Friday, May 31, 2013

The Book Cookbook: Attachments and French Silk Pie

So this is hardly revelatory (have you seen my instagram?), but I like baking. Also not revelatory, I like to read. I know, I'm blowing your minds here right? What you may not know is that I enjoy mixing the two together (just like a cake, BOOM). I haven't yet mastered how to read while baking (aside from the obvious audiobook, but that's clearly cheating) but I do like to bake what I've read. Or more specifically, the tasty delightful treats that are mentioned as being the favourite dessert of my favourite character, or the main snack when the gang hangs at a late night diner. I guess it's part love of baking, part wanting to be a part of the awesome world I just read about, part not wanting to let the story end just yet. It was after hunting the internet for a recipe for French silk pie after my marathon read of Attachments that this new segment popped into my mind. I mean, duh, of course I should write about my two loves colliding. How did I not think of this earlier? So here it is, the inaugural post to my new semi-regular segment;

Up first is the book which kicked this whole thing into motion. It's the kick-assiest, most amazing book I've read this year and it started a whole rather ridiculous obsession with all things Rainbow Rowell that I am currently struggling through. In it Lincoln, a tech security officer, falls in love with a woman through the emails she writes to a friend which keep getting snagged by the security system he monitors. It is the most wonderful of romantic comedies, a little unrealistic (as all the best rom-coms are) but also completely down to earth and unbelievably heart-warming and mouth-smiley. Lincoln is a little sad but lovely all the same and the two ladies, Jennifer and Beth are smashing, although they make me very sad that I don't have similar email conversations with girls at work. Why don't I work somewhere that involves emails? Or quippy ladies? WHY DIDN'T THE GUIDENCE COUNCILLOR COVER THESE THINGS? CURSES!

"Lincoln ate two pieces of French silk pie and listened, "if you really wanted to be with another girl," he said finally, mulling a third piece, "you would be. You wouldn't be here with me, talking about Dena." (page 98)
Food plays a pretty prominent role in this book since Lincoln's mum, who he still lives with, is constantly baking and boiling and roasting and steaming the most drool-inducing foods for him, which he then shares with the delightful Doris. As tasty as her food sounded, it was the French silk pie which had my mouth watering. Which is quite a feat considering I don't usually like pie that much and I'd never even heard of French silk before.

I think it was less the pie and more the events surrounding the pie that piqued my interest so greatly. Not only is he eating tasty desserts, but Lincoln is spending late nights in a diner talking to friends about music and relationships. And isn't that what we all want in the end? Desserts, friends, and endless cups of coffee? I defy you to offer a more perfect recipe for happiness.
 "Lincoln had seen Beth's boyfriend half a dozen times now. Justin had really taken to Scajawea after that first show. Now he called Lincoln whenever the band was playing. Dena, Justin's girlfriend, would come, too. They usually ended up at the Village Inn afterward. They'd all order pie and listen to Justin dissect the night's show." (p114)
I adapted my recipe from this one here, although I added a touch more chocolate and chose to use premade shortcrust pastry tart shells rather than make my own. Pastry is ridiculous here in the tropics, and I wanted to make sure I actually liked the pie before spending hours with fiddly sticky dough, but I've used this recipe before, so if you want to do things right (and homemade is always best) this is a good place to start.

So bake a pie, get hold of Attachments and get ready to be swept off your feet. And if you want to get swept of your feet for reals, I hear writing hilarious emails on the office intranet and hanging out at diners works wonders. Happy book cooking!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA (day 3) Literary Fiction

So I really hope my genre fiction post yesterday didn't give anyone the idea that I don't like literary fiction, or that I don't recognise the brilliance that can be found between the covers of a literary fiction novel. he broad definition of literary fiction is a book that's serious in tone and holds literary merit.  If you take that as fact it's pretty clear that the two genres are not mutually exclusive, there's a definite muddiness in the line between the two, it's just the critics who like to try and make it sharper from time to time.


2013 has not been much of a literary year for me. Aside from Room by Emma Donoghue my books have all been thoroughly genre fiction. With a PhD to work on I haven't really had the heart to explore dark and emotionally-wrought novels that will probably take me a month to finish. Or at least, the lighter more enjoyable books are just beckoning far louder on my bookshelves. But recommendations I do have, oh I have trucks full of them!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiiguro was my favourite book of 2011, really powerful and interesting and hard to put down. A must read for sure. Anything by Margaret Atwood is a sure-fire winner, there's (almost) always a strong feminist or dystopian thread running through her books and they will take the wind out of you. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is like a historical fiction/literary fiction cross and if you like history (specifically English history in this case) then her sharp, accurate and illuminating prose will rock your socks off. The sequel Bring Up The Bodies came out last year and I still don't own it, which is a serious problem I hope to rectify soon. I read my first essay collection by David Sedaris this year, and for the most part I really enjoyed his brutally frank, self-deprecating story-telling although I don't know how many collections I could read without it feeling derivative. It's perhaps not strictly literary fiction, but Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader is a fantastic novella and Cormac McCarthy's distopian novel The Road is filled with some of the most beautiful prose I've ever come across.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA (day 2): Blogger Development and Genre

I've always had a pretty haphazard approach to my blogging. When I started my blog it was simply because I wanted to write but about what I didn't know. So my first 4 months were filled with short posts about current affairs issues, links to articles I'd written, meanderings about places I wanted to visit. At around the same time I started to find a lot of book blogs and it seemed like the perfect thing for me. You see, although I have friends and family who like to read, none of them read as much as me and more importantly, none of them want to deconstruct it with me. So I started to write reviews, not for every book I read, but for the ones I really felt like reviewing, and then I started to take part in memes like TTT and Follow Friday and it all sort of developed from there.

I'm still far from a big blogger, but I think I've gotten myself into a rhythm I like. I post at least one review a week, a Monday post that's full of pop-culture and bookish links (no one knows better than me how important procrastination first thing Monday is!), and hopefully another post, either a readalong update, a recipe, a discussion post or a meme. At one stage I was posting two reviews a week and another two to three posts but with my PhD studies I just don't have the time, and I'd hate for this to ever feel like a chore.

I stopped caring about how many followers I had pretty quickly. I noticed that if I took part in the memes I would amass a bunch of "new followers" but of the 20 that followed me, i'd maybe see one or two of them commenting on my reviews after that day. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have several thousand people reading what I have to say about books, but I'd rather a smaller base that engage with my reviews and who I develop friendships with than a large number that are never actually around.

I haven't really gone "pro" but I do get sent requests to review books from authors and the occasional publisher and earlier this year I was invited down to the Harlequin Blogger Summit which was pretty amazing! In the end though, since I have such limited time thanks to my study, I read the books I want to read. It can be hard to say no to an author (I've had a few that don't seem to understand the meaning of the word) but if it's feeling a little bad/awkward vs missing out on the new Rainbow Rowell because I'm reading some boring, poorly edited book about a werewolf in love with a mermaid - well it's no contest!

