Saturday, June 30, 2012

I will be back....

On Monday!

Hey everyone! I'm not dead, but a guy with bath salts did try to eat me.*

To explain: I've been training for a new position at work. Wahoo! more money for books!

Even though the 4th of July is next week I'm still going to blog, because, well, I've missed everyone. I have a book review coming up, a new feature on Monday that should be fun, and a why the f*ck friday (which is already written, but I forgot to post it on Friday--I was not actually aware that yesterday was Friday).

Unnecessary cat picture.
See you guys on Monday and be good people.

*Too soon?

Friday, June 22, 2012

why the f*ck friday (8)

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. This week it's "Why the f*ck aren't you reading?"

This is one of those far reaching questions that we ask ourselves every once and a while. Mine normally pops up during summer. "What are you reading this summer, Adam?" My answer: "Beer bottle labels." 

So why the f*ck haven't I been reading. The truth is that I am reading. I am not one of those people who exclaims "Oh I love reading, I just never have time." That person deserves a-smackin'. I have a passion for books so I find the time.

Between summer activities and overtime at work my days are spent reading Cat Girl's Day Off (ironic title for a guy who's working overtime every day) on my Kindle or on my Kindle app on my phone. I also keep a book at my desk should any of these devices fail on me. So really, there's no excuse for me not to read. It's just that I've slowed down with my reading recently.
This is actually my current cell
phone background.

So if I can't find the time why can't other people? I know a mother who absolutely loves to read but only three books a year. And only if she's seen the movie first. I know a guy who loves to read history books, but knows more about Ancient Aliens than actual history writers. The excuse is always the same: I don't have time.

With apps and physical books there are no excuses. A person can spend 15 minutes in a line at the grocery store (or use one of those stupid self-checkout machines) and get a lot of reading done, or they can stand there and browse Facebook and hit refresh over and over again.

I'm guilty of the Facebook time wasting shit. I go out on a quick break, determine to read, and I get sucked right into Facebook. I check one status. Then another. Then I go back and check again. I have no idea why. It's also obsessive compulsive. The entire time my brain is screaming at me "You could be reading that book on your phone you like..." and I'm ignoring it. 

Of course, reading is not a passive activity. It's mental. It takes focus. Sometimes our focus is less than it should be. I left my keys in my front door last night. I then spilled coffee on my carpet. Then I ate a burrito (half of which has been sitting on my kitchen table for an entire day now). 

Right now I am too tired to read but I have the time. It comes in little spurts. It comes after a midnight burrito or a really intense workout. But it's there. So what the f*ck is your excuse?

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. You can even tell me to f*ck off and then buy me a coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.


Note: I apologize for things slowing down here. It's summer and I am extremely busy at work. This blog is low down the priorities list, not first, that would just be too stressful. I also apologize if my thoughts aren't coherent in this WTFF. I'm writing it at 5am in the morning after getting four hours of sleep. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

why the fuck friday (7)

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. This week it's "Why the f*ck did you just tell me that?"

I'm having a bit of a crisis this week. I think everyone has that person in their life that recommends a movie, or a book, or anything really, and asks a follow-up question: "Have you reached the part yet where Blank dies?"

So this week's question why the f*ck did you just tell me that? relates to some peoples abilities to ruin a series or a book for you by telling you a plot detail by asking a question. I've tried--my entire life--to understand how f*cking dumb these people are to ask those sorts of questions. I've also tried--my entire life--to understand how to respond when this happens.

The Following in a Conversation About Season Two of HBO's Weeds:

Me: Hey dude! I'm finally on season two of weeds! Thanks for letting me borrow the DVDs. Coworker: Cool! Has Uturn died yet?
Me: Who's Uturn? 
Coworker: You should already be on that part.
Me: Huh?
Coworker: Oh wait. That's season three.

I've had plenty of instances in my life where similar things have happened. I've had the endings of various movies ruined for me because of loud conversations that I walk in on, I've had books ruined for me because of comments on my blog, or because I've borrowed said book and the person is so excited that I'm reading that they ask me "Have you reached the part where they finally hookup?"*

These kinds of questions are a huge problem: enter the solution!

