Published in 1999 by Avon, ATAFFS is the first book in the ongoing Georgia Nicolson series. I bought it on a whim for our daughter. I suppose you could call it “chicklet lit”, the tween and teen version of chick lit. In my house this series has earned its own nickname: book crack. We’ve gone through several copies of each title. They get passed around and around among all of our teens’ friends again and again. This copy, the second one I’ve bought, is tattered and torn, dogeared and soft, scribbled in and taped over. Dragged from pillar to post in backpacks and crammed into little purses. According to my children these books are laughed over and discussed at lunch tables by both boys and girls, although surely they are aimed at girls.
Georgia Nicolson is a fourteen year old English teenager: has pimples, angst, a younger sister, and a crazy cat named Angus. ATAFFS is nominally in an epistolary form, although I find it more accurate to say that it’s written in a stream of consciousness style. Whatever Georgia thinks as she’s writing, she puts down in her journal. Helpfully there’s a glossary to explain the slang- which is, in my house anyway, seemingly the funniest part of the book. Until recently I’d merely played the usual parental role: indulgent pats on the head and more copies of the books for them, but I never read any of them. I’ve plenty of my own books to read, not to mention the usual adult preoccupations.
Finally, this summer, I was looking for something quick, easy, funny, light. Our younger son pushed this book into my hands and browbeat me into reading it. He laughed triumphantly when I told him how funny it is, how true to what I remember my teenage years to be. “We’ve only been bugging you to read this for years, mom.” How very true. Much of the plot is typical teenage angst: tests, parents’ embarrassing behavior, yearning from afar. There are two events that stand out for me. One is that Georgia stood up to the school bully when pressured to go into the village on a shoplifting spree. Two is when Georgia “streaks” down the street very late one night during a sleepover.
On the main I enjoyed ATAFFS quite a bit. If the tv show Gossip Girl is anything to go by, this Georgia book is in a more innocent vein- less snarky, less fueled by lust and envy and jealousy. I’m certain I ought to have read this before I gave it to them, but they seem not to have come to any serious harm with my oversight.
Image found on Harper Collins
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Somehow over the last ten days or so I've managed to read or to listen to a few library books:
1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- Shaffer and Barrows
2. How Not to Die- Dr. G
3. I'm Not Scared (unabridged audiobook)- Niccolo Ammaniti
4. Letter to my Daughter- Maya Angelou
I also listened to one of the Lois McMaster Bujold's The Hallowed Hunt on unabridged cds, which I borrowed from the library. I find audio books wonderful to clean the house while listening to or iron or play Xbox while listening or play in traffic or...They're just addicting when they're done well. Anyhow, I'll write these up eventually. If I've already done the Bujold title as a boook I may do a tiny write up about the audio. Full monthly synopsis later.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
I saw this over at Book A Rama & thought it was a cute idea. Things I've done are in bold.
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower~ Perseids
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch Counted cross stitch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train with 2 children under age 5. very worthwhile
21. Had a pillow fight
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse while on the beach! it was great
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset both
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen a Shaker community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Have enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood book or toy Books
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial Um. yes. quite a lot. it's right up the road. LOL :)
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone broke the bottom of coccyx giving birth
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House a long time ago when it was easier to get tickets to go inside
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life was a life guard as a college student
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous Alan Thicke at a booksigning
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby 3 living children
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Against the stone breakwater,
Only an ominous lapping,
While the wind whines overhead,
Coming down from the mountain,
Whistling between the arbors, the winding terraces;
A thin whine of wires, a rattling and flapping of leaves,
And the small street-lamp swinging and slamming against
the lamp pole.
Where have the people gone?
There is one light on the mountain.
Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,
The waves not yet high, but even,
Coming closer and closer upon each other;
A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,
Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,
The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,
Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.
A time to go home!--
And a child's dirty shift billows upward out of an alley,
A cat runs from the wind as we do,
Between the whitening trees, up Santa Lucia,
Where the heavy door unlocks,
And our breath comes more easy,--
Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over
The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating
The walls, the slatted windows, driving
The last watcher indoors, moving the cardplayers closer
To their cards, their anisette.
We creep to our bed, and its straw mattress.
We wait; we listen.
The storm lulls off, then redoubles,
Bending the trees half-way down to the ground,
Shaking loose the last wizened oranges in the orchard,
Flattening the limber carnations.
A spider eases himself down from a swaying light-bulb,
Running over the coverlet, down under the iron bedstead.
The bulb goes on and off, weakly.
Water roars into the cistern.
We lie closer on the gritty pillow,
Breathing heavily, hoping--
For the great last leap of the wave over the breakwater,
The flat boom on the beach of the towering sea-swell,
The sudden shudder as the jutting sea-cliff collapses,
And the hurricane drives the dead straw into the living pine-tree.
Poem found on Poets.org
This isn't a winter themed poem, but it put me in mind of the fishing village of Glouscter MA (north of Boston along the shore) and the seawall that protects some of the boats.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thanks to Kailana from The Written World for nominating me for this award!
The rules are listed below:
"You must be a true Christmas lover to receive this award.
The person to whom you give the award must also be in love with Christmas.
Link back to the person who gave you the award. List 5 things that you love about Christmas. If you can't limit it to 5 things, then keep going till you run out of space! Pass the award along to as many people as you like. That can be 1 or 50. It's up to you! But keep the Christmas cheer going! Let your recipients know that you have tagged them by leaving them a comment. Also, link back to the person who gave you the award."
So here we go. Five things I love about Christmas:
1. Midnight Christmas mass
2. Putting up Christmas lights and decorating the tree
3. Listening to Christmas music
4. Baking goodies
5. Family get-togethers, esp. driving around & looking at lights
6. Visiting our friends' Christmas train display
7. Stuffing stockings
8. Listening to the kids try to oooh and aawww quietly while Hubby & I try to nap before getting up again
I nominate Tara Marie at Romance Reading Mom and Jenster at Jenster's Musings.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Found during the Advent blog tour are two new to me reading oriented blogs: lous_pages, written by Bogsider and You Can Never Have too Many Books, written by Susan. Stop by and say hello.
Also, Tara Marie of Romance Reading Mom is posting again. Stop by say Welcome Back!!
In September and October I spent quite a bit of time reorganizing my archives, resulting in a dearth of book reviews. I did some reading but didn't write up any of them. I think this is just a hangover from the archiving & whatnot, but I've yet to fully come back up to speed with the book reviews. Below is a list of what I read those months.
