Sunday, March 31, 2013

April A to Z Challenge 2013

The April A to Z Challenge begins tomorrow!!!
Topic: 26 Books that have changed my life

Can't wait!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Something People Seem to Compliment You Most On

I found this meme here and here.

Eleven: Something People Seem to Compliment You Most On

I dunno.

What is a compliment anyway?

What should you do when you receive a compliment?
OK, so now that we've got these basics done. I have a confession...I have no idea what my favorite compliment is a] I don't take compliments well b] I hardly believe them when they are told to me and c] I don't like/feel I need/want compliments; they make me feel weird and they make me blush and I'd rather just know than be told, you know!?

I don't receive them very well...don't, I don't give them very well either. Er...gah...

Huh, I didn't realize I felt that way until I began typing.

So, the other day I was wearing these gray sport shorts, you know those mesh track short thingies that I would never wear in public as I have thunderiffic thighs. It was like 80-degrees the other day and Lila and I were playing around and I was in the shorts and playing and cleaning the house and just being.

Yesterday, I said to Chris that I really needed to finish cleaning and he said, "Where are your shorts?" And, I said, "In the laundry room, why?" and...he just looked around and I knew what he was getting at, you know!? 

That's kind of a compliment right. And, it's the best kind as it wasn't direct.
I prefer the subtle to the overt. It's definitely more real and more believable can bet I went and got those shorts out of the dirty clothes.

I'm not sure this little story addresses the prompt, but it does make me like my husband a little more, so that's a plus. It's also made me realize that I should be better at giving and receiving compliments.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

65 Books in a Year: Book #12 The New Hunger

Some sort of apocalypse has happened and the zombies are here.

Um, I'd rather not talk about this novella a lot as one of the three story lines is still freaking me out. Freaking me out so much that I've had to internet search to make sure that the sequel to Warm Bodies isn't going to be like its's not, but I can't remember where I read that to cite it. Sorry.

So, yeah, there are three story lines that diverge and intersect in interesting ways. My favorite, of course, is the beginning of 'R' as the second 'the tall man' wakes up he reveals more questions than answers. There's also a 12-year old Julie, whose semblance of any type of normal life is become less and less as she and her parents keep on moving in search of humanity and safety.

Then there's the story of Nora. And, in this tiny book where she gets one-third of the action. Marion paints such a vivid image of her and her journey that I couldn't help imagine myself as her protecting her most prized possession as the world collapses. Read The New Hunger just for this part of the story alone; although this is the part that's still giving me nightmares. You absolutely know where her story is going from the first time she is introduced it's still crushing and the suspense is sometimes just too much. Hence, the reason why it took me four days to read this book. I'm not sure I ever want to go to The Space Needle, I'm not sure I want to stay in a motel, I'm not sure I could survive an apocalypse of any kind.

OK, so after the scene involving The Space Needle, I stopped reading it at a night (Thank the Lord, as there are still a couple of scenes that give me the heebie-jeebies). I was going to stop reading it all together, really, but, when looking for a plot summary,  I found this here:

Book 2 is about the future, but it gets there via the past. People are forgetful, dead people even more so, and confronting these buried realities will be crucial to understanding the world they're now living in--and how they might attempt to change it. THE NEW HUNGER is a necessary bridge between WARM BODIES and Book 2. It sheds a wider light on the landscape of this world. It introduces people, groups, and cosmic mysteries that will become very important. It shows how R, Julie, Nora, and M ended up where they are now, and points to where they might go next. And in my humble opinion, it's just a fucking good story.

Ugh, he better mean that.
Ugh, if his writing style wasn't so captivating and mesmerizing.

I suppose eventually I'll be glad I read it, but right now I'm just a little sad and a lot creeped out. As a matter of fact it's still dark, why are my living room blinds open?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

65 Books in a Year: Book #11 Warm Bodies

I have this irrational fear of zombies. Irrational because I know deep in my heart that zombies do not exist and fear because the very idea of someone eating my brain or eating me alive or smelling dead and being so strong as to tear through doors scares me to friggin' death. So, while I'd been reading about Isaac Marion for a couple of years now...well, ever since I read this when talking about what is young adult fiction, I vowed to NEVER read his book about the dreaded 'Z' word.

