Nancy Drew “Girl Detective” T-shirt

I’ve loved Nancy Drew since I was a kid, and I had a cool shirt with Pamela Sue Martin’s face on in when I was in elementary school. I always wished I had one with the silhouette on it, so I made one for myself. And you, if you want to buy one. They’re for sale on

Nancy Drew T-shirt

Nancy Drew T-shirt

I also put the design on a iPad case, if you’d like to carry your Girl Detective around that way instead.

Nancy Drew iPad Cover

Nancy Drew iPad Cover

Continue ReadingNancy Drew “Girl Detective” T-shirt

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

December’s book club book was State of Wonder and I managed to get it read this time. (It’s been hit-or-miss the last several book club meetings because I’ve been doing my own writing or reading other books or *ahem* reading tons of fan fiction.) The synopsis — which I usually tend to steal from somewhere else, and in this case, cribbed from booklist — goes like this:

Marina Singh gave up a career as a doctor after botching an emergency delivery as an intern, opting instead for the more orderly world of research for a pharmaceutical company. When office colleague Anders Eckman, sent to the Amazon to check on the work of a field team, is reported dead, Marina is asked by her company’s CEO to complete Anders’ task and to locate his body. What Marina finds in the sweltering, insect-infested jungles of the Amazon shakes her to her core. For the team is headed by esteemed scientist Annick Swenson, the woman who oversaw Marina’s residency and who is now intent on keeping the team’s progress on a miracle drug completely under wraps.

The thing I was struck by just three chapters in was the parallels to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a novel I really disliked, as it was one of the titles on the Great American Novel class I took in high school. I was sure I ranted about this sometime in the past, but I can’t seem to find a reference to it, so please indulge me while I go off on a tangent to explain: In my junior year of high school, we had a (male) teacher for a class called “The Great American Novel.” The reading list was lopsided in favor of male protagonists, war settings, and general testosterone. I can’t remember the entire list (possibly because I’ve tried as hard as I could to block out the experience) but this is at least part of it:

Strangely, these were missing from the reading list: To Kill a Mockingbird, Iris Murdoch, Edith Wharton… you see my point? Too much war and males finding themselves in colonialist exploration. The Great Gatsby was the one of the few novels where the author didn’t spend the whole book polishing the knob of the protagonist. Vonnegut would have been good if not for the juxtaposition with Catch-22. After reading Hemingway, my only feelings were that it would be a good idea to learn manly sports like boxing and fighting if only to beat the crap out of guys like Hemingway. Henderson The Rain King just seemed like a giant tool.

The topper on this cake was that we got extra credit for taking the summer before the class to read more from the “canon” of accepted titles, so I spent the seminal summer of my high school experience reading war novels, working in the public library and a chicken restaurant, and wondering what the girl that I had a massive crush on was doing during her break and if it was possible that she would ever ever fall in love with me, none of which was good for my psycho-sexual development as an estrogen-aligned homo girl.

Anyways, When I noticed the parallels in State of Wonder to Heart of Darkness/ Apocalypse Now, I wasn’t heartily encouraged by the book, despite the fact that State of Wonder has a female protagonist. Oh me of little faith. Patchett didn’t let me down with Bel Canto, so I don’t know why I expected her to do so here. Without being too much of a spoiler, she does take the notion of ‘the company man pursuing a rogue operative in the wilds as a metaphor for exploring their own inner darkness’ and neatly turns that notion on its head, exploring themes that never would have occurred to Conrad about exploitation, what the nature of civilization is, and what responsibilities corporations have to the world while using its resources. I was fortunate that Stephanie read the book before I did, and as I kept exclaiming with frustration over the actions of the elusive Dr. Annick Swenson, she kept telling me “Keep reading! Keep reading! You’ll be glad you did!” She was right; the book had a very satisfying ending, and you too should keep reading until the end.

Continue ReadingState of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Word Count for Famous Novels (organized)

Word count for famous novels, in ascending order by number of words. Based on this list compiled by Nicole Humphrey Cook. (Thanks Nicole, and sorry for stealing; I wanted to see the list in order.) For average word counts based on genre, see this handy reference. Also, here’s another list I may swipe and add in here.

