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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.

Archive for May, 2009


Posted on May 30th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Whoosh! BEA totally washed over me like a hurricane today. Up is down, left is right, there’s a blister on my pinky toe and I feel like I just ran a marathon, but I’m so grateful to have gotten the chance to go.

The day looked something like this:

8:50 AM: Got to the Javits center, after having taken a cab because I was too much of a lazy to get out of my apartment at a decent time. I wandered around like a little lost fawn, desperately seeking the place where I was supposed to pick up my badge. Eventually I just walked up to a counter and was like, “I’m 99.9% sure I’m in the wrong place, but where’s the Media Room?” Apparently, I meant the Press Office. I found it and got my badge (that hot little piece you see in the picture below*) and met up with my coworkers for the 9:30 panel called Driving Success with Teens & Tweens: Authors Share Online Success Stories. But not before spying a woman dressed in nothing but a turquoise bikini. Where was I, the Adult Video News Awards?


9:30 AM: Panel: Driving Success with Teens & Tweens. The authors featured on the panel were Sarah Mlynowski, Jessica Burkhart, Robyn Schneider, Julia DeVillers, and a very valiant Maureen Johnson, who I gather from her Twitter is totes sick (as in ill). She really rallied. They chatted for a while about the importance of having a website (frequently updated), blog (actually written in, and not just about your books), and building a community with Facebook, Ning, Twitter, and Polyvore, which I’d never heard of before but Julia DeVillers talked about and made to sound really cool. This panel (like all the panels I attended at BEA) served to prove to me that I’m doing the right things, and that there are a lot of smart people in this business. That was nice to hear.

10:30 AM: Flounced around with my boss for a while, meeting people and searching for a specific person who was not to be found. Oh well!

11:00 AM: I was going to go to another panel, but instead I met up with the awesome Josh Berk, fellow Tenner and surely decent Pennsylvania librarian. We decided to visit the Egmont booth, which I erroneously thought was in the back left corner of the floor–WRONG! Turns out, it was literally right behind where we had been, at the Random House, erm, “booth.” I dragged Josh and his poor librarian friends all over God’s green goodness, and nobody was too pleased with me, but whatever, we found it eventually. At least I can admit when I’m wrong. On the way, though, we saw Dr. Ruth, and Josh and I had our picture taken with her (she is tiny, and we look like GIANTS next to her). Amusingly, she wasn’t fazed by the request, probably because it happens all the time, but she wasn’t at all interested in why we wanted our picture taken with her or who we were or what we were doing just randomly accosting her like that. The picture’s on Josh’s camera, but I’ll link you to it when it goes up–I’m sure I look hideous.

The Egmont people are so lovely. Josh and I introduced ourselves, and I passed out some bookmarks, and we talked to the Egmont staff about Alex and Kay and Lindsay‘s books. Everybody was so excited about them, and Elizabeth Law (Egmont President extraordinaire) is incredibly friendly, demanding of me, “Why aren’t we friends on Facebook?” Must get on that, I’ve been neglecting Facebook for a while, sorry FB. I grabbed an ARC of Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff, which looks great. Then Berk and I took off for a Debs brunch that we’d decided to crash (okay, Berk was invited; I was not, except if you think an invite from Berk counts, which I can assure you it does not).

Except! First, as we were walking through the Harlequin booth on the way to the doors, we ran smack dab into a veritable nest of authors. Sarah CrossDeb, Team Castle alum, and author of the newly released and certainly awesome (though I have not read it, I plan to tout suite) Dull Boy–was kind enough to put up with Berk and I, even though we were being such fools. I giddily shook hands with Ally Carter, NYT bestselling author of If I Tell You I Love You I’d Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, and the soon to be released Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover (almost snagged a finished copy of it at the Hyperion booth, but alas I did not–cool story, huh?)–books I ADORE–and another Team Castle alum. I told Ally I love her books, and she was like, “I love your dress!”, which was sweet of her to say (also, it is a cute dress). I foisted a bookmark on Ally, Sarah, and Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the adorable author of Golden, Tattoo, and Fate (which I have at work and am trying to find time to read–so many books, so little time), ALSO a Team Castle alum (everybody was at that castle, apparently). Everyone was very nice and friendly, and it was sort of hilarious that, having not sought them out at all, I ran into so many authors I follow and admire.

