Monthly Archives: April 2015

Since I have spent FOUR HOURS today trying to make a stupid video, you get an abbreviated Book Club Thursday.

But not TOO abbreviated because I actually finished two books this week.

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Finally.

My most favorite thing about this book:  Towards the end, Anthony’s writer friend (Caramel) says that everyone keeps asking if he’s read This Side of Paradise.  This Side of Paradise was Fitzgerald’s first book.  I found this really amusing.

My least favorite thing about this book: Anthony is a terrible person.  And (massive spoiler) he gets exactly what he wants at the end of the book.  He thinks he’s “triumphed” over his “trials,” and I just kept thinking…every problem you ever had was your own damn fault.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Umm…Anybody interested in The Great Depression and the “Roaring Twenties.”  When I read The Great Gatsby in class, my teacher said that Fitzgerald already knew that the twenties would end with a crash and spiral into something like a depression.  With that book, I thought that was a stretch, but with The Beautiful and Damned, it makes total sense.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  After Bridget Jones’ Diary and before The Great Gatsby.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry.

My most favorite thing about this book:  Man.  This book was so good I don’t even know where to begin.  I loved the characters.  The bad ones were really well put together and the good ones were so wonderful, I wanted to hug them and make all their pain go away.  I guess that’s my favorite.

My least favorite thing about this book: Probably the ending, but mostly because I can’t get the next one until January.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Anyone who likes dystopian novels.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  After The Giver of course and before Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie.

Since the video isn’t working out, I will simply list my top five purchases from this weekend, in no particular order:

1. The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger (because it’s the real cool “documents” format and I didn’t think I’d be able to find it used since it only came out last year).
2. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (because I’ve been looking at it for two years and I’ve never seen it used before and it was half-price).
3. The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (which I bought full price because it’s also pretty new but was totally worth it because now I’ve actually read Wonder Woman and am getting into female super heroes and it’s awesome).
4. Captain Marvel 2: Stay Fly (which I already ruined of course).
5. Rymes of Robyn Hood by R.B. Dobson & J. Taylor (which I’ve been wanting to read as research for the novel I’m trying to write).

Honorable mentions to The Uses of Enchantment which inspired Into the WoodsThe Fiction Factory and A Book of Irish Verse which are old and pretty and I got for way cheaper than they were originally asking, and Batgirl and Ms. Marvel, which I haven’t read yet but am really excited to read.  Oh, and Reviving Ophelia because of its support for teen girls and the one Shakespeare character I will fight you over, and Golden by Jessi Kirby, just because it’s an autographed, bound manuscript.

See, this is why I wanted to do a video.

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SARAH DESSEN’S NEW BOOK COMES OUT IN EXACTLY ONE WEEK!

Ahem.  Excuse me.  What I meant to say was:

SAINT ANYTHING, WHICH IS BY SARAH DESSEN, COMES OUT IN ONE WEEK, JUST ONE, NEXT TUESDAY.

…I’m just really excited, okay?

Anyway, this weekend was kind of busy.  Friday, I drove up to Chapel Hill with two friends, where we had lunch at Spanky’s with two of my OTHER friends.  We ended up at the comic book store.  Oh, and we saw this first hand.  We went to the mall and shopped at Hot Topic, and then really just chilled in our hotel for the night with a couple cocktails and comic books (which, now that I think of it, would be an awesome store concept).

Saturday was the day of things we were actually there for.  We got up in the morning and went to the Friends of the Durham County Library Book Sale and cleaned up.  (There will be more information about that on Thursday, fyi.)  We went to the Honeygirl Meadery, took the tour, and tried the mead.  If you’ve never had it, you should give it a try.  They use 900 pounds of honey per batch, and each batch has to sit for at least six months and then go through two filtration processes.  It’s pretty cool.

