Friday, February 12, 2016

why the f*ck friday (21)

"Sometimes I just forget I'm a cat."
Welcome to my weekly meme post. I'll be asking myself a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "Why the f*ck am I unable to read with a beer buzz?"

So here's a quick question for anyone over the age of 21 (or whatever drinking age is legal in your country): do you find it difficult to read while intoxicated?

I have to admit, I love craft beer, and wine, and spirits, and mead, and... I don't go to meetings, but let's just say I like to get a little inebriated on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and have a Bloody Mary on Sunday morning.

I just have one slight problem. Sometimes I can have one beer and I'm good to go with my book. Sometimes I have three beers, I read an entire chapter, and I forget that chapter. I've lost a lot of time reading because of this.

I often see the phrase "write drunk, edit sober"* floating around writing communities and book blogs. I've tried this, it doesn't work. If anything it leads to me watching YouTube videos of someone more intoxicated than me making an ass out of themselves.

I'm creating a new phrase: book boozing. Or maybe booze booking. Or book blackouts to explain this phenomenon.

That's it for this weeks WTFF. I would like to hear about your experiences book boozing or book blacking out. Or just tell me what you like to drink with your books. Craft beer suggestions? Post it. Happy Friday!

*Ernest Hemingway said this. I always thought he meant write without inhibitions and then take a keen eye to your work.
Note: I don't drink as much as I'm letting on, but that cat up in the right hand corner of this post? Complete alcoholic. He's nice when he's sober.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Merchant of Death (Pendragon #1) - a review (kind of)

The Merchant of Death
D.J. McHale
384 pages

Sometime back in the early 2000s when Harry Potter hysteria was reaching its climax, and the first Gossip Girl book came out, and the last His Dark Materials book was released; a series of books was nudged in there without notice.

We've had our Percy Jacksons, our Hermoine Grangers, there's been a Gossip Girl, there's been hunger games and mazes and some questionable brother and sister plot lines, and an entire decade of books about a kid named Bobby Pendragon.

Now, you might ask yourself as I did when hearing about this series, who the f*ck is Bobby Pendragon? Is he a wizard? No. Is he battling an oppressive government? No. Well, okay, kinda. Does he have super powers? Kind of. Is he a vampire? No. This kid sounds as boring and plain as Vanilla Ice at a Butter Appreciation Festival.

But not really.

Let me slide us back to 1995. Back in those days there was a television show called, well, Sliders. About a group of people who slide into other dimensions like how Kayne West slips into a conversation; loudly and rudely, no matter how rude they're saying they aren't.* (the characters had a "no interference" policy with each reality, but somehow ended up screwing everything up by interfering).

So this Bobby Pendragon kid is a traveler. He's a Slider of sorts. He travels to other dimensions and times to territories that are on the verge of becoming extremely chaotic or all peaceful and Vulcan-like. Whatever. The book also switches between first person and third person, because Bobby is writing a journal and sending it to his friends on Second Earth (why we aren't First Earth is never made apparent)**. Whatever.

I have one serious question. Who the f*ck is Bobby Pendragon? How does a series of TEN BOOKS that were released between 2001 and 2010 completely escape my notice? You're telling me that in the decade of shopping on Amazon, of going to the library, of talking to other readers, of blogging, of going to bookstores that I've never heard of this kid?

It's not only that, I enjoyed the heck out of Bobby's adventure. There's mysteries of the universe to solve. There's badly used 2000s slang that we all regret using. He doesn't have an iPhone! He isn't concerned with Twitter or Facebook! He doesn't kiss girls, he macks on them. Macks. He macks them!

Seriously! He uses that word! Macks!

I think I'm a traveler. Or a slider. I think I've stumbled into another universe, one where Bobby Pendragon is a reality. One where my nostalgia for a simpler era of YA novels lives. I'm okay with that.

Three Out of Five Fucks Given
(Full Disclosure: I purchased this and read this on my Kindle)
*Universal Truth #1,592: The people who claim not to be rude are often the rudest. "I'm not a rude person, but your sweater totally doesn't match your pants." "Yes, yes, you are very rude for saying that."
**I wanted to chant "We're number one! We're number one!" the entire time, but apparently we're a huge number two.
Note: I apologize for any book history I might have messed up. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

why the fuck friday (20)

Welcome to WTFF. In which I attempt to answer a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. It's more of an airing of grievances. A place to complain. This week it's "why the f*ck aren't you reading in the park?"

