Ceilidh-Tripping the write fantastic


Eh, reviews and stuff. Probably. 



As seen on FB and Someecards
As seen on FB and Someecards
Reblogged from The Surly Dragon

Sam Taylor Mullens plagiarised Rachel Ann Nunes

Reblogged from TezMillerOz

Reading progress update: I've read 65%.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

This one is always a little slower going for me as it's *whispers* the one I like the least *whispers*. I'm not sure why, but this one has always fallen a little flat for me, but on the upside, my favorite is coming up next, yippee!!


The Great Harry Potter Re-Read of 2014, Huzzah!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

I'm being deliberate in my title as this is probably the 948,205th* time I've re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but this is the first time I've re-read it with Booklikes handy-dandy re-read function, hooray for new toys! Given all of those factors, I title this:


The Great Harry Potter Re-Read of 2014, Huzzah!


Up until the release of Book 7, I would re-read the series in advance of each new release and usually 1 or 2 times in the interim just to keep the cravings down, you know, to manage my addiction. Additionally, as the series grew from 4 to 5 to 6 books, and so on, I would start my re-read a little later in the series, usually with Book 3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 'cause that one has always been my favorite (or one of my favorites or maybe my favorite, oh, I don't want to play favorites, I love all of my frie- I mean, books equally). However, since the end of the series I think I've only done maybe 1 re-read and it was, again, from Book 3. So, with my recent purchase of the series in "e" format, I thought now would be the perfect time to start the whole adventure again, begin at the beginning and review along the way.


I am also re-rating them. I had rated most of the series, if not all, 4 or 5 stars. You'll note from my ratings I don't give many 5*. In fact, I tend to reserve 5* for classics, for lit-ra-ture if you will, so it's pretty rare for me to dole those out. You may also note that the rating I've got on this is now 5*. That's an increase and it's because after so many years and so many re-readings this book is still wonderful, charming, engrossing and decidedly holds up to the test of time. I would venture that I'll say the same in 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 years.**


So, here we go, installment 1:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - The Review

I love the way this series begins, it's very nearly perfect. I mean, take the opening line:

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

That is glorious. I love everything from the name "Dursley"-- doesn't that just sound so...well, dursley -- to Privet Drive, ubiquitous and hearty privet. I have a neighbor who planted a privet hedge between our properties, (I live in Atlanta and privet is the Great Invader, next to kudzu, of course.) horrible, rampant, impenetrable stuff that I am forever trying to remove from my jasmine. To have the Dursleys live on Privet Drive, to me, just sends home the point of this uninspired, uninterested, uninteresting, unthinking couple who are impossible to remove. They are boring and permanent and very happy about that fact...thank you very much (oh, how I love that too, so prissy and know-it-all, just fantastic).


Rowling starts us off with the most mundane (Dursleys, Privet, drills, most boring ties, fat-disagreeable children, gossipy small community, small lives) before we embark on our fantastic journey to the wide wizarding world -- this new universe to us. Her use of names and language is one of my favorite things about the HP universe, and points to why I uped the rating to 5*, the way she named people and places, the spells, everything has a deeper significance or are wonderful little jokes for the careful and curious reader. (Curses and Counter-curses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying and Much, Much More-by Professor Vindictus Viridian. Ah-mazing.)


I have to say, it was so much fun re-reading Sorcerer's Stone again. There is something deeply wonderful about going back to the beginning and having it all be just as fantastic, just as heartbreaking, just as funny, magical, tragic, remarkable as it was the first time around. That's the true test of this book, series and world.


On to   !


 *might be exaggerated for effect...might.

**probably won't be saying anything in 100 years...probably


Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Once a Witch - Carolyn MacCullough

This was quite a surprise, truly. In some ways it reminded me of the Witching Savannah books, The Line - J.D. Horn, but I liked the MC more here and the mythology around the family.


The Good:

  • Tamsin- she's a great main character, not perfect, but not too stupid to live either.
  • Girl on Girl Friendship- Agatha exists throughout the book and not just as a foil to Tam or just as bait for a bad guy.
  • Lurve- There's a little bit of romance, and the romantic interest is charming. No instalove. No stalking. No maudlin "I cannot live without yoooooou" draaaama
  • Magic- (I guess I should say Talent instead of magic.) I really enjoyed the way MacCullough constructed the magic in the story. There were rules and she followed them.


The Not as Good:

  • Big Bad- I felt like the first book barely scratched the surface of who and why. While I know there's a sequel (which I'll be getting soon) and you don't want to give everything away right at the start, I didn't feel like we had any real idea of the Big Bad's goal. I mean,
    I know sort of generally that he wants his mag-oops, sorry, Talent back, but we don't have any real idea of what happened.
    (show spoiler)
    It felt more like a set up, like the two books were split into two and this one wasn't the full story.
  • POV- This was told from Tamsin's point of view, which works for me, but it leaves the reader at a disadvantage as she doesn't know the what's of things either. Normally this is an opportunity for the reader to find out as the MC is discovering information, but the matter at hand is so encompassing (as it should be) that there's little time for Tamsin (and so the reader) to really learn about the full mythology and history. 


