Friday, June 29, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #32 Slumber Party

I love reading a book I read in high school over again. I especially love reading Christopher Pike and what's really cool is that it seems this book (unlike the Final Friends series) has stood the test of time.

I remembered Slumber Party as soon as I started reading it. I remembered the hot older boy skiers, the jealous friend, the melted clues, the culprit and this rather steamy, for an 11 year-old (I'll talk about it more during one of my 30 day challenges coming up) kiss. I did not remember the reason that it all began, however, which I found very odd.

What I liked and still like about this story is that the main character girl isn't wimpy, even if she is a little boy crazy. I like that her peers also think so as it is her bravery, level-headedness and, well, genuine kindness that prevail in the end.

What I recognized as a grown-up:

1] I'm not really sure I'd let my kid go for a weekend alone with other kids to a cabin a mile away, by foot, from a ski lodge.

2] I'm not sure I'd let/condone my kid dating a older (23 to her 17) guy from a different country whose prospects seem to be slim and whose main goal seems to be to flit around the USA.

3] Grown-ups don't seem to exist in Christopher Pike books...there's a sheriff, some old guy who parks their cars, and the the end...they're near a ski lodge...where are the grown-ups?

4] I think this book may be the reason why I didn't drink when others were and why I wasn't really around those that did during my younger years. It can be pretty scary and obviously horrible accidents can happen.

5] Does Christopher Pike only write 'crazy female'? If there's a 'crazy male' Christopher Pike book could someone send it my way?

And, finally, I don't understand why this is marked as horror by some on Goodreads. Maybe it's because this book is a nice little creepy send-off to books like Carrie, which I've seen, but haven't read and whose movie version is mentioned by the characters. I think that Horror novels have an elevated amount of violence that stops me from reading them and that this book does not possess. If this is horror than a]I've read horror and b] Mary Higgins Clark books like A Cry in the Night and While My Pretty One Sleeps are also. I do remember being creeped out by this book loads and, well, I still am.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #31 Soulless

I absolutely love this book and when I love a book I have a hard time focusing on what I want to say about it. This book is especially hard to talk about because it has so much going on...first it is set in London and is Steampunk, it has werewolves and vampires and supernaturals and preternaturals. It has witting dialogue and romance woven in to a story of mystery and science. It may seem like a simple Steampunk novel, but, the author Gail Carriger touches upon the big themes of acceptance, playing God and gender roles in society. Seriously, it's a whopper, a fun and sexy (seriously werewolves, I want one) whopper, but a whopper nonetheless. 

To keep myself focused on reviewing the novel, I've found a lovely article that delves into the Steampunk genre without talking above my head and gives three tropes that most Steampunk stories and novels seem to possess. I will use these three to discuss Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger.

Either Cockney or the Queen's English (in terms of the Victorian Era)
Through language Carriger distinguishes the many social levels evident in her book. Lord Maccon, of course, being the upper crust, has such a gentleman's voice that all the other male characters pale in comparision. He seems smooth and controlled, Lord Akeldama would be the opposite of that and then the various underlings take on various accents and characteristics appropriate to their level in society. We even understand the Alexia Tarabotti is a bit of a posh, who may be separated from others in her society by her Italian blood, but who language is elevated compared to her best friend and opposite Ivy Hisselpenny.

"Machinery that either experiments with the use of steam, or involves industry on some scale"
This is an easy and fun aspect to think about concerning this novel. There are glassicals (Ben Franklin type trifocals with various levels of examination), mechanical carriages, funky hats and parasols. While I don't think these machines are as fleshed-out and realized as those in other Steampunk novels I've read, I do believe they help set the scene for this Victorian London.

Questions authority and "offers interrogations of famous figures, historical events"...this looks different in the States (think the Wild West) versus England (think Queen Victoria as a robot)
Soulless is a novel full of social commentary. I love that there are so many times that Alexia is prohibited by her gender and literally her skirts from being the true bad-a she'd like to be. She also recognizes that if she were married she'd be able to do more and she understands the class system. Sometimes all of this knowledge is detrimental as it prohibits her from having thoughts of freedom and, sometimes it limits her ability to see herself as a woman who possesses all the traits women want to possess. Even she is trapped in seeing herself as an object.

"A novel of vampires, werewolves, and parasols"...what more could you really ask for, I mean really?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #30 Insurgent

The following review has been pieced together from a conversation about Insurgent on Goodreads. I figured that since all the words were mine, I could do with them what I would.

I'm having hard time putting a finger on why Tris and this book aren't as good (although they are good) as the first book.

I think it's hard to write a trilogy going into to it knowing that you are going to write a trilogy. You know there are things that you aren't going to reveal until the end and you know that these things have to be alluded to in some faction for your audience to buy it. You're main characters (in this case I'm including only Tris and Dour) have to also change in some fashion from book one to three. And, that change has to be warranted...this has got to be hard to do especially if you are writing in first person.

