Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mini-Review: I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1

To give you an idea of the tone of this book, the comic was originally called F*ck Fairyland.  So don't expect unicorns and rainbows.  Well, I mean, there are rainbows and fairies and stuff, but there's also decapitation, evisceration, and buckets o'blood.  Fluffernutting fairy rules.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ALA Annual 2016 #ISurvived

I survived Orlando.  In June.  If I believed in Hell, the weather there would match that of Orlando.

I am completely exhausted from having my flight delayed last night.  Because I am old, I am unable to function the next day if I go to bed after midnight.

Recapping the conference would be rather odd because I did a lot of networking and learned how to schmooze, but I will say that all the authors I met were perfectly lovely, and that you absolutely have to pre-order or place a hold on Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell's new book, Inspector Flytrap, and that my librarian friends are awesome and make me feel happy and accepted and loved.

Delayed flights meant that I got through five books that I now need to review, but thankfully, my reviewing mojo has come back with sass and verve.  I have Opinions to share with you.

Librarians are human, and we make mistakes.  After witnessing a few cringeworthy moments, I have three morsels of advice to offer.

  1. Do not go to a panel and when asked for a question, proceed to tell your life story.  If at a diversity panel for We Need Diverse Books, do not get up and, as a white person, talk about how you never saw black people as a kid because there were only Italians and Polish people in your city but now you know about black people thanks to "you people" and then gesture at the POC on the panel.  It's othering and rude and offensive and also not a question.  
  2. Do not desperately flirt with someone on your panel, especially when you know the other person is married.
  3. Do not use your panel as an opportunity to throw one of your coworkers under the bus for being "difficult to work with."  Definitely do not read directly from a confidential analysis made by librarians who were payed to analyze your workflows in order to make a point about this person.  Do not blame people for quitting.  Someone in the audience will know, or know of, the person you're dissing.  This is super unprofessional.
Hopefully, I'll be able to get some reviews in after my old person constitution has recovered from the shock of a late night.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cranky Life Update

I'm in a cranky slump right now.  A slump exacerbated by extreme stress, impending travel, various family members being hospitalized, and my conviction that I have some mysterious illness that is causing me to sleep for 12 hours straight and be dead to the world.  I also don't feel like blogging at all.  I look at what I've written lately compared to what I used to write and I don't see myself there.  There's no spark.  There's no me.  There are just words on a screen and it's monumentally depressing, to say the very least.

I started writing because I had to get my feelings about books out, and even my most tolerant and patient friends could only take so much of my ranting.  So I unleashed it here, in this random, obscure corner of the internet.  But right now, I don't feel like doing that.  I feel more push to post ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME than I feel the pull to express myself.  So I'm stepping back.

I often find myself wondering how people write entire books.  I can't even manage to eke out a few mildly witty and incisive paragraphs about someone else's book.

And then there's the drama of the book blogging world.  Here, have a meme!  Here, fight over ARCs!  Here, labor under the delusion that you're a speshul snowflake and are entitled to free books and swag and autographs and the adoration of nameless fans.  Dude (and I use that word in the most Bill and Ted, gender-neutral way possible): you're not all that and a bag of chips.  Not everyone can be THE BEST AT BOOK BLOGGING.  That's not what "the best" means.

It's exhausting to read about bloggers or vloggers or bookstagrammers or whatever the heck portmanteau we've created to match up with the latest social media platform (do we have booksnappers yet?) who are pouty that they didn't snag the a copy of A Hysteria of Hype and Roses or whatever at the latest convention or event.  That Netgalley or Edelweiss didn't approve their request.  Those ARCs?  They are just things.  It's what's inside that counts.  Books are ideas and dreams and wishes and fears.  It doesn't matter how early you are able to read a book.  What matters is how the book affects you.  Did it change the way you think about life?  Did it exhilarate you?  Did it leave you somber and pensive?  Did it touch your soul?  That's what's important, not where or how or from whom you received this glorified rough draft.

I'll be heading to ALA Annual this week in Orlando.  I don't feel as excited as I usually would because of what happened in Orlando.  However, I hope to recharge my creative batteries.  This will be accomplished by: attending sessions, meeting my friends, getting tons of ARCs for my Teen SRP prizes (I am running out already!!!) and sitting by the pool.  Mostly I am looking forward to the pool.

