Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging; Louise Rennison

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

Couple of books read

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

Christmas Bells; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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

funny pictures
more animals

funny pictures
more animals

Monday, December 22, 2008

The List Meme

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
22. Hitchhiked
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

The Storm;

Theodore Roethke


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

Christmas Spirit Award

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

New to blogroll

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!!

Oct & Nov Reading Synopsis

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

Family life

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; Mary Higgins Clark

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

New Review Up & Book Giveaway

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

Advent Blog Tour, '08 edition

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

funny pictures
more animals

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; Mark LaFlamme

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.