I don't really want to like Tris...I understood her behaviors incredibly well in the first book and her pouty petulance, defiance and all out rudeness made sense in the context of her life, her relationships and her factions. I bought it all. In this book Tris changes and I'm not sure that we can use her age as a defense , however, since 16 year olds make life changing decisions all of the time and while sophomores are different than seniors, they can still reason and think and listen and are on the path to adulthood. 

I do not like when a positive role-model (especially one for girls, as there are so few) seems to change her stripes and becomes, in fact, like all the other girls in all the other books that have girls as heroes. Can girls only be heroes if they cry/have ill-tempers/make stupid decisions? It would seem that the literary world seems to thinks so. I would even add Hermione Granger into this mix as she couldn't just be defiant she had to be, at times, downright mean and a 5-letter know which one. I hear that Evie in Paranormalcychanges for the not so good, Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen inTwilight and The Hunger Games, respectively are not girls I see as having virtues and they only gain virtues by finding or loving boys--argh; even girl leads as far back as The Chronicles of Narnia are not girls I want my daughter to emulate in any fashion. Frankly, as I go through these types of books in my mind Forgive My Fins and other mermaid books, The Girl in the Steel Corset (don't even get me started on Wither) et cetera...the girls all seem to exhibit the same traits of whininess, weakness and neediness that are suppose to make them strong.

I don't know what I want to see in a heroine, a YA heroine in particular, I thought that Tris was getting there. I am afraid that she took a few steps backward in this book, which brings me to the point about trilogies...perhaps Tris just needs some room to grow, perhaps as a Divergent she needs to act and think and truly be selfless, maybe book two was all about acting as she learned the hard way that acting without thinking or truly being selfless does not work.  All I could think about while Tris was being so reckless and going into danger when everyone was telling her not to was Bella Swan and her recklessness...the fact that I could connect them (even if for a little bit, as i know the characters are truly different) irritates me.

I am still undecided about Tris. I don't think anyone would question her goals or motivations, although they do seem to contradict in terms of being selfish and selfless (or are they just both at the same time?). She doesn't make me want to punch her in the face, i'm pretty sure i don't want to be her friend. she just isn't what she was in book one. I don't like her at all in this book, even if she does question shooting will and other of her actions that have not yielded positive results, I liked her loads in the first book when her actions and motivations seemed a little clearer. I'll see about the third.

The thing is, I did enjoy this book loads. It was easy, fast and fun and it has me thinking, all good signs, especially from so young a writer.  Maybe Veronica Roth is being consistent with her characters and plots and we don't know it because there's a whole book to go. I'm willing to give Tris the opportunity to become the YA heroine I've been dreaming of. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #29 Cycles

The author of Cycles, Lois Brown, sent my other blog, Teen Text Talk, her book to review. There was a contest for however many reviews she received by a certain date. There was no way that I was going to get this book read in such a short amount of time, so I didn't bother with the contest, but told her that when I got to the book I'd give it an honest review. A month later, on my birthday no less, I read it in one sitting...seriously, it's that entertaining.

Renee Beaumont is a typical 13 year-old girl, she loves horses, her best friend who is an older boy science genius, Sam, and her neighbor, Dr. Dawson, a man who let's her come over whenever she wants and who takes care of her when her rich overly busy parents aren't around, which is a lot. One day Renee gallops away trying to save the doctor's prized horse from thieves, the horse trips and down goes Renee on a rock. At the hospital they can't figure out what is wrong, she's losing loads of blood, but they can't find out her blood-type. In walks her neighbor to save the day, he has some of her blood saved from a time he helped her with a science fair project...the only thing is this is all a lie and things only get weirder for Renee and her Sam as they try to find out the truth.

At first, this book seemed a bit confusing, it intersperses Renee stories with that of an older woman who is telling the story of her daughter's disappearance through diary entries. I spent the first 40 or so pages trying to figure out what exactly was going on, which I think will compel curious readers forward. And, although I know a bit about science and love science fiction, I did not see where this book was going. I'm guessing it's because this book begins so easily and subtly. The ending, WOW, so looking forward to the 2nd book!

Frankly, I need someone else to read this book so I can talk about it with them. I've never read a book like this before.

Monday, June 25, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #28 Albert Nobbs

I started reading Albert Nobbs when I stumbled upon it and recognized that it was cheap, short and a recent movie.

After reading the intro, a lovely one by Glenn Close (did you know she played Albert in NYC as one of her first characters ever?), I knew that I must read it.

