Monday, April 29, 2013


A few reviews of what I've been reading lately. Some are awesome, and some stink to high heavens.

For starters, I finished the rest of the Beautiful Creatures series, and deem it above-average easy-reading.


On a 5-star scale, I'd give Beautiful Darkness only 2 stars because I found it annoying in the same way the second book in the Twilight series was annoying. One of our main characters is missing-in-action for a majority of the book, and we've got a fill-in romantic interest. Verrrry reminiscent of New Moon

The second and third books redeem the series, though, and I'd give them each four stars. I found the plots to be creative and engaging. It's still a young adult or teen series, though, and the main characters are all in high school, so you have to be prepared to go back to your shameful Twilight days if you're going to read these. Plus, we do have a similar "I might kill you if we have sex" situation thing happening in this series, which is a little coincidental in my opinion, what with the whole Edward/Bella situash. When the series ends, the kids are still high-schoolers, so it's your guess as to how this will resolve itself. 

Now for Mr. Peanut. I wish I knew the source that led me to read this novel, because if I remembered where I heard that this was a good book, I would never trust that source again. 

In fairness, Mr. Peanut is well-written. It's lengthy. It's thoughtful. But I really hated it. A lot. 

The book follows three crappy relationships that all seem to be failing for one reason or another. The first relationship is the most interesting one, in that the woman is dead and her husband is suspected of killing her. You have to wait until literally the last page of the book to find out what really happened, and I don't know how you'll feel about it, but I felt hugely tricked and disappointed. I think it was a really cheap writer's ploy.

In the book, all of the women are insecure and borderline insane. They're overly-demanding and irritating. I wondered if Ross hates women at several points in the novel. Then I figured, well, the men are not exactly gems, either, but there's a sort of romanticizing happening about their shitty way of dealing with things. Ross spends an exhausting amount of time dissecting the ins and outs of these relationships and I ended up bored several times. 

The other (and probably most important) reason I hated this book is due to the "Mr. Peanut" part of it. I had no idea why it was called Mr. Peanut, and I can't tell you or it will ruin the whole thing. But suffice to say that if I'd known I would have avoided it like the plague. I have a personal abhorrence for the topic and would never read a book containing even hints of it. That said, others are unlikely to find it nearly as offensive as I did. Personal life experiences being different and such. 

All right. Now the best for last. This is one of the best books I've read in a while. Five out of five stars, all the way. It's an epic novel following the life of Pak Jun Do in North Korea. 

I honestly don't even know how to begin explaining this novel. Even reading the jacket description, I was like, "meh." What really got me to read it was that it just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Someone is obviously doing something right if they've won a Pulitzer. 

I guess I'll just say that the most fascinating part of this novel, for me, was all of the details of everyday life in North Korea. I kept thinking to myself: There is no way this is how it really is, especially not modern day. Johnson explains a pretty terrifying country, where unimaginable things happen every day to innocent citizens, all in the name of serving the greater good. I got to the end of the novel and then read an interview with the author, and holy smokes, you guys. The research he did? Extensive. He even somehow managed to visit NK, which is obviously rare. The entire book is based on fact. Just astounding and really revealing, given the U.S.' current relations with that country. 

Now, I know I still haven't sold this book, and it probably sounds horrible and depressing, but it's not! It's fascinating and triumphant and suspenseful. Just truly wonderful. 

What are you reading right now? What are your five-star, must-reads? I'm currently reading The Explorer, by James Smythe, a sci-fi thriller. It's shaping up to be really interesting so far! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

year 7

This week marks seven years being married to my husband.

I am a little tiny bit superstitious, so I'm wary of the whole seven-year-itch thing. However, after having done three minutes of internet research, I've determined the seven-year-itch only applies to couples who have children. Because they forget to maintain their relationships and stuff (the expert opinion of The Huffington Post).

Also, there's no way in hell I would ever want to be back out there. In the dating world. The idea of an affair seems really tiring to me. Not to mention that my husband and I have reached a point where we know each other so well (we actually met almost 17 years ago) that when one of us is lying, the other knows instantly.