In the middle, we had lunch at Waffle House, and it was the WORST dining service I’ve ever had.  We waited for 30 minutes before they even put our order in (we heard them call it out) and then at least another twenty before it was done.  Basically, we waited an hour, and the food was fine (except I did find an eggshell piece on my ham), but NOT worth that wait.  We went to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner, and we were seated in the time they told us, food was out within 15 minutes, and besides the fact that the food was better, the service was really good too.

Sunday we went back to Chapel Hill, and had breakfast at Breadmen’s with Katie and Caroline.  They were pretty busy, but the food was really good and the place has some nice memories for me.  Caroline had to go back to her room and finish a paper, but the rest of us went to Flyleaf next.  I can’t go to Chapel Hill without going to Flyleaf.  In fact, when Jennifer asked me what she should expect, I described the entire layout to her.  After buying a book there (and yes, you will get the total on Thursday, and many of the titles), we went BACK to the comic book store.

We had considered going to Duke, but we were all tired and had spent too much money, and so we ended up going home after that.  But I was really glad to see my Chapel Hill girls (who are growing up and moving on. sniff.), do some hardcore book shopping (since I haven’t bought myself a book since December), and see my beloved, second hometown again.

So this was a nice little adventure, and I’m glad to have been on it, even though I still don’t feel like I’m caught up on sleep.

The adventures I’m going to talk about in the coming month are:

5/5: Networking Meetings
5/12: Meeting Cary Elwes
5/19: PITCH PERFECT 2!
5/26: A family gathering

…some of these clearly sound more exciting than others, but I’m excited about all of them, if for different reasons.  So I guess we’ll see.

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And Now For Something Completely Different…

I have been having SO MUCH TROUBLE with The Beautiful and Damned (which means it was probably really stupid to buy another Fitzgerald; oops).  I’m in the home stretch, but it’s proving difficult, so for this week, I finished something else for you.

While I was studying religion at UNC, I took a class on religious objects.  We were assigned a book called Neo-Pagan Sacred Art and Altars: Making Things Whole by Sabina Magliocco.  I read…well, it turns out I actually read most of it, but I had never finished it.  I kept insisting I would, but everything else seemed like a better read.  But I finally did it.

(It’s my selection for “book at the bottom of your to-read list.”)

Being raised in a Christian community, Neo-Pagan art wasn’t really something I had ever considered.  However, the book was very interesting.  Magliocco interviewed several artists about their relationship with their work and “sacredness.”  They discussed how the creative process was a spiritual event in itself and how the idea is not to create something new from nothing but to bring out the sacredness that is already within the object.  They also talk about how they do make money from their art, but they try not to focus on that aspect.  The different forms of art include sculpture, body alterations, costumes and masks, and jewelry.  Each piece can perform several functions, and show both the place an individual holds within the community and the individual’s unique characteristics.

Though some of the practices of the culture are strange to me, the art (pictures of which are in the back of the book) is truly beautiful.  I  even fell in love with a piece called “The Millenial Gaia” by Oberon Zell.

Shown here from Cauldron Kitty

That’s another important aspect of the book: the inherent value of femininity as being one with nature, and of pregnancy and childbirth being “the central metaphor for creativity.”

All in all, even though this book was at the bottom of my list, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

Book Challenge

My most favorite thing about this book:  All of the references to creativity as a sacred activity.

My least favorite thing about this book: I appreciate that the writer acknowledges the criticism the movement has received for appropriating artwork from other cultures, specifically African and Asian that were otherwise mistreated by whites, but I feel it should have been more prominent and addressed as part of the book, not just in the conclusion.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Anyone who’s interested in art and its creation.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  After Max Lucado’s He Chose You (which I’ve had forever) and before Confessions of an Ugly Step-sister by Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked.

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Weekly Update, 4/21

Last Tuesday, I told you all about the Quidditch World Cup (and I still don’t have my coffee mug, guys).  On Wednesday, the same friend went with me to see Potted Potter.  All seven books in 70 minutes, with a massive game of Quidditch in the middle and ending with a “I Will Survive” parody song.  It was hilarious, and we’re already talking about seeing it next year.

