Books I read so far this year that you should read or not read, or do whatever, what do I know.

Friday, June 29th, 2012

You see the link over there, in the blog crouton, to Princess Nebraska? One of my favorite kind of posts that Elizabeth does is when she lists all the books she’s been reading and does a really brief summary of her opinion of them. Not even really what the book is about or anything, just what she thought of them. I like that. I don’t care what the book is about. Well, I care, but all I want to know from a person is if you liked it or not. If your opinion makes it sound like something that I also might like, I am perfectly capable of going and reading the summary. Then, I combine your like or dislike with the summary I am perfectly capable of locating on my own and use that combination to decide if I want to read the book.

Basically what I am saying is that I hate book reviews that start out with, “This book is about…,” and also that I like Elizabeth and I’m pretty much modeling this post off of her style and I wish all book review blogs would, even though that is not practical, as much as it makes sense to ME that the world conform to my needs. But really, I do subscribe to a bunch of book review blogs, and what I do is read the title of the book, the genre of the book, and then scroll down and read the rating of the book. If it’s good, I look it up on Goodreads, and if it looks interesting, I add it to my list. Elizabeth cuts out a lot of scrolling for me. I like Elizabeth.

Anyway, I set a goal to read 130 books this year. The year is half over and I’m not half done, so. We’ll see, eh? (All titles link to Goodreads pages)

1. The Forgotten Garden – I think this was one of those books where if someone had been secretly adding pages on to the end when I wasn’t looking, I probably wouldn’t have noticed and would have gone on reading happily for one long ass time before I was like, wow, it’s 2015, I am one hell of a slow reader.

2. Gathering Blue – The second in The Giver series. I guess I read The Giver in 2011. Middle grade isn’t for me. I felt like I was supposed to like it.

3. Messenger – The last of The Giver trilogy. I didn’t really get a boner for the trilogy as a whole, and I definitely had a limp noodle for the ending. Finished out of obligation. Though I can see why if I had read these at the appropriate age I might have held some fond memories for the three.

4. Speak – This book can go right the hell to hell. I get that it’s dealing with an important subject, and I get that everyone deals with trauma differently, but I swear to pete, the main character is the least sympathetic female in the history of ever, and I hated her stupid face. AND? AND? Some of the most ridiculously unforgivable authorial bullshit shenanigans, the author’s authory fingers should be TAKEN AWAY. “fizz ed?” “toolz eye kan yooz?” WHY? WHY? WHY DID THAT HAVE TO HAPPEN? WHY WAS THAT A THING THAT HAPPENED IN THIS BOOK?

5. Pretty Little Liars – Okay, I don’t really remember much about this book, other than that it was fast and fun and that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

6. Flawless – Second book in the series. It wasn’t as good as the first one, but kept my interest in following the series.

7. Unwind – This was the book that made me need to add a “conflicted” tag to my bookshelves. I don’t know if I liked it, but I don’t know if I disliked it. I don’t think I liked it or disliked it. I… neither. I liked it. I didn’t. I don’t know. I’m not unhappy that I read it. I do know that this book made my mind go down thought paths that I consciously needed to stop. Like, WHOA THERE, BRAIN. LET’S JUST END THAT TRAIN RIGHT THERE. CABOOSE THAT. Parts of this book were quite disturbing, and will force you to think about some disturbing things.

8. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – What in the hell even? I don’t even? I can’t… is this real life? Does this book exist on this plane of existence? Of all the convoluted bullshit… once again, fine sirs, I don’t even.

9. If I Stay – I have literally zero feelings about this book.

10. Hate List – It feels weird to say I enjoyed a book about a school shooting, but there you go.

11. The Midwife’s Confession – This book was kind of Picoulty. I mean, it’s basically a Picoult in different author’s clothing. I personally enjoy a nice Picoult.

12. The Art of Fielding – High fives all around. I was just so FRICKIN’ DELIGHTED by this book. Probably the best thing I’ve read this year.

13. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – Frankie is one irritating whiny bitch. And for someone who is so determined to show that girls are just as good if not better than boys, she sure does spend a lot of time and effort working for male attention and approval.

14. Angelfall – This book was good. But it was dark. And I don’t mean, like, Voldemort kills Cedric, shit just got real dark, I mean like mutilated experimental cannibalistic zombie children with razors for teeth dark. Like, whoa, I am reading this through cracks of my fingers dark. I liked it!

