Category Archives: Fangirl

Top 5 Reads of 2013: Part of My Library for All Time

End of the year retrospective in list form?  Hell, why not—everyone else is doing it and I feel left out.  But a list of what?  Top 5 Best Breaths Inhaled During 2013?  Top 5 Attempt to Cook Dinner (That Didn’t Result in Setting the Kitchen on Fire)?  Top 5 Epic Faceplants (From Tripping Over My Own Feet)?  Or the Top 5 ‘Oh Shit’ Moments (Snicker If You Must)?

No, self, no.  I’m all about the words after all, and while I could count down the Top 5 Works I’ve Written in 2013, no one else would know what the hell I’m talking about, so I went with the next best thing.

These, my friends, are my Top 5 Reads of 2013.  They are not necessarily new releases—in fact, only two debuted during the past year.  But they’re the books I read and loved, the ones that struck a chord and will stay with me forever, in my memory, in my gut, and in my library.

So now, in no particular order and without a drumroll…



Cari’s Top 5 Reads of 2013


1.  Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens
This is one of those ‘question everything, think for yourself, and question everything again books, but Letters to a Young Contrarian surpass anything I’ve read in the genre.  I can’t really describe the effect—a sucker punch, perhaps—but the book definitely makes an impact, and I’m of the opinion it should be mandatory reading.  Not for teenagers who are naturally rebellious, I don’t think most teenagers have the maturity to truly absorb the work, but mandatory reading for adults who have achieved the full ability to think critically (even if they choose not to do so) and may have become complacent.  Go.  Read it now.  It’s short; I’ll wait.



2.  The Curiosities:  A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Graton
My Review:

Oh.  Oh my word.  I’m not one for anthologies but I am a helpless flailing Maggie Stiefvater fangirl, so I took a risk and read The Curiosities despite my usual aversion to compilations.  One of the alluring aspects for us writerly types lies in the margin notes from all three authors, scribbles pointing out excellent bits and giving more technical opinions on the word play and writing itself.  Many of these I found quite useful, while others I enjoyed in that “Hee!  I heart snark!” kind of way.  The best aspect, however, is the quality within these pages:  the stories are sometimes polished, sometimes raw, but always of high quality.  Do not be turned off by the idea you’re reading work from writers who write for the young adult/teen audiences, for these pieces transcend that and a few of the short stories will stick in your brain long past the time you’ve put the book back on the shelf.  There are no forced happy endings; in fact there are very few truly happy endings and very few flat out unhappy endings.  Bittersweet is the best way to describe the work within The Curiosities.



3.  Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of Less Valued Knights by Liam Perrin
My Review:

Liam Perrin’s Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of Less Valued Knights was my Awesome Accidental Find of 2013.  I first stumbled upon it thanks to the GoodReads giveaway page but was too late to enter the contest for an advanced copy.  Thinking the cover simultaneously silly and adorable, I read the synopsis and thought it sounded cute, and when a day or two later I found myself a few dollars short of free shipping on Amazon, this became my “Hell, Why Not?” addition to the cart.  No regrets.  This is a fun read, one I completed relatively quickly thanks to a ‘reading when I should’ve been doing other productive adult things’ approach, and I happy sighed so hard at the end.  Perrin is one of those self-published authors who are damn good but a reader must sort through the mountains of muck to find, and he is well worth the effort.




4.  Fiend by Peter Stenson
My Review:

Zombies.  Meth heads.  Meth heads fighting zombies.  That’s all that remains in the world and, assuming you’re not one to clutch your pearls, it’s pretty fucking awesome.  This is more literary than you might expect, certainly not of the same ilk as the churned out, burned out zombie crap that’s been flooding the market lately.  Stenson’s writing style is a bit different but excellent for the story he’s telling, although I’ll admit that some quotation marks would’ve been nice.  I don’t have anything to say on a literary critique level, only that I really enjoyed this and loved the ‘fuck that nonsense’ ending.