12:30 PM: Berk and I crashed the Deb bruncheon. Everybody was really welcoming to us. I got to see Megan Crewe (Give Up the Ghost) again–talked to her for a bit at the kid lit drinks thing at Houndstooth last night–and Aprilynne Pike, whose debut Wings is on the NYT list for, I think, the third week now, which is awesome for her. I also got to meet Jon Skovron (Struts and Frets), Jenny Moss (Winnie’s War), Pam Bachorz (Candor, which you couldn’t even get ARCs of at the Egmont table, they went so quickly), Neesha Meminger (Shine, Coconut Moon), Shani Petroff (Daddy’s Little Angel) and Michelle Zink (Prophecy of the Sisters). Michelle and I sat next to each other, and she was so nice to me! We talked about California, where we both used to live, and New York and how crazy Californians look at you cross-eyed when you say you’re moving away from California, like why would you ever leave? Trust me, there are reasons. Even though Berk and I were sure we’d get booted from the table any minute, it was a great time, and everyone was really lovely.

2:00 PM: Back to BEA for another panel, this time Book Bloggers–Today’s Buzz Builders. I work with book bloggers every day for my day job, and I love them. I love what they do for books, I love how sincere they are about their passion for the written word, I love how nice they are, I love hearing what they think about the books I send them…it’s a great community, and I’m glad to be a part of it, if only tagentially. I feel a lot of affection for book bloggers. The panel confirmed for me things I pretty much already knew about how bloggers liked to be pitched and how they think publicists (I guess I pretty much fall into that category) can improve, and we’re definitely taking their suggestions to heart, while also feeling a bit puffed up about how well I think we do what we do.

3:00 PM-ish: Back to the floor. I loved Egmont so much I went back with my coworkers and we chatted with Rob, from the sales/marketing side, and Nico, managing editor. Great guys! Really friendly and easy to talk to. I love the start-up nature of Egmont and their real investment in the books that they’re publishing. I think they’ve got a terrific launch list, and their next seasons are going to be just as impressive, if what I heard is any indication. Nico chased me down after we left with an ARC of Todd Strasser’s Wish You Were Dead, which he thought would interest me. Thanks, friend! I also stopped by the Sourcebooks booth for a while–wish my friend Paul was there, so I could see and talk to him, but he was back in Chicago. Boo.

4:00 PM: Yet another panel, Stupid Things Booksellers and Publishers Do. I didn’t really know what to expect of this panel, honestly. I didn’t know that it would focus so heavily on the symbiotic but highly contentious at times relationship between publishers and booksellers. I think that’s because instead of “Stupid Things Booksellers and Publishers Do,” I’d read “Stupid Things Publishers Do,” because, you know, that’s the side of the industry all my experience lies in. But the title clearly says “Booksellers and Publishers,” so who’s the stupid one? I liked the panel, and I thought the discussion was interesting, but it sort of devolved into a “you do this crappy,” “well you do that crappy” sort of argument, and we noticed that the consumer–the most important part of the publishing industry, THE READER!–wasn’t mentioned often, if at all. Carla Cohen, from Politics and Prose in D.C., was sitting right behind me, and she had a lot of biting, insightful things to say, most of which I agreed with. It was an experience, especially since I know next to nothing about bookselling.

And that’s it! Now I’m home, resting, reading Julie & Julia and chilling out after my rather exhausting day. Oh, here’s a piece of goodwill towards men that shouldn’t go unmentioned: I told Berk that my friend, Mary, a frequent commenter in these here parts, hadn’t been able to get her hands on Catching Fire and was DYING to read it. I couldn’t lend her the copy I read, because it doesn’t belong to me and got snatched out of my hands the second I was done, but Berk very kindly gave me one of the copies he ended up with. Now MD has it in hand, so I hope to receive many emails that just say “djkl;afdjksla;fdjksla;fdjkls;asdf! This book is so good!” tonight. I owe ya one, Josh. And Mary, you owe me one. Your soul will do. Note: I DO NOT want your first born.

*Why yes, that is a Catching Fire mockingjay pin you see attached to my lanyard. That other pin you see? Well, that’s one of the darling little matryoshka buttons I bought on Etsy** (the woman who made them was SO sweet, she did a custom order for me and even sent me a little something extra, which was lovely of her) to include with prize giveaways and the like. Because those are coming! Once I get my ARCs. Which, judging from the way ARCs are suddenly flooding the Tenners being published in the same season as me, could be any day now.

