven't been clear up to this point, please let me be very clear: I am discussing the books and not the movies at this point. Book blog, bitch! [I and my Breaking Bad habit apologize for that last exclamation.]) I've already mentioned how we see a typical, non-awesome day in the life of James Bond; there's also a passage where Bond goes to his apartment (which I think I was leading to that in the paragraph way up there, but I got distracted by HANNIBAL WEARING A FLOWER CROWN, THIS IS NOT A DRILL, and now I'm writing this like, three hours after and I forgot where I was going with that). As I said, we never see Bond's apartment in the movies. The fact that he has an apartment, and his own car, and a secretary that isn't Moneypenny, and boring reports to read, and a cafeteria to eat lunch in ... it gives him a human element.

Now, let's talk about women.

In Casino, Bond is, in M's [movie - sorry] words, a "blunt instrument" - he's supposed to get in there, do the job, and get out. He does let his attraction to Vesper blind him, somewhat, and when he learns of her betrayal, he immediately hates her. I found in the book that hatred was much more severe than in the movie. I mean, yes, in the movie he is actively running through Venice to kill her, but since any misogynistic comments are running through Bond's head and the audience can't hear them, it lessens the hatred slightly. In the book, the words are there and we read them and we see just what Bond thinks of Vesper, and it's almost more brutal, because words can hurt. (Okay, PSA over.)

In Live and Let Die, he refuses to develop an attraction to Solitaire beyond one that will get him what he wants: a solution to the mystery of Mr. Big -- I'm postulating here, but his lack of emotional attachment to Solitaire feels like a direct correlation to how much attachment he put out there to Vesper. Solitaire also has no strength to her character - she is only pawn in game of life. There's no need for Bond to attach to her beyond his immediate work needs.

But in Moonraker, not only does he appreciate Gala Brand's appearance, but also her smarts. It is her idea that Bond implements to save the day. She's been on-premises longer, has a cooler head about her (Bond readily admits that Drax and Drax's attitude sets him off immediately on the wrong foot), and truly knows her stuff. At the end of the caper, Brand is rewarded with a medal of honor from the Prime Minister (Bond, as a secret agent, is not allowed to receive any medals. Shame), and both are getting a month off from their respective services. Bond and Brand agree to meet before their vacations, and Bond imagines him taking her on a tour of France - not Paris, but farmlands, and vineyards, and other simple pleasures.
Places like Beaugency, for instance. Then slowly south, always keeping to the western roads, avoiding the five-star life. Slowly exploring. Bond pulled himself up. Exploring what? Each other? Was he getting serious about this girl?


It was a clear, high, rather nervous voice. Not the voice he had expected.

He looked up. She was standing a few feet away from him. He noticed that she was wearing a black beret at a rakish angle and that she looked exciting and mysterious like someone you see driving by abroad, alone in an open car, someone unattainable and more desirable than anyone you have ever known. Someone who is on her way to make love to somebody else. Someone who is not for you. [243]
As this is written from Bond's point-of-view, you really feel the disappointment Bond feels; he clearly expected her to run away with him, and when he realizes he didn't count on her already being engaged to someone else and that he is not interesting enough to her to make her leave her beau, he becomes sad.

James Bond doesn't get sad. It's a thing that isn't done.

I appreciated the small glimpse into the aspect of Bond-as-human-male, beyond the sheen of blunt-instrument-ministry-secret-agent. I continue to be fascinated by James Bond, as a character, as a symbol, as a hero. I'm sure I'll write more about him (especially an essay about how Daniel Craig's incarnation is the best version of Bond, and not just because I want to lick ice cream off his chest I MEAN he's hot, okay?). Meanwhile, stay tuned over on Movies Alaina's Never Seen for the review of Moonraker: The Movie.

(It'll probably be next week, as I now have to wait for the fricking DVD to come from Netflix. Stupid Netflix I MEAN NETFLIX IS THE BEST THING IN EVER PLEASE DON'T CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION I NEEDS IT TO LIVE)

Grade for Moonraker: 3 stars

M takes Bond to the club to see if Drax is cheating at cards and runs into the club president:
The door opened and [President] Basildon came in. He was bristling. He shut the door behind him. 'That dam' shut-out bid of Drax's,' he exploded, 'Tommy and I could have made four hearts if we could have got around to bidding it. Between them they had the ace of hearts, six club tricks, and the ace, king of diamonds and a bare guard in spades. Made nine tricks straight off. How he had the face to open Three No Trumps I can't imagine.' He calmed down a little. 'Well, Miles,' he said, 'has your friend got the answer?' [40]
Miles? MILES? M's first name is MILES??!

Fiction: "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

Hm. I'm not sure how I'm going to go about this one.

Gone Girl was on a lot of "Great Beach Reads!" lists at the beginning of the summer. GoodReads was exclaiming over it, Anne Wheaton read it; a lot of people that I interact with through the veil of Interwebs were reading it. And when I found a cheap copy at Bull Moose (because going to the library isn't something I do anymore, apparently), I picked it up.

It is a thriller with a twist, and that's what's making it hard to talk about it. I am a spoiler; a ruiner, if you will. And I don't want to ruin this for you the way that I ruined it for myself.

Yes, I ruined this book for myself. I think, dear readers, that it is time for me to disclose a terrible, terrible secret.

I am Harry Burns.

If you don't like When Harry Met Sally, we can no longer be friends. JSYK.

Yeah, that guy. I mean, no, I'm not Billy Crystal; he has other, better, things to do with his time than pretend to be a thirty-year-old woman that lives in Maine and has no life. But I am totally Harry Burns.