Alfred is a girl who doesn't realize she has dreams. As head waiter at a prestigious restaurant she uses her secret identity as a man to grow a nice nest-egg for herself. She understands that it is this identity that enables her to live a decent life and she doesn't want to ruin it. That is until she is forced to bunk with a man named Hubert and a flea threatens to ruin her secret.

After Albert's encounter she begins to wish for a wife and home, children and freedom, all the things that Hubert told her that she could have. Without Hubert around to guide her, she begins a relationship with a flirty, money-grubbing maid. This relationship will be her downfall.

At first glance this story seems to be nothing more than a sorrowful tale of lost identity and of love; how sad it must be to recognize that you can have more in life, but not know how to get it.

But, it's so much more than that as it comments on...

Societies treatment of gender
Albert wouldn't even be considered for her job as a woman. As a woman she would have become a prostitute or worse to survive. Being a man during this time period forced Albert into her livelihood and into her falsehoods. It would seem that men, too, are limited by their gender roles and can only be in pursuit or alone. Albert learns that to get and keep a woman he must spend money and seems that it does not require honesty and forth-rightness.

As a man, Albert wants a woman to complete her, but not in the sexual sense. Only a woman can help her raise a family and only a room can help her keep her house. In this respect she reminds me of the women in the novel The Fox. It isn't that she wants a relationship, it's that she can't see the way around getting what she wants without being in one. It is this thought that proves to be disastrous.

In the end, Albert's false feelings ruins him. Having had no other friends, because he didn't allow himself out of fear, and having never been in a relationship, he cannot figure out how to make it work. Albert learns about the ideals of love from those that would rather use it has an ends to a means. He cannot have what Hubert has with Cathleen because he is searching in all the wrong places.

Male/Female relationships
Albert is used by society, by women, and by men. Her naive nature limits her experiences. In the end every relationship is crushed.

And, all I could think about while reading this book was this poem:

by John Donne

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee, 
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
    Yet this enjoys before it woo,
    And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
    And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill me,
    Let not to that self-murder added be,
    And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 1-2.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Infinite Summer #1: What the *BLEEP* have I gotten myself into?

First, if you are reading with us and haven't read the first post, please sign-up and do so here.

If you want to read all our pre-reading post, click on Infinite Summer 2012 to be taken to a complete list of all things IS12, so far.

Think of these Sunday posts as jumping off places...discuss what I've posted, post something yourself, answer questions, ask questions, add whatever it takes to make this experience enjoyable and understandable for you!

These post will be CHOCK FULL OF SPOILERS for the reading for that week (Just in case you didn't already know that!). I think knowing this will stop those of us that aren't at a certain place from reading on and will enable those of us who are writing to do so without worrying if someone knows that fact or not. If you are reading ahead and want to post about the pages ahead please wait and if you want to talk about other books, not Infinite Jest and are giving spoilers please indicate that in some fashion...even a *spoiler* before the comment would be nice.

And, finally, if there is anything I can do to make this run more smoothly please don't hesitate to message me on here, on twitter or on Goodreads and I'll see what I can do.

Let's begin the discussion.

I don't know about you all, but I spent the first few pages wondering what was going on...and, then I googled and googled some more.

Setting (from the IJ wiki)
In the novel's future world, North America is one unified state comprising the United States, Canada, and Mexico, known as the Organization of North American Nations (O.N.A.N.). Corporations purchase naming rights to each calendar year, eliminating traditional numerical designations; for example, "The Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment" and "The Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland". Much of what used to be the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada has become a hazardous waste dump known as the "Great Concavity" to Americans and as the "Great Convexity" to Canadians.
The novel's primary locations are the Enfield Tennis Academy, Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (footnoted "Redundancy sic" in the text), and a conversation between a Quebec separatist and a U.S. double agent outside of Tucson, AZ. Enfield Tennis Academy ("ETA") and Ennet House are separated by a hillside in suburban Boston, Massachusetts. Many characters are either students and faculty at the school or residents and staff at the halfway house.
For more information about the setting check out this lovely post by Book Drum beyond the page. And, I'm sure, Brain Pickings' 3 Ways to Visualize David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, will come in handy later, as it breaks down characters, settings and the whole book by diagram.

I enjoy that DFW has given us such rich settings, they just make things (such as Orin's chapter with the roaches) more realistic and in some ways sympathetic. By far my favorite chapter this section is with Erdedy and the long wait for his favorite addiction. What do you guys think? For me, knowing the fact that it's set sometime in the future helped, and I'm glad to have a visual foundation as I continue reading. However, I do wonder what will be at the end of this rabbit hole.

