Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Carry the One - Carol Anshaw

This book's been getting a lot of love, and it's about to get suh'more. I was eager to read it after Books are my Boyfriends reviewed it, but it was lost a while in my nebulous, brain-stored TBR list. Now, finally, I've read it (and loved it) and can join the party. (But, as this party's already a bit crowded, this'll be a short one.)

The Story: A group of partiers leaves a wedding a little worse for drugs and experiences a devastating event. We revisit them in vignettes as the years go on, looking in on their lives, seeing how they've moved on and how they haven't. 

Carry the One is at once slow and feverish. It would feel like nothing much was happening, and then, oh, look at that, half the book is gone. 

Where the book is the pizza, you see.

I wound up really caring about the characters. Though some of them had some pretty rough traits, none were irredeemable. I understood why they were acting the way they were. And Anshaw's writing is fantastic: she's witty and tragic and unaffected.

If you haven't read it yet, make sure you're in the right reading mood before you jump in. It is not hilarious, and no fruit carts are overturned (how can I not find a gif of this?). I read it while and after reading It, and that was perfect. If you're not on a realistic, character-based reading kick, I'd suggest bookending this bad boy with dragons.

Always a good choice.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

HP Friday: Of Squibs and House Elves

Friday, a-Friday, a-Friday is very very nice.

It's time for another installment in the Harry Potter Readalong hosted by the Hufflepufferific Reading Rambo. This week we're reading the first ten chapters of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Seeeekrits. It's a readalong, so it can get spoilery. Especially in the comments. BE FOREWARNED.

I think chapter 3, "The Burrow," might well be my favourite chapter of all chapters ever. I love meeting the Weasleys and seeing their home, and Mr. and Mrs. W are hilarious together. And I love how Ginny acts all

But feels all

She's so awkward. I love her face.

The last chapters of this section serve to make me feel really bad for the people whose guts I previously hated. 

Filch, for one. If he's a squib, and he's the caretaker at Hogwarts, do they make him clean the whole castle by himself, muggle-style? Because that is awful. That can't be right.

At least he has Mrs. Norris to comfort him.

His reaction to finding Mrs. Norris petrified is almost too sad.

Then, the idea of Malfoy getting told off by Flint for missing the snitch when it was right beside him, that'll make you feel bad for the kid.

And things are just going to get worse. Poor Draco. I don't think he likes being himself most of the time.

In the same chapter that we glimpse the fact that Malfoy may, in fact, just be a sad little kid, Dobby visits Harry in the infirmary. And hey, ho, wait a second, when Dobby apparates out of Hogwarts Harry is holding onto his arm. Qu'est-ce que le what? Shouldn't Harry have apparated, too?

Now, I didn't get to commenting on all your awesome posts last week, what with Personal Things getting in the way of what's really important (Harry Potter), but I am determined to travel 'round this week, agreeing with your exclamations of horror at how the twins treat that salamander, and disagreeing with you, vehemently, about Dobby being the Jar Jar Binks of the Harry Potter series ("The house-elf's goggling tennis-ball eyes were peering at Harry through the darkness. A single tear was running down his long, pointed nose." What, are you made of stone?

The fact that I've looked for a half hour without finding a Dobby gif I want to use is BESIDE THE POINT).

(Seriously, though, Jar Jar was the worst.)

Final point: the casting of Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart is the greatest thing of all the hyperbolically great things.

Oh, you.

Friday, 18 January 2013

HP Friday: Am I weeping already?

Super fast and incoherent Harry Potter Friday post! In this week's installment of Reading Rambo's Harry Potter Readalong ALL THE GIFS, we're discussing the second half of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, chapters 10 through the end of the book. There will be spoilers, kittens, and if these books ares still spoilable for you, you should really be reading along with us. (Do iiit.)

Sure things are sad in this book, and it's dark when I wake up, which is mega sad, but we musn't dwell.

Not on Harry Potter Friday!

This book is so wonderful. I. Freaking. Love. The trials H+R+H have to go through to get to Quirrell. Especially Snape's logic puzzle. And oh man interesting that Dumbledore said Snape hated Harry's father with such ferocity because James saved his life. Is that right? (Spoiler) By keeping Snape's duel-agent status a secret? Was there an Incident that I don't remember? (End of spoiler.) Anyway, we most of us know that James was (spoiler) an ass hat, so we do not blame Snape for hating him. We hate him too, really.

And yikes did these books get sad early. Of course the mirror, but what made me break right down this read-through was this heartbreaking bit o' writing, which comes after Dumbledore tells Harry that his mother died to save him, that Quirrell/Voldemort couldn't bear to touch him because "it was agony to touch a person marked by something so good."

