Monday 30 April 2012

The Woman in White: That End Bit

Is it just me, or was that whole end thing... Unexpected? And by unexpected, I obviously mean completely MENTAL and FAR-FETCHED and yet still kind of super duper awesome! Even though this last bit of the book was the shortest of all, I embarrassingly made the most notes for it, which I can only attribute to reading the whole 100 or so pages in one position for a straight 2 hours or whatever, with my notebook right there. Had to be done.

ANYWAY, onto stuff that the people actually care about! But where to even begin?! Oh, wait I know: ANNE WAS MR FAIRLIE'S CHILD!!! Of course she was. I was so happy to be vindicated on that one point though that I actually slapped my own thigh and ended up really hurting myself. But it was a complete "I KNEW it!" moment. While we're on the subject of Anne, I have to add that her mother was really a stone cold bitch, and is probably now my least favourite of all the unsavoury characters of the book- her only concern is about her reputation, which she's determined to preserve without actually doing any of the things that would earn her a good reputation. UGH I really hated her! But anyway, I was glad there was a little bit of an ending to poor Anne's story:
"So the ghostly figure [HAH, GHOSTLY!] which has haunted these pages as it haunted my life, goes down into the impenetrable Gloom. Like a shadow she first came to me, in the loneliness of the night. Like a shadow she passes away, in the loneliness of the dead."
Cheery stuff!

Now I'm going to have a big moan about Walter, so brace yourself if you're still hot for him and his newfound balls. Because oh my GOD, the annoyance over how he treats Laura! And it was especially annoying because Marian was totally complicit in his treating Laura as a child, which made me a bit irritated by Marian of all people too! So here's one bit:
"The necessity of sparing Laura any sudden knowledge of the truth was the first consideration which the latter suggested to me. I wrote at once to Marian... warning her not to let any such thing as a newspaper fall in Laura's way while I was absent."
WHY THE HELL NOT?! Because Walter's presence is going to be better than Marian's in calming her down, Marian being her total rock and comforter and all? Or because she's going to be really upset that her abusive husband that she hated is dead? POOR LAURA CAN'T COPE WITH ANYTHING! And then there was also this:
"When Laura has left us; and when we could speak to one another without restraint, I tried to give some expression to the gratitude and the admiration which filled my heart [to Marian]"
"Oh Marian, thanks for looking after the child for ME, who otherwise you would have no interest in taking care of. Also, let's keep quiet about the death of her husband, even though she obviously finds out about it somehow because I marry her in a few pages, without explaining how that's possible since she doesn't have her identity back yet." Yeah, that annoyed me too. WHY ARE YOU SO ANNOYING, WALTER?!

Anyway, let's just ignore Walter for a sec (even though he's there all the fucking time) and get to the real excitement of this whole end thing which was OMG PESCA'S INVOLVED WITH SOME DODGY POLITICAL THING AND FOSCO'S A SPY! I mean, seriously, did anyone see this coming?! Because when Walter took Pesca to the opera, I was like "Why are you such a moron, Walter? Why would Pesca know Fosco just because they're both Italian? Stupid racist." and then, lo and behold, they did! I mean, I was totally like OMFG THIS IS AMAZING, but at the same time, couldn't Collins have thought of some other way to get the story out of Fosco without that whole (amazing) thing?! Because it definitely wasn't Walter's main concern, and it was just a bit like WOAH what's going on, and, well, DRAMA!

So anyway, then Fosco's narrative was pretty awesome and made me actually sort of love him. Hear me out: He loves Marian! Marian is his one weakness in life! (I've just remembered another annoying thing- where Walter wouldn't let Marian go to the final showdown with Fosco with him. ARGH, so annoying!) He has really amazing taste in women! Anyone who's in love with Marian is a friend of mine, you know? And even though he sort of killed Anne (except that he didn't- but he would have if he had had to) and he put Laura in the asylum (and was all like 'oh, but I was only going to take her identity and not her life!' apparently not realising that for a rich English lady, her identity is her life) I was still a bit like 'oh, ok... I'll let you off!' I was a bit disappointed by the realisation that he didn't have any special power over his wife or anything, and that she was just a bit of a nincompoop for completely sacrificing herself to him, but oh well. So, yeah, I ended up pretty much liking him and his massive ego, so I was actually a little bit upset by reports of his death.

And then they killed off Mr Fairlie too! Like, oh here you go, boring Laura and Walter, there are no interesting characters around anymore to interfere with your boring life together. Yawn. Although, obviously, happy ending and all, yay. I guess. Anyway, I was fairly happy that all the loose ends were tied up, and I can really only think of a couple of questions I still have-
1. Did Mrs Fairlie suspect that Anne was her husband's child, or was she just like 'ooh, what a coincidence!' I kind of hope the former, and that she was so lovely that she just had to take her under her wing.
2. Didn't Laura care that her half sister was dead? Or was that information just kept from her too, because she's too delicate? And how did she even have a child, if she's supposedly so weak?!

Here endeth my thoughts about The Woman in White. *Applauds* Good readalong people, good readalong!

Sunday 29 April 2012

Sunday Sundries

Things that have amused, intrigued or made me nod A LOT this week

  • This ranked list of all of Stephen King's novels (I'm currently reading number 61, and, well, I can tell)
  • This very amusing rant on gendered marketing (make sure you watch the video at the end, it's adorable/amazing!)
  • This Tumblr tag (I have no idea what a Tumblr tag is...) on Busty Girl Problems. Girls who can't wear blouses, I FEEL YOUR PAIN!
  • Frances's post on the Girls backlash- because that shit is really really bugging me. (Have just realised that this is from last week... But it still counts because I say so)
You guys are so so lucky. You have no idea how close you were to reading (or, I should say, not reading) one big giant rant about the internet dramas I have observed and been pissed off by this week! In summary they were: annoyance that Girls is being called racist when, you know, that'd be TV in general, but let's take it out on the girls, huh?; that there was a big YA book blogger DRAMA that I didn't really care about and yet inexplicably spent like half an hour investigating at midnight on a Thursday night (why, me? WHY?); and this whole Lush-being-sexist thing that made me want to shout at all the feminists and tell them to stop making everything be about women, because some things are about animal rights and this was one of those things and ARGH.

See, a one paragraph rant is much more bearable than a whole post! I think all of the above probably proves that I spend too much time on the internet, and I should probably get more fresh air and stuff, which I would except that it's been raining ALL WEEK, and when it hasn't been raining it looks like it's going to and that does not exactly encourage me to go on a nice invigorating walk. Really. And let's just say that the weather has pretty much been reflective of my mood for the week, which has been FOUL and also grumpy. Which probably contributed to the disproportionate anger over internet things that I probably need to get over to stay sane. And I also need to listen to this. A lot.
Like Prozac, only better.
And now for an important update on my mother's hair: It's still hanging in there! Kind of. She's sort of a bit baldish at the back, but there's still some there. Which is fortunate because we're not picking up her wig until Tuesday (we were meant to get it on Wednesday, but she didn't feel well enough to go, so Tuesday it is!) Have I talked about the wig before? Possibly not- it's really nice and not all that different from her actual hair, which I think is a missed opportunity! And also I was a bit disappointed by the wig fitting, in that I wasn't allowed to try any of the wigs on, which is another missed opportunity, I feel!

I really have nothing else to report from this week because, you know, rain stopped play and all, and also because I don't do any of the things ever. Oooh, except I made Jam Doughnut Cupcakes, but I can't tell you what they're like because I haven't tried one yet (they're for today's pudding at my nan's house- we have Sunday Lunch, like Friday Night Dinners in the Gilmore Girls except that there's like 11 of us and we all like each other...) but they look DELISH, and, hello, they're Jam Doughnut Cupcakes. And, as an added bonus they're vegan, which, as we all know, means that they're calorie free *high five*. 

I've just realised that this coming week involves the start of May, which is terrifying so let's pretend that's not true... No chemo for mum this week so that's like the best thing about a week at the moment. Other than the wig collecting I don't really have any plans, other than staying off the internet because it's really pissing me off at the moment (I've just remembered another blood pressure raiser: Everyone's being mean to Dooce, and I can't stand it!) So, yeah, less of that and more of the outside thing I've heard so much about. Combined with, and I think it goes without saying, much reading and figuring out how to listen to an audiobook (like... just lay down and close my eyes and listen? Or do something at the same time? I'm very unsure...) If any of you have any suggestions on that, please throw them my way because I JUST DON'T KNOW! And have lovely weeks, each and every one of you!

