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Auuugh okay, so my car needs 700$ of repairs in order to pass a safety inspection, and I need my car and do not have $700, so here's the deal.

I can read Tarot, edit stories, write stories, research things, make beadwork, and knit, to some extent. If any of these things sound appealing to you, drop me a line and we can work out a price for something you'd like. I'm thinking something like $5 for a Tarot reading, $1 per hundred words of written story, $1 per page of editing, something like that. Research, beadwork, and knitting will be much more variable because of the effort and complexity involved in the given task.

Please signal boost. I'd really appreciate it.


ETA: This has become quite a bit less urgent since I managed to arrange a temporary loan. However, I do still need the money and it's gone up to $900 (although thanks to some TRULY EXCELLENT PEOPLE I am already at $640, thank you guys SO MUCH), so this is still relevant.

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/399502.html. Please comment over there if possible.

State of the Me

Ugh, I have been so sick these last couple of weeks. This week I'm mostly better but there's still a lot of sore throat nonsense and so forth.

I have, however, been getting some things done! I'm almost entirely done with my share of our Housely Chore List (a bunch of one-time things that needed to get done; I just need to do some weeding and I'm finished. Plus I get STICKERS). I have also got rid of a good chunk of my to be read online list, got rid of a bunch of tabs, and kept up almost entirely with RainbowFic. Turns out being on your back ill gives you a lot of time to screw around online.

Fortunately I recovered in time for the BOOK FESTIVALS. This week also began the intensely busy portion of my life right now, with my teenagers on Thursday and some other things going on at work. Then yesterday was the NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL which was deeply awesome. I met a lot of cool people in line, and got some awesome people's signatures, and KATE BEATON DREW ME A FAT PONY GUYS GUUUUUYS. I HAVE A FAT PONY DRAWN BY KATE BEATON. She's severely awesome, for the record. I want to hang out with her and trash-talk the Founding Fathers.

I have also been listening to Going Clear in the car and guys, L Ron Hubbard is the worst. I mean. He's just the WORST, guys. Every time Lawrence Wright talks about something he's done, I think it's just the worst and that he can't do anything worse AND THEN HE DOES SOMETHING WORSE JESUS CHRIST. I'm considering relaxing my rule that my nemeses must be named Thomas just for him.

Anyway. How've you been, internet?

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/399213.html. Please comment over there if possible.

Other Worlds, Barbara Michaels

Someone on Barnes and Noble called this a "horror cozy," which is a description I kind of love, especially in the context of Other Worlds. This book is a pair of novellas describing two rather famous American poltergeist cases, the (inaccurately named) Bell Witch and the Stratford haunting. The novellas are connected by a frame story, psychic researchers gathered in a London club to discuss these cases. These are some fairly famous people, by the way; Houdini (gratifyingly skeptical), Conan Doyle (gratifyingly unskeptical), a few others I'm not super familiar with, and someone implied to be the author herself? Maybe Agatha Christie, I'm not sure.

Anyway, the conceit of the book is that this club meets every so often to describe hauntings and other spiritual phenomena and to discuss the validity of these events. Michaels then describes the Bell Witch incident and the Stratford haunting in great and literary detail. And then the two parts differ. In the first, the Bell Witch incident, every person present gets to lay out their own analysis and interpretation of the event, which was easily my favorite part of the book. It said so much about each person in what they picked out, what they chose to see, what they chose to discount. Unfortunately, the second half of the book more or less stuck with the story and the person telling it (possibly our author grandstanding a bit) and didn't give us nearly as much discussion.

Basically this book is fine. I don't really remember having any strong feelings about it. I enjoyed it enough to finish it, obviously, but not enough to pick up much else.

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/398991.html. Please comment over there if possible.

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Stories I Only Tell My Friends, Rob Lowe

Okay, guys, it's time to play Things We Do and Do Not Put In Our Celebrity Memoirs!

Do!
- Gossipy anecdotes about the various people you have met along the way in your celebrity life.
- Affectionate statements toward your wife, your son, friends, and family.
- (Audiobook only) Your impression of Christopher Walken.

