Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mini Graphic Novel Review #12: For the bookish types

Fables Volume #1

Written by: Bill Willingham, illustrated by: Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton, James Jean.

Published: 2002

My Thoughts: Before Once Upon a Time and Grimm hit the TV, Fables was doing the same thing, but better. After being pushed out of their homelands by "the adversary," the fabled fairy tale characters we (think we) know and love move into our world to live among "the mundane". This first volume deals with the disappearance of Rose Red, notorious party-girl and sister of Snow White. On the trail is Mr (The Big Bad) Wolf as he hunts out her kidnapper and/or murderer. It gets a little procedural at times, but I am psyched to see where the series heads - I think it could become a new favourite. Revisioned fairytales are the shit.

Kill Shakespeare Volume #1

Written by: Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col, illustrated by: Andy Belanger

Published by: 2010

My Thoughts: I've seen a lot of Shakespeare's plays converted into graphic novels, but I've never had much of a desire to read them. They're plays - I'll watch them thank you very much. But this...ohhhhhh boy, I super love it. Thank you Mister Comic-Book-Guy for suggesting it.  It takes the more interesting and better known villains and heroes of Shakespeare's work and transplants them into a world where Shakespeare is either a god or a wizard and both the villains and the heroes want to find him and it just so happens that Hamlet is the key. Like Fables, it takes stories we know and love and gives them a bit of a shake up. I can't wait to get onto the next issue.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Links

*^One of our current affairs TV shows took a stand against one of the independent parties in Australia which is very vocal about their homophobia.

*Here is a list of books that should be brought to the screen, or should be remade with a new director/creative team. Not sure I agree about Whedon remaking HP, but David Lynch directing Twilight sounds amazing. (Via Flavorwire)

*Yikes, the original voice of Charlie Brown was arrested for stalking AND making death threats. (Via The AV Club)

*An article about and collection of pictures from the current New York University retrospective "Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg" (Via Gallarist NY)

*Will someone please buy me the Harry Potter Wizards Collection? With a cherry on top? (Via HP Wizards Collection)

*A newish book tumblr that's full of lovely images and quotes (Via Teaching Literacy)

*But the best tumblr find of the week? Kanye West Wing. Just go there now please. (Via Kanye West Wing)

*30 Rock is amazing, and Liz Lemon will forever remain my spirit animal. So in honour of the impending end of the series, here's a list of 10 eps that show how it flipped the sitcom on it's head (Via AV Club)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Readalong Post 1

New book! New book! New book!
 Ah Chamber of Secrets, the second book in the series and the first we can actually agree on the title of. The kiddly-winks are another year older, Snape is still their least favourite teacher, and Quirrell has been been replaced by the spectacular Professor Lockhart.

The opening scene with the Dursleys is some of the most absurdly hilarious stuff JK has ever written, I mean when Harry, ever so innocently, says "You've forgotten the magic word" all hell breaks loose...
"Dudley gasped and fell off his chair with a crash that shook the whole kitchen; Mrs Dursley gave a small scream and clapped her hands to her mouth; Mr Dursley jumped to his feet, veins throbbing in his temples." 

And then it ramps up to 10,000 when they go through their plans to woo the Masons. Dudley's simpering "We had to write an essay about our hero at school, Mr Mason, and I wrote about you" and his parent's subsequent reactions had me choking on my snacks. T

The only thing more over the top in CoS is the one and only Gilderoy Lockhart! He's so pretentious, and ridiculous, and wonderful. It's like JK decided after that intro scene that she just wanted to throw subtly to the wind and go all the way out there with this one. I love how he seems to value Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile award over everything - even Harry's small little achievement surviving Voldemort doesn't surpass it. And who else could manage to remain smug even after reducing a student's arm to jelly?

Which guy? This guy!
I kinda see CoS as the book when you realise exactly how awful wizards actually are. First there is Dobby, and while the Malfoys are especially bad, it becomes clear in later books that pretty much all house elves are treated like dirt. Then there's the whole mudblood and squib thing - and it's not just the Slytherins who are bigoted in this way. I mean, Ron and Hagrid are indignant about Hermione being called Mudblood by Malfoy, but Ron then goes on to snigger when he finds out Filch is a squib. It's a rather unsettling look into a world that just becomes more pronounced as the series goes on.

Have you noticed that in this book Hermione seems to be leading the rule-breaking charge most of the time? She seems hesitant when the boys first suggest Malfoy as the heir of Slytherin, but she's the one who suggests the risky polyjuice potion, and when the boys are worried about stealing from Snape's private store she basically peer pressures them into it. She's come a long way from the "we could have been dead, or worse, expelled" days of the previous year. I love her so.

