Monday, October 10, 2011

Miscellaneous Mondays: Brains and Brainlessness

Welcome to Miscellaneous Monday, the post about everything and noting in particular.

Secret Circle, Episode 3

As usual, I'm a week behind in this show because I'm forced to watch it online due to my work schedule. Episode 3 was titled "Loner", in reference to our protagonist. Cassie is a loner in the way that TV likes to portray loners. By which I mean she's alone voluntarily--there's nothing obviously wrong with her. She's pretty, smart(ish), and more importantly, people seem to like her, despite the fact that she's deliberately  stand-offish and a bit socially awkward. They like her on sight, without knowing anything about her. This bothers me a great deal, actually. The same thing happens with Bella in Twilight--she's the new girl in school, she's bland and awkward, and yet everyone can't wait to make friends with her. Anyone who remembers anything about high school knows that this isn't how things work. If you happen to be self-isolating or even a little shy, people mostly leave you alone. You might make a friend or two, but it is highly unlikely that the most popular kids in town are going to be clambering for your company.

I've come to the conclusion that this show is really two shows--a good fantasy show and a crappy (but marketable) teen drama, squished together like play-dough. Episode 3 was less bland than Episode 2, but it still gets caught up in silly and predictable relationship drama. I'm much more interested in the magic and murder than whether Diana and Adam's relationship will survive (HINT: it won't).

Supernatural: Brains!

For whatever reason, I always enjoy the flashback heavy episodes, and this was a good example of that. The Winchester brothers were brought up in the most insane and dysfunctional manner possible. Catching glimpses of that is always fascinating. Furthermore, this episode was yet another example of Sam's fondness for making friends (special friends) with monsters. You'd think that if you're going to hunt monsters, "Don't Have Sex With It" would be rule number one. But I guess if everyone followed that, we'd have a lot fewer paranormal romances.

The Book Buying Dilemma

I dearly love book stores, but they seem to be disappearing. For a very long time our city had two Borders: one large one, and a smaller Borders Express. We also have a B&N,  and one or two small independently owned places that cater mainly to used books and trade. The large Borders used to be my favorite by far. It offered great selection, was well organized, offered reasonable discounts, and the employees were fairly laid back but helpful. But, of course, both Borders shut down. I was left with severely reduced buying options.

Our Borders Express was taken over by Books-a-Million. At first this seemed like a glimmer of hope, giving me back at least one place to browse and buy. Unfortunately, the store sucks. Right away I had trouble finding the things on my list. Not because they didn't have those things, but because they put them in the oddest places. Several series were split up, with some of the books in "SciFi" and some in "Fiction". Or in some cases, the same author might be put in both "Romance" and "SciFi". It was explained to me that they put books in sections based on whatever arbitrary label they carry on the spine. The employees don't know and don't care how the books should really be classified, and they aren't even concerned with being consistent. Furthermore, my GOD are these people sales focused. Their entire mission is to selling you things, from their membership card to magazine subscriptions, most of which you probably don't want or need.

The end result of all of this is that I'm now without a bookstore that I really like. Our Barnes and Noble has terrible selection. The used book stores rarely seem to get new product. This leaves department stores and the internet. I love ebooks, and I do appreciate the ease of shopping online. But it isn't the same. Physical book stores allow you to browse in a way that no site, however impressive, can ever offer.

My solution? My loving fiance got me a new library card. It still isn't quite as nice as browsing new books to buy, but it's the best I can do for the time being.

Weekly Poll: Helpful Reviews

Thanks go out to those of you who participated in this weeks poll!

I chose this particular question because, after years of reading and writing reviews I've realized that there are about a million different ways to go about organizing a review. No one way is right or wrong, but there are definitely some styles that I personally find more helpful than others. For example, I'm very fond of the list format (31% of you agreed). People who are able to intelligently break their thoughts and criticisms into bullet points are awesome. I find this type of review easy to read and, when it's done well, very persuasive. Unfortunately, I can't seem to write "List Style" reviews very well--my brain doesn't work that way.