Plus, at work, we migrated to a new ILS, changed our website, and changed our room booking software all in the same week.  I would not wish that on my worst enemy.

So.  You've reached the end of my rambling, incoherent, grumpy post about my general grumpiness.  Radio silence until next week, but catch me on Twitter @Pamelibrariland because I'll definitely be live-tweeting ALA!  I also have a Snapchat but because I am an Old, I don't remember what my Snapchat name is and I'm still not quite sure how to use it other than to face-swap.  You can probably search for me on there, though.

Monday, June 20, 2016


As a child, I was obsessed with horses.  I could name all the different breeds.  I pretended to "go through my paces" in the backyard.  My parents, long-suffering and wonderful, bought me oodles of horse figurines.  More than anything, I wanted a horse.  I wanted to grow up and own horses and ride them around and screech "HORSIES!" all the time.

I think that an obsession with horses is pretty par for the course for a lot of kids, but I still cringe when I think of my earnest nerdiness.  It certainly didn't help matters that I had a lisp and for several years, had difficulty with my "r"s.  Tho when I tawlked about howtheth, I thounded like thith.  With no awths.  It's supremely embarrassing, although my parents assure me it was "cute."  Uh-huh.  Cute.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

It's been a wild week so far at work, so I haven't gotten much reading done at all!

Replica by Lauren Oliver.  I'm still working on this one.   The format is great, but I'm starting to have concerns about how Gemma is portrayed as a fat girl.  Hmmm.  It's more like "fat" girl ...

Superfudge by Judy Blume.  I don't know why I didn't read these as a kid.  They are hysterical!

The Mark of Cain by Lindsay Barraclough.  I honestly forgot this one was on my Kindle.  Whoops!

The Light Electric by Sarah Combs.  While browsing Netgalley, I stumbled upon this, and mostly I just liked the cover.  The story is pretty good so far--we shall see.

The Left Hand of Darkness

Here I was, reading one of the classics of science-fiction, and possibly one of the most beautiful, thought-provoking pieces I've ever encountered, and I kept hearing the voice of Derek Zoolander in my mind, petulantly whining, "I'm not an ambi-turner!"  Why is that?

Well, it may be because I'm a bit mad.  Or because The Left Hand of Darkness explores the essential and ever-present question of what it means to be human in light of a race who is ambisexual--fluctuating between male and female.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Graces

In a nameless city by the sea, there lived a family of great power.  The townspeople, jealous of the family's prosperity and perplexed by far too many coincidences for good taste or bad luck, condemned the family as witches.  How else could they explain the strange influence the family exerted over the land?

One day, a quiet young woman moved into town with her mother.  She was poor, and barely had enough to eat at school.  But something about this gil intrigued the three children of the witch-family.  As the girl and the youngest witch-daughter become close friends, long-kept secrets spill from mouths like blood from backstabbing and sacrifice.

Well, that was the idea, anyway.  In reality?  The Graces was a confusing, muddled, uneven morass of purple prose and flat characters that left me profoundly disappointed.  But that cover, though!  Oh!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Limbo, Vol. 1

Take one part Tron, one part original MTV, and one part electric bugaloo acid trip, and you've got Limbo.  Amazingly, this seemingly disparate and easily derailed combination of styles and ideas actually worked for me.  It's not every day that I find myself saying, "Wow!" in a good way about a comic where people get sucked into television sets and tormented by drug kingpins and assisted by roommates with green skin who are into voodoo.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

What happened to the week?  I swear I just started The Mark of Cain ... and made no progress.  To be fair, I was distracted by the meaty bits of The Left Hand of Darkness and also work stuff.  So in addition to that, this week I am reading:

Titans by Victoria Scott.  This is a natural choice for horse-obsessed younger me.

The Graces by Laure Eve.  I keep flip-flopping on my feelings for this, but it is so dishy that I have to keep reading.

Replica by Lauren Oliver.  I started with Lyra.  Ooooooooo!

I am

I am sitting--curled up, really--on my bed, writing.  My apartment is quiet.  I seem quiet.  But I'm not.