The best advice I could give another blogger is (do you guys even want advice? Too bad, you're getting it)

1. keep your blog simple yet engaging visually. Don't have music start playing when the website loads, don't have hundreds of pictures and awards on the sidebars (and actually, 1 sidebar is usually more than enough), and don't have too huge a sub-heading under your blog title. People are there for your writing and all these things get in the way, and I know I will often X out of a blog if there is too much going on. If you must have these things, create a separate page for your blog roll, awards, etc.
2.  Get involved in the community. Blogging was always fun, but now I can't imagine giving it up thanks to the friendships I've formed. It's so much fun to fangirl over authors or books with people on twitter, or get into discussions about books on their blogs and to share Christmas or birthday cards. It's easily the best part of blogging, better than the occasional free book, and better than the excuse to read. 
3. Be yourself. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but when I started reviewing they were very similar to the articles or essays I'd hand in at university. It was formal and maybe a little dry. While I love to read reviews that sound like one half of a discussion with a friend (it makes commenting more easy too) they don't have to be full of slang or gifs, just be comfortable and write something you'd like to read and which gets across some of your personality too.

 Yay!! Genre fiction! The biggest drain on my life was during my under-grad when other students (and teachers) would look down their nose in disgust at genre fiction. Apparently if it's horror it can't be good. Apparently if it's sci-fi it can't be good. Irregardless of the fact that some of the books they were praising, such as Frankenstein and Dracula are freaking genre novels!! I touched on this subject in a blog post I wrote way back in my earlier days while I was waiting at an airport and remembering classmates complaining about the shoddy genre writing available at airports and how it was leading towards a dumbing down of society. YAWN.

Regardless of what Lit snobs might say, genre fiction is fabulous and really, 98% of books published are technically genre fiction - so there's absolutely zero ways for you to be both a reader and a genre hater! I read from a lot of different genres, but I guess horror would be the main well I keep returning to. I love, love, love Stephen King, and if you're yet to discover the wonder that is King I must recommend Cell, Pet Semetary, The Stand or The Shining. The man is a machine, and a master at adding supernatural horror to emphasise everyday terrors like losing a child, or bullying. Really guys, go find a Stephen King book and sit your butt down and READ. Aside from King, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is phenomenal, if you liked the film versions (shudder) then you will be blown half way across the globe when you read the book. Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist is a vampire story with heart (although I haven't been as impressed with his other novels), Children of Men by P.D James is an short but great dystopian novel, and William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist is as iconic as the film, but in a completely different way.

Outside of horror, if you're a fan of myth and fantasy, then American Gods by Neil Gaiman is probably perfect for you, or if you prefer religion and fantasy you'd do better with Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. And because he's the greatest, read Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein if you want a crime novel with a nasty edge or his FREE online comic series, Freak Angels for a dystopian series.

Got any recommendations to throw my way?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA: Introductions and Classics Talk

Hello everyone, I am super excited to take part in Armchair BEA this year! I've seen the posts around the blogosphere the last couple of years but this is the first time I've been organised to actually take part, and I'm psyched to meet some new people.

So I guess I should introduce myself;

Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location.
I am in Brisbane, Australia and right now it is absolutely miserable. It's cold and wet but sitting on the couch with a cup of tea writing this post is life at its very best. I can't really think of anything too random or special right now, but we are blessed with pretty amazing weather here in Brisbane. We don't get the turbulent hot/cold/rain/snow/sun mess that Melbourne and Adelaide go through on a daily basis, but we're also southern enough that we don't get the epic tropical heat from the up north. As someone from the tippy top of Australia I can tell you with 100% clarity, tropical heat 70% of the year - it blows.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?
I am currently juggling about 6 different books, but my two favourite reads for 2013 would definitely be Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Those books are amazing, if you haven't read them yet I highly encourage you to seek them out.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.
Hmmmm, I really love buying people presents, everything from the actual gift to the presentation of it. I love to make it personal and just right for that person. You won't catch me buying people socks or gift cards, no siree.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
Ask me this in a week or a month and I'll probably have a completely different answer for you, but right now it'd have to be Beth and Jennifer from Attachments. They're just the lovliest ladies, I love how they care for each other, and how witty they are and how they bounce everything off each other. It would be hands down one of the most enjoyable experiences I could imagine.

What is your favorite part about the book blogging community?
Ugh, so much! The whole community/friend vibe that everyone sends out is pretty fabulous. Like, right now I'm taking part in a Harry Potter readalong hosted by the wonderful Alice of Reading Rambo and it's so great to see what everyone else is thinking as we go through the series, expressing emotions through epic amounts of gifs and having silly arguments and discussions about Sirius or Snape or the school's plumbing.

Today, tell us all the reasons why you love classic literature. What are your favourite classics? If you could give a list of classics to someone who claims to hate them to make them change their mind, what would be on it? How would you convince them to give classics a try? And why do you keep coming back to those old favorites?

I love to read classics, they're such a fascinating view into how life used to be - which can also be quite confronting or alien at times. I tend to gravitate more towards contemporary classics, I loooove One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, short stories by H.P Lovecraft, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles and, of course, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde and co. Recently my classics reading has been a little spotty, a couple of books here and there, but since I finished my literature degree I think perhaps I burnt myself out a little. Regardless I still love to read a classic every now and again and it irks me no end when someone says "nah, I don't really like classics".

The thing is, classics are just like contemporary fiction - just older (I wish I could articulate that better!) You can get classic horror, classic sci-fi, classic romance, classic literary fiction, get the idea. So when someone tells me they don't like classics, my first step is usually to try to direct them towards a classic in their genre of choice. My second step is to go for more of a contemporary classic, so rather than throw them in the deep end, I edge them into it, maybe with a book from the 1950s or 1920s. Once they've gotten into them I can show them books from the 1800s or maybe even earlier depending on how they're finding it. Typically when someone says they don't like classics it's that the classics scare them a little, or they had to read the super dry ones in high school which turned them off. Of course, some people won't like them full stop but it never hurts to try!

Book Review: Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

Gun Machine

Written by: Warren Ellis

Published: 2013

Synopsis: After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable purpose.

Confronted with the sudden emergence of hundreds of unsolved homicides, Tallow soon discovers that he's walked into a veritable deal with the devil. An unholy bargain that has made possible the rise of some of Manhattan's most prominent captains of industry. A hunter who performs his deadly acts as a sacrifice to the old gods of Manhattan, who may, quite simply, be the most prolific murderer in New York City's history.

Challenges: Published in 2013 for Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge

Warren Ellis has a very special place in my heart. He is 100,000,000 times greater than every other comic book writer that has ever lived or ever will lived, he came at a point in my life when I had run out of HST books and needed a brutally honest, brutally hilarious, brutally mental writer to fill the HST sized gap, he constantly challenges himself and the comic industry (for example, his comic SKV which uses invisible ink) and his series Transmetropolitan (seriously the greatest comic series you will ever read) was the first book Tom lent me and an integral part in my desire to keep seeing him, i.e. keep getting volumes of Transmetro for free. Lucky for Tom it turned out I actually liked the lender as much as the lended (cue fireworks and chirping blue birds with big cartoon eyes and other junk that signifies love). So yes, needless to say, I like Warren Ellis, I like his stuff and I'm usually pretty flippin' quick to buy it as soon as it's advertised.

