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A quick update from our neck of the woods:
Our final working pc is on its last legs, making very angry noises as I type. Please bear with me if posting is infrequent for the next weeks or so- we’re working on getting a new one, but it may be a couple of weeks before we’re back in business. *sob*
Some of you are amazing at posting on phones, and I wish I could count that among my skills. Know that I haaaaate being cut off from my online friends and am thinking of you constantly. Also I don’t think that I could quit Twitter and Instagram without a twelve-step program.
Cross your fingers that the Computer Fairy visits us very soon!
(The new job is going very well, btw. The timing of my departure couldn’t have been better, and I’m feeling like I’ve got my feet under me in my new role. I’m even adjusting to the earlier hours and longer commute. *gasp!*
In our time without a computer, we’re going to devote some of our time to continued nesting in the casa- the upcoming three day weekend is going to be fabulous for hopefully getting a couple of rooms painted. There’s something so refreshing about making a literal mark on your home and seeing it creep its way toward the vision you have for it.
Yeah, ask me about that again in a few days after we’re done painting and have aching arms and necks. I’m sure I’ll be all sunshine and butterflies then as well.
Also!! I am still delighting in my renewed association with the local library. We stopped on Saturday and I escaped with a treasure trove of FIVE books… I’m hoping that I’m not in need of another book-related intervention. Stay tuned for my review of “Seraphina”… [*gives computer deities the stink-eye*]Actually, don’t stay tuned. Read it NOW. You will NOT be disappointed.)
(End segue that was longer than the actual post *facepalm*.)
Plot Summary (from Amazon) : The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them
Soundtrack: “Song 2”~ Blur
This seems like the perfect track to ramp over a hoard of zombies on a motorbike to. ‘Nuff Said.
Best Enjoyed With: An Ice-cold Coke
WOW. Just WOW.
After reading the end of this book, I had to come in and share the whole thing with Army Boy, because I was having trouble wrapping my head around it. It was that powerful. Mira Grant proves that you can achieve a true horror novel with subtlety, and having some of the worst scenes happening “off-screen.”
Shaun and Georgia Mason are given the chance of a lifetime when they’re picked to be the media coverage inside the Presidential Campaign of Senator Peter Ryman. There are a few differences to our current political climate, however.
One: The country is overrun with Zombies. Scientists simultaneously developed a cure for the common cold, and one for Cancer. When introduced, those beasties mutated to bring about the apocalypse in the form of Kellis-Amberlee, a virus that causes the dead to reanimate.
Two: Due to number one, everything is done completely differently in the United States. Blogging has exploded as a viable form of news, because it’s frequently the quickest to pick up a potential story and run with it. No filters or network affiliations, just the truth. In a harrowing time, that’s exactly what people want most.
Sean and Georgia are two thirds of a blogging team (the third being their friend Buffy, fictional writer and tech-guru extraordinaire) who are chosen to present the inside scoop on Senator Ryman’s campaign. Little do they know, they’re entering dangerous territory even by daredevil Shaun’s standards.
I don’t feel like it’s too much of a stretch to compare this book to one of my post-apocalyptic favorites, “The Passage” by Justin Cronin. Mira Grant’s world is realized just as fully, and I found myself wondering what the characters were up to each time I had to put the book down. And oh the characters- Georgia is steely and super-saavy, even when diving into the shark-tank of politics. She’s my new favorite to join my zombie apocalypse Justice League of Awesome and Not Dying. (I so did not just make that up off the top of my head.)(Yes I did.) Shaun wouldn’t be out of place on an episode of Jack-Ass, and the other staff of After The End Times are brought to life just as vividly.
Through the course of the political campaign, you get a real feel for the changes that have taken place across the country. There are nods of humor (Georgia and Buffy [real name Georgette] are both named after George Romero, considered one of mankind’s heroes for preparing them for the apocalypse via his cinematic work. Apparently “George” was the new “Katie” after the dead started rising), some truly harrowing scenes with the infected and some intriguing descriptions of the various necessary technical advances. Grant also doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to picking off her characters, something that when done well can be incredibly effective.
