Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mini Graphic Novel Review #13: A whole pile of awesome

Fables: Animal Farm (volume #2)

Written by: Bill Willingham, Illustrated by: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

Published: 2003

My Thoughts: I am so into this series. It's well written, the art is fantastic (and the cover art is SO amazing I want to frame them and hang them in my lounge), the characters are funny, unique and well-rounded. Each volume builds upon the primary characters (Snow White, Rose Red, the Big Bad Wolf etc) but draws on a different book/fairytale to centre the story around. It's political, creative, intelligent and everything that is good in the world. It's fast becoming my favourite series, can't wait to read even more.

 The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born 

Written by: Stephen King (story), Robin Furth, Peter David, Illustrated by: Jae Lee, Richard Isanove

Published: 2007

My Thoughts: Adapting Stephen King into film can go either way, but so far King graphic novel adaptations have been phenomenal. The Stand was the perfect visual companion to the book, and The Gunslinger is OMG amazing. I haven't finished the series, but these are actually prequels to the books, building on the themes and components of the books but bringing something new and awesome to the table. The art is gorgeous, the colouring is stunning and the writing reflects the original series and the overarching themes and style to perfection. If you've been wanting to get into graphic novels, and love King, then this is the series for you.

The New Deadwardians (Issue #2)

Written and illustrated by: Dan Abnett

Published: 2012

My Thoughts: I was a little lukewarm about the first issue, but it already feels like Abnett is learning from his early errors. The story, writing and art are all stronger, and i'm genuinely curious to see where this 8-part series heads. The original concept (that the wealthy became vampires to survive a zombie outbreak) was always good, but it's really beginning to live up to it's potential. An intriguing murder-mystery/crime story with supernatual elements? Yes please!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Links

*I don't even understand why this video is a thing, but holy shit Barrack Obama playing Daniel Day Lewis playing Barrack Obama is the single most wonderful thing I've ever seen in my life. And he makes fun of his ears! WATCH IT.

*The perfect single size chocolate cookie recipe. (Via Number 2 Pencil)

*9 Ways that GoT is actually a feminist TV show. I would actually love to get into a legit discussion about this, so please, please, please read this and then comment on it. (Via Buzzfeed)

*I know how much you adore fan fiction (you dirty birds) so here is some of the smuttiest fan-fic starring capital L Lit characters (Via Flavorwire)

*Cats! GPS! Where the heck do they go when they wander off?! (Via The Atlantic)

*Have you all started watching Happy Endings yet? Need a refresher WHY you should read it? (Via ME!)

*We have a few problems here in Aus, but one thing we did right was crack down on gun control after the horrendous Port Arthur Massacre. The Daily Show ran a 3-part series on it, and you should all watch it. It makes me rather proud and misty eyed. (Via Uproxx)

*An interesting collection of essays about the ongoing angst of successful authors. (Via Alan Baxter)


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Readathonning it up

Update #3:

Well guys, it's been swell but I think that's me done. I'm off to see Jurassic Park, and as much as I love reading, I am not putting off Jeff Goldblum for it.

Uhhhhh yeah. Jurassic Park-y time 

I might make it back for the final hour, but in case I don't, here are my final stats.

Books I read (or part read): 5
Little Star by John Adjvide Lindqvist,
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born by Stephen King and co
Harry Potter 6 by JK Rowling
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Books finished: 2
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born by Stephen King and co

Pages read: 572

Snacks eaten: 
Hot chocolate with marshmallows
SO MUCH iced tea
More marshmallows
Easter chocolate

Challenges completed: 4

So I might see you back here for a final update but if not THANKS FOR THE FUN DEWEY READATHON. You are the bestest.

Challenge #4: 

Picture Break - Instagramming your Readathon (Hosted by  Samantha at The Bookish Diaries)

From L-R: Where I've been reading (bed!), What I've been snacking on (mmmm, hot chocolate), My TR pile and one of the books I've finished. (taken from my Instagram and Twitter)

Update #2: 

It's 10 to 4 in the afternoon and I'm still in my underwear. This my friends is the true beauty of the readathon.

 I just finished The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born and ZOMG it is amazing. The art and colouring is phenomenal and the story blew my mind away. Can't wait to read the rest in the series, but I'll probably leave them for another day.

I'm umming and ahhing about what to read now, should I keep reading Little Star or pick up a brand new book? I kinda feel like an easy read, and I have a feeling Little Star is about to get gruesome. BUT, I've already got a few half finished books so I really should read one of them right?

How's everyone been coping reading over night? Since I slept and am now basking in the glorious sunshine of Queensland I am feel puh-reeetty amazing.

Quick stats: 

Books finished: 2
Pages read: 506
Kilograms gained by ridiculous snacking: About 40

Challenge #3: 

Cover Me (hosted by Stacy at Stacy's Books)

My votes:

1. Best Title

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (because I just read a Sedaris book so his awesomeness is fresh in my mind and his titles are always bizarre and brilliant)

2. Best Dressed 

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Lawson (THAT HAT!)