It's pretty difficult, nigh impossible for a comic writer to successfully transition into novels. Or at least it is without some pretty dismal failures littered along the way. Ellis's first novel, Crooked Little Vein (which I loved and reviewed here) was amazing because it captured the brashness and rapid fire attack of a comic narrative while also containing depth, fantastic pacing and Ellis's unique outlook on life. So again, needless to say I had pretty high hopes that Gun Machine would fall into line with the rest of his oeuvre.

90% of Gun Machine does live up to the Warren Ellis hype, but the other 10% has been niggling at me for weeks, making it virtually impossible to write this review. Ellis' go to genre seems to be crime/police procedural, but he typically approaches it in a way that avoids all the daggy tropes and pitfalls that the crime books my mum likes stumble over. Ellis' crime stories have an edge, perhaps it's supernatural, perhaps it's investigating fringe culture, or maybe it's using a protagonist who is an investigative gonzo journalist. Which ever he chooses he usually has a really good reason which both informs and is informed by the events of the novels, and there's just a real chunkiness to the whole thing. Like when you have a really hearty casserole for dinner and you feel full and satisfied and warm for hours afterwards. For the first time though I felt like there was a lack of connection and flow in Ellis' work.

His protagonist, John Tallow, is absolutely an interesting character. The book opens with Tallow and his partner turning up at a crime scene where a man was rampaging around the hallway of an apartment naked holding a gun. Things happen and the big naked guy ends up shooting Tallow's partner, killing him instantly. Along with ending the life of Tallow's much more loved and respected partner, the big guy blew a hole in the wall of a neighbouring apartment, thrusting Tallow into a whole new world of shit. The apartment is full of guns, guns which testing will show were each used for different unsolved murder cases. Without even getting a day to deal with the loss of his good friend and partner Tallow is put onto the case of solving this monster of a case. What we learn is that this case is basically considered a career killer. There are hundreds of guns, spanning hundreds of separate cases, with no fingerprints or DNA. It's going to destroy their district's stats and the chance of finding the culprit is considered close to impossible.

We don't get all the details right away, but it's becomes pretty clear that Tallow is apathetic about police work, he's "nine parts dead already". He has no desire to rise through the ranks or to make any conspicuous change in society. It's just a job, and a job which he puts the smallest modicum of effort into. He floats through it all, and at first you get angry for him when his now-dead partner's wife refuses to let him come to the funeral (she thinks it should have been him) or his boss treats him like dirt, but then you find yourself getting angry at him because he just doesn't care. It's frustrating, but it also makes for a very interesting read - are we going to see him fail as everyone expects him to? Is he going to have a meteoric rise to success? Does he actually care about anything? And why does he seem to care about so little?

What isn't so great (and this is where that 90-10 split first appears) is that along with this genuinely interesting character turmoil, there are these character quirks that just feel tacked on. Ellis' male protagonists are typically intelligent, messy and sarcastic men who drink dark black coffee like water and smoke like Humphrey Bogart (or at least they do in my mind). Most of that transfers over to Tallow's sardonic and apathetic persona with ease, but then you have things like Tallow's bibliophagism, which basically just involves the backseat of Tallow's cop car being covered in books and e-readers (because a lot of people have more than one?) and a snarky young CSU tech making a couple of quips about it. Sure there's a few lines about him reading up on the history of something or another, but does it really serve a purpose? Tallow could have been a devourer of New York history without having books falling out of his car and making up the legs of his coffee table.

Similarly the CSU techs, Scarly and Bat, are bordering on quirkly/creepy/weirdo cardboard cut-outs (a lesbian you say? Oh they have toys in their office? How novel!) of better Warren Ellis characters, but end up kind of awesome if only because they are everything the CSUs we see in crime shows  are not. And finally there is "the hunter", the guy who is actually behind all the killings, and who we unfortunately spend every second chapter with. He's interesting enough, and it was cool to be able to connect dots in the case before Tallow but I think he would have been infinitely more interesting if we only saw him through Tallow's eyes. We don't need an insiders view on everything, especially when there's an almost magical/supernatural quality to the case at times.

So whether it was the hunter's chapters, or the disconnection with some of the character construction or something larger in terms of narrative or pacing - something was just flat about this book. It's average in size, but it took 100 or so pages before I really got into the swing of things and even then I never felt the need to sit there and devour it as quickly as I could. This is unheard of for me with Warren Ellis, I am normally on board from the title page onwards, no doubts, no reservations. In saying all of this though, 99% of the actual writing was *kisses fingers like an Italian chef* bellisimo! It's sharp and expressive and caustic and it really just digs into the ills of society in a way that makes you feel squirmish and want to avoid looking into a mirror in direct light.
It was a grim gray thing, the squat building, a fossil husk for little humans to huddle in. Every other building on this side of the block had had, at the very least, dermabrasion and its teeth fixed. Two stood on either side of the old apartment building like smug botoxed thirty-somethings bracing an elderly relative. Many of them looked empty, but nonetheless there were flocks of young men in good suits and bad ties with phones nailed to their heads, and rainbows of angular women stabbing out texts with sharp thumbs. 
The shotgun blast from inside the old building made them all clatter away like flamingos.
There is no doubt that Warren Ellis can write, because holy crap he can write. Nor is there really any question of whether he can construct a story and characters, because he's done it superbly in the past. The question, I guess, is what it was he wanted this book to be? Was it a police procedural with a spin? Was it a look at the internal struggle of a tired cop? Was it about the lengths people are willing to go to make it in New York City? Is it about mental illness, or PTSD? Was it just a book to fill the demands of a publisher's contract so he could move on to projects he was more interested in?

It could be all those things, or none of them. It's unlikely to convert you to the church of Ellis if you aren't already a dues paying member but it probably won't turn you off either. It's interesting and has some fantastic moments once you get into the momentum of the story, but it probably won't linger with you afterwards. It isn't the best book I've read this year, but I'm still going to recommend it because I think there's enough in there to get an enjoyable read out of it and even if I didn't love it, I can't not recommend a Warren Ellis book. So read it, there are some seriously cool elements in it (the gun stuff is actually brilliant) and the writing is phenomenal and it's about to be made into a TV series, so there's that.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Links

*^^If you're cool (and I know you guys are) then you watch Parks and Recreation. If you're up to date you would have seen Patton Oswalt's Star Wars filibuster and I'm sure you appreciated the genius of it. Well, now you can appreciate it EVEN MORE by watching this animated version.