Friday 27 April 2012

Devouring TV: Louis Theroux Extreme Love- Dementia

Image via Guardian

I don't know if you know who Louis Theroux is, but he's basically my favourite British documentary maker, and every time there's a new film (well, I say film, they're usually an hour long, but film will do, right?) of his on the BBC, I get very very excited beforehand and there may be some excited squealing of some sort. Ok, there is. This time around, there were two (TWO!) documentaries, each focusing on the difficulties faced by families when dealing with mental problems in those they love, namely with autism and dementia. Last night's was about dementia.

Before I watched it, I was really apprehensive because I didn't really see how a programme featuring real people (both sufferers and their families) dealing with dementia could be anything but massively depressing and maudlin and just terrible- looking for tears in the worst kind of way, whilst mildly exploiting the people who are suffering. This was a very foolish feeling I had, because I forgot that this is Louis Theroux- the man who goes looking for the humanity in white supremacists, and who visits America's most dangerous prisons (in Miami, apparently, in case you were wondering) in order to try and just get some kind of idea of what the hell goes on there, and why, exactly, the prisoners are there in the first place.

With this documentary, of course, there aren't really any whys- dementia is one possible consequence of aging, and there's no real telling who it will strike. Visiting Phoenix, Arizona, apparently the retirement capital of the US (hands up who thought it was some city in Florida? Because I totally did), Theroux gets to know the families of the sufferers as well as the sufferers themselves, and it's kind of wonderful, and it's kind of heartbreaking, but it always avoids being maudlin or over-sentimental. There are moments of real humour, not at the expense of the sufferers or their families, but with them- Louis strikes up a rapport with them, as he always seems to do, and gets included in their lives and jokes, and so we are too. Above all though, this film deals with the realities of people facing dementia, and with those people who love them.

And, like, people are so wonderful. All of the sufferers Theroux spoke to had family members who love them and just want them to be happy, in whatever way they can. There was this one guy who doesn't remember that he's married, and yet his wife still visited him in the care home and just accepted whatever he could remember and the things that he said to her. Obviously it must be heartbreaking for her, but she faced it all with strength and understanding and was just basically wonderful about it all. And then there was the 80-something man who cared for his wife at home, because they couldn't afford a care home and because, well, he loves his wife (who was a wonderful little old lady, dementia or not!) And he has to do things like bathroom duties for her (I don't know a more sensitive way of saying that she basically wears a diaper) and he does it uncomplainingly, because he loves her. Aren't you just getting a bit choked up now?

Most upsetting of all was the 49 year old woman with dementia, not least because she had a nine year old daughter, and so has to face the fact that she's not really going to see her grow up, or at least that she's not going to remember seeing her grow up, or possibly even remember her. There was one part of the film where her husband said to her that the doctor had said that she might not recognise his or her daughter's face within 2 years, and their reactions to that were so upsetting (I had a little cry), and what made it even worse was Louis' reaction- the camera looked over at him after he'd said this, and Louis' face (which wasn't looking at the camera all like sympathetically and annoyingly and grossly, which would have made me throw up) was just the saddest face- he did a little swallow and he was clearly trying not to cry. And obviously I realise that his pain is waaaay not as important as that couple's, it still made me appreciate his empathy and kindness towards the people that he films.

In conclusion, I love Louis Theroux and I love the TV he makes. I still don't know if you have a clue who I'm talking about (I guess you're most likely to have seen him on BBC America, if that's even still a channel... I have no idea basically!) but if you have the opportunity to watch any of his documentaries, please take it. Because even when he finds himself in the strangest situations (his time at a brothel and with swingers comes to mind) his love and understanding for his subjects always comes through. And that's why I love him.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Devouring Books: MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman

Or, Meta-MetaMaus

Describe MetaMaus in 3 sentences or less.
MetaMaus is basically one giant interview of Art Spiegelman, the creator of Maus, in which he describes everything about Maus's creation, from talking with his father to public reactions and everything in between. Interspersed with the text are many many drafts of drawings in Maus, as well as photos of Spiegelman and his family, inspirations for his work, and other awesome and useful things like that. It also includes a transcribed script of the original taped interviews with his father about his Holocaust experiences.

Wait, so Maus is a comic book about the Holocaust?!
Yes. It's amazing and respectful so get over it. It also happens to be the first book I reviewed on here, see?

Oh, cool. But does Maus really need a whole book dedicated to describing its creation?
You know what? I wasn't sure that it necessarily did, but I found the entirety of MetaMaus so interesting and enlightening that it was really worth reading, plus I learnt a lot more about things in Maus that I never would have noticed if they hadn't been pointed out to me. Plus, the dude spent like 13 years writing and drawing Maus, so I think it's fair for that process to be documented now.

So what were some of the new things that you learnt from MetaMaus?
One of the most interesting things to me was the idea that Art and Vladek in the graphic novel are not necessarily accurate representations of the relationship between the two actual people. I mean, I got the impression that it's a pretty close match, but at the same time, a lot of the way it's presented was Spiegelman expressing his confused feelings about his father. As well as this, there's TONS of technical comic book stuff in MetaMaus that I never would have noticed in Maus (things like little details in pictures, and layout details that actually mean more than you'd think) that have all enhanced the way I'll look at Maus.

Cool! But, what was your favourite part of the book?
The interview was all fascinating (I stayed up late reading MetaMaus for at least 3 nights) but I think my favourite things were the drafts of different panels in Maus. It was sort of amazing seeing things go from a really rough drawing to the finished product, and there's actually a page which describes all the different stages just ONE panel went through (there are SO many). I found it fascinating because, firstly, it's not something that you'd get to see if you were looking at the process of novel writing, and also because I was just so grateful that Spiegelman didn't give up because fuuuuuck the amount of work he had to do!

So, it's about a graphic novel that's about the Holocaust, and, even more depressing, it's a true story of the Holocaust. Not a lot of lols, huh?
Well, not millions! But I firmly believe that Art Spiegelman is a funny guy, and there are a few moments where I was like 'That. Is. Excellent.' My favourites? Where he talks about talking to a German critic who asked him "Don't you think a comic book about Auschwitz is in bad taste?" and he replied "No, I thought Auschwitz was in bad taste..." and that sound you just heard was me applauding. And the other thing which made me smile was, on this whole timeline of significant events, Spiegelman thought it necessary to include his appearance on The Simpsons in 2007! I just love that The Simpsons is this like massive cultural achievement thing!

Dude, you're so chipper. So, is there anything you didn't like about MetaMaus, Little Miss Cheeryface?
Hey... There's no need to be so grumpy. And basically there wasn't, except that the transcript of the original interviews at the end felt a little bit filler-ish, but at the same time it did make me appreciate how Spiegelman's drawings helped his father's narrative come alive. So there's that. Do you want to hear about something that was totally a downer in MetaMaus, grumpypants?

Yeah, go on then.
 Towards the end, there's a bit about the Spiegelman family tree, and it's shown with everyone on it, and then shown with blank spaces for everyone who was murdered during World War II. And there are a lot of blank spaces, and this is just one family and it really brought home just the massive horrifying giant scale of the Holocaust. Awful awful awful. Look:

I know, right. Just completely chilling and awful.

So, I haven't read Maus. Will I still be able to enjoy MetaMaus?
Not really. I mean, you'll get the sort of gist of what happens in Maus from MetaMaus, but its main focus is on the process of creating it rather than on the story, and when the story is brought up, you basically won't know what's going on. And dude, you should really read Maus anyway! It's incredible! And it won a Pulitzer Prize, what more do you need to know?

Dude, chill! I'll read Maus, fine! 
Good. And then read this afterwards, because really it's a must read if you're a big big Maus fan. Which I am, and therefore it was perfect.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Devouring Films: Carrie

Ugh. Have you seen Carrie? It's one of those things that's a big cultural landmark, and is meant to be dreadfully scary and all, except the one thing that people are afraid to say about it is that, well, it sucks. It does. It sucks SO HARD that I can hardly bear to think about it, let alone write about it. But, alas, I can't be bothered to write any book reviews today (I have 3 to do, but I'M TIRED SO LET ME BITCH ABOUT A FILM, OK?)