1. Miss Wonderful~ Loretta Chase
2. Swallowing Darkness~ Laurell K Hamilton
3. The Sinner~ Madeline Hunter
4. The Queen of Sleepy Eye~ Patti Hill
5. Immortal Warrior~ Lisa Hendrix
6. Skeletons at the Feast~ Chris Bohjalian
Edited Dec.30 2008 to correct title listing.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Every day life chez Bookwormom has been hectic lately. It often is a whirlwind, though. Makes one value the peace and quiet all the more.
Sammy is the newest family member here. We've become a foster family to a rescue dog named Sammy. He's about 14-18 months old and appears to be an English Coonhound. He was found as a tiny pup in the TN-VA region and was fostered down there for several months before being brought up here. He is well mannered and affectionate- and loves to cuddle on the couch or the bed with you. If the rescue agency approves we will become his permanent family next week. If we can find the camera cable I'll post pics ASAP.
College Student arrived home for his winter break this weekend, bringing the obligatory laundry. This time around he's driven his ancient vehicle (a Chevy minivan held together with gum and baling wire) up here, providing transport to work & friends' homes. Plus rides & a venue for obnoxious music for his brother and sister.
Hubby has several days off in a row from work to prepare for fall finals at school. Somehow he's also been able to pick up an awful stomach bug, likely from CS. I hope he's better soon, poor man is absolutely miserable.
Anime Queen & Pianist are puttering along pretty much same as usual. AQ is stuttering academically- and finds the home consquences um.. a little hard to bear. Pianist is undergoing some serious changes as well. Some are the typical puberty related, but others may be signs of something else. Nothing world ending, but it has been surprising for him. I have chosen not to reveal anything until we have some answers.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Silent Night is my first novel by Mary Higgins Clark. It's a heartwrenching, edge of your seat page turner, at least for me it was. Ms. Clark, you see, plays on every parent's nightmare: the disappearance of your child. In this particular case, a young school age child. I don't often read suspense, but I love a good Christmas story.
The young Dornan family, mom & dad & two young boys, are in mom Catherine's hometown New York City so the dad can have leukemia treatment. To occupy the boys' minds they are taken to see the tree in Rockefeller Center. It is there that older boy sees his mother's wallet stolen and follows the thief down into the subway! The scariest and truest case of parental terror ever. A fun and lighthearted family outing turns into a horror in the blink of an eye.
Part of the ending was trite and overly saccharine and precious. I'd expected better of a bestselling author, but I guess this being a Christmas book..I enjoyed it up until that point.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I posted a review of It Happened One Night with short stories by Mary Balogh, Stephanie Laurens, Jacquie D'ALessandro and Candice Hern over at Access Romance, there will be a drawing for a free copy of the book if you comment on the column. Click the link in the post title above to go to the page. You must post a comment by Monday December 15.
Cover image found on Fantastic Fiction
I've participated in one other advent blog tour, waaay back in 2006, click here to read that post. This year's your is jointly hosted by Marg, link to her blog in the title above, and also by Kailana of The Written World and Historical Tapestry. If this is your first time here, welcome. Stay a while. Look around some. It's harder to figure out what to say this year, I think. The economy is way down and people's troubles are up, yet for me Christmastide has never had anything to do with getting more "stuff". Yes, I love to buy gifts for my loved ones and I have some Christmas collectibles I look for. Primarily though, I associate November and December with family related activities.
When I was little advent family activities often meant sleigh rides, tobagganing, snow forts and walks along snow covered lanes gilt with moonlight. Untangling endless strings of Christmas lights. Fittings of Christmas dresses my mother would sew for us. Now I'm the one doing the organizing, and living in the south makes the activities different, but November and December are always similar: getting out the advent wreath & checking the candles, until recently I bought the kids advent calendars, cooking together, helping the needy somehow, family gatherings, climbing into the attic to pull down boxes of Christmas decorations. Well, that last one is now someone else's job. Decorating indoors and out, watching endless holiday related specials, planning the schedule of who visits whom & when. Buying and writing Christmas cards.
Under the Kissing Bough; Shannon Donnelly Traditional Regency
Dark Celebration; Christine Feehan Paranormal- vampire
Under the Mistletoe; Mary Balogh Traditional Regency anthology
A Christmas Kiss; Elizabeth Mansfield Traditional Regency
Winter Wonderland; Elizabeth Mansfield Traditional Regency
This winter season I wish you joy and contentment and good books and good friends and enough of the necessities to get by.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Supporting the Economy. Or Not?
The ever loyal Hubby and I have been out and about lately negotiating over Christmas presents, window shopping and doing various and sundry errands. What has gotten my attention is the fact that in every single store except Wally World we shoppers have been vastly outnumbered by sales staff. This is despite predictions of lower staff hiring by retail chains in order to help boost the bottom line.
The other puzzler is the supposed 3% jump in retail sales on Black Friday. Hubby and I were out and around the evening of Black Friday, and the parking lot of the shopping center where we went was practically empty. Again, the stores we went into had plenty of staff, but almost no foot traffic. We haven't gone to the regional shopping mecca, locally known as Tysons Corner, & don't plan to anytime soon, but I wonder if the trend held there as well. The older kids, College Student and Anime Queen, wandered around our local mall & saw lots of people, but few of them had shopping bags. Hmm...
Which is it- Americans are finally putting away their credit cards one holiday season, having been temporarily frightened into spending less? Or are we carrying on business as usual, albeit more 'carefully'?
Images found on wikimedia and are of Tysons Corner and Tysons Galleria
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Dirt is an apropos political thriller written by Mark LaFlamme. According to the biography on his webpage, Mr. LaFlamme is a crime reporter based in Lewiston Maine. This is his fourth novel, although he has also written short fiction in addition to his regular work. This novel is set in his native region. Being a native of the state next door, it was fun reminiscing about the times I’d been to various locales Mr. LaFlamme mentions. Dirt is part psychological exposition and part political action thriller. Speaking for myself, it sent me in search of the DSM IV to look up necrophilia. The premise of the book is creepy and unsettling and unusual, to say the least. I presume Mr. LaFlamme’s imagination is amply fueled by his day job. Human depravity surely provides much fuel for his novels.