I also really liked this, too bad nobody got to hear it!:


Friday, June 22, 2012

Preparing for Infinite Jest: Reader's Companions and Guides

Infinite Summer talks about...
Infinite Jest: A Scene by Scene Guide

I found or I was pointed to...
Mr. K's Infinite Jest Blog
Words, Words, Words: The Infinite Jest LiveBlog
IJ Wiki

There are two books, that everyone seems to feel are the definitive IJ books...if you want to buy something...

Price:  $13.43 at BN
ISBN-13: 9781441157072
Publication date: 4/19/2012
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)
from Goodreads:
This is part of a new series of guides to contemporary novels. The aim of the series is to give readers accessible and informative introductions to some of the most popular, most acclaimed and most influential novels of recent years from The Remains of the Day to White Teeth . A team of contemporary fiction scholars from both sides of the Atlantic has been assembled to provide a thorough and readable analysis of each of the novels in question.

  • Price: $24.95 or $9.99 on the Kindle (it doesn't seem to exist on BN at all!)
  • Publication Date: 11/30/07 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976146537 
  • Pages: 524 pages
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
from Amazon:
Elegant Complexity is the first critical work to provide detailed and thorough commentary on each of the 192 sections of David Foster Wallace's masterful Infinite Jest. No other commentary on Infinite Jest recognizes that Wallace clearly divided the book into 28 chapters that are thematically unified. A chronology at the end of the study reorders each section of the novel into a sequential timeline that orients the reader and that could be used to support a chronological reading of the novel. Other helpful reference materials include a thematic outline, more chronologies, a map of one the novel's settings, lists of characters grouped by association, and an indexed list of references. Elegant Complexity orients the reader at the beginning of each section and keeps commentary separate for those readers who only want orientation. The researcher looking for specific characters or themes is provided a key at the beginning of each commentary. Carlisle explains the novel's complex plot threads (and discrepancies) with expert insight and clear commentary. The book is 99% spoiler-free for first-time readers of Infinite Jest.

And, I've linked points of interest on my main page here at IS'12. Please know it is a work in progress and I post things as I find them and mention them on the blog.

In taking on the task of reading Infinite Jest, what have you found useful?

Don't forget! If you are reading with us and haven't read the first post, please sign-up and do so here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Mighty Girl

I cannot tell a lie, having a kid is a heck of a lot of fun.
I cannot tell a lie, having a little girl is pretty awesome.

I've spent a lot of time on this blog talking about just how much I think about this little girl (who is at the moment singing the theme song to "SuperWhy" and simultaneously talking asking me about the pictures of Washington DC on my t-shirt) and who she will become and how I can help her get there without hindering who she is. I've talked about...

Working and having a tiny person
Trusting God with my kiddo
Travel Reads
Female Literary characters that I want to have a positive role-model for her

And, while raising a girl means I embrace the pink and the lilac and the frill, it also means that I don't want to be devoured by it, nor do I want to lose her in it. I reach out to who and whatever I can to help me find the balance. I read books about raising kids and raising girls and having teenage daughters and I look for the balance of Princessness (it's a word). Somebody on Geek Girls posted this link to the most wonderful site for raising girls ever! There's books and movies and ideas for presents and princess books and, well, it's amazing.

Click here to be taken to awesomeness...You can follow them on Pinterest too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Reading Plans

The Classic Bribe
Perusing Kill Me If I Stop, I found this challenge. I'm not putting it on the main page at the top because a] that page is getting rather long and I need to figure out out to make page tabs, but alas who has time to fiddle with html and b] it's for summer only. I'm thinking it will help me read at least my books for Back to the Classics and/or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen of la Books.

Here's the challenge from Quirky Girl Reads

The Classic Bribe – Challenge & Giveaway:

  • Read at least 1 Classic over the summer – between Memorial Day and the end of Labor Day Weekend, September 3rd
  • You can have begun the Classic prior to Memorial Day, but it needs to have been completed between the challenge dates above
  • Post a review on your blog of each Classic that you read during the challenge period and reference a link to this “The Classic Bribe” challenge page
  • Link to each of your reviews separately by clicking on Mr. Linky below
  • Each linked review counts as 1 entry – no entry limit per blogger – read and review as many as you like
  • Each entry builds up $1 toward an Amazon gift card – the more entries the higher the balance can grow – capped at $35
  • Random winner selected Labor Day weekend from all entries- no restrictions on region
  • Winner receives the full Amazon gift card balance accumulated based on entries received
Splash into Summer
This next Summer read item will take place a delicious week in July. I still feel guilty for having missed Irish Short Story Week this year...crazy month of March here at the ranch, but this summer fun activity will sort of scratch that itch. It's called Splash into Summer and is hosted by Literally Jen and Bonnie at A Backwards Story

Splash into Summer

The week of July 9th will be all about mermaids. *squee*

The Conscientious Reader
July 9th     Introduction, Why I love mermaids, recap of my mermaid things thus far,
                Pinterest board, MerBooks blog etc.
July 10th   Review: Sea Change
July 11th   Review: Everblue
July 12th   Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings: Chocolate Mug Cake...yeah, I'm making
                it and talking about it
July 13th   Recap of Splash of Summer: favorite post, links

Teen Text Talk
July 9th     Introduction, Giveaway
July 10th   Review: Sea Change
July 11th   Review: Everblue
July 12th   Review: The Lure of Shapinsay
July 13th   Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings: Chocolate Mug Cake...yeah, I'm making                it and talking about it and Giveaway winner announced Monday

Pinterest, MerBooks, three book reviews, a giveaway and chocolate mug cake...I can't wait!!!

