Monthly Archives: October 2012

Happy Halloween!


Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Gonzalez :)

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

-Dr. Suess


Lyra’s Oxford by Phillip Pullman

I’m going to be short and sweet with this review because I wouldn’t want it to be longer than the book itself. I’m a huge fan of Phillip Pullman’s and I was absolutely obsessed with His Dark Materials series. I loved it. For any of you who have never read The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, or The Amber Spyglass I HIGHLY recommend that you do. They are amazing, fantastical books that explore some pretty deep topics under the guise of children’s literature. In fact, just writing about them makes me want to re-read the series as an adult to see what else I’ll glean from it.

(Also, obviously, don’t judge the book by it’s movie. The Golden Compass’ film adaptation did not do it justice at all…)

All I know is, I wish daemons were real! So so cool! They’re pretty much an outward extension of your soul represented by an animal. They can change form until you reach puberty and your personality has “settled.” Our main character Lyra’s has now settled as a ermine, I believe, but there can be a multitude of choices. Lord Asriel’s was a snow leopard, Ms. Coulter’s was a golden tamarin monkey, and Lee Scoresby’s was a hare.

Witches’ daemons are usually birds and possess the unsettling ability to fly miles and miles away from their masters. (All daemons are on a relatively short “leash” to their humans, as you wouldn’t feel right with your soul running around without you, would you?) They are usually the opposite sex from their companion. Very interesting…

But that being said, Lyra’s Oxford was completely useless. It shouldn’t have even been a stand-alone novel. It was an extremely short story about Lyra and her daemon Pan, as they try to seek help for a witch’s daemon. Very very brief and pretty uninteresting. It takes place two years after the end of The Amber Spyglass and reminded me quite a bit of what Stephenie Meyer did with The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner or what JK Rowling did with The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Kind of just short, useless reminders of an epic series. (Although The Tales of Beedle the Bard did have a purpose, even though it was small…)

The verdict? Skip it.

2 stolen gypsy children of 5


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

You’d think that someone whom, on average, reads about a hundred books a year would’ve at some point gotten around to the classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. (Or as I’ve referred to it in my head for my entire life–Alice in Wonderland–but whatever…) This weekend I decided to hunker down and sink my teeth into the classic children’s tale that’s spawned innumerable movies, games, tv mini-series, and slutty Halloween costumes. 

It wasn’t… quite what I’d expected…

It was at once extremely familiar and yet utterly weird. I’ve seen so many of the story points used or referenced in other works that it was almost as if I’d read it before. (Plus, it made me realize that Disney actually interpreted the book pretty well with it’s old cartoon version). Also, Through the Looking Glass seemed to be the predominate reference for Tim Burton’s movie. I was kind of disappointed there wasn’t an epic battle between Alice and the Jabberwocky in the books, however…

I guess I also discovered the reason Carroll sent an innocent and polite English schoolchild down the rabbit hole and not a twenty-something hormone-fueled blonde girl. I would’ve killed probably everyone I encountered in Wonderland while I was there–the characters were so annoying! I get that everything is supposed to be whimsical and nonsensical (and in TTLG, backwards) but come on. Alice didn’t have a single conversation that made sense and everyone was so easily offended by everything she said… I just wanted to punch them.

I don’t want to go to Wonderland if everyone there is such a crazy dick. Honestly, you can have the same exact experience in Ybor City without ever setting foot near a rabbit hole. The Mad Hatter would be a creepy homeless dude, the March Hare would be a nervous skinny kid lost in the bowels of the Castle, and the Red Queen would most surely be a drag queen. (Except instead of screaming “Off with his head!” she’d be screaming something else about head…)

Too weird.

2 bread and butter flies of 5


Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea & Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler

Phew. That’s a lot of Chelseas. Especially when you consider these books are being reviewed by a Chelsea too! I’ve been casually following Chelsea Handler’s work since her days on the Girls Behaving Badly show. It used to really crack me up in my teen years. My roommate and I even enjoyed watching her show Chelsea Lately whenever we caught it, reveling in her sarcastic-bitch sense of humor. I love that. I find mean people hilarious. And she’s mean. And probably an alcoholic.  