So I'm assuming that we're all aware that I'm all about Stephen King, right? I can't get enough of the dude, if I'm honest; and so even though so many of the films based on his work are apparently AWFUL (I haven't really seen too many, but The Stand, which was a miniseries, was so dreadful that I felt bad for wasting hours of my life on it) I'm still thinking- well, how bad can they be? Interestingly, Carrie is meant to be one of the good ones (then again, so is The Shining: which is a technically good film that has absolutely nothing to do with the book) which makes me wonder- just how bad do they get?

Anyway, Carrie. Girl with telekinesis gets all bullied and then researches her 'powers', overrules her mother and goes to the prom where people are nice to her, then nasty girl accompanied by John Travolta (Danny, WHY?!) dumps pigs blood on her and she goes alllllll crazy. And that's literally it. All the nuances, and the deep insight into Carrie's mind, and her history of making weird shit happen is missed out. There's no indication of the combined onset of puberty and a strengthening of Carrie's powers, and, basically, everything that was good about the book is left out of the film, which just sensationalises things in a really flat and boring way.

Because that's the thing about this film, the last like 15 minutes or so aside. It's really boring. It's boring in a way the book never was, because the book had depth where the film has none. I honestly had to spend half the time I was watching the film on IMDb reading trivia about the film that was more interesting than the film itself (fun fact: in the scene right at the beginning, there are loads of gratuitously naked teenage girls [actually, everyone was in their mid-twenties, hello Grease-style casting!] and at first, no one wanted to get naked, but then when they saw Sissy Spacek naked they were all like 'oh, ok, I'll do it!' Which strikes me as really mean towards Spacek, but there you go!) I mean, I don't know if I want to blame the seventies for being a hollow and empty time, or if I should just blame this one film for doing nothing much with some good source material, but either way, just UGH.

I mean, maybe it's just me and I have an aversion to the entire seventies look of the film, but I think it's more than that- in horror films, the aim isn't necessarily for character development, but rather for a massive build up of tension before the inevitable bloodbath (in this case, anyway) that ensues. And that's fine, I suppose- if you hadn't read the book, you'd probably be easily horrified by all the shit that goes down at the prom. But horror's all about the visual, and with that you lose a lot of the deeper down stuff. Here's an example (that's also a SPOILER, so watch out!). In the movie, Carrie kills her mother by throwing loads of knives at her which correlates with an earlier image in the film of some saint with arrows in his body. It looks pretty good, but there's no meaning behind it. In the book, Carrie kills her mother by stopping her heart (with her mind and all, you know) which I take as showing that Carrie still doesn't want to hurt her mum, because really really deep down, she still loves her, after everything she's done to her. END SPOILER And even if that's not what King meant to say with that, the thing the book has done is that it's made me think about it, which isn't something I can say about any point of the movie.
He has a fucking perm. How much more seventies do you want it to get?

Basically, Carrie is a major disappointment, at least for me, and I think for anyone who has read the book. I'm sure it can be appreciated on its own (even though it does look dreadfully seventies, which really put me off from the outset, in spite of the book of course being set in the seventies too) as a film, and good for you if you liked it. As for me... I'm going to stick to being sceptical of ALL movies based on Stephen King's horror books (since, of course, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption are spectacular), until they prove me wrong. I think I'm going to try Misery next... wish me luck?

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Guys, my blogger's only just changed to the new version, and I have NO IDEA what's going on. Hold me...

But anyway, it's Top Ten Tuesday time! *cue some dramatic theme music that I'm sure someone's coming up with right now*. Hosted by the wondrous The Broke and the Bookish, I found this week's topic far harder than I thought I would... I guess I'm just not as into characters as I thought I was, or, possibly, my brain is broken. Or maybe both! Either way, here are my

Top Ten All Time Favourite Characters in Books

1. Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee- Always, always Atticus. He's brave, smart, moral-y- he's basically just perfect, and I will love him forever.

2. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- I don't really think that anyone can not love her! She's an absolute (early) feminist icon for a start, even if that does come with a hefty dose of religion too.

3. Beth March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott- She's wonderful. Sweet and quiet and always trying to make everyone's life better, by doing the little things. I probably admire Jo more, but I love Beth.

4. Belize from Angels in America by Tony Kushner- Essentially I love everyone in Angels in America (apart from stupid Louis. Oh, and Roy, obviously) but Belize is like the gay best friend you wished you had, and he really is a great one to Prior (who I also adore).

5. Melanie Hamilton from Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell- I love Melly! LOVE her. God forbid anyone who calls her a drip, because she is strong, and brave and amazing. If she had married Rhett instead of Ashley, they would have been perfect, and Ashley and Scarlett could have just hung out and made each other miserable.

6. Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell- YUM.

7. Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky- He's so sweet, and kind of naive, and he's just trying to figure out what's going on with people. Love. Him.

8. Levin from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy- I am in love with Levin. Seriously. It's worth reading Anna Karenina just for him and his wonderfulness!

9. Laura Brown from The Hours- I don't necessarily agree with everything that she does, but I feel very very deeply connected to her character so in that kind of narcissistic way, she's one of my favourites.

10. Ben Hanscom from It by Stephen King- Since I obviously can't have a list that doesn't include Stephen King, Ben is definitely one of my favourite characters, because he's sweet and amazing and I just want to smoosh his fat little face! That's not very good reasoning, I'll grant you, but I really do love him.

This list is super arbitrary, since it's basically just my favourites for today- I mean, there isn't even an Austen character on there! What?! But still, I do adore these characters, and Atticus will always, always be at the top of my favourite characters list.

Monday 23 April 2012

The Woman in White- Part Three

Oh my God. Just, that. I can't even get my head around everything that happened in this part of the book, and I've had a few days to absorb all the shocks! I just... The Secrets! The Deaths! The Rebirths! The Fire! How this is not being exploited for some awful Hollywood blockbuster right now is just beyond my comprehension, but then, maybe the people who write those kinds of movies don't read these kinds of books? Just a thought...

SO! I think I'm just going to have to go from the beginning and just get stuck into it all really! (Can you tell I'm excited? That's what the exclamation marks mean, excited.) So firstly, OMG, Marian got all ill after her rooftop ninja antics (because, after all, she's still just a woman and obviously can't deal with being out in the night air, although also, she just heard some dudes plotting to kill her sister) and then Fosco found her diary and wrote a really creepy message in it. He's so... well, he makes me feel icky, anyway. Because he's all like 'oh Marian, you are so wonderous and a worthy opponent, but if I had to, I'd eat your young.' Just very very creepy. And then, straight after that, even though it was actually too much magnificence to bear, was Mr Fairlie's narrative.

I think we can all agree that was literally the greatest part of the book, right? Of ANY book, maybe? He's just so... so hard done by, and yet has the biggest superiority complex I've ever seen! 'Why do these people bother me with their problems? Why did the poor person tell me that she stayed at a pub when it literally has nothing to do with me/what I want to hear?" I mean, I hate it when people include unnecessary information in their stories too, but come on! The poor girl's just trying to tell how she got there! He's just far too excellent, far too easy for the Count to manipulate, and basically just the best minor character that's ever been in anything ever.

But anyway. In spite of his magnificence, he's maybe not that vital to the story so I should probably move on, yes? I felt really sorry for Laura getting all duped into going to London- I'm actually a teeny bit ashamed to admit that I kind of didn't see that deception coming! I honestly believed that Marian was in London too, at least, and that they'd use her to keep Laura there or something. But nope, far more twisted-ly, she'd been moved to a disused part of the house and not even the housekeeper knew she was there! That's pretty messed up, Percy. I would like to say that I didn't for one moment believe that Laura was dead though, apart from, stupidly, a bit into the Third Epoch when I was like 'oh shit, but what if Anne really is just pretending to be Laura?!' a thing which I'm mostly over now, but I'm still looking at Laura sideways a little bit, just like 'hmmm... hmmm.'