Kate's Book Club: Summer Reading Game
Another challenge that I think will help me with my bigger year-long challenges is the following from Kate's Book Club. The ten type of books are listed below and there's no specific end or start date, so I'm going to start July 1st and end September 30th. If there is a book I've had in mind, I've listed it below the challenge and will add more as I think of more to add.

1. One Book Recommended By A Friend.
On the Island (by my friend Jen R.)
2. One Book That Has Been Sitting On Your Shelf For Over A Year.
The Lincoln Lawyer
3. One Book You Read A Long Time Ago And Don't Remember.
The Last Unicorn
4. One Book From Your To Be Read List.
The Night Circus
5. One Book You've Never Heard Of.
Lost in a River of Grass
6. One Classic.
The Bloody Spur (also titled While the City Sleeps)
7. One Book You Started But Never Finished.
8. One New Release.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
9. One Book That Is Outside of Your Typical Genre.
10. One Chunkster (A Book That Is Over 400 Pages).
Infinite Jest

Oh and I promise to talk about all our summer trips...sometime before the end of the season. We've been having a blast!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Preparing to Read Infinite Jest: "To Be or Not To Be" or "Brush Up Your Shakespeare"

Hamlet at Project Gutenberg (if you want to read it for free)

The novel derives its name in part from a line in Hamlet, in which Hamlet refers to the skull of Yorick, the court jester:
Let me see. (takes the skull) Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. —Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh at that.—Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.
So, I was going to reread Hamlet to be in it while reading IJ, but decided I didn't have to when I came upon this website, Enjoying "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare. In this website you will find:

  • The play broken down scene by scene
  • The major themes in the play broken down and analyzed
  • Background information to the story of "Hamlet"
  • Links to various clips and teaching tools

The only thing this website is missing are the various ways that Shakespeare's play relates to the novel Infinite Jest and for that you can go to Infinite Jest & Hamlet:similarities from Library Thing and there's some more stuff here...just so you know I don't know if there are any *spoilers* or not because I didn't read either site too thoroughly, just in case there were, you know...*spoilers*.

Another site that has been beyond helpful as I've been reading is The Infinite Jest LiveBlog:
I'll be doing my best to call out whatever Hamlet Sightings I notice. It’s safe to assume our updated Hamlet is Hal (also, not safe to assume he is a stand in for David Foster Wallace), who opens the book with a mysterious freak out at a rigged college application interview. Can’t say much more without giving away way too much, but pay attention to this chapter. It’s, well, riddled with with important clues about what happens in the rest of the book, and even the smallest things are deliberate.
And, he has so far, all I have to do is ctrl-f "hamlet" and then read the parts that pertain to the pages I've read thus far to see what he believes are Hamlet connections. Love it!

And, if you're looking to watch Hamlet, THE GUARDIAN gives us the top ten in 2010 to choose from or you can just look at my lovely collage above...Ethan Hawke as a modern day Hamlet with the setting in New York City? Yes, please.

Oh! And, if you are reading with us and haven't read the opening post or joined up, here it is!

Monday, June 18, 2012

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 20

Last year I found this book challenge (since then I have seen many variations of it, but I like this one best!), and have been intrigued about how I would answer the questions posed. Feel free to comment with your own answer or post the challenge to your own blog.

Favorite Kiss
My first book kiss this is my favorite...if you read the excerpt you can see why...I mean I think I read this book when I was 11...that's a pretty hot kiss for an 11 year-old!