I read the last page of the book first so that if I die before I finish it, at least I know how it ends. I recognize that I am the worst kind of maintenance: high-maintenance masquerading as low-maintenance. I like to think that ancient hieroglyphics are just an ancient comic about some dude named Sphinxy. I would like to partake of your pecan pie. I never take someone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship, because I don't want there to be a time when the person says, "Why don't you take me to the airport anymore?" I mean, let's face it: I look like a normal human being, but actually, I am the angel of death.

[The only way I differ from Mr. Burns [[HA!]] is that I do believe that men and women can be friends. Although, now that I think about it, I don't actually have any single {and straight} male friends ... hm. Well. That's gotta change.]

But yeah - I ruined Gone Girl because I *had* to read ahead to find out what the twist was. I *had* to read Part III first. Because I? Am a ruiner.

And because I ruined it for myself, I started seeing clues sooner than I should have. I was able to recognize when something was going to come back, like one of Chekhov's guns. And that ... not ruined, because I still liked the book, but made the book not as enjoyable for me.

I think that if I hadn't read ahead, or skimmed for future plot points, I would have been more surprised, and I would have found myself reading it well into the dead of night. Instead, I would read a couple of chapters and then find myself falling asleep.

So let me give you a little bit of the plot. It starts on the morning of Nick and Amy's fifth wedding anniversary. When Nick's out of the house, Amy just ... disappears. Without a trace. The police get involved, search parties are formed, but months drag on and there's no sight of Amy. As police do, they start to suspect Nick of murder. The book follows Nick's struggle through the investigation, his own investigation into what might have happened to Amy, and what did happen to Amy.

That's all you're getting from me. I don't want to ruin the book for you. Because -- in true Harry Burns fashion -- I only ruin things for myself.

Grade for Gone Girl: 3 stars
So the next two seasons of True Blood are going to be winging my way through the US Postal Service as soon as I take a break from Breaking Bad and actually finish the last three episodes of Firefly; it's time to read the next Sookie Stackhouse mystery so I'm all caught up.

This book starts off with Sookie dealing with Jason's first night as a werepanther. Again, if Jason does get turned into a shifter in the TV show, please don't tell me, I'm not sure that's a thing I want to happen. Luckily for Sookie, Jason loves turning into a panther. Apparently shifting isn't nearly as painful as it's made out to be on The Vampire Diaries. Okay. But then someone starts sniping shifters, and it starts right after Jason becomes one, so fingers are starting to point at Jason. So now it's up to Sookie to help prove his innocence.

When someone shoots Sam (and luckily only wounds him, doesn't kill him, because I like Sam and I would be sad if Sam was killed off), Sookie goes to Eric for a temporary bartender so Sam can heal. Eric sends her a pirate vampire (no, I'm serious, eyepatch and all) named Charles. And then Sookie's house burns down, so she moves into a duplex owned by Sam temporarily, and then she gets shot, and ...

This entry in the series left me a little colder than the previous. Primarily, I couldn't feel the beats of the story. Y'know how in a mystery, there is a problem, and then there are clues, and then investigating, and then maybe after every third clue, the protagonist gets into a scrape until the confrontation, and then once the mystery's solved, there's a denouement? I didn't feel that with this title. It was more of, "My name's Sookie, and let me tell you about my brother. And then this person got shot, but I went to work because that's what I do. And then my boss got shot, and I felt guilty for no reason whatsoever, so I asked Eric for a bartender. Then my house burned down, and while I'm sad about it, I still have to work. And then Alcide came over and he wanted me to go to this werewolf pack funeral, so I went. I don't like that he's involving me in pack matters, but I guess I have to go. When I got back home, I visited Jason's new panther friend, and then I got shot." There was no active investigating. It felt almost ... rote. And not that I'm looking for this in a mystery novel, but there also wasn't any romancing going on with Sookie.

I don't know if it's a slump - I hope it's not, because I enjoy Sookie Stackhouse as written. I'm only three seasons into True Blood, and the rumors going 'round is that TV!Sookie becomes less enjoyable as the series goes on; I hope that isn't true.

I guess, I hope that Ms. Harris has more of a concrete plot-slash-investigation in the next book. Because this felt almost ... slipshod? And I've liked these books before; I don't want to give them up.

There has to be something to hold them all together. Like in the J.D. Robb/Eve Dallas series: the crimes and mysteries may change, but the relationship between Eve and Roarke is constantly changing, evolving, and maturing. I didn't feel that there was any emotional growth with the characters. There was no regression, which is great; don't get me wrong, characters staying the same is always something I enjoy. (*cough*Kay Scarpetta*cough). But ... I needed more this time. Or, I expected more, and became disappointed when there wasn't more.

Grade for Dead as a Doornail: 1.5 stars

Fiction: "Dear Old Dead" by Jane Haddam

Normally, I'd feel a need to apologize to my readers (small population that you are) for not being current on my reading material. But because I have such a small viewership (which is totally fine, bee tee dubs, being famous isn't exactly something I'm interested in being, and being famous on the Internet is a whole 'nother slice of that pie that I don't think I'm hungry for; though if anyone wants to pay me for this, hey, I'll shut up and take your money) and, y'know, some semblance of a life (today is a day off! And I have another one tomorrow! What?), the book reviews have taken a backseat to other things, like seeing Guster in concert, almost meeting Guster after the concert, and sleeping.

So I'm not going to apologize, because this is my blog, and I'm doing it for free and for the spambots out there, and they're not paying me either, so … suck it.

Anyway. The book I finished reading after Gilligan's Wake was the next book in the Gregor Demarkian series, Dear Old Dead. Since it's been a while since I've read one of this series, let me take a moment to remind y'all that the series is known as the Gregor Demarkian Holiday series, so that should lead you to believe that this book is about Father's Day.