Extra Thoughts:

*On p37 Percy is absolutely spending his time locked in his room masturbating.

*Mr Weasley is grown up Neville.

*I hope the earmuffs they use around the Mandrakes are charmed, because I've never worn a pair that completely block out sound. Especially the fluffy kind.

*Can Lockhart do *any* spells?

*Filch's office is right out of 50 Shades of Gray.

*The trio really need to ramp up their lying, if they're going to break so many school rules they should really be quicker on the uptake.

*How do ghosts write and send letters?

*Maybe if they had more than 4 Quidditch matches a year, Harry wouldn't be so determined to play when a bludger is trying to crush his skull.

I'll be seeing you in the comments dudettes (and dudes?), but until then;

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein

The Hobbit

Written by: J.R.R. Tolkien

Published: 1937

Synopsis: Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent.

Challenges: Made into a movie for Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge.

J. R. R. Tolkien has his faults (ugh, those songs) but my god he writes a good story. LOTR is amazing, but they're three long ass books and they're not exactly cheery material. The Hobbit on the other hand is short, sweet and manages to create a wonderful and warm story of adventure, comedy, camaraderie, dragons, barrel rides and golden rings.

This reread was brought on because of the film's release and it was looong overdue. It's probably been about 6-7 years since I last followed Bilbo on his journey, and even though I felt like I barely remembered the book at all going in, it all came flooding back as soon as I began the first chapter. It's a rather iconic story, and if you haven't read it yet, well, you probably never will. But you should, because this book is wonderfully wonderful.

So the book begins with one of my favourite introductions ever;

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
And from there it just keeps on getting better. Bilbo, the timid and proper Baggins of Bag End, is pushed and prodded and forced into the most uncomfortable situations all in order to help a company of dwarves reclaim the treasure of their forefathers. While Thorin and his merry band of dwarves are a big part of this story, more than anything else it is a story about Bilbo. As the group faces obstacle after obstacle, Bilbo is forced to shed his timid shell and become the thief that the group needs, and a valuable member of their crew. Much like Harry Potter, he seems to have some pretty magical luck and rescues the group from countless close calls. I always found Frodo just a little bit whiney, but Bilbo is the perfect combination of the four hobbits in LOTR, a little bit responsible, a little bit fun, a little bit adventuous and a little bit of a worry wart. He's written with such love and care on Tolkien's part that you just can't help but root for him to succeed, even if the dwarves themselves come off a little treasure-hungry and selfish at times.

It is very much a kids book, from the style of writing and description that Tolkien chooses to use, to the 'small man makes good' story but it takes a pretty dark turn at around the three-quarter mark. The fun adventures grind to a halt and the everyone-ever-is-going-to-die takes over. If you have plans to read this to your kids, maybe skip ahead and check whether you think your 7 year old is quite ready for the desolation of Smaug and the battle of the 5 armies. It's still a phenomenal story, but I wonder what made Tolkien charge at such a destructive conclusion.

Gollum is terrifying, the dragon is greedy, the elves (of Mirkwood) are assholes and Rivendell sounds like the dream location to retire too. It's the perfect fantasy story for a first-timer looking to get into the genre, and a book both parent and child will obsessively read long into the night. There really isn't a whole lot more to write without deconstructing all 300 pages (which I will totally do with you guys in the comments if you wanna) but if you haven't reread this one in awhile, you probably should get on that right now, and if you haven't read it before? Well, I don't know if we can be friends. If you promise to read it asap I guess we can, but it's a bit of a deal breaker to be honest.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Links

*^The Stark kids beat-box and rap over the Game of Thrones intro. Utterly adorable.

*Fabbity fab authors play with pets. Mark Twain with a kitten on his shoulder is my favourite (Via Flavorwire)

*Neil Gaiman's dog, Cabel, died and Gaiman wrote an amazing article in memory of his canine buddy. Grab some tissues. (Via Neil Gaiman's Journal)

*Like Murakami? Like being organised? Like apps? Well if you have an iPhone/iPad you can combine all three. I would really, really, really like to purchase this but apparently people still aren't aware of the fact that android has over 50% of the market share. Whatevs. (Via The Bookseller)

*Were you aware Ryan Gosling was almost a Back Street Boy? That's about all there is to the story, but follow the link for the most amazing Baby Goose (get it? get it?!) gif. (Via uproxx)

*A member of the opposition in NZ has decided to demand that Peter Jackson pay NZ back for the tax subsidies they were given for filming there. Apparently he doesn't understand how tax breaks or politics work, so par for the course for a politician yes? (Via Stuff)

*A great new (to me) tumblr that'll surely make you giggle. (via Lousy Book Covers)

*Literary themed graffiti found around the world. I love Hemingway's eyes. (via flavorwire)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My favourite time of year - Lifeline Bookfest

I love a lot of things in life, but very close to the top of that list is the Lifeline Bookfest. Twice a year the wonderful charity organisation Lifeline gathers all the lost books in Brisbane together and tries to give them a home AND raise a bunch of money to support those less fortunate. 