The plot appears to be straightforward, at least initially. Frank Cotton, the governor of Maine, is running for President. His son Calvin, inconveniently enough, has absconded with the body of his recently deceased wife. The governor’s campaign manager, Gary Orp, has hired a discreet reliable man named Thomas Cashman to ‘take care of’ the problem. Find Calvin and the body so it could all be hushed up before the press vultures hear about it and ruin Frank Cotton’s chances to be President. Naturally, it’s also shortly before the New Hampshire primary, so tiny northern New England is absolutely overrun with vultures, er.. reporters. The setting is very well chosen and thought out, providing intensity and a short time frame and internal deadlines integral to the story.
Honestly, I found the premise of this novel extremely gruesome. The imagery of a delusional man running around with a decaying corpse chased by an alcoholic novelist and a hired hitman was almost more than I could take. But Dirt can be read as more of a psychological study of individuals in extremis, a study of the relationships of people in pursuit of political power, as opposed to a simply following a madman and a corpse around New England. As an aside, I appreciated Mr. LaFlamme’s nod to history by using historical New England surnames in this story. Dirt is a compelling page turner of a novel, a study of power, alcoholism, obsession, death, grief and control.
Image found on Mr. LaFlamme's myspace page.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this title.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Image found on Random House
Published by Random House this year, Skeletons at the Feast is the first novel by Chris Bohjalian that I've read. This is a fictionalized account of the Nemmersdorf massacre of October 1944, among other events. Primarily this is an account of how the Emmerich family, either German or Polish depending on which year you ask them, views the war and attendant atrocities perpetuated on both military members and the civilian population. Skeletons at the Feast is also the story of a group of slave laborers. Mr. Bohjalian tries to illuminate the outer limits of humanity. Just how thick is the veneer of civilization, anyway?
Mr. Bohjalian raises numerous questions in the reader's mind- and leaves you to mull over what your choices would be if you were in similar situations. It's very easy to sit in the midst of our comfortable lives and pass judgement on what you'd do if you were them. Or what the "right" choice/option/behavior should be. But when the rubber hits the road, where real life intersects idealization, no one really knows. Would you be willing to be one of the few in your community to speak out, to be honest about your thoughts and feelings, if you knew your children would be the ones to suffer for your honesty and outspokenness? If you depend on the government for your livelihood but you disagree with their actions, would you follow your conscience even if the possibility you'd lose your livelihood or be imprisoned or worse? This is not to mention the effects of what I would call "hive mentality" or mindless conformity has on those persons who don't or can't fit the desired mold.
The Emmerich family, no matter which way the boundaries are drawn, consider themselves loyal Germans. They own and run a large and prosperous farm near the Vistula River. Both the father, Rolf, and the older son, Werner, serve in the army in various capacities. Mother Irmgard, twins Anna and Helmut and little Theo have to run the farm with only one 'farmhand'- aka a Scottish POW laborer named Callum Finella. The awful, evil, uncivilized Soviets are advancing & eventually it's obvious everyone needs to flee ahead of Ivan. Rolf and Helmut stay behind at the village near the farm to try and defend it. Irmgard, Anna and Callum flee West toward the Allies. Callum, they hope, will be their insurance policy to get them across the lines. There's also the relationship developing between Anna and Callum. Along the way they hook up with a resourceful guy named Manfred. Manfred reminded me of a darker, more rounded version of Radar or Klinger on the tv show MASH: a person who is able to come up with whatever anyone needs to survive their shared ordeal. He hooks up with Calum and the Emmerichs, and together the little party begins the arduous trek West. Meanwhile, we also follow a group of slave laborers from many nations, but two from France in particular: Cecile and Jeanne. Bohjalian does not dig deeply into the gruesome events related to their captivity. Rather he explores small events and interactions between the inmates that reveal each woman's capicity to rise or sink like bubbles in the breeze.
I found Skeletons at the Feast to be profoundly thought provoking. It reminds the reader that we often hold unexamined assumptions and beliefs about people and historical events. Stress and danger and life threatening situations bring out both the best and the worst behavior in people. It's impossible to predict which person will react in which way. I thought Calum and Anna's story reminds readers that there is often an elemental desire to connect with another person on a deep level, a need to express hope and joy and faith in each other even in the face of our darkest hours. I really enjoyed this example of Mr. Bohjalian's work, and I plan to borrow more from the library.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Harriet Maxwell Converse; translated from the Iroquois.
We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here
to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered
that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products
to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs
for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming
from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows
for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder
and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun
that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank
all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being
of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs,
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard
through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit's music,
and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies
on this occasion.
Poem found on Poets.org
Monday, November 24, 2008
It is a cold and stormy night..Really it is. So who else has decided to come out in the spitting rain for a little fellowship and hot beverages at the coffee shop down the road a bit?
Beside me is a youngish military guy in a cap covered with various insignia, but he's hunched over a fat white paperback like a man trying to light a cigarette in the wind. He taps his feet dysrhythmically, which annoys the hell out of me, but this was the only empty comfy chair in the joint. I refuse to get up. Every once in a while he squints at me and then resumes ignoring me. This man is an incessant fidgiter.
At a pair of tables across from us is a pair of young OBC Marines, one white and one Asian, studying fat ring binders, highlighters in hand. One is totally cleanshaven of both face and head, the other has a brand new high and tight as evidenced by the shiny white newly exposed skin of his scalp. He has an odd bump on the back of his head. It's not discolored, but it shouldn't be there either. I wonder how he got it.
Behind the Marines is a table of nursing students reviewing anatomy and physiology. One is an older white woman, the other two mid twenties age black women. They completely ignore everything around them. They are currently studying the musculature of the lower abdomen, bladder and groin area.
Near the coffee counter is a mixed race white- Asian middle aged couple surfing the internet. The male plays with the mouse while the woman leans back in her chair with her hands behind her head. He murmurs quietly while she stays mostly silent. They have clearly been here for a good while and show no signs of leaving.
Another man sits alone at a table with an empty cup in front of him. He's eaten some kind of cold blender creation. They're yummy, but I have a mocha of my own. He too studies something, but he's a pen tapper & lip chewer. A fat backpack sits on the floor beside him.
Image is of a cafe in Vienna called Aida and was found on Wikimedia. No, I'm not in Vienna. I wish I was.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Image found on NYC Public Library's Digital Gallery
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Elective Affinities, which is based on a work by Johann van Goethe
Not to be Reproduced--->
All images found on Wikimedia.
I love surrealism, always have. Creativity in its many forms fascinates me. Friday, November 21 was the 110th anniversary of Magritte's birth.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Hubby~ Has settled in at his new job. They've been working around his school schedule. He says the pay is better, the conditions are better & they're easy to work with & it scares him. LOL :) The ladies under his direct supervision aren't so sure they like having a man in charge, though. And he's much harder for them to manipulate. He predicts some turnover in the months ahead. The relentless schedule is wearing him down physically, though. He contracted rotovirus & suffered with it for a week, taking two days of sick time- which, until now, was unheard of for him.