I read My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands a few years back and found it pretty amusing. What’s not to love about a collection of casual sex stories? She should’ve called it, A Series of Unfortunate Decisions. Lmao. I recall a circus midget being in one of the stories. Really.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t so fond of either of these two books.

I read Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang in one day, because it’s a really easy read. I do appreciate that about Chelsea’s writing. Both of these books follow her traditional format of each chapter being a humorous story that stands alone. But, the stories in CCBB just seemed a little too self-appreciative and not as funny as the improv banter on her show. This book just kind of gave the impression of “I’m rich and funny, laugh at me!”

When I was finished, I remembered that I had Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea on my Kindle, so I promptly started that. I found this one slightly more amusing and less ego-stroking than CCBB. This one was written beforehand, so maybe she wasn’t quite as full of herself during this time. A lot of drunken craziness ensues, which I’m all for, but it somehow just isn’t that funny. I only laughed aloud a couple of times in each book, and it wasn’t ever because of the punchline of a story–more for random strange things like referring to her fat father as “Platypus.”

I still love you, Chelsea, and I’ll continue to watch your show–but my girlfriends and I have been known to have more wild nights than your books illustrate, with a fraction of the money and only a drop of ego.

3 Ketel One and Lemons of 5


A Little Daily Advice…


Harry Potter Studio Tour, London :)

So, over the weekend Jason drove me almost two hours to go beneath London to a little town called Watford. An otherwise innocuous area, Watford is home to one of the coolest things in the history of time. That’s right. I’m talking about the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour. It is a really popular tour, and to book our trip on the 6th, we had to schedule it mid-September!

But, boy was it worth it! 

I absolutely ADORED everything about it. I couldn’t stop smiling. After we got past the queue (taking us past the cupboard under the stairs) and into the first section of the tour, they sat us down and played a small movie about how the Harry Potter films came to be. Then, when it was over, they rolled up the giant screen and we were all directly in front of the ENORMOUS doors that lead into the great hall. Seriously, we walked through the same exact doors Harry, Ron, and Hermione did and straight into the hall. It was amazing.

We got to see the door to the Chamber of Secrets, the Mirror of Erised, the Sorcerer’s Stone and a million other important objects for the wizarding world. It was honestly like a childhood dream come true. I would’ve easily lived in there, slept in the Griffyndor boy’s dormitory, cooked in the Weasley’s kitchen, and lounged in the common room.

I took about a zillion pictures, but none of them really do it justice:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts

Seeing as it’s freshly October, some scary books are in order… Rage Within, sequel to the ultra-creeptastic Dark Inside. (DI was a great book. I’d be reading it next to the sleeping boyfriend and still jump out of my skin every time the house creaked.) 

Roberts’ post-apocalyptic world is less zombies and more terrorist attacks meets natural disaster meets rage virus. It follows the lives of a handful of teens as they try to overcome the insurmountable odds against surviving in their deadly environment. The people that have caught the rage virus are known as Baggers and in book two they are more intelligent and more organized, therefore much more dangerous.

Obviously it’s easier to run from mean but stupid things–like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park–but much harder to run from mean but smart things–like the raptors. (I seriously still have nightmares about them!)

While RW wasn’t quite as scary as DI, it was still an enjoyable and sufficiently creepy read. I was less scared out of my wits and more on the edge of my seat, if that makes sense. There was still plenty of action, gore, and suspense–just not as much utterly horrifying mental imagery.

In this book, we get to find out what the Nothing infecting everybody really is. We also learn that the Baggers may not be as easy to read as previously imaged. Scary, huh?

I am pissed off that the character Colin has lasted this long, and once you read the story you’ll get what I mean. I’m sorry, but if I had a group of friends together in a safe house and one little jerk was beginning to compromise our safety… Well… let’s just say he’d have another thing coming. Marshall law for the win!

Roberts has definitely left an open ending for another book, which I’ll be eagerly awaiting. I’m not sure how well things will turn out, however, because things aren’t looking so good for the humans these days…

Definitely worth the read, especially in honor of Halloween.

4 stale Twinkies of 5


98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive by Cody Lundin

Sometimes when I get really into stories, I get on little jags and want to be more like the characters I’m reading about. For example, The Hunger Games made me want to learn archery and survival skills. The Rise of Nine made me want to learn karate and get in good shape so I could kick some ass. Twilight made me want to have sex with Edward Cullen.