And may I add, poor Anne! I'm dying to know whether the switch was intentional, and whether Fosco was being sortofkindof kind in just putting Laura in the nuthouse rather than killing her, or if he genuinely believed that she was the one he was killing (or... did he kill her? I guess it was Anne's weak heart, but if she was horrified by Fosco in some way, then I guess that basically means he killed her.) All of that is basically why I'm going to read the rest of the book probably by the end of the day, because I just NEED to know now! Seriously!

And then there was blah blah blah, Walter the man is protecting the two delicate ladies, Laura is being treated like an absolute child ("You want to help? That's so cute! I know, why don't I pretend to sell some of your drawings and actually give you the money I earn because obviously you're completely useless!" Ugh. It bugged me, I'm not going to lie. And how creepy is this, from Walter: "In the right of her calamity, in the right of her friendlessness, she was mine at last!" Nice. Very nice.) And what also bugged me is that Walter gets to go off and do all his investigative work in Hampshire, when clearly Marian is the man for the job! But anyway, yes, Victorian times, and it's easier for Walter to get information and Marian would be an unescorted woman and blah blah blah. So. Mrs Catherick's a bit of a weird one, isn't she? "Oh, my daughter's dead? I'll just change my gloves, no worries. I never liked her anyway." And, and, Anne isn't Percy's daughter, which is good to know, and do we now think she is Mr Fairlie's, i.e. Laura's half sister? I'm undecided, but we do know that Laura looks like her father, and that Anne is basically not Mr Catherick's daughter, so, I don't know. Maybe, although at this point I hardly even care because there's not going to be some wonderful reunion at the end, so *sulk*.

And, (nearly) finally, there was The Secret. Now, this may have just been me, but was this a bit of an anti-climax? I mean, I was reading this bit when I was really tired and had spent the morning at the hospital so I was a little bit like 'blaefrgh' (I actually missed the bit where there was a fire, and had to go back some pages. 'What? There's a body? Why is there a body and whose is it?' were literally my thoughts) but the secret is that he's not really a baronet? I can see why that would be a reason to kill Laura if he thought she knew, but at the same time, I really wanted Mr Catherick's body to be in his lake! I guess we'll find out more about this in the last bit, but do we think that Percy is maybe a 'foreigner' like Fosco, and that's why they're such good friends/dastardly villains? And if so, a tiny bit xenophobic Wilkie? Really?

Since I'm not as good a person as Walter, I really can't feel sad that Percy's dead, mainly because he was a giant asshole. But here's what I'm thinking. Now that Percy's dead, are we to assume that Fosco has really been the majorest major villain all along, in spite of the fact that he's so damn charming and nice to the animals? Was the fire in the church set by Percy who accidently locked himself in, or did Fosco not want him to get out for some other reason? I don't really know why I want Fosco to be behind everything, but I sort of really do! And in case I wasn't sure how to feel about him, my rule-of-Marian was there to set me straight:
"'Walter!' she said, 'if ever those two men are at your mercy and you are obliged to save one of them- don't let it be the Count.'"
Something tells me Marian can think of another word that she'd like to call him, but she's too much of a lady to do so...

Sunday 22 April 2012

To sum up...

I can't be bothered to do a Sunday Sundries post this week, because I'm still all tired from yesterday and I've just realised that I haven't written my Woman in White post for this week yet BUT I shall sum up my reading stats and things for the 24 hours, which were punctuated by doing washing, putting away shopping, and generally checking that my mum had taken all her tablets and wasn't feeling ill (I ask about once an hour, do we think that's excessive? I'm a bit of a hovering mother...) But anyway, the end of event meme!

1. Which hour was the most daunting to you?
I can't really say that I had a daunting hour, since I was planning from the outset not to read all night. But I was super duper tired at around 11 (start of Hour 11) and then got a second wind and ended up reading until like 2am.

2. Could you list a few high interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?
Well... I found MetaMaus really interesting, but that's something that's quite specific to me because 1) I think Maus is one of the best pieces of literature ever, and 2) I'm a nerd and like to learn about the backgrounds of things that I like. I would still recommend The Hunger Games in a readathon setting, because it got me through like hours 16-19 before which was HARD going.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the readathon next year?
No, but it's upsetting me that these questions keep saying next year... there's going to be one in October, right?

4. What do you think worked really well in this years readathon?
I'm probably the wrong person to ask, because as I knew I wasn't going to read for the whole time, I really focused on reading and didn't visit too many other blogs, or even the Dewey's readathon page that often... I know, I'm bad. But I'm sure it all worked well!

5. How many books did you read?
2 and a half. I'm pretty pleased with that.

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Hours by Michael Cunningham, and MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
I'm going to say MetaMaus, just cause it's all new to me, but The Hours is one of my favourite ever books.

8. Which did you enjoy least?
Watership Down. You'll see why soon enough.

9. N/A

10. How likely are you to take part in the readathon again? What role are you likely to take next time?
I'm basically entirely sure that I would take part in the readathon next time, although I'm not really sure about taking on a formal sort of role- I would definitely like to visit more blogs next time, and not be so bloggishly anti-social!

Saturday 21 April 2012

The Readathon is HERE!

Hour 14
So, I'm totally done for the night... I'm just going to, you know, take an 8 or so hour nap, and then maybe read a teeny bit more in the morning... but also, maybe not. We'll see. The really exciting news is that I finished The Hours and started MetaMaus, which so far is really really really exceedingly interesting, and I'm really getting an idea of the sheer volume of work that went into Maus, and how deserving it is of my love and admiration (and tears). I'm actually a little sad to stop reading it (and I think I would be, readathon or not) but I really really need to sleep. Like, really. But y'all just keep on reading, and I'll try and be alert in the morning (well, my morning) to come and cheer you on in those last few hours! Night everyone!

Page Count: 607
Books Finished: 2

Hour 11
I'm baaaaack! I know you all missed me terribly, so sorry for being gone for so long! The AWESOME news is that Watership Down is finally finished, even if it took me the longest time to read those last 100 pages... whoops! But anyway, it is done with, AND it was a challenge book, which makes it so much sweeter! And now I'm going to finish The Hours. I really have to say, I'm exhausted already, so I don't know how everyone's going to do the whole 24 hours! Although, if you do, I'm in awe of you, and you're super awesome. I think now I'm just going to update just before bed, and then I might read some more in the morning, depending on what time I get up and everything. So yeah. Hope everyone is doing ok!

Page Count: 451
Books Finished: 1 (yesssssss!)

Hour 6
So little to report, and yet, since I looked at my phone and saw that it was nearly the hour, how could I not do so? I have started reading The Hours and, oh man, I love it so much. I'm already remembering which of the characters I like the least, and the chapters I like the best, and hey, this was a good choice! Go me! I hope your book choices have been as successful.

Page Count: 263
Books Finished: 0

Hour 4
Just a quick little update- I've been plowing through Watership Down even though I'm not really in love with it, and I thought I was going to have to take a little break from it soon, but then the location shifted and all and it got sort of interesting. SO, I think I'm just going to read to the end of this section and then move onto something else, and I'll maybe come back to it later. Maybe. Still, I'm liking the uninterrupted reading, even if it is all about bunnies, so it's not a total blahgahrehfanfnsf. Yeah, that's a word now.

Page Count: 173 pages
Books Finished: 0

Hour 1
Except, well, I just have to go and put some washing on and also help make the lunch, such is the exciting life I lead. Nonetheless, I have read a teeny bit this morning, so that can count for the 20 minutes or so that I'm going to lose. Also, yes, I realise I'm being very anal about all this!

Anyway! Have fun if you're reading, and if not, be all jealous that you're doing other things today that don't involve reading, cause they're obviously not going to be as cool as how I'm going to spend my day/night! I'll be updating on this page very sporadically, so feel free to check back for my progress if you wish!


Like a smart person, I forgot about the opening questionnaire thingy. So here it is now!

1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Shepperton, which is in Surrey, England. It's fine... but not great.
2. What book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I would say... MetaMaus? Or possibly Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. So I probably won't get to either of those today!
3. Which snack are you most looking forward to?
The only snacks I really have are ice cream and like easter chocolate, and if I have too much sugar, my body doesn't really like it. So, the ice cream, obvs!
4. Tell us a little something about yourself.
No! Or, ok... errrm, I live near Shepperton Studios, which means that Johnny Depp has probably driven past my road at some point in life. It's nice to think about sometimes (the thing that is about me: I Love Johnny Depp. Maybe too much...)
5. If you participated in the last readathon, what's one thing you'll do different today? 
I'm definitely going to read for less time, just so as I don't feel like DEATH tomorrow (because I have to go out to have lunch, which was definitely not my idea.) My number one tip for people who are staying up though, is NO CAFFEINE after, say, 11pm or something, because last time I got the heart poundings at like 3am. Bad times.