15. Poison Study – I enjoyed the shit out of this book, but you know what REALLY stands out? Bad hairstyles. I mean, REALLY BAD. Read this book, and pay attention to the way hair is described. God awful. You will have to make an effort to substitute in your own hair ideas.

16. Perfect – The third in the Pretty Little Liars series. They remain quick, entertaining reads that have kept me interested.

17. Unbelievable – The fourth in the same series as above, which can now fuck right off.

18. Wither – A crappy cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and The Truman Show with writing that I did not enjoy. Yet I will probably read the next in the series. And hate it.

19. Private – Book about bitchy cliquey chicks at a private school. It was nothing like the Caitlin books but it made me want to reread the Caitlin books.

20. Ready Player One – Fun! For nerds! And other people, I GUESS. You should read it. It basically ruled. Frickin’ delightful.

21. Now You See Me – Irritating. The main character/narrator figures things out, but doesn’t share with the reader. Uh, then don’t be the narrator. Half-assed hints toward a romance that never develops. Tenuously-woven, really thin plot, and everything was just so CONVENIENT. And the “twist” was just annoying because I was ready to be finished and it just made the book LONGER.

22. Under the Never Sky – I don’t know. I guess I’ll read the next one. I think this is one of those “first book in the trilogy” things that is kind of neutral in terms of hate or love and just kind of lays out the rest of the series. Also, why is everything a trilogy?

23. I’ve Got Your Number – I want to go back in time and read this on a plane and then just leave it in the airport. Also, I hated the lead female. Shut up.

24. The Scorpio Races - I recognize that this is probably a good book, but I didn’t like it. Does that make sense? Too bad, review it yourself, then.

25. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – This book is the exact reason why only John Green should be allowed to write teenagers because oh my god, fuck these two pretentious assholes.

26. Neverwhere – Maybe I should have picked a different Neil Gaiman for my first, because this book made me feel exactly like the main character in this book must have felt. Just kind of dragged along, bewildered, with no real clue about what was happening around me or why it was happening and just kind of wishing it would end and I would wake up in my own bed. Alone. Maybe with some cake.

27. The Fault in Our Stars – Oh, just fall in line and go read it.

28. City of Bones – I remain undecided on whether or not I will follow up with the rest of the series, but I found this one to be reasonably enjoyable.

29. Legend - Same as above. I read this one, I liked the set up. I liked the worldbuilding, I liked the two leads. I also am kind of just fine where this one ended, I’m not clamoring for the next one. But if I find myself looking for something to read, I’m not saying I’d kick the next one out of my Kindle.

30. Fifty Shades of Grey – The “inner goddess” thing was pretty intolerable. Otherwise, my sense of shame went on a permanent vacation once I cracked this one open.

Also, I have a pretty low tolerance for the whole, “ugh, I can’t believe people are READING that” shit, so take it somewhere else. Also ALSO, if you did read it and then did the whole, shrug, I don’t get the fuss thing, oh, shut up. Of course you get the fuss. Just because you don’t feel like MAKING a fuss, don’t act like you’re above even understanding why there IS a fuss. In shorter words, a lot of people have made themselves look like HUGE assholes over these books, and I have written down names on a post it note right here.

Anyway, I wish Ana wasn’t such a… I mean, come on. Who doesn’t own a cell phone? Who doesn’t Internet? Why does every female innocent need to not just be a virgin but also need to be like, completely shut out from the whole world ever?

31. Fifty Shades Darker – More plotty. It was kind of better than the first one.

32. Fifty Shades Freed – Maybe, if you’re okay with being a non-completest, you can just not read this one. There’s this one part, it’s kind of disturbing, when Ana is pregnant, and look, everything is ruined forever.

33. Hush, Hush – Oh, this was the worst. This was just the worst. What an ugly mess of a book. Don’t even. I mean, seriously. DO NOT EVEN.

34. Attachments – I liked this book. It was fun, and quick, and cute, and spoke to my old school inner nerd, and my only minor irritation was that it was one of those books where I felt like I was just supposed to ACCEPT that there was some kind of magnetic draw between the dude and the girl. I mean, there were two girls, and I didn’t even know which was the romantic interest until it was spelled out for me.

