Dead and Gone 

Hope everyone is doing well on this lovely October Sunday. I am being comfortably lazy while my family is at the Fall Festival in Newport News (I went yesterday, so no need to go today). Finished up Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris, and unfortunately, was not terribly impressed. Review:

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed with this book. First, not much happens in the first 2/3 of the book, 2 deaths and that’s about it. A lot was stuffed into the last third, and it was pretty intense. So many people die, and the introduction of the faeries into the series is over – what was the point? I would love for them to stay in the story, but Harris has sealed them off which I find highly disappointing. I agree with others that the novel was a tad rushed. Harris usually explains developments a lot more than she did here, but now everything seems to be a blip and “oh well”. Also Sookie is not as strong of a character anymore; she’s confused, she dwells too much, in all honesty she’s becoming more like the Sookie portrayed by Anna Paquin in True Blood, which is not a good thing, at all. I really hope Harris does a lot better with the next book, I love this series too much for it to just fizzle out into the ranks of other mediocre fantasy/vampire literature.

Never thought I’d say something that critical of a book from this series. I’ll concede to Harris, though, the Sookie Stackhouse series is not the only thing she writes, and a mediocre book pops out from time-to-time. Just a warning though: Do not disappoint me with the next book Charlaine, I will be most displeased!

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The Art Thief

I finished The Art Thief yesterday. I’d say it was another good or average novel. The glimpses into art history and iconography were fascinating, as well as the lapses in French and Italian (which I absolutely love), however, the structure (I guess?) was odd. A lot of dialogue and monologue which I found un peu bizarre. And while I thought the ending was a bit of a twist, others may have figured it out much earlier.

I know, kind of a piddly review, but can’t really figure out what more to say about this novel.

ArtThiefNCharneyThe Art Thief by Noah Charney

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays (BIG)_thumb[1]Musing Mondays is hosted by Just One More Page

NB: Maybe one of these days I will actually do a meme on its appropriate day; right now I seem to be averaging 2 days late. Mostly due to me not reading blogs every day.

Do you keep a book wishlist, either on paper, Amazon/etc, or via a book database site (Shelfari, GoodReads, LibraryThing)? If yes, do you share this list with others (especially coming up to Christmas)?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks.

I am obsessed with lists and organization, whether or not that has been obvious through previous entries, I am unsure. So, I have multiple, yes, multiple, wishlists for books. I have wishlists on PaperbackSwap and BookMooch in order to actually use those websites to swap out books that I no longer want for books that I do want. I have a large list on Amazon, which I have shared with friends and family (though I have the sneaking suspicion that nobody utilizes it). I use LibraryThing as a means to catalog books I’ve read, books I own, books I haven’t read, etc. and a wishlist. I use LivingSocial primarily to catalog every book I have read, regardless of ownership, though the the wishlist function is available. AND (I know everyone who reads this is wondering “how many lists are really necessary for this guy?!) I keep a slightly outdated list on Evernote, along with a separate list of books and authors to look out for at the library in the future on the off-chance that I hit a point where I have no books in my To Be Read pile. Oh, I also have an application on my computer called Librarian Pro in order to catalog the books I own, as well as track books I lend out to friends. I get no end in grief from my friends for being nerdy enough to have bought a librarian program, mais c’est la vie.

If anyone wants to friend me on any of the sites I mentioned, following are the links to my profiles:

PBS: http://tr.im/Agag

BM: http://tr.im/AgaN

LT: http://tr.im/Agd0

LS: http://tr.im/Agdf

Friday Firsts: The Art Thief

fridayfirstsmeme

The Book: The Art Thief ArtThiefNCharney

Author: Noah Charney

ISBN: 9781416550303

First Sentence:

It was almost as if she were waiting, hanging there, in the painted darkness.

Not a bad opening sentence to be honest. You want to know who is waiting and where she is; questions that instantly hook you into the story. Thus far, I have mixed feelings on the novel. The third person, omniscient narrator jumps around a lot, which, while giving you different perspectives, gets confusing after awhile. But the discussions about art history are fascinating, and the tidbits of French phrasing here and there always excite me. Love the opportunity to practice the French I’ve learned over many years. 🙂

Mini update on life: Just finished watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine with the fam. My aunt and her husband came down from Stafford for a few hours to belatedly celebrate my birthday, and early-celebrate my aunt’s birthday. For my (apparently) combination birthday/Christmas gift I received a new down comforter and 2 new down pillows. Very nice, granted I already knew about the gifts, though beside the point. Hopefully I’ll stop having neck problems with the new pillows, and it’ll be nice to have a good quality down comforter. Same aunt bought me a cheapy alternative-down comforter a good 5-6 years ago, and I’ve greatly enjoyed it.