So yeah, now I'm really going to start reading! :)

Friday 20 April 2012

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is TOMORROW!

It is! And I already know that I'm definitely not going to be reading for 24 hours, and that I'm probably going to start at like 10am my time or something, because last time I started at 1pm and I nearly DIED waiting for it! So I'll be a few hours ahead of, you know, everyone else, but at least I'll get some quality reading in! And be in bed at a reasonable hour (like, midnight? 14 hours of reading ain't bad, people!) Of course, life being the SUCKFEST that it is, my mum's having her second lot of chemo today, so I don't know how she'll be feeling by tomorrow (although, if the last time is anything to go by, she'll be feeling GREAT because of all these steroids they give her to start off with that make you feel amazing, and, you know, enhance her life-ish performance) so I don't know if she'll need things done for her. BUT either way, there will be reading, and it will be good. There will also probably be ice cream, but probably NOT Doritos, because a whole big bag in one day = bad times.

But what will I be reading, I hear you cry! Hang on guys, I'm just getting to it! Behold!
I realise that picture is riDICulous because I took it in an area of low light (i.e. my whole house) plus you can't at all see the titles of the books! I'm a crazy person. But allow me to tell you about my book choices:
Watership Down by Richard Adams- It's the book I'm reading at the moment and I'm... I don't hate it, but it's not going down so quickly. So, I'll read it in a time where I'm not going to do anything but read! Then I'll have to read the fucker!
The Hours by Michael Cunningham- This is one of my favourite ever books, so I'd read it in any kind of situation. Sadly, I'll probably only read it if I'm struggling with everything else, but it's like the greatest back-up ever.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe- A bit of an eccentric choice, but it's part of my Back to the Classics Challenge list, and it's short. Which is always good.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling- It looks funny. Funny is good. I'm way excited to read it.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood- Possibly the book least likely to be read (sorry, Margaret!) but it seems like everyone's been reading this lately, and, well, I wanna! It looks too big and exhausting to be anything but book 1 though, and that honour is already with Watership Down.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon- I read this in an afternoon once, it can be done again.
And the two books at the back are just in case I get tired of reading actual words and want some pictures as well! So they are Moomins Volume 2, and MetaMaus, which I'm so excited about reading I could puke! So maybe, you know, I'll get 'bored of reading words' pretty quickly, you know what I'm saying?

That was probably more explanation than anyone in the world needed, but hey, I like to explain things. So, tell me- who is else readathoning? And what are you planning on reading? I really need to know, cause I could easily change my choices!

Thursday 19 April 2012

Devouring Books: I'll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates

I really don't know what this cover is all about- it looks like bridesmaids, only there are no weddings in the story and the main character has basically no female friends so, like, there wouldn't be two of them... This has absolutely nothing to do with what I'm going to say about the book, but cover designers, really?! Get your shit together, yeah?

You know when there are those authors who write things, and the things they write are things that you've thought about often, but have never really said out loud to anyone because they don't live inside your brain and therefore would probably not get it because they've never thought about these things before. Joyce Carol Oates? It's like she gets me. And I'm not saying that I completely relate to her female protagonist/narrator, because she's a little bit too... I don't want to say clingy, but maybe too dependent on this guy she's in love with, but then again I've never been in love so maybe I just can't relate yet.

But anyway. This Joyce getting me thing isn't down to one character, or one story, but has built up over reading, what, 8 books by her over the last few years, and I think all of them have included at least one thing that I've thought about and never really verbalised to anyone. Here's the thing in I'll Take You There that got me:
"We never see ourselves, at all; we have no clear idea of ourselves; our mirror reflections reflect only what we wish to see, or can bear to see, or punish ourselves by seeing. Nor can we trust others to see us either. For they too see what they wish to see, with their imperfect eyes.
And this is something I think about LOADS, because I'm very aware of how we hardly ever see our own faces, so we don't really have a concept of what we look like when we're talking and laughing and basically just living, which is a good thing because I feel like everyone would be a lot more self-conscious if they did, but also, it's just so weird, because really we have no idea of what we look like at all. And then on top of that, you can't really know what others see when they look at you, because even if you're all dolled up and have bleached your hair and are wearing an inch of foundation; that guy you think is hot could be thinking that you look like a fucking freak, even if you think you're all hot. Hence how beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and being superficial and vain is really really stupid.

So anyway, this whole 'I think JCO gets me' thing might just be down to the fact that we both think maybe just a tiny bit too much, and in a way, that's what a lot of this book is about. Our narrator (isn't it annoying that I'm not using her name? That's because we never find out her real one, and I can't be bothered to look at what her pretend name for a bit of the book was) is a philosophy major, and there are a lot of philosophical concepts and things discussed which made me not a little gleeful because of my love of the wisdom and all, but none of this really gets in the way of the things that Oates is trying to discuss in the story (not that I would mind if it did. But some people might.) And man, what isn't she trying to discuss?! A major thing is the continual forging of one's identity, and the pitfalls that can accompany this as well as its eventual advantages, as well as looking for approval with all the wrong people, falling in love with an unsuitable man, and, just in a general sense, trying to figure out what the fuck to do and how the fuck to live. So, you know, nothing major.

Time to be critical now though. And much as I hate to be critical about Joyce (she GETS me, you know?!) I do have to say that I was underwhelmed by the first (of three) sections, which is never a good sign in a book. It's not that it's necessarily bad, it's just that... ok, something that I learned a long time ago is that I don't give a fuck about fitting in with others, if that comes with having to sacrifice doing what I want to do (look at me being like a rebel outcast! But really, I did learn that when I was about 11). And the first section of the book is basically all about that- our narrator joins a sorority and yet doesn't know how to act there and so is never at ease with these girls who have no regard for her anyway. And I was basically just like *eye roll* just stop caring about what they think and do! Which, thankfully, she does, and that makes the other two sections of the book much more enjoyable. The way I read this book was: it took me about 2 weeks to read the first section, and the other two I read in like a day. So, yeah- not a great start, but it's made up for later.

Basically I'm in love with Joyce Carol Oates and she therefore can do no wrong in my eyes. If you've already read some Oates and you weren't a fan, this is pretty much business as usual (and what a fine business it is, too!) so you probably shouldn't bother. But if you haven't? I feel like this would be a pretty good one to start with, as long as you ignore the cover and aren't expecting pretty weddings because there will be none of that. More... endless soul searching, less wedding. Ok? Good.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

"What do you fear most in the world?" "The possibility that love is not enough."

It's disturbing to me that I haven't managed to post anything about Twin Peaks yet. I finished watching it in mid-March, and yet I still can't really sum up how I feel about everything, at least not without spoiling possible things for other people. But I'll give it my best shot now, and we'll see how it goes, yes?

Twin Peaks is one of those things where I had such a preconceived idea of it in my brain already that the actual thing was somewhat marred by my expectations of it. By this, I don't mean it was bad in any way (my constant tweets about it should probably prove the opposite) but that from what I knew about Twin Peaks, I was so strongly expecting things to be supernatural all the time, that I missed a lot of the great things about it that really had nothing to do with the dark forces that were admittedly also present. This was especially true after Laura Palmer's murder was solved (sorry, we all know that the premise of the whole series was that Laura Palmer's been murdered, and Trey from Sex and the City [or, rather, Agent Dale Cooper] has to come to Twin Peaks and solve it, right?) where there were all sorts of strange and freaky things happening, and I found those things so much more interesting than the other things that were happening (which involved long established characters) that I tuned out on practically everything else. Big mistake.

But. Putting aside the problem of solving Laura Palmer's murder for a moment (and we will get back to it), the fact is that, according to Wikipedia, the Palmer case was really just an excuse to make a tv programme, and that the real momentum of the show is with the dark and odd lives of all the other characters, almost all of whom have literally nothing to do with Laura Palmer's murder. Now, because of all my preconceptions, I got pretty frustrated with the first series, not wholly because it was a really good mystery to mull over and all, but there were all these characters who it seemed clear to me hadn't murdered Laura, and I was just like 'GET TO THE POINT DAMMIT!' And this is why I don't really read mystery or crime books!