*Because it isn't a Monday Links without Disney, here are some famous Disney characters reimagined as college students (Via Buzzfeed)

*Don't like Disney? Well if you prefer The Joker and other pop-culture characters, then here are some fantastic illustrations of these guys and gals chillin' out. (Via Uproxx)

*I love, love, love sneak peaks at how authors write or edit their books. Here are a bunch of handwritten outlines to some of our favourite books. The details in some of them are phenomenal (incidentally I now realise why my stories never work!). (via Flavorwire)

*The English language is bonkers. If you've ever wondered why there are Ks at the start of knight and knife, or why other words seemingly make no sense or go back on other spelling rules there here are some of the answers. (Via Mental Floss)

*So Amazon is going to publish fan-fiction....John Birmingham discusses the issues and complexities that this latest project entails. Plus side though, HP FAN-FICTION FOR EVERYONE! (Via Cheeseburger Gothic)

*Moomins are awesome, there is no denying that, but did you know that they are also instrumental in helping us understand the complexities of life? Well here are 50 ways they do just that. (Via Buzzfeed)

*And in honour of the new episodes of Arrested Development (which I also get to use because I was told a sneaky trick to make Netflix think I'm in America!!), here's a supremo mash up of Arrested Development and The Godfather. It's perfect.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows - Readalong Post 2

It's been a little while since I've read DH and when I came up to the Godric's Hollow chapter and Bathilda Bagshot beckons at them to follow her I suddenly remembered everything that was about to happen I shoved my hands over my ears and shrieked, shrieked I tell you! The whole thing is sooooo creeptastic, and one of the few moments in the series when my heart threatens to fling itself out of my chest Alien style.
"And in the instant that he looked away, his eyes raking the tangled mess for a sword hilt, a ruby, she moved weirdly; he saw it out the corner of his eye; panic made him turn and horror paralysed him as he saw the old body collapsing and the great snake pouring from the place where her neck had been."

The whole scene, from seeing her on the street, to venturing into her home, to her silent movements around the house, to her's so visceral and terrifying. I also feel like it's compounded by the grief in the previous chapter. Harry is finally home and found his parent's graves and his old home and the markers of their plight and it's both sad and kind of euphoric, because there's all those recent markings of people placing their faith in him. Anyway, you're in an emotional (SO EMOTIONAL) state because of all this (and Ron's departure, more on that in a sec) and then BOOM, creepy old lady turns into a snake and everything's a blur of chaos and fear.

It's also such a phenomenal scene in the movie. Even though I knew, like 100% knew what was coming and that Harry and Hermione weren't going to die I JUMPED 10 feet into the air and clenched onto the arm of my seat at the cinema because HOLY SHIT TENSE MUCH?

Oh man, that scene with Lupin upsets me SO MUCH. I guess I get why Harry acts as he does, but I find that whole scene so extremely upsetting. I just want to jump in and be like "Guys! You are all in constant risk of losing your life, stop fighting because when/if one of you dies this whole thing is going to be so much worse. Guys? Guys? Stop ignoring me, I'M DOING THIS BECAUSE I LOVE YOU."

Also (THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD, SORRY MEG, BUT I HAVE ANOTHER KITTEN GIF FOR YOU) I hate that they have this fight and then JKR fucking kills Lupin and Tonks! I'll go on about this more later in the last section, but I feel like this was some real emotional manipulation on her part, making me feel all twisty and sad when Harry's a dick (with the right intentions) in this scene and then compounding that sadness by creating a new orphan À la Harry and the death of Harry's final father figure. Fuck you JKR, seriously. (END SPOILERS)

Strike last week's gif, this one is adorable X adorable
So Ron. Poor, poor, poor Ron. I mentioned in the comments of Emily's post last week how sad I am for Ron's character. In the PS/SS he's set out to be the strategist of the group, as well as the only one with any solid understanding of life in the magical world. But instead he becomes Harry's slightly bitter and clearly less talented friend for 6 books. I'll die defending Ron, but I think it's less because he's a great character and more because I think he could have been a great character.

The thing is, most of his characteristics are dampened by others doing it better. He's quite funny, but not as funny as the twins. He's really brave when it comes to protecting the people he loves, but Harry's braver. He's adorably dopey at times, but Neville really has the lock on that one. His lifetime in the magical community comes in handy ("Have you gone mad? Are you a witch or not?") but he's not a font of wisdom like Hermione or Dumbledore. It's like he's the youngest son all over again, constantly looked over because Harry, Hermione, Luna or Dumbledore are 100 times better, and better first. So I really feel for him, because I know people this week are probably going to be "hrmph Ron sucks or Ron's a coward or myeh Ron" about him deserting the others, but I think if he'd been given the development of everyone else it'd be less "Ron sucks" and more, "yeah, it was a shitty move, but it was a reaction and one he regretted immediately after, and let's be honest we'd probably do the same thing". He's the Sansa of the Harry Potter series, so easy to hate or mock, even though he's probably the most realistic (when done right) of the lot.

Do you know how hard it was to find a Ron gif that didn't involve him eating?
On the plus side though, I do think that single scene with the locket and the smoke versions of Harry and co does a better job of illustrating the complexities of being Ron Weasley than any other scene in the entire series. It's also a brilliant scene because it gave us that hilarious and awkward scene where naked smoke Harry and Hermione gobble at each other's face and made every single person in the cinema cringe.

Oh what's that? I have a gif of that awkward scene? Of course I do! Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


Written by: Rainbow Rowell

Published: 2011

Synopsis: Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.
What would he say . . . ?

Challenges: New Adult for Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge

FOR SHAME. You guys have failed miserably as blog friends. How did I not hear the name Rainbow Rowell until the Dewey Readathon where EVERYONE was reading Eleanor and Park? How did a book like Attachments exist for two whole years without a single one of you tweeting at me shouting "KAYLEIGH YOU MUST READ THIS NOW!!!" So you are all on blogging probation, and if another amazing authors comes and releases 2 books before I hear about it...Well, we'll have to have a serious discussion about this whole blogging relationship we have going on right now. But for now I'll forgive you because ATTACHMENTS WAS AMAZING AND ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD AND ALWAYS WILL BE.

[Hopefully that's all the mass capitalisation we'll be seeing this review, but given how much I loved it, it's highly likely that this is going to devolve from a review in a series of squeals and exclamation points very quickly. But bear with me, I'm doing my best.]

Where to start with this book? It is simply one of the most easily devoured and deliciously heartwarming and splendidly funny books every published. I downloaded the ebook sure I'd like it but without any expectations what so ever and I devoured the whole thing in a day. I'd not recommend this, because much like when I read Ready Player One I plunged into a deep "but now that I've read this I will never read it for a first time again" funk that seriously clashed with my "this book is better than life" elation. So fight against the temptation and make this one last. At least take two days, hard it as it'll probably be.

I have a major soft spot for romantic comedies. Not the Katherine Heigel brand of constantly tripping over rom-com, but the kind Nora Ephron wrote and/or directed during the 1990s, the kind filled with fast and witty dialogue, a fantastically ordinary (and slightly cynical) lead pair and of course, a scene in the rain OR on the top of a tall building. Attatchments didn't have a tall building but it did have all the rest (the scene in the rain...OH MY GOD YOU GUYS) and I had the silliest grin on my face for days after finishing this book. Sure things don't work like the necessarily would in the real world, but when you have that perfect Nora Ephron recipe it. doesn't. matter.


