Days 7 and 8

September 28, 2010

Oh, playing catch up.

Day 7: A writer you don’t like.

1. Terry Pratchett.
2. Stephenie Meyer.

Day 8: Your favorite work in translation

1. I haven’t actually read much translated books. I did like Wildcat Under Glass, by Alki Zei, quite a bit.


Days 5 and 6.

September 26, 2010

Started a job yesterday and posting slipped my mind. Here’s a combo makeup post.

Day 5: A book you hate.

1. Twilight, by Stephaine Meyer. Yep, I said it. This is the only book on this list of books I hate that I think is actually damaging to young women, versus just not being to my personal taste. I do not understand people who say these books are a good example to teenagers. Is premarital sex really that much more important to people than abuse and control? Such a gross book.

2. Arrowsmith, by Sinclair Lewis. I’m not normally bothered by a self-involved protagonist, but Martin Arrowsmith is painfully self involved. I found nothing to like about this, it was seriously difficult to finish.

Day 6: Your favorite writer.

1. Jonathan Safran Foer. I started reading his books after I saw him on The Colbert Report promoting Eating Animals. I thought it was great, so checked Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close out of the library as well.

2. Kazuo Ishiguro. I read Remains of the Day for Academic Decathlon in high school, as well as 3 other novels by Ishiguro. I kind of forgot about him as an author until last year when Never Let Me Go was my favorite novel read in 2009. I’m a little afraid to see the movie though.

3. Kelley Armstrong. Her books aren’t as *deep thoughts* as my other two favorites, but I love how she writes a strong female character. She’s also an author I’ll spend time tracking down otherwise marginal anthologies to read her short stories.

Day 4: Only the most difficult question of the bunch.

September 24, 2010

Today’s prompt: Your favorite book ever.

I find this an incredibly loaded question. My favorite book ever? I have so many favorites, and they change from day to day, or with my moods. This prompt makes me feel like I need to select something deep and important, and while there are Capital I Important books that I love, I think to be a favorite, a book has to be something I would pick up over and over, to read until it was worn out. So, I think I’ll go with a selection of books I have read so many times they are literally falling apart.

1. Watership Down by Richard Adams. This is an example of great book/traumatizing movie. Seriously, do not show this movie to an overly sensitive eight year old. Nightmares, so many of them. The book, however, I absolutely love.

2. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. My favorite Judy Bloom book. An excellent book about grief and loss, and finding your way out of it. There are parts that are a little dated now, but I think the themes still ring true.

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I could read this every day.

Day 3 – Am I on a roll?

September 23, 2010

Prompt for day 3: Your favorite recent book.

Hmm, I’m not sure if this is supposed to be my favorite book I read recently or my favorite book that was released recently. I’ll give one for each I suppose.

Favorite new release: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This book came out in February of this year, but it took until September before I was able to get a copy from the library. Totally worth the wait. Part biography, part book about medical ethics, I found this super interesting.

Favorite not new release that I just read: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. It’s a YA book narrated by death, what’s not to like. I thought this was a very impressive execution of story telling. You find out within the first 50 pages how the story ends, yet the ending still manages to be shocking and heart wrenching.

Book meme day 2

September 22, 2010

Day 2: A book that you wish more people had read.

1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I think this is my favorite book so far this year. Same author as Everything is Illuminated, which I also liked, but not as much as this one. I’m not going to say anything about the plot, since I think the idea of this prompt is to get you all to read it.

2. The Value of Nothing, by Raj Patel. It’s a snarky political economics book. I think I probably got more out of this than the average man on the street because of my degree in political theory. I’ve already read most of the authors he references; Smith, Hobbes, etc. What was different in this was really the sense of humor.

3. The Dark Side: The Inside Story on How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer and Blackwater: Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill. These books complement each other greatly, being slightly different angles on the same events in recent history. They’re a hard read, but I think it’s important as an American to know what is being done by my country.

Book meme

September 21, 2010

My friend Kathy started this meme and I thought I’d play along. It’s just 30 days of answering questions about books, which will hopefully get me back in the habit of updating here. (and I swear I’ll have something to say about knitting soon, I just really need to take photos of things)

Day 1: Your favorite series of books (with more than 3 in the series)

The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling – There’s not much to say about these that I didn’t say about a month ago. I find them incredibly moving, especially for books ostensibly written for children.

The Women of the Otherworld Series, by Kelley Armstrong – Wonderfully fluffy series about werewolves, witches, vampires, etc. The things I love about the series are the revolving main characters, and the way Armstrong writes strong female characters. They might not always know what they want, but once they figure it out, they’re going to get it. There have been some ups and downs with the series, but I’m hoping its back on track after the most recent book.

Those two are probably my favorites, but I read several series currently. J.D. Robb’s …in Death, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse are all in progress. It’s to the point where I need to stop picking up new series because I don’t have time for the non-fiction and non-serial novels I want to read.

Here’s the list of the schedule for this meme, I’ll only be including this today because it’s going to make my posts way too long otherwise.