Slumber Party Christopher Pike
    "You're right. But you're a cute case."
    "Really? No."
    They were debating life and death, forces beyond the physical universe, and she forgot it all when he told her she was cute. "You're cute, too," she said.
    He laughed, "Don't you think I know that?"
    She moved closer, careful not to light herself on fire, feeling suddenly brave. "No laughs, I'm serious."
    For all his class, his confidence, he seemed touched. He tossed the flare aside. "I'm going to kiss you." He put his hands on her shoulders and leaned forward. Lara closed her eyes, tilted her head back, and waited. And waited, feeling like Scarlett O'Hara. She ventured a look. Percy was worried.
    "I'm not going to stop you," she said.
    Poor boy, his conscience was getting in the way. "You're still in high school," he said nervously.
    "Do I look like I'm in high school?"
    "Not really."
    "Then forget that I am. I'm eighteen!" Actually she was seventeen. "The law won't come after you."
    "That's not what I was thinking! I just want you to know that I'm not the type of guy who tries to take advantage of the situation."
    "Percy, it is ten degrees below zero. You're not going to take off my clothes, and I very much doubt that you want me to undress you. You can't take advantage of this situation."
    He laughed. "This is a side of you that I haven't seen before."
    Lara laughed, too. "I haven't seen it before either."
    He kissed her. His nose was cold, his lips warm. She felt good in his arms, as if she wanted to stay there a long, long time. Hadn't a poet said that talk of death was the most potent aphrodisiac? She had never done it before, had always thought girls who did it on the spur of the moment without protection were fools. Yet she suddenly found herself wishing that it was a warm summer night with thick beds of grass behind the trees. He slipped his arms inside her coat at the back picking her up slightly. His mouth tasted like carrot cake. She loved carrot cake. She leaned into him at the waist. He slipped and landed on his back. She went along for the ride, bursting into giggles.
    "What happened?"
Here's a lovely review of the book from Grown-Up YA.

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)
Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Day 03 – The best book you've read in the last 12 months
Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever
Day 05 – A book or series you hate
Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once
Day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving

Day 11– A book that disappointed you
Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)
Day 14 – Favorite character in a book
Day 15 – Your “comfort” book
Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry
Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)
Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book 

Day 19 – Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 – Favorite kiss

Day 21 – Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 23 – Most annoying character ever
Day 24 – Best quote from a novel
Day 25 – Any five books from your “to be read” stack
Day 26 – OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending
Day 27 – If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!
Day 28 – First favorite book or series obsession
Day 29 – Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)
Day 30 – What book are you reading right now?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Preparing for Infinite Jest: How to Read Infinite Jest

For those of you who are reading Infinite Jest and don't want to/have time to peruse the Infinite Summer website...I'll be gleaning out some lovely IS nuggets. Here's the first:

How to Read Infinite Jest and here's another lovely list.

Infinite Summer also has a lovely Index. In it you will find:
  • Three essays about why you should read this novel...yes, three. Why I Am Reading Infinite Jest (by the lead singer of The Decemberists), Why Read Infinite Jest and, um, Why Read Infinite Jest
  • Links for preparing...the how to above, links to DFW essays and short stories, and a Forward.
  • the % of pages read a day with links to essays about those pages and weekly breakdowns and roundups.
You can do with these what you will...I think it's the teacher in me that likes to front load books I feel might be hard to digest.

What are you finding most useful as you prepare to read this novel or other chunksters?

Oh! And, if you are reading with us and haven't read the opening post or joined up, here it is!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Like Fine Wine: 11 Men Who Only Got Better With Age

I found this list of 11 actresses who got better with age and had to post my own male equivalent. Note, it's not really that they got sexier (I mean Rob from day one, literally), it's that they've literally aged (physically and least as far as I can tell) well. There's just something about a man with eye-wrinkles and adult confidence that's just nice. These lovely gents are not in any order.

Shia LaBeouf: Curled-headed and adorable in Even Stevens, confident hotness for recent blockbusters, and, yes, I've seen him with the long hair. It's just another phase in Shia's movement to adulthood. Still maturing that one.

Will Smith: OK, so we all thought he was cute during Fresh Prince of Bel-Air...weren't those 90s colors wild?...but, as a father and husband he's just become 'swoon' worthy.

George Clooney: There really is no comparison. Loved him as Falconer in Sisters, but when I think of distinguished actors the likes of Cary Grant and Paul Newman I always think of Mr. Clooney. Verve.

Patrick Demsey: I watched Grey's Anatomy for two years because of this guy. I truly loved his scrawny nerdy self in Can't Buy Me Love and In the Mood, but I absolutely adore him as a father in Enchanted and in real life and, really, what nice eyes and hair and smile.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: So, I remember one time he was on a late-night talk show barefoot, long faded jeans, v-necked t, cross-legged playing the guitar and I realized he was no longer cute little Tommy from 3rd Rock from the Sun...he was someone else all grown up and now that he's over 30...

Simon Baker: Pretty smile, lovely hair, Australian and manly eye-crinkles (you can read more about my love/admiration/swooning for him in this post)...nice to look at in his early years, but more than quite the dreamboat today, and there are some cute pictures online of he and his wife and sons that are just too sweet, and, then there's this interview...such manly and nice things to say.