College Student~ Is coming home for a quick overnight visit so he can participate in the handbell preludes at church this Sunday. Hubby had taken CS's place in the choir until CS returned to school & Hubby's schedule forced him to quit the choir. Some of the choir members are traveling this weekend & CS is coming back to fill the hole. Hubby was kinda miffed he won't be filling the hole, but CS is music literate and can pretty much sight read the pieces & get them right. His loan has been caught up in the financal scandals rocking the globe. He signed papers for a certain amount, but not all of it has been disbursed. Thus questions of legality due to legal papers having been signed for the higher amount- that he hasn't gotten. The state is involved too & heaven only knows when or if it will all be resolved.
Anime Queen~ Has had her phone taken away. She's not done so well balancing the social and academic sides of school & so we're reinforcing which one is most important. Other than that she's fine. Still working a couple of days a week at the golden arches. She got a solid B on a huge history project recently, so hopefully things are looking up now. Her BF had shoulder length curly black hair & she's been miffed because he cut it all off. LOL He said his mom was on his case about it.
Pianist~ Is fine balancing school & socializing, but is having trouble being civil with one of his teachers. The result being, his phone has been confiscated & we forced him to drop one of his after school activities in an attempt to reinforce to him that this is all unacceptable. His musicianship is improving and he's started cooking again too. His best friend's mother was killed in a freak accident while training for a new job (she was only 42). The friend has continued to attend school (!!!!!) in the meantime, but the viewing is tonight and the burial is tomorrow. We're hoping his friend won't be forced to switch schools on top of it all. His autumn has been difficult, some of it his fault some not.
Me~ I started a manuscript for NaNoWriMo, but only have a few thousand words down. I didn't do any research ahead of time & that lack of preparation has come back to haunt me with a vengeance. I'm not giving up, though. After the holidays I hope to join a writer's group to hone my skills. We all went to a College Fair Night & I'm interested in a program up at a college in DC. All depends on $$$ and time and commute- all the usual crap. Meantime I'm planning to take more classes at the local community college. I need to retake the computer class I took last year and take one more class, possibly creative writing. :)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Young People's Literature
What I Saw and How I Lied~ Judy Blundell
Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems~ Mark Doty
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family~ Annette Gordon-Reed
Shadow Country~ Peter Matthiessen
ETA:Images found on Barnes & Noble and on Random House
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Washing up the breakfst dishes, I looked out the window & discovered the teeniest, tiniest snowflakes falling. I had to make a cup of hot chocolate & marshmallows to celebrate. Winter's coming!! YAY!!
Image found on Wikimedia
Sunday, November 16, 2008
(To The Memory of Rupert Brooke)
I do not understand.
I only know
That as he turned to go
And waved his hand
In his young eyes a sudden glory shone:
And I was dazzled by a sunset glow,
We who are left, how shall we look again
Happily on the sun, or feel the rain,
Without remembering how they who went
Ungrudgingly, and spent
Their all for us, loved, too, the sun and rain?
A bird upon the rain-wet lilac sings--
But we, how shall we turn to little things
And listen to the birds and winds and streams
Made holy by their dreams,
Nor feel the heartbreak in the heart of things?
Wilfrid Wilson Gibson (1878-1962)
Gibson was a contemporary of Robert Frost and was a well known poet before the Great War. Rupert Brooke was a young man well known by Henry James and Yates and Virginia Woolf. He served in the military with Churchill's son in WWI. As is obvious, Brooke died during the war. Biographical information and more World War I poetry found HERE at the BYU library. Many thanks to them for this superb resource. Accessed 11/14/08.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Historical paranormals, the best of both worlds! Vikings and swords and historical depth! This romance reader enjoyed Immortal Warrior very very much. I did have quibbles, nothing too serious, though.
The plot is your basic hastily arranged medieval political marriage with the added spice of the witch's curse. The overlord summons Ivo and tells him: go take this holding for me and marry the former lord's family member. Ivo and Alaida marry the day after he arrives. Ivo happens to be a Viking warrior from two centuries earlier who was cursed into a half life by a witch: half of his day he spends as an eagle, the other half as a man. In Ivo's native culture, free women couldn't be forced into a marriage, so Alaida's lack of input into her marital status is odd to him, no matter how long he's lived away from home. Alaida, however, sees the writing on the wall, and determines to make the best of the situation.
What I appreciated the most, however, was that the heroine was very much a woman of her times: understood the political issues surrounding their situation, had a realistic idea of her role and duties and responsibilities, had few illusions as to the likelihood that her marriage would be easy or pleassant for her yet was willing to admit when her preconceived notions about Ivo were wrong. I've really come to hate the word fiesty, but I will say that Alaida is a strong woman who will give as good as she gets even if she expects a bad outcome from her choices. She's a fundamentally fair person.
As for Ivo: he's lonely, he wants a place of his own, he wants to settle down no matter that the odds are stacked against him because of the curse. He wants to try and make the situation work so he enlists aid of the other men who were in on the raid with him to help manage the castle and it's inhabitants. That the title and land come with a prechosen wife? Well, Ivo will take her too. Why not? In for a penny in for a pound, after all. Meaning, he's going to give this his best try, but he's pretty sure the curse will complicate things so badly he'll fail. So, hey, a wife to keep warm at night until the other shoe drops? Why not?
A cursed immortal Viking trying to make his way in a human world with a new wife and a new demesne with the huge handicap that he's only human twelve hours a day? I was intrigued. I have quibbles about the huge chunk of time Ivo's gone every day and how that was treated. My husband works odd shifts, and it complicates life. A lot. I was willing to suspend disbelief, though. I hope Ms. Hendrix works on this more in the next books. The whole complication between Ivo and Alaida about whether or not their children might be cursed too was..contrived to a certin degree, I guess. It was one too many problems for them. For me the issue of Ivo's missing time and the plot twist would've been enough for the purposes of stirring the pot between Ivo and Alaida. The pregnancy problem was one thing too many.
I really really liked this book and I'm looking forward to the nest installment.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Came across two contests one evening last week & thought someone out there might be interested in entering. Link to contest page is embedded in title above. UK based author A.J. Crofts is hosting two contests centered on the theme of modern celebrity, which also happens to be the theme of Croft's latest book The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride. Read chapter one of the book, then write a 1,000 word short story & email it to the author. All contest rules on the book webpage, CLICK HERE FOR RELEVANT DETAILS.