Day 01 – Your favorite series of books (with more than 3 in the series)
Day 02 – A book that you wish more people had read
Day 03 – Your favorite recent book
Day 04 – Your favorite book ever
Day 05 – A book you hate
Day 06 – Your favorite writer
Day 07 – A writer you don’t like
Day 08 – Your favorite work in translation
Day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
Day 12 – A book you’ve read more than twice
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book
Day 14 – Favorite male character
Day 15 – Favorite female character
Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure book
Day 17 – Favorite trilogy or tetralogy
Day 18 – Favorite book cover
Day 19 – Best ensemble of characters in a book
Day 20 – Favorite kiss or love scene
Day 21 – Favorite fictional romantic relationship
Day 22 – Favorite ending/climax
Day 23 – Most annoying character
Day 24 – Best quote
Day 25 – A book you plan on reading
Day 26 – OMG WTF? plot
Day 27 – Favorite non-mainstream writer
Day 28 – First book obsession
Day 29 – Current book obsession
Day 30 – Saddest character death

Photos around town

September 3, 2010



Some camera phone pictures that amused me running errands today. Posting from my phone, please excuse any spelling errors.

Picture one: haters gonna hate.

Picture two: I judge this book by its cover, and that judgement is awesome.

Yes Virginia, I am a Harry Potter fan.

August 23, 2010

I recently discovered a great blog, Mark Reads Harry Potter, where the author is reviewing the HP books one chapter at a time as he reads them for the first time ever. It got me thinking about HP, and how I relate to books in general. I read a lot. Seriously, a lot. (If you’re on Goodreads I’m on there as jessimuhka) Books have always been a big part of my life, and what was going on in my life at the time is indelibly linked to the first time I read that particular book. Here’s a sample of that effect, and what Harry Potter means to me.

The HP series is something that broke me out of an incredibly childish way of dealing with pop culture. My feelings of being an outcast and never quite fitting in had led me to a way of thinking that was something like this:

– people suck
– people like Random Thing Z
– by the transitive property, Random Thing Z sucks

I was very opposed to reading HP, although I had seen the first movie, which I thought was alright. Then, the summer of 2002, College Boyfriend came back from a trip with a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for me. Honestly, I was kind of annoyed that he’d decided a book I’d expressly said I didn’t want to read was an appropriate gift, but if someone gives me a book, I read it. And I read it in an evening. I very clearly remember laying on my mattress on the floor of my first off campus apartment, and reading it in one sitting. Him, “So, you liked it?” Me, “It was less bad than expected.” Him, “You read the whole book in under 4 hours.” Me, “I’m a fast reader.” (I actually read most novels in one sitting, which is why I eventually had to make the decision to never start a book after 8PM. There are many times I have stayed up all night reading a book. Many, many, times.)

Some time passed, and I pestered him about the rest of the books. Eventually I checked Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire out from the library, and then when I loved them, picked up paperback copies from Target. Goblet of Fire was a particularly filthy large print edition that weighed approximately 18 pounds. It was annoying how often I had to turn the pages, but I finished it in record time.

Thus began my reluctant love affair with Harry Potter. I didn’t get Order of the Phoenix the day it came out. Instead, I picked it up at Costco that summer, just after moving in with College BF. And I sat on our only piece of furniture and read the whole book in one go starting at about 6PM. He had to wave a hand in front of my face to get me to hear him ask about dinner, which hadn’t happened to me in a long time. The ending destroyed me.

Half Blood Prince I actually went to the midnight release for, with my friend Megan. Some friends of hers were having a read aloud party right after they got the books, but I have no patience for reading aloud. I went straight home and was finishing the book just as the sun came up. And again, the ending was made of tears and WTF.

Deathly Hallows I just pre-ordered on Amazon. I’m getting a little old to wait until midnight for a book to come out, and oh yeah, had this thing called a day job. Of course, Amazon lost my order, and it took a few days for my book to show up. Somehow this cooled my desire to read it, and it sat on my bookshelf for ages. I think I didn’t want it to be over. Finally I got my act together and had half a day to devote to reading. Honestly, I don’t remember the book super well, probably because I blew through it too fast, wanting to know OMG, what happens, tell me now! (Patience is not my strong suit.) I was fairly satisfied with the ending, though I thought the epilogue was crap.

Actually, come to think of it, I think I need to read all the books again. The first Deathly Hallows movie comes out November 19. That’s plenty of time in which to go through the series, considering it will probably be difficult for me to stretch it out longer than a week. What about you guys? Harry Potter fans? Do you have memories of what was happening in your life when you read certain books? I want to know.

Another Comic-Con Post

July 30, 2010

Yes, I’ll get back to the knitting soon. I’ve got a few items blocking and waiting for their photo shoots as we speak, including the shawl I knit at SDCC.

I managed to make it through 3 whole days of Comic-Con this year, more than any other year. I think the main reason for this is I finally (in my 4th year) figured out to just not do things I don’t like. In previous years I spent significant time on the show floor, battling my way from booth to booth, and hating every second of it. This year I was down there for about 30 minutes and decided that was enough. I don’t care to pick up clutter disguised as swag, and I hate being jostled by crowds. Sitting in panels and chatting with friends is much more my SDCC persona.