Thursday was supposed to be tutoring, but I showed up at 6:15 to find out they had a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.  I had only met about three people in the room (four if you count the toddler), so I felt a little out of place, but it was nice to hear what was going on, the food was good, and I got this cute little notebook that came with post-it notes.  So yay I guess.

Friday was really great.  Jonathan and I went to Discovery Place for Science on the Rocks.  I had a Sonic Screwdriver, played some video games, and even kissed him in the rainforest.  Oh, and sea cucumbers feel really weird, just fyi.  And I got free tickets to Kat Country Jam, so that will be my adventure for tomorrow.

I consider these things to be adventures, if more mundane ones than others.  I’m going to Durham this weekend with the girls, which is hopefully going to be fun, working on my novel, and trying to get things organized for my job search.  It’s been a little stressful, but I’m coping by watching a ton of Danny Phantom and exercising almost every day (which has been relaxing when I think of it as “taking care of myself” and “just do something” instead of “I ate too much, let me fix that”).

Speaking of which, my sister wants me to take her something at school and I have to be at work at noon, so this will be it for this blog post.  Keep adventuring.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: Attempt 2.

If you read my post from Tuesday, you’ll know that I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and scheduled a post for last Thursday.  However, instead of posting like I intended it to do, it was made into a page.  So it’s been here, just not in the right place.  Basically, I’m just going to copy what I wrote.

Also, if you didn’t read Tuesday’s post, you totally should.  It’s all about my adventure at the Quidditch World Cup.


“It’s all love and death.”

I don’t know if Sherman Alexie meant to summarize his book in this sentence, but that’s what it felt like for me.  I finally read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and it is just as hilarious and heart-breaking as advertised.

Junior (or Arnold, as he is sometimes known) has grown up on the reservation his whole life, but when he gets fed up and throws a book at the teacher, the teacher tells him he has to leave.  Not because he’s angry, but because he knows that the reservation life will eventually kill that fighting spirit that is Arnold’s only hope.  Thus begins Arnold’s life as a part-time Indian.

Each day, he manages to get the 21 miles from his home to the all-white school just outside the reservation.  He doesn’t fit in at first, and he doesn’t know the rules.  But over time, he manages to join the basketball time, get a semi-girlfriend, and even make friends.  Of course, everyone back home hates him because they consider him a traitor.  It’s a struggle to figure out how he can keep his home, his culture, and his family without giving up his hopes for the future.

Now, it’s about a teenage boy, so along the way there are metaphorical (and even some actual) boners, some cussing, and a lot of jokes.  There is pain and grief, but there is also triumph.  All in all, it’s a rewarding story without sugar coating the details.  Alexie himself is a Native American writer who draws attention to the Native American struggles he grew up with and around.  In fact, this novel is semi-autobiographical, down to the whole “water on the brain” bit.

I really enjoyed it, even when it broke my heart or made me angry at the characters.  I finished it in a day, which is a whole lot of enjoying you know

My most favorite thing about this book:  There is death in this book.  And each death comes really suddenly and hits the reader (and Junior) very hard.  It might be difficult to read, but it’s how death really works, and I appreciate that.

My least favorite thing about this book: My least favorite scene was the second basketball game that Junior played against Rowdy and his old school.  It was really well-written, but it was also pretty heartbreaking because Junior’s triumph meant the other team had to fail and while he may have been the underdog, his team wasn’t, so it isn’t the typical fairy-tale story we’ve grown to appreciate.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Honestly?  Probably I’d recommend this to other white people.  Because we don’t see all of these struggles, we can’t possibly understand it, and reading about this problems from someone who actually lived them is one step closer to accepting that we really don’t get it at all.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  After The Five People You Meet in Heaven and before V.C. Andrews’s Rain.

Book Challenge

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But seriously, all I want now is a stupid coffee mug: my story of the @USQuidditch World Cup

Some time last week, my very Harry Potter obsessed friend texted me to tell me that the Quidditch World Cup was being held in South Carolina this year.  I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and decided to look it up and see how far it would be from my uncle’s place.  Of course, with this in mind, i promptly forgot to actually respond to her message.  And then, on Saturday, she brought it up again.