Actual Update haha: I have gotten myself a temporary job as a transcriber for The Schoolhouse Museum: African-American History Museum of Public Education. A recent (1-2 years ago) grant allowed them to renovate a nearby one-room schoolhouse and they conducted interviews of many people who used to go to the various small schools in the area. So I will be transcribing the interviews from audio-taped interviews. Only temporary as obviously there are only so many interviews. I meet with the woman on Monday and she will give me my first tapes and explain to me format, etc. And depending on how I do, I’ll get more. I also recently joined paperbackswap.com – I never realized how many book swapping sites that are out there! I’ve been on BookMooch, but PBS seems to actually have a larger collection to work with. So that’s been fun getting used to it.

Alright, that’s all for now. Need to get this published before it’s 2 days “late!”

Friday First Directions:

The first line can make or break a reader’s interest. Just how well did the author pull you in to the story with their first sentence? To participate in this weekly book meme is extremely easy.

Grab the book you are currently reading and open to the first page.

Write down the first sentence in the first paragraph.

Did this first sentence help draw you into the story? Why or why not?

Create a blog post with this information. (Make sure to include the title & author of the book you are using. Even an ISBN helps!)

Go back to post on Well-Read Reviews.com and add your review to Mr. Linky! (Or just click image above!)

Surprise! Straight porn makes you gay! (via QueerClick)

Hey all, I’m forewarning you now that this post will be taking a sidetrack to politics, rather than books. If you are uninterested, then please ignore this post. As a politics major in college and being a liberally-minded person, some things will piss aggravate me and as this is my place to share my thoughts, I shall do so.

But, for now at least, I’m going to be lazy and just repost the post from QueerClick (the site is NSFW, thus the reason I’m copying the content here).

They say that all the best men are either taken or gay. That’s true, though we’re still holding out on that other 90% of the male population to come around to our side. Well, according to Michael Schwartz, chief of staff for Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, we’ll only have to wait 7 years until 11-year-old straight porn lovers grow up to become full-fledged cocksuckers! Here’s his quote made at the Value Voters Summit this weekend:

it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. And that’s a good instinct. After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people.

…all pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards…. And if you, if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to go out and get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants.” You know, that’s a, that’s a good comment. It’s a good point and it’s a good thing to teach young people.

We have to agree with Mr. Schwartz—masturbation’s pretty gay. You’re getting off by touching a guy’s dick and if you know how to jerk yourself, you’ve mastered about 25% of all gay sex. Though by our calculation, if masturbating to straight porn made you gay, it’d be a hell of a lot easier for us to find a date on Saturday night.

Of course, that’s not the case. Schwartz was playing the crowd at the 2009 Value Voters’ Summit, a gathering of racist, sexist, homophobic fuckwits frightened to death of feminism and jism, not to mention teh gays. But by trying to scare kids away from looking at straight porn, Schwartz is probably singlehandedly doing more to create a generation of gay men than any skin mag ever could. Thanks buddy!

So, homosexuality is inflicted upon people, and all who watch pornography (either hetero- or homosexual) will be essentially forced to become gay. Granted Mr. Schwartz did not say the exact words that “porn forces you to be gay,” but when one uses the word “inflicted” it invokes the connotation that should someone do A (watch porn) they will become B (gay). If that logic does not sound convoluted, misguided, ignorant, and/or hateful, then I don’t know what does. Some points: 1) I’m sure that the incredibly high percentage of heterosexual men who do watch porn will not appreciate the idea that because they have watched said porn they are now gay. 2) Being a gay male myself, I can say without a doubt that my homosexuality was not inflicted upon me. 3) Implying that homosexuality is inflicted, not genetic/natural/biological, makes no logical sense. What I mean is: homophobes believe that homosexuality is a choice, that homosexual persons choose to become gay. Mr. Schwartz, however, is saying that homosexuality is being inflicted upon people. If homosexuality is inflicted, then it cannot be chosen, as it has essentially been forced. Who started forcing people to be gay? If homosexuality is forced, how was the “1st homosexual” forced? At some point, someone had to have been born gay, or chosen to be gay. Which I’m sure would fit Mr. Schwartz’s warped beliefs, but…BUT, you’re giving that mysterious, hypothetical, 1st homosexual a lot of credit to say that they have inflicted homosexuality on approximately 10% of the population.