Harry Potter Books
Philosopher’s Stone – 77,325
Chamber of Secrets – 84,799
Prisoner of Azkaban – 106,821
Goblet of Fire – 190,858
Order of the Phoenix – 257,154
Half Blood Prince – 169,441
Deathly Hallows – 198,227

Lord of the Rings
The Hobbit – 95,022
The Lord of the Rings – 455,125
The Two Towers – 143,436
The Return of the King – 134,462

Other Famous Books
22,416 – The Mouse and the Motorcycle – Beverly Cleary
30,644 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
35,968 – Old Yeller – Fred Gipson
36,363 – Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
42,715 – The Tequila Worm – Canales, Viola
46,118 – Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
47,094 – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
47,180 – The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane
48,523 – The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
49,459 – Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
50,000 =========== NaNoWriMo Winners
54,243 – The Hours – Cunningham, Michael
56,695 – As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
56,787 – A Separate Peace – John Knowles
58,428 – The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
59,635 – Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
59,900 – Lord of the Flies – William Golding
60,082 – The Dew Breaker – Danticat, Edwidge
61,922 – All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Remarque
63,422 – Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
63,604 – The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
63,766 – Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
64,768 – The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
66,556 – The Color Purple – Alice Walker
66,950 – Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
67,203 – The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
67,606 – Ironweed – Kennedy, William
67,707 – The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
68,410 – Drinking Coffee Elsewhere – Packer, ZZ
69,066 – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
70,957 – Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston
72,071 – White Fang – Jack London
73,404 – The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
77,325 – Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling
78,462 – The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
80,398 – The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
82,143 – The Dark Is Rising – Cooper, Susan
82,370 – The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
82,762 – Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
83,774 – Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton
84,799 – Chamber of Secrets – JK Rowling
84,845 – Gilead – Robinson, Marilynne
85,199 – The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
87,846 – Pere Goriot – Honore de Balzac
87,978 – Persuasion – Jane Austen
88,942 – Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
89,297 – Waiting – Jin, Ha
91,419 – Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
92,400 – Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
95,022 – The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
97,364 – Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
99,121 – To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
99,277 – All the Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy
99,560 – Welcome to the Monkey House – Kurt Vonnegut
100,388 – To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee (count confirmed)
100,609 – Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
103,090 – A Distant Shore – Phillips, Caryl
106,821 – Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling
107,349 – Gullivers Travels – Jonathan Swift
107,945 – Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
109,571 – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
112,737 – McTeague – Frank Norris
112,815 – The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
114,634 – Walden – Henry David Thoreau
114,779 – The Tenth Circle – Jodi Picoult
119,394 – Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
119,529 – My Sisters Keeper – Jodi Picoult
123,378 – Atonement – Ian McEwan
127,776 – Life on the Mississippi – Mark Twain
128,886 – The Yearling – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
130,460 – War Trash – Jin, Ha
134,462 – The Return of the King – J. R. R. Tolkien
134,710 – Schindler’s List – Thomas Keneally
135,420 – A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
138,087 – Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
138,098 – Snow Falling on Cedars – Guterson, David
138,138 – 20000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
143,436 – The Two Towers – J. R. R. Tolkien
144,523 – One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
145,092 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
145,265 – Cold Sassy Tree – Olive Ann Burns
145,469 – Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
155,887 – Emma – Jane Austen
155,960 – Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
156,154 – Watership Down – Richard Adams
157,665 – Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
159,276 – The Kitchen God’s Wife – Amy Tan
161,511 – Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
166,622 – Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
169,389 – White Teeth – Zadie Smith
169,441 – Half Blood Prince – JK Rowling
169,481 – The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinback
174,269 – Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
177,227 – The Fellowship of the Ring – J. R. R. Tolkien
177,679 – The Poisonwood Bible – Kingsolver, Barbara
183,349 – Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
183,833 – Little Women (Books 1&2) – Louisa May Alcott
183,858 – Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
186,418 – Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
190,858 – Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling
196,774 – The Corrections – Franzen, Jonathan
197,517 – Stones from the River – Hegi, Ursula
198,227 – Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling
198,901 – A House for Mr. Biswas – V.S. Naipaul
206,052 – Moby Dick – Herman Melville
208,773 – Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
211,591 – Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
216,020 – The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay – Chabon, Michael
225,395 – East of Eden – John Steinbeck
236,061 – A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
257,154 – Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling
260,742 – Cloudsplitter – Banks, Russell
311,596 – The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
316,059 – Middlemarch – George Eliot
349,736 – Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
364,153 – The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
365,712 – Lonesome Dove – McMurtry, Larry
418,053 – Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
455,125 – The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
561,996 – Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
587,287 – War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
591,554 – A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