3. Cutest Couple

My Mother's Wars by Lillian Faderman (I can't say no to a dancing couple dressed that fine)

4. Most Delicious Cover 

Cooking With Flowers (this category is not fair, so many cakes! But cakes + flowers is an easy winner)

5. Cutest Animal 

The Little Book of Sloth (Squeeee! Sloths!)

6. Cutest Kid

Scenes from Early Life by Philip Hensher (because it's a fantastic cover AND a cute kid)

7. Best to Avoid in a Dark Alley 

In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus (beetles and bugs...*shudder*)

8. Best Tattoo 

Bodies of Subversion (Because WOAH, I like a lot)

9. Best Cover 

The Dinner by Herman Koch (Because sometimes simple is the most effective)

Challenge #2: 

Take a book you just finished reading or are currently reading and cast the main character only. (hosted by Alsia at My Little Pocketbooks)

Originally posted in the comments section: 

Ok, I finished Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and I have MANY thoughts on casting.

Character: Anna, teenager unwillingly moved from Atlanta to Paris to attend boarding school.

Actress: Anna Kendrick, mainly because book Anna is quite similar to the Pitch Perfect character Anna Kendrick played, substituting music with film, and maybe toning down some of the sarcasm/angst. But the whole hate-my-dad-not-your-average-gal thing that Kendrick does is PERFECTION.

Challenge #1:

Take a picture of the place and/or book you are reading currently and post it somewhere (hosted by Kristen @ The Book Monsters)

Reading Little Star in bed with my kitten (originally posted through Instagram)

Update #1:
Ok, update! It is time!

I took a snooze from about 1.30am until 7.30am, woke up and read a bit more Little Star, made some AMAZING cinnamon pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and read some more. Now it's mid-day and I've decided to move onto a The Dark Tower graphic novels based on Stephen King's series. Y'know, mixing it up and what not.

Onto the mid-way survey!

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?

I'm ok. But then I've only been reading for 5+ hours so I'm hardly the right person to ask this question to.

2) What have you finished reading?

I finished Anna and the French Kiss, but in fairness I only had about 50 pages to go so it barely counts.

3) What is your favorite read so far?

I am conflicted over Little Star, and not 100% sure if I actually like it, or if I just want to like it because I LOVED Let The Right One In so much. But I loved Anna and the French Kiss, wayyyy more than I expected.

4) What about your favorite snacks?

The hot chocolate with home-made marshmallows last night was mother-flippin' sweet. I am definitely going for a second round of that at some point today.

5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!

I was sleeping through most of your days, so I haven't really had a chance. When my brain feels a little more fried though I'm going to take some time out to cruise the blogosphere.

Happy readathoning folks!


Intro post:
Ok, I only decided like 2 minutes ago to actually take part (I'd decided the time difference might make things suck) so I am completely unprepared and all of the place. What's different to how you normally operate I hear you all say. Touché readathoners, but that's also just a little bit mean.

It's OK, I'm OK but let's be a little kinder in the future mmmm'k?

Question time!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I'm in Brisbane Australia and it's very very night-timey outside.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I have no stack to speak of, I'm planning to just go up to my bookshelf and umm and ahhh for hours like I usually do (what? This isn't a winning technique?) but I'm looking forward to finishing Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

ALL THE SNACKS. But mostly the marshmallows I made last week. How tasty? SO tasty.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I am the proud owner of the teeniest and cutest black kitten the world has ever seen, I watch way too many TV shows (If you've seen the Battlestar Gallactica sketch from Portlandia then you know me well) and in two years I will officially be Doctor Zombie. What? You didn't realise that was a thing? *pats your head patronisingly*

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

It's my first and I'm looking forward to reading some books and falling asleep reading books and eating many, many snacks.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Review: When You're Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

When You're Engulfed in Flames 

Written by: David Sedaris

Published: 2008

Synopsis: Trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, David considers using the water in a vase of flowers and his chain of associations takes him from the French countryside to a hilariously uncomfortable memory of buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina. In essay after essay, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life-having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane or armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds-to the most deeply resonant human truths. Culminating in a brilliant account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris's sixth essay collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from "a writer worth treasuring" (Seattle Times).

Challenges: Humour for Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge

Guys I am in a crazy review slump at the moment. I have all these books I've read (ok, like 2 but still) and really loved but then I sit down to write my review and I just can't think of anything to say, which is weird because normally my reviews are crazy long and I have to forcibly stop myself from talking rubbish for 2000 words. So bear with me for the next week or two, my reviews will probably be pretty short but hopefully decent enough. And even if  they're rubbish, BE NICE OK.

David Sedaris is one of those authors I feel like you're supposed to read. And while I usually find myself yawning at those 'must read' authors, I've always been sure I'd enjoy David Sedaris. So when I was at the library the other week I decided to see which of his books they had and now I can finally say that I've read one of his books, AND that I enjoyed it. Success!