Just something to think about.

Clip from the Rachel Maddow show (I love her):

Clip of actual speech:

The Savage Garden

Hey all, I finished The Savage Garden by Mark Mills last night, and wanted to share a short review:

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The Savage Garden is about Cambridge student Adam Strickland and his time spent at a Florentine villa, studying the art of its grand garden as a summer research project. Villa Docci is beautiful, but haunted by secrets: the mysterious death 400 years before of the young wife of the villa’s owner and the death of Signora Docci’s eldest son, Emilio, 15 years before, at the end of WWII. Adam strives to unlock the secret of the garden and discover the true circumstances under which Emilio was killed – before he becomes another victim of the villa. I really enjoyed this novel: visualizing the beautiful architecture and gardens of Florence, the Italian lifestyle post-WWII, and the mystery of secrets hidden in plain sight. The weaving of history, art, architecture, Dante, and mythology are utterly engrossing and fascinating. I don’t really understand why some reviewers felt that the novel was overshadowed by its sex scenes; yes there was sex in the novel, but nothing too lewd or graphic. I’ve read novels where the sex was raunchy and unnecessary, but this was not such a novel. And being a college-aged male, spending 2-3 weeks in a foreign country alone, it was not out of character at all for our protagonist to have sex. Nonetheless, good book, definitely recommend.

Life in general time: Today was a long day. I recently (re)joined the YMCA as I am so out of shape and completely unhappy with the state of my appearance from college weight gain. So I was at the gym for about an hour this morning, then I had to come back, shower, get ready, and then make food for work, as well as make some lunch to eat. Then there was work, though tiring, was kind of exciting today because I got a key to the library (no more knocking on the door mornings i have to open!). Also, one of my co-workers bought me one of the nice library bags that the Friends of the Library sell (Thanks Becky!!) It was a really sweet thing to do, and it’s a nice bag.

That’s all for now. I’m exhausted, so it is definitely time to hit the hay. Good night!

Update: I decided to make my 2009 Book list post an actual page, located at the top of my blog, right next to the About Me. This way the list is easier to locate, and I don’t have to keep updating the date of the actual post to make it more visible. Not sure what I’m going to do with the actual post…may leave it where it is for now, and then update it to New Year’s Day 2010 when we get there.

2009 Book List

2009 Book Total (thus far): 36

[re-read entire Harry Potter series +7]

[re-read Sookie Stackhouse series (1-6) +6]

the Favorites:

Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer

Julia’s Chocolates – Cathy Lamb

The Glassblower of Murano – Marina Fiorato

The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned – Anne Rice

The Tales of Beedle the Bard – J.K. Rowling

All Together Dead – Charlaine Harris

From Dead to Worse – Charlaine Harris

the Good and/or Average ones:

The Book of Hours – T. Davis Bunn

Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out – edited Katia Roberto and Jessamyn West

Gray Apocalypse – James Murdoch

The Secret of Lost Things – Sheridan Hay

The Snow Garden – Christopher Rice

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

The Book of Air and Shadows – Michael Gruber

The Dead Fathers Club – Matt Haig

Death du Jour – Lou Jane Temple

Simple Wicca – Michele Morgan

Tall, Dark, and Dead – Tate Hallaway

Dead Sexy – Tate Hallaway

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions – Joyce & River Higginbotham

The Savage Garden – Mark Mills

the “Engh” books:

The Discomfort Zone – Jonathan Franzen

The Deadly Space Between – Patricia Duncker

Sellevision – Augusten Burroughs

School Books:

Gender Violence – edited O’Toole, Schiffman, Edwards

Sourcebook on Violence Against Women – edited Renzetti, Edleson, Bergen

A Choice of Enemies – Lawrence Freedman

Sex Trafficking – Kathryn Farr

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 – Lawrence Wright

Treacherous Alliance: the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the US – Trita Parsi

Constitutional Law and Politics vol. 1 – David M. O’Brien

The Caveman Mystique: Pop-Darwinism & the Debates Over Sex, Violence, Science – Martha McCaughey

Dying to be Men: Youth, Masculinity, & Social Exclusion – Gary T. Barker

The Macho Paradox – Jackson Katz

Imperial Life in the Emerald City – Rajiv Chandrasekeran