Inside, I'm seething boiling raging shaking my fists.  On the outside, I try to keep it down on account of the neighbors.  They have a baby.  I'm not a monster, you know.

But some people look at me like I am.  At the very least, as if I'm some sort of unclassifiable entity that makes them uncomfortable, and so they plaster this rictus of a smile on their faces and scurry away.  I should go all in and cover myself head to foot and cry out "Leprosy!  Leprosy!" whenever they approach.

Except I'm not a leper.  I'm single.

That's something people seem to think is terrifying, or pitiable, or maybe some weird combination of both.  They assume that I'm a lesbian (I'm not) or that I'm afraid of marriage (also not) or that I'm a "cat lady" (also also not ... I'm a dog person but my current apartment tragically doesn't allow pets).  I'm just ... picky.  I'd much rather be picky, sitting here in solitude, with complete freedom to cook what I want and eat when I want and go where I want and do what I want than to look back at my life and feel like I gave in and gave up.

That sort of narrative isn't popular in society.  Everyone likes to pretend that humanity is so advanced compared to, say, Victorian times, when people took nitrous oxide for funsies and used bits of dead whales to make their waists as teeny as possible and also posed with dead people for photographs because memories!  And we cluck our tongues and shake our heads at the loveless marriages made to tie families together, or to produce children, or to give a woman a safe place to sleep.  "I can't believe they didn't marry for love!" we screech, recoiling a bit from the idea.  "At least, today, we have a choice."  Um, hi, yeah, part of making that choice is realizing that if you are not in love with someone, you don't get married.

I'm not saying I'll never get married.  When I was little I used to dream about it.  Would I like to find a guy?  Yeah!  Do I trust in myself enough now to know that I am complete as I am, and don't need any of that Jerry Maguire crap in my life?  Heck yeah!  If some nerdy, charming, bookish fellow strolled into my life, would I like that?  Do you really need to ask?

To sum up: I am not anti-love or anti-relationship or any of that.  I just want the freedom to be as I am and as I choose without being judged by other people and without having the romance-completes-a-person narrative rammed down my gullet for it to sit in my soul, giving me indigestion.

This musing brought to you by my disastrous reading of The Diabolic, reviewed here.  This is basically part two of that post, so you can read them together if you so wish.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Diabolic

This book makes me furious.  And that might be because I'm in this sort of ragingly-depressed state right now where I'm brooding about my life and what people think of my life and my choices and how it's none of their business, etc.  How all of my friends are having babies and I'm over here like, "No thanks."

But what does this have to do with a book about a genetically-altered bodyguard in a far-future space hegemony?  As it turns out, a lot more than you would think.

Monday, June 6, 2016

S'up brah? It's me, Pip.

You know, I could have started this with a "great expectations" pun but I refrained.  I am so proud of myself.  I am even prouder that I made myself finish Great Expectations, which is, to date, the only Dickens novel I have disliked.

I was considering using "loathed" or "despised" there, but I have to admit that there were some funny bits and that Miss Havisham is indeed all she's cracked up to be.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Define "Normal"

This is a Problem Novel.  Teens have Problems, which are mostly solved by Growing and Helping Each Other.  However, it's also immensely readable and enjoyable.  I found it difficult to reconcile the vaguely preachy message of the book and the well-isn't-that-convenient methods of resolution with the quick-moving plot and the cute banter between the characters (excluding the weird, made-up slang).  Define "Normal" definitely plays on the reader's emotions and expects the drama to overshadow the issues with the narrative.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I FINALLY finished Great Expecations (review forthcoming), and am nearing the halfway point for Les Mis.  If I can finish it before I die, that would be awesome.

In the meantime, I am also reading:

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin.  Fascinating book, but I have to go slowly so I don't miss anything important.

The Mark of Cain by Lindsay Barraclough.  This is marketed as a "companion" to Long Lankin, but it's really more of a sequel.  Long Lankin is terrifying, by the way.  Add it to your list.

Wool by Hugh Howey.  This is really good, you guys.  I only wish I weren't getting myself into another series, but I am.

Titans by Victoria Scott.  It's like National Velvet, but with engines and oil and grease.