The Moon is a Harsh Mistress / Robert A Heinlein

so futuristic

   Question: do you want to learn more about the internal structure of revolutionary groups than you ever thought possible from a science fiction novel? If so: I recommend The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. There were a couple of chapters where, I admit, I zoned out somewhat due to the in depth nature of the description of how a revolutionary group could be structured to maximize communication and minimize the potential for compromise. All very interesting, but a little hard to follow. I wish I had a diagram to illustrate what they were talking about but alas, I did not have one and my low-level googling has proved futile. Also confusing and/or interesting as presented in this book: how marriage works on the moon. Line marriage? Clan marriage? What?  Intriguing. Oh! And: representational government. I'm telling you, this book has it all.

   Incidentally, a friend of mine was reading this at the same time as me, which led to conversations where we said things like "the part where they talk about taxes was so interesting!" HA, nerds. 

   One of the main characters is a sentient computer, and I think we all know what that means. OMGosh, HAL9000. I haven't even seen 2001 Space Odyssey (a travesty, I know) and I know that computers who are "alive" are pretty much always Bad News Bears.

ulterior motives?

I'm afraid I can't trust you, Hal

don't assume this will redeem you, robots

   BUT IS MIKE GOOD OR BAD OR NEITHER???? Read the book to find out, and as a bonus you can go into it knowing that the characterization of Mike, the computer, is spot-on. Mannie describes him as basically an extremely smart child with no social skills, and Mike refers to Mannie as "Man, my best friend" which is adorable.



Murder Is Easy / Agatha Christie

   Dear Agatha,

   I know we've had this conversation before, but could you ease up on the red herrings? I get that it's this big ol' thing for you, leading the reader astray, but I really am astounded by the sheer number of times you use the device, especially in Murder Is Easy. Once or twice is fine, sure, but this one went way beyond that. Were there five? Six? It was so many that I lost track. Practically every person in the village had the crime credited to them at some point.

  Anyways, I knew it couldn't be the one guy because there was too much initial suspicion and I knew it wasn't the second guy because he was just creepy, not murderous. Also, I hope that wasn't your attempt at being all "wink wink, nudge nudge, he's totally gay" because if so, wow you are rude and not subtle. I mean really. "Mincing step"? Come on.

   By the time it was wrapping up I knew it couldn't be the person they thought it was because:
a) there was too much book left;
b) it didn't make sense; and,
c) you put way too much emphasis on the whole "the murderer must be a _____" business when clearly Ms Pinkerton didn't even mention it.

   I think I've pretty much got your formula down by now and it goes as such: "who is the least likely to have committed the crime? They totes did it." It's surprisingly simple, really. I'm glad to say I figured out who the culprit was this time, and that this book was far less frustrating than, say, And Then There Were None, don't even get me started. It also lacked a certain mustachioed individual who everybody dislikes deep down because he is pompous beyond words, so that was a bonus.

you know it's true

    Do you remember that one interview where you talked about getting ideas and titles for books? I will pretty much forgive you anything because of how you talked about eavesdropping.



   p.s. I will forever love Tuppence, Tommy, and Miss Marple, even if some of your other books are duds.

   p.p.s. why did you publish so many books with multiple titles? Are you trying to make my life miserable?


We Were Liars / E. Lockheart

   This post is going to outline the ending of this book in detail, so if that's not your thing then don't read on, I guess. Consider yourself spoiler-warned or whatever. I also listened to it as an audiobook, so I don't have anything interesting to say about the layout of the writing
besides that
I'm glad I didn't
have to
slog through
a whole book
of this.

   This is one of those books that sits on my ebooks holds shelf until I forgot why I put it on hold in the first place, then my turn to have it comes, I download it to my phone, and since it is shorter than all the other audiobook options I currently have checked out, I listen to it. The narrator was good, so I pressed on. I like audiobooks, they make my life easier.

   So: the book. Cadence (Cady) Sinclair suffers migraines but she does not suffer fools, or so she says. We Were Liars follows her, her cousins, and her love interest Gat (not her cousin, this ain't no Victorian lit) through a series of summers spent on her family's private island near Martha's Vineyard.  In a word, the Sinclairs are privileged. It took me a while to decide whether or not I really cared about Cady and her family and her problems, and by the time I arrived at "meh" it was too late to turn back. Basically, Cady has head trauma of mysterious origin (because of AMNESIA) and we spend the book trying to figure out what it is. Blah blah blah there are a lot of over-drawn metaphors and some good bits and it's confusing when she describes emotions as physical trauma but also describes physical trauma as physical trauma with nary a distinction between the two. Are there real wounds involved? Your guess is as good as mine.

   Here's where we talk about the ending.

   Okay, if Lockheart had gotten to the burning the house down bit and stopped there, I would have been on board. Yes, they burned the house down, maybe someone got hurt, they killed the dogs accidentally, thank goodness Cady has remembered. BUT THEN Gat, Mirren, and Johnny were, wait for it, GHOSTS THE WHOLE TIME.

   Once upon a time I arrived at my friends' house and they, for some reason unknown to the three of us, were watching some Nicholas Sparks twaddle; I don't even remember the title, nor will I put the effort into finding it. I asked what movie, they told me, I immediately started laughing, because I had heard (on a podcast maybe?) that this particular film ended with the big reveal of: she was a ghost the whole time. Nothing seemed more ridiculous to me in that moment than a story hinging on any number of characters being ghosts (The Sixth Sense, whatever, I haven't actually seen it) that only a person such as Nicholas Sparks, or I suppose M. Night Shyamalan, would come up with it. We fast-forwarded to the big ghost reveal and then fell on the floor in bouts of laughter.