Rob Lowe: Um, yeah...I love Rob Lowe...more now than I did in 1988, if that's at all possible (I did have about 5 posters of him on my wall, one was that iconic big one from St. Elmo's Fire). It might have something to do with Stories I Only Tell My Friends.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Remember Zach's rather large cell-phone? Well, I do, and I thought he was cool and hip. Gosselaar is still cool and hip, but without all that fidgety teen boy stuff. And, it's pretty cool that he can make fun of himself.

Jerry O'Connell: I didn't need to pick the pic of Jerry O'Connell from Stand By Me to show how much he's changed, from the mid 90s (think Sliders), there's even been a change in O'Connell's everything, although I think he may have always been this goofy and full of fun...which, frankly, is why I chose the 2nd picture...pumping gas in a funny, I almost didn't notice he was wearing...OK, I did. And, his kids are cute and his wedding pics are lovely and...

David Duchovny: I have spent the last 17 years loving myself some David a speedo, wearing a tea-cup and only a tea-cup or being interviewed. He's so smart and pithy and...well, pretty. His lovely, sexy voice finally has a man face to go with it.

Robert Downey Jr.: I remember reading an interview with him in like some sort of teen magazine in the 80s, he seemed incredibly cocky...little did I know all the many reasons why. Look at this man now! And, boy can he sing!

Who do you think has improved with age?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #27 Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings

Here is another book for my mermaid challenge.

Just in case you've forgotten it's lovely marvelous details or you want to play along you can find all the information you need by clicking on The 2012 MerBooks Mermaid Book Reading Challenge.

How could you not love a book that starts off with a girl getting her period while trying on swimsuits damaging the one she decides to buy and ends with a recipe for Chocolate Mug Cake (something I'm definitely going to try in the future)? The answer is that there is no possible way that you couldn't.

After Jade reaches puberty, things about her begin to change...a certain boy begins to notice her lovely wavy hair and curvy figure and one day in the bathtub she begins to notice that instead of feet she's sporting a shimmering blue-green tail.

I love the voice of Jade, she's sassy and quick-witted, just how I feel every middle grade school girl should be. She thinks she's too curvy (there's a whole scene with a tankini that is just too real and adorable), she thinks she's not beautiful (without wavy red hair, how could she be anything else?), and she is missing her mother, who drowned a year ago, more than anything.

But, is her mother really dead or is that her mother she hears calling her? Can she stand being part mermaid? Trying to find these answers means that she has to keep telling big lies to her best friend and it means that she could be putting herself into more danger than she realized.

The best part of this book is the fact that the mermaid stuff seems to be par for the course in Port Toulouse and the story isn't really about keeping the secret or finding her true love or identity, but in finding out what really happened to her mother.
What can I say? This book is cute and fun and light and fluffy. A perfect summer read for any girl age 9 to, um, 36.

Oh and book two just came out...yippers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #26 Pinch Hit

OK, so Pinch Hit is one of those books that I probably would not have picked up and read on my own, but I won it at YA Reads for Teachers (And Other Adults) and the rules of winning are that you read and post.

So, I read it, and let me tell you I read it in May at the end of the school year with a million other things going wasn't really doing it for me. Frankly, I'm not sure if I do middle grade books for middle grade kids very well. But, I kept going Sam in one chapter and Trevor in another. I found that, if I stopped being 'adult' about it, I was beginning to enjoy the cliffhanger end to each chapter and then starting the next chapter up with the other character so a person might read 4 or 5 chapters before they realized it. Perfect for reluctant readers (OK, so I totally/all the way didn't stop being 'adult' about it).

This book is about Sam, an All-American baseball player and Trevor, a prissy (not because he wants to be, but because his mom makes him) Hollywood mega-star. Trevor wants to play real baseball more than anything and Sam wants his father's horror film script green-lighted (or, is that green-lit?). After Trevor realizes that he and Sam look about 99% identical, they, with the help of Trevor's female co-star, switch places. There are parts were things get a little hairy...Sam reads/Trevor does not, Sam knows Shakespeare/Trevor does not, Sam can switch it/Trevor...and so on, but for the most part the grown-ups don't get it. Things go rather well until the boys figure out that they are, in fact, real twins and Sam uses Trevor's star power to find their real mother.

Who can the boys trust? Will Trevor be good enough to fool the coach and scouts? Will Sam be able to act? These are all things that will keep kids on their toes and there's just enough sports to make it interesting and just enough romance to entice all kids to want to read it. I got hooked and got to the end wanting more, I'm pretty sure most kids will too.

This book is like the Prince and the Pauper meets The Whipping Boy, I think it would make a cute Disney movie starring a set of adorable twins...I guess the Sprouse twins from The Suite Life of Zach and Cody are too old aren't they?