Still nursing the bruises from a relationship that ended 9 years ago, Lincoln is a pretty sad guy. After completing degree after degree (I know how that goes fella) he finally decides to get a job and join the real world. But joining the real world as a security tech officer turns out to mean reading people's emails at the last newspaper to finally join the technical revolution (the book takes place in 1999 by the way). What begins as an icky job becomes somewhat delightful when the emails between copy writer Jennifer and movie reviewer Beth keep getting flagged. The two ladies are funny and witty and holy crap i loved their chapters. As much as I loved Lincoln (and I really did, he plays Dungeons and Dragons, and he doesn't really like clubs or loud events, and he likes talking to old ladies, and did I mention the multiple degrees?) I was so excited every time I flipped the page and I saw J&B's email conversation. I think this is partly because the Lincoln chapters were kinda sad (he's so lonely!) but also, holy shit, two funnier and more wonderful women have never existed.

Case in point numero uno...
"Oh, I love period dramas, especially period dramas starring Colin Firth. I'm like Bridget Jones if she were actually fat."
"Oh... Colin Firth. He should only do period dramas. And period dramas should only star Colin Firth. (One-star upgrade for Colin Firth. Two stars for Colin Firth in a waistcoat.)"
"Keep typing his name, even his name is handsome.”
Case in point numero two...
“So...I'm larking through the Baby Gap, looking at tiny capri pants and sweaters that cost more than ... I don't know, more than they should. And I get totally sucked in by this ridiculous, tiny fur coat. The kind of coat a baby might need to go to the ballet. In Moscow. In 1918. To match her tiny pearls.”
And those are just two funny (and true...Colin Firth in period dramas? UNF) cases in point that were short enough that I could bother typing out. But aside from being funny, their emails are also touching, especially when both struggle with personal issues (I know I've already mentioned it, BUT THAT SCENE IN THE RAIN YOU GUYS). It's not hard to see how Lincoln would struggle to stop reading their emails, or how he could fall in love with either of them (it's lucky Jennifer's married, because jesus christ Sophie's Choice much?).

So yes, this book is so, so, so wonderful and everyone should read it, and I promise you that you will like it. And not in an "Anna and the French Kiss kind of embarrassed you liked it" kind of way, but in a shout-it-from-the-rooftops eternal love kinda way.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Links

*^^ Because more people need to know who Chris Hadfield are, and him singing Space Oddity IN SPACE in a bonus.

*Because I am a lady on the internet I obviously love cats. But did you realise ladies were meme-ing up cat during the women's suffrage movement? Yep, take a look. (Via Buzzfeed)

*Worth 1000 set the task to insert celebrities into famous paintings. The results are (mostly) amazing. Especially the Keanu Reeves one. You have to see it. (Via Worth 1000)

*JKR is auctioning off a first edition annotated copy of HP&PS and I WANTS IT, I WANTS IT SO BAD! (Via The Daily Mail)

*Fandoms aren't great when it comes to making changes, even if the changes don't actually impact on the story in anyway. For example. Black Spiderman. Seriously, it's meant to be a youth in New York who is completely normal and nothing special, gets a spider bite and then spends much of his life saving the world COMPLETELY MASKED. But anyway, here's an article about that. It's a pretty flawed article, but the comments are fascinating.  (Via Cracked)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows - Readalong Post 1 (The End is Nigh!)

I am 90% certain that the rest of my posts for this readalong are going to be a mess of incoherent capital letters, italics and gifs.

But I'm not even sorry, because if you can manage coherent thoughts through Deathly Hollows then YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. This book isn't all action, but it's definitely all emotion. From Harry having to come to terms with not really knowing Dumbledore, to Bill and Fleur's wedding, to Ron's failure, to the battle at the end *cue CryingTennant.gif here* ... anyway you get the hint. There are going to be tears on top of tears on top of tears, and so much character development. I LOVES IT SO!

I hate your weasel face Joffrey, but I approve your applause
I feel so awkward when Voldemort is all "eliminate the mudbloods!" "keep the bloodlines pure!" I imagine some of the Death Eaters feel a little like Hitler's crew when he pontificated about tall blonde Aryans, "Ixnay on the ureplay oodblay dude, at least until we arrange that plastic surgery..." I mean, I know Voldemort can claim Slytherin as a relative, but his mother was practically a squib so it's not like he's a shining example for eugenics. Basically, I think he should focus on another platform to save himself collar-pulling a la The Simpsons when Skeeter's biography eventually comes out.

I love a lot of this book (even the camping) but I still don't quite understand the motivation for Snape revealing the switched nights for Harry's move from Privet Drive. I don't want to spoil this for first timers (first timer? Is it just you Meg?), so skip down to the kitty gif if you don't want to know.

*SPOILERS* So later we find out Snape is getting all his info from the Dumbledore portrait right, but the Death Eaters never know who his source is yes? But why would Snape still have any sources? I mean, at this stage every Order member thinks Snape killed Dumbledore and is a Death Eater for reals, so why would Voldemort or the Death Eaters think that there would be anyone willing to talk Snape and give him details? So why is it important for Snape to give up these details and risk the lives of 14 order members, many of them kids? Why not let the Death Eaters think that they were meant to be moving on Harry's birthday eve? I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting something important in the Snape/Dumbledore plan which is revealed at the end, but I can't remember and this scene just seems like a ridiculous level of risk for no reason. Anyone remember what I'm forgetting, or have any insight? *END SPOILERS*

Best cat gif? Or BEST cat gif?
Considering Dumbledore isn't alive in this book, it's funny that it's actually the most Dumbledore-y books of the lot. Which I love. One of the things that I've really noticed this read-through is how little Dumbles is actually present in the books. Because of how important he is and his role in the climaxes of each book, in my mind he's always been the father figure to Harry and the wordplay bro-wizard to the trio. But in actuality he's barely present until book 6 and is only really more than a headmaster to Harry in book 5. So it's nice to have a book that helps fill the blanks for us like it does for Harry. Because like Harry we love Dumbledore for being wise and old and having a nifty long beard but don't really know anything about him except that he is wise and old and has a nifty long beard. I'm sure there are people who were a little sad when they read this book and realised how fallible Dumbledore was (shock! horror!) but it always made the character 1000x better for me. He made mistakes and learned from them, although they continued to haunt him for the rest of his life. That's a far better role model than the ultimate wise and infallible figure he's typically seen as.

And just a last thing before the bullet points, poor Kreacher. Poor, poor Kreacher. He's an obnoxious ass-hat when we first meet him, but if his story about the cave doesn't make you weep for him then you are heartless! Heartless I say! So let's raise our cups of coffee or bottles of wine and take a drink for Kreacher, because Fuck. That. Shit.

This isn't quite appropriate, but it was the only HP toast gif I could find. Leave me be, I'M SAD!

Bullet points!

*I was listening to this as an audiobook, do we actually hear how Lucius and co got out of Azkaban? Or is it just taken as given?

*I love when Harry bellows. Harry should always bellow.

*Dudley! Voice of reason!

*"But where's he going to go" ---- DUDLEY I TAKE IT ALL BACK, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! (well, not really, but I greatly appreciate your change)

*The multiple Harry scene was one of the best bits in the movie franchise. (followed closely by Helena Bonham Carter pretending to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix at Gringotts). Bravo Daniel Radcliffe.

*"Even you-know-who can't split himself into seven" Heh.

*Hermione is such a badass in the scene where she tells Harry why they're coming with him. She just lays it down so factually, even though she's telling him that her parents don't even know she exists anymore. Hermione for Queen of the Universe (ruling alongside Luna, Ginny and Neville like the kids in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe series).

