Monthly Archives: January 2013

Bossypants by Tina Fey

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“I experienced car creepery at thirteen. I was walking home from middle school past a place called the World’s Largest Aquarium – which, legally, I don’t know how they could call it that, because it was obviously an average-sized aquarium. Maybe I should start referring to myself as the World’s Tallest Man and see how that goes? Anyway, I was walking home from school and I was wearing a dress. A dude drove by and yelled, “Nice tits.” Embarrassed and enraged, I screamed after him, “Suck my dick.” Sure, it didn’t make any sense, but at least I didn’t hold in my anger.”

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A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George RR Martin

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*A NOTE ABOUT SPOILERS: This review does not contain spoilers for A Feast for Crows. HOWEVER, it does contain spoilers for the previous installment (A Storm of Swords). Proceed with caution. Also, George RR Martin did not actually write this. Because duh.

Hey everyone, George RR Martin here. I thought I’d take some time off from planning my intricate and complex storylines (spoiler alert: everyone has sex with everyone and then kills each other) to introduce A Feast for Crows, the long-awaited fourth installment in my epic fantasy series! You guys are in for a treat, this one is awesome.

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A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George RR Martin

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*A NOTE ABOUT SPOILERS: While this review doesn’t have any spoilers for A Storm of Swords, it does include spoilers for the previous book, A Clash of Kings. If you haven’t read that one yet, proceed with caution.

PREVIOUSLY, ON A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: A ton of dudes came up out of the woodwork to fight over a stupid crown, lots of people died, lots of people killed lots of people, there was consensual sex and a lot more rape, some hookers and mercenaries, and life continued to be utterly terrible for anyone with the last name Stark. Also there are fucking dragons and ice-zombie-monsters, don’t forget about those! It only gets more fun from here, boys and girls.

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Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

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A good, very thorough biography of a fascinating woman – Foreman is lucky to have had access to hundreds of letters written by Georgiana and her colleagues, so we get to see the historical figures telling their stories in their own words (something I’m not used to, being more fond of Tudor-era history). Also interesting was how many of Georgiana’s letters don’t survive, and why. She had some Victorian descendants who, due to being Victorian, took it upon themselves to clean up their ancestor’s image by censoring or even destroying any letters that openly discussed Georgiana’s numerous affairs. Thanks a lot, prudes.

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A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George RR Martin

Clash of Kings cover

“Kill your darlings” is a popular piece of advice given in creative writing classes – it’s the concept that you shouldn’t ever be afraid to take drastic and destructive action on your precious baby of a novel in order to move the plot forward or improve the story. George RR Martin should be held up as the gold standard of this rule, since his books might as well come labeled with a giant “Don’t Get Too Attached” warning. It isn’t just major and beloved characters (Eddard Stark, you will be avenged!) that get killed off in the space of a sentence; entire plots that have been building slowly for hundreds of pages are laid to waste with a single action so a new clusterfuck can get started.

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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George RR Martin

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(reviewer’s disclaimer: as I write this, I’ve had two cocktails and three beers in the past three hours, so while this will not be strictly a Drunk Review, it will definitely be a Tipsy Review. To the extent that I’ve had to re-type “review” twice because I can’t seem to spell it right. Viewer discretion is advised)

My first exposure to this fantasy series was in high school when I was talking to a friend about books and she said, “Have you read the Song of Ice and Fire series? It’s amazing.” I had never heard about it, and asked for more information. What followed was a rambling, ten-minute explanation of the various regions and families at play in George RR Martin’s fantasy epic, and I left the discussion wondering how anyone could find such a drawn-out, complicated story interesting.

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Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Midnight's Children cover

“Please believe that I am falling apart.
I am not speaking metaphorically; nor is this the opening gambit of some melodramatic, riddling, grubby appeal for pity. I mean quite simply that I have begun to crack all over like an old jug – that my poor body, singular, unlovely, buffeted by too much history, subjected to drainage above and drainage below, mutilated by doors, brained by spittoons, has started coming apart at the seams. In short, I am literally disintegrating, slowly for the moment, although there are signs of acceleration. I ask you only to accept (as I have accepted) that I shall eventually crumble into (approximately) six hundred and thirty million particles of anonymous, and necessarily oblivious, dust. That is why I have resolved to confide in paper, before I forget. (We are a nation of forgetters.)”

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

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“An idea was beginning to take shape in my mind, a variation of my city-hopping weekends. I would make Savannah my second home. I would spend perhaps a month at a time in Savannah, long enough to become more than a tourist if not quite a full-fledged resident. I would inquire, observe, and poke around wherever my curiosity led me or wherever I was invited. I would presume nothing. I would take notes.
Over a period of eight years I did just that, except that my stays in Savannah became longer and my return trips to New York shorter. At times, I came to think of myself as living in Savannah. I found myself involved in an adventure peopled by an unusual assortment of characters and enlivened by a series of strange events, up to and including murder. But first things first.”

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Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility cover

I hate romantic comedies.

I hate them for a wide variety of reasons – I hate their formulaic plots, their repeated character tropes that never seem to change (hmm, will this one have a sassy best friend who only exists to dispense advice?), I hate their consistent failing of the the Bechdel test, and I hate the way they try to make me believe that a skinny and gorgeous woman is incapable of finding a man because she’s clumsy or has a job or something.

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Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Advisor to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach

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“Great persons, like great empires, leave their mark on history.”

There’s a photo in this book of the 1921 Cairo Conference, called by Winston Churchill to figure out what to do with the newly-independent Arabia, and of the forty delegates pictured, there is one woman: Gertrude Bell. She was a colleague of Winston Churchill and TE Lawrence, and a close personal adviser to King Faisel (better known as Alec Guiness in Lawrence of Arabia, a four hour yawnfest of a movie that features Gertrude Bell exactly zero times). How does a woman born in 1868 end up traveling to parts of the Middle East that have never been explored by white men before, become a vital part of the British government in Arabia, and create the borders of modern day Iraq? The short answer is: with a hell of a lot of determination, curiosity, spirit, and (to be fair) Daddy’s money. But mostly the first three, because damn this lady was impressive.

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