There were a lot of things I loved about this book. The essay format made it easy for me to read on public transport, the writing is stream-lined whilst also feeling like a conversation with a friend, his self-deprecating style of writing and humour is very familiar, the writing is great, and the stories are a combination of bizarre and completely normal/mundane making them completely unpredictable. Basically it hit all the hallmarks of a remarkable and memorable book of autobiographical essays, and if the rest of his books are as honest, forthright and funny I am going to thoroughly enjoy getting to know Sedaris's work.

One of the things I loved most is the structure he uses to tell his stories. They typically opened with some sort of anecdote or conflict which then morphs into the actual thrust of the story. Sometimes the opening element has a clear tie to the rest of the essay, while other times it seems completely at odds until you get to the final paragraph where he ties the two together with finesse. Regardless, they come across as very intimate stories, almost like being in his head as his thoughts stumble across one another and make sense of the collection of actions and reactions and events which have occurred in his life. It's a process, and rather than have him dictate a story or lesson to you, it's like he's explaining it to himself as well as you. You're in it together so to speak. It's nice, I came out the end of the book feeling like I knew the man, which is especially great since I jumped in with one of his more recent books.

I always find books of essays or short stories hard to review, because I'm never sure if I should discuss each story/essay or just my favourites, or an eclectic pick, or some of the weaker ones or.... you get the gist. I think in this case I'm just going to pick two or three that I found the most captivating.

This Old House - Coco Chanel said that before leaving the house you should look in the mirror and take one accessory off. This story sort of felt like Sedaris's discover of that in terms of his own identity. In wanting to be different from his family and the place he grew up he went to the complete cliche hipster extreme, revelling in nostalgia.

That's Amore - This was maybe my favourite story of the lot. It's the story of his New York neighbour Helen. She's sort of your stereotypical New York old lady, basically Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet in Rosemary's Baby, loud, a know it all, gossipy, a sticky beak, forthright, a little delusional but the kind of person you love to know. Sedaris's descriptions of Helen and her various indiscretions were hilarious, heart-warming and just GREAT.

The Smoking Section - Spanning 80 pages, this is David Sedaris's farewell to nicotine. It starts with his parent's smoking habits, progresses into the start of his tumultuous relationship with cigarettes, drugs and alcohol and then finishes with the lonely and difficult decision to give up smoking in Japan. It's about his smoking first and foremost, but there are so many other things going on in this story - family, addiction, disconnection, relationships, isolation - that make it phenomenally personal and intriguing. A perfect way to wrap up the book.

I've seen a few critcisms in reviews where people have said that once you've read one Sedaris you've read them all. I'm hoping that isn't true, because I love his style and voice and would love to read, and enjoy reading, a bunch more of his books. I guess that isn't something I'll know for sure until I've tried some others, but it does make me a little hesitant to pick another one up. But I've also seen a lot of people compare Sedaris to Woody Allen (which I get, but only in a neurotic American male writer kinda way), and I love A LOT of Woody Allen movies, so I'm going to assume that that is proof that I'll be fine and enjoy Sedaris for the rest of my life. Or at least for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Crazy-Good-Easy-Peasy-Marshmallows Recipe

I found my new favourite food blog, How Sweet Eats. If I had a food blog, I'd like to think it'd be a little like this one. Which is basically a bunch of super tasty food, beautifully photographed and filled will rambley who-even-knows writing. I just need to work on the cooking and photographing, the rambling I've got down solid. 

Anyway, this marshmallow recipe is BONKERS. It is so tasty, and so easy to make and I never thought I'd be able to make marshmallows because the recipes always call for corn syrup and candy thermometers AND I CAN NOT BE DEALING WITH SUCH NONSENSE. I'm a throw it in the bowl kinda lady, and even though this isn't that, it's still easy enough for a lazy girl like me to get right. 

The only problem is that this was so easy that I can see myself making a batch like every two days in winter, because marshmallows are the bomb-diggity in hot chocolate, and I am all about hot chocolate when it's cold. Watch this space, i'm about to get FAT. But content, I will be a fat and happy lady and I think I'm OK with that. 

So, on to the most fabbity-fab marshmallows you will ever make! 

2 x 50g packets of gelatin (2 tbsp)
8 tbsp of cold water
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/3 cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla extract (I only used 1 tsp because I use a concentrated extract, and that was perfect)
1 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp salt
Icing sugar, for sprinkling

1. Take an 8x8 cake tin and spray it with a non-stick spray and sprinkle icing sugar across the bottom and sides of the pan. Set aside. 
2. Put the gelatin into a small bowl and slowly stir in the 8 tbsp of water. It should become a little lighter and fluffy looking, almost like a foam. 
3.  In a small saucepan combine the 1/3 cup of water with the sugar and heat over a medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is beginning to form small bubbles.  
4. Stir in the gelatin mixture and bring to the boil. Once boiling remove immediately from the heat and transfer it to a mixing bowl. The mixture will begin to bubble up like crazy, so be sure to get it off the heat asap. 
5. Leave the mixture to cool slightly.  
6. Add the vanilla extract, the seeds from the vanilla bean and the salt.  
7. Beat on a medium-high speed for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture is white, glossy and nice and thick.  
8. Spread it into the cake tin and top with a little sifted icing sugar.  
9. Leave for at least four hours, but overnight if possible. And to remove, simply slide a knife along the sides and slowly tip it out.