The only thing about Father's Day in this book is that it takes place near Father's Day.

The dead guy Gregor is called in to investigate is Charles … Something. Look, today's laziness will know no bounds: the book is on the table, right there, but I'd have to really stretch to get it, and it's like that scene in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle where the buddies are halfway down the hall and Kumar realizes he's left his phone in the apartment, and Roldie asks him if he wants to go back for it, and he thinks about it, and then responds, "No, we've gone too far." This book is too far for me to stretch, so Charles Something is all you're getting today, world.

Anyway, Charles dies of strychnine poisoning. The main suspect is Dr. Michael Pride, who runs the Something Free Clinic deep in the heart of Harlem. He protests that he's innocent and there's not a lot of evidence, and because the Something Free Clinic is also co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York and the Cardinal knows Gregor, Gregor gets involved.

I didn't enjoy this mystery as much as I would have hoped. First of all, Bennis Hannaford, Gregor's best friend and confidante this side of Father Tibor Kasparian, was left back in Philadelphia with the rest of the Cavanaugh Street Irregulars. I prefer the stories where Bennis and Gregor work together to solve the cases, because I think Bennis brings a lot to the table as a character: she's smart, quick-thinking, funny, and fearless. Gregor is more methodical and quiet in his thinking, so he acts as kind of a cipher when Bennis isn't there. We watch him interact with the other characters, and we know he's solving the crime, but without Bennis there to ask about his process, we just have to kind of glide along until the third body almost shows up.

Oh Lord, that makes it sound as if Bennis doesn't have any agency. If you haven't read those books, the description of Bennis that I've written up there makes her sound as if she's just there to provide exposition to the readers, or to act as a sounding-board for Gregor, and that's not her at all. She is a forty-plus woman, unmarried, no kids, doesn't want kids, an acerbic wit and an unending pack of cigarettes (this was clearly written before the Truth campaign), and completely independent. She is a millionaire, and not from old money (not sure if I've explained Bennis's history before, as she is introduced in the first book, and that predates That's What She Read - anyway, Bennis is one of the daughters from a very moneyed Bryn Mawr family on the Main Line outside of Philadelphia) - Bennis earned her millions by writing a very successful fantasy series.

Guys. She's a writer. A fantasy writer. That's awesome!

And she doesn't tag along on Gregor's adventures for no reason; she tags along because she's bored, or she gets invited to some fancy shindig and Gregor goes with her because he's bored, but mostly, if she's along for the mystery ride, Gregor doesn't really want her to be there. Because he has some chivalrous feelings towards her that the long-standing widower can't identify, but he knows 'protective' is in there somewhere, and when dead bodies start to fall, he doesn't want Bennis involved (potentially because he's afraid it may bring up residual feelings left over from the investigation wherein he met Bennis, but that may be besides the point).

Ugh, that's a lot of words. Anyway. Don't think that Bennis plays the part of 'dumb female sidekick.' Hopefully the next Demarkian mystery uses Bennis more effectively and I can explicate her awesomeness further.

As for Dear Old Dead: I enjoyed it, but I don't think I'd return to it again unless I decided to reread the entire series. What I like about the Demarkian novels is that you could, potentially, read them out of order, but because I'm OCD in that fashion, I feel that I have to read them from the beginning. The overall plot is about money: who's going to get it, can I have some, Gobias some coffee -- oh wow, and if you actually read the book, you'll find out that I just made a helluva pun right there -- and there are some family squabbles and churchy squabbles and Gregor pretty much comes in, sees what's going on, and deduces almost immediately who the killer is, and then the remainder of the book is trying to catch him or her in the act.

Overall, it's an okay book. Not horrible by any means, but not a favorite. For die-hard Gregor Demarkian fans only, I guess.

Grade for Dear Old Dead: 2 stars

Fiction: "Gilligan's Wake" by Tom Carson

A conversation about two weeks ago:

Me: I really want to finish this book I'm reading, but I've been too busy.
Dad: What're you reading?
Me: Gilligan's Wake.
Dad: Wow. That's James Joyce, isn't it?
Me: No, Tom Carson. You're thinking of Finnegan's Wake.
Dad: No, I ... wait a minute. Did you say "GILLIGAN"?

Yes, I had said Gilligan. As in Gilligan, the Skipper too, the millionaire and his wife, the movie star, and the rest. But it's not what you think it's going to be.

I picked up Gilligan's Wake about -- oh wow, ten years ago. Thanks, GoodReads! But I read a blurb about it in Entertainment Weekly, and it didn't go into the plot much. Just said it was told a story using the characters from the TV Show, and it was a very well-written work. I don't know about you, but I was addicted to Gilligan's Island. Back when TNT didn't really have a tagline or a purpose, it would show a little of everything: Gilligan's Island from ten to eleven in the morning, I distinctly remember it would show The Muppet Show from 6:00 to 6:30 (which would tick my mother off to no end, because she'd want to watch the news but when we did put it on so she could see the weather, even twenty years ago she'd still find something to do just as the weather report came on, leaving my sister, my father and myself to shrug to ourselves and change the channel, only to have my mother return just as Dad began impersonating the Swedish Chef, and it'd somehow be our fault that she missed the weather. Dear Mom: a of all, when you say you want to watch the weather, stay in the living room and actually watch the weather. And b of all, at least back then we weren't changing the channel to The Simpsons).

Anyway. Addicted to Gilligan's Island. And for no apparent reason, too. I mean, it was funny, but I think if I tried to watch it now, I'd scratch my head.

