Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the lesser of two evils...

That's what I feel this post is. See, the last thing I want is to sound melodramatic or to worry anyone by saying that I've decided to extend my blogging break indefinitely. I'm okay. Just life, you know.

I considered just not saying anything, but I know how worried I get when any of my friends "disappear" for a couple weeks. All kinds of horrifying thoughts flood my brain. But then I'm quite the practiced worrywart.

Anyway, that's why I decided it was better to just make this post. To say good-bye. To tell you how much I love you and how much I'll miss having you in my daily life. And to thank you for being such incredible friends, such incredible people period.

Honestly, I'm sitting here with tears literally streaming down my face...I will miss you so very much.

Friday, April 16, 2010

a bit of an unplug break

Spring break officially starts when Gray gets home from school/Rich gets home from work. (Max is home sick.) I believe that I shall be unplugging for the week. I shall miss you all dearly, but my to-do list is a mile long, and I plan to have some fun as well. :D

Wishing everyone a lovely, full of happy surprises, remainder of April!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

blame update

Let me apologize right off the top here for the ridiculously long list of books below. I really need to update the whole book acquisition/blame thing more often. Anyway, feel free, obviously, to skip it entirely. But if you're interested in who got points for what, those books are the ones with the *** in front of their titles.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. Which I already read, and loved, and babbled about a couple posts ago. This was a thank you present for doing the taxes from Rich. But he doesn't get a point. I feel like I should give a point to John Green though. It's his fault I buy his books, right?

Behind You by Jacqueline Woodson. Sequel to If You Come Softly, which I haven't even read yet. But I know I'm going to love it so I had this on my PaperbackSwap wish list, and it recently became available.

***Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay. Raise your hand if you know who gets a point for this one. Yep, Ana. She always makes a pretty safe bet. :D

Word Watching by Julian Burnside. Babylon's Ark by Lawrence Anthony. Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall. All Easter gifts from Rich.

***The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science by Julie Des Jardins. Another Easter gift from darling husband. But this one comes with a point to Eva, as she's the one who brought it to my attention, and thus had me making puppy dog eyes at Rich as I told him what a lovely gift it would make. ;)

***The Door in the Dream: Conversations With Eminent Women in Science by Elga Wasserman. Somewhat related to the last one, and also coming attached with blame. Though this time the blame goes to Ana again.

***We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I have wanted this book for a long time...ever since I read Dewey's review. I'm not sure why I never got around to buying it before, but when I saw it on the B&N buy-two-get-one-free table, well, there was no stopping me. Point for Dewey.

Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon. The Kiss: A Memoir by Kathryn Harrison. You know, because I needed to come up with two more books to justify buying We Need to Talk About Kevin. ;)

***A Cool Moonlight by Angela Johnson. *sigh* Whatever am I going to do with you and your awesome reviews, Ana?!!! Thanks goodness for PaperbackSwap...otherwise, I'd be broke as well as buried in books.

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters. You know, I have yet to read a book by her. But I am so utterly convinced that I'm going to love absolutely everything she writes that I keep picking them up. Now I just need to start reading them!!!

Many Stones by Carolyn Coman. First ran across this book when Annie and I were studying Africa a while back, but never got around to checking PBS until now. It's a Printz Honor book, so I needed to get my hands on it sooner or later anyway.

***Tea With Hezbollah by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis. I know this isn't news to anyone, but Staci is an absolute sweetheart! She sent Miss Annie and I a box of books a few weeks back. Just totally out of the blue. Now as incredibly thoughtful and generous as this is, I do hope she doesn't think she can escape blame. ;) Yeah, I added this book to my wish list as soon as I read
her review...and the fact that she sent me the book doesn't relieve her of the responsibility of adding it to my TBR pile. (Sorry, Staci! And thanks again! :D)

The Broken Road by Keifer Bonvillain. Also from Staci. And it sounds really good...and really heartbreaking, and really infuriating.

Sheesh...well, this shows you how long it's been since I did my last bit of blaming...the next five books here are ones I bought with the gift card I got for my birthday (which, yeah, was nearly two months ago).

***Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. Yep, the dastardly book-pusher Ana and her review again.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali. Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte. Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman. Journal Revolution: Rise Up and Create! by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino.

Whew. And finally the books I picked up from the library this morning.
Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale. Because I loved Rapunzel's Revenge so much.

***Enchanted Night by Steven Millhauser. Even though this book wasn't the easiest to get my hands on, I persevered...no way was Chris going to escape getting some blame for this one. His review made me physically *crave* it!