The other thing is that there really wasn't anything supernatural about Twin Peaks in the first season, other than the dream in the red room that I feel like everyone knows about, and was one of the main reasons for my belief that Twin Peaks was going to be all supernatural, all the time. All the backwards talking and the dead girl and the dancing dwarf, it's very very disorienting and just plain freaky. This is something that's returned to quite a lot after the revealing of Laura's killer (I'm obviously not going to tell you who it is, but let's just say it's a doozie! You're going to love it!) and a bit during as well, plus there's a giant who helps with the whole enterprise and then disappears, sadly (I liked that dude!) But still, the normal stuff (although normal is a really really loose term with the residents of this town...) always far far outweighs the supernatural, and that's not what I was expecting, and so I wasn't always fully paying attention to the normal stuff. For shame!

But really, knowing what I do now about it, I look back at all the tangent storylines and I'm just like 'well that one was actually really sweet' and 'oh I love them!' although I have to admit that I did always hate Josie... But the funny things and the sweet things and the just plain odd things (log lady! She's so awesome, you guys have no idea... unless you do!) are really what made the programme what it was, and the supernatural things, really, can just suck it. Well, not really. But the thing is, after solving Laura Palmer's murder, there was this whole thing about the White Lodge and the Black Lodge, and I had some very definite ideas about what should happen with them and, quite frankly, my ideas were better than what actually did happen (imho, of course! Although the cliffhanger at the end of the series is second to none, I have to say). But anyway, when this was disappointing, I of course wished that I had spent more time focusing on the other characters, and their messed up 'ordinary' lives.

Speaking of the disappointment... Here's something that's been said before. But allow me to add my opinion. Laura Palmer's murder gets solved about halfway through the second season. This is about the biggest mistake that's been made in tv history. Because, as I've said, the mystery over Laura's death was like the glue that held together the stories of everyone in the town. Once that was gone, everything got very very confused, and there wasn't really a clear story anymore. Firstly they had to invent a premise for Cooper having to stay in Twin Peaks, which is always just really annoying (although it did introduce David Duchovny in drag, so god bless it, I say) and there were just too many things going on with no unifying theme to tie them all together. And the big supernatural whatsit was pretty related to Laura's death, only it wasn't explained very well and that whole thing just became sort of confused, much as I was intrigued by it (but that only kind of because I thought I was supposed to be...) and yeah. It's kind of a big mess, with some massive flashes of brilliance (the title quote comes from one of these 'confused' episodes) but, really, they should never have solved the murder. Or at least not until the end of season 2.

Having lodged my complaints and criticised my own viewing of it, would it be wrong to now say that I just generally love love LOVE Twin Peaks? I do. In spite of its flaws, it truly is one of the best TV series I've seen, most of which is down to Kyle Maclachlan being adorable and hilarious and just plain weird, in a really good way! I'd only ever seen him as Trey from Sex and the City before Twin Peaks, and I never ever thought I'd find him attractive ever (the dude just does whatever his mum tells him! I mean, come on!) but as Cooper he's so endearing that I am just insanely in love with him. I'm so jealous of Heather Graham, who gets to be his pretend girlfriend for a bit (another annoying thing, because his girlfriend should have been this other girl who was in it from the start but Maclachlan wouldn't pretend to get with her for some bullshit reason) that it's just ridiculous.
So, basically. Twin Peaks, watch it! Even though I've been almost wholly negative about it, it's mainly aimed at myself rather than the programme, and it's just an example of hurting the ones you love. Because, in case I hadn't made this clear, I really really love Twin Peaks. So, get onto Netflix, slip back into the nineties and enjoy some good old fashioned detective work mixed with a fair bit of weirdness. You're very welcome.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Devouring Books: This is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl by Paul Brannigan

If the subtitle of this book wasn't 'The Life and Times of Dave Grohl', then I'd be mercilessly tearing it to shreds, not only review-wise, but probably in actual real life too (maybe not, because I don't know if I could do that to a book... We'll see). As it is, I'm not going to be too kind about it, but at least I can't say I wasn't warned. But still. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

I'm basically always more disappointed by biographies of people that I already know a lot about than any other kind of books. I guess part of it is thinking that I could maybe do it better (I mean, I couldn't actually, but it sometimes it feels like I could. And sometimes I actually could *cough* What's Eating Johnny Depp *cough, cough*), and the other, much bigger part is the fact that they're unauthorised. And what that means is that they have literally no access to the subject of their writing, which, you would think, would stop them from writing the thing. But apparently not, and that's a problem when you already feel like you know someone, and the author also feels like they know them, and neither of these conflicting visions of said person are probably accurate and everything just becomes this big fat mess.

So. This is a Call. Paul Brannigan claims, on the first few pages, that Dave Grohl has said to him that he 'considers him a friend'. He claims this quite a few times, actually, although I'm not sure too many 'friends' would write an unauthorised biography of their 'friend' that actually turns into a book that isn't a great deal about their 'friend'. Because here's the deal with this book- It's not so much about Dave Grohl. Rather, it's a pretty good history of music in the last, ooh, 30 years or so, with almost peripheral mentions of Dave Grohl. I'm not kidding. There's about one chapter that's sort of fully dedicated to Grohl, and that only comes right near the end of the book, and, actually, is more of a history of Foo Fighters than Grohl anyway.

I mean, I get it. No man is an island, and certainly a lot of the people who get pages long profiles and many of the bands talked about extensively have affected Grohl's life in one way or another. But selling a book as a biography of one person, and then using it to basically express your own opinion about various bands, most of which Dave Grohl never appeared in? That's not cool, Brannigan. Not cool at all. (BRAAAANNNIGAN!) So, yeah, I basically spent the entirety of the book going 'ok, but what's Dave doing at this point... oh right, you just want to talk about Metallica some now. Well, that's ok, but how about we get back to... Oh, Kurt Cobain killed himself? No way! So how did Dave... You don't know? Right. Well, this is very HAWEFBNWAGFWAAFASFFKAV!' It was frustrating, is what I'm saying.

Oh, and ALSO Brannigan used to be the editor of Kerrang!, which is this music magazine in the UK that focuses waaay too much on metal bands, which is why I don't buy it anymore unless, say, Foo Fighters are on the cover. So, since he didn't actually want to write about Dave the person (or, rather, couldn't because he doesn't know him) he goes through the critical reception of like every piece of music he's ever made. And in relaying this information, he not-so-subtly undermines every magazine that isn't Kerrang!, with extra bitterness aimed at Q (maybe because they never asked him to be editor?) and Rolling Stone, which is, I would have to say, my favourite music magazine. So this just gave me extra things to hate him for and, really, I already wanted to punch him in the face a little, so, yeah.

I did learn a few (a very few) things about Dave Grohl/the 90s music scene that I hadn't read elsewhere, and these are them:

  • I would have fit in really really well in Olympia in the early 90s. Like, disturbingly well. Observe: "They all dressed in 1950s and 60s clothes with kitty cat glasses, they baked pies and made apple butter, they had dance parties and made mix tapes. Everyone was in a band, everyone crafted, everyone had a fanzine, everyone was everyone else's biggest fans... even when they were not." Everyone crafted?! I love these people! I mean, the point of this quote in the book is to show why Dave Grohl thought these people were weird, which maybe makes me think twice about him, but they baked pies and made apple butter?! Get me a time machine and a guitar, stat!
  • Dave Grohl has a lot of love for this one Foo Fighters song, Aurora, that I also happen to really love. This excited me because, well, they never play it live, so I just assumed that he thought of it as filler, but to know that he thinks it's one of the most beautiful songs he's ever written, as I also do, made me all happy faced!
  • Paul Brannigan really doesn't like Kurt Cobain. I realise this isn't about Dave Grohl, so why was his personal opinion about Cobain allowed to come out into this book? I mean, I'm fairly nuts about Kurt Cobain, so any criticism of him at all makes me want to cry (did I mention that I was reading this basically on the anniversary of his death? No? Cause that made it a whole lot more fun) but I don't think I was being over-sensitive- Brannigan's basic attitude was 'what a junkie loser moron', along with 'well, some of his music was ok, I guess'. I was charmed, obviously.
Basically, this book was one big annoyance after another. I honestly think that if it hadn't been a present then I would have just stopped reading it, although I'm glad I persevered and found out that thing about Aurora that made me happy. I would have really appreciated a lot more Dave, and a lot less Brannigan, but I guess he had to go with writing about what he loves best, and that would be himself. I wish I could recommend a better Dave Grohl Biography to you, but I'm fairly sure the authors of the other two I've read hadn't even met Grohl, so, yeah, Brannigan's got an advantage on them. Not that he uses it very well, obviously.