And that's it! That is all there is to it. It's basically fool proof, and if you haven't cooked with gelatin before DO NOT FEAR, because I hadn't either, and I handled it with aplomb. I've always wanted to say that, and a blog post about making marshmallows seems...apt. 

So go forth friends and marsh up all the mallows! Eat them all yourself, or share them with your friends, family or that stuffy colleague who you've been struggling to warm up to. Light and fluffy vanilla bean marshmallows are the GREAT EQUALISER. They will end world hunger and war. They will convince aliens that we are a noble species and they'll unite with us so that we will share this recipe, and together  we will travel the galaxy sharing marshmallows with delightful green folk. THEY ARE THAT GOOD PEOPLE.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Readalong Post 1

Sorry I missed last week, life got in the way and I was so busy and then all of a sudden it was Tuesday...! But let me tell you, you guys really missed out, because I was going to have this bit where I talked about how flew powder is like wizard Facebook because of all the faces talking in the fire and then something snarky about how pointless both are. BOOM. That right there is comedy gold, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to deliver it for you last week.

So, I don't know if you recall but this is the film that begins with Harry trying to chat up a waitress and then Dumbledore comes and cock-blocks him like a mofo. OLD MAN, YOU BASICALLY SENTENCED THIS KID TO DEATH 2 WEEKS AGO, LET HIM GET SOME ACTION OKAY.

Nuh uh Dumbledore, not cool
Actually, I think the film starts with the Spinner Lane scene (which is awesome squared) and it's probably my favourite of the movies (and maybe second of the books). I feel like it was *really* funny in a ham-y sort of way AND Jim Broadbent as Slughorn was a piece of GENIUS casting, although I haven't seen it in about 3 years SO WHO EVEN KNOWS.

End of movie minutia, start of book bullet points.

*I don't really care for the first chapter,  (JKR I already understand how magic works stop explaining it to me) but if I'm ever prime minister I'm going to arrange a prank for whoever takes over from me which is basically a re-enactment of this scene. It will be amazing.

*Chapter 2 and the Snape/Bellatrix snark is super fantastico. I'd read an entire book that's just them being awesomely nasty to each other.

*Case in point: 
"Yes, indeed, most admirable," said Snape in a bored voice. "Of course, you weren't a lot of use to him in prison, but the gesture was undoubtedly fine" 
*Case in point 2.0:
"That was your sacrifice for the Dark Lord, not to teach your favourite subject?" 

*Is anyone else amazed that Snape actually owns more than one glass AND a serving tray?

*So Emmaline Vance was collateral damage so Snape's cover holds, and Dumbledore and the Order were cool with that? #WizardsAreDicks

*Why doesn't everyone just have a secret keeper for their house? Voldemort sneak attack problem SOLVED.

*Dumbledore reminds me a lot of Luna, especially in that scene with the Dursleys. It's like they're operating in a different dimension close to ours but not quite matching up.

"You did not do as I asked. You have never treated Harry as a son. He has known nothing but neglect and often cruelty at your hands. The best thing that can be said is that he has at least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon the unfortunate boy sitting between you."

Preach it Dumbledore

*WAIT. Does Slughorn recognise the ring on p69?


*"What is your dearest ambition?" "to find out how aeroplanes stay up" *NEVER CHANGE MR WEASLEY.

*Completely forgot that Fleur comes back in this book and that they called her phlegm. Mean.

* Shut up Hermione, I wanted to hear about Beauxbaton's education system.

*Did their OWLS owls go via the ministry? When exactly are they being searched?

*Ok so now we know a pass = 1 OWL. So the Twins failed 4 subjects. My mum would not have let me back in the house if I failed more than half of my classes so hats off to Mrs W for being as cool headed about their grades as she was. Also I assume they aced their charms, potions and transfig classes since their joke shop stock is pretty flippin' advanced.

*Sooooo, did Bill need Harry's permission or did he just stroll right into his vault? So much for top security. Banks, amirite?

*Witherwings sounds like something you'd use to insult a hippogriff. "Ugh, Buckbeak you are such a witherwings, just go away."

*What happened to Bellatrix's husband? He was in jail with her right? Did he get released too?

*It's dangerous to be seen buying/selling in Knockturn Alley? Another reasons wizards need the internet, Dark Arts Ebay.

*JKR, from the bottom of my heart I thank you for U-NO-POO.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Film Trailer: Superman, Man of Steel

I frequently get into fights with one of my friends over superheroes. He LOVES Superman and Captain America and basically all of those good and shiny superheroes that I consider BORING AS SHIT. In my opinion a superhero becomes interesting when they have some sort of internal conflict they need to come to terms with, a perfect example of this is Batman, who is hands down the most complicated and awesome superhero ever created. EVER. The good news is that this trailer (and the ones that came before it) seem to imply that some conflict has been added to Superman's character. He isn't simply a super dude who saves the day, he's an alien who was ostracised as a child for being different and now has to come to terms with both issues as an adult. Finally! A Superman I can get behind. I just hope they don't go too far into emo/hipster territory, i.e. last year's shitty Spiderman remake.