If you’re looking to start a new post-apocalyptic series, and in the mood for some zombie mayhem, this would definitely be the choice for you.
Four and a half super savvy bloggers.
*-And seriously, after the coverage of the Olympics, can you blame it?
So… unless you live under a rock,* you’re aware that it’s come to light that Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson, her boyfriend of over three years, with the married director of Snow White and the Huntsman.
To which Twi-Hards around the world exploded into evil cheers of glee.
Both Kristen and said director, Rupert Sanders, have issued public apologies after being caught and photographed mid-indiscretion.
Aside from the obvious total awkwardness of the situation, there are quite a few things that, for me, just don’t add up.
First, WHO CHEATS ON EDWARD CULLEN?!?!?!?!?
Snarknaciousness aside, Kristen Stewart is really only “big” because of being cast as Bella Swan. She would have continued toiling away in relative obscurity if Catherine Hardwick hadn’t cast her in Twilight, opposite every woman’s vampire dreamboat. She then compounded that hand of awesome by dating Robert Pattinson. Unlike some of young Hollywood, they’ve been fairly private about their romance.
Suddenly, Kristen is off filming a movie in another country and decides that it would be a good idea to cheat with her married director? Whose wife and children are IN said movie?
You are a 22-year old actress on a movie set, and you can choose between Mr Directorpants and oh, I dunno… THOR.
You chose wrong, Kristen.
Likewise, you are a Horny Director with low self-esteem, and you want to cheat on your model wife. You’re on a movie set with Kristen Stewart and Charlize-Freakin’-Theron. Who do you choose?
Here’s a hint: “Kristen Stewart” is the WRONG answer.
Not only did they commit said indiscretion, but they got caught. And now both are publicly apologizing to their partners via the press. Whatever happened to discretion and handling family problems privately? Are the apology articles really necessary, and are they really going to save face by owning up to their dirty laundry in such a public forum? To reiterate, Kristen has gained the majority of her fame playing the lead role in a series targeted to teens and young women, and she’s publicly admitting cheating on her boyfriend with a married man. Damage control, methinks they’re doing it wrong.
At least Robert hasn’t been faced with the same type of temptation since the two started dating. He’s done a few movies, but not worked with any real hotties.
(And even if something did happen, he was discrete enough to make sure that the world never found out about it.)
Look, I don’t think any of us are naïve enough to think that Hollywood doesn’t get up to its fair share of fooling around. Unnaturally attractive people are thrown together for months at a time on a movie set, sometimes in extremely intimate circumstances. I’m a theater vet, I know these things. It can become very hard to discern the fine line between acting and real life sometimes, hence why show/movie set romances are so common. And lets not forget that though she tries to come off as worldly and mature, Kristen Stewart is a very young 22. (*checks for grey hairs*)
Just to recap:
And cheated with
DirectorPants could have cheated with
But chose to get all lip-bitey with
And the Cheese stands alone.
Lovely, Lovely Sparkly Cheese.
*Under a rock = have an actual life and are not sucked into tabloid gossip like some of us**
** Us = Me.
(images from Google unless otherwise specified)
Plot Summary (from Amazon): She is a single, twentysomething, gun-loving, Christian, Republican writer and blogger, the daughter of a Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee. He is a married, forty-year-old, gun-fearing, atheist, Democrat comedian, the son of a lesbian former Social Security employee. Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black barely know each other. But they are about to change the way politics is discussed in America.
Or at least the way politics are discussed in their crappy RV.
In America, You Sexy Bitch, Meghan and Michael embark on a balls-out, cross-country tour starting in California, the heart of liberal America, and ending in the state of Connecticut, the home of blue-blood Wall Street billionaires. Along the way, they visit such cultural touchstones as Graceland and Branson, party in Las Vegas and New Orleans, pretend to be Mormon in Salt Lake City (only for a second), and go to a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan. They tour the nation’s capital; they fire semiautomatic weapons. But mostly Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black talk to each other: about their differences, their similarities, and how American politics has gotten so divided.