What I didn’t realize was that the Quidditch World Cup was actually this last weekend.  At about 8:00 pm Saturday night, she asked if I wanted to drive down the next morning to watch it.  At first, I wasn’t sure.  It was a twelve-hour event, almost an hour each way, and I already had plans on Sunday night.  But it occurred to me that, if I want to have adventures, sometimes I just have to say yes, so I did.

We ended up leaving at about 8 am, but the drive wasn’t as long as I anticipated.  After a Butterbeer latte from Starbucks, we arrived at the park and started looking around.  We sat down at a random match to start with.

If you aren’t familiar with the muggle version of Quidditch, here’s how it works (as far as I could figure out): The quaffle and bludgers are lined up in the middle of the field and each team runs towards them when the game starts.  Only the chasers can touch the quaffle, and they use it to gain points by throwing it through the three hoops on their side of the pitch.  Only the beaters can touch the bludgers, and they throw it at other players to interrupt their gameplay.  If anyone is hit by the bludger, they have to drop whatever ball they may be carrying and run to touch one of the hoops they’re defending before they can rejoin the game.  After a certain amount of time, the snitch is released.  In this case, the snitch is a guy dressed completely in yellow with a tennis ball in a sock velcroed to the back of his shorts.  The seekers have to grab it to end the game and gain 30 points for their team.  If one team is 30 or more points behind, they defend the snitch from the other team for as long as they can or until their team catches up.

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Oh, and the whole time, every player has to keep their broomstick firmly between their legs.

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After the initial match, we looked at the schedule to see what teams we actually wanted to watch.  UNC had a team, but we’d missed their game.  We watched an Appalachian State game because Jennifer has been thinking about going there.  They killed it, but they didn’t make it into the bracket.  We waited in line for about forty-five minutes for a lemonade as we also waited for them to put the bracket up.  Once it was set, we decided to watch NYU’s game first, agreeing that if they won it, that would indicate that I’ll get in when I apply to go to grad school.  They did win, but we decided to watch UNC’s game instead of following them.  After an hour, UNC FINALLY won their match.  We followed them to the main field for the “Elite Eight” game, only about five minutes after their long game ended.  They still played hard, going back and forth with Maryland until the snitch was released while the game was tied.  MD caught the snitch, winning with only those thirty points ahead.

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Of course, between it all, there was shopping.  Jennifer bought an official USQ shirt and a pack of Quidditch player cards.  She gave me the UNC one from her batch, number 16 Courtney Reynolds, and we even got her to sign it.  She was a hell of a beater, too.

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Did I mention this is a full contact sport?  She, and everyone really, were brutally aggressive.

The guy running the official USQ tent does shipping management for DFTBA.com in Minnesota, and I was very proud that I didn’t fangirl too much over him.  I also bought a Ravenclaw tie for Jonathan and a Gryffindor bookmark (it looks like a tiny Gryffindor scarf! so adorable!) and a broom shaped pen for me at the Alivan’s booth.  At the Harry Potter Alliance’s booth, I bought a “Granger-Lovegood” campaign shirt, which I can’t wait to wear tomorrow on my day off.  The only thing I didn’t get that I desperately wanted was a coffee mug, because I collect them and really wanted one to commemorate the day.  I even tried Zazzle and CafePress, but it “violates copyright.”  Dude, I would pay the official Quidditch people for one, but they don’t have one, and I’m not going to sell it or anything.  I just need a coffee mug to put on my bookshelf!

In conclusion: Jennifer has made “must have a Quidditch team” a requirement for what school she ends up at, I’m going to be accepted at NYU, it was an awesome adventure, and I will pay just about anything for the official “Quidditch World Cup 8” logo on a coffee mug.

Please just give me the coffee mug.

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Edit: I scheduled a Book Club Thursday post last week, but somehow it became a page instead?  You can read it here while I figure out how and/or when to make it an actual post.

