Posts Tagged ‘HAHAHAHA’

An Abundance of Katherines
by John Green
Dutton Books, 2006
Source: public library

It was after reading the second review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson (first Birdbrain(ed) Booksreview and then Ana and Renay’s joint review on Subverting the Text) that I decided to stop wondering who this John Green guy was (and why every mention of him was accompanied by gushing) and read one of his books already.  The sample of Will Grayson, Will Grayson I read failed to captivate me so I went an earlier work, An Abundance of Katherines.

I understand the gushing now.

An Abundance of Katherines stars Colin Singleton, the biggest nerd on the planet.  (And I mean that in the nicest way possible.)  He has strange quirks, like his ability to anagram everything and his inability to whisper, and is a cornucopia of random information.  He’s also dated, and been dumped by, nineteen Katherines.

What I loved about the book (in no particular order):

  • Colin’s never-ending supply of facts (which meant I learned lots of useless information that promptly went in one ear and out the other).
  • the footnotes.  After reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I fell in love with footnotes in fiction.  When I saw that An Abundance of Katherines contained footnotes – and that they were just as entertaining and wonderful as Susanna Clarke’s – I wanted to hug John Green. 
  • Colin’s best friend, Hassan.  That guy is fugging hilarious.  He’s not just an amusing sidekick, though, which I really loved.  There’s more depth to Hassan’s character than you see in most best-friend-to-the-main-character characters.
  • Colin’s declaration that love is graphable.  I nearly fell off the bed, I was laughing so hard.  This declaration was followed by pages upon pages of him attempting to graph, and create a formula for, all of his Katherine relationships.  (And yes, the graphs and formulas were included in the novel.)
  • the dialogue.  Green’s dialogue not only sounded realistic, but revealed more about his characters’ personalities than pages of description and back history ever could.
In short: better than I expected.  It’s definitely one I would read again, if only to re-experience the dialogue and graphs.  So tell me, John Green fans, how do his other books measure up?

Other reviews:

Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog

things mean a lot

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press, 2009
Source: public library

Okay, sign me up, too: I am officially joining the Flavia de Luce fan club. That girl is a complete riot. I don’t know what I loved the most: the horse metaphors she uses when talking about her bicycle, Gladys (“Leaving Gladys to graze in a bicycle stand . . .” [163]), her ongoing war with her older sisters, her nosiness, or her excessive use of exclamation points. (Normally I cringe when I run across an inordinate amount of exclamation points, but in Flavia’s case they were completely warranted. She is so full of vim and vigor I can’t imagine her thoughts or speech containing anything but exclamation points.) If I had to choose one favorite trait, however, it would be her passion for chemistry.

In the first chapter, Flavia outlines the beginning of her relationship with chemistry. When I hit the line, “Once I had taught myself to make sense of the chemical equations such as K4FeC6N6 + 2K = 6KCN + Fe (which describes what happens when the yellow prussiate of potash is heated with potassium to produce potassium cyanide) . . . (9)” I nearly choked, I was laughing so hard. One of my best friends in college majored in chemistry and I cannot tell you how many times I was subjected to some chemical formula or equation because my dear friend was so excited about what she had learned that she had to share it with someone, ANYONE, even a clueless English major. My brother, too, gets similarly fired up about chemistry (and computers and spacey stuff), and so a character who is so excited about chemistry that she speaks and thinks in exclamation points and spouts off random facts constantly is pretty familiar territory for me. Needless to say, I loved every bit of it.

(I’ve since realized, though, how very lucky I am that my chemistry major best friend and brother do not share Flavia’s passion for poison. Something tells me I would not have made it to adulthood – or graduated from college – unscathed.)

Flavia de Luce totally made this book. Yes, the mystery is intriguing, and the eclectic mix of characters are entertaining, but without Flavia . . . well, I’d rather not imagine this book without Flavia. She is why I inhaled this book, why I went back and reread huge chunks of it, why I recommended it to my mom before I had even finished it and why, even though it took me weeks to get around to it, I insisted on writing a review. Hooray for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie! I’m definitely going to add this one to my personal library.