I'm sure you're all thinking, "I'm sure it's big but really, how big could it be?" Well I'm glad you thought such a specific question. There are three sections, high quality, priced and unpriced and each section is at least the size of a basketball court. The unpriced section is about 2.5 times that. Yeah, there are a lot of books. A LOT.

When you walk down the aisles of books you can see a real pattern of what was popular the year or two before. This year? Tonnes of Twilight. Like 80-90 copies - at least. Also, I'm hoping it was a joke by a browser and not an actual choice of the organisers but the majority of copies of Twilight were not in kids or fiction. They were in the literature/classics section. Disturbing.

We were a little more conservative with our purchases this year, mainly because we still have 85% of last year's purchases unread but also because there was a bit of a drought of our usual buys. We normally come home with 3-5 Stephen King books but this year they were in short supply. Weird. But anyway, here our new books are, in all their awesome bookish glory.

Rose Madder - Stephen King
Koko - Peter Straub
Red Dwarf: Backwards - Rob Grant
Weapons of choice - John Birmingham
Without Warning - John Birmingham
After America - John Birmingham
The Dark Half - Stephen King
A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
About A Boy - Nick Hornby
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
Son of Rosemary - Ira Levin
The Passage - Justin Cronin

Aaaaaaand, perhaps most exciting for all I made this little purchase.

When I left home I was Harry Potter-less, since apparently it was important that my sisters had copies to read and since mum bought them they'd stay in Cairns. Whatever, didn't make sense to me either. Anyway, I treated myself to a boxed set of the books a couple of years ago, but the adult's editions were the only ones that came with the final book included, and I hate mismatched sets so they're the ones I bought. It always made me sad not to have  the colourful children's covers I grew up with, so what the heck, now I have TWO sets of HP. Twice the fun!!

And I found this nifty edition of The Chamber of Secrets which I haven't seen in stores before. 

So happy! 

In other news, it was Tom's birthday yesterday and I made him this cake. I'm pretty proud of the awesomeness I produced so I hope you don't mind my shameless self promotion/bragging.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Harry potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Readalong Post 2

Heck yes, let's do this!
Week 3 is upon us people, and I promise I'm not going to disillusion your HP experiences with more talk of toilets and organic compost. PROMISE.


Harry has a broom! And not just any broom, a Nimbus 2000, TAKE THAT MALFOY.
The best thing about Harry getting a broom though? It means Quidditch begins, and besides the Quidditch scenes being some of my faves (Lee Jordan = only person to make sports interesting ever) it means Oliver Wood. Which means Sean Biggerstaff in the film versions, and HOLY SHIT I had a crazy crush on Biggerstaff when the film came out.

I mean, look at him!
I was so infatuated that I was *this* close to being the creator of the Australian branch of the Biggerstaff fan club. Me and a school pal used to come to school each day with lists of websites that had the best photos and interviews and would just squeal at each other for twenty minutes before school started. It was a thing. 


How upsetting is the whole Mirror of Erised thing? I mean, when you know where the series heads, and certain...things...are made clear, this chapter just becomes crazy tragic and sad. And even without the knowledge of future events, Harry just sitting there staring at his family for nights on end....ugh, crazy sad. I've always felt sorry for Harry, but talking through this book has really cemented just how miserable his early upbringing was. He had no one for so long, and I think I forget that sometimes.

Buuuuuuut, when he's looking at all his family, it refers to them as "The Potters" but he describes people having his green eyes, which he got from his mum. So did JK mean both sides of the family are being shown, OR is the real reason Petunia hates them so much because they're secretly cousins or something?

It's time to talk about Ron. The internet seems full of Ron hate, this readalong included. Now I'm not going to say you're wrong but, well, yeah you're wrong.  Personally I think people conflate book Ron with movie Ron, because movie Ron is pretty stupid and mostly a waste of space. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact it's Rupert Grint (who I looooove) I'd probably be leading the charge. But book Ron is different. Sure he's sarcastic, a bit of a pain and has some major self esteem issues (thanks to his 10 000 successful older brothers) but that's basically a description of me - ESPECIALLY when I was 11 years old. Also, he's super crucial - at least in these first few books. He's the only one out of their group who lives in the magical world. He knows the laws, so while Harry and Hermione are still all "OMFG dragons" he can contextualise why Hagrid having a dragon is a majorly bad idea, and what it would mean to be caught.