***La Perdida by Jessica Abel. And of course, one last point for the lovely, if dangerous, Ana...cuz yeah, like I could resist this one either. :P

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

at this moment...

*I am elated at having finished quarterly report. We'll be starting the fourth quarter on Friday, but next week is spring break. In other words, I feel like I can actually freakin' breathe at the moment!!! I've got time to regroup and hopefully make a dent in the final quarter of the year. Will be soooooo nice to not feel like I'm constantly playing catch up. :D

*I am listening to "The High Road" by Broken Bells. Yes Chris, I am *still* more or less obsessed. :P

*I am fighting off thoughts of worry. Because I don't want to deal.

*I am debating curling up on the couch with my sick little boy and doing some fun reading before beginning to organize for the next quarter.

*I am ignoring that fact that there is laundry awaiting my attention.

*I am craving Granny Smith apple slices with coconut fruit dip...but will have to settle for just the apple since I don't have the fixin's for the dip.

*I am truly hoping that everyone is having a lovely, lovely week!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I read, I feel, I babble (installment 2)

Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes by Gerald N. Callahan.

*sigh* I'm not quite sure what to say about this book...I just have incredibly mixed feelings about it. See, it's such an important topic. And trying to dispel the myth of two sexes, of an either/or mindset, is such an incredibly worthwhile endeavor. And this book contained so much interesting information. Seriously, I learned so much.

My favorite part of the whole book were the personal stories. But I enjoyed a lot of the book--the look at the way other cultures have viewed intersex, the look at intersex in other species, etc. Like I said, there really is a lot of interesting stuff here.

BUT. Truth be told, I wish someone else had written this book. I really hate saying that, because I could sense the author's passion for the subject in general, and his respect for intersex people specifically. And it's not the worst writing I've ever encountered, though it wasn't the best either...and honestly, I could have easily overlooked that, if not for the trouble I did have. What got to me were the author's attempts at humor. Now truth be told, I'm usually okay with lame humor. But there were times in this book when these attempts at humor crossed the line into tacky. I realize that's a very subjective judgment to make, and maybe others wouldn't feel the same way, but it really bothered me. And in the general, this clouded my reading experience.

And in the end, I'm just not sure if I recommend this book or not. Like I said, this is important stuff here. But I was left questioning his presentation. *sigh some more*

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

Now this book, I loved. Positively adored. I bought the 25th anniversary edition, which contained an intro/essay at the beginning by Cisneros. I know that sometimes it can be a dangerous thing to read the intro of a book, as some aren't wise enough to avoid spoilers. But in this case, I am so very grateful that I read it. Cisneros' essay made me fall in love with the book, and her writing, before I even began the book proper. I know it's impossible to go back and know for sure, but I honestly believe that her essay truly added to my experience with the book itself.

I have to admit that knowing this was a serious of vignettes scared me a little bit at first. But that was totally misplaced fear. This book was so lovely. It never felt the slightest bit disjointed to me. As usual, I'm having trouble putting into words how wonderful I think this little gem of a book is, but trust me I loved it. For so many reasons.

And yes, one of those reasons, is the writing. I confess that I'm not terribly "sophisticated" when it comes to an appreciation of beautiful prose. I suspect that in general I'm pretty much oblivious. I tend to get lost in stories and characters and fail to notice how the author got to me to that place. But every once in a while, someone's writing gets to me. Ray Bradbury...he definitely has a way of doing that. While I didn't fall quite so hard for her prose as I did for Mr. Bradbury's, it's still early in the game, and I can't wait to read more of her writing.

Redwall: The Graphic Novel by Brian Jacques, with art by Bret Blevins.

Rich used to read the Redwall books to Annie when she was younger, and now he's reading them to the boys. I'm not sure why, but they just never interested me at all. But Gray had this graphic adaptation, and back in February, when the mini-challenge for the Graphic Novels Challenge was to read a comic featuring animals, I figured this was the perfect time for me to see what Redwall was all about.

Honestly, I didn't fall head-over-heels in love. It's highly unlikely that I will dive into the novel series. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy this graphic adaptation--honestly, I had a lot more fun with it than I thought I would. But my goodness, those little forest critters sure can be violent. ;)

The story was fun, but really nothing earth-shattering. But the art, oh the art--that I adored. It's beautiful, and it's expressive. Unfortunately, I couldn't find many images on-line, but here are the couple I did:

Like I said, it's unlikely that I'll ever get around to reading the novel series, but should they continue with the graphic adaptations...well, I suspect I'd slip them into my TBR pile at some point.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I read, I feel, I babble... (mini installment)

Okay, I just finished this book. Just now. And if I was smart, I'd wait a bit to write this. Because maybe, just maybe I could say something coherent if I gave this some thought. Something beyond, "Go read this book! Seriously...do this now!"