Other reviews:

A Garden Carried in the Pocket
Beth Fish Reads
Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog
Coffee Stained Pages
Fyrefly’s Book Blog
If You Can Read This
The Book Lady’s Blog
The Indextrious Reader
things mean a lot
Word Lily

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by Gail Carriger
Orbit, 2009
Source: e-book purchased from Barnes & Noble
Pre-Twilight mania (yes, folks, we did live in a Twilight-free world once; ahhh, those were the days) I viewed the vampire genre with polite disinterest.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of vampires I’d ever had any interest in: two – the Count from Sesame Street (who doesn’t love the Count??) and Bunnicula, the vampire rabbit from James Howe’s hilarious books.  (Because, you see, I am powerless in the face of titles like The Celery Stalks at Midnight.  Get it?  Get it?  Celery stalks??  Bwahahahahaha!)  Anyway.
But it is a post-Twilight world we live in now and times have changed.  Now whenever I see or hear anything even remotely vampire-related instead of feeling polite disinterest I want to poke myself in the eye.  A little drastic, I know, but seriously.  I realize I’m in the minority here, but the madness has to stop.
But.  I have found an exception to the rule.  Not only did Soulless not make me want to poke myself in the eye, it’s even brought my list of favorite vampires up to the three: Lord Akeldama, a very flamboyant vampire who speaks in italics constantly and who, underneath the flamboyance and italics, seems to need a hug.  Which I would totally give him, except, well, he’s fictional.  And a vampire.  A nice vampire, yes, but still.  Those sharp teeth make me a little nervous.
I came to Soulless entirely by accident.  I spent the last couple of weeks bouncing from blog to blog reading post submissions for BBAW, and in the course of this bouncing stumbled across a review for Soulless.  (I really wish I could remember where I read it, but my mind has gone totally blank.)  Much to my shock, the book actually sounded good, so I downloaded a sample onto my Nook.  After reading the sample I immediately downloaded the entire book, which I proceeded to read in one day.
This book was a complete and utter delight.  Set in Victorian England, it’s not the Victorian England we’re familiar with.  Here vampires and werewolves are part of every day life and have been for centuries.  I thought Gail Carriger handled this beautifully.  She doesn’t spend pages and pages trying to convince her reader of the validity of this world she’s created; she simply inserts bits of explanation here and there without disrupting the flow of the story.  She’s convincing, too.  I was so completely pulled into the story that when I came to one of the sex scenes I was totally shocked by how graphic it was.  I mean, really!  For a woman to write such things – how improper!  And then I came back to earth and remembered this was published a year ago, not over 100 years ago.  Oops.
I got a huge kick out of the lead character, too.  It’s hard not to like a woman who, in the first chapter, retreats to the library to escape a boring ball, where she scolds a rude vampire for his lack of manners, whacks him with her parasol, and then is more upset that said vampire knocked over the treacle tart than by the fact that he tried to bite her.  And that’s just the beginning.  Wait until you read the exchanges between her and her friend Ivy – hilarious!
So.  I can’t believe I’m saying this about a book filled with vampires and werewolves, but go read this.  It’s no Bunnicula, but it’s great fun nonetheless.
Other reviews:
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Dear American Airlines
by Jonathan Miles
Houghton Mifflin, 2008
Source: e-book purchased from Barnes & Noble

Oh, Bennie.  You had me at O’Hare.

Therein lies Jonathan Miles’ first brilliant move: trapping his narrator in the Chicago O’Hare airport.  Dulles could have worked.  So might have Alanta.  But O’Hare?  Nothing inspires blind rage and fierce loathing like the mere mention of that airport.  Thus, from the very beginning, Benjamin R. Ford has the sympathy of millions.  (Just for the fun of it: raise your hand if you have your very own O’Hare horror story.  Exactly what I thought: millions.)

Miles’ second brilliant move: giving his narrator paper and pen and turning him loose.  Written entirely as a letter, Dear American Airlines is Benjamin Ford’s demand for a refund in the amount of $392.68.  (A justified demand, given that, at the start of the letter, he’s been trapped at the airport for over eight hours.)  For the next 150 pages Benjamin rants and raves and rambles, eventually telling his entire life story.  This life story is comes out in bits and pieces, and every time Bennie detours into one of these stories he always returns to the airport, relaying conversations with other stranded passengers, revisiting his original demand for a refund, making snide (but oh so hilarious) remarks about O’Hare and American Airlines.  He’s blunt, crass and painfully aware of every mistake he’s ever made.

Even though he gave me a hundred reasons not to, I totally loved Bennie.  No, I wouldn’t want him as a relative and he’s not really the kind of guy you take home to meet your mother, but still.  Something about him is endearing, and I found myself rooting for him up to the very end.  Unless you mind language that would make a sailor blush, I highly recommend reading this book.  I’m betting you’ll fall for Bennie, too.