Soundtrack: “American Woman” ~ Lenny Kravitz
This was an obvious choice, since it’s Meghan’s karaoke song and a fitting track to the mental image of their RV rolling across the country during a summer heat wave. Something about sweaty car seats just screams Lenny Kravitz to me.
Best Enjoyed With: Anything Alcoholic. Preferably a Bourbon Slush, because those sounded delish.
Let me start off by specifying that there will be more than one post on this book, because I flagged waaaaay too many quotes to be contained in one blog post. That said, this post is solely intended as a review of the book as a whole.
One night, Michael Ian Black decided to check Twitter after taking an Ambien. While not the most common recreational activity, this enabled him to pitch a book idea to Meghan McCain: Let’s take a cross country road trip to talk to Real Americans about politics and the state of our country. To his surprise she accepted, and this book was born. Spawned. Created… whatev.
A great deal of this book challenged my perceptions of the main political parties in this country, though I can’t say that I will necessarily change the way that I perceive my own affiliation. I certainly understand more what the two parties’ ideals are, and I found the juxtaposition in the last chapter to be fascinating- Meghan McCain, Republican, heading off to a new life in the city, and Michael Ian Black settling back into his lovely home in the suburbs. It just emphasized that certain people are drawn to particular lifestyles, regardless of what the stereotypical “affiliation” of that lifestyle may be (ie the wandering free-spirited Democrat or the nuclear family-centered Republican).
I greatly admire Meghan McCain for what she is trying to do for the Republican Party, moving them away from the radical and updating their image to appeal to a wider range of people. She’s an ardent patriot, staunch in her belief that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. She’s also a woman in her 20s, dealing with the scrutiny of being in the public eye from a very young age. She’s also brassy, sassy, and lays it ALL out there. She’s a walking contradiction- a voice of the young Republican party who is a supporter of gay marriage and believes the government should stay out of women’s girlybits. But why should that make her a contradiction? She states multiple times that she sees the world in shades of grey, not black and white, and that is EXACTLY what we need in politics right now. I also desperately want to put on some slutty heels, drink some whiskey and listen to country music with her. (Only if she keeps her hands off my girlcrush, Jennifer Nettles.)
(Hear that, Meghan? Call me! *wink)
Michael Ian Black comes off as being a bit more distant, at least to me. He is the cynical observer, making note of the reactions of those around him. To that point, when he does experience a strong emotional response, the reader pauses and takes note. He is actually extremely responsible and respectful of what they’re trying to accomplish, making him the surprising “straight guy” among the RV crew.
They definitely accomplished a trip through an interesting cross-section of America- trekking through the southern US and hitting such notable destinations as Memphis, Nashville, Austin and NOLA. They made a point of travelling both to Salt Lake City and the Muslim capitol of the US, Dearborn, Michigan. Their journey concludes in Washington, DC over dinner with Senator John McCain himself, and provides a unique look at the current emotional climate on Capitol Hill. My only gripe with their journey was that I actually felt that some of the more liberal states were under-represented. That’s entirely a personal opinion, but I would have liked to see a visit to the Pacific Northwest, or perhaps to New England (which traditionally swings more liberal and where gay marriage is legal in a number of states).
I’ve read some criticism of this book as being an overblown road trip, just a series of vignettes mostly taking place in bars. However, I do think that Michael and Meghan set out and accomplished exactly what they were aiming for- they proved that two polar opposites could spend an extended period of time together and foster an open, honest dialogue about the state of American politics right now. No, they’re not going to save the world or fix global warming. That’s not what they set out to do.
