Monthly Archives: December 2007

Booking it a bit late: Highlights, 2007

Booking Through Thursday a bit late this week:

It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year?

List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?

My goal this year was to read 52 books. And I read … 52 books.

I read a lot of good books this year. Just about every book on my list below had something to offer. A few I was “meh” about. (If you’re thinking about reading one, email me, and I’ll let you know if it was a “meh” book–although, one person’s “meh” is another’s “wowza.”)

My wowza this year includes:

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

I Am the Messenger, also by Markus Zusak

Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl, which actually, I read twice. If you look on Amazon, you can see it’s truly one of those love/hate books. Did it have flaws? Yeah, it did. But I felt the good outweighed those. Plus, some of the “flaws” vanished on the second read. Or at least, they did for me.

All in all, it was a good reading year for me.

Books read in 2007 (in sort of alpha order):

A Certain Slant of Light (Whitcomb, Laura)
A Northern Light (Donnelly, Jennifer)
Amazing Grace (Shull, Megan)
Devilish (Johnson, Maureen)
Elsewhere (Zevin, Gabrielle)
Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature (Brande, Robin)
Fever 1793 (Anderson, Laurie Halse)
Girl at Sea (Johnson, Maureen)
Hacking Harvard (Wasserman, Robin)
How I Live Now (Rosoff, Meg)
How to Be Popular (Cabot, Meg)
I Am the Messenger (Zusak, Markus)
Just Listen (Dessen, Sarah)
Keturah And Lord Death (Leavitt, Martine)
King Dork (Portman, Frank)
Last Siege, The (Stroud, Jonathan)
Life As We Knew It (Pfeffer, Susan Beth)
London Calling (Bloor, Edward)
Lottery (Wood, Patricia)
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (Zevin, Gabrielle)
Prom (Anderson, Laurie Halse)
Pygmalion (Shaw, George Bernard)
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party (Compestine, Ying Chang)
Skylight Confessions: A Novel (Hoffman, Alice)
Speak (Anderson, Laurie Halse)
Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Pessl, Marisha)
Stargirl (Spinelli, Jerry)
The Alibi Club (Mathews, Francine)
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (Lyga, Barry)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party (Anderson, M.T.)
The Book of Lost Things: A Novel (Connolly, John)
The Book Thief (Zusak, Markus)
The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear (Keyes, Ralph)
The Gospel According to Larry (Tashjian, Janet)
The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family (Raddatz, Martha)
The Luxe (Godbersen, Anna)
The Nature of Jade (Caletti, Deb)
The Off Season (Murdock, Catherine)
The Probable Future (Hoffman, Alice)
The Queen of Everything (Caletti, Deb)
The Rest Falls Away: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles (Gleason, Colleen)
The Road (McCarthy, Cormac)
The Stolen Child (Donohue, Keith)
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel (Setterfield, Diane)
The Virginia Woolf Writers’ Workshop: Seven Lessons to Inspire Great Writing (Jones, Danell)
Thirteen Reasons Why (Asher, Jay)
Tomorrow #1: When The War Began (Marsden, John)
Tomorrow #2: The Dead Of Night (Marsden, John)
Uninvited (Marrone, Amanda)
Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie (Black, Holly)
Vote For Larry (Tashjian, Janet)
Wild Roses (Caletti, Deb)

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Filed under Books, Memes

We’re back, recovery mode: on

We’re back from the holidays, spent in balmy Alabama.

  • Laundry = done
  • Grocery shopping = done
  • Go get dog from kennel = not done, yet

I’d originally planned on going into work today, but for some reason, the vacation childcare places all are closed. Go figure. It’s probably just as well, since we’re all walking around, a little hungover from travel, a little bleary-eyed, a little cranky.

I need to get back into writing mode. I told Darcy yesterday that I’ve seem to forgotten how. We can only hope I figure it out sometime in the very near future.

So, I’ll be back, maybe even later today with more blogging, the year in books, the year in writing (if I remember how, that is), and so on.

Until then, have a very wonderful New Year.

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Filed under Misc

Happy Holidays

coffeexmas.jpg

By Kyra, age 5: Bob, Andrew, Me, Kyra

I have no idea why we’re gathered around a giant cup of coffee, but I’m kind of glad we are.

To you and yours this holiday season. May it bring peace, happiness, and of course, giant cups of coffee.

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Filed under Misc

Brilliant ideas and story-thinking

Every once in a while, Kyra will come up to me and say, “Mommy! I have a brilliant idea!” Sometimes, this idea is no more than me following her to see something she’s done. Recently, she cleaned her room. Yes, all by herself. The child is already more organized than I am on my best day. The moment she decides to take over the world, watch out.

Yesterday, on the drive home, I had a brilliant idea. In MacKenna’s story, I want to include some letters and notes from another character (and that’s all I’m saying–the who/what behind that is the super secret double probation part of the novel). So … I had this general idea of what I wanted. It felt like a solid idea.

But pulling it off? You know, add in the actual content, the words that would go along with this idea. This has been bugging me for a while. During draft two, I kept putting it off: oh, it’s a draft three problem, I’d tell myself. Well, here I am staring at draft three without a clue.