"Dumbledore now became very interested in a bird out on the window-sill, which gave Harry time to dry his eyes on the sheet." (Pg 217-217)

Aaaaarrg! All these years I thought Dumbles was being flaky and really was interested in that bird! Reading these books as an adult is brutal.

And we find out in the big confrontation (because Quirrell is one of those villains who monologues, thankfully) that Quirrell was able to touch Harry in the Leaky Cauldron because he and Voldemort hadn't yet fused.

Which I imagine went something like this.

Finally, in personal Harry Potter news, the husband played some Pottermore last weekend and was sorted into *drumroll*


Hufflepuff + Slytherin. Our love is true.

Damn straight.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

It - Stephen King

This was not at all what I expected. 

Much like this cat.

Stephen King's It is one of his more famous novels, and one that illustrates a perception/reality discrepancy that I think might happen with a lot of his work (for me, at least). It is not just, in fact, about a psycho clown, as pop culture and some variations of the book cover might suggest. Just like, as I recently learned (thanks, Red), Pet Sematary is not just about zombie kitties. Here, King takes the horror genre and uses it ruminate on what it means to be a child, what happens when you move from childhood to adulthood, how much your parentage and the way you're raised affects you as a child and as an adult.

And in the midst of this philosophizing, he give us everything we do expect from the genre. Blood, violence, sex, it's all there. And terror, that's there, too. It kept me up nights at my mother-in-law's place this Christmas, listening to the unfamiliar creaks with rising panic.

When the natural gas detector squealed
a false alarm at 2 am I was wrecked for days.

I loved this book. I cried, which was another thing I didn't expect. I cried when things were sad and I cried when things were beautiful. Sure, there were parts  though not too many  that were unnecessary (descriptive descriptions are descriptive) and parts I'm not sure how I feel about (some bits had an ickiness level in the danger-zone), but overall it blew my mind right up. If you don't go for horror, don't go for this one, but if you have any inclination or you've wanted to read King but didn't know where to start, definitely pick this one up. Thanks to Devouring Texts for recommending it! It's a rereader. 

Bonus ereader reaction*: This was the first book I read on an ereader, and it was great. I love love real books, but for the colossi out there (and It, my version clocking in at 1027 pages, certainly qualifies), I'm glad to have the option of downsizing to something that's easier to handle and travel with. If I didn't already own the Song of Ice and Fire books in paperback, I'll tell ya. Though I did miss the sensation of going from more pages in my right hand to more pages in my left. And my Sony Reader doesn't tell me how many pages are left in a chapter. Though I guess physical books don't really announce that either. Anyway, my basic stance on the thing is put a good story in front of me and I'll read it, whatever the format.

*I had written "review" here but then I read it back and thought HA NOT SO MUCH.

Friday, 11 January 2013

HP Friday: Better than Christmas

Reasons Friday is the best day: 1) The weekend starts this evening; 2) HARRY FLIPPIN' POTTER.

This week on the Reading Rambo hosted Harry Potter Readalong: Book One, Chapters 1 through 9. Be sure to check out the linky for all the other bloggers who are rocking out with their HP love out.

Too many feelings. This is going to be way too long if I don't break it down to its barest bullet points, so here we go.

1) As it's been discussed on Twitter and by you guys with your smartness on your blogs, the early chapters on Privet Drive are kind of lame. In a soul-crushing, call child services kind of way. Have you guys come across that theory that the entirety of Harry's story was all in his head? That the story getting so fantastic and so dark was a result of the abuse escalating? That the really crazy parts all took place in Harry's mind when he was BEDRIDDEN at the HOSPITAL? I DO NOT LIKE THINKING ABOUT THESE THINGS.

*calms self with Christmas candy*

2) While 1st-half-of-the-book Snape is more one-dimensionally nasty than I remembered, I do know that my feelings for him had softened by the end of Philosopher's Stone. And when the casting for the first movie was announced, my pro-Snape orientation was solidified. I had some pre-existing Alan Rickman Dogma feels.

The Metatron is my spirit animal.

3) Going back to Hogwarts made me feel 12 in the best way. It's like, you know how Christmas is always kind of disappointing now that we're "adults" and junk? Because it's just not as magical? I was worried that the first experience of Hogwarts would be all dulled and old hat, but NOPE. 

4) I forgot Dumbledore was so light early on. 
"Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
Thank you!"

I'm all used to later-books, badass-Michael-Gambon Dumbledore.

5) Poor Neville! I had forgotten that he was so non-magical early in life. That must have SUCKED. Your family poking and prodding you. Already being a disappointment at, what, 4 years old. Poor Neville.

Please allow me to hug your face.