You get the picture.

So, in going in the same vein as survival skills, I picked up 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive by renowned survival expert Cody Lundin. I figured anything with the word “ass” in the title couldn’t be boring to read.

I guess I was wrong….

Lundin’s book mostly goes over what to bring with you if you were suddenly stuck in a “survival scenario.” He’s not talking about surviving a plane crash that dropped you in the middle of the desert or something extreme like that. The book delves more into being fully prepared for anything to happen on a hike or wilderness excursion that you choose to go on. I thought that meant we were going to learn some skills, like knowing the time based off the sun’s position, or how to find water in a random environment. Shoot, even how to build a shelter out of branches would’ve been cool.

But instead, half of the book was devoted to learning about regulating body temperature and staying hydrated. Seriously, is half the book necessary? The other half was devoted to what to keep in your “survival kit.” This was an extremely long and boring section on all the little knick knacks to bring with you in case of an emergency. I get it. Those are things you need to survive. But rather than making a bullet point list of the things you’ll need and a brief description of how to use them–Lundin rambled on in huge paragraphs or chapters for each tiny object. It wasn’t pretty.

I just wish he hadn’t gone into scientific description about temperature regulation and hydration. Yes, tell us the warning signs for hypothermia, hyperthermia, and dehydration. But we don’t need to know what it means on a cellular level.

Honestly, I don’t know anyone past the age of five that isn’t well aware of these things.

And (although this was good advice) he reiterated multiple times about telling someone where you’re going and what time to expect you back before you venture off into the woods alone. Tons of people have died because they’ve tripped along the trail, broken their leg, and died of exposure. Or one of a million other stupid, pointless reasons to die.

Does anyone really go off alone without saying anything anymore? I think Aron Ralston would’ve cleared that whole thing up for us by now….

I’m going to sum the whole book up for you right now: Drink lots of water, stay warm or cool as needed, tell someone where you’re going, have a small survival kit to bring with you–even on a day hike.

I’ll say it again…

Don’t go off alone in nature, stupid. 

(Plus, as a side note, the whole thing reads like a guide your hokey, completely un-hip dad would write. Down to the crazy, 80’s reminscent cartoons. Also, Lundin apparently lives in a tent all the time and doesn’t shower too frequently. I guess that speaks volumes about his love life…)

1 arm you cut off yourself out of 5


The Poison Eaters by Holly Black

Obviously, if you’ve followed my blog long enough you’ve heard my sing my girl-crush love about Holly Black many times before. I totally adore her and she’s one of my all-time favorite authors (which is really saying something!)

Holly–if you’re reading this–let’s hang out!

The Poison Eaters has been on my list for over a year now, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. It’s a collection of Mrs. Black’s own fantastical short stories with her signature dark twist.

And, as usual, she’s done a good job with them. She’s managed quite a few anthologies over the years and so I had no doubt she’d be able to seamlessly blend her own tales together.

We got to sample stories about vampires, secret cults, faeries, werewolves, unicorns, and a bunch of other things you’ve never even heard of. And we got to revisit Kay, Roiben, Corny, and Val from her beloved Ironside trilogy.

As with most collections, there will always be stories that rise above the others and The Poison Eaters was no exception. Some of my favorites included:

  • A Reversal of Fortune: kind of like the short story version of the old folk song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Crazy, and you’ll never look at gummy frogs the same way again.
  • The Dog King: werewolves surround a medieval castle, but the real danger may lurk inside its walls.
  • In Vodka Vertias: a school prank gets way out of hand and ample doses of sex are involved…
  • Paper Cuts Scissors: a lonely geek’s girlfriend has willingly trapped herself inside a novel and he’s desperately searching for a way to get her out again.
  • The Poison Eaters: told in the classic rule of three format many fairy tales lay claim to, three sickly girls must follow their destiny.

The aforementioned really stood out to me, but they each had their own little crisp ending that made you pause for a minute after reading. The Poison Eaters is the perfect book to curl up with this fall after your house has fallen asleep and you’ve got a steaming mug of tea in your hands…

4 virgin boys of 5