I've come to realize that for the past few years I've had a consistent crutch I rely on. It isn't alcohol, it's not smoking, it's not that wacky stuff people in Gondor are enjoying. It's a series of three 20" by 20" squares in which I have spent a lot of time on.

It's my couch.

If you've been living in the eastern United States for the past several months, you know it's been more like, well, I can't think of a more original way to say frozen wasteland void of all color and emotion. Okay, how about this: it's been Antarctica but with traffic and no cute penguins. Just those pesky potholes.

This post is not about the weather. It's about realizing there are more places to read than there potholes in my street.

I have lived next to a park for several years. I've walked in the park. I've hiked the park. I know where they found that dead guy last year, and I can point out to you where everyone sleds when it snows (and can inform you that it's where everyone takes their dog to play, and is covered in dog crap--talk about skid marks).

I have never, ever, and for more emphasis I am adding another ever, ever read in the park until recently. Recently the sky cleared and the sun stuck his head out to say hello. It was about this time I realized that I had spent a majority of the past few months on my three squares of safety.

This, I said to myself, has to change. I grabbed my backpack, threw my Kindle in it, and headed for the hills (the one sans dog poop). What I experienced was nothing short of a revelation.

I was expecting loud children to distract me, for the local LARPERS spear throwing to interrupt my re-reading of, err, not a Chelsea Handler book. Or for the sun to burn me alive.

Instead my ass got sore from sitting on a rock for an hour. One glorious hour in which I was distracted by passing cars and walking old people, but for that one hour I got my vitamin D, enjoyed some Not Chelsea Handler, and got to take in nature in a way I had not experienced before.*

It's kind of lame that it took me this long to get there. I am sure plenty of people read in the park, but I've always been one for a coffee shop or a couch. I think, in the future, I might take a blanket so my ass doesn't get so sore. Or maybe I'll find a tree to avoid getting sunburned.

That's it for this weeks WTFF. I would like to hear about your experiences outside with a book. Is this a regular event for you? Where are you from?

*suprisingly enough, bird noises block out a lot of background noise.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Fifth Wave - a book review, Or She's Got Those Moves Like Jagger

The 5th Wave
Rick Yancey
497 pages

This book is about an alien invasion--which has been in movies, books, and songs since someone looked up at the sky and said "Someone out there is trying to kill us!"--so I'm not going to pretend like OMG this is such an original concept at all.

Humanity is removed from the face of Earth in a series of waves (not unlike the TV show Falling Skies). Not, like, water waves. We're talkin' waves of destruction, chaos, famine; Honey Boo Boo renewed for another season and cats and dogs living together. All witnessed by Cassie. Who is named after a constellation and is looking for her missing brother (which is not an over used plot element at all). She's survived the first four waves and is waiting on the fifth to kill her.

Cassie, though, she's tough as nails (not unlike other female teenage characters who are tough as nails and have dead parents). Until she meets some guy in a cabin and they start a-snoggin' (this is British slang for kissing). But is he one of THEM or is he someone else? Is there going to be another wave? Will she rescue her brother? Am I going to ask more questions than I answer in my first blog post of 2014? Yes.

"Welcome to Bel-Air."
So let's see: alien love story set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Yeah, still not original. Oh it's referencing Independence Day? Still not original. Why am I pointing out the lack of originality in Rick Yancey's book? Because its lack of originality works so fucking well.

What is right with The Fifth Wave since I'm unabashedly bashing it: it's paced really well. I couldn't put it down. It was boom. Then a big boom. Then a bigger boom. Then a BOOM! You know what I'm talking about?

Rick takes all the scifi cliches like the God Rod and parent death and "Welcome to Earth!" moments and ties them together into a singular thrill ride. A ride where half the time I was waiting for Rick to reference a movie or book or scifi cliche and then he did (you're my homeboy, Rick). It's a fast paced novel filled with nerdy genre references and it somehow works. I'm coming to terms with it.