6) STOP BEING MEAN TO HERMIONE, HARRY AND RON. (And Hermione, if you chill out they'll be less mean to you!) Ah, the perils of being 11. I didn't want age to be an excuse, but Laura and Alice pointed out on Twitter that, in fact, everyone sucks at 11. 

Now things are getting good. We're past Privet Drive, we're past the troubled beginning of the best book friendship ever ... onward to finding out what's in that grubby little package from vault 713 (oh man you guys I totally know).

Tune in next week when things are revealed!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Mini-Readathon: THAT'S IT!

We did it! We mini-thon'd!

8 (ish) hours of reading (both books and blogs. And making snacks).

Pages read: 276

Books that those pages were in: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (120, to the end of ch. 9), Just Listen (156)

Snacks consumed:
Mini Oreos, Mini M&Ms, and Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Pistachios ... no reason needed.

How much I loved this mini-readathon: So freaking much I might just keep doing it all weekend long by myself. 

Why not, say I.

Thank you to Tika for hosting! 

Mini-Readathon: Mid-Thon

How great is everything? So great. Harry Potter is WONDERFUL even though he's ruining my reading stats for this, for I must savor.

Four hours in and here's where we stand:

Where I'm reading: my living room reading nest

It's not product placement. I just like it.

What I'm reading: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Pages read thus far: 107

Snacks consumed: 
Mini rice crisp: nuclear cheddar flavour
Mini pickles
What's for lunch:
Mini quesadillas
With a mini whisky drink

How am I liking this mini-thon: Just dandily, thanks.

Mini-Readathon: Let's get it started

Greetings, my little potstickers! Happy 2013 to you! After a bit of a blogging break due to Christmas and travelling and the post Christmas-travelling cold, I can think of no better way to ring in the new blogging year than with a mini-mother-effing-readathon.

Ahem. I'm excited. 

This mini-readathon is brought to you by Miss Tika over at Reading the Bricks with cheers and fist pumps from the GIF Admiration Society. We'll be reading for 8 hours, from 8 am PST to 4 pm PST, with a mid-thon check in post. You wanna see what books I'll be reading? Of COURSE you do!

That's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling: mini in that it's made for children and features goblins (thanks Tika),

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw: mini in that one is a small number, there are kids in it, and also I'm already reading it so I wanted to include it,

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen: mini in that it's YA and so for mini people (you heard me, teens), and readathons of any sort require YA,

and a collection of Muriel Spark novellas including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girls of Slender Means, The Driver's Seat (aka the reason I took this book out. I have heard Positive Things), and The Only Problem: all mini because they are novellas.

Will this be enough? Is it too much? I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm a slow reader. Also, I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to rush through Harry Potter. Also snacks. So we'll see! I have A Clash of Kings in reserve (mini because of Tyr- ... er ... Bran) in case I run out.

First on the agenda, Harry Potter and a mini breakfast! Well, a regular sized breakfast made up of mini things:

Mini sausage rolls and a mandarin (mini) orange

Regular size cup of coffee because, let's be real. But mini-bottle of Baileys in it. Well, beside it. Ain't no way I'm messing with a perfect cup of Oso Negro.

Readathon onward, my darling butterbeers!

I'm off to regress into childhood.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Harry Potter Readalong: Intro Post: THIS IS IT, PEOPLE.

Alright, chickadees. The wait is over. The Harry Potter Readalong HAS BEGUN!

Da duuuh da na duuuh DA daaaah naaa, duuh da na duuuh da duuuuuuuuuuuuh.

(That, of course, is the heartbreakingly perfect theme music.)

This here's the first post where we go around the circle and introduce ourselves. Hi! My name is Kayleigh. I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was 12, and at that time, the first three books were out. The last book came out when I was 20. 12 to 20, you guys. I was part of that lucky generation - growing up in step with Harry. The books matured as I did, and got darker when I was able to handle darkness. There's nothing from my childhood I'm more nostalgic about.


I read The Deathly Hallows twice right when it came out (as in I got to the last page and turned immediately back to the beginning) and haven't read any of them since, so I am VERY excited for this readalong. I've seen the movies many times each since then, but I'm hoping to discover bits of story that I'd forgotten in this glorious reread. 

I'll be looking out for whether it seems that Rowling knew all along the final details of the story (which I think I heard/read she did), or whether it might have turned into something she didn't expect. I'll also be keeping a close eye on Neville and his story because of REASONS. (I know Meg and Brie haven't read the books so no spoilers. THIS TIME.)

Also, have you guys been Sorted on Pottermore? Because you should totally go do that. It's awesome. You have to play though the first bit but it's totally worth it. 

I'm a Hufflepuff, by the by.

Whut whut.

I'll be reading the first book TOMORROW during the minireadathon hosted by Tika and I CAN NOT EVEN TELL YOU how excited I am. I'm excited.