Edit 2: Okay, I made it into a post today (4/16/15), so now you can read it here.

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Holy Crap, It’s Tuesday. Oops.

So after staying up really late last Thursday to finish and then write about Frankenstein, I finished a different book by four p.m. on Friday.  I figured I’d make this week a little easier for myself, so I went ahead and wrote the post about that book (it will come out on Thursday) and scheduled it to post.  Somehow, the fact that I still had to write something on Tuesday completely slipped my mind.

One of my coworkers was kind enough to share her cold with me, so I’ve been sick for the last week.  In fact, part of the reason I finished that book so quickly was because I could barely get out of bed.  It’s finally almost gone, but now I’m at the “coughing up gunk” stage, which is just nasty.  I have also been trying to work on my novel (I’ve written five whole pages!) and my family is home for my sister’s spring break, so I’ve been a little off lately.  Even tutoring tonight didn’t go as well as it has been going.  But I am muddling through.

My dad’s brother and his family came to town on Saturday.  Since my dad passed away, we don’t see them as much.  It was nice to have them in.  His kids have gotten really tall.  Clearly, I did not get those genes.  Sunday was Easter dinner, which was really tasty, but would have been more fun without sickness.  And yesterday, my family went to a movie in Matthews.  There’s this theater that gets the movies that have just phased out of other theaters, so the tickets are cheaper.  We finally saw Paddington, and mostly it reminded me of how much I miss England.

I’ve been thinking of looking for a job there, but I wonder how much of it is just that time in my life: the people I was with, the carefree nature of having nothing to worry about but a couple of papers.  Seeing Shakespeare as a requirement and being able to go to tea or the British museum or…whatever literally whenever I wanted.  While part of me wants to go to London again, and even live there full time for a while, the other part is worried that moving back will spoil the illusion at this point.  Who knows?

Well, there you go.  A quick update in eight minutes so that I don’t miss the deadline and I actually get this posted on Tuesday.  Whether I’ll get today’s allotted novel writing done is a different question, but no one can argue that I haven’t written.

P.S.: Quick book recommendation: Dealing with Dragons.  Do it.  Now.

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Frankenstein

For some reason, classics take me forever to read.  Madame Bovary, for example, stayed with me for at least three months.  I began reading Frankenstein back in September.  I got almost halfway through it, then lost it for a little while.  I found it in a purse recently and have taken the last three weeks to finally finish it.  As such, I’m using it to complete the “book I started but never finished” item in the challenge.

Of course, now that I’ve spent all this time reading the book, I don’t really know what to say about it.  There is this: I’ve never watched a movie adaptation, but it’s funny how they’ve affected my view of the book anyway.  I kept expecting Igor to show up, and thought the monster would spend more of the book terrorizing villagers.  I also spent the whole book trying to weigh Frankenstein against his creation.  When I was in high school, my class didn’t read this book but the other classes did and they held a “trial” to determine who was really guilty.  I did the same mentally as I read.  I’ve heard from many literature students that “Frankenstein’s Monster” isn’t really a monster.  However, I disagree.  I think he is absolutely a monster, but I think Frankenstein made him that way.  Not just physically, but by isolating him and depriving him of any ties.  I think he was smart not to make a second creature like him, but think most of the trouble could have been avoided if he hadn’t left his apartment and forced the monster to discover his own way in the world.

My most favorite thing about this book:  This isn’t really about the book, so much as my personal life, but I enjoyed the glimpses into Oxford.

My least favorite thing about this book: I wasn’t fond of Elizabeth.  Not as in a “I hate her, she’s a terrible person” way, but because she isn’t very well developed.  I know the romance isn’t the point of the story, but considering her life and death are so central to Frankenstein’s story, you would think she would be a little more fleshed out.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Umm…not really sure.  It’s a classic, and I know a lot of people aren’t big on the classics.  It didn’t scare me, like I think it was supposed to.  So I don’t really have an audience to pitch it at.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  Between Changes for Kristen and Pretty Little Liars.

Book Challenge

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