*I really love that even though they are the object of many men's attention, Fleur and her mother go for men who are thoroughly decent and don't seem to care about looks at all. Right on ladies *fist bump*

*"He tried to put a lot of unsaid things into the hug" ---You are a good guy Harry Potter.

*"I open at the close" and the snitch is perhaps one of my favourite threads in the whole series. JKR you are one clever lady.

*"Luna, my love, if you should feel any burgeoning talent today- perhaps an unexpected urge to sing opera or to declaim in Mermish- do not repress it!" --BEST DAD AND MAN.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

TV Trailer: Dracula

So it seems Dracula is coming back to the small screen. But this time he is American, or posing as American (I guess?) and trying to introduce science to the Victorians? And he's got some sort of past lives thing happening with Mina? And Renfield is a black man in a suit? Well, at the very least it looks like they've got quite the budget, and since it's from the folks behind Downton Abbey and Tudors, we'll probably get a very pretty show at the very least. I, however, can not wait to watch Jonathan Rhys Meyers struggle with an accent again. Seriously though, WHY IS HE AMERICAN?

Movie Trailer: As I Lay Dying

James Franco has adapted Faulkner's As I Lay Dying to screen, and if this trailer is anything to go by I'm going to need subtitles.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Review: Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Little Star

Written by: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Published: 2012

Synopsis: A man finds a baby in the woods, left for dead. He brings the baby home, and he and his wife raise the girl in their basement. When a shocking and catastrophic incident occurs, the couple’s son Jerry whisks the girl away to Stockholm to start a new life. There, he enters her in a nationwide singing competition. Another young girl who’s never fit in sees the performance on TV, and a spark is struck that will ignite the most terrifying duo in modern fiction

Challenges: Translated Fiction for Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge.


I went into this book thinking it was about a man holding a young girl captive and grooming her for entry into an Idol style singing contest. It's actually about a lot more, but at it's core Little Star is a book about girls.

There are two female protagonists, Theres and Theresa, two girls who couldn't be more different yet find their lives intertwined. Theres was found as a baby abandoned in the woods, and brought back to be raised by Lennart and Laila in their basement. After the failure to raise their biological son Jerry, Lennart decides that this time they can do better, they will do better, and Theres will blossom where Jerry failed. Stuck in the basement however doesn't cause Theres to blossom, she's small and quiet and once she does start to speak she speaks in semi-incoherent sentences. What she does well though, is sing. When Theres sings, people stop and listen, they're moved, their concerns and fears are washed get the idea, she's a primo singer. After a horrific event in the basement (actually one of the best moments in the entire book), Theres is moved to Stockholm with Jerry where things happen and she ends up on Sweden's version of Idol.

Enter Theresa. Theresa grew up in a normal family with a mother and a father and older brothers. However as we travel through her childhood years into adolescence we see that she too wasn't a "normal" kid. She was quiet, chubby, inwardly thinking and seemed almost incapable of making friends. She does make one friend though, an equally weird kid who moves in next door. Together they lay down and play dead, share their first kiss and play video games. As she gets older and angstier she turns to two hobbies, writing poetry and trolling on the internet. Both allow her to vent out her anger and frustration and, the trolling especially, provides her a sense of power when she typically feels small and subjugated. Through a twist of fate, her two hobbies collide and allow for a chance meeting with Theres, who at this point has appeared on the Idol show and connected with Theresa in a way no one else ever has.

Once together, Theres's influence effects Theresa and incites a change in Theresa that amplifies the joy and power she got from trolling but with much, much darker undertones. The two girls are joined by several other like-minded girls and the final third of the book is a roller coaster of events that are creepy and unsettling and absolutely what you'd expect from the man that's been dubbed "the Swedish Stephen King".

So that's your basic run down, and holy crap was it hard to write. This is a long book, around the 600 page mark, and there is sooooooo much set up that isn't really necessary but is so hammered into you that it's hard to separate from the story. I started this during the Dewey's Readathon and I spent most of the readathon slogging away through it, and trying to decide if I liked it (which is never a good sign). Bits of it I loved. The final third is amazing, and I would have loved if the story had revolved around this alienated female group mentality. Alas it doesn't, instead the first 400+ pages sacrifices plot development and progression for character development, which isn't a bad thing per say, as long as the character development actually means something. There were all these pieces of character development that didn't really connect with anything. Lennart is a bitter failed musician who beats his wife because she cheated on him 20 years ago. Laila eats her feelings. Theresa's mother is worried her daughter isn't "normal" enough. Jerry is...god knows what the plan for Jerry was. They're all elements of familial dysfuction and have causal relationships to the themes of the novel, but even though they're mentioned at length they never really feel like they pay off. Did we really need to spend 50 pages flashing back to Jerry's childhood or Lennart and Laila's early lives as singers? Was it really important to set up the friendship between Theresa and the boy next door?


I think this could have been a fantastic shorter novel that simply takes the first 400 pages as given and instead focuses on the relationship of the group of girls. In it's best moments it harkens to bleak horror (or horrific) films like The Suicide Club, Picnic at hanging Rock or even The Virgin Suicides and given the amazing quality of Let The Right One In and the successful elements of this book, I feel like Lindqvist had all the tools to really write a phenomenal book that delves into that rocky world of teenage angst and identity. But instead it's a mixed bag sampling ideas and themes from all over the place while never really landing on anything concrete.

I didn't dislike this book,but it's never a good sign where I stop reading every 10 minutes to ask myself if I'm enjoying it. Which sucks because after reading Let The Right One In I was sure I'd found a new favourite author. This is now my third Lindqvist book, and the second time in a row I've felt like he missed the mark. Handling the Undead was equally disappointing for me, again full of potential that was spent on the wrong things. This could all be my fault, perhaps I'm simply placing a level of expectation on him that's impossible to match, but I'd still recommend approaching this book with caution. Maybe sample a few chapters in a bookstore or on your Kindle, test the proverbial waters before you dive right in. 

Monday Links (on Tuesday)

*I'm a little late to share, but here's the interesting coverflip experiment Maureen Johnson conducted the other week on Twitter. I think a couple of them are a little ridiculous, but there's no doubt that book's aimed at females tend to be redonkulous. (Via Huffington Post)

*Why not start the week reading about what the 150 smartest scientists are worried about. (Via Motherboard)

*As a genre enthusiast doing a literature degree I always got into fights on why Stephen King and Harry Potter were valid examples of quality writing. I wish I'd had this link of '30 things to say to book snobs' to share then, because then I could have saved my breath! (Via Book Trust)

*I've noticed a lot of bloggers being pretty negative about the new Gatsby film (without having seen it, by the way) but I found this article about Luhrmann's changes and choices for the film fascinating. (Via Huffington Post)

*Joss Whedon's on Twitter (maybe) as @JossActual. And in case it isn't actually him, here's a fun collection of his past small ventures into the twitter world. (Via Buzzfeed)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss

Written by: Stephanie Perkins

Published: 2010

Synopsis: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?


Don't judge a book by it's cover they say. A book's more than it's title and cover art, they say. Did I believe them? Nope. Were they right? Yeah, actually they pretty much were.