**I know the Etsy page says they’re magnets–I bought magnets, too, but I asked her to make the same things into buttons as well, so there are both! What people will get in giveaways is up to me, WAH WAH.

Edited to Add: I forgot to mention that I met Jen Hayley and Shana Silver at the Kid Lit event at Houndstooth on Friday night, too. They were wonderful and sweet, tolerating me graciously. I would talk everybody’s head off about books and YA and writing if I could, everybody’s so cool to indulge me. Although I suspect many must feel the exact same way. 🙂


Posted on May 29th, 2009 by annakjarzab

This week sorta flew by, didn’t it? I guess having Monday off helped. I did some pretty intense nesting on Wednesday. I bought a new fabric shower curtain and liner to replace the black and white plastic shower curtain we’ve had for MONTHS, and I swear to God it’s like a whole new bathroom. I can’t abide not having color, so this curtain makes me so much happier. Plus, with the two curtains instead of just one, it keeps the water from getting all over the floor way better than the old one.


I also cleaned the entire bathroom from top to bottom. Lots of cleaner and disinfectant was used, and I aggravated the crap out of my Wii injury by attacking the ancient hexagonal tile floor with my scrub brush (sadly, I didn’t get it much cleaner; turns out, getting 100 years of dirt out of grout is harder than it looks). I also did eight–EIGHT!!–loads of laundry, so now the bathroom is spic-and-span, and all my clothes/towels/sheets are clean. There’s still a lot of work to do on the apartment, but at least I got everything I wanted done before this weekend…

Because I’m going to BEA*! Not as a writer, though, but for my day job. If you see me on the floor (I’ll be the tall girl with the flat hair in the black pants and dark blue long-sleeve top in all the teen/blogging-related panels and hanging around the bloggers at the Autographing Area), say hi and ask me for one of these:


My awesome designer/friend/brother from another mother, Eric, designed these beautiful bookmarks for me and I had a batch of 100 printed up at Kinko’s. The quality isn’t fantastic, because it was an experiment and it was Kinko’s, so when I have more done I’ll go to a better printer and get them printed glossy on a thicker stock, but they’ll do for now. They’ve got all the pertinent information on them, so they’re useful in many ways.

I have a busy Sunday planned (I’d like to drop by the Autographing Area again to see some of the bloggers in the morning, and then I’m heading out for lunch and MoMA with my roommate–thanks for the tickets, Natalie!), but I’ll try to take pictures at BEA and blog about it later that night.

*I was very excited for this four day week…until I realized that, because I’m working on Saturday and part of Sunday at BEA, it’s actually a longer week than normal. Le sigh.

Catching Fire

Posted on May 27th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to borrow a copy of the Catching Fire ARC from the office, and I spent all last night reading it. I finished at 12:30 AM. IT WAS GREAT.


I don’t want to be too spoilery, out of respect to the author and publisher and fans because everybody’s trying to keep this a little hush hush for the time being (although, after ARCs are unleashed at BEA, it’s really anyone’s guess as to how long secrets will stay secrets). I will say that the only two things that bugged me in The Hunger Games–Katniss’ seeming lack of intuition, like how in The Hunger Games *spoiler alert don’t look here if you haven’t read it this is all the warning you’ll get* she couldn’t possibly figure out that Peeta wasn’t just going along with the whole “star-cross’d lovers” plot, that he really did love her, even though that was totally obvious to EVERYONE ELSE EVER *end spoiler*, and the NAMES MY GOD THE NAMES–bugged me in Catching Fire, too.

But it’s really hard to be so nitpicky with a book this great. There was a moment about halfway in where my jaw, I’m telling you, DROPPED to the floor in astonishment. I kept sending crazy emails and texts with lots of capitalized words and exclamation points to Alex, who read it before me, making predictions (which were all wrong, BTW) and losing my mind over Peeta, who I love dearly.

A note to my dear friends who read this blog but don’t read a lot of YA: Pick up The Hunger Games, especially if you liked the Harry Potter series. People who’ve read them both might take issue with the comparison, but I actually think The Hunger Games reminds me more of Harry Potter than any other series I’ve ever read. I like The Hunger Games series because it’s ambitious and fully realized and ballsy. It doesn’t pull its punches, and while it’s more violent than HP, in a more gruesome way, it has the same spirit of adventure and rebellion. It might also be a balm for those who chafe against the “Chosen One” idea.