A.J. Crofts is also appealing to budding videographers, CONTEST INFO HERE.
If you enter, please drop me a note so I remember to keep an eye out for the winners!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, France; World War I
Driven across many nations, across many oceans,
I am here, my brother, for this final parting,
to offer at last those gifts which the dead are given
and to speak in vain to your unspeaking ashes,
since bitter fortune forbids you to hear me or answer,
O my wretched brother, so abruptly taken!
But now I must celebrate grief with funeral tributes
offered the dead in the ancient way of the fathers;
accept these presents, wet with my brotherly tears, and
now & forever, my brother, hail & farewell.
Gaius Valerius Catullus
Images found on Wikimedia
Sunday, November 09, 2008
A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,
As old medallions to the thumb,
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—
A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,
Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,
Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind—
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
A poem should be equal to:
For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—
A poem should not mean
Poem found at Poets.org.Link in title above.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Husband and I went out for a sandwich after work tonight. The weather here has been in the lower 70's today and this evening was cool but not uncomfortable so we took our soup and salad outside to eat on the patio. Cream of mushroom soup and baby greens with warm chicken. We shared the salad, their idea of a 'small' is a huge mound on a dinner plate. A friend from church happened by, so we sat and caught up while she ate. I've missed them, we attend different services, so we don't always see each other on Sundays. Each of has children, which of course only adds to the scheduling issues and exhaustion factor. Parents'exhaustion, not the kids. LOL ;)
On to the big box problems. As has been widely published in the press, this chain is having extreme financial difficulties. Just today, in fact, Galley Cat reports that the chain may not pay their distributors over the holidays. I worked for this chain for five years and I have watched changes move slowly across the stores in our area.
First they stopped having floor staff shelve books, which reduced familiarity with stock. Wages were also lowered reducing quality of employees. Then they increased 'softlines' (higher markups = more $$) floor space simultaneously reducing shelving footage of books, cds and dvds. Nowadays it is common to see significant empty shelving footage in all product areas and increasing amounts of faceouts (which take up more room thereby reducing inventory). Now they are dramatically increasing shelving footage for remainders which reduces their financial exposure to new books that may not sell at all. Remainders are often bought on the cheap by the truckload or at least that's what I was told when I worked there a few years ago. So, if you can get a lot of slightly older books cheap versus fewer brand new bookswhich may not sell at all, they appear to be opting for more cheaper, older titles.
It's sad, really. The store I knew and loved and enjoyed working for is gone now. Sales staff who are unfamiliar with product and inventory and who often chat with each other over their headsets, ignoring customers. Or, as has happened several times, I've encountered rude sales people who imply I a) don't know what I'm talking about b) they don't have to call another store for me because they're not obliged to and/or c) all of the above. "Besides, it's after 4 and I'm off the clock now." Reduced book & dvd & cd inventory. What inventory they do have is likely to be misshelved in an incorrect section, out of alphabetical order or stuck in the back room in a box somewhere. Ask someone to dig it out for you? You must be joking. Stores are much more likely to be messy.
It appears that I will now buy the majority of my books online. I'm a dedicated book store lover, it breaks my heart.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I managed to get some writing in this morning. Plus a lot of research. I find I can sustain my attention for maybe 500-600 words at a time, but then I'm done and I've got to get up and distract myself. How do I know the word count? MS Word 07 (and other versions I'm sure) gives you a running word count as you type along. I feel like a pen whose ink only comes in fits and starts. A few words and letters here and there then you have to shake it and wipe the tip and shake it some more before it'll write again. Repeat at length until finished.
Also, the research I didn't do last month is now coming back to haunt me. :( It's early days yet, so I'm hopeful I can get going and be really productive. I'm very much a creature of habit so if I can get myself into a daily rhythm I'll be all set no matter what the actual word count is. I've been switching between the laptop and the workstation PC at home & the transferring is wasting my all too brief attention span- so Pianist wants me to buy myself a flashdrive to put the magnum opus onto. Makes sense I think. Except it takes time away from the computer to go buy one
Image found on Wikimedia
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Image found on flickr.com and is of Landyriog (spelling?) Church in Wales.
Is there any way to wrangle more time in the day? Or perhaps a way to clone myself so I can be in two places at once? I still haven't been able to sit down and write for NaNoWriMo, but I've managed to get everything else done. I'm too tired to try and write, although I'm very excited watching the election returns. Excited and hopeful.
The Hubster and Pianist and I voted this morning. Well, at least- Hubster and I did. I had Pianist 'click the boxes' while I watched over his shoulder. As a seventh grader he doesn't realize the magnitude of what he did this morning. Maybe it will come to him in time. I know I'll never forget it. But back to the height thing- I looked barely over his shoulder, at that. The young man started the summer just as tall as his sister, but is now pretty much my height. That would be a difference of approximately 4". And, yes, we have had to buy all new jeans and khakis for him.
We had to drive quite a ways down state for a funeral and further still for the graveside service. In heavy rain and fog. It's sad when you only meet some of your kinfolk at funerals and weddings. You feel more disconnected from each other, I suppose. More funerals than weddings lately, unfortunately. There are several generations of my husband's kin buried there. I managed to get one of my husband's uncles to explain to me who they were in relationship to myhusband and I and to each other. They go a long ways back in this cemetary. It's nice to see a large family group together. I felt a sudden sense of history and connectedness with these long dead family members and the living ones.
As the rain patttered down around us I looked up and around and wondered why it is that we suburbanites often allow trees to go unpruned only in cemtaries? The trees in the cemetary had full round canopies, which is rarely seen anywhere else because of power lines. Trees, fully grown, mature trees, are so symbolic arching and spreading above the gravestones and monuments.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Well, I've finally started National NovelWriting Month (link in sidebar on left) three days late and thus behind. I'm finding that writing, like learning handbells, takes a tremendous amount of sustained attention that I'm struggling to maintain. I started writing at home this morning, but I found myself continually distracted by the most mundane of chores, radio stations, music, temperature, the phone, what's Hubby up to in the kitchen? Just an endless parade of excuses to get up and stop writing.
Finally we had to go pick up Pianist at school and so I saved what little I'd managed to do. It is now early evening and I've relocated to a coffeeshop in hopes that I might find fewer excuses to get up and leave my budding magnum opus. Problem being- we've a funeral out of town tomorrow, plus voting. Heaven only knows when I'll get a chance to write or for how long.