Contrary to what that horrible title and cover suggests, this isn't your average YA love story. It almost is, but decent writing, characters and that "it factor" pushes it over the line into something that's fun, a little bit touching and will 100% make you yearn for a trip to Paris.

If I'm being honest (when am I not?) I thought everyone had lost their mind when I finally started this book. I downloaded it as an ebook to avoid that god-damn cover, and I struggled my way through the first chapter. Similar to Hazel in The Fault In Our Stars I wasn't crazy about Anna. She seems like the worst kind of ungrateful teenager, whinging and whining about everything under the sun, just a complete wet blanket. Not that she's upset about nothing, I think I'd have been pretty rank at my parents if they'd decided to send me away for my final year of high school. But it also seemed like too much. Too dramatic for the first chapter, too much hate towards her dad (and not enough towards her mother), too much teenager-y angst. This was partially the construction of Anna's character but also the writing style. I groaned out loud and nearly gave up completely when I got to this line;
"Ever since he sold out and started writing lame books that were turned into lamer movies, he's been trying to impress his big-shot New York friends with how cultured and rich he is. 
All I could see was her stamping her foot on the ground and making the "myeh" tantrum face. Ugh, teenage angst, how I loathe you. But I persevered and Anna mellowed out a little. She remained my least favourite character throughout the book but she was a great vehicle for exploring the story. She's the new girl in a school of people who have been closer than close for the last four years, she's homesick and she is terrified of going out and exploring the foreign world at her new doorstep. It was fun to watch her struggle ordering off a menu, or to see her trip around the classmates she considers far more glamorous than herself. It's through her terrified eyes that we see the sporty Mer, the exotic Rashmi, the arty burn-out Josh and the oh so handsome Étienne. They're built up almost like celebrities when she first gets to know them. They're all so intelligent  and witty and good looking, but of course as the book continues we learn that they're just normal teenagers struggling with normal teenage angst...they're just doing it against the background of Notre Dame and the Pantheon.

Much of the book follows the standard YA formula. Girl likes boy, boy has girlfriend, girl realises other girl in group also likes boy, girl looks for other boy, girl actually gets close to first boy, tangled messy mess ensues. It's a better love story than Twilight, but it's also far from the best. It's a little predicable, but it still warmed my heart in all the right places and made me go "awwww" several hundred times.

What I actually really liked, and I'm probably in the minority here, is the exploration of family in the book. Anna has a very turbulent relationship with her father, turbulent in that she blames him for everything and considers him the worst person alive. It usually comes out as vitriol directed at his writing career, in which he decided to forgo the search for the Great American Novel and instead settled for a Nicholas Sparks level of quality and success. As the book continues you realise the reason she hates her dad is not because he's a "sell-out"* but because she feels left behind. I don't think Anna ever actually makes this connection in the book (her lack of self-reflection and growth is ridiculous) but in every interaction with her father, he's trying to make a connection, to make a joke, to check she's OK  or to offer some advice. Meanwhile the one time we meet her sainted mother she's an absolute bitch who chides Anna for trivial matters and never lives up to the close relationship that Anna suggests they share. But she's the one who stayed. She didn't run off and find a better career, or a better life. Therefore she's immune to the wrath that Anna has saved for the person who did run, who did leave and who only shows up at special occasions.

Along with the relationship with her parents, Anna's distrust of men and inability to accept that they'd keep their word of not running off is a constant theme in this book. Every time Étienne or someone else "runs off" Anna see's her dad leaving 7+ years ago and relives the heartbreak, and the cycle of mistrust continues. It bleeds into her female relationships too, ultimately resulting in Anna being way too harsh on people for simple mistakes or small betrayals because of the weighty betrayal that began it all. And to throw some context on Anna's "problems," real parental grievances are cast next to hers, such as Étienne s father's refusal to let him visit his mum when she's diagnosed with cancer. This isn't to suggest that Anna doesn't have any real problems, and she's well within her right to hate a man who left her family 6 months after her brother was born, but she fails to acknowledge the true source of her hate, and instead comes across as petty and a little ridiculous. "Oh your dad writes crappy books? Yeah that must be really hard, mine won't let me visit my sick mother or leave the country".

Every book we read we come at from our own perspective, and considering I spent a great deal of time between the ages of 15-17 dealing with my own father issues, I'm not surprised that I seem to be the only person who seemed to have taken this view on the family relations in the book. I think it adds a lot of weight to what is otherwise a fairly traditional YA story, but there's plenty of other things to love if the idea of a family drama bums you out. Anna's discovery of Paris, Étienne and his pretty hair, the RA Nate who seemed like a bit of a babe to me, the roller-coaster that is teenage love and friendship, girl scout cookies and films in French cinemas. Plus you get lines that are equal part daggy and adorable like this one;
"I love that the accent over his first name is called an acute accent and that he has a cute accent"
Anna and the French Kiss isn't likely to be in the collection of classic texts blasted into space when the Earth finally explodes or melts down but if you're looking for a fun and enjoyable YA with witty dialogue, cute accents and (mostly) likeable characters then you can't go wrong with Anna and the French Kiss. Just look for a different edition because UGHHHH, that cover is the worst.

*Anna condemns her dad for writing books with sad endings when she prefers to read happy endings which I think is weak sauce. Who wants a happy ending that isn't earned? Although if they're only sad for sad's sake, i.e. emotional manipulation, then I stand by her in her condemnation.

Top 10 Tuesday: light and fun reads

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by the fancy folk over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's prompt is: 10 books when you need a light and fun read.


1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (review)
This book you guys, this book has it all. It's super fun, and full of 80s trivia and virtual reality awesomeness. If you haven't read this yet then you need to get onto it PRONTO.

2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 
I just finished this last week (review up later today) and loooooved it. It was a quick read and incredibly fun, a little silly and OMG so much talk about good hair!

3. Death: A Life by George Pendle (review)
This isn't the greatest book, but the concept is hard to pass up. For the first time we hear Death's life story, forget the rumours and the gossip, Death is going to set the story straight. It's darkly funny and a little bizarre.

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K Rowling
From Hagrid's big entrance (har har har PUN!), to Harry's first trip to Diagon Alley, and his first flight on a broom, this book is fun squared. The series starts to get dark pretty quickly after this, but this first book is such a classic adventure quest and only gets better with age.

5. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (review)
This little novella is charming. Utterly, utterly charming. It's about the Queen of England discovering reading late in life after years and years of following orders and waving regally from carriages. It's a beautiful little ode to reading, and it'll make you smile like a lunatic.

6.The Dark Tower series by Stephen King (review)
I'm halfway through the second book and while these are in no way light reading (although they aren't particularly heavy/dark either, at least not yet) they are THE BEST THINGS EVER. That's not even an exaggeration,  it's scientific fact. I am having so much fun reading this book, and I can not wait to get onto book 3.

7. The Five Fists of Science by Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders (review)
This graphic novel is a bunch of fun. It's a re-imagining of the feud between Tesla (yay!) and Edison (booo!) with giant robots, science, and Victorian aesthetics. Even if you don't read many graphic novels you're sure to find this one a treat!