Also, he's a redhead. Which gives him automatic immunity from hate.

Bulletproof arguement. Done.

Come at me in the comment section bro(s)
Lastly, can we address how sending 4 first years into the Forbidden Forest with a guy who can't (legally) do any magic is as mental as leaving a 1 year old on a doorstep? And why four 11 year olds are expected to have spent all day in class, only to spend all night in a dangerous forest before apparently going to class the next day with no sleep? Filch doesn't need his chains, that's freakin' torture right there! I mean, what's wrong with writing lines? Or giving them an additional essay or project to do? Or, if it has to be manual labour - get them to follow Neville and clean up his messes for the day (although I don't know what Neville would do for detention in that case).  If you know there are giant spiders, and centaurs (we'll get to them in a later book post) and werewolves and things dangerous enough to make it forbidden DO NOT MAKE IT THE LOCATION FOR A TINY BARELY MAGIC CHILD TO BE TAUGHT A LESSON IN DISCIPLINE.


A few stray observations:

*McGonagall is crazy harsh - 150 points off Gryffindor is insane. Also, Malfoy only gets 20. THAT'S NOT OK MINERVA.

*How do you get 112% on a test? Clearly math isn't being taught at Hogwarts.

*The devil's snare scene always cracks me up. I think it was  tension + capital letters that = comedy when I was younger.

*Why will Flamel die? Does the Elixer of Life have to constantly be drunk? Because if so, it doesn't grant immortality, it's simply a life extender. Or is it that when the stone is destroyed, anything it created is also destroyed?

*What happens to Quirrell? Dumbledore says that Voldemort left him for dead, but it doesn't actually say he died. If he did, was it the love burns or Voldemort leaving his body that did it? Or both?

*Which reminds me, how crap is it at the end of the film when Quirrell turns into ash and crumbles away when Harry grabs him. So stupid.

'Til next week nerds,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair

Written by: Jasper Fforde

Published in: 2001

Synopsis: There is another 1985, where London's criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of the new crime wave's Mr Big.

Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing.

Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. But solving crimes against literature isn't easy when you also have to find time to halt the Crimean War, persuade the man you love to marry you, and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare's plays.

Challenges: Action/Adventure for Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge

I picked up this book before heading off on my beach holiday because it seemed like the ideal beach read - light, fun, and a little bit clever. It was everything I had hoped it'd be and I had a great time reading Thursday Next's adventure as I sat on the beach after a swim. Sorry, have I completely angered all of you suffering through dreary winters at the moment? It wasn't my intention, I SWEAR!

So if you're like me and have either never heard of this book or avoided it then here's what you need to know. Thursday Next works as a LiteraTec in the Special Ops - she's tasked with hunting down the guys and gals who have taken to stealing, forging or destroying literature - a crime that seems to be more rampant than any other. She has a pet dodo (cloning is big), an upsetting ex, a time travelling dad on the run, a love of Jane Eyre and a hatred for England's role in the 130 year Crimean War.  After a disastrous stake-out on an old college lecturer turned villain (Acheron Hades) ends with most of her team dead and she's visited by herself in a hospital, Thursday decides to return to her home town of Swindon.

It's back in Swindon that everything ramps up to 11. Far from being the quiet home she remembers, Thursday finds herself squared off against Hades again, only this time he's managed to steal a manuscript of Jane Eyre and he's threatening to erase the lead characters if his demands aren't met. With her LiteraTec team mates (who are used to much quieter existences), Thursday struggles to keep up with Hades and maybe even get a step ahead. Of course, that isn't easy when Hades is...well, you never really know what he is. He's able to detect when people use his name, he can walk past video cameras without being seen and bullets don't hurt him...so he might be Voldemort, or he might be anything really. Though this world is very different to our own, the exact parameters are never actually set. We know there are vampires and werewolves (they're very briefly mentioned) but does magic? Is that what Hades is? Magic? Or is he a god? A demon? A very good criminal? You never really know, and it never really bugged me, except when it did. I mean, in Harry Potter you know why Voldemort is invincible - he's an evil ass wizard who played with some black magic, but Hades is only ever explained as a man who really, really enjoys being bad and can also do a bunch of crazy magical things for some reason.