5.  Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie / not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them by Jenny Boully

Okay, so a two-for-one entry is cheating but hear me out:  I read one to better absorb the other.  First came Jenny Boully’s work, a deeply weird and poetic version of J.M. Barrie’s classic story, much darker with threatening undertones running throughout.  Boully’s writing style is eerie and beautiful and, unfortunately, rather difficult to follow unless you know the source material.  I read not merely… the first time, understood it but didn’t really get it, and because I’m nothing if not an obsessive reader, I hopped online to order a copy of Peter and Wendy.  (The original, not the Disney-fied, abridged for younger children version.)  It came as a bit of a shock to me that I’d never read it before, Peter and Wendy is freakin’ classic lit for goodness sakes, so how did I miss it?  That’s what I get for being uppity as a young’un and having a reading level far above my age.  So I read Barrie’s original and was moved by it, by how shady it really is, how different from the Disney movie and the faint feeling of dread that permeates the text, tones one only picks up on as an adult.  And then I went back and reread Boully’s novella and really got it, was in fact disturbed by it while simultaneously pretty damn impressed.  These definitely stick out in my mind amongst the 77 books I read this past year, and in my memory they will be forever linked.  Hence my two-for-one cheat.



Now go forth, my lovelies, and embark upon a new year.  May 2014 treat you well!





The Day of the Doctor

Doctor Who.  50th Anniversary.

I’ll wait until the fanboy/fangirl flailing ends.  (I’m aware that will likely take quite a while.)  I know you can’t help it:  the squealing and flapping about aren’t a choice when it comes to the Doctor—they’re an involuntary response showing extreme joy emanating from every cell of your body.  Do not be ashamed.

            *cue the writer’s own fangirl flailing of epic proportions*

Matt Smith.  David Tennant.  John Hurt.  Billie Piper.  Tom Baker.

Let me repeat that last bit:  Tom Mother Fuckin’ Baker.

More metareferences than the normal geek brain can handle.

Yes, friends, it’s The Day of the Doctor.

The highly anticipated special episode was so highly-anticipated that even I, notorious for having to catch on the fiftieth repeat even things I really want to see, set the DVR to record the premiere and then watched it the same day.  So highly anticipated that I spent days wandering around my apartment (or in my car or in the store or during my trip to the office to pick up work mail) singing “Because we want to!  Because we want to!”  An I sang it with gusto, too, like this is still the ‘90s and Billie Piper still acknowledges her career in pop music.

Yep, that highly anticipated.  The only way I could’ve been more excited for this was if they’d managed to pull Christopher Eccleston back to reprise his role as Nine.

Was my excitement out of proportion?  Only those who don’t understand Doctor Who will think so.  I own a dress designed on the TARDIS, a pair of TARDIS earrings, and a sonic screwdriver.  My excitement was perfectly on level for the occasion, I’m certain.

I don’t actually have any sort of coherent review to give here, I simply feel compelled to mark the 50th Anniversary of the culture phenomenon that is Doctor Who.  Watching Matt Smith (Eleven) and David Tennant (Ten) interact for two hours was epic, the kick to the gut that was John Hurt’s performance and the story around it caused me to sniffle and clutch the Kleenex box, and yeah, my girl crush on Billie Piper is still going strong even though she departed the show years ago.  Happy sighs all over the place, people.

Happy.  Sighs.

“Anything could happen!  For instance…a fez.”

During one commercial break there was a ‘behind the scenes’ clip with Matt Smith and David Tennant where Tennant mentions that, while Matt Smith could’ve been quite threatened by having his predecessor return to the set, he handled the multiple stars well and didn’t react that way.  Smith said something about the special being about the show, not about him, blah blah blah I wasn’t listening because I was too busy reflecting on how Tennant easily stole it all during The Day of the Doctor.  Because Tennant really did stand out, and I’m not saying this as an insult or sneer:  he did an amazing job, a great nod to the fans who still miss him even as they enjoy Matt Smith’s run, and my God, the man just shines on screen when he’s having fun, doesn’t he?  (And yeah, he knows he’s playing up to all the hardcore fans who are vehement about Ten being their Doctor.)

At the end I cried (of course…every ‘end’ in Doctor Who makes me and my grandma weep like babies), due almost entirely to Tennant’s final sentence that echoes his regeneration scene.  Tears.  There were many tears.

And then!  TOM BAKER.  I was still sniffling even as I was flailing.  It wasn’t like I was surprised:  I already knew the fourth Doctor was going to make an appearance.  Yet while watching the first 1 hour and 45 minutes of the episode I somehow managed to forget, and when his voice came from off camera, I lost my shit with the shout of joy and the flapping of hands.  Fairly sure the neighbors could hear me.


Like I said:  no coherent review here, just fangirl flailing.  So I’ll leave you all now, perhaps I’ll go re-watch the show, and as I sign off I’ll say only this:

“I don’t want to go.”

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