Friday I spent the entire day in Ballroom 20. What can I say, I really wanted to see the True Blood panel, and the line was insane. Most of the stuff I sat through was at least not actively bad. The day went Stargate Universe, Caprica, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Joss Whedon, Women Who Kick Ass, and True Blood. Besides the TB panel, which was just full of pretty, and confirmed an amnesia storyline from the books is upcoming, the panels I enjoyed most were probably Caprica and BBT, neither of which I watch. The Caprica panel had surprise James Marsters, who opined about Smallville (It’s still on because Tom Wellington is still hot), the Buffy Universe, and Torchwood. And those were just questions from the moderator. BBT had surprise Bare Naked Ladies, who played the theme song for a sing along. It was also the first of 3 panels I randomly saw Wil Wheaton on. That was a lot of Wil Wheaton for someone with no real opinion about the dude. After the panels my friend Mandy and I wandered over to the Room of Fulfillment to pick up Bones and TB freebies. We got the newest Kathy Reichs paperback from the Bones panel, and a huge bag of stuff from TB, including the 3rd Sookie Stackhouse book, a t-shirt, postcards, band-aids, and a notebook. HBO certainly knows how to give good swag.

Saturday most of my day was over at the Hilton in the Indigo Ballroom. It was a nice big room, but had horrible sound problems all day. We started the day off with Leverage, which D is really into (I call it his stories). They gave us show t-shirts (mine says “Mastermind”) that are actually quite nice. The designs aren’t anything super special, but the actual shirt quality is really great. A free shirt I’ll actually wear! This was my 2nd unexpected Wil Wheaton, along with unexpected most of the cast. Christian Kane was pretty funny, and aside from sound issues this was a solid panel. Freebies, sneak previews, funny cast – what more can you ask for? Second panel of the day was Venture Bros. Also a good panel, in a completely different way. Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick got into a long rambling discussion of an awesomely terrible movie called Incognito. I’ve already added it to my Netflix queue. Third was some show on SyFy that looked terrible. No one was actually there to see them either, judging by crowd response and turn-over. Fourth was The Guild, which showed us the best video of all of Comic-Con.

Video: Season 4 – Music Video – “Game On”

You will not be sorry if you watch that, I promise. The Guild was also Wil Wheaton panel number 3. After The Guild was the panel I’d been waiting for, Community. It was worth the wait for my excellent seat (3rd row!) and to see live versions of Donald Glover and Danny Pudi doing both the Biblioteca rap and Somewhere Out There duet. Awesome. After the Q&A I had to scoot out quickly to get back to the main Convention Center for The Vampire Diaries. TVD is totally my stories. It’s so fun and full of pretty. Sadly, it wasn’t a great panel, as the moderator was terrible. But, lots of pretty people and a nice preview reel for season 2, so not a total loss. My absolute last panel was actually a panel about comics, imagine that! The one comic I’m actually really into is Fables, so I was excited to see them this Comic-Con. It was an okay panel. We saw some art previews for upcoming issues that looked AMAZING, so that is super exciting. They also had a pretty cute give away that ties into what’s happening in the comics right now. It’s totally a comic I’d recommend checking out, and your library probably has at least the first couple collections.

Brains are funny, or how we became a one car family (finally)

July 27, 2010

I just sold my car and I’m feeling pretty emotional about it. In some ways I’m relieved – it had turned into a giant money pit and space hog – and in others I’m incredibly sad.

Like many Californians, getting my drivers license was a huge coming of age thing for me. I got it about two months after I turned 16, even though my parents wanted me to wait. (mom hadn’t learned to drive until she was 27) Finally I just made the appointment with the DMV, which worked in that I got the license, but I wasn’t actually allowed to drive for a few months after that. For all but about 8 months of my driving career, I’ve been driving the car I just sold. It had been limping along the last 5 years, radiator problems, weird over-heating problems no one could diagnose, a never ending string of “check engine light” indicators, but it was my car.

It was my car, in the way that it provided me a way of getting away in a rough time in my life. My parents are great, but we did not get along well my last couple years of high school. It really can’t be overstated how much I valued the freedom being able to drive provided me. When I moved out, the car stayed home for the first two years, then joined me in San Diego. It was there, hauling my stuff, for the next 7 years. It saw me through the disastrous year where I had to move three times. (I do not recommend this) And it got me safely back and forth to my first grown-up job. It was a good car.

For the last six month though, it had been sitting in my parking spot, just sitting. Couldn’t drive it, because it overheated like crazy and couldn’t be trusted to get me back home safely. Couldn’t fix it because while I couldn’t find out what exactly was wrong, it was assuredly something expensive. We’d been functionally operating as a one car family for a solid six months before I finally gave up the car. Even though it wasn’t providing me with that freedom any more, and even though I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need a car to provide me with freedom, it was really hard to let it go. No matter how much intellectually I knew the car needed to go, my brain kept screaming “but I need it!” to me. Finally letting it go is like ripping a band-aid off. It stings right now, but I’ll get over it.