Then, driving home yesterday, it hit me. A major of course moment. I love these. You’re sitting there (okay, driving there), minding your own business, when it the idea fairy smacks you upside the head. I can hear the words already.

I’ve always advocated letting a story rest, compost, whatever you want to call it. Sometimes you have to be still (even if you’re driving) for the ideas to come.

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Filed under Writing

Because it’s ballet

Yesterday was The Nutcracker. As promised, I give you the dress the marvelous Miss B finally chose to wear to this grand event:

ballet1.jpg

She went for the simple, sleeveless red satin A-line dress with velvet bolero jacket trimmed with faux ermine. White tights and red sequins ballet flats complete the ensemble. The red and white candy striped headband adds that right amount of holiday cheer.

Hello Kitty purse, while optional, is highly recommended, especially when it contains: lip balm, lip gloss, and Hello Kitty lotion. Apply liberally. Big brother escort in new cargo pants and a “button” shirt is also optional.

Andrew was underwhelmed by the ballet, kept wondering why they don’t walk or talk during any of it.

Because it’s ballet, I told him.

Kyra, on the other hand, enjoyed it very much. But she wanted to know why there wasn’t any tap dancing.

Because it’s ballet, I told her.

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Filed under Kids, Misc

Jeans: one woman’s lament

Once upon a time, I could walk into The Gap, pull a pair of jeans off the shelf, and walk out without having to try them on (uh, after paying for them, that is).

Then, one day, they stopped making relax fit, or classically relaxed, or whatever it was. The only things on the shelves were these ultra-straight jeans (this was before the low-rise craze). Apparently, the fine people in The Gap marketing department believed women were built like planks of plywood.

At this point, I discovered Eddie Bauer had jeans that fit me. They also had flat front khakis that I could pull off the rack and not have to try on (well, more than once, of course). At the time, I worked at a place where business causal did not equal jeans. (In fact, you got “talked to” if you wore jeans to work.)

Then, I walked into Eddie Bauer one day and discovered they totally redid their jeans/pants line into one that included five different styles. A style to fit every woman, the advertisement proclaimed, with much fanfare and self congratulation.

Every woman, that was, except me. I tried every single style. They fit poorly and felt crappy. Jeans have to look good, but they really should feel good. That’s the whole point.

J. Jill to the rescue. Their “tried and true” fit was just that. I could buy and not need to worry. The inseam was a touch longer, which was nice, since I have long legs.

Friday, I walked into the J. Jill in the mall. Being cautious, I decided to try on the jeans–just in case. Plus the sales women were looking at me strangely. What? A woman in Dr. Martens can’t shop at J. Jill? Just watch me.

 Tried and true? Eh, not so much. Sometime while I wasn’t looking, they modified the design.

But I really needed jeans. So, I tried The Gap. They have something called “curvy” fit now. It’s okay. But I’m not spending that much money on something I feel meh about.

I trudged on over to Eddie Bauer. Apparently, someone in their marketing department got a clue. They now have something called “shaped fit” jeans, one size smaller in the waist than in the hips.

This, people, is what I’ve been looking for. All. My. Life. Finally, someone in the clothing industry who realized that no, my waist is not the same size as my hips. The only time my waist was the same size/bigger was when I was pregnant. And I don’t think that counts.

 I sucked it up and bought four pair–yes, I needed jeans that badly. Two straight leg, long (so sweet–fits in waist and in leg), and two with the boot cut, one in black. Admittedly, the waist still puckers, just a bit. But I can deal. Plus, they are so comfortable.

So, for the time being, I have jeans.

Merry Christmas to me.

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Filed under Clothes, Misc

Again with the banning

This disturbs me. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked or surprised by people passing judgment on something they haven’t read for themselves and instead, taking the word of someone they don’t even know. Because it fits neatly with their worldview? This is the part I really don’t understand.

In short, the Hillsborough County School Board is considering removing/restricting Sarah Dessen’s book Just Listen from its shelves because of a passage that describes a sexual assault. The objection is the passage is graphic/repulsive.

I read this book a few months back. Sarah Dessen writes incredible YA fiction. I want to be Sarah Dessen when I grow up. The passage in question comes late in the novel. Everything builds to that point. It’s a flashback, and we’ve seen the damage that incident has done to the main character Annabel.

The passage is stark, and honest, graphic but not gratuitous. There’s nothing voyeuristic about it, nothing glamorized about it, nothing excused. It’s meant to be an uncomfortable scene. Take it away or gloss over it, and the story loses all credibility. Annabel needs to confront what happened to her. It’s part of the story and character arc.

Diana Peterfreund (who went to high school in Hillsborough) has a terrific post about this book and sexual assault/date rape statistics as they apply to teens.

I want to cover a few other aspects of the book that go beyond this admittedly important issue.

Spoiler Alert–if you want to read this book and don’t want know how Annabel resolves some of her issues, this cut is for you.

Continue reading

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Filed under Books, censorship