I do remember having a horrible crush on The Professor. He's probably the reason I enjoy looking at men wearing slightly-unbuttoned white shirts. Plus, he was smart, but not too smart. He could turn a coconut into a radio, but he couldn't cut down trees to repair the Minnow. See also: the reason why I love Joey Tribbiani. Street smart, but incredibly dumb.

Okay, this is not what I wanted to talk about. So anyway, my childhood love for Gilligan's Island was the impetus behind me buying the book. And this is the third time I've read this book. I think I reached for it this year as part of my whole I'm Turning Thirty Nostalgia trip thing I've been unwittingly doing.

To discuss this title, I have to talk about the structure a little bit. Because there's a story, but there are also individual stories, and an underlying theme tying almost everything together. The best literary term I can use to describe it is that this book is a form of literary surrealism. I'd say it's similar in style to Jitterbug Perfume, but it's not really.

Continue reading for how the seven castaways play a larger part in a novel about love, death, betrayal, and the American twentieth century.Collapse )

Grade for Gilligan's Wake: 4 stars
*phew* Now that the Hannibal season finale has worn off (and also, I have someone in line to be the next assistant manager at my store, which means I can start having two days off per week again - hooray!), I feel that I can start getting back into the swing of things. So let's regroup with the last book I finished reading, yeah?

(Full disclosure: I may have also become addict-- intrigued, by the BBC America TV Show Orphan Black. I'm not going to say "addicted" because my interest in the show has not yet reached Fannibal levels, and I don't foresee that becoming an issue. But if I start talking with a distinct Liverpool/Cockney twang, I apologize in advance.)

(And Sarah, I know there's a difference between the two dialects. But since I didn't go to dialect school, please allow me my ignorance in this. Thanks. [smiley face])

One of my best friends, Jen, reads a lot of Young Adult novels. And over the years, she's recommended some titles to me that she really liked, and that she thinks I'd like too. Now, she did not recommend Fury to me, as that was something I saw randomly one day and decided to get it from the library -- and thank God, too, because if I had paid actual money for that book, I would have been ... is furious too stupid a joke to make there? No? Okay, good. I'm gonna let it stand.

But Jen did recommend to me the Mortal Instruments series (not to be confused with the Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman, he of Golden Compass fame), and a-of-all, there happens to be a movie coming out about it, and b-of-all, I found it for cheaps at Target, so I decided to read it. After all, the timing was right, because after Red Dragon, I seriously needed something a little lighter and the less chance of me going all AAAAAAHHHHH over it, the better.

(Seriously, guys -- it's been almost a month and I'm still not over that show. I've been following all the Comic-Con awesomeness, and I just can't, you guys, I can't. I mean, I got a tumblr for Hannibal; I may have to finally bite the bullet and get a Blu-Ray player so I can watch the full gag reel and all the other behind-the-scenes stuff. I NEVER WANTED TO BUY MYSELF A BLU-RAY, GUYS.)

So, City of Bones... the first in the Mortal Instruments series. I should probably talk about that a bit, huh?

Continue reading for such a scant overview of the plot, I shouldn't be able to call myself a reviewer anymore, plus links to tumblrs and pictures of things and basically, I'm just trying to be funny.Collapse )

Grade for City of Bones: 3 stars

Fiction: "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris

Hello. My name is Alaina, and I ... am a Fannibal. ("Hi, Alaina!")

You guys, you don't even know... I wasn't supposed to get addicted to Hannibal. I just started watching it because of cleolinda's recaps, and they were funny, and I was a little intrigued, and I half-watched the pilot and almost didn't give it a second thought, but then all of a sudden the Internet exploded, and by the time the shit hit the fan I had missed two episodes and had to catch up with, like, three online before I could get to the episodes that were on my OnDemand, and then before I knew it, I was watching ALL OF THEM before BEDTIME, and yelling things like "HOLY SHIT THE BEER IS PEOPLE" and "HANNIBAL RUTHERFORD LECTER, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" and campaigning for Eddie Izzard to win Best Guest Actor/Drama, and rooting for Alana Bloom to take care of Will's dogs, because he has a lot of dogs, yo, and Alana just wants to take care of him and she thinks Jack broke him but HANNIBAL BROKE HIM because Hannibal framed him for killing Abigail when CLEARLY Hannibal did it, because he's a MURDERER but also he dresses fantastically and also (to quote Cleolinda) he's the WORST AT HELPING, and did I mention that DANA SCULLY IS HANNIBAL'S SHRINK, NO, I DIDN'T THINK SO, and before I knew it, during the season finale I was rocking back and forth on the floor in the fetal position because I COULDN'T HANDLE THE AWESOME. It was the BEST EPISODE EVER OF EVERYTHING (except maybe "Bad Blood" -- maybe), and I realize this whole paragraph is pretty much a run-on sentence, but HANNIBAL BROKE ME YOU GUYS!! HE BROKE ME LIKE A BREAKABLE THING AND NOW I'M NOT WHOLE

Seriously, the last time a TV show broke me like this was the second episode of this year's Vampire Diaries when Damon's sitting in the woods, drinking and muttering to himself, but then the camera pans and we learn that actually, he's talking to Alaric's grave because he MISSES HIM and he's bitching that Ric left him alone with the children, but then the camera pans again and Ric's Ghost is SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO DAMON and DAMON DOESN'T KNOW YOU GUYS, and finally Damon sadly pours out the rest of his bourbon to Ric BECAUSE THEY WERE DRINKING BUDDIES IN THEIR PAST LIVES and as Damon walks away, Ric whispers, "I MISS YOU TOO BUDDY" and they BROKE ME, YOU GUYS, they just BROKE ME because Damon and Alaric are EPIC BROS. [see the scene here, but skip to 3:00 because, as Damon bitches, the Japanese Lantern thing is pretty stupid.]