Then one of my students brought up the book during class. She was going on and on about how wonderful it sounded and, that although the premise for it sounded just downright awful the trailer made it seem incredible. We watched the trailer right there in class and I showed her the aforementioned interview and we found some more stuff about the absolutely hipster (not meant in a derogatory way...just in case you are one of those people who hates the word) adorable Isaac Marion--we are hardcore crushing and we don't care. It's refreshing to crush on a writer as we are lovers of words. I tell her that I don't know if I can read the book, as I have, the aforementioned irrational fear of zombies. Later that day, one of my friends gushes on FB all about how 'Warm Bodies' deserves 'two thumbs' up and that Nicholas Hoult is just adorable. And, then like a week later my sister starts talking to me about it and how wonderful and adorable it is and she tells me that she just finished it and ask if I'd like to borrow it. I said, "Yes" and finished it in less than 24 hours, it has the best beginning of any book ("I am dead, but it's not so bad. I've learned to live with it.") and, well, I didn't put it down until the heart-racing ending.

How Isaac Marion managed to write this book is beyond me. It is brilliant in its prose and its message of 'hope where there's love' is delivered without sentimentality and trivialization. There are many ways this could have been delivered in a trite way...Marion never goes there--I envy his writing ability. I find it amazing that a book about a zombie who falls in love can be humorous and sad, filled with make you bite your nails horror and breath-taking moments of true tenderness. There are things and actions that make us all alive that Marion shows us that we take for granted. There are people in our lives who shape us and make us whole; we have to talk to and thank them more often. In the end it's all about what makes us human and what keeps us alive that matters and we know it matters through our interactions with others, by what we believe and what we value.

I'm not quite ready for full on zombie books (I'm reading "The New Hunger" right now and, well, it's darker and scarier than its predecessor...I'm not reading it at night) and I won't be watching "The Walking Dead" anytime soon, but I am ready for more books by Isaac Marion. I enjoy his writing style, his take on important issues of the heart and 'R'...the most thoughtful and sincere man to ever lumber out of the pages of a book. And, while this book has zombies in it, they are only the catalyst for the much deeper issues of what tears us apart, separates us as humans and ultimately binds us together. If we forget that we're all, well, we're all walking dead anyway.

Of course, this book reminded me of my favorite quote:

"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Agatha Christie

Oh, wait, I didn't mention that this review was going to come in two parts? This review comes in two parts...the book and more on Isaac Marion. It's a win-win really...go read the book and then find Mr. Marion through various social media outlets, I promise you will not be disappointed with either.

Myriad Ways to find Isaac Marion
Ditlo: Isaac Marion...33 super photos; I especially like the kitty-cat
Facebook: Isaac Marion
Facebook: Warm Bodies
Formspring: IsaacMarion
"I attribute this decision to innocent funloving curiosity, NOT staggering narcissim." ~Isaac Marion 
Isaac Marion
MySpace: Isaac Marion
Twitter: @isaacinspace
(this seems to be the place where he converses with lots of I'm not jealous, but it does make me wish we had social media when I was in my late teens and early 20s...sorta...of course, this means that I skulk around a bit, but do not commence in the witty banter; I have witty banter envy)
Tumblr: Isaac Marion's Nood Pix and ISAAC MARION'S BIG WORDS (<--after reading Burning Building...go here)

Favorite Quote (seriously, pretty sure Mr. Marion and I could be friends-ish):


There’s a warm, saturating comfort in having a good book in my life. Even when I’m not reading it, just the knowledge that it’s there, ready for me whenever I want to cuddle up with it, makes the rest of life feel richer.

YouTube: Isaac Marion favorite Burning Building (I like it when people have blogs that they've been writing since before they were famous). There aren't very many posts, so you can kind of read it like a autobiography if you will, posts of note (in chronological order):

Drive Far, Far Away
Poll: Cute or Creepy
A Few of My Favorite Things
Hot Social Worker
The End of Reading
My Adventures with Kitty

I haven't read 2008, 2009...yet...

Stage Fright!-Zombies in 21st Century American Theatre
What it was like for Isaac, having his eye gouged out
Energy Conservation Tips
Things My Dog Hates
Our Newest Enemy in the Animal Kingdom
Isaac and the Whale: A Road Trip Blog
Musical Camping Trip [Contains Nudity]
Reading About Myself
Meet Baleen
Women's Age
Plastic Dinosaur
A List of Bad Things That Happened to Me Today
Pastor Worley, Homosexuality and Looking the Other Way
Good Kissers
Zombies Young and Old
Send Me Stuff
(I'd like to write Mr. Marion a BIG letter...'ole school, I'm pretty sure he'd read it)

PS. The book is now in my classroom library and I can't wait for a couple of students to finish reading it so we can talk all about it...sigh.