Lamest sports injury ever

Posted on May 24th, 2009 by annakjarzab

On Friday night, Bri and I went over to Jenny and Eric’s for dinner (chicken pesto, delish) and ended up playing a great deal of Wii. I’d never played Wii before, and it was tons of fun–I was pretty good at the tennis, for someone who’d never played, and Bri was like Rain Man with the boxing–she kicked everyone’s ass! Amazingly, I was worse at Wii bowling than I am at regular bowling, which is sort of depressing if you consider how easy Wii bowling is, but whatever–can’t be great at everything.

Jenny warned us that we’d be a little sore afterwards, and we were, but it became clear yesterday that “sore” wasn’t exactly the right way to describe how my right shoulder was feeling. I’m in so much pain, y’all, and it seems to be getting worse.

This isn’t that surprising, actually. I’ve been having problems with this shoulder for years. I swam and played water polo competitively in high school, and strained my rotator cuff probably three or four times. After I stopped doing those things, it got better, but pretty often my shoulder will click when I move it.

The worst flare-up I ever had was during my senior year in college. I lived in my sorority house with nine other people, and we had a lot of meetings and events there, so we tended to generate a lot of garbage. For that reason, we had an actual dumpster behind the house, and to have our garbage collected we had to move it out to the front the night before it was supposed to be collected. Usually we needed four people to move it, but one night there weren’t a lot of us home and the dumpster had to be put out, so my roommate Charissa and I had to do it ourselves.

That was NOT a good idea, as I soon found out. The dumpster normally sat on the grass that bordered our driveway, and we had to get it out of the grass and onto the concrete to roll it out to the curb. Charissa pushed and I pulled, wrenching my arm unnaturally and causing some pretty serious damage to my already weak rotator cuff. I didn’t tear it (thank God, because my roommate Brianna tore her rotator cuff and had to have surgery on her shoulder, which put her out of commission for an entire quarter), as the doctor at the health center confirmed later, but it was the worst it’d ever been. My mobility was minimal, and the pain would wake me up at night. It took about two months to heal.

It’s not that bad this time. I can lift my arm; it hurts and is really uncomfortable, but at least I can do it, and the pain doesn’t wake me up when I’m sleeping. I’m self-medicating with ibuprofen and Icy/Hot pads, so I hope it gets better quickly.

But, seriously? Wii?

Grist for the Gossip Girl mill, these outfits

Posted on May 23rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

Ladies, let’s talk.


You look ridiculous.

Even you, Waldorf. You’re still by far my favorite, but what is that you’re wearing? It looks like a Special Agent Dana Scully cast-off from seasons one or two–season two! THAT’S HOW BAD IT IS–but sans pants. I can’t decide whether or not it would be worse if I found out you were wearing *gag* formal shorts underneath it. And those shoes, let’s face it, could kill someone. There is a reason why stilettos take their name from a type of dagger–a stabbing weapon, says Wikipedia. Your hair looks cute, though.

Abrams, let’s not front–you’re orange. And your hair looks like a badly kempt weave. Your dress is sorta cute, and so are your shoes, but your eyes are not focusing properly and we all know what that means! Dipping into Chuck Bass’ stash? You and Lily van der Woodsen Bart soon-to-be-Humphrey *barf* both. Shut it down. Set an example for little Jenny Humphrey.

Oh, wait, too late. Let’s review, Little J. Your hair is absurd, and has been for almost an entire season now. That is a mullet. I don’t care what you think it is, it is a mullet pure and simple–there is some business in the front and some party in the back, but it’s not a fun party.  Also, I did not know they made leather pajama bottoms with footsies. I see you cut the front part off of the footsies so that you could wear some pretty boring shoes. Good call. (Terrible call.) I know you’re going for the partially-dead, aloof look here, but mostly you look like a bitch. Wipe that snarl off your face. I don’t even know where to start with that shirt. Perhaps I’ll mention that it’s see-through? Okay, it’s see-through. And partially unbuttoned. And sort of off-kilter. And your black bra is showing. And a rosary is not jewelry. Have I covered everything? Oh, that shade of lipstick washes you out so much. Please stop wearing it ASAP.