EPIC BROS. I think it's been scientifically proven that I have a ~thing~ for BROS.

And Hannibal and Will are Bros, too! Except that, unlike Damon + Alaric, Hannibal's way of showing Will that he loves him is by framing him for murder and getting him sent to a psychiatric institute for crazy people. THE SAME CELL HANNIBAL WILL SOON INHABIT BECAUSE DRAMATIC IRONY IS A RICH AND FANTASTIC THING

ANYWAY. As I tend to do when I get obsessed about something, I kind of went overboard and grabbed my copy of Red Dragon, which is the first Hannibal Lecter novel, but which also post-dates the Hannibal TV series by three years, if showrunner Brian Fuller is to be believed. (The TV Show is occurring three years before the events of Red Dragon, so the dramatic irony comes when we, the audience, realizes that sure, right now, Will and Hannibal are the best of friends, but eventually, Hannibal will be on the other side of that psychiatric looking glass. HOW DOES THE FRIENDSHIP FALL APART AND WHO DISCOVERS THAT THE VEAL IS PEOPLE?)

Um, you guys? We have reached Maximum Obsession. I may have just created a Tumblr ... so I can follow Hannibal. PLEASE SEND HELP AND COOKIES.Collapse )

Grade for Red Dragon: 3.5 stars
Hey guys! Betcha weren't expecting me again so soon!

Truth is, life has been crazy on the other side of the screen over here at That's What She Read. Can't really get into it, but I haven't had a lot of time off from work due to shorthandedness, so I'm really trying to work through some things and come out on the other side without having to resort to a tequila & Sunset Boulevard-fest. So right now, the way I'm handling it is to use my insomnia to its best advantage. So I'm avoiding Buzzfeed, I'm getting through old episodes of Conan on the TiVo for background noise, and let's get all the blog posts caught up so I can move on to the other four books I've been reading.

So without further ado, I give you: My Wicked Little Lies.

Continue reading to learn about the nonexistent plot, and also to see how Alaina hates power imbalances.Collapse )

Grade for My Wicked Little Lies: 1 star
I can't believe I have two reviews I haven't written yet. I finished two books in May, and haven't even put … er, figurative pen to figurative paper about them. What is wrong with me? (Don't answer that.)

Let's begin with May's theme (arbitrarily decided upon with no outside input, sarcastic thanks to all of you who answered my survey) (but no seriously, legitimate thanks to the three of you that did respond, that really meant a lot), Classic Literature. And since I'm fond of hopping on bandwagons (give me a stair-car and I can rule the world!), I figured I'd just go ahead and kill a lot of birds with a minimal amount of stones (maybe mistresses with cars?) and read The Great Gatsby.

Holy shit, I have got to stop using parenthetical phrases. That above paragraph is disgusting. My junior-year English teacher would be rolling over in her grave if she was dead.

Continue reading for the Ruiner's Version of the plot, and discussions about secret-keeping, trustworthiness, and what makes Gatsby Great.Collapse )

Grade for The Great Gatsby: 4 stars
Holy crap, I spent entirely too long on this book.

First, the setup. See, I had just finished Nerve and as I was wondering what I was going to pick up next, I remembered a throwaway statement I made last year when I reviewed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I had commented in that review that since the April before that (2011), I had read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and now I found myself reviewing another book about a different US President (with some fictional vampires thrown in), that it appeared that April had turned into American History Month here at That's What She Read.

Flash-forward to me in April 2013, remembering that throwaway statement. Then cut to me completely taking that throwaway statement and running away with it. Because for about a week, I was popping in and out of Bull Moose and (shudder) Books-A-Million, looking for a book about American History that I could read and review, because if I sarcastically say something one year out of the corner of my mouth, apparently it becomes incontrovertible fact the next?

I picked up a few books at both places, and when I got home, I realized that there was no way I could spin the complete history of MI-6 as American History. I mean, I can spin some shit, but let's get real. So after Round 2 of shopping, I did finally pick up this book for two reasons: 1) It went into depth of Teddy Roosevelt's time as Police Commissioner for New York City, and I like Teddy Roosevelt, and 2) it was called Island of Vice. That sounded awesome! I love vice! It's my second-favorite sin.

(Wait ... vice isn't ... y'know? Don't correct me. It's fine.)

And don't get me wrong, it's not like I didn't like the book; I did. It had its moments. I think my biggest complaint about the book is that for something entitled Island of Vice, it really should have been called something like Boardroom of Bureaucracy instead. There was entirely too little vice and too much paperwork and interpersonal problems that involve wording around laws for something with this title.

The book details the fight between the laws governing New York City (then, just Manhattan) and the saloon-owners and brothels of the island. See, saloons and whorehouses brought in tons of money. Problem was, they were illegal. Well, saloons were legal, they just had to be closed on Sunday. Except the saloon-owners said 'fuck that shit' and served alcohol to everyone on Sundays, same as the rest of the week. A reverend, Dr. Parkhurst, got sick of all the drunkenness, the prostitution, and the corruption of the NYPD that allowed these institutions to function - as long as the kickbacks and protection money kept flowing into the cops' hands, of course. So the reform Republicans created a Commissioner's Board, which was supposedly bipartisan, and it included Teddy Roosevelt.

Roosevelt focused on upholding the letter of the law, and wanted all policemen to do the same. Whether he believed that saloons should be shut down on Sunday or not, it was his duty as commissioner to ensure that the law was upheld. He and I agree on this one issue: if you don't like a law, you enact to change the law. But you can't break the law just because you think it's stupid.*

*Except speeding. But this was written before automobiles, so. Also, I operate under Aladdin's Law: You're only in trouble if you get caught.