I plan to put entires up here almost daily, although there may be patches here and there where a day or two goes by without a post. I'll keep everyone semi updated about my progress and struggles, but otherwise I plan to keepthis blog focused on other things.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon them.
May their souls, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
All prayers found in the Book of Common Prayer, 1979 ed.
Image found on Wikimedia
Posted by Bookwormom at 12:01 AM
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
What do you do when your precious little girl tells you she and Friend A went to the guidance department on behalf of Friend B? Friend B's parents are having serious marital troubles, divorce is supposedly pending. Friend B has been threatening suicide. When she explained the situation to me, I just stopped and held her tight, holding her warm, living self tightly against me. Luckily, she's affectionate and she snuggled right in. My heart just ached for her and all of her friends who have tried to cope with this for weeks on their own.
The thing is, Hubby and I have noticed Anime Queen -our precious little girl- has steadily gotten paler and paler and hasn't awakened feeling rested, she's been eating less, etc. over the last few weeks. Finally, last week we started pushing her to take multivitamins and to go to bed earlier in the evening. Initially we attributed this to her academic workload and the stress of a major paper she has been working on.
I feel guilty that I never asked her what else was going on with her and her friends. That is: I've asked her about her buddies and what's going down with them and how they've been, and she's nearly always given us the usual teenage response- single words, mostly things like: fine, ok, busy, etc. Not a hint that she and one or two others were carrying such a serious burden on their young shoulders. As commonly happens, I wonder if I should have, could have, ought to have..
Finally, tonight I called College Student to make plans for this coming weekend. After we chatted she wanted to say hi, so I handed her the phone and told her to be quick about it since it was late and she needed to go to bed. So first thing she says to him is, "Do you remember that situation we discussed? Well. I have more info now." To which I told her she'd need to explain to me too.
Initially she told me it didn't involve anyone in the family but she couldn't break someone's confidence. I reminded her that a) she'd already told College Student and b) if a friend of her was hurt, threatening to hurt someone or do something dangerous she had a moral obligation to tell an adult who could help Friend B. I told her she didn't have to tell me or dad if she felt uncomfortable, but a guidance counselor or one of our priests or someone else..I didn't want her to feel even more pressure than she already does, but I wanted to be sure she shares her burden.
That's when she told me what I've told you. I'm unsure how much detail I need, other than the basic facts I've outlined here. I'm unsure what else she herself can do except continue to try and be a friend to Friend B. Unsurprisingly, Friend B is mad at her and the Friend A. Although, given the nature of teenagers and depression Friend B's sharing of such a heavy and serious burden and simultaneously expecting their silence is equally to be expected and yet is also impossible.
Thank you for listening.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Bookwormom has been listed as a top 50 chick lit blog on Best Online Dating Sites, link in the title above, in the blog section. I have to say I love the subtitle "the love coach: helping nerds date." Emphasis mine. I don't think I've ever made a popular listing before, never mind a top 50. LOL :) There are other romance oriented blogs on their list, although many are much bigger and more popular than mine, so I can't help but wonder how they found me. Ah well, never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The three witches, casting a spell
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Image found on Stralunato.com, un blog de Jacinto Lajas
Click here and read, then come back. I'll wait.
Back now? How great is that? Books really can conquer all- with the help of a determined teacher and some burros. One family trying their darndest to make their corner of the world better for everyone. While we here in the US are wondering about our retirement plans and our mortgages, the rest of the world has more prosaic things to do. Like borrow a book from the biblioburro.
I have emailed the reporter to ask if there is an address available to send donations to. If he is able to provide me with one, I will post again and anyone interested in making donations can contact me.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It was absolutely gorgeous today- bright sunshine, breezy, leaves blowing everywhere. I couldn't stay indoors. I wandered around our area doing errands on foot. The library, the grocer, the drug store. Meandered past the rescue station. It's hard to be an obsessed reader 24/7 when fall is outside your window seducing you.
I'm exhausted now. Regular posting likely to resume tomorrow as scheduled tomorrow unless it's gorgeous like today, in which case I may not be here.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play business bent.
He does not hear.; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I found this on the ‘fortunate finds’ new release shelves in my local library back in late summer, although it was published back in 2006 by Harcourt. Ms. O’Farrell is a UK born writer whose other novels have received critical acclaim. Click the link in the title above to go to her website for more details. I was initially attracted by the cover, although the text on the flap intrigued me too. I was reminded, improbably enough, of one of Holly Black’s faerie novels in which an elderly woman has been institutionalized due to perceived instability. Prior to reading Ms. O’FarrelI’s novel this was distant intellectual knowledge as opposed to emotional realization of the potential exploitation of women by the men in their lives.
The plot opens with middle aged Iris Lockheart trying to deal with the news that she has an elderly relative in a mental institution, said institution is closing and the powers that be need Iris’ input into what will happen to Esme Lennox, Iris’ great aunt. It turns out that Esme is Kitty Lennox’s sister, whose very existence Iris’ mother Kitty denied. Kitty claimed to be an only child and of course Iris believed her. Iris becomes attached to Esme and when difficulties arise in getting a bed in another care home, Iris takes Esme to her home for the weekend. The story is superficially easy and the reader is lured into thinking TVAoEL will follow conventional lines. We would be wrong.
TVAoEL is a meditation on revenge (to exact atonement/amends or punishment for a wrong or injuries; Random House College Dictionary, 1st edition) versus vengeance (infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, etc. on a person by another who has been harmed by him; Random House College Dictionary, 1st edition). Ms. O’Farrell brings up questions of justice and mercy, revenge and vengeance, truth and lies in the context of the most intimate family relationships. We learn about men’s incredible legal power over women which effectively infantilized us in the eyes of the law. This power was sanctioned by the state, ie: men in power, and by society at large. Ms. O’Farrell draws us a picture, an emotional portrait, if you will, of the long term consequences this has on one family. Regrets come too late and are too few.
This is easily one of the most powerful and mesmerizing books I’ve ever come across. I read it twice and it was a page turner each time. Likely it is a book I will buy for my home library and will reread for years to come. Very highly recommended.
Image found on Harcourt Books
Friday, October 17, 2008
Took the bus home today. OMG, what a ride. The transit center is approximately 10-11 miles away. By car about 15 minutes with average traffic. By bus about 40 minutes with stops in average traffic. Not today though. Today was really bad, even by our standards, and we've lived here 11 years. It took us an hour and a half to get home from the transit center. By the way, these buses are pretty small, carry maybe 40 people or so, so when they're full we're all pretty close. It was actually a fun ride, believe it or not. I mean, listen, I didn't have to drive in all that mess. I'd remembered an umbrella for the spitting rain. I was going home as opposed to going to work.