Other reviews:
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So I may be slightly, kind of obsessed with the Dear Dumb Diary series by Jim Benton.  I may have been known, in the past, to completely lose the ability to breathe, speak and/or stand due to complete, hysterical laughter while reading or quoting one of these books.  Possibly.

Anyway, our Scholastic book order arrived in the mail yesterday, containing within its lovely white and red box the latest Dear Dumb Diary book, That’s What Friends Aren’t For.  So I broke the cardinal nap rule and instead of being all productive and stuff while my students slept, I read.  Which was a really bad idea.  Because I nearly choked trying to hold the gales of laughter in.  I’m going to hold back here and only share two quotes with you, but you have to PROMISE me that you’ll go read the rest yourself.  And by rest I mean the entire series.  Or at least my favorite two, #5 and #7.

In honor of today:

The rest of today went pretty much like all Tuesdays go: The thrill of the weekend is behind you, but the crushing resentment of Wednesday has not begun.

Tuesdays are how I imagine being an adult will feel every day. Except when I get to be as old as my parents. Then I think it will always feel like Monday morning. In February. And it’s snowing polar bears. And they have rabies. (15)

And the bestest of the bunch (okay, I’m already laughing, and I haven’t even started typing it yet):

As you know, Dear Dumb Diary, I love to draw, and one of my artworks has won an award at the Art Show every year since I first entered way back in second grade.

For some reason, back then I was obsessed with drawing naked Barbies. The teachers didn’t feel that those were appropriate for a kids’ art show, so they used the only artwork I did all year without a naked Barbie in it, which was this picture of a cow in front of a barn. It really wasn’t a very good drawing, but I thought it was cool because I made it out of cut-up construction paper and the doors of the barn could open.

At the Art Show, I discovered that they had neglected to open the doors on my little barn, so I opened them myself, which revealed the dozen little naked Barbies within. I won a prize right then and there, because they felt they needed to use the third-place ribbon to quickly seal the doors closed, probably for an eternity. (18)

HAHAHAHAHA!!!  I really, really should not have read this while my students slept.

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So my latest insane book moment (explanation here) was a bit more out there than my usual insane moments.  (Wait, what?  A “usual” insane moment?  Never mind.  I’m not even going to try to figure that out.  It’s making my brain hurt.)  My fits of hysterical giggles came while reading . . . a vegan cookie cookbook.
Yes, you read that correctly.  Vegan cookie cookbook.  I’m not vegan, by the way.  I also don’t usually sit down and read cookbooks cover to cover, either.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve done that (twice).  So . . . why?

I bake occasionally.  Okay, more than occasionally.  More like every time one of my coworkers has a birthday and for various events in between.  Recently one of my dear friends (who has been very supportive of my baking endeavors) lamented the lack of vegan options in my repertoire, so I thought, “Hey, I should give that whole vegan baking thing a shot!”  (Because, you see, I don’t have a thesis to write and don’t spend nineteen thousand hours a day teaching preschool.  So I totally have all the time in the world to putter around the kitchen.)

So I emailed my cousin (a vegan baker), who recommended Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, which led me to Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, which is how I ended up giggling my head off while reading a vegan cookie cookbook.  (I really like the way that sounds.  Vegan cookie cookbook.  Vegan cookie cookbook.  Yes, it’s been a long day.  Why do you ask?)  Most of the funny lines are funnier in context, (calm down!  I’m not going to quote the entire book!), but I just have to share this one.  It’s my favorite, not just because I wasn’t expecting any humor while reading about sugar but because it allayed my fear that Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero were going to make these cookies all healthy and stuff:

You can use evaporated cane juice whenever we call for sugar.  It acts exactly the same in recipes, but it is processed a bit less and retains some of its vitamins.  Because when you’re eating cookies what you’re really thinking about is vitamins (10).

Tee hee hee 🙂

P.S.  I didn’t just read the book, I actually made a few of the cookies, too.  I made the Peanut Butter Blondies, Citrus Glitters and Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles.  All were delicious, although I had to tone down the cheyenne in the Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles.  When I made that first batch – yow!  I thought my mouth was going to catch on fire!  So I mailed them to my brother, muhahahahaha.  Oddly enough, he never called to thank me . . .

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