In the end, due to the pressure put on him by New Yorkers who just wanted to get their drink on, Roosevelt ponies up to President McKinley and manages to get out of the failing Commissioner's Board position and into the Assistant Secretary to the Navy position, wherein he nearly single-handedly gets the Spanish-American War started. New York goes back to its vice-ey ways, and not even Prohibition can stop them.

Hm. So this review feels a bit disjointed; probably because it's taken me five days to write it. In the time since I finished this book and today, I have read the entirety of The Great Gatsby. I just ... I feel confused about the book. I liked it, and yet I didn't like it?

Here's my problem with the book: I wanted there to be more vice. The book starts off with Rev. Parkhurst's tour of New York's prostitution houses, and saloons, and other places. And it was HILARIOUS to me to see how offended he was! Now, granted, I am not exactly a God-fearing Christian woman. And society is much different today than it was over a hundred years ago. But being able to look at history from today's perspective can sometimes be hilarious.

FOR INSTANCE: Here's a menu of what could have been offered in a brothel back then: [UH MOM DON'T READ THIS NEXT PART]
- "Common old fashioned fuck" [man on top]: $1
- "Rear fashion": $1.50
- "Back scuttle fashion" [anal]: $1.75
- "French fashion with use of patent balls" [elaborate oral]: $3.50
- "All night, with use of towel and rose water": $5 [[p. 285]]
SEE? Inflation ALONE makes that funny!

I wanted more of that! Funny stories where vice was happening! I don't care about paperwork! If I wanted to read about paperwork, I'd read a book about business! *sigh* But it was also about Teddy Roosevelt, and I love Teddy Roosevelt! See? All conflicted.

If you're a die-hard TR fan, then go ahead and read the book. It is interesting; I just wanted more sexy escapades. THAT DIDN'T DIRECTLY INVOLVE ROOSEVELT, I feel that needs to be EMPHATICALLY CLEAR.

Grade for Island of Vice: 2 stars

Fiction: "Nerve" by Dick Francis

Note from the Future
I started writing this entry on Sunday, April 14. Being a Mainer, I have incredibly close ties with the wonderful city of Boston. I have family and friends who live in that city, and the idea of taking something as pure and fun as the Boston Marathon and turning it into a scene of terror and heartache is unconscionable. So, please just note that this entry may sound disjointed after about halfway through, and also note that Boston is like, the second-worst city to mess with (New York obviously being the first). We will find who did this and there will be no mercy, count on that.

Okay. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Continue reading for the review of Nerve. Yeah, that's all the witty repartee I've got in me today.Collapse )

SPEAKING OF CARING. Now that I've sort of got your attention. In addition to That's What She Read, I also run another blog, Movies Alaina's Never Seen. And I've started thinking about ways to either make the blogs better, or to do different things with them... either way, I'm seeking feedback and I'd love as many people to participate as possible. So far I have two responses, and one of them is my sister. While her point is absolutely valid, one cannot analyze data and make cohesive decisions with only two points of data.

If you have a few seconds, please take my feedback survey. It's only ten questions, and even if you don't read either of these blogs routinely (or at all -- maybe you found me doing a Google Image search or something), I'd greatly appreciate any and all possible feedback. Thanks so much!

Grade for Nerve: 3.5 stars
So if you're a reader of Movies Alaina's Never Seen, then hopefully you're familiar with a subset of that website, Insomniac Theatre. That's where I DVR a classic movie off of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and live-blog it, just like I do when I watched the Star Wars movies and how I will eventually get fricking Shawshank Redemption off of my list. Because NO, I'm STILL not ready to watch that. I'm going to need a day off and oh so much wine to get through that one.

OH GODDAMMIT. SERIOUSLY?! I DIDN'T EVEN PLAN THAT. *OR,* because I am currently at my parents' house without my DVDs and/or Netflix, and the only options of what to watch is Due Date (on TBS, so all the swears are cleaned up), When Harry Met Sally, which is on Oxygen (or as I call it, The Commercial Channel [sorry Oprah]), or FUCKING SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION on AMC. I just -- WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, CABLE?!


Continue reading for a synopsis of the plot less spoilers, Why Alaina Likes Plays, and inspiration.Collapse )
Dear Lord, I love this book.

I think this makes it the sixth time I've read it? I first read it ... either in high school or freshman year of college. I want to say before college, because I definitely used an excerpt from Bridget Jones for a speech tournament at Franklin Pierce (British accent and everything! I believe I came in fourth. Hurrah!). For a while I was reading it every January, as a kind of kick-off of the year. But going back through my records (because yes, I am completely the crazy, paranoid, anal-retentive individual that keeps records of when she reads books, by month and year, and whether she's read them before or not. IT'S ONLY A PROBLEM IF YOU THINK IT'S A PROBLEM), the last time I read it was 2007.

Why did I fall in love with Bridget Jones back then? She was funny, self-assured, thought* she had a weight problem, delightfully alcoholic and addicted to cigarettes, went through phases of trying to be a better person, and single in her thirties. Her character was someone I could connect with, even as a young adult.

Continue reading for some angst about an Important Birthday, Pride and Prejudice and Bridget, and more about Alaina's Favorite Trope, Oblivious Women.Collapse )

In the end, this book is one I will continuously return to. The narrator is smart, funny -- I will say, also exceptionally British. There are some jokes that I have to look up to get the reference, but luckily, they're not the important jokes. And overall, Bridget is relate-able. She resonated with me when I was in high school, as someone to look up to. Now, I find her a comrade-in-Singleton-arms. And I look forward to the day when I can revisit her and say, "Oh, that used to be me."