Monday, March 11, 2013

65 Books in a Year: Book #10 Stupid Perfect World

I think this is actually a short story...or novelette or something small like that, but Goodreads counted it, so, for now I will count it.

I have no idea why it's so's like it's a teaser for something else, something else that is already for sale and I missed the memo and only got this small thing.

I love the premise of this story and I gosh darn wish it was a whole book, just when it was getting good...good little book...good-bye.

Anyway, in order to create a perfect future people have gotten rid of everything that makes the world human. There are no cravings, , no one is overweight, there are no needs or desires. Of course, in doing this Earth is devoid of war (we no longer have emotions), there's no hunger (we eat because we have to and everyone has enough) and there isn't any disease (kids don't even understand the common cold. Things are up loaded directly into their brains...I'm not sure why they even have teachers and there isn't a need to sleep. There aren't even beds in their bedrooms (as having a bed implies only one thing even asking your parents for one can lead you into an uncomfortable conversation). Students learn about the old times through a class where the major project is choosing one of these old world problems to have for two weeks and then reporting on what happens in the end. I like that this future world doesn't want their children to forget, but I wonder if it's working...

While reading this little book, I kept trying to figure out a] how I could use this story in my classroom (we're in an SF unit right now) and b] what this 'Scarcity' Class would look like now...imagine if you will students nowadays having to go back to some old way of doing things...maybe they have to talk to one another on a rotary phone only or they have to pass notes to communicate...I don't know. I think it would be fun.

I like the alternating narration and it's funny to think about how lack of sleep and teen hormones can have the same crazy outcome.

After finishing this story I wanted to read Hamlet in the rain on a rooftop...I also wanted to watch "High School Musical 3", I'm sure you see the correlation.

I love this story. I wish it had more to it. The only problem? I'd really miss sleeping...I'm not sure I see that as a waste of time at all.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Someone You Need to Let Go or Wish You Didn't Know

I found this meme here and here.

Ten: Someone you need to let go or wish you didn't know

Ok, ok, ok...there is this parent of a former student. This parent was a royal pain in my behind for like 3 quarters of the school (ie. most of the school year)--I don't want to get into it, but, wow parents who teach, and obviously of lots of time to spare,! I tried deflecting, I tried being charming, I tried proof, I tried helping, I tried meetings (lots of meetings)...I screamed at home a lot. I no longer have that student in class (haven't for years). I wish I didn't know the parent, though. Sometimes I imagine that I run this particular person over with my car--Ally McBeal style with thumps and crunches and flailing...of course, that's when I realize that maybe I've been watching too many violent shows and movies. Um, I probably really need to let this person go though and stop giving this person the evil eye when I see this person in public (when you live in a small town seeing someone you despise in public happens more than I care to think about at the moment). Of course, living in fear of seeing this person in public was replaced by the evil eye and this deep-seated hate, which felt like a win, but I realize, as I type this, that it really wasn' just means I still think about the hurt and pain, but have found a different outlet.

I don't have to talk to this person to let them go, right, right??? I'm not sure I'm there yet...but, I suppose, I can stop that car fantasy and I suppose I can stop thinking of this person's name as a cuss-word.

I just wish I didn't know this person and then I wouldn't have to worry about letting them go. Ugh.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

65 Books in a Year: Book #9 Neverwhere

Neverwhere is one of the first books that I bought on my Nook. It was on-sale for cheap and I 'confirmed' without a second thought. And, yet...I didn't read it. I devoured American Gods and still there Neverwhere sat. I drooled through Stardust and still didn't read it. I even knew it was about London and still...nothing.

I read about the BBC radio version coming out later this month and my interest surged. I read that I'd be listening to James McEvoy and the delicious voice of Benedict Cumberbatch and I flippin' opened up the old Nook, hoping that I read the book fast enough to be finished before I listened.

From the opening line:

"The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself."

I was hooked.

Neverwhere is the song I sing every time I look at a tube map or flip through old pictures. Neverwhere is London and, if you love that city or have a passion for any city, really, this book will definitely fill your heart with delight and your mind will wonder about the city above, beside and below you.

While this book has some great main characters; Richard and Door really are quite lovely and Hunter and the Marquis are also tops. It's the city characters that make this book so darned awesome. There's actually an earl in charge of Earl's Court. The Angel Islington and the Black Friars with their dark names like Obsidian are just fun to imagine...and 'Mind the Gap' turns into a scary phrase of warning.

Here's a book that pay homage to the wonderful city that is London. This book is soooo darned good that I want more...I need a New York Below and a Paris Below and, and, and...I don't want to leave the characters or the world. What a perfect ending...sigh.