The Solution to a Conversation About Season Two of HBO's Weeds:
Me: Hey dude! I'm finally on season two of weeds! Thanks for letting me borrow the DVDs!
Coworker: Cool! Are you at the part where Uturn dies yet?
Me: Fuck you. Here's your DVDs back.

Or, The Solution to a Conversation About Season Two of HBO's Weeds II:
Coworker: How far along are you?
Me: Nah nah nah nah nah nah. Not talking about it. Nah nah nah. (hands over ears).

I've actually done the hands over ears thing before. Which I think is acceptable. I also now believe that it's acceptable to call that person out. Gone is the awkwardness of before. If people aren't going to keep their mouth shut, or ruin the plot twist, I'm going to point it out to them.

Save your commentary
for after I finish the book.
I'm also going to point out that their telling me those things has stopped me from watching the show or from finishing the book for an extended period of time.

But really, I've found the easiest solution has been to keep my mouth shut about what I'm watching or what I'm reading. It makes it much harder for people to ruin things for you that way. Of course, there's always that person in the breakroom discussing The Avengers in detail.

Tips/Etiquette to Not Get Stuff Spoiled for You:
  • Don't mention which show you're currently watching. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
  • You're allowed to shut the person down if they bring up the show. Especially if they've ruined something for you before. "I don't want to talk about it. No. I don't want any part of it ruined."
  • Tell other people you want them to stop talking about the book/show. "Can we not talk about this? I don't want it ruined." YOU ARE ALLOWED TO ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO DO THIS.
  • Don't start a blog. 

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. You can even tell me to f*ck off and then buy me a coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.

*I've also had Vampire Diaries ruined for me. Thanks Beth! Yes, I'm calling you out because you knew I was on season one of the show yet you told me which character dies.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

City of Ashes - a review (kind of)

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #2)
Cassandra Clare
464 pages

I'm going to go ahead and spout this out real quick: your two main characters (Jace and Clary) are both Shadowhunters (angels who kill demons) who might be brother and sister and are in love. The bad guy (Valentine) is their father. The secret subtitle to this book is It's a Jerry Springer Christmas.

There's also a secret homosexual warlock relationship. More flying motorcycles. Invisible buildings. Monsters. Etc. It gets more odd than that, though.

Everyone is related. Through demon blood, through adoption, through DNA; everyone is family. If you're not related you're linked by magic. Not only that: everyone is attractive. Everyone! There's not a single ugly person in this book. It must--excuse this lame joke--run in the family.

We've also got a bad guy that's logical. Valentine is logical. I found myself wondering the entire book why he was the bad guy. Let's get a list going of things Valentine wants to do:
  1. Destroy all demons.
  2. Protect the Earth by turning all humans into Shadowhunters.
  3. Stop his kids from banging.
WHY IS HE THE VILLAIN!? Why!? There's all these Hell Dimensions filled with monsters getting ready to spill over into Earth and all Valentine wants to do is create more demon fighting guys! Sure, he wants to destroy Idris (Home of the Shadowhunters) but those guys are assholes. And sure, he also wants to kill a few "people" (werewolves and vampires) to get the job completely done, but let's take note of what those demons do throughout the book:
  1. Vampires attack and eat someone.
  2. Werewolves attack and eat someone.
  3. Fairies make people dance to death.
There's an argument to be made for Valentine's plan. If the Shadowhunters aren't going to do something, then damnit he's going rogue and getting the job done.* I kind of admire that. I admire the bad guy. He's compelling. That's a good thing. What makes the best villain is the one that thinks he's right.

Once again I'm surprised by Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments. The books are--and I say this without hesitation--ultra easy to read and painfully cheesy. It works, though. Clare doesn't try hard to make her  Mortal Instruments serious. Her characters throw out one-liners and crack jokes, they reference movies and towards the end of the book there's an argument about Harry Potter

It's all so light and fluffy and eww and haha at the same time. I can't recommend it enough. It just fucking works.

*I'm almost inclined to believe that Valentine is George W. Bush and this entire book is an analogy for the Iraq war.


Friday, June 8, 2012

why the f*ck friday (6)

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. This week it's "Why the f*ck isn't there an etiquette to series books?"

