Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Traditioning

Oh, hai. You guys still here?

It's been a while! December is year-end-mega-deadline month at my work, so I haven't really been reading, you know, books (except for Fangirl, which I finished in two sittings this weekend). Fortunately, we have the ha-happiest time of the year to look forward to. I'm super, very much, really excited for Christmas. For the first time in six years, the mister and I have snow in December; 

Ooo, wintry.

and for the first time in ever, it'll be just me and him for Christmas. (Since we've been married, we've been alternating Christmases between families [as one does]. This year, on account of work, we're staying in Fort St. John.)

It's weird, though, not going home for Christmas. It means we're responsible for our own traditions. And so! An abbreviated round-up of some favourites from childhood and some new things we're adding.

My Mom and Dad sent us our own version of my favourite Christmas gift traditions:

The golden fridge (full of goooodies):



And the book of books (RIGHT?!):


Neil's Mom sent us some Christmas gifts that go back to Neil's childhood. (One's a peppermint pig. I'm calling it right now.)

I'll also be making her stuffing, her risotto (which we'll be having for breakfast on Christmas morning as per Neil who I'm just going to trust on this one) (tomatoey garlicness for breakfast! MADNESS), and her chocolate peanut butter bars. Oh you guys, the peanut butter bars. Just oh you guys, all three of these things. So yum. Very taste.

And new things: Neil got these reinbeers 



in a Secret Santa exchange and they are so fantastic I want to make them every year. Advent calenbeer?

Finally, most pertinently, why we're all here: I marked all the Christmas Day chapters in the Harry Potter books and I'm going to read them all on Christmas Day. 

Why yes, that is an original Australian Kayleigh wand.

Candy cane bookmarks, obvs. That's - 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - "Chapter 12: The Mirror of Erised"
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - "Chapter 12: The Polyjuice Potion"
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - "Chapter 11: The Firebolt"
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - "Chapter 23: The Yule Ball"
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - "Chapter 23: Christmas on the Closed Ward"
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - "Chapter 16: A Very Frosty Christmas"
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - "Chapter 18: The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore"

So, yikes, actually. I kind of want to read them in reverse order to end on a lighter note, but the frigging Mirror of Erised, so. Sad or no, Harry Potter is always a good time.

What about you? What holiday are you celebrating? What traditions are you eating and reading?

Happy all the holidays, sugar plums.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Obligatory Check-In Post

Not dead -- just busy. 

Here's a gif of Brendan Fraser's infamously awkward clap:


Remember that? That was the best.

Keep on keeping on, internet.

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Post Where IT'S THE LAST ONE


Well, that took a turn.

Welcome to the final post in the wonderful Alley's The Corrections readalong, or, as we've been affectionately calling it on Twitter, the #monthofFranzy. Spoilers ahead. 

Maybe it's the great company (very possible), maybe it's the gripping prose (it's not), or maybe it's coming off a 6 month marareadalongathon (what would Hermione think of The Corrections?), but this went by crazy quickly.

So what happened in this last section? Denise started becoming more comfortable with herself and then was slammed with the knowledge that her father's known all her life she hasn't been perfect. 



Gary, well Gary keeps being Gary (stay the insufferable course, O insufferable one). 


I hesitate to use this GIF, but Gary is every bit as self-satisfied as
Cary Grant here, but without the redeeming quality of being adorable.

Chip finds redemption in caring for his father and knocking up his father's doctor. 



And Enid finds her INNER SOCIOPATH WHAT THE HELL WERE THOSE LAST FEW PAGES?! Alfred's sinking further into depression and dementia, attempting to kill himself multiple times AND EVENTUALLY SUCCEEDING BY THE WAY, and Enid visits him everyday for the sole purpose of tormenting him. I get that he was horrible. I get that the family really couldn't have cared for him at home. But gahhhd. 



That was unpleasant. Is it just me? Was that not the most upsetting part of the book for you guys? Once again I'd really like to know what Franzen's actual motivation was there. How does he want his reader to react? Is he going for a "Yeah, take that, Alfred. You deserve every bit of this," or a "Everyone in the world is horrible and I'm moving to Mars"? I just don't know. Doesn't matter now, because it's over. It's over and suck it, Franzen.