A few of my fellow passengers had just gotten paid, plans were discussed as to exactly how much beer would be bought as soon as everyone got home. Cell phones rang, "where the hell are you?" or "Traffic is standing still, I'll be there as soon as I can." Toddlers shared Cheerios and bottled water. Sirens wailed and motorcycle cops and ambulances whizzed by going down the road against traffic. A woman carrying a leather briefcase and wearing beautifully stitched shoes shared a seat with a neatly dressed cashier whose long rides on the bus showed in her ability to sleep through all of the chaos and noise.
Two little ones sat on the back steps eating dry cereal and laughing while a nearby young man flirted with a woman surely old enough to be his grandma. The 'boys in the back of the bus' continued to plan their evening's beer consumption, while a man with a beautiful smile complained that the seats were uncomfortable. A woman across from me laughed at him and said, "You just don't have enough cushion, baby. Us womenfolk have plenty of cushion to keep us comfy, don't we hon?" That last bit was addressed to me because I'd burst out laughing.
Someone suggested a hymn sing and another answered that karaoke would be more fun. More people piled on with grocery bags and strollers. We listened to one woman rant and rave into her cell phone about how her new supervisor is incompetent & etc. etc. etc. until someone finally asked her to be quiet. It began to rain. An SUV driver cut in front of the bus with only inches to spare, prompting irate honking & swearing and much protests of sore backs and necks.
Finally we many of us got off the bus at the same stop, stepping out into the cold breezes and spitting rain. Our own little happy hour was over. Back to payday Friday night, the drugstore, irate girlfriends. Home to cook dinner. Pay bills. Hug your babies. Another shortish walk and I was home again.
BTW- title comes from a children's song that begins, "The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round.."
Image found on Wikimedia
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This is only a partial list, full list available at site in the link in the post title. I've read Laurie Halse Anderson and was quite impressed. The finalists will announced in mid November.
Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project
Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
Marilynne Robinson, Home
Salvatore Scibona, The End
Young Adult Literature
Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains
Kathi Appelt, The Underneath
Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
College Student~ Perking along, apparently. Came home twice in September for brief visits. All five of us spent this past weekend in a rustic little cabin (a camp as they say in New England) in a nearby national park with Busy Bee our little niece and my ILs. CS is returning this coming week for his fall break. One of his classes is being taught via what used to be called closed circuit, except it's now on the computer. One of his professors had back surgery and must recuperate at home, so the kids report to a small auditorium and he teaches them from home. Kinda cool, huh?
Anime Queen~ Is now in the 'heavy duty' part of the specialty program she's in. Thank goodness all of last spring's schedule requests went through, so she's taking a regular math class and an easier science instead of physics and advanced chemistry. Math is her weakest subject area, and the program itself is hard enough without stacking the deck against her. She's working a day or two a week at Golden Arches to keep herself trinkets and cell/text money. We've made sure she can go to football games or to the movies on Fridays and she comes to church on Sundays, though. All work and no play makes AQ a stressed young woman. That part of life can wait a few more years. She's a busy girl.
Pianist~ Continues the family tradition of sarcasm, being observant and likewise unable to keep his mouth shut. The result of which being phone calls, "Do you know your son has quite a mouth on him?" Why no actually. I'm just his mother, I don't know a damn thing about him, except that if you don't keep him mentally challenged he'll cause you no end of trouble. Poor child, he's bored to death despite being in the same program as Anime Queen. It's supposed to be one of the best academic programs available to public school kids in our area. One of a very few for middle schoolers as well as high schoolers. Pianist is bored though. And boredom leads to mischief. We shall see how the year progresses. He's a loving and affectionate and attentive young man, and I'm very proud of him. But I'm equally afraid he'll be the death of me yet.
As for the Hubster and I? We're perking along too. He's settling into his new job pretty well. Thank heavens that his career field will have plenty of available jobs for the foreseeable future. Three parishoners at our church have been unemployed for nearly a year. Each is highly skilled in their individual fields, but so far neither has had any luck finding a new employer. I thank the good Lord daily for our tiny little home and Hubby's solid work schedule. Then I pray for all of those who are less fortunate than we are. With the recent Stock Market Crash, version 2.0 I think it may be a while longer before our friends are fully employed.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving Day to all our Canadian neighbors! You definitely have the advantage with turkey day on a Monday, I think. Automatic three day weekend! I hope everyone out there had a restful,relaxing weekend celebrating with friends and family.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Where’s My Hero is an anthology of short stories by three of historical romances’ best selling authors: Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn and Kinley MacGregor. It was published by Avon in 2003. The hook is that each hero has been a secondary character in another of the author’s books. I picked it up off of a shelf at a sale by the Friends of the local library. It was cheaper than dirt, but gave me several peaceful and contented hours.
The first novella is the Regency set Against the Odds by Lisa Kleypas. Lydia Craven, daughter of the hero of an earlier Kleypas novel, is betrothed to one Robert Lord Wray, but Dr. Jake Linley, first seen in Someone to Watch Over Me, has always had a tendre for her. Lydia though, wants nothing more than to be a mathematician and a scientist, and a marriage of convenience to Lord Wray suits her just fine. Until Lydia and Jake get locked in Lydia’s father’s wine cellar for several hours during one of the interminable parties leading up to the wedding.
The second novella is Midsummer’s Knight by Kinley MacGregor, set in medieval Europe. Simon of Ravenswood, a secondary character from Master of Desire, has pined after a lady so far, far above his station that Simon impersonated a higher ranking friend and wrote her letters in his friend's name without the knowledge or consent of either party. This is the story of how Simon miraculously wins his lady’s hand in marriage and salvages his friendship.
The third story is also a Regency set pre wedding house party titled A Tale of Two Sisters, written by Julia Quinn. Edward Blydon, Viscount Burwick, is scheduled to marry one Lydia Thornton in three days. Ned was fine with that until he met Lydia’s younger sister Charlotte. *Aside- I know a very nice lady named Charlotte, who has the nicest smile, and while I read this I pictured her as the heroine.* As for Charlotte, she quickly realizes that her sister’s impressions of Ned are most likely wrong and her sister is playing some sort of last minute game. Who will pay the price of Lydia’s scheming, though? And who will win the matrimonial sweepstakes?