I admit, I found myself wondering toward the end if the book would get to the point, and Michael knocked it out of the park for me on page 295:
“My cynical view on our nation is simple: we’re fucked. Before leaving for the trip, I thought our current fuckedness was a temporary aberration… But after diving deeper into our problems, I realized that America has some serious, perhaps fundamental, troubles.
If you start to talk about healthcare, for example, you have to talk about the poor. If you talk about the poor, you have to talk about jobs. If you talk about jobs, you have to talk about globalization….and pretty soon you’re not talking about anything because you’re talking about everything. Each issue is so hopelessly entwined with every other that they’re like a ball of yarn the cat’s gotten into.”
That, my friends, is it in a nutshell. That’s what makes it so difficult for us to have a civil political dialogue at this point in American history- everything is so interrelated that it’s difficult to choice one point of discussion without inevitably offending someone’s view on a related topic. YES. Michael and Meghan proved through their trip that it CAN be done, as long as we all seek to dig deep for understanding and turn off our egos.
Perhaps most striking to me was the book’s (perhaps unintentional) comparison of Meghan McCain to America. Sometimes they’re both a sexy bitch. Sometime’s they’re both a hot mess. But America has always been one to go her own way, and nobody is a better example of that than someone who is attempting to blaze a new political trail. Meghan is a die-hard patriot, and America needs someone like that in her corner for future generations.
This book certainly made me laugh, made me think, and made me dog-ear more pages than I’m proud to admit.
Four and a half out of Five Stinky RVs.
*Disclosure: I received this book from in exchange for an honest review and participation in Mandy’s Blogger Book Club. Many Thanks to Mandy for this experience!*
As I’ve said before, I’m not going to review this series- they’ve been around for a while, and have been reviewed and awarded by far more literary types than myself. That doesn’t mean I’ll miss the opportunity to write a good reaction post to the story, however. Also I feel the need to justify where my literary brain has been for most of the month of June and why I failed miserably at my “British Monarchy Month.” The damn Catholic guilt, it gets me everytime.
You know what I REALIZED?! That this is my blog? And I can make the summer “British Monarchy Summer” if I want to?! So, in honor of
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee The Summer Olympics, we will keep reading all of the books about those crazy Brits.
The third book in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series picks up as the events of the second book conclude, some of the scenes happening simultaneously. I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, since manymanymany people are following the superb HBO series, and this book is reportedly going to be broken up into Seasons 3 and 4. I had the pleasure of doing a semi-read-along with one of my coworkers, and to be able to discuss the plot twists of this installment was probably vital to my sanity.
The fantasy element of this series is growing steadily with each successive novel, but it still falls within the realm of “accessible” fantasy. There aren’t any names that are ridiculously hard to pronounce, nor is the reader subjected to long conversations in made-up languages. Yes, there are A LOT of characters, some of whom share duplicate or similar-sounding names (Such as Robert Arryn, Robb Stark, and Robert Baratheon). Most of these are presented in context and fairly easy to differentiate between. (The damn Freys on the other hand… Walder, Walda, Fair Walda, Fat Walda, Black Walder, Walton, John Boy, Mary Ellen…)
Many of the characters have been traversing the land of Westeros, either on battle campaigns or searching for family members. Arya Stark is having the worst time of the bunch, being passed off between various groups who wish to ransom her. This is the first book where we see Martin having fun with the reader, playing around with his characters’ journeys in such a way that you want to scream at the book in frustration. Examples of this include Arya and Gendry arriving at an inn that Jaime and Brienne left just days before, and Bran Stark and Jon Snow being within the other’s line of sight and not managing to connect. The plot is a veritable tapestry, the story threads woven together so intricately that it’s almost impossible to explain why a scene is so vital without explaining multiple scenes before it.
Speaking of characters, Mr Martin was on my Shit List multiple times throughout the story for crafting such a delightful cast, allowing me to get attached to them and then systematically KILLING THEM ALL. There were times that I seriously questioned who the next two books were about, because the cast has shrunk that drastically.