   Listen, I like unreliable narrators. I like clever twists. I like a good metaphor and a good reveal. I like this book fine except for the ending. What I do not like is a set of ghosts of people who are only dead because of truly remarkable ineptitude when it comes to arson. A word of advice, from someone who hasn't even burned a house down but does possess a modicum of sense: if you are on the main floor of a gas-soaked building and your cousins and boyfriend are on the other floors, wait until they (and you) are OUT OF THE HOUSE BEFORE YOU LIGHT IT. There is gas everywhere, it is a old building, it is full of paper and wood, it will burn NO PROBLEM. You don't have to monitor it! OH MY WORD.

   E. Lockheart, I believe you can be better than Nicholas Sparks. Be better than Nicholas Sparks! Please, do it for the children.


"How you like them apples?"

   And so begins a new year and a new tally of movies! Here are the first five movies I watched this year:
  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (01)
  2. Finding Nemo (03)
  3. Good Will Hunting (97)
  4. Into the Woods (14)
  5. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (03)
    When I was but an angsty teen, my life was all LOTR all the time, and I am barely exaggerating. I loved The Lord of the Rings with the heat of a nova and regard it now with the fond glow of nostalgia, and so when pals of mine said they were marathoning the three LOTR movies (extended, of course) I was there. However, teens we are not and sleepiness caught up with us so we split up our viewing. I also kept arriving part-way through the movies. So I watched the last couple of hours of FOTR, the first hour-ish of TTT, and the last half of ROTK. I'm counting it as two movies altogether, because it's my party and I can cry if I want to. Speaking of crying, if the moment in ROTK when Eomer finds Eowyn on the battlefield and starts yelling and crying doesn't tug your heart strings then I don't know if there is any hope for your heart of pure stone. Also: I may or may not be able to quote/act along with a great deal of all three movies.

   I don't need to talk about Finding Nemo, do I? We all love Finding Nemo.

   Do you love hilarity? Do you love Meryl Streep? WE ALL DO. Go see Into the Woods, glory in it. It's so great. Fun fact: when I'm at my pals' house (the self-same LOTR marathoning pals from above) and I'm holding their cat and he's trying to get away from me, I sing songs from Into the Woods to him to make him stay. Does it work? SOMETIMES. Hashtag cat whisperer.

   Let's talk about how great baby Matt Damon is in Good Will Hunting. So good, right? I watched Rounders near the end of last year and had a major need to see more baby Matt Damon, so Good Will Hunting was the natural choice, especially since I somehow hadn't seen it before. It is as excellent as I expected it to be, and made me want to maybe do some math or something.

   It is bittersweet to watch movies with Robin Williams in them.


The Art of Asking / Amanda Palmer

   You've probably seen Amanda Palmer's TED talk, but if not, here it is:

   Now that you have for sure seen Amanda Palmer's TED talk (which could function as the back cover synopsis), we can have a nice wee chat about this here book. It's great! Read it! There are a bunch of swears, and she talks about things like the difference between working as a statue and working as a stripper, etc, so if those bother you then maybe don't read it but otherwise it is an all-around great read and it's lovely and inspiring and heartbreaking and GET THE AUDIOBOOK because it has songs! AUDIOBOOKS WITH SONGS, WHO KNEW.

don't we all
   Basically, Amanda Palmer wants everyone to be more comfortable with being vulnerable and more accepting of help and she talks about working as a living statue, and living with artists, and being in various bands, and living her life on the internet, and her friends, and Neil Gaiman, and being married, and on and on and just says "here is my experience, I've learned things and am learning things and I want to share them with you" and it's just so great. UGH.

   This book came along at a good time for me, as I've been having conversations about this kind of thing (asking for and accepting help, not feeling guilty about being given things you don't really deserve) because I am not super good at it but am working on doing it better. The big thing for me is that I'm 25 (until next week, happy birthday to moi) and I work part time and school full time and I live with my parents. For awhile I was feeling somewhat embarrassed about living with them still when a friend said to me "you know, that's a bit disrespectful. Your parents are giving you a huge gift, and it's a giant blessing, and that's the way you should think and talk about it. Don't let people make you feel guilty or inadequate over having understanding and loving parents" And you know what? She was totally right. My parents are great, and I am so glad I have them, and if they weren't giving me the gift of a home, I wouldn't be able to work at a job I love or further my education. I'd maybe be able to do one of them, but definitely not both and probably not either. So! Thanks, Mom and Dad. I love you both. 

   Amanda Palmer also talks about the difficulty of understanding intent over the internet, and how things can be horribly misinterpreted and suddenly become a huge deal when they were never meant that way. Sometimes things should be a huge deal, and should be exposed and confronted, and sometimes things are interpreted wrong, and it is our job as consumers of information to show some grace and to try to see both sides. Don't stop discerning, but don't jump to conclusions either. Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 

   Some major take-aways from this book: Just ask. It is hard sometimes, and awkward, and might not work out how you want it to but nothing ventured, nothing gained, am I right? Accept help. Even if you think you don't deserve it, even if you worry that people will look down on you. Show grace. Show grace when you accept help, when you give help, when you see something questionable on the internet, when you see someone else in need of help. Examine your paradigm. Why do you think that way? What is it rooted in? What's your first reaction? How could you act differently in this situation? AND LASTLY: make and/or appreciate some dang-diddly art.