PS - the movie is good too. Doesn't follow the book's plot 100%, but who can resist Colin Firth playing Mark Darcy? Hmm... maybe that's how I'll spend the rest of this snow day...

Grade for Bridget Jones's Diary: 6 stars
Can I just say, today has been an amazing day? I had lunch with a good friend, Catholics got a new Pope (Pope Francis! And you know we're all going to call him Pope Frankie, right? I mean, I'm still a little sad that we didn't get to enjoy Pope Benny a little longer. If only for the name; I don't actually truck with that popey-changey Catholicism), and -- oh right! -- VERONICA MARS HAS A KICKSTARTER.

I haven't pledged yet, mainly because I am broker than a bad metaphor. I may have gotten one -- ONE -- Jury Duty check today for a whole $27, but I can't deposit it until tomorrow. And can I just take one second more of digression and state how amused I am that Jury Duty can't even pay me my lump sum all at once, but instead I now have to apparently make weekly trips to the bank to deposit twenty bucks at a time? I mean, seriously? Why can't you just pay me my $90 all at once?!

Gah. Fucking government idiots. The point of that rant was that, while I do need to buy gas, as soon as I deposit some of that sweet, sweet Jury Duty money, I'm contributing to the Veronica Mars movie. Because that is a thing that has to happen. The power of Weevil compels you!

Anyway. The book that I done read. This is another one of those late-night Wal-Mart purchases, and the entire reason I bought it was because not only does this involve a kidnapping, but apparently, it also deals with twins.Continue reading for the plot of the book, how it differs from the back of the book's description of the plot, and What Not To Call Your Penis.Collapse )

Okay. Enough about that. I'm now going to go make myself dinner, and I'm debating whether to start a rewatch of Alias or Veronica Mars. Hmm...

Grade for After the Abduction: 1.5 stars
After I finished The Runaway Jury with great speed, I found myself still stuck in Jury Duty with nothing (appropriate) to read. (At the time, I was/am reading two historical romance novels, and since I had lambasted on Twitter a woman in the jury pool who brought Fifty Shades of Gray to Jury, I wasn't about to be caught dead reading After the Abduction in public.) Since the other John Grishams all dealt with the lawyers and not the jurors, and also, I was in a pissed-off mood about having to deal with the whole damn thing, plus I was selected for TWO MORE JURIES which meant that I was going to be in an enclosed space with people I didn't know or particularly like ...

Hey, it's not flying cross-country, but it felt like it. To the next Patricia Cornwell!

So I dug in with glee, knowing I would at least find something else to bitch about as the week wore on. What was Kay Scarpetta going to be all judgy about this time? She already knocked Zima in her previous book; maybe this time she'd take on candy corn?

Here's what shocked me: the further I read, the less dogears I made. To the point where, I actually found myself ... not enjoying it, exactly, but at least not completely hating it?


Continue reading for a disease that is possibly made up, some funny references, and Alaina's Amazing Spelling Skillz.Collapse )

I do have to point out that yes, in the end, the disease was All About Kay (TM), and if you don't expect that going in, you're more naive than I was back when I thought that I'd be able to get out of jury duty right away.

Grade for Unnatural Exposure: 1.5 stars

Fiction: "The Runaway Jury" by John Grisham

So yes; I was totally the asshole who decided to reread The Runaway Jury during her jury duty.

I think this is the third, maybe fourth time I've read Runaway Jury. I do remember it being one of my favorite Grisham novels, back when I was reading them the way I eat candy: devouring everything about it as quickly as possible. I can't remember if I saw the twist coming from a mile away back then, or what I was thinking. I'll go into how I looked at it this time in a few minutes paragraphs.

Continue reading for an overview of the plot, a very important discretion on Alaina's part, and allusions to the future best-selling humorous quasi-memoir, 'How to Survive Jury Duty' by Alaina Patterson.Collapse )

And finally -- as this is a John Grisham novel --, I'd like to redirect everyone to my review of The Firm and give you The Runaway Jury's version of events:

I, D, 1, a, i, $10 million.

Grade for The Runaway Jury: 3 stars
Today's been a weird day. It was our first official Snow Day at the store, which is awesome for me on a personal level -- not so awesome at the fact that Winter Storm Nemo may have just screwed us out of having a good week for once. But on that mythical, personal level, it was my first Snow Day because the place that I worked closed, and I honestly didn't know what to do with myself aside from dancing in my pajamas for about ten minutes.

So I set myself up for a couple of goals: I wanted to finish reading this book today; I needed to shovel off my deck, as it's the way to get in and out of my apartment; and I wanted to watch Die Hard II: Die Harder, because DIE HARD FIVE COMES OUT THIS WEEK AND I WANT IT SO BAD I MEAN CAN I GO SEE IT NOW

Good news - I accomplished one and a half of my goals!

I'm not sure why I picked up The Lunatic Cafe, aside from I remember saying it as an option for a future book while I was reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I guess I was just looking for something that was the complete opposite of that book? I succeeded!

Continue reading for a lot of ranting, a definition of hate-reading, and a hint at what's to come. Sorry for the vagueness.Collapse )

Believe it or not, there's a little more, but I don't want to keep talking about this book. I'm currently reading two historical romances, but my Lunch Break book is going to turn into The Runaway Jury very quickly, because ... I have jury duty coming up this week. Be sure to follow me on Twitter [@WillBeFunOrElse] to stay up-to-date with my inevitable disappointment that my jury duty does not descend into Franklin & Bash-style antics.