DO NOT
- Basically no specifics except about The Outsiders.
- Weird speculation about your mother's sex life.
- WHERE YOUR ELDEST SON WAS CONCEIVED JESUS CHRIST ROB LOWE.

Okay, in all seriousness, this is a pretty okay book. It's gossipy, yeah, but never mean-spirited, and I must say I really admire Rob Lowe for that. You sort of expect celebrity memoirs to name-drop in bad ways as well as good, and Lowe seems determined to go a different route. Which is not to say that bad things don't happen, or that he doesn't talk about these things, but he never names anyone who he feels wronged him or treated him badly (well, with the exception of the journalist who coined the phrase "Brat Pack," but that's public record).

Lowe is also a fluent and engaging writer. His memoir is mostly anecdotal, but he makes the very best of this medium, making his tales as interesting and emotional as possible. You really feel for him. He also knew a LOT of interesting people, from Robert Downey Jr (math class) to the entire Sheen family (neighbors, and it's really kind of funny to watch Charlie Sheen disappear from the narrative as he turns into... well, Charlie Sheen) to this bodyguard guy who must have been involved in SOME kind of espionage, because he knew a LOT of shady things and was murdered shortly after Lowe last saw him. I want a book about that guy really badly. I listened to the audiobook version of this, which is narrated by Lowe himself, and which I highly recommend, because he's really very talented at imitating people and you seriously must hear his Walken impression. Just. Must.

There are issues with the book. The weird speculation about his mother's sex life was thankfully brief, but oh my god Rob Lowe, no one needed or wanted to know where you conceived your eldest son, and I'm very sure that literally no one involved wanted you to tell us. Lowe also glosses over a LOT of his life, including his drug use in the eighties, the sex tape scandal, and a great deal of his interactions on The West Wing. These were probably a casualty of his desire to keep an upbeat tone throughout, but I was disappointed nonetheless.

Regardless, it's a nice gossipy memoir that likes to think the best of everyone, and it's quite well written with only a few bumps. If you like celebrity memoirs, this is one of the better ones.

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/398759.html. Please comment over there if possible.

Banned Books Month

Hey hey hey, guess what week it is? That's right, BANNED BOOKS WEEK. And you know what that means: time for me to pick ten banned books to read over the course of October!

Well, except I am super busy this October, so I'm only picking five. And I am beginning this week because it's Banned Books Week and I want to. So! The lineup!


1) The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, because I will finish this goddamn book come hell or high water.
2) Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
3) Habibi, Craig Thompson
4) The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily Danforth
5) Mexican Whiteboy, Matt de la Pena


Thoughts? Suggestions? "Why didn't you pick"s?

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/398497.html. Please comment over there if possible.

A Few Short Book Reviews

The World According to Mr. Rogers, by Fred Rogers

So, first of all, if you actively dislike Mr. Rogers, we can't be friends. You can not care, you can like him, but Mr. Rogers is my patronus and the man after whom I pattern my life, sooo yes. That said, this is a short collection of his quotes and anecdotes and it made me feel very warm and fuzzy inside. So it means a lot to me personally, and I suspect anyone who had any connection to Mr. Rogers, including watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood as a child. But it is, you know, just a collection of quotes and anecdotes, so it may not be for you.


The Meaning of Flowers: Myth, Language and Lore, by Ann Field and Gretchen Scoble

Meh. Short little book (with, I admit, excellent illustrations) that goes over the meanings of various flowers in flower language, as well as a brief introduction that goes into what flower language actually is. It does give meanings that are not strictly European in origin, which was nice. The problem is that it doesn't actually source any of its assertions and I'm not particularly sure I believe any of them. Pick it up at the library for the illustrations, but I'm not sure it's really useful for anything else.


Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck, by Peter Manseau

This is not a book that could have come out before the public sparring over gun control, largely because it's one long historical argument for gun control. It's essentially a collection of newspaper articles chronicaling accidental shootings from the colonial era on. And on the one hand, it's fascinating to read all of these and imagine the stories behind them. One or two of them I'm positive were murders disguised as accidents. On the other hand, they get very repetitive and depressing, especially if you read them all at once like I did. I dunno, it's an interesting read, but maybe in bite-sized pieces. And maybe sort of accidentally left on your anti-gun-control relative's side table. Accidental-like.