That sounds really unromantic, the idea of me not cheating on my husband because I don't have the energy. The true reason I wouldn't is I have no reason to. I love him. Tons and tons. So much that I worry something will happen to him and then I'll really be up shit creek. It's pointless worrying, but I think it's an inherited thing I can't stop myself from doing.

To this day, there's no one who makes me laugh more. He makes me laugh and then says, "What?" And then I laugh more. You have to be there.

He still surprises me with his generosity. Never mind that he bankrolled me quitting my job to write my yet-to-be published novel. Money is never an issue for him. When I want or need something, I should get it. I don't take advantage of this that often because I'm cheap.

And he's got this generous spirit that, for starters, almost always refuses to engage in arguments with me. I'll get maybe a couple sentences into a gripe and then he says something funny and gives me a hug and then poof. It's over.

The other part of this generous spirit is that he gives so many people the benefit of the doubt, when you or I might think they don't deserve it. I'm the judgmental one in our relationship, and he's the one who will make allowances for almost any character flaw. He can find the redeeming value in almost anyone. It's an admirable quality (and possibly the reason he married me).

Things weren't always so ideal between us, but as the cliche goes, marriage is work. You work at it, and hopefully it gets better. It got better for us. It's not perfect, and nothing is, and it will never be, but if it were we'd probably get bored. For now, I just count myself extraordinarily lucky to hold this love and give it back.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

that was just great

  • I feel I should at least acknowledge the bombings in Boston yesterday and say just this about it: Whoever decided to bomb Boston is so, so dumb. Boston natives are nice people but they will jack your shit up. They have a reputation for being tough for a reason. The bombs detonated right outside the hotel we stayed in in October. It was really horrifying to see blood splattered on the cement we'd traversed as we enjoyed that wonderful city. I hope to get back again someday. May the bomber(s) rot in hell forever. 
  • This bullet point is meant to be a buffer between my serious bullet point and the rest of them, which are pretty much trivial crap. 
  •  Thanks to current events, I had to google "bitcoin." I am still confused. 
  • Equal parts Dawn and white vinegar, shaken to a periwinkle foam and sprayed on shower tiles (then left to sit for a bit) is pretty effective if you're looking for a natural shower-cleaning alternative. And actually, Dawn is the secret window-cleaning ingredient professional window washers use. Works great.
  •  When we watch TV, my husband is always remarking on how old various celebrities are looking. I keep my mouth shut but give him side eyes, wondering when he's going to notice I look hella older than I did when we met ... gulp ... 17 years ago.
  • I live in a very vigilant neighborhood. We are are plugged way, way in. So when someone broke into a neighbor's truck the other morning at 6 a.m., that vigilant neighbor scared the would-be-burglar off, and then another vigilant neighbor heard the WBB in his backyard and scared him off, and then another vigilant neighbor heard the WBB on his roof, of all places, and then the WBB disappeared into thin air, despite something like nine cops in the area looking for him. The theory is the WBB lives in the neighborhood. According to the approximately 597 emails I've received on the topic. 
  •  In related news, I've somehow been drafted as secretary of some kind of neighborhood organization. Which means I am four million years old.
  • Pet peeve: Almost every frozen dinner instructs you to nuke it to oblivion, when in reality about half the time will really do the trick. 
  •  I have a ridiculous love for Family Feud. Could watch it all day every day. Here's one recent question. They asked 100 men what they wished they were holding in their hand right then. One contestant says: "A cell phone." Hahahahahahah. I mean. Even "A burrito" would make more sense. Top 3 answers were: Money, woman, beer. So predictable. 
  • They are making Grownups Two, so maybe there really is no god. 
  • This has been making the rounds and is really touching. How we see ourselves versus how others see us. Interesting local connection -- the sketch artist used to work for the SJPD.
  • Made the mistake of watching Extreme Couponing the other day and got really inspired. Printed out some coupons, went to the store and ... promptly forgot to use the coupons. Farts.
  •  Oh, also, regarding the Boston bombings -- it's stuff like this that really brings out the "best" in the sanctimonious pricks on Twitter. It's not enough to grieve something that happened on American soil. We must also grieve every bombing that happens in every country, every day. I hear their point but they need to STFU. We are obviously going to feel more connected to a tragic even that happens in our own country. Get over yourself. You are not the boss of us and can't tell us how we should feel. And also: You really, really suck. UNFOLLOW. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I didn't buy the brownies the first time I saw them because a glance at the ingredients list revealed they contained soy lechithin, and I am nothing if not an avid hater of the soybean industry.