8. Charmed Life (Chrestomanci #1) by Diana Wynne Jones
Another TTT, another recommendation to read the Chrestomanci series. These are perhaps the most fun books I ever read as a kid. And as an adult. They're just super full of win. The main character, Christopher Chant, is basically a young Dumbledore with multiple lives. He's wise, and smart-alecky, and wears super neat clothes and goes on these amazing adventures and just read it already OK?

9. Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (review)
Another graphic novel but this time a series. Joe Hill is Stephen King's son, and you can tell. There's horror aesthetics, a love of Lovecraft (so much so that the town they live is called Lovecraft) and an amazing story that unfolds in the most satisfying way possible. The art style is phenomenal, and the characters are realistic and brilliant. It's probably my favourite series at the moment.

10. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding 
I haven't read this book in years, but I still remember it as being ridiculously funny. And is there anything lighter than diary entries? No? No.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Links

*Kids can be freaking terrifying, as this article attests. (Via Metro)

*I am stepping off the Doctor Who train for awhile (well, this newest season heart still beats to the tune of Tennant, Baker, Eccleston and co) but here are three interesting articles about the latest season. One on who Clara might be, and the second about the decline of Doctor Who, and the third is about Moffat's narrative device issues. Minor spoilers in all. (Onetwo via Pajiba, three via i09)

*Ever thought "I love Mad Men, but what would their comic book counterpart be?" Of course you have, and Flavorwire have the answers. (Via Flavorwire)

*More Game of Thrones? More Game of Thrones! Here's an article about the characters who are better on the show than in the book (Via i09)

*Richard Tuttle's art pieces/book editions are bonkers. I would kill to own one of these, as I think you probably would too. Simply stunning. (Via Flavorwire)

*I really loved Belle's review of Game of Thrones, I think it sums up the mindset of most people when they finish that first behemoth! (Via Belle's Bookshelf)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Readalong Post 3 (ALL THE TENNANTS GIFS)




To help communicate said emotions, I introduce Mr David Tennant, one of the most giffable people EVER.

So to recap since I skipped last week, Ron's been poisoned twice, hormones are raging, Ginny is with Dean and Harry's all...

Other than that he's been all awesome at potions (thank you half-blood prince) and suspicious of Malfoy and it's been business as usual. Oh and all the memories, which are the MOST interesting.

Let's just jump straight to bullet points yes? Yes.

*"It's always been a bit of a risk sending your kids to Hogwarts" NO SHIT HAGRID. But at least an adult finally acknowledged it.

*The scene where the trio get the letter from Hagrid about Aragog makes my blood boil. Just because you don't like spiders (and yes Harry and Ron have good reasons not to like them) doesn't discount the fact that this was a friend of Hagrid's FOR 50 YEARS, and considering Aragog was instrumental in Hagrid's expulsion, he's a big part of our half-giant friend's life. Don't go down to the funeral if you think it's too dangerous (like that's ever stopped them before), but don't be a pack of little bitches who ignore the feelings of a man who has done nothing but love ALL THREE OF YOU.

Correct sir, HRH could learn from our Doctor friend
*Case solved re: Malfoy and the diary. He knew it would open the chamber, didn't know it was a horcrux, wasn't supposed to release it, but did because he was scared, to kill muggle-borns and axe Dumbles.

*"The lightning-struck tower. Calamity. Disaster. Coming nearer all the time..." So is Trelawney a Voldemort related seer only?

*This is the book where both Harry and Malfoy realise that reality isn't the same as imagination. Yes you hate Malfoy, but slicing him open makes it pretty clear very quickly that you don't actually dislike him as much as you always thought. And the power that comes with being a Death Eater seems cool when the big man is "dead" but less cool when he's back and holding your life in his hands.

*So what exactly constitutes luck? I mean, I get the coincidence things, but Harry knowing which buttons to press so to speak isn't really lucky is it? Nor is knowing that Slughorn won't remember anything in the morning. I mean, I guess it is sort of???

*Poor Harry during that prophesy explanation. Dumbledore's being all intellectual and paradox-y and "Do Not Compute" is basically flashing over Harry's head the whole time.

*I don't hate Harry and Ginny, but I don't like that match either. However I would be lying if I said I didn't cooo and get all smiley at their big kiss after the quidditch match.

*The pygmy puff tattoo is on Ron's stomach, with his bellybutton as a mouth. He can make it talk by tensing his stomach muscles.

*Hermione, GIRL I LOVE YOU. All through her argument with Harry about the half-blood prince I'm just fist-pumping and GUUUUURLing. Because yeah, what proof is there that it's a guy? None, and even though Harry has long been friend's with Hermione, it doesn't mean he doesn't consider her something of an exception to the rule.

*"You were never much of a seer, but a wonderful object" Sort of sums up Harry in the entire series doesn't it?

*One of my favourite things in this series is the admiration of intellect and creativity. There's that wicked little scene in PS/SS when Ollivander tips his cap at the great (terrible, but great indeed) things V did. Dumbledore's admiration and disappointment of Voldemort always confused me a little as a kid reading the series, but now I can't wait to find those moments. The scene at the cave door is great, I love that Dumbledore sees it as crude and is disappointed in Voldemort. I would have killed for more scenes between those two.

*The cave scene is TENSE, but is anyone else sad that Voldemort didn't use the same theatrics for his other horcruxes? No more lakes of inferi, or blood doors, or hiding things within basins of evil liquid.

*Everything evil in the wizarding world is defeated by fire. You'd think the dark wizards would have sorted that shit out by now, I mean, come on guys.

*"I'm not worried Harry, I am with you"

*This is the part where the film really fell short. For some unknown reason they eliminated the fight scene. Instead Malfoy let's the death eaters into the castle, he goes up to kill Dumbledore with Snape and Bellatrix Lestrange walks down a couple of tables smashing glass. Since they weren't needed for a fight, why was it so important for Malfoy to get those cabinets working? Exactly, it wasn't. Stupid movie, cut out that bullshit new scene setting the burrow on fire and re-film this now please.

*"Severus...please" Have two words elicited as much debate in all the universe?

*I can't even write about the next chapter, so I'll leave it up to Tennant. Take it away handsome.

*"McGonagall sways slightly" I will always be Team McGonagall/Dumbledore. Not romantically, but I want them to be two older magic friends who go on holiday together and perhaps share a house where they drink a lot of tea. Him in velvet, her in tartan. I feel sorry for her most of all after Dumbledore's death.

*I actually really like that most of the fight was relayed back in a conversation, because it means that the battle in DH is that much more extreme and intense.

*Malfoy actually did a pretty fantastic job with his plan. So kudos for that ferret-face.

*Was RAB a puzzle for anyone?

*Fleur. Yes. The bullshit that preceded this is all worth it for this one redeeming scene. SHE IS BOSS.

*Say what you will about Harry/Ginny, I have so much respect for him ending it because he doesn't want her to be targeted. That's very grown up, and must have been tough.

And that about wraps up what became a super long, super exhausting post. I think Tennant performed most admirably, but I'd hate to finish this post with him being all sad and annoyed. So here's David Tennant with a kitten. Makes everything a little bit better right?


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