Like all anthologies, some are weak and some are strong. I liked the Quinn story most as it showcases her strong sense of humor. The Kleypas story offered a glimpse of the Cravens further along in their marriage, but the MacGregor story didn’t grab me much at all, despite my having enjoyed Master of Desire. Where’s My Hero is an excellent way to spend several hours smiling and laughing.
Image found on Harper Collins
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I'm planning to try it this year. Wish me well. I'm trying to catch up with my posts and reviews on the blog. Trying to do a little preliminary outline and plotting. Hoping to get myself settled into a routine so I can get more accomplished next month. Trying to shut the anxious perfectionist up. Or lock her in the closet.
Ah, yes, to be a stranger in a strange land. A land that zealously guards its language and culture and culinary traditions from external assault. That’s what author Krisin Espinasse has done, you see: she moved to France. Words in a French Life was first published in France in 2004 and 2005, but this is the first U.S. edition, published by Touchstone in 2007. Link above is to Mrs. Espinasse's blog.
In this charming little book Mrs. Espinasse details the French idioms that tripped her up and the chagrin of being rapidly surpassed in vocabulary growth by your infant children. Not to mention struggling to improve her accent or her inablity to correctly learn how the French pronounce their Rrrrrrrrz. Which is a lesson ma mere repeatedly practiced with me until I memorized it and said Rz like a good little pupil. I still remember ma mere laughing at me, saying “No No, Bookwormom, you’re not learning SPANISH!!! The French DO NOT ROLL THEIR Rrrrrzzzzzz.” Golly, those were good lessons. :) Remember maman?
Anyhow, if you’re an armchair traveler or have ever dreamed of moving to a French speaking country or simply want a good source of idioms, this is the book for you. Stories of grocery shopping during which your young son translates labels for you. Trying to drive and translate airport signs simultaneously. That last one? Hard enough to read airport signs when they’re in your native language, never mind from one tongue into another! Why it can be hard to train a child to be bilingual. Getting tripped up with homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently).
Mrs. Espinasse's joyful book shows the depth and breadth of French culture and outlook from a foreigner's viewpoint. Chapters are thematic and brief and end with a small vocabulary list of helpful phrases.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I've blogged since March 2005. I've posted my thoughts about the books I read since I started. Lately, the majority of my posts are book reviews. Just a few weeks ago I reorganized my archives so they're now accessible by sub genre, although I'm not a librarian so the designations are probably arbitrary by others' standards. They make sense to me, though, so unless you can make a good case for moving something..
Primarily I read for characterization and plot, whether or not something felt right, hung together, and the like. I'm not inclined to dissect themes or to compare and contrast two authors or titles. I try to take each book as it comes to me. I'm most interested in honestly writing about books I read, and I will write what I think good and bad. I have my pet peeves: dialect written out, names, books set in Virginia or New Hampshire, etc. as do we all. I do not grade my books. As far as I'm concerned, readers should be able to make up their mind on their own without my sticking a 'grade' on a book. All of my books are traded or otherwise donated unless I specifically say I've kept it. And even then I've been known to go back through my keeper shelves and trade some of them.
Until three weeks ago, each book I've blogged about has been purchased or borrowed by me. As of today I've only ever received two books to write about from a publisher, both after the release date. I was honest about each book, and did not sugarcoat what I thought simply because someone mailed me a couple of books. That being said: I'm not interested in slamming authors. Writing is a difficult, time consuming labor of love. Authors do the best they can and then they send their babies out into the world to be enjoyed by others.
My contact information's at the bottom of the bar on the left as well as at the bottom of this post. If you find a factual error somewhere or if a link is wrong or broken please email me. Leave me a note in the comments, although I'm not always able to respond quickly to those. I'm willing to read and review books for people if anyone else out there is interested in sending me books. I promise to be honest and forthright and prompt if you give me enough lead time. Deadlines need to discussed several weeks in advance.
Edited to Add:Image found on Wikimedia
Contact me: bookwormomsterATgmail.com
Edited Again- I only do reviews, no interviews or games or contests. Do not email me telling me what you can do for me. Unsolicited materials may not be reviewed.
Author Patti Hill has written a flashback coming of age contemporary novel primarily set in a tiny town in Colorado back in the 1975. Amy and her mom Maria end up in Cordial Colorado after the transmission of their classic 1958 Pontiac Bonnieville dies. The ladies are relocating from Minnesota to California, where Amy has earned a scholarship to Westmont. The summer of 1975 turns out to be a fateful few months for both Amy and her mother. A time of growth and change.
Honestly, I found Maria hard going. I had an intense and visceral dislike of her character which made me reluctant to read The Queen of Sleepy Eye. I liked Amy and the people of Cordial, though, so I kept at it. And I’m glad I did, because, really, this book is about acceptance, making peace with yourself & your past, *ahem, looks into mirror* learning to be less judgemental, the enduring love of family. I remember my overly black and white view of people and the world when I was a teenager, I remember my viewpoint was similar Amy’s at a similar age.
I have struggled with what and how much to say about the plot because I prefer to leave much unsaid so that new readers have surprises waiting for them if they choose to buy or borrow this book. Maria was a teenage mother bringing up a daughter in a time when this was frowned upon much more than today. Amy is a teenager raised by a teenager. And Maria, unlike some young ladies come early to motherhood, Maria doesn’t grow up as much as the reader might hope for. Amy pays a price for her mother’s narcissism and immaturity and scheming. There are moments of insight into human behavior that reveal how much Ms. Hill is able to help us relate to her characters as real people. For example, I thought that Pastor Ted’s words during the little funeral service in the parlor were profound and authentic and touched my heart deeply. Then, too, Father Raymond’s words to Amy regarding the mysterious face in the mirror made me smile in recognition.
As I mentioned above, I did have serious problems with Maria. I found Amy to be naive and smug and condescending in reference to sexual urges and her mother's attempts to prevent Amy from following in her footsteps. Teenage motherhood admittedly isn't the focus of the narrative, but the consequences of Amy's one sexual encounter can be found in many romances and I was disappointed that this was added into the book and then skimmed over. Even so, because the narrative focuses on other aspects of Amy and Maria's coming of age with such precision this is a minor issue.
I am so glad I finishedThe Queen of Sleepy Eye. Ms. Hill holds a mirror up to the reader and sometimes we aren’t always comfortable with what we see. Other times the images warm your heart and hold out hope and love. Ms. Hill has written a perceptive and touching book that may just help readers think twice.
Image found on B & H Publishing