Final thoughts: Even though the ending bummed me RIGHT OUT, I did enjoy reading the book, overall. Will I read another Franzen? I don't know. It might take another readalong.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Post Where We're All Cripplingly Disappointed



Alright, Denise section! Finally!


I haven't even taken any notes during this section. My only note would have been "Whelp, Denise sucks, too." Disappointed? Yes. Surprised? No.


(So many f-word gifs in this readalong for me. Sorry, Mom and Dad. It's Alley's fault.)

We're reading(along) The Corrections, and it's providing solid evidence that reading anything can be fun if you do it with the right people. That being said, I have not finished the reading for this week.

Quick, I need a distraction...

Thanks, guys.

I am at the part where Denise is at Robin's garden and just got around her guilt for almost banging Brian by telling his Robin she's a lesbian. I hate Denise's whole attitude around not banging Brian. Like she's a feminist icon for not doing him. Like she's done this great thing for Robin, and Robin should be grateful. The whole thing is gross.

Speaking of gross, the entire episode of Denise with the older man at her summer job. Just, what. No. Stop.

But tell me more about Robin's psychopathic brother. I was liking his story. He crazy. And I always love foodtalk, so I'm liking hearing about Denise trying to think up food that will work in this spectacular venue.

This is a super scattered post that doesn't say anything. At least it's posted on time? No? Please accept this thing I found that's not about this book but is still super appropriate by way of an apology:

(From American Chickens)

Friday morning update: I've read up to the Chip/Denise emails and I'm not so mad at her now.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Post Where We All Talk About Poop

Oh. *coughs* Uh, hi! We're posting these Sunday nights now, right? I'm pretty sure I heard that somewhere.


Sorry for pulling a Chip, you guys. It's (two days past) Corrections time again! Thanks, Alley, for bringing us together, because I'm pretty sure we're going to need the support for this section. There are spoilers, herein, if such a book can be spoiled.

My first note is "Gary seems super fun."
As he entered the darkroom, he estimated that his levels of Neurofactor 3 (i.e., serotonin: a very, very important factor) were posting seven-day or even thirty-day highs, that his Factor 2 and Factor 7 levels were likewise outperforming expectations, and that his Factor 1 had rebounded from an early-morning slump related to the glass of Armagnac he'd drunk at bedtime.
Too bored to properly throw myself down the stairs

Does not make for stimulating narration.

I'm still loving Denise because she gave Jonah Prince Caspian. And Jonah makes me want to WEEP because he is clearly the best person in the whole of the extended family, and they are going to ruin him. In the meantime, little buddy, keep being right about which Narnia book is the best.

(IT'S THIS ONE.)

Franzen really digs in on the "look at all the reasons I named this book as such" in this section, the first instance I noticed being a kind of theme for the book: "But his entire life was set up as a correction of his father's life." And then there's Correcktall and other stuff and THERE'S NO TIME TO LIST THEM. DID I MENTION HOW LATE THIS POST IS?

Gary is dealing with some weeeird investor guys. Pudge Portleigh? Really? Why not just Fatty McFatfat? Daffy? Dick Hevy? 

It's probably a metaphor for something, but I don't know what.
(Different scene. Doesn't matter.)

Then other stuff and then, let's get to why we're really here: Alfred, on the cruise, hallucinating a talking, taunting turd. 

One of the few things in this world that warrants
the legendary quadruple take.

So, OK, do we want to analyze this scene and work out why Alfred's hallucination would take the form of a poop (his strong needs for order and propriety raging against his gradual yet complete loss of control - over his children, his wife, his body), or do we wanna just throw a 


Franzen's way?

The fuck bro? The fuck bro.

Also I guess maybe Alfred's dead now. SEE YOU NEXT FRIDAY, FOLKS! 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

October 2013 Readathon - 11ish pm

So tired -- it's the dreaded hour 19.



This is when I called it quits last time. BUT NOT THIS TIME, readers. I'm going to splash water on my face, for that is a thing people do.


Reading: Bossypants

How is it?: It's awesome. Obviously it's awesome.


Pages read, altogether now: 922

Books completed: The Graveyard Book, Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

October 2013 Readathon - 8:30ish pm

Hey, readathon! It's been a while! Let's do a regular check-in post.

Reading: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

How is it?: SUPER GOOD. It's the pictures that take it from dark fantasy to horrifying creepfest.