Zach Snyder is a director who makes gorgeous films that are usually pretty empty, but since he didn't write this one (THANK THE GODS) and handed the reins to David S. Goyer instead, I have some faith that the promise the trailers show will be realised. Plus Christopher Nolan as a producer can't hurt. Also, Henry Cavill is a babe. That is IMPORTANT.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Film Trailer: Catching Fire

I only read The Hunger Games series a year or so ago, but already I'm looking at this trailer and thinking "wait, what happened in book 2?" You guys can help me fill the blanks (please!) but it looks like there's a lot of the revolution happening in the trailer, and wasn't that mostly in the third book? I know they have their little tour, and shit happened along that, so maybe it's just the fact they have completely omitted the fact the go back into the Games that it seems so book 3ish? Anyway, I think it looks pretty decent, although it looks like they've dialled up the costuming to an even crazier level. What does everyone else think?

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue


Written by: Emma Donoghue

Published: 2010

Synopsis:  To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

So the other week Laura made me feel guilty because I've been using my library to borrow TV series and not books, and since I had a list from Alice of awesome lesbian lit I decided to merge the two and borrow some awesome lesbian lit from my library. But when I got up there and went to find Kissing the Witch, the only Emma Donoghue book they had was Room – and I've heard enough decent things that I was like “welp, why the heck not”. So I borrowed it, along with some others, and then I read it. And it was good. Also, LOOK LAURA, I USED A LIBRARY PROPERLY.

So it seems like the majority of books I read and review at the moment can’t be discussed in any real way without giving something away, and like all the other books, I’d hate to spoil anything about Room for you. So let's keep this vague shall we, and maybe, maybe, there'll be a couple of teeny spoilers. Room, a lot like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, is told through the eyes of a young narrator. In this case it's 5 year old Jack, an absolutely adorable and precocious kid who has spent his entire life locked up with his mum in an 11 x 11 foot room. For Jack Room is everything, it's his entire world- quite literally. He loves every item, from the rug that he was born on, to the spider web under the table. Unlike Jack though, ma sees the room for what it is, a prison. Seven years earlier ma was taken on her way to college, and has been stuck in this room every since.

Because the book is narrated by Jack, we only see glimpses of ma's turmoil and frustration. It's pretty clear that they're being held captive from the get go, but ma seems to do an amazing job of creating a normal world for her son. They have their 3 meals, their fitness time, bath-time, they play with toys and have craft projects and watch TV. But every now and then something creeps in that reminds you that this isn't a normal situation, like Jack sleeping in the wardrobe until Old Jack leaves each night, or ma being 'gone' - which is when she spends the entire day in bed almost catatonic with depression. As the book continues ma seems to be less OK with raising her son in a tiny room, and she begins to look for a way out. But aside from the difficulty of escaping a shed that's been fortified like Fort Knox, ma has to deal with little Jack, a kid who has no understanding of an outside or any desire to explore it. For all he knows and cares, Room is the world, and what kid wants to escape something like that?

Room does a fascinating job of looking into the life of a captive. And by writing it from the view of a child who has known nothing else, it muddies up the water and makes things even more complicated. If it were from the mother's perspective we'd be rooting for her success in escaping, but with Jack there's a little hesitance. How will he deal with the world outside? And not just in a 'he never even knew a world existed outside Room' kind of way, but in terms of disease and communication and social cues. Is he young enough that he can adapt, or has he been through too much trauma in his young life? I mean, *clearly* it'd still be better for him not to grow up and die in this tiny room, but it's not as simple as simply living outside either y'know.

As integral as the child narrator is to the thesis of the story, one that's about family, survival and adaptation and not simply a depressing tale which wallows in sadness which probably would have happened if we had it from ma's perspective, that doesn't make it an easy read. 320+ pages are a long time to be reading a child's thought patterns and syntax and when I started I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to keep it up. It wore thin from time to time, and it wasn't always maintained by Donoghue but I think it was a brave and difficult choice to make, and in this case, the right one. And while I didn't always love it, I liked it a lot and there were some remarkably insightful gems hidden in Jack's narrations, things like;
If Room isn't our home, does that mean we don't have one?
 In Room I was safe and outside is scary
And a bunch more but I was lazy and didn't take notes and now I can't find them.

I loved the way this book ended, it isn't a happy or sad ending or even much of a resolution at all, it felt more like the end of a chapter than the end of a book, and it felt right. There are so many complexities to Jack and ma's situation that anything too tied up or resolved would have felt like a cop-out, so props to Ms Donoghue for not taking the easy way out. And extra props for writing a story from the perspective of a child that didn't make me want to shoot myself or throw up (kids, amirite?), and more again for delivering a unique and fascinating book. So if you're keeping tally that's basically infinite props to Emma Donoghue and I'm super psyched to get my hands on her other books now.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Links

*Ever wanted Calvin and Hobbes to be a darker more disturbing story? No, probably not, but you should absolutely view the video above because it's awesome.