Three Out of Five Fucks Given

(Full Disclosure: I purchased this and read this on my Kindle)

Side Note: Yes, there is one water wave. I forgot about it until after I wrote this post.. 
Extra Side Note: I have no idea how to review this book without spoiling it, but since everyone else has read it, I probably could. But hey, I'm a nice guy and the Internet is an archive and this is probably on a To Be Read Pile for someone somewhere. And if Google brought you here because you didn't know what to read next: you're welcome.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Shift - a book review, or Ghost Adventurers Gone Wild

Shift (The Shade Trilogy)
Jeri Smith-Ready
400 pages

It's been several months since I updated this blog and by proxy, a few months since I've read Shift. It's been almost a year since I read Shade. After finishing Shade I also stopped blogging for a few months. In both those times spans I also stopped reading young adult fiction.

This is not a coincidence.

If you have short term memory loss, as I do, you might remember that I didn't like Shade all that much. I even coined the term coitus spectrophilia (sex with ghosts) to describe it, and I believe I invoked The Holy Jerry Seinfeld "Ehhh. I'm out." quote.

So why the hate for The Shade Trilogy?

The very first book in the Shade series is about a girl trying to fuck her boyfriend (he's a ghost). The first part of this book--the sequel to Shade--is about the same girl trying to fuck her ex-boyfriend who is still a ghost but only sometimes. BUT it turns out ghost-fucking is hard, because you can't touch ghosts, so fucking them is a little difficult (also, said ghost has abs and a button-up shirt that's always open).

I have never had a complete "fuck this book" moment until Shift (and I have read the collected works of Ayn Rand). I am sure some of you are saying "But Adam, we need examples..." WELL BABY I GOTS EXAMPLES.
"Since ghosts are frozen in the happiest time of their lives, a lot of men appear in sports or military uniforms--or nothing at all. At least this one was wearing socks."
This is about the time I threw my Kindle in the microwave (I would've used the popcorn setting had this really happened). To further expand upon the quote: in this book people who die are frozen in time as ghosts--they appear as they were in the happiest moment of their lives.* Which explains the open shirtness, ab-ness of previously said Fuckable Ghost.

So let's examine--in nifty list form!--why this one part offended me oh so badly (Please note: this is only one example).
  • Not all men like sports.
  • Not all men like sex.
  • Not all men's happiest moments happened in bed or in battle.
  • You are generalizing men in the worst possible way.
  • You are generalizing girls in the worst possible way.

So wait wait wait wait is what you're saying at this point. It can't be that bad. You're making mountains out of molehills, Adam (I hate this third person speak I started writing in). LET ME BREAK DOWN THE CHARACTERS IN THIS FUCKING BOOK:

  • Logan - He died after taking cocaine. (He took cocaine so he could bang his girlfriend Aura).
  • Zachary - He just wants to bang Aura. (He even sets up a special date for her to lose her V-card).
  • Dylan - Wants to fuck Aura. (He's 16 but has banged sooooo many girls).
  • Aura - Our female lead, who, well, just wants to fuck three different dudes.
  • Logan's Other Brother - I remember nothing about this character.

The only male character who isn't out to game some ass is Zach's dad.

This is a serious book? This is what this author thinks about boys? And girls? This is the impression given to teenagers who read this book? I find this offensive. I never underline sentences. But here we are.

It seems the YA genre has gone in an opposite direction recently; it's gone anti-male, and it's something I've ignored up until this point. It's been pushing more boys away than its drawn in. The audience is predominately female now. It's gone rogue in the worst possible way. It's come to the point where reading these kinds of books is seen as girly. It's become a problem, and Shift has added to it.

I don't intend to touch on the plot of this YA novel any further. Or to delve into the topics I'm touching on here (someone else with better writing skills should attempt to articulate what I'm feeling). If I did it would look something like this:

It goes on to the absurd at one point: Aura, out to get some tail herself, is tasked with picking between a ghost, a Scot, and a 16-year-old. Throw in the popular girl and the best friend; everyone wants to fuck one another. Teenage romance has never been so polyamorous.

If you enjoyed this book? It isn't a bad judgement on you. I need readers to understand this: there is no such thing as a bad book. I honestly believe it. And Shift is not horrible. There is a such thing as an insulting book, though. And in this regard Shift is awful.

Basically, if I wanted to read a trashy romance novel I'd get one while I'm at the grocery store.