35. The Declaration – This book was… fine.

36. Ender’s Game – I want to go back in time to one day before I started this book so I can read it again, fresh.

37. Ender’s Shadow – Reading this book was almost as good to going back in time to one day before I started Ender’s Game and reading it again fresh.

38. 11/22/63 – I really loved this book, except could happily have done without huge parts of it. Like, all of the parts that were part of the plot. I just want to read about time traveling back to the 50s and living there. I’ll read about that all day long.

39. A Monster Calls – This book can shut the fuck up. I wish I owned a real copy, I’d tape it shut.

40. Insurgent – I was bored. And Tris? Why, Tris? Why?

41. Bitterblue – If you haven’t read Graceling and Fire yet, you should. And then read Bitterblue. I’ve seen some complaints that Bitterblue was kind of unnecessarily long, but I disagree. I could have read Bitterblue forever. I will read a billion books set in this world.

42. Fair Coin – Okay, stuff happens because science. And then some people die, and that’s unfortunate, but it’s okay, because it’s not us. And suspense, used in a really annoying, boring kind of way. Hate.

43. Magic Study – This is the book that comes after Poison Study, which I loved. Magic Study was actually kind of bad. Which was surprising and sad. But I held out hope. There was a lot of that “ONLY I CAN HANDLE THIS SITUATION!” type crap which, in the framework of the world, makes ZERO SENSE. And also a lot of convenience. Like, “Oh yeah, and suddenly I have this power. And in this situation my power also does this. And… oh yeah, I have this magic.” Disappointing.

44. Fire Study – YET I PERSISTED TO THE THIRD BOOK. You guys. Read Poison Study. It’s great. AND THEN STOP. Life is too short for shitty books.

45. Bared to You – A little convoluted, a lot dirty. Another female lead who solves her problems by storming off, another male lead with a damaged past, another couple brought together by lots of sex, but at least these two wipe down afterward.

46. The Selection – This book is supposed to be like The Hunger Games combined with The Bachelor, which sounds REALLY FREAKING AWESOME until the author ruins it with the worst female lead I have read in a thousand years. It’s like she tried to write a Katniss but accidentally Bella Swanned her.

47. Unwanted - I was seriously really enjoying this book until the end, until the “twist,” which was a bit of an unconventional kind of twist, but not in the kind of way that you’re like, “Oh, that was innovative,” but more in the kind of way that you’re like, “Oh, fuck you then.”

48. Cinder – This was okay. It just didn’t grab me like it seemed like it was supposed to. I didn’t get sad, or feel the righteous fury at the injustices, no suspense even though I could see I was supposed to. The male lead was uninspiring, the female was meh and I couldn’t pull for her. Maybe this was a laying the groundwork book. We’ll see.

49. When You Reach Me - This one went quick. I guess it was fine. I don’t really have particular feelings one way or the other.

50. Backstage Pass – There’s actually a good story under all the filth. I liked Myrna, and it was nice to read about a mature female lead in one of these trash books. Also, hint: backstage means butts.

51. Rock Hard - Far fetched, filthy and emotionally manipulative, just like a lady likes.

52. Thoughtless – If you can put aside the fact that the main female character has not been developed with any sort of characteristics except for the fact that she’s terrible, this is a good trashy romance.

53. Effortless – The follow up to Thoughtless, which you will want to read because you will be in love with Kellan Kyle, but too bad for you, because I already dibbsed him.

54. Love Unscripted – Yeah, I’ve been on a trash streak, and I point my shame finger straightly at Jonniker, but mostly I have no shame. I liked this, and you will, too. It will allow you to imagine your eventual and inevitable whirlwind romance with Ryan Gosling.

55. Across the Universe – Another one that will make you think thinky and somewhat disturbing thoughts. I don’t know if I’ll pursue the series. It depends on how many thoughts I’m prepared to have.

56. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain – I mostly do not usually end up liking celebrities books, not because I find them shallow or anything like that, I’m just not a big non-fiction writer. I actually ended up kind of liking this one, but skip the epilogue, it gets preachy and ruiny.

57. Everlost – Ooooh. I love a well set up alternate world, with good rules that are stuck to and all thought out and logical. I will read this whole series. Unless the next book sucks. Then I will probably still read it, but with a scowl.

 

Monster feet vs butt.

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Failing NaBloPoMo on the first day really takes the pressure off for the rest of the month.

*****

LET ME JUST GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY.

Penny was a duck/chicken (chucken?) for Halloween.