Yes, right this minute I want to say, "This is the best book. Ever." Though in my head, I know that it is not *really* my favorite book of all time. But for right now, it is! At this moment, it really truly is!!!! Oh, and how I want this book high to last...

Reading this book, I wanted to be 30 years younger...and I wanted to find my way into the pages of this book. I so wanted these characters to be my friends. I loved Will. And I loved Will. I loved Jane, and Tiny, and Gideon. I loved how perfectly imperfect they all were. And how truly special and lovable and real that made them.

I lost count of how many times I laughed out loud. Not that I was ever keeping count. But you know how it is...you don't really mean to keep count, but you sort of know anyway. That is, until it happens so many times that the knowledge is not automatically available as a tally anymore. Yeah, it happened way too many times for automatic tallying in this book.

And it's a rare gift that something can be so incredibly funny...and yet say so much that really matters. I'm having a hard time boiling this book down to themes though. Yes, friendship. And love. And truth...in a myriad of permutations. And discovering a way to navigate this screwed-up, complicated, confusing, and incredibly wonderful thing we call life. But there's more to it, and I can't quite figure out how to put it into words. And really, it's this "thing" that I can't explain that made me love it the most. Oh crap. You really need to go read some reviews by people who can actually write. Actually, skip that...just go read the book!

Friday, April 9, 2010

ups and downs...or vice versa...

Life is good. It is. It really, truly is. Sometimes it's harder than it ought to be to remember that. Or maybe that's just me.

Forgive me for complaining. I promise I shall embrace gratefulness again in just a moment. But first I'm just going to spew out the "not good stuff." Not that I want to focus on it...though sometimes lately I feel like I do far too much. It's more of a "Yes, crappy stuff, you do exist and I know I have to deal with you...but you are only a part of life" sort of spewing.

*I'm just so effing tired of feeling like I'm drowning. My week to get caught up. Ha! I fell further behind than ever. We have not finished our quarter yet, which I hoping to do on Wednesday. I'm now behind on laundry. I'm way behind on returning e-mail (even the fun ones from my dearest friends). There are packages sitting by the door that should already have been mailed (as in, one of them contains birthday gifts that are now going to be late).

*Gray's social anxiety. My poor baby. *sigh* And some not-at-all-easy treatment decisions to be made.

*Baker's ear infection does not appear to be getting better, so another trip to the vet is in order.

*Our car is having minor problems and must go to the garage today.

*Not-so-minor problems in the extended family.

*Had tickets to see Somaly Mam speak, but had to miss it. Not the end of the world, but I was really disappointed.


*Annie had a wonderful, relaxing birthday yesterday! Nothing overly exciting...just a total goof-off day. No school. No homework or studying. No chores. She definitely deserved it. And she very much appreciated it. And she got lots of great books that I can borrow. ;)

*This little monkey wanted a hair cut, and wow, did he get a new look. Okay, I admit it--I sort of miss his messy mop of hair. But his new style is growing on me, and I'm sure the fact that he loves it so much is a big part of that.

*Cards in the mail. A cheerful spring card that make me smile every time I see it. (Thank you, Care!) A silly stickmen card that makes me laugh. (Thank you, Jean...you *always* find the most awesome cards!)

*I *finally* did the taxes yesterday!!!

*As if having the taxes done AND getting a refund weren't enough reward...my sweetheart of a husband bought me Will Grayson, Will Grayson as a thank you for doing them. He is just the best. :D And I read the first chapter in the car last evening on our way home...I'm already IN LOVE with this book! (No, I definitely did *not* need to be starting another book, but surely you can't blame me here, can you?)

*Tomorrow Annie and I go on a big thrifting outing!

*The "effing" above...what does that remind you of? Yes, yes, yes...only a month more to wait for Monsters of Men!

*Ummm...just sitting here mentioning awesome books made me pick up the first of the aforementioned awesome books and read another chapter. I couldn't stop myself. I even sort of tried. But couldn't. Which is good. Am now more in love with Will Grayson, Will Grayson than I was fifteen minutes ago.

I know there's more good stuff, but right now laundry awaits me. And ugh...about ten pages of geometry problems. (Shhh...and maybe another chapter or two.)