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/398271.html. Please comment over there if possible.

The Hand of Thrawn Duology, Timothy Zahn

I've talked before about Timothy Zahn's first foray into the Star Wars Extended Universe, so let's talk about his second foray, the Hand of Thrawn duology. It consists of two books, Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future.

Zahn likes ongoing plots that arc over the whole trilogy/duology/whatever, and the Hand of Thrawn is no different. Where the Thrawn trilogy's plot is about Grand Admiral Thrawn making a spirited attempt at taking over the galaxy, the Hand of Thrawn is somewhat more complicated: there are three main plots that get more or less equal time. First, Grand Admiral Pellaeon (who you may remember as Thrawn's protege/Watson) has decided it's time for the Imperial Remnant to make peace with the New Republic. Second, Grand Admiral Thrawn has apparently come back from the dead (in reality it's an elaborate con game). And third, the New Republic is already having troubles with their vast diversity and many petty conflicts starting to tear them apart, when an inflammatory document called the Caamas Document reappears. Oh, and there's a random alien ship flying around. Han, Leia, Luke, and Mara Jade must team up (along with various old friends like Talon Karrde and Lando, and various new friends like Shada D'ukal WHO I LOVE) to defeat all these threats.

The plot is pretty well paced (except for one rather spoilery moment in Vision of the Future that made me want to scream), and of course the writing is excellent. Zahn has a really good grasp on the central trilogy characters, and many of his original characters have become iconic, to the point that Thrawn (and pleasegod Pellaeon) is being made canon again in the Star Wars Rebels series. They are delightful here as always, with some great shout-outs to other EU authors, some great take-thats to yet more EU authors, and some fabulous new additions, like Shada D'ukal, BEST NEW CHARACTER EVER I ADORE HER. And Zahn even threw me a bone and ship-teased her with Karrde! I can die a happy woman.

I will say this. You can tell from this duology which bits of the EU Zahn liked and which he didn't. I mean, it is really obvious. I happen to agree with his assessments, but if you don't, the judgmental bits will probably really annoy you. However, it's still very well-written and I really like his reassessment of things that have occurred, and his attempts to make everyone fit in the same timeline. Plus the cameos are awesome. Plus did I mention Shada? You should read for Shada. SHADA IS SO COOL GUYS.

That is all.

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/397835.html. Please comment over there if possible.

PSA

Yo, all, I have finally gotten my shit together and am going to go through and answer my memes at long last, which means you'll probably get some responses that are years overdue. Let me know if you'd rather not get them and I'll leave you out of it. Thanks!

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/397621.html. Please comment over there if possible.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney

I aspire to be a children's librarian, and as such I have been working my way through various popular kids books, among them Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Conclusion? I can see why it's so popular among kids, but it's... well, it's really not for adults.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the diary-- okay, journal-- of self-professed wimpy kid Greg Heffley, chronicling his first year of middle school. It's kind of an Amelia's Notebook for boys. Greg is your typical middle-school boy, lazy and entitled and kind of a jerk, especially towards his friend Rowley. He also does some really gross things-- not gross in the sense of cruel or evil, but gross in the sense of really, actually disgusting. Like, I had trouble eating cheese for a while disgusting.

It's a fast read. The entries are easy to read, and I think for a certain kind of sense of humor (or a kid) it's very funny. Greg is kind of a little sociopath, but who isn't at that age, and he gets what's coming to him constantly. He's lucky he gets to keep his friend, really. I did actually start to get tired of things going wrong for him, but I imagine it is funny to kids. The art is pretty funny too, and the book itself seems to just be, well, fun.

I think Diary of a Wimpy Kid is great for reluctant readers, or kids who are reading below their reading level. It's fun, it doesn't demand much of the reader, and it's entertaining. But kids who are reading more complicated things and adults probably won't like it. It's aimed too young. It's not a bad book, and it does exactly what it set out to do. It's just that it's not for me at all.

This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/397530.html. Please comment over there if possible.

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