I mean, have we all seen this one?

Pages read, altogether now: 812 (Books with pictures, guys. BOOKS WITH PICTURES.)

Books read from: Bossypants, The Graveyard BookLocke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Books completed: The Graveyard Book, Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft

And, also: Since we last talked, real food in dinner-shape was had by all.


A paltry serving of snap peas because I was starting to feel guilty, even though, as Ron would say, readathons should involve


Right now, it's 8:35 pm and I'm making coffee. Oh, readathon. You so crazy.

October 2013 Readathon - 5 in the pm

Oh, hey, look at that. The mid-event survey was for an hour ago. LATE BAND-WAGON JUMPING.

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired? Yes, little sleepy. May have taken some mini-half naps.

2) What have you finished reading? The Graveyard Book and volume one of Locke & Key. I've also been reading bits of Bossypants in between things, and I'm on page 135 of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

3) What is your favorite read so far? I'm reeeally liking Miss Peregrine's. The writing style is less fantasy, more modern YA than I thought.

4) What about your favorite snacks? Miss Peregrine's is actually pretty creepy, don'cha know, so I've had to call in the cheezies. They did their duty admirably. 



5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love! No, because I am selfish. But good job, everyone out there! And thank you, wandering cheerleaders!

Page stats! 681, so far.

October 2013 Readathon - Hour 9ish

Well. Lesson learned. Always include comics/graphic novels in your readathon pile if you want to up your page count in a hurry.

Books finished: The Graveyard Book, Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft

Pages read so far: 510. BAM.


Speaking of, it was recently lunchtime in this corner of the world, and so - quesadillas.


Surrounded by readathon snacks to come.

October 2013 Readathon - Hour 7 (and a half)

Finished The Graveyard Book

Pages read, altogether now: 352

Time to check in on my fellow 'thonners.


October 2013 Readathon - Hour 6

Reading: The Graveyard Book

How is it?: Still great! And I'm enjoying this whole business much more than last time. Feeling less pressure (which was totally self-imposed in April) to read quickly and lots-ly, and instead just planning on having an excellent day, reading. And snacking, of course. Go readathon, is what I'm saying.

Pages read this hour: 52

Pages read, altogether now: 265

And, also: Halloween candy is playing no small part in my general sense of well-being.


October 2013 Readathon - Hour 5

Reading: The Graveyard Book

How is it?: Delightful. I'm loving the crap out of Silas. And I hope we get to spend more time with the Grey Lady. In the book, that is. I don't want to die.

Pages read this hour: 50

Pages read, altogether now: 213

And, also: Oranges!


October 2013 Readathon - Hour 4

Reading: Graveyard Book

How is it?: Still great!

Pages read this hour: 58

Pages read, altogether now: 163

And, also: Time for second breakfast.


October 2013 Readathon - Hour 3

Reading: The Graveyard Book

How is it?: "Bod was thrilled. He imagined a future in which he could read everything, in which all stories could be opened and discovered." So, perfect.

Pages read this hour: 60

Pages read, altogether now: 105

And, also: Everything is wonderful and this book gives me the Fall happies.


October 2013 - Hour 2

Reading: Bossypants

How is it?: SO GOOD. I love her, I do. Think I'll switch to a novel now though.

Pages read this hour: 45

And, also: Breakfast!


October 2013 Readathon: Hour 1



Can you feel it in the air? It's that time of year again. The time to read like maniacs and take pictures of our snacks.


It's READATHON time.

Our untiring hosts at readathon headquarters have provided us with an introductory meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Fort St. John, in northeastern BC.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? It's a toss-up between Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Bossypants by Tina Fey. (I obviously have a soft spot for geeky and hilarious ladies.)

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Halloween candyyyy.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a proofreader/copy editor for an environmental consulting company, I'm a Hufflepuff married to a Slytherin, and I'm a Harry Potter megafan (which is to say, I am a breathing person). 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? The last readthon was my first, and I pooped out at around hour 19. This time around, I'm hoping to make it the full 24 hours. (It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, so there's lots of time for recovery.) I'm also going to allow myself to switch between books even if I haven't finished the one I'm currently reading. Also, more Twitter (both tweeting and reading), because that's just a good time.

Aaaand, go!