SERENA VAN DER WOODSEN. A jumper? A JUMPER WITH SHORTS? I know you’re fashion-forward and have–how do I say this without being rude?–an eclectic style, but come on! The only thing I endorse about your outfit is the color. I love blue. At first I thought you’d gone barefoot, which would make sense considering you’re channeling your five-year-old self with that JUMPER, but no. Those are shoes the color of your skin. Whoops! Next time, turn the light on in the closet. Also, your hair looks cute, but it looks like you’re about to fall over drunk, and I, being Mother Superior, strongly diaspprove of imbibing before photo ops. Remember the term “drunk face” (college vocab word) and avoid it at all costs.

Crazy ladies, late night snackin!

Posted on May 22nd, 2009 by annakjarzab

I’m not going to lie, I’m a pretty social creature. I have a lot of friends/friendly acquaintances and they’re all pretty awesome, if you ask me. This translates into many, many nights out a week, which is fine except for the fact that I’m a secret introvert and I’d much rather be at home reading a book. My friend Kim and I are pretty similar in that way, and we decided that while we admire those who can really go balls to the wall out every night and rally for work the next morning, we’re just not like that, and as much as we sometimes wish we were, we secretly enjoy being kind of old at heart.

Then Kim sent me this, saying, “it’s totally us”:

Now, okay: first of all, this is very funny. Also, do you KNOW how many Sonic commercials I’ve seen in the last eight or so years? A frillion. A frillion is a “real” number. And it’s a lot, considering the fact that for the past year and a half I haven’t had TV in my apartment and also I’ve never been to a Sonic. I’ve never even seen one! I don’t really believe in them. Which begat this conversation:

Shannel: I finally ate at a sonic when I was in St. Louis last year

me: i’ve never been i don’t actually believe they exist i’ve never seen one

Shannel: and I felt that another thing had been checked off on my bucket list

oh well it could have been a figment of my imagination
me: that’s probably what happened
you hallucinated a sonic
Shannel: likely.
no other possible explanation
I think I hallucinated a lot of things in St. Louis
I’m going back in June for another wedding
I’ll let you know how that “trip” goes
me: yes, enjoy your “sonic”
take a picture in front of it
“take a picture”
= draw a picture, because it’s like a unicorn, a mythical beast

Fantasia has no boundaries

Posted on May 21st, 2009 by annakjarzab

As I’ve mentioned here before, and in several rambling mind-spill emails to Joanna, I’m at a bit of a crossroads with GR. I’ve hit a bit of a wall, which is not a huge concern to me at the moment. It’s become clear to me that I can’t progress with that book until late June, after I do my research, which is probably why I’m having a hard time. I “finished” my SM synopsis, but I’m not feeling very engaged with it right now, so I’m putting it aside for a while until I decide what I want to do with it (options: write it now while I research GR, or push forward with GR and write SM fourth per the original plan, or write them simultaneously (far from ideal because of how it will make me crazytown this summer)).

Naturally, not only am I bouncing around between GR and SM and working piecemeal on both, but I have several projects in the pipeline that are in the let there be light phase–I have the idea and that’s it. Ain’t no earth or heaven or water or land or creatures great and small–just a little speck of dust like the one the Childlike Empress shows Bastian at the end of The NeverEnding Story* (the movie, obvs; I read the book many, many years ago and was sort of shocked at how much comes after the Nothing devastates Fantasia). (Sidebar: DORK!)


Some of these ideas–one in particular–require a little bit of research. A few weeks ago, my good friend MD (a Marquette University alum) mentioned that there was an article in her alumni magazine about a student who graduated the same year I graduated from Santa Clara (’05) who is becoming a contemplative nun of the Poor Clares order. This rustled up a long-dormant novel that I’d shelved to finish All Unquiet Things back in college and has been bumped back further and further over the years by other books.

I asked MD to bring me the magazine, which she thoughtfully did, and I also ordered Karen Armstrong’s Through the Narrow Gate, which came yesterday. I’d read The Spiral Staircase, back when I considered becoming a nun for like a nanosecond, but could never find a copy of Through the Narrow Gate, which is the “prequel,” if memoirs can be said to have prequels or sequels. I also did some Wikipedia-ing, my favorite research method, and found out something I never knew in my 25+ years as a Catholic:

Although the English word “nun” is often used to describe Christian women who have joined religious orders, strictly speaking, female church members are referred to as nuns only when they live in enclosure, otherwise they are “sisters” or “female clergy.” The distinctions between the Christian terms monk, nun, friar, brother, and sister are sometimes easily blurred because some orders (such as the Dominicans or Augustinians) include nuns (who are enclosed) and sisters (who work in the broader world), as well as friars (who are not enclosed).