Wow, that was moany. Here, have this as a reward for getting through the rant, and as an insight into all I've been thinking about while writing this:
A far, far superior Brannigan, in my opinion.

Monday 16 April 2012

The Woman in White: Part Two

Woooooah, revelations abound in that last chapter there, amiright?! I was just reading it with my mouth hanging metaphorically open, mentally cheering on Marian, and not quite believing what was going on. I mean... I knew there was totally something shady about Fosco, BUT encouraging Laura's murder?! Really?! REALLY?!

But that was the end of the section. Sooooo much more to talk about than that. Glossing over whatshisface's narrative (Gilmore? The lawyer guy?) because it was boring and basically just moved the plot forward a bit and blah blah blah, let's just get to Marian! And get to her we did- and if Marian could just narrate the whole of the rest of the book, that would be great, kay? Kay.

So. Let's talk about Fosco because he's a very very interesting (and by that I mean potentially evil) dude. And I really didn't know what to think of him at first- I was like, well Marian seems to like him well enough, and he's so good to the animals, and YET he's this crazy man who as the ability to turn women basically into robots. So I was a bit iffy whenever Marian was like 'oh yeah, he's quite nice' because, you know, subjugation of women and stuff, so when her opinion changed of him when he basically argued that you should totally be a criminal as long as you can get away with it (BAD!) I was relieved because, well, I can't have a dissenting opinion from Marian!

Except for this one. Because it pisses me off when she's all like 'oh, if only I was a man, I would do this' because I'm all like 'Just do it Marian!' since, you know, she can do all these things, but doesn't because it would be unladylike. That is, with the exception of her dazzling feats of climbing over rooftops which I fully approve of (seriously, that last chapter? I want to marry it and have its babies because it was so AWESOME.) And also the thing where Fosco's like 'oh, she is as smart and cunning as a man', and I'm like THOSE ARE NOT NECESSARILY MASCULINE TRAITS, STOP BEING SO DAMN SEXIST, and then I remember it's a Victorian novel, and, well, Marian's a fairly awesome female character considering that, so I should probably just shhh (especially because I'm a woman. HA).

Anyway, so Marian is still awesome, and if you want to consider just how awesome, consider this:
"'Who cares for his causes of complaint? Are you to break your heart to set his mind at ease? No man under heaven deserves these sacrifices from us women. Men! They are the enemies of our innocence and our peace- they drag us away from our parents' love and our sisters' friendship- they take us body and soul to themselves, and fasten our helpless lives to theirs as they chain up a dog to his kennel. And what does the best of them give us in return?'"
Presumably the answer to that is, you know, babies and shit, but oh Marian, you're right- marriage shouldn't be a woman's only option! It was poor old Laura's only option (at least in her brain) and oh boy is she regretting it now, even if she does at least have Marian there to help her out. Laura was a lot more interesting in this part, I thought, even though she's still pretty weedy compared to Marian. The thing is, though, she's another one of those people that Marian likes, and so I basically have to pretty much like her too- that's how this thing works!

Apart from the end of the section, probably my favourite bit was the bit described by Laura with the still mysterious Woman in White, Anne thingummy. Because, ooooh the mystery, and the thing she knows about Percy (I don't think he deserves to be called Sir Percival, so I refuse to address him like that) that he doesn't want anyone to know, and they've mentioned the creepy lake so much that I have to wonder if there's a body in it, which is soon to be joined by Laura's and OH MY GOD THE HORROR! Or maybe it's a whole other secret entirely, about his secret wife locked in the attic or something, but I really really really want to know! Damn it being all suspenseful and stuff! Oh yeah, and Anne managed to keep up her reputation of being extremely creepy and ghostlike, since she once again tricked me into believing that she was, in fact, a ghost. I'm fairly sure she's still alive, but really, who can tell?!

There were probably more things to say about that last bit, but they were all blown out of my head with Marian being like Spiderman or something, and with the plotting/encouragement of Laura's murder, which, actually, I can still hardly believe! I'm really really excited to read the next bit, and to NOT leave it until Sunday night when there are like a million pages to read. Or, at least, I'll try not to...

Sunday 15 April 2012

IMM/Mailbox Monday

Well hello guys and gals! I haven't done an IMM/Mailbox Monday post for the longest time, but my birthday was on Monday, and, well, I may have received some books. More specifically, I received 14 books, and then two more as Easter presents from my mum and dad. To which I say, SCORE!

To the books!
That is one joyous stack of books! So, let's go from the bottom to the top, shall we?

Right at the very bottom is Moomins Volume Three by Tove Jansson, which you can't even see because it got smooshed into the duvet! But, it's there, and it continues my little birthday/Christmas tradition of getting a Moomin book!
Just above it is Home Made by Yvette Van Boven, which is basically just this recipe book that's awesome and tells you how to make stuff like cheese and gnocchi (and loads of other stuff) from scratch, which I happen to think is fairly cool.
Next up is Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, not because I'm a vegan (at least not yet, although this whole not eating meat thing I've been doing has been going very well, thank you very much) but just because I love their recipe books, and this one looks like no exception.
Above that is Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson. I'm a big big fan of food blogs (second only to book blogs) and Joy is basically my favourite of all, other than Natalie of Bake and Destroy who is also writing a cookbook at the moment! I'm very excited to try some of these recipes anyway.
Then there's MetaMaus by Art Speigelman, which I've been so excited to read since I heard about it like last year, because I think Maus is one of the best ever things, and I'm really interested in reading about the making of it.
Above that is Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, about whom I will say that I hadn't seen her in The Office or anything, but I did read her piece (which I think might be in this book) about stereotyped female characters in Romantic Comedies, and that alone made me want to read this. Also, I'm fairly sure she's awesome, so yeah, there's that too.
Then there are my beautiful Penguin Clothbounds (which I obviously have to get for birthdays and things because hello expensive books!) and I got Middlemarch by George Eliot, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (even though I'm scared of Dickens), The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I mean, obviously they're too beautiful to read, but they sure look pretty on my shelves!
Above those (is anyone getting bored yet? I'm totally bored. I need some kind of sustenance or something *munches on an easter egg* ok, I'm good) is War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, which is huger than I thought it would be, only with smaller writing. It's fairly intimidating, I have to admit, but I did bloody love Anna Karenina. So, yeah, I dunno.
Putting that aside for a minute (as I'm sure I shall) above it is Night by Elie Wiesel which I asked for based solely on reading excellent (albeit heartbreaking) things about it on other people's blogs. So, basically, it better be good, people who recommended it!
Above it is Bossypants by Tina Fey, which I may or may not have read in a day because, well, it was too difficult not to! Expect a review of it fairly soon. But don't expect a fairly soon review of Man in the Dark by Paul Auster, not because I don't like him, but because I have a book by him that I got for my last birthday that I still haven't read yet. Bit of a problem there!
The last two books ('the last ones already? Noooooo!' I hear you cry) I have already read, but I didn't have my own copies of, hence putting them on my birthday list. They are Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and, well, I'm fairly excited to own both of them because they're both AMAZING.

Are you still reading? Well done you! Before you ask, yes I know I'm super spoilt, and yes I am very grateful! I am now in the uncomfortable/wonderful position of trying to figure out which book to read first, or how to read them all at once, but I'll calm down eventually and just go with the flow. Probably. Maybe. Yeah.

Sunday Sundries

Gratuitous picture of easter cakes for no good reason...

Happy Sunday you guys! I was going to be an utter asshole and make this the longest ever post (by including my birthday IMM/Mailbox Monday in it) but I decided to save you from such horrors and post each one separately. Good luck getting through all that this Sunday!