Continue ReadingWord Count for Famous Novels (organized)

A Song of Ice and Fire

The HBO series A Game of Thrones starts tonight, and author George R. R. Martin responds on his blog to the off-base New York Times article by Ginia Bellafante claiming that the fantasy genre of literature is “boy fiction” and that his series attracts women by spicing up his novels with graphic sex. As he notes in his post, female fantasy fans all over the internet are enraged about the charge that fantasy isn’t for girls, and that Martin’s series attracts the women folk solely through sex.

I’ve read a lot of fantasy series, but have veered away from the genre in the last ten years because many of them are so formulaic – which I’ve complained about here before – many follow the Joseph Campbell tropes – orphan hero with royal heritage goes on travel quest guided by mentor to defeat evil lurking in the mountains to save the world – that is pretty misogynist and repetitively boring as well. One of the many reasons I enjoy Martin’s series is because it blows that annoying trope out of the water – there’s no “one true hero” – but many; a huge cast of characters, all with their own motivations, moving against and with one another advancing the plot in their own ways. Drawing comparisons, I’d say The Wire is the closest I can think of in story construction to Martin’s series. It’s fascinating to see so many characters viewing the same story from different angles, all with partial understanding of what’s really going on, and succeeding and failing without always knowing entirely why.

And Martin has strong female characters – who are strong in different ways from each other – and who are acting on their own agendas, which may or may not be related to men’s agendas. That is a huge appeal as well; to see women acting like actual women act and not like cardboard cutout princesses from some distant mythic fairy tale.

So I’m glad that there’s been an outcry about the characterization of the series, especially since Martin’s fandom has been pretty critical of him of late; he’s had writers block over the last several years and the recent installments of his novels have been delayed. It’s nice to see them fiercely defend him for once, instead of giving him a hard time. I’m looking forward to the series. And if I get around to it, I may need to re-read the novels.

A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire)

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)

A Dance with Dragons (Song of Ice and Fire)

Continue ReadingA Song of Ice and Fire

Amber Benson’s Death’s Daughter Book Contest

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I should probably not add competitors to my own contest entry, but if you’re at all a fan of Amber Benson’s Death’s Daughter series, the third book in the series ( Serpent’s Storm ) is coming out in the next few days, and you can win a copy of it in a contest at Bitten by Books by answering some questions and asking her some in return.

I picked up the first couple books in the series (Death’s Daughter, Cat’s Claw) a few weeks ago, and they’re a fun scifi/fantasy read. Yes, they’re not Proust. But they are what I’m reading when I’m supposed to be reading Proust, so there you go. I have yet to fall asleep in the middle, which Proust could not say.

Continue ReadingAmber Benson’s Death’s Daughter Book Contest

Another thing I love about

Fan Fiction Captain Quinn
Fan Fiction Captain Quinn

The site has great mobile stylesheets

You can read on your mobile device, which is why I was the only blissfully happy person standing amidst a crowd of very disgruntled people for an hour and a half in the security line at La Guardia. So yes, I was basically reading what amounts to very light soft core lesbian erotica in a pack of strangers. Turns out that’s not as disconcerting as one would think.

I know this means you’ll be suspicious of what I’m reading whenever I have my phone out in your presence. As well you should be; I probably am. 🙂

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Stuff I’ve added to my “to read” list

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Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang

Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson

You Lost Me There by Rosecrans Baldwin

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

UPDATE: I never acquired the first and second. I read the third book, and own the fourth but haven’t read it yet.

Continue ReadingStuff I’ve added to my “to read” list