The more you know.

So anyway. Something to distract myself with, at least, until I get back from California in late June with armfuls (figurative) of research for GR and actually have to make a decision about how I’m going to proceed with that book.

*Why is The NeverEnding Story‘s title in German on the IMDb page? I get that it’s based on a German book, but the movie is in English.

I’m going to need a better name…

Posted on May 20th, 2009 by annakjarzab


Booyah! THAT is me as a superhero. WANNA MESS? You do? Well, um, you see, I have this hangnail and pretty sure it’s ungentlemanlike to kick a lady while she’s down, so…

I see why you might not be afraid of me, as my weapon is a bag full of groceries (that’s really the only option that’s even remotely plausible for me) and my name is General Kind Philanthropist. Is there a wussier superhero name than General Kind Philanthropist? I super doubt it! (See what I did there? Obviously I can cross “Become comic genius” off my bucket list.)

Anyway, you can make your own at The Hero Factory, and then enter Diana Peterfreund‘s contest to win a copy of Sarah CrossDull Boy, a novel about Avery, a teenage superhero, who has to keep his powers on the DL to keep himself from becoming a lab specimen.

Things I found that I love

Posted on May 20th, 2009 by annakjarzab

It wasn’t very long ago that I found out Mindy Kaling, writer/star of The Office, has a blog called Things I Bought That I Love. The title is, um, pretty self-explanatory. She doesn’t post very often, but when she does she’s hilarious, which makes sense. I don’t totally understand why the blog is such a huge mess, layout-wise, but who cares! Anyway, you should check it out. Also, her Twitter, for good measure. I liked how she basically guilted Jimmy Fallon on live (not live) television about not following her on Twitter. And then he dropped his iPhone and the screen smashed. Coincidence? No. DO NOT THUMB YOUR NOSE AT THE KELLY, James. You learned your lesson.

Thing the second, this New Moon poster:


Now, AS I THINK WE ALL KNOW, I am not a huge fan of Jacob Black, but I do have to say that Taylor Lautner, despite being 17, maybe 16, I don’t know, my math skills aren’t great (b. Feb 11th, 1992, you figure it out), and thus jailbait for me, is looking pretty fine. Although I suspect he still doesn’t clear 6’7″ and I DEMAND VERSIMILITUDE from my hastily-made low-budget teen vampire/werewolf romance films. Also, much as I love RPATTZ, I think Jacob wins this poster with his good haircut!

Thing the third, Tap & Gown, the latest book in Diana Peterfreund‘s Secret Society Girl series, which I read without pausing from 7:00 last night until 11:30 when I closed the book and sighed and *slight spoiler alert* swooned over Poe. Yeah, that’s right, I SWOONED. And as you may or may not know, I don’t swoon.


Okay, being the savvy, in-the-know book person that I am, I’m aware that sometimes books get put on store shelves before their release date, because the bookstore employees just kind of clear out the back room all at once and, unless there’s some crazy Harry Potter-type do-it-and-we’ll-kill-you ban on letting anyone get even a little peek before midnight on release day, you might be able to get it a little ahead of time. I’m super impatient, so this weekend I went to three bookstores over three days to look for Tap & Gown. Last year, this method worked for me–I got Rites of Spring (Break) two days early and scarfed it down in one night. This year, not so much. ALTHOUGH, as I would find out, it might be because I am blind.

Yesterday, Tap & Gown‘s official release date, I went to the Borders near my work and looked for it on the Fiction shelf. Diana’s books are pretty easy to spot, being candy-colored, and I found a copy of Under the Rose and a copy of Secret Society Girl. Frustrated, I went over to the customer service desk and asked a guy for help. He said they should have copies in the store, looked through all the paperback tables for me, did a little rain dance to see if he could conjure it up from the sky, and then was like, “Well, let’s check the Fiction section again, just to see if it’s been misshelved.”

So I follow him over to the Fiction section, under P, and on the shelf RIGHT BELOW the one where I’d found copies of UtR and SSG were, like, eight copies of T&G and about three of RoS(B). RIGHT BELOW the shelf I’d been looking at. Now, okay, in my defense, I expect all books by a single author to be shelved together alphabetically, so this was technically someone else’s bad, but seriously, Anna? You can’t check the other shelves? It’s not like you’ve never been in a bookstore before. Anyway, I bought my copy and got out of there before people could laugh at me for not using the eyes God gave me.