And that right there is my one real annoyance with the novel. Fforde paints himself out of any corner he finds himself in with a neat little flourish of "this is an alternate England and things are different" while not really saying why certain things happen in particular ways. It doesn't quite go deus ex machina but there are several moments of father ex machina and even Rochester ex machina. It's a fun book and I was more invested in keeping an eye out for the literary hints and clues (and there are hundreds!), but it's a weakness of the author and it may harm the potential of the rest of the books in the series (assuming that doesn't get better with practice). The only other annoyance is the romance plot, it's mental how bad it is. I outwardly groaned in the final few chapters of the book and it was almost, almost, bad enough for me to dismiss the book completely. I mean, after setting Thursday up as this independent and strong female (kinda) who has been haunted by a past relationship for over ten years I was hoping Thursday might learn something and use that to her benefit, rather than just predicably do what was set out from page one. But I have issues with relationships in any book that's supposed to be about a strong female character, especially when that book skates pretty close to failing the bechdel test (and in my opinion does fail).

But complaints aside, this was a fun book. I enjoyed picking up on the literary hints (mostly in the names) and the inclusion of weird little sub-plots about door-to-door Baconians, art terrorists and French revisionists who are playing with time and history. The Jane Eyre side of the story I can't really comment on since I haven't read Jane Eyre, but I liked way Fforde created the world inside the book which is very aware that it's a world that only exists in a book. It's a brilliant concept, it just isn't always executed as well as it should have been - but it performed more than well enough for me to be interested in seeing where the rest of the series heads - even if it means dealing with the whole relationship debacle again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Discussion Post: What the heck does Jackson have planned for The Hobbit?

I can only guess that Tom and I were still loopy from the major food intake on Christmas day, but for some reason we decided boxing day would be the best day to visit the movies. Stupid. Stupidest idea in the existence of ideas ever. STUPID.

But one good thing that came out of it was that we got to see The Hobbit in 3D and the new higher frame rate (HFR). I know some people have been a little negative about this film but I flippin' loved it. Perhaps it's because I'm a mad D&D player and it got me eager for some dungeoneering of my own, or maybe it was a love for the LOTR series or maybe it's just a good film - I don't know, I don't care, I enjoyed the hell out of myself.

Don't look to pleased with yourself yet Bilbo...

But what I'm still not sure about is the whole trilogy thing. After getting back from the film I decided I had to reread the book. It was something I had wanted to do before the film, but I just never found the time. The last time I'd read the book was too far back to even remember, so my memory of the plot was spotty at best; Gollum, dragons, lots of dwarves, barrels, the ring and that was about it. So while I was enjoying the heck out of that fabulous book (sans songs: THEY SUCK) I was trying to work out where the next two Hobbit films would head.

You see, the first film covers the first 6 chapters of the book, which is roughly a third of the book. (there be spoilers ahead) Logically you could see them splitting it equally that way. Film two would lead them past Beorn, the wood elves and into Lake Town. It would probably end either with them entering the mountain or killing the dragon. The final film would then cover the war of the 5 armies and then the wrap up (which is loooooooong). The only problem with this is the additions and changes that were made to the first film, which basically means that it can't go ahead that way.

The biggest issues/obstacles are Azrog the white orc (a goblin briefly mentioned in the book) who is determined to kill Thorin, and the necromancer, who was mentioned twice in the book, but is clearly (both from the additions in the film, and the imdb page for the third film) going to occupy a much bigger role. Both were (mostly) welcome additions to the film for me, but they've left me basically gobsmacked as to how this whole trilogy shiz is supposed to pan out.

My best bet is that they still follow the basic format. The dragon dies at the end of the second film, and the third is dedicated to the war of the 5 armies, however they shift it so first Azgog has his showdown with Thorin and then everyone (minus the goblins and orcs I guess) has to unite against the Necromancer. Or maybe they keep the necromancer as a side story that Gandalf deals with alone while the dwarves and Bilbo do their business at the Lonely Mountain. I know that originally it was meant to be 2 films but Jackson was having issues with the editing (dude needs to go to a workshop or something) and split it. So it's not inconceivable that the story split between the dwarves and Gandalf is the way it goes - especially if there is actually another Tolkien story about the take down of the necromancer (in the Silmarillion perhaps?). BUT I JUST DON'T KNOW GUYS, I DON'T FREAKIN' KNOW.

What about you guys? Have a theory or two about what direction the films are going to take? Did you even like the first film? I need to talk this shit out, yo.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Readalong post 1


I feel your feels Draco.

Where do I start? How about with those wonderful opening lines;
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
Christ on a cracker Ms Rowling, you sure know how to reawaken my not-so-dormant love for this series. BUT, aside from that line I'm pretty MEH about the next few dozen pages.