*In more video news, the Penny Arcade Strip Search reality show is on Youtube and it's AMAZING so you should watch it, if only for the eliminations, which are the greatest eliminations ever created. (Via Penny Arcade - Youtube)

*This shit is golden. The worst poems written by celebrities. Oh boy are some of these bad, like yikes, never leave your house again because of embarrassment bad. (Via Flavorwire)

*In case you ever questioned how awesome cosplayers are (OF COURSE YOU DIDN'T) here's some very good proof that they are bitchin'. The CONsent project is all about cosplays sharing their stories about how wearing costumes *does not* mean they're easy, gagging for it, or deserve to be attacked/manhandled. (Via Buzzfeed)

*Louis CK did a Reddit AMA, and Uproxx collected some of the greatest moments for easy readings. Enjoy (Via Uproxx)

*Gorgeous works of fairytale art have been created on hands. (Via Flavorwire)

*So. In Sydney on Oxford Street there was a fabulous road crossing known as the Rainbow Crossing. It was a marker of gay pride and tolerance and it was gorgeous. And then a politician decided to be political and had it removed because it was "unsafe". I guess because colours are too confusing for some folk, even though there were damned WALK/DON'T WALK signs in place. But that doesn't matter, because Sydney folk are pretty damn cool and decided to guerilla rainbow the city with new rainbow crossings and rainbow flags. You should look at them now. (Via Same Same)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

10 Reasons why you should watch Happy Endings

When I'm not reading or doing my PhD stuff I watch a lot of TV. Like a ridiculously huge amount. Unfortunately, I seem to have a habit of developing deep feelings for shows bound for cancellation, which is where Happy Endings looks like it's heading toward (knock on wood). But it isn't too late! I can't help because I'm in Australia, but all of you Americans MUST watch the show, or at least DVR it, so that people like I can enjoy it for years longer. But I'd prefer if you watch it and like it OBVIOUSLY, so here is another gif filled list that will make you a Happy Endings convert. FYI, don't search Tumblr or Google Images for gifs of this show without the safe search on...live and learn people, you live and learn.

The Premise

After Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) leaves Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the alter for a dude on rollerblades the foundation of this crazy group of 6 is shaken as they try and make the gang hang stick. But this show isn't really about that, it's basically Friends in the late 2000s, set in Chicago with food trucks, gay guys, pop culture references, mile a minute dialogue and lots and lots of puns. And dancing, sooo much dancing! I didn't realise how much song and dance was in this till I collected the gifs. The characters are all loud and outrageous, and Max (Adam Pally) is easily one of the greatest comedic gay characters on TV because his sexuality doesn't define him, he's just a hilarious and lazy slob who happens to like dudes. So if you're a human with anything resembling a sense of humour you're sure to find *something* to like in this show. Or, y'know, ALL OF IT.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite books from before blogging

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by the fancy folk over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's prompt is: 10 books you loved before you started blogging.


It's actually kinda hard to work out which books came before blogging because there have been SO MANY since I started this a couple of years ago. But I think I managed to whittle down a list which all came before blogging, but aren't entirely made up of books I read as a kid. Actually, this list has made me realise how badly I want to reread some of these books, and I really should since they're all so wonderful. Next challenge: reread all of the books on this list and write full reviews for them all. Yeah!

1. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

This was the first series that I desperately hung out waiting for the next installment. When I look back JKR was pretty killer at getting the books out quickly, but for a 14 year old it felt like FOREVER. Lucky for her the books are so amazing they're worth twice the wait.

2. The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys by Chris Fuhrman

Probably one of my most beloved books, my copy is so tattered and sad but I will never throw it away. It's full of heart, and the characters are brilliant and man, I cry like a newborn EVERY TIME I read it.

3. The Chrestomanci Series by Diana Wynne Jones

Another childhood favourite series. It's a blend of fairytales, wizardry, alternative timelines and a dude with multiple lives. Awesome.

4. The Stand by Stephen King

I read a lot of Stephen King books before this and a bunch after, but The Stand is probably my favourite of the lot. It is epic, but so well crafted and the story never gets away from him. It's HUGE, but it's so great I felt like I read the whole thing in 5 minutes.

5. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson

I could probably list any of a number of HST's books here, but The Rum Diary is one I always come back to. It's a little less crazy and intense than his usual books, and I just find the story of the American journalist in Cuba to be captivating. Plus HST can write, oh my stars can he write.

6. And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

I loooooove Jack Kerouac, but I also find the stream of conscious writing a little exhausting. And the Hippos is written with William S. Burroughs and it jumps between chapters written by the two. It's a nice way into Kerouac's unique way of writing and viewing life without jumping in the deep end.

7. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Just when I thought vampires were dead (thanks Twilight) I found this book and I couldn't put it down. It is the most amazing story of vampires and love/friendship and it beats the crap out of EVERYTHING else in the genre.

8. Four Fires by Bryce Courtenay

I went through a huge Bryce Courtenay phase, and Four Fires was always my favourite. It spans multiple generations in an Irish-Australian family and deals with things like adolescent pregnancy, PTSD and homosexuality in the 1950s-1960s. It's phenomenal.

9. Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner

This is like the Australian version of Little Women except 1000 times better. When publishers were demanding Australian children's books be English kids in a harsh and unforgiving landscape facing the terrifying natives (yeah, real winners those British publishers) Ethel Turner told them to shove it and wrote a story about the awesomeness that is Australian children. What we get are a rag-tag group of kids who are completely different but all love each other and the land they live on. It's great. Go read it already!

10. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Oh man, this series is so enjoyable. It's almost too enjoyable. No, that's nonsense, there's no such thing and even if there were this wouldn't be it.  It's hilarious, bizarre, the characters are delightful....just yes.

Film Trailer: Carrie (ugh, seriously?)

I'd be remiss if I didn't post the new trailer for the remake of Carrie, but ugh, I don't really care? I mean, if they remade the film to be more like the book (i.e. continue on longer in Carrie's rampage and the flashbacks and what not) then maybe I could see why they'd remake it, but it looks like an almost shot for shot remake of Brian De Palma's 1976 film. Also, really? Chloe Moretz? That's who they've cast as the ugly overweight weird kid who likes to kill people with her mind? I mean, I'm sure she'll do a brilliant job acting wise - but COME ON.

On the plus side, I do love Julianne Moore.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Readalong Post 3

So this week has been hectic. Wednesday was my PhD confirmation, basically where I had to deliver a 45 minute speech about my study and why it should continue. It was terrifying and stressful. So needless to say there wasn't much sleep in the 4 days leading up to that and then afterwards I came home and slept about 14 hours straight. So I'm going to keep this post short and in bullet points and spend my time commenting on your posts instead. Okay? Okay!

*I love everything about Cho and Harry's awkward kiss and Hermione's much needed talk afterwards. I don't care for Cho but it could not be more awkward and teenager-y if it was taken out of an actual teen's life. Although the whole ex-boyfriend killed by an evil wizard thing might be a bit unrelateable for most.

*I love Lockhart's little cameo. His self-reflection on being liked for being handsome and his indignation about not learning joined up writing for nothing - perfection. 

*The scene with the Longbottom's SLAYS me - poor Neville, it must be so hard. Sad face. 

*Come on Dumbledore, couldn't McGonagall or someone have taught Harry occlumency? Why did you think that was even approaching a good idea?

*Snape's a dick. 

*Hagrid's line "Make's a diff'rence, havin' a decent family, he said. 'Me dad was decent. An' your mum an' dad were decent. If they'd lived, life woulda bin diff'rent, eh" basically sums up the whole series in one sentence.

*I would read Hermione's book about understanding girls and the mad things they do. 

*Question: Can photos see who is looking at them? I mean, portraits can talk about react, but can photos? Or do they just react the way the real them would act in their situation? I'm just wondering if Bellatrix would still be scowling if it was Voldemort looking down at her picture in the prophet.


*Ugh, Percy and Umbridge still stink.

*That scene in Dumbledore's office is so unnecessarily dramatic and makes things worse for EVERYONE. 

*HOW does Harry manage to leave Snape during the pensieve memory? That's not how memory works JKR...

*"I should have made my meaning plainer,' said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. 'He has achieved high marks in all Defence Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher" 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ready Player One - Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Oh hey! Lookie here, my Ready Player One giveaway has a winner! I had a whopping two entries (!!) but to make it more exciting I wrote out Meg and Shelleyrae's name on about 7 slips of paper each so it wasn't quite so sad. 

The winner of a new copy of Ready Player One and an additional 80s-related gift (to remain secret to act like it's a bigger deal than it is...) is the lovely lady Meg!!

Welcome to the RPO club Meg! One of us! One of us! One of us!

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

Written by: John Green

Published: 2012

Synopsis: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

I have seen this blue cover pop up in blog posts, tv segments, book store windows...it is literally EVERYWHERE which usually means I will do everything I can to run in the opposite direction. But in furthering my attempt to read more YA without pre-judging I decided to see what all the fuss was about with John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. 

First things first, I feel like an idiot. I have watched SO MANY Vlogbrothers videos and I had no idea that THAT John is THIS John. It was only when I flipped to the back of the book to see the author's picture and the middle-aged white dude I expected turned out to be a very familiar young face that I was like "errrrr duh Kayleigh, way to be on top of things". And once I made that connection a few other things started slotting into place and making sense, namely the very internet-y dialogue. The language Hazel and Augustus use feels like a Tumblr post, there are so many meme-y phrases used (i.e. WHAT IS THIS LIFE?) that I was seriously stumped trying to work out whether I thought the voice was genuine or not. I mean, I'm all about 'feels' and 'what is this life' and using bizarrely formal language to describe something simple (i.e. p45 "But three years removed from proper full-time schoolic exposure to my peers, I felt a certain unabridged distance between us") but I don't really use it outside of the internet, and before I knew it was VlogBros John I had assumed that the author just visited Tumblr and took notes. But when I found out who John Green was it was like "OK sure, it makes more sense that a teenager from his imagination talks like that, because he basically is the internet".