Do you love it? I love it. I love it so much that when we have her 6 month portraits taken this weekend, instead of being suckered into the “Holiday” backdrop they are pushing on me so hard, Penny is being a duck-chicken. A dicken. A 6 month old dicken.

*****

I haven’t done Penny’s 6 month post yet, but here’s a brief synopsis: she yells, she’s pleasantly fat, she can roll back to belly and shriek mightily once she arrives there.

She has a test at Phoenix Children’s Hospital tomorrow, one we fully expect to come up negative, but we like making her miserable, so we’re doing it anyway. You should just have us arrested. We’re terrible parents.

Don’t worry about Penny, though. She’s never had good parents, so she doesn’t know any better.

*****

You know, I haven’t been around here too much lately, and you know what it is? I’m enjoying spending time with my kid, which tells me that I’m finally starting to arrive in the time I’ve been looking forward to.

Noemi talked about this the other day, and I feel the same way – ending breastfeeding has really improved my relationship with Penny. Ending it was the right choice for us for a lot of reasons, and while I definitely don’t speak for everyone, it has really turned out to be extremely beneficial in a lot of different ways. The main one being, of course, that I actually ENJOY PENNY a hell of a lot more than I did previously.

With no struggling to feed her, no watching the clock for the pumping schedule, no washing pump parts, no waking up in the night to deal with any feeding-related activities — well, you know, it’s just better. Phil splits the feedings with me. I can leave the house without Penny and not worry about rushing back. I can leave the house WITH Penny and not wrestle with feeding her in public – like Noemi, nursing was never graceful or easy, positioning-the-baby-wise for me.

So, while I do believe that breast milk is certainly the best choice for a baby if it is available, not breastfeeding has been just about the best thing to happen to me since this damn wiener child was born.

*****

A few days ago, Phil accidentally left the lid of the washer up with our bedsheets sitting inside soaking in fabric softener. He asked me if soaking too long in the fabric softener would ruin the sheets, but I wasn’t sure – mainly because in my entire life I’ve caught the rinse cycle in time to add fabric softener about four times, so I don’t have too much experience in the field of softening.

He put the sheets on the bed and made up the bed for the one time it gets made each week and I didn’t noticed anything until the next day, when the blankets were pleasantly running amok and askew, as is my preferred state of the bed. On my side, right about there my butt usually is, the fitted sheet had a different texture than the rest of the surface. On closer inspection, it was full of tears, kind of like a run in pantyhose.

“So, it looks like the fabric softener did ruin the sheets. It really seems to have damaged the more worn spots – I’m pretty sure we’ll have to throw these out.”

“Oh, that’s where your butt goes. Your butt must have put extra wear on the sheets.”

“No way! My butt didn’t — wait, can that happen?”

(You’ll understand that here, of course, I had a moment of insecurity – see: double pear, Two Butt – and, okay, I had a bit of a gassy pregnancy, but not any more gassy than – okay, maybe SLIGHTLY more gassy than the average person, but could that really RUIN the SHEETS?)

“Yep. Your butt put a weak spot in the sheets.”

“WAIT a second. If you flip the sheet around, this spot is where your disgusting, scaly MONSTER FEET would be.”

“Oh. Huh. You’re right.”

“Ha!”

“But your butt finished them off.”

*****

I’m planning something and it’s kept me pretty busy lately, and I expect it to keep me busy for a while longer yet. I’m pretty excited about it, but as with everything I do and cook, there is still the possibility that it will all blow up in my face or otherwise go terribly wrong, so I’m not quite ready to share all the details here yet. If it appears that all is going to go well with my small test group, I will, of course, let the rest of you know about it. Once danger of explosion has passed.

I hope it works out, though. It’s one of those things that I talked about the last time I got around to writing something here. One of those things that you think is something that only other people do, but it suddenly dawns on you that you could do it to, if you wanted to. So, aside from the silly stuff like getting married and having a baby, this is inarguably one of the “biggest” things I have ever done. And if it goes wrong, it will be the biggest thing I’ve ever fucked up. And if it goes right, I AM A HERO.

Well, not a hero. More likely briefly, but SIGNIFICANTLY AND SINCERELY celebrated. Which is probably as close to hero as I will ever get, unless someone who weighs very little needs to be awkwardly rescued from an extremely and freakishly slow burning building and there’s really just no one else at all around who can handle it.