 Even now, with all the love in the world that I have for this series, I just can't get excited until Hagrid tears shit up at the shack on a rock and completes Dudley's transformation into a pig. I mean, that's understandable - Hagrid is a straight up BAMF, pink umbrella and all (although if he was expelled in third year - how is he so competent with the letters and shiz?).

Anyway, my re-read started during the wicked awesome readathon we all took part in last weekend, and because everyone was tweeting up a storm (as I was) I found myself querying things more than I normally would.

Case in point, what is the deal with wizards and toilets? I mean, they all seem to have a pretty insane time dealing with dressing like a regular person - so do they have magic plumbing that just disappears it all and turns it into compost? Or is this the one thing from the muggle world they took up? Does this mean they have to hire muggle plumbers when Peeves clogs a toilet up with stuff, or is there a squib somewhere with the unfortunate job of managing the wizard world's toilets?


Also, how old are Petunia and Vernon in the first chapter? We know (thanks to the final book) that James and Lily were 21 when they died (I SWEAR THIS ISN'T A SPOILER FIRST READ GUYS) but how flippin' old do Petunia and Vernon sound? Like, can you imagine being friends with them? It would be the absolute WORST. Guys, there is no way they would ever approve of our gif use, never.

The only other thing I want to mention, is how glorious the feast chapter is. Mainly because, food. I always wished HP would be real and I could play quidditch and make potions and wear a cloak without being considered a weirdo - but to be honest, it was those feasts that I was desperate for most of all. I know Christmas is in next week's discussion, but I've never been content with crackers since, and no meal, no matter how fancy, ever lives up to the intensity of that welcome feast. The plates just keep filling up, and it all sounds so tasty (except the stake and kidney pie - blecchhh) and THEN THERE'S DESSERT. If there is a heaven, it will be a HP feast. I know this to be true.

So ummmm, to wrap up - magic is awesome, Diagon Alley needs to exist, Hermione is a bossy pain, Malfoy is puny and Neville is adorable. I can't wait for next week when we can discuss quidditch, and Christmas, and the mirror of Erised, and Norbert and the absurdity of sending kids into the Forbidden Freaking Forest for detention.

Until then, if anyone would like one of the wands I made last week, then let me know because I am open to sending them to your pretty faces! I've already sent one to Laura, Tika and Nahree and there are more than enough to go around. Let me know fancy ladies (and dudes - any dudes taking part?).


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: Mr Penumbra's 24-hour book store by Robin Sloan

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store
Written by: Robin Sloan

Published: 2012

Synopsis:A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco book store.


A few Saturdays back I was in a bad mood. I was in one of those god awful funks that come out of nowhere and refuse to let you do anything. I was morose and despondent and everything seemed like the worst thing ever, but it was 6pm and I definitely couldn't sleep. So I was mindlessly scrolling on my phone and noticed a book sale on the Google play store and amongst all the books you couldn't pay me to read sat Mr Penumbra's a book I'd seen pop up in a few TTT posts over the last month or so. Figuring 'what the hell, it can't be worse than this dodgy translation of The Phantom of the Opera' (more on that another day) I paid the whopping $2 and decided to give it a go. And while it didn't cure me of my funk, it picked up my spirits right from the get go and took me on quite the enjoyable ride. Not a rollercoaster mind you, but a ride that raises the pulse ever-so-slightly and has you running back into the line as soon as you're done.

Mr Penumbra's is a touching and captivating mystery that centres around a love of books, think a better written and more bookish The Da Vinci Code. After losing his job (THANKS RECESSION) Clay applies to work at a book store, taking the late shift between 10pm and 6am. Mr Penumbra's isn't just any old book store though. While there are a few copies of best sellers, most of the books seem to be one-off unusual books that don't show up in any book registries. Clay is forbidden from examining these books, and asked to make detailed notes of the patrons who come in to loan them out. Clearly such instructions simply lead to Clay finally giving in to temptation and cracking open one of the forbidden books. This simple act leads him on an adventure that takes him across the country and deep into both a secret society and the Google company.

Clay's joined by a crew of odd balls who are all creative and special and talented in their own, very specific ways. One of his housemates is an amazing artist, another is a computer wizz (with a flair for digital breasts), another is a wall-climbing PR genius and his sort of girlfriend is amazing at all things programming. It just so happens that these are all crucial to the success of their little adventure, but they're all realistic enough skills especially among Gen Y. But best of all is Mr Penumbra, who seemed like a little elf or wizard to me - but maybe that was me just projecting my excitement for the upcoming Hobbit movie. Not only is he a bookstore owner (therefore a veritable god in my world) but he's part of a secret society doing secret things, and is wonderfully kind and eccentric.