Instead of telling you about my last, what, two (?) weeks, I'm going to show you my list of kind of new years resolutions that many many many bloggers do for their birthdays- and this year, I'm no exception! Aren't y'all so lucky! But in case you're interested in my activities for the last little while, they basically go: Easter, birthday; baking for easter and birthday; book presents (see later post); another viewing of The Hunger Games with my friend who hadn't read the books, which meant I could see it through her eyes; and wishing my sister would go back to work. NOT in a mean way- it's just that her presence at home kind of puts me all out of sync and messes with my schedule and things, and, well, don't fuck with my routine, you guys.

So. My list. I don't know if you guys have ever seen these before, because I'm not sure if you exclusively read book blogs or what- I'm fairly sure I've only seen them on lifestyle/fashiony blogs, which is what I'm reading when I'm not reading book blogs! So, anyway, it's a 23 before 24 list, and I think they're kind of cool so I wanted to do one too! I'm not sure how much off of it I'll actually get done, but, you know, it's good to have dreams! So, here it is:
23 Before 24
1. Get a tattoo
This may or may not happen. I've been saying this since I was about 18, so, we'll see.

2. Host a readalong on ze blog
Guys, you'll read something with me, right?! I'm thinking, The Grapes of Wrath? Let me know!

3. Go on a literary style trip
So so many English authors homes and things that I haven't been to! I'm thinking either The Globe or Haworth, but either way, just somewhere good. Plus Bill Bryson made me want to travel in England 
(crazy, I know!)

4. Go to the cinema alone
I've never done this, maybe because I've always thought it was tragic. But going to see a film that you want to see, even if no one else wants to? Liberating, right! Or maybe still tragic...

5. Actually participate in NaNoWriMo
Remember NaNoWriMo? That thing that I signed up to do, and then just didn't? Yeah, I'm gonna try to do that.

6. Let an actual qualified person cut my hair
I haven't had a professional person haircut since February 2010 which is baaaad. And since then I've had two haircuts, one of which was administered by myself, and one by my mum. It's probably time to go back to the hairdressers, even though I feel the same way about haircuts as Nick from New Girl (I was going to have video evidence for this, but basically he doesn't like them because he has to make awkward conversation with the hairdresser which, yeah, is excruciating for me. The misanthrope).

7. Try out at least one new recipe every week
I've got a critical cookbook situation at the moment, and an ever growing Pinterest food board, soooo, yeah, I need to make some of these things!

8. Read at least 20 classics for the Classics Club
Just because that's basically the standard amount I should read, to get them all done in 5 years...

9. Make those cushion covers I was going to make people last Christmas
I've got like 10 cushion insides under my bed right now, and frankly I need the space. Ideally I'd like to do this within the next like month rather than year, but... we'll see.

10. Get rid of some books (but not too many!)
Because, well, I have too many. So, I'm thinking, read some books, get rid of the ones that suck! Easy.

11. Make people recommend music to me/be more musically exploratory
I do loves my music, but I do tend to listen to the same bands over and over. If you want to recommend me artists in the comments, that would be GREAT.

12. Go to the London Natural History Museum
Bill Bryson like peed his pants over the Natural History Museum in A Short History of Nearly Everything, and it's free to go to and I've never been so.. yeah, I'm gonna go there!

13. Watch Tiny Furniture, one way or another
I've been wanting to see it for, I swear, about 2 years now. They just released it in like one indie cinema in London, so if they haven't stopped showing it already, I so want to go and see it. This could also count for goal number 4, maybe.

14. Go to a faraway English place I haven't been to before
This shouldn't be too hard, since I've basically been nowhere in England!

15. Eat less sugar
It tastes so good, but consistently makes me feel like shit. Eating less is really the only sensible way to go. Right after I finish this Cadbury's Creme Egg...

16. Concentrate less on what other people are doing and more on what I want to do
I'm quite good at not weeping when I look at people who have jobs and things like that, but I do have comparison issues when it comes to my sister and the things she does around the house- Like, I'll be cooking dinner, which I like doing, but then I'll go 'but why isn't she cooking dinner?! That's not fair!' which is insane because I like doing it! My friend put this quote on Pinterest: "Comparison is the thief of joy", and I really just think that I massively need to remember it, and just keep on doing the things I want to do.

17. Try to keep a not-wholly negative diary
I'm not sure how much I'm going to want to remember this whole time in my life, but I think it's important to look back on my day and think that hey, it wasn't so bad after all. I've only ever used a diary to vent in before, so, yeah, could be tricky!

18. Get my tragus pierced
Or some part of my ear. I really do like getting holes punched in me...

19. Write more letters to people

20. Go to the Ben and Jerry's Sundae in the Park again
So. Much. Fun. Plus, free ice cream! Win!

21. Go to Brighton again

22. Have lots of picnics this summer
That's my main plan for the whole summer. Even though my mum did say yesterday that she hates picnics. Oh well!

23. Tell everyone that I love that I love them more often

Oh, what a saccharine end! Sorry about that! But it's still an important one, I think. There are some other goals I have that are kind of out of my control, like getting my mum all cancer free and finally finding some kind of permanent job, but following my serenity prayer awesome advice, these are things I want to happen that I have control over. (We all know the serenity prayer, right? The one for the alcoholics and stuff?) They're all do-able, I think, and I'll revisit them next year and we'll see if I've put my money where my mouth is, or whatever other saying would do here.

I'm off now to write my IMM/Mailbox Monday post, and then to read The Woman in White, of which I still have about 100 pages to read, because I is bay-d, just like Rhett Butler (we all read that in a Mammy voice, right?) Have fab weeks, everyone!

Friday 13 April 2012

Devouring Books: The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue

My love for Emma Donoghue has been well documented here (I would say that she was my favourite of the new authors I read last year) and, well, The Sealed Letter... It was good, but not necessarily good for me. Which is understandable, much as I would like her to write books that are exclusively for me; but at the same time did hamper my enjoyment of The Sealed Letter somewhat.

Here's the thing. I kind of hate historical fiction. And when I say kind of hate, I don't really mean hate, but just that I wouldn't necessarily read it, like, ever, unless I had some kind of super awesome recommendation for it. I think I read about one historical fiction book last year (Tipping the Velvet) which I didn't hate, but at the same time wasn't in love with. And such was the case with this.

This is what I would say about The Sealed Letter- if you like historical fiction, then I think this is probably the top notch example of it- as always, I'm enamoured by Donoghue's writing, and I think she can really tell a great story! I think it was Alice who said to me that she really likes that Donoghue just basically writes about whatever the hell she feels like, and I really have to agree- so far I've had a tale of grief, one of the craziness that comes from starting university, one about being born to a captive mother, and now this, about an actual real life scandalous court case from the 1860s. Way diverse, and also, I think, way interesting.

But. That historical fiction thing. One of the things that bothers me is that the characters actually were real people, and yet they're being presented in a fictional way, except with real life facts from the court cases and whatnot. It's sort of... Well, in the end I was left kind of confused, even though I really didn't need to be because I could have taken the whole thing as fiction. And I thought it was fictional, until I read the bit at the end which was, to be fair, really well researched and made it fairly clear which bits were fact and which were fiction, and that made things a bit confusing in my brain. But that could maybe just have been my brain!

I'm trying really hard to make this not be a rant about historical fiction, but I fear that it kind of has been already! Let me say this about The Sealed Letter then- the characters are very well drawn (there are essentially only three main characters, so a lot of attention is afforded to each of them), I really really liked the early feminism references and things, and, let's face it, court cases are always exciting. I also really disliked the irritating prudishness of Fido, the main character, and I essentially wanted to tell her to grow the hell up and stop being pathetic. And herein lies my problem with historical fiction! (Although- may I add that other facts about her come to light in the awesome twist that I totally guessed, and these facts made me think that maybe she shouldn't have been so prudish about sex things...)

Basically- because this is written by Emma Donoghue it's good, but any lesser writer would have probably fucked it up and I would have been utterly annoyed by it. As it is, I don't feel like I wasted my time with it at all (if nothing else, the end is worth reading on for!) but I'm just less excited by it than I was by all the other Donoghue books I've read. So, yeah, ignore all the things I've said and just read it, basically!