The other aspect of the book that I absolutely cannot praise enough is the complexity of each and every character that inhabits the story. There are very few absolutes among the cast- not many are inherently good or positively evil. As we spend time in the heads of the point of view characters, we get a much better understanding of their motivation, making who we decide to “root” for throughout the story that much more complicated. I personally hated seeing the cause of the Lannisters succeed in any way, but still couldn’t help myself from wanting to support Tyrion and Jaime. I’m still firmly of the belief that Tyrion Lannister is one of the best-written characters in literature right now, and hearing Peter Dinklage’s dry delivery in my head each time he speaks a line only serves to enhance the experience.
That said, there were some plot lines that were slightly draggy (Sam and Bran, I’m looking at you), and some characters that I enjoyed reading less than others. The intrigue is constant, and just when you believe you’ve figured out exactly what happened two books ago, Martin throws another twist in there to put you off balance. This is a true epic in every sense of the word, and I can’t wait to revisit Westeros and its inhabitants in the next book.
Book Summary (From Amazon):
When Will Besting approaches Fort Eden for the first time, he knows something isn’t right. With more terrifying secrets at every turn, he discovers a hidden fear deep inside himself, a dark mystery a thousand years in the making, and the unexpected girl of his dreams. But can he save everyone from the dangers of Fort Eden before it’s too late?
Soundtrack: “Pour Some Sugar on Me”~ Tom Cruise
This seems that it would be a logical addition to the mp3 player tucked into Will’s backpack, which featured other classic hits. Plus, Tom Cruise, who would be right at home in the freaky atmosphere of Camp Eden. Because, yanno. Scientology.
Will Besting has been sent to a remote wooded retreat with a group of six other teenagers. All of them have crippling phobias that their therapist has deemed untreatable, and all are willing to take one last chance on a cure. From the moment they’re dropped off in the middle of nowhere, Will’s “spidey sense” kicks in, leading him to abandon the group and run off into the woods.
The story is entirely told from Will’s point of view, as he hangs back and plays observer to the events that transpire at Fort Eden. He manages to sneak into one of the outbuildings, which affords him a unique view of the “cure” process that the other teens are experiencing. What he sees makes him seriously doubt whether they were brought to the isolated fort for their own good, or for some darker purpose.
Oh Dark Eden… you showed such promise. I’d heard good things about you, really. It’s very possible that ANY book that had to follow in the wake of Divergent and Insurgent would prove to be a let-down, but I really had trouble forcing myself to care about any of the characters and the eventual outcome. I almost ended up giving the book a DNF, but figured that it was short enough that I should power through to the conclusion.
In some ways I’m glad that I did that, because there were some unexpected twists that I definitely didn’t see coming. The exploration of the teenage characters, who were basically textbook teen personalities and could easily have been anyone, and their fears was pretty interesting from a psychological point of view. Seeing the correlation between their crippling fears and what had actually CAUSED them as fascinating, and the cure process is truly what kept me turning the pages to the end.
Will’s point of view is extremely clinical and bland, and I had an extremely difficult time getting attached to him as the narrator. His observation of the whole process is dry, and mostly self centered, except for totally random bits of romantic attachment for one of the other characters. I was able to call out one of the novel’s big twists about halfway through, which definitely dialed back some of the emotional impact on that reveal.
I think that Patrick Carman waits a bit too long to spring the “big reveal” on the reader, perhaps leading to the apathy that I felt for the plot itself. Everything is explained in a series of appendices, which are beautifully thought out and contain some stunning symbolism and wonderful literary references. The “good doctor” Rainsford is deliciously twisted, and I would have loved to get a taste of it earlier in the story.
But THEN?! Just as I was willing to finish the story feeling satisfied, guess what Carman had to go do to me?
That’s right, gang. It’s the FIRST OF A SERIES.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. This book falls squarely in the camp that should NOT be continued in future installments, because we are basically told all that we need to know in the epilogue.
Pet peeve city, up in here.
Two out of Five Cliff Bars.