There are parts of this novel which are completely made up - like a 500 year old typeset known as veritazoon and a fantasy author - but they're wound into the story which touches on so many real businesses, authors and books that you find yourself wondering if such a typeset exists (it doesn't), or whether the fantasy author is a thinly veiled imitation of an author you might have read. However, it wasn't all good. There's this weird fawning over of Google throughout the whole book that just ended up weirding me out. At times I felt like I was reading one of those spam comments that starts out like an actual personal statement but then turns into a straight out ad trying to sell you junk. Yes Google is a huge company that tends to be interested in things experimental, creative and outrageous - but must you mention them so much Mr Sloan? Personally, I think the company should have been invented (similar to Google, but not Google) to weed out the weird 'Google is my God' vibe I was getting through much of the book. And looking at reviews online, this seemed to be a thorn in many a reader's paw. But whatever, it didn't weaken the book by much, and unless you're super anti-Google you'll probably just shrugg and skim those sections when you get to them.

So a pretty good book, designed especially for people like us, book nerds who choose to read and review books like they're able to actually quench a thirst and fix a hunger. Have fun!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

DIY Harry Potter Wands

So like I mentioned in my earlier post, I had a ball with the readathon, mostly because it psyched me up for the Harry Potter readalong (like I needed much help) and encouraged me to take on this DIY.

It's super easy, costs basically nothing and at the end you get a fancy looking wand to wave around - you wouldn't believe the amount of times I've tried to charm my cat today. So if like me you were always disappointed not to receive that thick parchment letter in the mail, this will help you heal a little from that hurt.


First things first, these are the things you will need to make your wand...

Some of these things, like the glue gun, paint and chopsticks are a must-use (unless you're crafty enough to think of an alternative) but the details - such as the beads and string can be substituted with any number of things - teeny 100s and 1000s size beads, chain, marbles. ANYTHING.

An acrylic paint will do fine, and generally doesn't cost very much. I used a range of browns and I found them super perfect for replicating wood (more on this later in the tute) but the absolutely crucial component are the paint washes.

I happen to have a very nerdy boyfriend who used to play a lot of Warhammer. This meant he was always painting models, and has a bunch of these special model paints. They're called washes, and basically they're a very light almost watercolour paint which coats over an undercoat. They'll stick into crevices and creases and add an aged look - which is especially appropriate when you're trying to replicate wood. These might be expensive (and not worth it for a one off DIY) so you could probably replicate it fairly well by really wetting your brush, getting a light coat of your desired paint on your brush and dipping it in water again.

Stage 1: Glue and stuff
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First you want to grab yourself some wooden chopsticks, the disposible kind you get with your Chinese takeaway will do just fine. Heat up your hot glue gun and decide what you want your wand to look like. My first one was the rope handle, all I did was add a squirt of glue to the top, added three little beads and then the end of the rope. Use a pen or another chopstick to hold the rope in place until the glue gets a chance to set (maybe 30 seconds or so) and then wind the string around tightly until you reach the point you want it to end. Cut it off and glue it down. Or you can just squirt glue over a third of the chopstick, wait for it to cool a little (it'll start to turn opaque and then mould it into a grizzled or specific shape. Or do what I did with the third one and add big drips of the glue all the way along and hold it upright so it sorta looks like wax down the side of a candle. Add a single bead to the business end of each wand with hot glue - stops it looking quite so chopsticky.

After the first coat of paint
Leave the glue to set for 5 minutes or so and then it's time to paint. Start with an undercoat, let it dry, another coat, let it dry, another shade (if you want) and then the wash (1 or 2 coats).

 In case you want to match any of mine, here are the colours and coats I used;

Rope Handle : Burnt umber base, burnished copper over the top, a watery layer of burnt umber to dull the shine and then Ogryn Flesh wash.

Full stick: Raw sienna for two coats. Raw umber into the crevices. Another coat of raw sienna and then the Gryphone Sienna wash.

Half stick: Burnt sienna for two coats and the three coats of the Devlan Mud wash.

 And that's basically it. Just keep touching them up until they look right, maybe add a few flecks of bronze or moss green, whatever floats your magical boat. Then once they've dried completely you're free to wingardium leviosa the shit out of everything you can find.

Mini-readathon updates and conclusion

So taking part in a readathon the day I get back from a holiday perhaps wasn't my finest idea, but it's a mini-readathon so how the heck could I resist? 

Because I'm on the other side of the world (and all upside down and stuffs) I'm taking part in this readathon at super weird hours of the day, and this isn't really working for me so far!

Basically this is how it's gone so far: 

1am: One hour till it begins, hmmmm, nap? nap. 