Anyway, I was a little conflicted. On the one hand I really respected John Green's attempt to write a different cancer story. Generally, i'm a little opposed to cancer and Holocaust books, because they're emotionally manipulative by design, and people sometimes mistake "this book made me sad because cancer" with "this is a genuinely interesting and different book" and I usually end up crying while hating the author for getting me with no real effort. There was an element of that in this book because it is a book about two teenagers with cancer, but John Green really tried to make it about something more. The two protagonists, Hazel and Augustus, are realists about their illnesses. Hazel is stable for now, and Augustus is in remission but they both know that even if they end up completely cancer free they'll always be defined by the illness that took them over as children. And while Augustus is preoccupied with making a mark on the world, Hazel is terrified of hurting the people in her life more than she already has. In one of the true heartbreaking moments Hazel refers to herself as a grenade saying;
I just want to to stay away from people and read books and think and be with you guys because there's nothing I can do about hurting you; you're too invested, so just let me do that, okay? I'm not depressed. I don't need to get out more. And I can't be a regular teenager, because I'm a grenade. (p99)
Around the same point in the novel, Augustus's friend Isaac, has his heart broken when his girlfriend breaks up with him right before he loses his last eye to cancer and will be made blind. These kids just want to live regular lives and fall in love and play video games and go to school but cancer keeps getting in their way, and John Green is so brutally honest with all of these scenes. We might want Isaac to get his happy ever ending with his girlfriend of 14 months, but the reality of his cancer proved too much for her, and while we want to hate her for it, can we really blame her? Like Hazel says soon after, what Isaac did wasn't nice, it wasn't his fault, but it wasn't nice either. What this book does well is avoid the cancer story cliches, they aren't strong and brave because they have cancer, they're kids dealing with cancer on top of adolescence and it scares them and makes them angry and frustrated, which actually makes them rather strong and brave in their own way.

Twenty pages into this book I was ready to put it down and move on. I didn't really like Hazel (or care enough to dislike her), the tumblr-talk was a little overwhelming and I just didn't care. I decided to keep going, and 20 pages quickly became 90 and then 140. As I kept going I found myself caring more, but to be perfectly honest, I don't know if the reason I cared more was because I actually warmed to the characters or if it was because of the parallels that existed between this story and my uncle's death last year. I was very aware that when I got close to tears in one scene between Hazel and her parents, I was actually thinking about how hard my grandparents took my uncle's death, and how losing a child* to illness is earth shattering whether your child is 16 or 49. So I'm perhaps the wrong person to be reviewing this book, because I just don't know how emotionally resonant this book would be for someone who wasn't in my shoes last year. Or maybe if you had a sister or cousin or best friend who died of cancer you'd react in a completely different way again. So I'm wary of saying that I ended up enjoying (so to speak) this book, because I don't know if I did - or if I just connected with my own grieving process.

I haven't even discussed how Hazel's obsession with a book, and Augustus' devotion to her leads them on a trek to Amsterdam to meet the author who ended Hazel's favourite book so abruptly. Or about the support groups or how the parents act and react to things in this book. In many ways this is a really solid book that looks at a common YA topic with something of a new perspective, but even with my experience with my uncle looming over me the entire book, I still didn't find it as breathtaking as everyone else seems too. I'm glad I pushed past the first 20 pages, and I'm glad I read this book. There's some real humour and heart in this book, and I think it was one line in particular which helped me continue reading even after I was ready to pass this book on;
I didn't tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You're a woman. Now die. (p24)
So read it? I'm leaning more into the read it than don't read it column, but I think your takeaway will really depend on your personal experience with cancer or illness, or maybe your tolerance for emotionally manipulative books. If you do decide to read it, be sure to keep some tissues handy. Just in case.

*That isn't a spoiler. Hazel was close to death at 13 and had recovered (sort of) when this book took place. There is a flash back to that death bed scene though, which is what I'm referring to here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Links

*I don't care what anyone else says, I'm actually pretty excited for the new Great Gatsby film. It's definitely going to be different from the book, but I kinda love the idea of a very decadent Roaring 20's story. My fingers are crossed anyway.

*Some genius noticed some parallels between The Walking Dead and Toy Story. It blew my mind. (Via Uproxx)

*oooh wow, take a peek at these staff picks shelves from across America. I just made a mental note to check out a few of these stores on my holiday (Via Flavorwire)

*Here are the Game of Thrones sigils for 26 beloved (and some weird picks) fictional characters. (Via Buzzfeed)

*So these margin notes by Ayn Rand show that she SUPER hated C.S. Lewis (via First Things)

*Vicky Trochez is amazing, and recently illustrated the cast of Parks and Recreation as superheroes. (Via Uproxx)

*In honour of Game of Thrones returning to our screen (SCREAM!) here's a 4 minute video of Joffrey getting slapped, a bunch of obscure facts about the actors in the show, the new Axis of Awesome videoclip for Rage of Thrones, and 15 fan tributes that are awesome sauce.

*I'm really hoping I could win the People's Choice in the Australian Best Blogs competition, so please, please, please VOTE for me and spread the news!


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