I think Harry Potter is responsible for this one. Or even Percy Jackson. I'm not going to mention the one about vampires. Maybe it started a while ago and I didn't notice. Maybe it recently started: but every YA book is now expected to be a series.

You would think that so many series books are a good thing. It's not. Reading a series book is the same as committing to a relationship. It means you've committed to a second date, and sometimes a third. In the case of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments I've committed to four. And her Clockwork Angel series. 

I'm essentially entering into a relationship when I start a series. I've set aside time to read them. I've set aside time to think about them. I've spent my days stressing over when I get to see them again.

It can be a bit much when you're between Mortal Instruments, Knife, Shade, Delirium, Matched, Cinder, Legend, etc. Dividing time between all of them can be a hassle. And. Every. Day. There's. A. New. One.

What makes it worse is that recommending the first book of the series is actually recommending three books to that person. Is that fair? Could they give you three books to read in exchange? Is that acceptable? 

What if they don't like the first book? It gets tricky here. We either tell them it gets better in the second book or just admit failure and move on (hint: we always tell them the latter). 

"You didn't even finish book one?"
When it comes to not liking that first book it's an extra hard slap in the face. It's one thing for a friend to tell you they didn't like a certain book. But hand them a series they didn't like and all of sudden you're enemies. "You didn't even read book three!" 

"Of course I didn't read book three. The character was a slutty moron!"

I am proposing we develop an etiquette to recommending series books. We only really need one rule.

THE NO OBLIGATION TO BUY RULE.

The "No Obligation to Buy" rule means a number of things. It means the person reading the first book in a series should be borrowing it from you, not having to run out and buy it. If they want to buy it, fine, but if it sucks you're being blamed for a faulty purchase.

The "No Obligation to Buy" rule means that the reader borrowing the book is not required to invest in the series as a whole. They are not required to like the book. They are not required to read the second book if they like the first book. They aren't even required to finish the first book. Etc.

The "No Obligation to Buy" rule also applies to borrowing etiquette. It means that your friend can borrow the book/series for an undetermined amount of time. You are not allowed to b*tch about how long they've had the books. You are, however, allowed to ask how their progress is going (multiple times a week if you feel like it).

The "No Obligation to Buy" rule means that the person can outright refuse to read the series upon seeing the book covers. This part of the rule is helpful for the guys that would rather read a series on an ereader. Because some of those covers? Freakin' racy.

The "No Obligation to Buy" rule means that you need to contain your excitement. You are not allowed to be overly perky. This has psychological aspects to it as well. Don't allow yourself to get worked up. It means the possible let down won't be as harsh. "You didn't like it!? Why didn't you like it?"

The "No Obligation to Buy" rule also means that your initial question about the book is not allowed to be "Didn't you love it?" You should be asking "What did you think?" This applies to the perkiness part of this rule.

There we have it. One simple rule out in the open. People are not required to read series books just because you happen to like them. Hopefully this catches on.

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. You can even tell me to f*ck off and then buy me a coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Thirteen Reasons Why - a review

Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
304 pages


I hate myself for not reading book cover jackets. I really do. I sometimes skip entire reviews because I don't want to know what the book is about. This mind boggling condition has screwed me into reading several books with serious topics, and it never occurs to me that hey, this book could be about a serious topic.

Book jackets really ruin a lot of things. If the book jacket to Thirteen Reasons Why isn't read: you'll soon discover that it's about you-know-what-a-cide. It's a heavy topic book and not a lot of fun. It's about Hannah. Who mails out some tapes with thirteen people listed on them. Thirteen people who caused Hannah's life to be horrid. Clay receives these tapes. He spends his night listening to them. He's on the list, although he doesn't know why, because he's Hannah's crush.

The view point alternates between Clay and Hannah as Clay retraces Hannah's steps around their little town. What went wrong in Hannah's life? Why did Hannah take the you-know-what-a-cide route? Jay Asher doesn't really give us big reasons why Hannah decided to end-her-life-a-cide. He gives us small reasons that ultimately end up being big reasons. He calls it a "snowball effect".*

This book is more about social pressure and the large amount of it teens face every day. The pressure to conform. The pressure of your own reputation. The pressure to be perfect. The pressure to fit in. The pressure to be cool. Etc. Jay Asher leads us through a few of those motions. He does an okay job of it.