Interestingly, the poll showed that short, concise reviews are strongly preferred over long reviews. I don't really have a strong preference in this regard, but the results do make sense to me. People don't have time to read super long reviews. Plus, long reviews can often get repetitive. I often have to remind myself to limit the length of my reviews. It's hard to be concise when a book get's you really excited or angry.

Finally, objective reviews and emotional reviews both got pretty low votes. Personally I find overly analytical reviews to be dull and unhelpful, unless of course it's for a text book or nonfiction. On the other hand, I've read some reviews that are so emotional and subjective that they don't manage to convey anything meaningful. Angry reviews can be funny though.

Don't forget to participate in my new poll: Your Favorite Classic Monsters. Happy Reading!


  1. I'm loving this misc Monday feature. A great way to put your thoughts out there. Sorry didn't read your comment about Supernatural. Too busy looking at pic of Sam!!! I don't like to think of the dying breed of book stores. It's too sad. Have been trying to think of some kind of alternative because there is nothing more peaceful than browsing a bookstore but I'm stumped. As for review, I prefer the short consice ones or the dot point ones too. Although I do love one's where the blogger really goes off!!

    I'm having a giveaway of the book Telesa by Lani Wendt Young on my blog. Check it out at The Write Obsession

  2. Thanks Lan. That Sam pic is from season 2, but it's simply too gorgeous not to use!

  3. I am so with you on book stores! I hate our Books-a-Million. For the longest time half the Sci-Fi section was taken up with Star Wars toys. Great post:)

  4. Yeah, I noticed a lot of novelty items for such a small store as well. They're very profit driven. Our B&N, on the other hand, stocks mainly literature and classics. Their popular fiction sections are tiny by comparison. Romance suffers the most, getting only two shelves way in the back. :(

  5. It sucks that you haven't got any decent bookstores near you! My problem is that my two little ones won't let me browse around the book shops without screaming/hitting each other/moaning that they want to go etc. So I must admit that I do most of my book shopping online in the evenings when they are in bed :)

  6. I can totally relate to your bookstore problems! Near me, there was basically Borders and B&N. Borders was the one I always went to because it was really conveniently located for me. Now that it's closed, I only have B&N, which I like fine as a store, but it's pretty far out of the way for me. So, yeah, like you, it's down to the library or online for me.

  7. Chrissie, ya I could see how motherhood would stand in the way of browsing. Fortunately I loved books stores from a pretty young age, so i don't think I bothered my mom too much!

    Karen, all of the book stores are a bit of a drive for us too. It's just not worth it.

  8. First off, I am definitely a new follower. I saw your name on a comment on a blog I follow and I absolutely LOVE penguins, so I had to come check it out. =)

    I agree with you on TSC, it's still a bit weird to me, but it's getting better. =) And I had to skip the supernatural part because I need to go back and rewatch seasons I've watched and catch up on the ones I don't.

    And as for your poll on your review styles, I didn't get to see it, but I agree one the shortness of reviews.

    I try to write small reviews, but sometimes I end up rambling about the book. I need to work on that, ha!

  9. Vintage Bookworm, welcome! Always nice to have a fellow penguin lover on the blog!

  10. "She's pretty, smart(ish), and more importantly, people seem to like her, despite the fact that she's deliberately stand-offish and a bit socially awkward. They like her on sight, without knowing anything about her. This bothers me a great deal, actually." <--- YEP. MY PROBLEM IN SECRET CIRCLE TOO.

    Actually, my problem in general with that story is how terrible the acting is. And yes, the magic is way more interesting than the Diana/Adam build-up.

    Are you going to continue watching it?

  11. Christina, at present I have every intention of continuing to watch it. The acting is bad and the writing is iffy. But, sometimes shows improve. I'm not so annoyed as to deliberately avoid the show. However, if I get too busy it will probably be the first leisure activity I'll cut out.


Thoughtful comments are appreciated! I always respond to them, and I usually return the favor! Happy reading!

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