The second time, I made an exception. After all, they're in a brown box. They say they're from the "Whole Foods Market." They are large and look delicious. And they do not contain corn syrup (I am nothing if not an avid hater of the corn industry).

It was an odds-and-ends day. I think I'd thrown a box of strawberries, some eggs, a few bottles of Pellegrino, and an enormous container of honey into the cart. No meal can be clearly deduced by studying the items in my cart. Which is something that often happen in the checkout line. "Making tacos?" a fellow with three-inch ear gauges will ask. I always feel inexplicably compelled to explain, no, it's chili, and the chicken is for pasta. Some checkers have enthused about their love of all meats, everywhere, and others have lifted the packages carefully by their corners and then promptly disinfected their hands with a couple squirts of antibacterial gel. I assume many vegetarians work here.

Brownie day there was a new checker I hadn't met before. Mainly, I'm just relieved when I don't get the shouty checker who shouts at me DID YOU FIND EVERYTHING YOU'RE LOOKING FOR and then shoves my receipt in my face without further ado.

New checker was quiet until he got to the brownies and then he held the box close to his face and remarked on the price -- $5.99. For four brownies. Large though they may be. "Gimme a break," he says. "You've got to really be in a bad way for brownies," I explain, without shame.

This entry has all the makings of an Erin-story -- the kind of story that anticlimaxes and people say: "And then?" But there's no "and then." Just, the guy thought I was paying too much for brownies, and although he was right, I bought them anyway, and actually? They were delicious.

Monday, April 08, 2013

oh schnits

I'm going to try to make this not be 100% about TV shows. But the reality is I watch entirely too much TV. I read about these youngsters coming up who don't have TVs and just use hulu or some such nonsense and I just am not sure what they're doing with their free time. Reading books?!

  • So Vicki's face is OMG-so-much-more-dramatic than I could have hoped for. I'm speaking of a Real Housewives of Orange County cast member in case you're unaware of the infamous Vicki. She is treading dangerously close to Jocelyn Wildenstein (cat lady) territory here. 
  • I really, really want Gwyneth Paltrow's new book (It's All Good: Delicious Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great) and I don't care who knows. I like the gooper. Why's everyone always so down on her? Does she have Anne-Hathaway-disease and I just never caught on?
  • Have just recently begun watching The Killing and am extraordinarily annoyed by the whole plot and most of the acting. Except one gem: Joel Kinnaman. Who is a Swede. Which makes the accent he does for this show just spectacular. "We want you to play a white American who talks like a black American." "Ja, sure, you betcha." Anyway, Kinnaman is going to be the new RoboCop in 2014 and I think he's a great choice. There's something about him that makes me want to pat him on the head and feed him soup. 
  • In the "cats are weird" column: The other day I caught my cat Simon playing with a bottle of baby aspirin. He'd knocked it off a table at some point and was treating it like a toy. I think it sounded similar to a fuzzy mouse toy he has that jingles.
  • House of Cards = So Good.
  • I had never heard Taylor Swift's "22" (although I have now and may I just say those kids are in for a rude awakening?) but I think this parody, "32," is pretty much spot on. Wine, cheese, and cats is pretty much what my 30s has been all about. 
  • They are remaking Carrie and .... it looks pretty good! 
  • I really hate how they're making the Project Runway contestants be on teams. Here's the thing about teams. No one likes being on a team, and no one wants to watch other people be on a team. It raises my stress level just watching it. 
  • My niece is at such an adorable age (16 months). I had a chance to watch her this morning and the first thing she says is "Oh shit!" I ask my sister, "Did she say 'Oh shit?'" Apparently she's been saying this repeatedly (and she continued to do so several dozen times while I watched her) but the theory is she's trying to say "What's that?" I unfortunately failed to remember to get this on video. Next time!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

of late

It's like bullet points, but with photos. From mi telefono.








we come in peace