4am: WHOOPS. Shit, better get reading. 

5.30am: So much joy reading Harry Potter, but my god I'm tired 

6.30am: wakes up from another nap.

7am: Ugh, what the hell Kayleigh - get your shit together!

But I don't care! I'm going to finish Harry Potter damn it, and I've tweeted and commented and that's just as much what the readathon is about rigggghht? 

As for my mini-ness, I'm doing everything on my phone (a mini-computer you might say), laying down with my mini-cat (or kitten to the experts) and taking lots of mini-naps. I don't really have any mini-snacks since I just got back from my holiday, except for way too many funsize chocolate bars sold in one great big box. 

And most importantly, I'm reading Harry Potter (who isn't?) which is for mini people, about mini people and is the miniest in the series. And if I finish I'm going to read Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman which is a collection of mini-stories. 

I'll take the obligatory book photo and food photo once I'm a little further with my reading, because at this stage this shit is getting EMBARRASSING! Photo added, note the adult HP cover (boo! hiss! I know everyone hates these!) and the not even looked at Gaiman anthology. If you're wondering what I look like eating those delicious mini-chocolates, here's an illustrated rendition....

It was 4am afterall

End of Readathon Conclusion:

I disappointed Dumbledore *hangs head in shame*

So I didn't finish Harry Potter, but I did get half way through AND hit on several questions that I think i'll be discussing in my first readalong post. Expect a lot of confusion about ages and toilets - and suitable gifs to go along. 

Also, this amped me up so much for the readalong (take part you fools, it'll be giftastic) that I went out and bought the film series on bluray (on sale!!) and I'm going to watch each film after I finish each book as suggested by and discussed with Brie over at Eat Books. Anyone who wants to take part definitely should let me know, and we can try and arrange a mass watchalong on Twitter that hopefully is at a more suitable time for me! 

Also, I came across a HP wand DIY while looking for gifs and now I'm going to make myself one and one for Laura, and if anyone wants I can either document the making here on the blog or I can make you one and send it to your home and you can use it to flip pages as you take part in the readalong or float food from the fridge or something. Just let me know yo.

Anyway, I had a god damn ball even if I napped through most of it and I loved tweeting and meeting all of you and i'm SUPER PSYCHED about the readalong now. Like, unbelievably so. 


Saturday, January 5, 2013


Oh. Hell. Yes. It. Is. ON.

I can't even begin to explain how freaking excited I am about this readalong. Super-dooper-psychadelic-y-bazookas? That might be getting close....ish.

So me and Harry Potter, we kinda have a bit of a thing going on. It's pretty serious.

Every year (except last year for some reason) I pull out my old and food stained paperbacks and re-read the entire series, and then I go and cry for a week because it's ALL OVER AGAIN.

I started HP when I was 12 and I actually kinda hated it. *looks around defensively and hides behind the desk* I KNOW! I started it, got bored and skipped about 3 or 4 chapters until the action heated up a little and then I was hooked. I immediately re-read the parts I missed and then re-read the rest of it all over again right away. And because the second book was already out I stole that from a friend and stayed up all night reading that one too. And then I went on a writers camp which was my first away from home camp and I was home sick and cried because it was my birthday and my mum showed up with chocolate cake and Harry Potter 3 and everything was groovy once again.

So I guess HP has helped me get through all those not-so-tricky-but-seem-tricky-at-the-time pre-teen and teen issues, and was the glue that held me and my primary school best friend circle together. Together we thought we were responsible for the books success, since we started reading it when it seemed to gain international traction (bless!), and we came to school in year 7 and squealed about the chapters of HP and the Goblet of Fire we read the night before. We made predictions, argued about Snape's awesomeness (HE IS), swooned over the older Weasleys and rehashed absolutely everything.

So yeah, me and Harry are tight. I am also incredibly defensive of J.K Rowling when people try to discredit her or her writing talent...unless they're a HP fan too. If you've read the book a butt-load, then you can say you think X is wishy-washy, or Y is a cop-out - but if you haven't? PREPARE TO FEEL MY WRATH. But I am looking forward to discussing and fighting tooth-and-nail about my favourite and not so favourite parts of this series with y'all.

As for this delightful readalong, I am *so* amped up to use all my GIFS, and I apologise in advance but there will be a crap-tonne of  Snape GIFS. Actually no, shut up, I don't apologise, you might not like the character but the only person more GIF-able than Alan Rickman is Emma Stone.

Soooooooo yeah, I can't wait to read all the other posts and read all the books again and cry and laugh and snort and shake my fist at Umbridge and cry and convey my feelings via GIF and argue about Snape and Sirius and everything else.



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