Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Spin by Catherine McKenzie is a novel about 30-year-old Kate Sandford, a struggling music journalist in the  big city.  She freelances for small publications, writing about local bands.  Half her friends are still in college and think she's a 25-year-old graduate student, and they spend an awful lot of time partying.  Her best friend from home is on the opposite end of the spectrum - responsible and successful working hard in her career at a bank.    Things seem like they might actually be on the up for Kate, though, when she lands an interview for a position at her dream job:  writing for an edgy music magazine, The Line.  She completely tanks it, though, when she goes out to celebrate the interview and her birthday the night before, and shows up late and still drunk.  

So it's a huge surprise when Kate gets a call asking her to come back for another opportunity - and if she does well with this, she just may be able to get the job she applied for after all.  The assignment?  Going undercover at a rehab facility to get the dirt on Amber Sheppard, the celebrity It Girl of the moment, whose latest exploits have her the focus of every gossip source.  It's not The Line, but the tabloid is published from the same office, and the promise of another shot at her Dream Job is too good to pass up.  All she has to do is make it through the program with Amber, then deliver a juicy article afterward.

Things get complicated, though, when Amber becomes a person to Kate...a friend, actually...rather than just some messed up celebrity brat, and frustrating when friends and family don't seem surprised that she would be in rehab.  Then there is the further complication of Henry.  She needs to decide, and soon, whether her dream job at The Line is worth putting her new friendship (and possible blooming romance) on the line.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is undoubtedly one of the classics of the fantasy genre; it's the sort of book that adults can enjoy, but that I could very much picture myself reading to my kids before bed (if I had kids).  Yes, of course, there are battles and such (what self-respecting fantasy novel is not going to have any battles?), but I'd say it's relatively tame, and probably wouldn't traumatize your children.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit from a well-respected line, with a bit of an adventurous streak through his mother's side (the Took line).  For the most part, hobbits are very simple, quiet folk who mind their own business and keep to themselves and are quite content just sitting around eating and smoking pipes and eating and having some tea and eating and sleeping.  And eating.  Hobbits who go off on adventures of any kind are marked as deviants, because why in the world would any sane person want to go risking their life out in the world where you can't just sit around eating and drinking tea and sleeping most of the day?  

So that's why, when the wizard Gandalf shows up at Bilbo's door to recruit him for a quest, he shuts that conversation down pretty quick, though because he is a hobbit, it doesn't do to be impolite, and he ends up inviting Gandalf to come on back for tea sometime.  Gandalf accepts this invitation, but extends it to thirteen dwarfs (or rather, dwarves, and Tolkien gives an explanation for his use of the -ves plural ending).  You can imagine how surprised and irritated Bilbo was when all these strangers started showing up, and then he finds out it's because he is going to be a part of this adventure whether he likes it or not (which he doesn't).  Especially since this little quest is headed by Thorin Oakenshield, descendant of a dwarf king of old, whose mountain fortress and mounds of treasure have for some time now been in the possession of the dragon Smaug.  Bilbo is expected to come along as the group's burglar, assisting them in the reclaiming of their rightful property by traveling all the way to the Lonely Mountain (which is quite some distance beyond the Misty Mountains, which are not exactly a stone's throw away either) and slaying the dragon.

It had been a long time since I've read The Hobbit, and since I'd apparently forgotten some of the details, it was a thoroughly enjoyable re-read.  At first, I thought "wow, okay, so Gandalf is kind of a dick," what with the devious way he roped Bilbo into going on this little quest with Thorin and his kinsmen.  The dwarfs were none too pleased about it, either, because...a hobbit?  Really, Gandalf?  What the fuck good is a timid little hobbit going to be, especially when all he does is worry about his handkerchiefs and his meals-between-meals and sitting in his armchair by the fire.  But Gandalf gets all kinds of cryptic like he can see into the future or some shit, and insists that they will be pretty glad of Bilbo when all is said and done.  I guess Gandalf is usually a pretty legit kind of guy, since they want to trust his judgment on this, and they set off.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesday #11 - The Hobbit

It's been quite some time since I did a Teaser Tuesday post, but here you go, internet!  Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.  Just take whichever book you are currently reading and post a teaser sentence or two (but careful not to use any spoilers!).  Be sure to include the title and the author's name, as well as the number of the page from which your teaser comes! 

I have started (re)reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit; I know the movie isn't coming out until December, but I really wanted to read it again now anyway!  It's been a very long time since I read it.  I'm sure many of you are no stranger to this book either, but it's always fun to revisit the great ones. =]

"What did you do with the goblin and the Warg?" asked Bilbo suddenly.   
"Come and see!" said Beorn, and they followed round the house.  A goblin's head was stuck outside the gate and a warg-skin was nailed to a tree just beyond.  Beorn was a fierce enemy. (p.116)

Leave a link to your own teaser in the comments, or if you haven't got a blog, feel free to leave a comment with your teaser instead! 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sophie and the Rising Sun

Sophie and the Rising Sun by Augusta Trobaugh is a short, sweet, and simple romantic novel taking place during World War II.  Part of the story is being told by Miss Anne, a kind and quietly unconventional woman; she doesn't know all the details, however, so the rest is filled in for us.  The story is of Sophie, a woman raised by her strict mother and aunts, and whose only real indiscretion being her love for a young man who never returned from the Great War.  Then there is Mr Oto, a first-generation American who was sent from California to New York with funds to bring back a relative who had come over from Japan.  He loses the money, but too ashamed to face his family, he makes his way south, where he ends up in the small town of Salty Creek, Georgia.  Mr Oto is a soft-spoken and respectful gentleman, and soon becomes friends with Miss Anne, who has hired him as her gardener.  Every day as he works in the flowerbeds, he sees Sophie walk by the house, and it is not long before he is completely infatuated with her.  The two grow very close over time, as they meet every Sunday in the same spot by the river to paint.  

Things change very quickly, though, when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.  Everyone in town except Miss Anne and Sophie have been under the assumption that he is Chinese, but they know it likely won't be long before the growing anger toward the Japanese causes them to react anyway.  He is already not the most well-liked individual, what with being colored in the pre-Civil Rights South, and Miss Anne fears for his safety.  She makes a plan to hide him, and makes up a story that he's gone to Canada to be with his family.  The lies weigh heavily on her, and Mr Oto wonders whether he will see Sophie again.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pride & Prejudice

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every small child is in want of this book.  Even if you haven't read it, chances are good you have at least heard of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (and if you haven't read it, you probably should).  Jennifer Adams, with the help of artist Alison Oliver, is introducing the classics to your small children through Baby Lit, a series of board books.  Little Miss Austen: Pride & Prejudice will help your offspring with the numbers one through ten using some of the most important themes of Austen's work and Regency life in general, such as "2 Rich Gentlemen" and "4 Marriage Proposals."  The illustrations are really cute, too.

I would recommend this for both your tiny ladies AND gentlemen, because little boys can enjoy the classics too, and that includes Austen.  Plus, numbers and counting are for people of every gender!  This also makes a sweet and unique gift for any Janeite.

And as an aside, another fun thing for all you Janeites:  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  This was featured as a Fave Five on Felicia Day's Geek & Sundry show, The Flog, and I fell in love with it.  This young lady is retelling Pride & Prejudice as a modern-day Elizabeth Bennet, through a series of vlog posts, shot and edited by none other than her best friend, Charlotte Lu!  Sisters Jane and Lydia make appearances, and Lizzie's impersonations of Mrs Bennet are absolutely hilarious.  There is a little bit of swearing, but that mostly comes from Lydia (I am sure that may not entirely surprise you).  Definitely check it out!



Gibbs Smith

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