All in all though, as I mentioned in my update yesterday, this is a fun read that I flew through. If you're looking for something fun and witchy this is a great choice, highly recommend. Now, off to buy the sequel Always a Witch



Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

I finally got the e-books of Harry Potter.


I am irrationally excited.


(particularly since I have all of them, in hard copy, sitting in front of me)


Have Potter, will travel!!!!


Where shall we go???



Reading progress update: I've read 73%.

Once a Witch - Carolyn MacCullough

After finishing up We Were Liars, I was looking for something fun. I mean, not that WWL wasn't fun, it kinda was, but it kinda wasn't and I can't say any more or I'll be f--

read more

Great googly moogly

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

There's not much I can say about this, 'cause I don't want to spoil anyone else's fun, but hooo-weee, that sure was sumthin'!


So, here's the review: I started this book at lunchtime on Friday (yes, I was working). I read it over lunch and then put it away until I got home from work around 6:30 pm. I finished it around 8 that evening. Super crack-o-licious. Go forth, read it, and be ready for some


(show spoiler)


I'll say it again, hooooo-weeeeee!

And we're OFF!

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

So, what I've heard/read about this book:


"You should read it, definitely read it, OMG* totally read it..but DON'T read any reviews or the blurb or the spine or look at it too closely or even let it know you were wondering about the general plot. If it knows you're wondering about the plot EVERYTHING will fall apart!!!!!!!"** 


So, I'm reading it now, fresh as the virgin snow...or something like that.


I do have to say, if it all falls apart if I know more about the story, well, how good of a book is it? You know? (Ok, I might just be being a contrarian there--who're we kidding, I'm totally being a contrarian, but thems the breaks--and yes, I hate being spoiled***as much as the next person who hates being spoiled, but folks need to simmer down a little on this.) Deep breath y'all. It'll be ok, promise.


*Ugh, I cannot believe I just typed "OMG." Shoot me.

**I might be exaggerating. Might.

***Holy crap is it like The Crying Game?!?!? It's totally like 6th Sense, amirit? Gone Girl all the way, like completely Dangerous Girls....what??


All done!

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

Well, I finished this up last night. I have to say it was very good. Strayed has a fantastic writing style (so thinks I) and does a wonderful job of taking the reader with her on this pilgrimage. 


I use the word pilgrimage deliberately here, rather than journey, adventure, or even quest. This memoir reads like a pilgrimage to reclaim something of her self, to release something of her self (the her selfs, also deliberate) and to crossover into new being.  


Now, writing that? I nearly made myself hurl. I'm mean how indulgent, how eyerolly, but there's something almost painfully sincere about Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Strayed does a wonderful "warts and all" job of telling her story and even when you get those few moments, that to me felt a little...I can't think of the word, maybe indulgent? Narcissistic? I, at least, was willing to accept as a fundamentally human trait. I'm not explaining this well. Let's try this, there's a moment near the end of the book where she's speaking with the Young Bucks and they tell her they've figured out her "trail name." [A trail name is the name you're given by other hikers along the trail, more common on the AT, but also carries over to the PCT. So, for example, the Young Bucks is the trail name--it is odd to have one name for several people--for 3 young guys hiking the PCT from Mexico through to Canada.] They tell her that her trail name is


Queen of the PCT because as she has hiked all the way up people just go out of their way to help her and give her things and that never happens to them.

(show spoiler)


Normally, that right there would cause me to sprain my eyes from rolling them so hard, particularly since throughout the book we've been privy to how little she actually prepared, how little she knows about long distance hiking, how frequently she seems to ignore her common sense and end up in avoidable situations. It could come across as yet another pretty, blonde girl just floating through and trading on her looks rather than her ability. In fact, Strayed even mentions that while in high school she deliberately hid how smart she was because she knew she'd have a better go if thought dumb, pretty and popular. That would usually cause me to throw the book across the room, BUT in this case there is such a sincerity and such a humanness about Strayed here that I understood. 


That said, there are moments, whoooo boy, there are moments when I just wanted to shake the girl she was and say "get it together, kid!" I mean, seriously, 

you're by yourself in the literal middle of nowhere and 2 men, hunters, show up with weapons galore and no water. They instantly put you on edge, but you go ahead and let them use (and break) your only water filter, you GIVE them your scarce iodine pills and then, THEN, when you realize you need to get them away you tell them you're hiking on...and then you DON'T?!?! You proceed to CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES and STAY WHERE YOU ARE even though everything about them was threatening, pinged every warning bell in your body!?!?!? And you're surprised when the creepier of the two shows up again??? I'm sorry, but that???ARRRGHHGHHH!! Have SOME sense of self preservation, for GODSAKE!  It's a shame that one of those books she read on the trail wasn't The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence 

(show spoiler)


All in all, this was a great memoir and I'd definitely recommend it.