Now I’m wondering if those copies were there all weekend, and I am a dumbass. The answer on that one is probably YES.

Anyway, Tap & Gown was the best book of the series, hands down. It took me a while to get into the Secret Society Girl series, but Under the Rose hooked me (not coincidentally, there’s a lot of Poe in that book). You know, I read about Amy and the Diggers and I look at all the nonsense they put each other through, or are put through by the patriarchs, and I think, “Why do they put up with this? Why stick around?” And then I remember every other day in my sorority, all the bullshit we had to deal with from each other and nationals and the alumnae. I actually have to work to recall that stuff, because what remains of my fraternal experience is the fun and the love, so I get it. I know, as Diana points out in UtR, Greek life and society life aren’t the same, but there’s enough similarities to make me miss my Theta days.

So back to Poe. Poe is pretty much the Chuck Bass of this series, and you know how much I love Chuck Bass. And by “is the Chuck Bass of this series” I mean that he’s the dark horse romantic interest, the person you never saw coming but the chemistry was too strong to ignore. Not that he’s a rich playboy who can’t engage emotionally, because none of that is true of Poe. I can’t really get enough of him, so I’m glad he was plenty around in this, the final book of the series. I’m going to miss those two crazy kids and their exploits (and I wish there was more than one love scene, but, you know, it was special this way). Now the plan is to spread the love.

OMFGossip Girl Chuck + Blair 4 Eva!

Posted on May 19th, 2009 by annakjarzab

After yesterday’s post and today’s, everybody’s going to think I spend all my free time watching television, which wouldn’t be a 100% unreasonable assumption, except that I don’t have a cable hook-up in my apartment, or rabbit ears, so really I watch a lot of Internet-vision, which is totally different except it’s all the same shows, and anyway I watched Gossip Girl at Casa de CP* last night on a TV, so…this one-sided argument is really going nowhere, isn’t it?

Moving on! Obviously, I am beyond thrilled, pants-wettingly ecstatic about last night’s episode of GG. As always, the premise was great, the execution left something to be desired, narratively speaking.

The Premise: Gossip Girl, out of whose clutches everyone assumed they would be post-graduation, lobs one last solid punch at our principle players, branding:

  • Chuck a coward (true)
  • Blair a weakling (below the belt and unfair, because actually she’s pretty brave–a more accurate insult would be “delusional”, but it’s my suspicion that GG is just trying to push Chuck and Blair together by stirring up all their old emotional shit)
  • Dan “the ultimate insider” (?? later it’s explained and I guess it’s pretty true, in that Dan, a.k.a. Lonely Boy, is quite possibly the most insidery of all the Constance/St. Jude’s crew, as over the course of two school years he’s become BFFs with Nate and continues to have an on-again, off-again ill-fated bromance with Chuckles, dated Serena–thrice!–and dumped her twice, once for resident crazypants Georgina and once for a teacher, had the lead in the school play, and gotten into Yale, plus Rufus is going to marry Lily and they’re going to be the Bass der Humphreys, SO…)
  • Nate a whore (TRUE)
  • And possibly my favorite, told Serena she’s “now officially irrelevant”, which: AWESOME.

Naturally, nobody likes having their well-known and oft-discussed insecurities dragged out into the harsh light of a school they no longer go to, so Serena, who only hours previously had been so in love with the idea of escaping Gossip Girl’s all-seeing eye (and itchy trigger finger), decides to unmask her and end her reign of terror. But Gossip Girl, like everyone else on the show except Nate, is smarter than Serena, so instead what happens is that Gossip Girl outsmarts everyone and makes a pretty good point about the fact that they are Gossip Girl, Gossip Girl is them, that she couldn’t do what she does without their tips. She doesn’t bring them down, they bring each other down. Duh. Oh, and also GG is sticking around in college. Thank God–what would we do without her increasingly unintelligible puns?