There aren't many reasons for me to not like Thirteen Reasons Why. It's a heavy topic book, but sometimes I read those and enjoy the message. Sometimes, though, there's a problem. Hannah was my problem this time.

Hannah's voice--the one coming through the tape deck--came across as nothing but angry. She was never solemn. She was never reserved. Although I am certain Jay Asher wrote some of her dialogue as quiet and reserved and contemplative; it never comes across that way. She. Just. Sounds. Pissed.

Which is fine. If what happened to Hannah happened to me I'd be just as pissed. Unfortunately the anger coming from Hannah comes out as much more revenging angel than it does distressed teen. It tends to--and here I come being controversial--glorify Hannah's story. Like a "Ha ha. I got you now you fuckers."

This is not a good idea. The social pressure? Acceptable. The tapes being passed from one person to another? I can find that semi-believable. Hannah's reasons for you know? Alright. Her anger? Justifiable. The message? Muddled.

It took me seven days to finish Thirteen Reasons Why. I kept picking it up and putting it down. I kept getting bothered by it but I couldn't figure out why. It finally dawned on me this morning--after I already had another review ready--that it's because of Hannah; her voice just isn't a good one.

The book's message might get lost in Hannah's angry voice but it's still there. And I'll still be thinking about Thirteen Reasons Why next week. Which is the point of a heavy topic book; I got the message, even if it was muddled.

*Or is it affect? I always get confused by the use of this word.
Side note: I also found out that I can't remember how to spell "thirteen" half the time.
Full Disclosure: I purchased this at Half-Priced Books.

Friday, June 1, 2012

why the f*ck friday (5)

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. This week it's "Why the f*ck are you so smug?"


This one is kind of the reverse of "why the f*ck do I have to care?" The question this week is why the f*ck some readers are so smug about their reading habits.

We're all guilty of our smugness (no one can be completely unsmug). So what makes readers feel superior to TV watchers or frequent movie goers? What does one form of entertainment have over the other? Not much, actually.

There are several lines that come from devout readers (I am guilty of one of these):

  • "I read the book first."
  • "I don't watch TV." 
  • "I'd rather read a book."

To which I respond (internally):
  • "I'm sure you read it first, but I don't care."
  • "I watch TV on my computer, so that's a false statement."
  • "Me too!"

Then there are those that are so smug that they absolutely must--must--talk about how crammed their apartment is with books. About how many they. Just. Have. As if book hoarding were some sort of virtue or art that mankind has lost over the ages and they're out to resurrect it. 

The Following is a Real Conversation:

Former Coworker: What are you reading?
Me: It's a science fiction novel...
Former Coworker: Oh I love science fiction! I have a bunch of books in my apartment.
Me: It's about cyborgs in love that time travel.
Former Coworker: I have about ten thousand books in my apartment.
Me: That's nice.
Former Coworker: I just like having full shelves. I love having so many books. How many do  you have?
Me: I'm not sure? 200?
Former Coworker: I have way more than that!

While this former coworkers is very proud of her collection (that I do not see the point of) I'm wondering if her cantankerous attitude has been noticed by other readers. I pointed out to her at a later date that there isn't much of a point to having so many books if she wasn't going to read or share them. Her response: "I'm not a library." Then why tell me about your books?*

There also continues to be this issue of people who think reading makes them superior to others. It might make you smarter, but it is by no means an indicator of intelligence (see: former coworker). While we can learn from books: we can also learn from video games, movies, The History Channel, Animal Planet, etc.

I really contribute this week's WTFF to a few rogue readers or book collectors that smug up the universe for the rest of us. That make us appear as if we think our chosen form of entertainment is superior over any other. I am aware that previous WTFF are full of reading complaints and complaints about readers who don't read, but never would I be smug to someone about books to their face. I have more tact than that. Obviously. I'd do it behind their back first. 

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. You can even tell me to f*ck off and then buy me a coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.   

*The extra fun part was when she couldn't remember who wrote them or what they were about. 

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