One Out of Five Fucks Given

Side Note:  Jerry Smith-Ready is not a terrible writer; I just don't jive with her male characters. I find them awful and generalized, if I were to ever meet her I would want to sit and talk to her about it. I would probably ask "So, you think having a penis means wanting to bang everything?"

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Scorpio Races - a book review, or My Little Pony Death Race

The Scorpio Races
Maggie Stiefvater
416 pages

This is a book about water horses. They are not called sea horses because that's something else entirely. These sea water horses are nothing like Snorks. They kill people. So what do the residents of Thisby Island do to contain the threat known as capaill uisce? They throw a horse race of course!

Which, you know, makes total sense. A deadly horse race so people can win money and fulfill their wildest fantasies. Which, for Kate Connolly (known as Puck) is to rescue her dilapidated farm. Not to, you know, move to the Mainland to escape the deadly threat of the water horses (are you with me so far?).

Sean Kendrick is out to be Sean Kendrick. He has a tortured past and a tortured soul and he wants to win the race so he can be free of his boss. Which is more admirable than saving a farm and NOT moving away from the threat of bloody beach horses.

I'm not even kidding. Half the time I'm reading this book I'm saying to myself "Why the fuck don't you just move?" And "Oh you found a dead sheep and your children can't go out after dark because they might get killed? WHY DON'T YOU MOVE TO A SAFER FUCKING PLACE?"

The answers border on the asinine: "Thisby is my home!" or "My heart is in Thisby and nowhere else!" The amount of Shell Shock a resident actually goes through while living on Thisby is mind boggling. Oh and everyone is poor and half the people want to move to the Mainland but don't. They want to sit in their homes located on mud holes and let the guy who runs the island treat them like third class citizens.

Which, you know, makes total sense.

So what did I like about The Scorpio Races? I love the way its written. I love the mythology of the island. I love that it's a unique subject in a genre that needs more uniquey-ness. Most might find the plot boring, but being a resident of Derby City; there's something about horses I will always find compelling.

Thisby is a bit like Sleepy Hollow; a unique story about a town's local legend, it's got a slow creepy chill to it, and it's a welcome change to an ever expanding genre. I'm okay with it. Except when the residents are completely oblivious as to how not to die.

Two Out of Five Fucks Given

Full Disclosure: I read this on my Kindle.

Side Note: Sean and Puck almost remind me of Dagny and Rearden from Atlas Shrugged. The two are extremely head strong, stubborn, and come across as self-righteous in the worst possible ways.

Friday, May 24, 2013

why the f*ck friday (19)

Welcome to WTFF. In which I attempt to answer a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. It's more of an airing of grievances. A place to complain. This week it's "why the f*ck are you following along with your finger?"

I blame elementary school for this one. I actually follow along with my index finger while I read sometimes. It helps me keep my place on the page and stops my googly eyes from jutting around the page.

It's actually why I prefer to read on the Kindle. I can enlarge the font, give the book more spaces, and jab my finger down on the screen. Granted, I don't do this with every book I read. Only the long-winded ones with small fonts, like fantasy or, well, fantasy. (I think this is why I have an issue with the genre).

It actually turns out--because no one is alone on the internet and everyone is actually a dog--that I am not alone. And it really turns out that everyone should be doing this.

This blogpost is about children using their fingers to keep track. This blogpost is about speed reading, and guess what's helpful in both instances? Using a tracker to keep your place.
Regression, back-skipping, and the duration of fixations can be minimized by using a tracker and pacer. To illustrate the importance of a tracker-did you use a pen or finger when counting the number of words or lines in above baseline calculations? If you did, it was for the purpose of tracking-using a visual aid to guide fixation efficiency and accuracy. Nowhere is this more relevant than in conditioning reading speed by eliminating such inefficiencies.

Basically: it stops me from back-skipping, it helps me keeps my place, and helps me be a more efficient reader. It can make everyone a more efficient reader, because it turns out everyone has to go back and re-read things their eyes have skipped.
The untrained subject engages in regression (conscious rereading) and back-skipping (subconscious rereading via misplacement of fixation) for up to 30% of total reading time.
Or maybe I just have ADHD and this is my way of keeping it under control.

Does anyone else keep track with their fingers? A bookmark? A single sheet of paper (I'm guilty of this when I get towards the end of a book I've really enjoyed)? Remember: no one is alone on the internet, and nobody knows you're really a dog.
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