Grade for The Lunatic Cafe: 1.5 stars

Fiction: "Killing Floor" by Lee Child

So before I get into this review, I feel that I should mention that I've come to recognize that the manner in which I review a book is not normal. I mean, I give a small, hopefully-spoiler-free synopsis of the plot, and a rating, and at times I comment on the writing and tell about my favorite parts, but on the whole, I deal with what the book makes me think about in my own weird connection-space versus just looking at the book on its own. I hope that's okay with everyone. And if it's not, then ... there are tons of other book bloggers out there. I just hope I make some people laugh about the way my funny little mind works, that's all.

Anyway. I guess the reason I wanted to say that first is because I have a feeling this review will be less about the book and more about How Much Alaina Hates Tom Cruise.

Continue reading for No, Seriously, Alaina Fucking HATES Tom Cruise; the actual plot of the book, and Your Redbox Recommendations.Collapse )

Grade for Killing Floor: 3 stars
Dear Library:

First of all, as I hand you a crumpled ten-dollar bill as payment for the largest overdue fine I have ever incurred, let me apologize for keeping this novel out for an entire month past the renewed due date.

Secondly, the next time I come in? Please only let me check out the top two books in my pile, not all five. That will save us all some embarrassment.

Thirdly, I was going to ask why this was on your 'recommended reading' shelf, when I remembered that it wasn't. So, apologies again.


And before I get into the ranting and the not-so-much-with-the raving on this edition, let me give a firm shout-out to my wonderful laptop Sydney and her iTunes choices. Because the first song she decides to play is the immortal classic "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips, and all I can see in my head is this:

And it's actually perfect, in that I totally had to hold on through this book, even though a lot of things with this book made me wanna turn around and say goodbye. But I didn't let 'em hold me down and make me cry. Cuz I hoped, things'll change, things'll go my way if I held on for one more day!

Except it didn't. Color me very disappointed.

I'm sorry for the earworm. But there may be better earworms the longer I write this entry!Collapse )

Grade for Special Topics in Calamity Physics: 1 star.

2012 Recap

So Long, 2012! Let Me Read Moar in 2013, For You Were The Worst Year On Record And I Am Sore Ashamed.

I read a total of 29 books. I can't -- I can't even, you guys. That is terrible. What happened?

[Actually, I know exactly what happened. Great Expectations, The Story of Ain't, and the soon-to-be-reviewed Special Topics in Calamity Physics, I'm talking to you. Bastards.]

Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is one that I had not previously read. There's a lot this year! So here we go, with the shortest list ever! No seriously, this is ridiculous. I sucked this year.Collapse )

Fiction: "Fury" by Elizabeth Miles

Well. After the interminable hell that was The Story of Ain't, I still had four books from the library to read before December 12. This was the shortest with the biggest print (which also enabled me to finish it before November 30. Huzzah!).

Fury originally caught my eye when I was taking a stroll through Bull Moose in Scarborough. For the uninitiated, Bull Moose is the best record store this side of Empire Records. No, I'm serious. It's a local chain of music stores that branched out into DVDs, video games, and now (thanks to Borders going under), the only place I buy books. For cheap! Anyway, Fury was on the "new and notable" pile. I read the synopsis on the inside of the cover, and it stuck with me.

It takes place in Ascension, Maine, and the star is Emily Winters. She finds herself in love with her best friend's boyfriend. Meanwhile, Chase Singer, star quarterback, is finding himself in a stressful situation and his public persona is starting to unravel. And according to the synopsis, "In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls -- three beautiful, mysterious girls -- are here to choose who will pay."

Sounds interesting, right?


Continue reading for examinations of: Greek mythology; the Boston subway system; and how all teenagers are awful.Collapse )

Grade for Fury: No stars.
Has everybody heard the story about how Brad and I have fought, off and on, for five years, about the status of 'irregardless' as a possible word? No? Okay, in brief:

I fought vociferously that 'irregardless' is not a word. Brad maintained that it is a word. I said, again, that it was not. Brad threw a dictionary at me. IN HIS DEFENSE, it was a paperback pocket dictionary, and I caught it. It's not like he threw a fifteen-pound book at my head. Anyway, he threw it at me because he said that since 'irregardless' was in the dictionary, that made it a word. I said that okay, sure, it was in the dictionary, big deal, but it stated that it was non-standard usage, which meant that it shouldn't be used, therefore, it shouldn't be a word, so DON'T FUCKING SAY IRREGARDLESS EVERYONE.

That would be our routine whenever anyone said 'irregardless' around the both of us. Jean especially thought it was hilarious, and would say it on purpose just to rile me. Because -- God love him -- he's kind of a dick.

Continue reading for the resolution to the epic fight between Brad and myself, why I hated the book, and a plea for cromulence.Collapse )

Grade for The Story of Ain't: No stars.

Grading System

[Six stars (equiv. to A+++): If I could %!@& this book, I would.]

Five stars (equiv. to A): If I could eat this book, I would.

Four stars (equiv. to A-): Have I talked to you about this book yet? No? Let me tell you how much I enjoyed it/it moved me/I'm lending it to you but YOU HAVE TO READ IT.

Three stars (equiv. to B): It was good; glad I own a copy, because I'll read it again. Do you want to borrow it? Keep it as long as you want!

Two stars (equiv. to C): Reading this once was good enough; it gave me some amusement. Now, back to the library/used bookstore with you!

One star (equiv. to D-): Wow. Note to self: never read this again.

No stars: I did not finish this book.

Twilight stars (equiv. to EPIC FAIL): I dented the wall when I threw it across the room, it was that bad.


that's what she read
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