Monday, June 11, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #25 I Just Want My Pants Back

For my birthday we, a bunch of my friends and I, went out to eat in Springfield, and because it was my birthday we ended our lovely dinner of various fondues with a trip to the bookstore; Barnes and Noble to be exact. The husband took the kiddo to the play area (sometimes he can be nice and thoughtful) and I spent some quality time amongst the shelves. Of all the books that caught my eye that evening I Just Want My Pants Back caught my attention the most. I found a comfy seat and started reading it on my Nook, immediately I was entertained by the male voice (a character who reminded me a little of the guy in Ethan Hawke's The Hottest State and a little like the guy in The F***-Up with a hint of the chick in Diary of an Emotional Idiot) and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much that I read about 70 pages before my friends and my husband and my kid found me.

This, of course, left me no choice, but to download the book (BN knew what they were doing when they allow people to start reading books for free...) and finish it, which I did the next day.

This book is chock full of pop culture references. There are so many that I could relate to that I had to look up the year the book was published, 2007, and, noted that David was definitely Millennial and all those books that said people born during 1976 were tail-end Gen X or old-ish Gen Y were closer to being right than I thought. That's all I could think about as I read this book...that, while I definitely didn't booze it up or do drugs or sleep with strangers at all, I totally knew this guy. I totally got how he was feeling and remembered when I felt behind everyone else my age. Actually, if I allow myself to think about it, I still do. He was reminiscing about the same lost youth/opportunities/friends et was pretty sobering.

And, who knew that a book about a guy who gives away his favorite pair of pants during a hook-up, a book about a guy who goes out of his way to figure out ways to avoid talking to his good Mid-Western parents, a book about a guy who loses his temp job, almost messes up his friends' wedding (by the way I know people who definitely took their wedding a wee-bit too serious, much like this faux-yuppie couple), cusses, pops pills and gets so drunk and strung out that he throws up in a taxi could be sobering?

Anyway, I digress. This book was a lot of fun.While it is definitely not as well-written as Generation X: Tales for an Acclerated Culture and definitely won't define a whole generation of lost souls, I can totally see how it has described an era and a time that, whether I want to believe it or not, is long gone.

I guess there's a show on MTV, but I probably don't have to tell you hipcats that...maybe I'll watch it (just read that MTV canceled it so that means it must be good!), maybe I'll just revel in the fact that this book is a little bit like me and those I have known and leave it at that.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Automat

Ok, so I need to tell you an interesting story about my search for Americana.

During April's A-Z challenge I wrote about paintings I want to take my kid to see and then asked if there were any others out there that I should try to visit, FBT of Kill Me If I Stop suggested two paintings, one by Pollock and I love Pollock and one I'd never heard of (and, I thought I'd looked at all the Hopper's), a painting titled Automat.

Here's what she said:

"...I would love to see Automat by Edward Hopper because there are so many stories to be told from that one instant in time. That's what I particularly like about Hopper; he makes my imagination expand. Is she waiting for someone who never came? Is she just on her own drinking coffee? Does she look sad, pensive, maybe just weary? All of his works are just so suggestive."

Of course, I had to find the painting immediately and when I did something puzzled me. First, of all if you don't have "Diamonds Are A Girls' Best Friend" immediately in your head at the mention of the word 'automat' let me put it there now and second, um, I realized that an 'automat' is not in any way a laundromat with food, as I had previously thought.

This painting does invoke all that FTB mentions and it also had me puzzled...what in the dickens was/is an automat? And, how could I be missing this important piece of America? The answer, of course, is that I've never seen "That Touch of Mink" (when I asked my mother what an automat was she said she didn't have a clue, but when I describe them to her, she said "Oh, like that cafeteria in that scene with that movie starring Doris Day, where the guy keeps trying to get the food, but every time one is set down, someone else takes it and then there's a ruckus in the back with the food service." I said, "Sure."--I really need to see that movie!)

My friends had a few suggestions, as you can see. And, all the things I found suggest that automats (especially those of the Horn and Hardart variety) are no longer in existence. I even checked the Smithsonian as I'd read this lovely article about them from and, well, I was in the DC when I found out all of this information. I made my family go all over the National Museum of American History. GUESS WHAT!? The pop culture section is closed for renovations and, according to the lovely older gentleman at the information desk there used to be one to use (can you believe it?...actually my sister and I think we may have eaten at it one time when we were there...but, it was before I knew what it was and I didn't take a picture!), but they closed it and then he told me to search on Google if I wanted to find one. The horror!

Then BAMN closed, well actually it closed several years ago and I'm left with my itch to eat at an automat...and, boy, I want to, perhaps alone on a dark night wearing only one glove.

Do you know where I can find one? I would really like to eat some processed food or the like or fresh food, I suppose, from a big metal box.

Guess what I'm listening to as I type this...I'll leave you with it.


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