Reading progress update: I've read 82%.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

I was reading last night (I know, shocker) and I got to this part right here:


"I arrived in Ashland the next day around lunchtime, after hitching a ride from the trail with a group of AmeriCorps volunteers.


'Did you hear the big news?' one of them had asked after I'd climbed into their van.

I shook my head without explaining that I'd heard little news, big or small, for two months.


'You know the Grateful Dead?' he asked, and I nodded. 'Jerry Garcia is dead.'"


Ok, so I knew this took place in 1995, but I didn't really think too hard about that. Like I didn't try to place my life in context to this journey, not sure why, I think I just hadn't stopped to consider it. So, when I read that little exchange it stopped me cold, Like floored me and here's why-at the exact same moment in time that Cheryl Strayed was walking the PCT, the exact same time she was in an alien landscape trying to survive in the wild, I was doing THE EXACT SAME THING!!


Now, to be clear, I was not alone and I was not on the PCT. I was on my NOLS course in the Absorakas and the Wind River Ranges in WY. I did a horse packing course, a month in the wild with a horse, your gear and a pack animal (there were instructors and about 8 other students, you learn how to survive with minimal impact on the land. We had classes, lightening class, bear class, etc).


One of the funny things, and the reason I remember that it was when Jerry died, is that there was a tradition/joke on NOLS (until that point) where whenever you stopped for your re-rations the instructors would tell the students that Jerry had died. Since the vast majority of folks who did NOLS were rampant Deadheads it would usually create a stir. My brother had done a couple of courses, so I knew of this little tradition.


So, we stopped for our re-rations and...nothing. No lamenting the loss of Jerry. No needling students about memorials and other things happening in the civilized world, just nothing. Now, I thought that was really weird and there were a few of us on my course that talked about it, but we figured maybe the folks that met us just weren't in the know.


Flash forward to the end of our course and when we returned to Lander, WY we heard the news that Jerry had in fact died while we were on our course.


So, last night when I was reading that just struck me so clearly. I know exactly where I was at that exact time in her story...which is kinda freaky and kinda cool. 


Or, at least, I thought so. 


Which famous writer are you?

[Reblogging from RedTHaws]


So, this is fun and apparently I write like James Joyce*!






*oh, and I totally don't, but this quiz says it's true! So it must be true, right???

Reblogged from Olga Godim

Reading progress update: I've read 63%.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

I'm really enjoying this, but I have one small problem...


As a NOLS graduate, her lack of preparation for hiking the PCT is killing me! smdh


Thankfully, I know it doesn't kill her, however.

One down, two more to go?

Ashfall - Mike Mullin

So I finished Ashfall, last week? I think it was last week, I'm not exactly certain. I was preparing for a keynote speech I had to give and the last few weeks are a blur--eh, let's go with last week.


I thought it was really good. I loved Darla, Alex is a great MC, useful, reasonable, but not a Gary Stu, which is refreshing. Loved that the book was told from the POV of a male protagonist, which you don't see as often in YA. The world that Mullin describes is painful, bleak, horrifying, terrifying, and frighteningly possible. I think he did a fantastic job of creating an entertaining and horrifying read.


I will say this. It's not an easy book to read. There are no punches pulled, which did make it difficult to continue at times. Honestly, I had to set it aside and pick up something fluffy to distract me before I could continue with the story on a couple of occasions. This, to me, is a sign of an author who is willing to follow the story wherever it may take him, which I really appreciated as a reader and really applaud in a YA book. It's lovely to see an author respect the intelligence and maturity of teen readers and not talk down to them.


My only thing (and I'm not going to call it a complaint or a criticism, because it's not) was how it ended. I very much appreciated it not ending on a cliff, praise Jeebus, the story had a beginning, middle and end. Yes, there's more to the story, but it's not an "Alias Season 2 Cliffhanger of Doom" (as I've taken to calling these things) so I'm grateful. (***If you have not watched Seasons 1 & 2 of the show Alias Do Not Watch that link!!!***)


The way it did end, however, reminded me of TS Elliot's line in The Hollow Men , "Not with a bang but a whimper." It just sort of...ended

Reading progress update: I've read 35%.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

I've wanted to read this for ages, ever since I realized that she was Sugar. I love Sugar. So far, so good. She has such a way with language and words, I really do love reading her stuff, it feels effortless while still having gravitas and a delicious weight.


(stupid job keeping me from reading today...)




(AND an effective way to banish the awful memories of the source material)