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Post Where We All Want to Punch Chip

It's time for another instalment of The Corrections Readalong! Check out the other posters and see if I'm right about this Chip thing (I'm right).



Let's jump right in, shall we?

I was not a fan of the first "chapter" or section thing, wherein Franzy tries to tries to earn the capital "L" in "Literature." There's a lot of talking for the sake of talking, using more words than necessary because those words are, admittedly, beautiful. So I do kind of like it, or I appreciate it, but if it weren't for this readalong, I would have walked away from the book. Which would have been tragic, because I would have missed Chip.

Oh, Chip. Chip is both Jonathan Franzen and, worse, Brian from Family Guy, with his script and his Mona turning into his protagonist's ex-wife's "diabolical lesbian lover."



By page 35 in my edition, Franzen had succeeded in making me hate Chip's self-pitying guts. I mean, he serves "retro joke desserts." He serves chocolate ironically



After reading about Franzy's dislike of consumerism and our over investment in technology, Chip really does seem to echo some of Franzen's actual opinions, and, after Chip hears Melissa's rebuttal on that last day of the semester, maybe even expresses some of Franzen's real doubts. But, if I'm following that course, Melissa must be a part of Franzen, too. I don't know, doesn't matter. And it doesn't matter because on the very next page Chip is eating chips with MAYONNAISE. Is that a thing? How have we allowed that to be a thing?

Then this happens: "He ate arugula ("rocket," the old farmers called it) so strong it made his eyes water, like a paragraph of Thoreau."



And then, suddenly, I'd read to the end of the section. It turns out I'm genuinely liking hating Chip this book. This is why you should always go into things with super low expectations.

Also, obviously Chip loves this Gitanas guy who looks exactly like him. Obviously he does.

Finally, The most important thing I learned during this week's section of the readalong is that someone left Chip a chocolate statuette of Michael Jackson.



I'm so happy we live in a world where that could be a thing.

And that's it! Here's your unrelated GIF of the week:



Thanks for hosting, Alley-kins.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Get ready for snack pictures


Books books books books books books! (Please read to the tune of Ani DiFranco's Up up up up up up. [Also, "Half of learning how to read / is learning what not to read." HAHAHA ANI DIFRANCO JOKES.])

The 24-Hour Readathon is this Saturday and I am super excited about it. I've got my pile of books ready, I'm in the process of hoarding snacks, and I have prepared my reading nest (I threw my Snuggie on the couch).



I'm even more excited about my books than my snacks, and that's saying something. Because eating is just the best.


In the queue, we've got
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • The Sky is Falling by Kit Pearson (comfort children's book for 3 am)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Bossypants by Our Lady Tina Fey
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Maus, Vol. 1 by Art Spiegelman
  • Locke & Key, Vol.1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez
It'll be a good day, is what I'm saying.

After the last readathon, I set out some bullet points as to what I'd do differently this time. Let's compare what I thought I'd do with what I actually intend to do.

  • As my kindly father pointed out, I need more snacks with energy-to-the-brain potential. Energy drinks, chocolate covered espresso beans, cocaine strong tea... Well, I've got coffee, Coke Zero, and a new box of earl grey, but I'd love some late-night snack suggestions.
  • Moranthology, a collection of article hilarity by Caitlin Moran, was just the right kind of book for a readathon. My excitement about it waned a bit by the end, though. Could be better to read a couple of pieces from a book like that (sideeyes Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls) between novels. I have Bossypants in my pile, and that might be a good breaker-upper.
  • Less spammy. I felt distinctly guilty about posting so much by hour 19, so in October I'll do one post with many updates. Also, probably not as many updates. Maybe multiple posts but fewer updates. Maybe I'm not sure on this one yet. MOAR SPAM. You guys were wonderful with your feedback, here, and I will go ahead and keep doing multiple posts, probably still hourly because why the hell not.
  • Audio books. I'd like to have an audio book (probably Bossypants by everyone's favourite Tina) on hand to listen to on a walk and while knitting or crocheting in the middle there, just to break things up. (Side note: must learn to knit or crochet by October.) And this is where I fail on all counts. No audio books, and still no fabric craft ability of any sort. But, I'm super accomplished in sitting still and looking at words on paper. Stick to what you know, I say.

I'm totally going to make it all 24 hours this year.