Also, Jenny, in her goth finest, allows herself to be dragged into a competish for Queen Bee. Penelope, Iz, and Nelly Yuki–where’s Hazel?–decide to crown some bitchtastic “transfer” (as if) Queen Bee, unless Jenny can unearth the gossip to end all gossip. Nobody will talk to Jenny, so obviously nobody would tell her anything, but Jonathan (remember how Eric has a boyfriend, and is also a character on this show?) has hacked into GG’s server (if he’s smart enough to do that, he should be smart enough to figure out who she is, but whatever) and is having all her tips email forwarded to him, which, why? But anyway, Jenny gets her hands on a piece of hot goss–namely, that Blair hooked up with the jackbass (remember him?) at New Year’s. Okay, two things:

  1. No way did Blair hook up with the jackbass on New Year’s, I DO NOT CARE WHAT THE SHOW SAYS. She wouldn’t. She just WOULD NOT. So I reject this gossip on the basis of it being impossible, I don’t care what the show’s writers say.
  2. Who knew that to be true and sent it to Gossip Girl? I refuse to believe it was the jackbass because, um, adults do not care about Gossip Girl. If it was anyone else, either they would keep the gem for themselves until the time came to take Blair down a couple of pegs, or they wouldn’t do anything with it because they’re a good person. Maybe it was Vanessa?

It doesn’t matter, though, because Gossip Girl, irked by the hacking and the dramatic declaration of war from Serena, empties her clip on the recent grads at Nate Archibald’s party, whoopsing every single bit of gossip she has in her armory. Chuck finds out about Blair sleeping with the jackbass, Blair finds out about Chuck sleeping with Vanessa, and…some other stuff I don’t care about re: Dan, Jenny, Nate, Serena, etc. So Chuck, who was just about to say the magic words to Blair in the midst of seduction, instead clams up and uses what he just learned as an excuse to run away from her again. He’s Chuck Bass! Ah, sweet agony.

So, GG’s identity is the only secret on the Upper East Side at the moment. Everyone else has been exposed, but they also get to start college (at NYU, Columbia, or Rich Hobo Nothingness University like Chuck) with a clean slate. It’s her gift to them, and it is actually sort of awesome, like setting fire to the forest so the new shoots can grow up out of the ash or a phoenix or whatever. I’m a writer!

Also, Rufus and Lily get engaged. Gross.

The State of the Gossip Girl Nation:

  • Nate is joining Vanessa on her European backpacking trip, where they can be boring together at various churches and monuments.
  • Dan…something. I don’t know. Maybe he’ll spend the summer learning about New York City geography, because of how he seems to think he’ll be 3,000 miles away from his worthless father when in fact NYU and Dumbo (I mean “Williamsburg”) are about fifteen minutes away from each other via subway. Also, good thing he’s living in the dorms even though, as previously mentioned, the loft is close to school as is the Bass der Humphrey palace, because of how the Humphreys have so much money to throw around that he couldn’t afford to go to Yale.
  • Georgina is also going to NYU (under a false identity) and has requested to live with Blair. LIKE BLAIR WOULD EVER LIVE IN THE DORMS! Where would she store Dorota?
  • Serena…I was going to say “something”, but then I remembered that she’s actually going to Fiji with Carter Baizen (that couple actually makes a lot of sense to me, work on that for next season Gossip Girl), who has found her father per her request. Interesting! It took them two years to own up to the fact that Keith van der Woodsen is in fact a human who is alive that Serena is interested in finding. We know almost nothing about him, so this should be good. Also, Serena has Carter Baizen doing her familial espionage for her…LOL. We’ll see.
  • Rufus and Lily’s sekrit babeh has risen from the dead and is now lying to his parents about transfering to some school in Portland so he can stalk the Bass der Humphreys, particularly Dan, but when he finds out about Chuck he’s going to want to get on board with that.

And in the final scene of this wonderful, messy show that I will miss terribly until September, Chuck, who spent the week after graduation running around Europe, at first trying to escape Blair but finding her around every corner (not literally), leans against his limo holding an armful of gifts. Blair, who has just come from a minor victory, passing the bejeweled headband of Queen Bee-dom over to Jenny and leaving the mean girls behind for now, who is now just Blair Waldorft, amazing dresser and all-around lovable crazy person, no longer royalty, just Blair, sees him and stops tentatively. He tells her he had to come back for her, she says she wants to trust him but can’t because he’s hurt her too many times, and then he says it. HE SAYS IT, PEOPLE: “I love you, too.” I don’t ever think we’ve seen Blair or Chuck this genuinely happy, and I want to die from all the squeeing.

*That’s what I call the apartment my friends Cambria and Nikki share. Alternative: CP HQ.