Can't wait to listen to the BBC Radio 4 version.

OK, so funny tidbit...I keep on reading reviews that compare this book to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. I find that funny since I couldn't help, but imagine Richard Mayhew being played by Martin Freeman who played Arthur Dent in the Hitchhiker's Guide movie...strangeness.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

65 Books in a Year: Book #8 Unnaturally Green

I hate reviewing books that I only have lukewarm feelings for; I especially hate when those books are memoirs. I mean here is this person who has obviously done something more than I've ever done and, yet, I can't bring myself to anything more than 'like' for their book.

The reasons for the disconnect are myriad, but usually fall under the umbrella of I couldn't relate to the author as a person (and, one must for a memoir to work at it most basic level), or the writing needed a little more polish (this one I feel especially guilty, again, the author has accomplished something that I've yet to do).

This book falls under both categories.

I assumed that, since this book was about a girl having trouble figuring out if what she was doing was really the right answer, I would be able to relate to her plight--no such luck. She actually reminded of a handful of girls that I had the unfortunate pleasure of having to be around for a semester in London. She seems to NEVER...and, I mean NEVER suffer. She seems to always have more than enough money, her apartment seems to be messy, only because she has so much stuff, she seems to have free time upon large copious amounts of free time, and, yet, she always has the right dress for the party, the right outfit for the audition and nothing ever goes wrong. And...and, every time something that truly resembles life happens she breezes through it--almost like she doesn't know how to write about real things. We get a large amount of the book devoted to her nervousness as an actress, her banana regime, her lack of bowel movements, but not so much is given to her relationship with her grandmother, a woman who passes away while she is in SF, a woman who she obviously loves and still misses...I would have liked more about her and her parents and family. Heck, I would have liked more about the cohabitation with her man friend. I would have like more about rehearsals, the game nights, the practices...I would have liked more about being 'unnaturally green'. We only get surface.

This brings me, of course, to the writing...I think the wrong parts were beefed up (I've already talked about that), but, without meaning to, I hope, Miss Ricci kind of paints herself as a bit of a brat who wants to be Elphaba, but not really...who graduates from Yale (Yale...people) and can't seem to figure out what to do with her degree or her life, which is fine, but what needed to be portrayed as the wanderlust yearning that everyone in their 20s hopefully has, just sounds like whining most of the time--maybe that's because we get into her head with sidebar comments and conversations a wee much.

I did enjoy the all the bits about San I've never been. I would have liked to have read about it more.

I'm sure that Felicia Ricci is a lovely lady. I think that she has written a book, much like any 20-something writing a book about their first adult adventure. I'm glad that she had the stick-to-it-ness to write about her adventures in CA, there is a bravery there that I can't explain and I am glad that she had the follow-through to turn her blog to a book, but all I can think about is (except I'm 36):

I hope she writes another book about her time in San Francisco after age and time have given her some perspective, and she's not afraid to get a little personal about people and events that matter to her heart and to her story.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

World Book Night 2013

Hoorah! I have again been chosen to share books with the world via World Book Night! I am so excited that I am bursting with 'fresh fruit flavor' for realz.

Just in case you don't know here's a little bit about WBN from the website:

World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.  Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.  In 2012, World Book Night was celebrated in the U.S., the UK, Ireland, and Germany. 
World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t regularly do so. But it is also about more than that: It’s about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—through the sharing of stories.  
World Book Night is a nonprofit organization. We exist because of the support of thousands of book givers, booksellers, librarians, and financial supporters who believe in our mission.  Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night was first celebrated in the U.S. in 2012. Thank you to our U.K. friends for such a wonderful idea! 
Thank you for visiting us! We hope you explore our site to learn more about World Book Night, keep updated on new developments, support our organization, and apply to be a World Book Night U.S. book giver!

Here's a little bit about the book I get to share from BN:

The Tender Bar: A Memoir
"J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice. It was the voice of his father, a New York City disc jockey who vanished before J.R. spoke his first word. Sitting on the stoop, pressing an ear to the radio, J.R. would strain to hear in that plummy baritone the secrets of masculinity and identity. Though J.R.'s mother was his world, his rock, he craved something more, something faintly and hauntingly audible only in The Voice." "At eight years old, suddenly unable to find The Voice on the radio, J.R. turned in desperation to the bar on the corner, where he found a rousing chorus of new voices. Cops and poets, bookies and soldiers, movie stars and stumblebums, all sorts of men gathered in the bar to tell their stories and forget their cares. The alphas along the bar - including J.R.'s Uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi-Bear sound-alike; and Joey D, a softhearted brawler - took J.R. to the beach, to ballgames, and ultimately into their circle. They taught J.R., tended him, and provided a kind of fatherhood-by-committee." Torn between the stirring example of his mother and the lurid romance of the bar, J.R. tried to forge a self somewhere in the center. But when it was time for J.R. to leave home, the bar became an increasingly seductive sanctuary, a place to return and regroup during his picaresque journeys - from his grandfather's tumbledown house to the hallowed towers and spires of Yale; from his absurd stint selling housewares at Lord & Taylor to his dream job at the New York Times, which became a nightmare when he found himself a faulty cog in a vast machine. Time and again the bar offered shelter from failure, rejection, heartbreak - and eventually from reality."
Listen at NPR

And, here are links to my ecstatic posts from 2012:
World Book Night...yes, please!
Who's A WBN Giver? It's Me!
World Book Night April 23rd, 2012

Monday, March 4, 2013

65 Books in a Year: #7 1Q84: Day 5

1Q84...The References and a Review
I started Haruki Murakami's 1,000+ page novel on the 3rd of February and finished on Sunday. A book that long doesn't really get covered properly in one blog post, so I'm thinking this is going to be a week of 1Q84...lots of spoilers, lots of commentary, so be warned should you choose to read on. 

So, I've been looking for a definitive list of all the allusions in this novel...

Small Demons has a list all about it
On Goodreads they've got an on-going music list, and you can listen at Spotify
There are couple of really good food list here, here, and  Edible 1Q84

And, if you want to have a book club party Buttery Books has all the answers.

I've been reading lots of reviews about this book, not because I wanted answers or closure, I believe those are carefully and purposefully drawn out, but, because I really wanted to see what other people were saying about this book that I found so incredibly thoughtful, fun, suspenseful and real. Real and true-to-life despite it's elements of fantasy and science fiction.

The reason is simple...1Q84 is a story about love and in this book, there are myriad interpretations of love.

There's the love (or in most cases the lack of love) that comes from family, there's obsession, the love that comes from manipulation and power, there's tender first love and the craziness of long term love and there's love's derivatives: lust, infatuation, and even hatred.

Most importantly, it is about how love transforms and shapes us and it is about the little instances with people long forgotten that change and define us. And, no matter what...religious fanaticism, assassins, spies, bodyguards, strange little people, strange girls with learning disabilities and even stranger conquers all.

I'm reminded of something Jodie Foster said when Home for the Holidays, a movie she directed, came out in 1995:
I love the montage at the end of 'Home' that shows moments in these characters' lives that mattered the most to them, moments that define them. 
There are flickers of seconds that define you in your life that only two people can ever understand ‑ you and the person who's with you. The truth and reality of your life is only known 5 inches from your face. If somebody's not 5 inches from your face, then they don't understand that time, that moment.
It's these moments that are fleshed out and examined in this novel. It's these moments that show us the various examples of love; everything else is tertiary.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

I found this meme here and here.

Nine: Someone you didn't want to let go, but just drifted

With the advent of social networking it seems that we never really get the option of letting go of anyone. It would seem that even people we haven't seen since we were 12 are always connected to us. In a way I like that, it gives me comfort to know that what I share is shared with these people and that we are never lost or forgotten. However, it also terrifies me...we are never lost or forgotten...even when we want to be, and we must go out of our way to be. We must purposefully sever the ties. So, when I read the above title with its "didn't want to let go, but just drifted" I thought, 'There isn't anybody in my life who just drifted.'

And, then I remembered...

There was this boy (it's always a boy, right!?) that I never dated, but spent a lot of time with. Actually, until I met Chris this was pretty much my MO--dating was for sissies who wanted their hearts broken, little did I realize...but, I'm jumping ahead.

This boy and I did everything together and people thought we were dating and we hung out at one another's houses and we hung out with one another's families and this boy and I were more than best friends and less than a married couple and swimming in dangerous waters that ended in a horrible yelling match disaster...except for...

...things didn't really end. You know we talked here and there for awhile, we said mean things to or about each other for awhile and then, well...

I guess, the thing is the person does just drift when you don't notice that they've cut you out of their social networking sphere until literally a year or two later when somebody says that this person got married and you go to look at the wedding pics and notice you aren't friends anymore and that the pics are blocked. I realized that this boy is definitely someone who drifted and I'm still trying to figure out if I didn't want to let him go.

And, all I can think is that are two sides to "When Harry Met Sally" and that sometimes Harry's ideas aren't so far off after all.


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