Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Best Books of the Year (Probably)

I realize it's been ages since I've written a blog post. I have occasionally had ideas floating around in my head to blog, but I'll be honest that more often than not they have been fragments that never build to anything because I have a million other non-related fragments also swimming around in there. Perhaps I should just start posting smaller bits. Perhaps not as my current fragment is "Why is Snoop Dogg/Lion hanging out with Justin Beiber so much these days? Does he see himself as some sort of parental figure to him? I wonder if he even sees himself as a parental figure to his actual children as he seems sort of like a giant kid himself?"

Anyway, before another fragment rears its ugly head, let me get to the point of this post, which is to share the best books I read in December. I think they were my favorite books in all of 2013, but I honestly don't remember a rather large portion of 2013, so I could be wrong. Still these two were very, very good. Go read them now. They're good enough I feel secure in telling you that you wouldn't even regret buying them in hardback.

Life After Life-You may have heard some of the hype around this one, but I assure you that it's such an unique and creative concept that it lives up to the hype. It's super weird (it follows the varied lives and deaths of one character over and over again), but if you bear with it, you will find yourself sucked into the many lives of Ursula Todd, vividly experiencing WWII in a variety of ways, and regretting when you turn the last page. It's complex, and I think I don't entirely understand the conclusion (I'm not sure I could even tell you if there's a happy ending or not), but this novel was outstanding and I found myself thinking of Ursula weeks later as if she were a friend temporarily away on vacation.

 Tell the Wolves I'm Home-This will especially strike a chord with anyone who remembers the nationwide saga of Ryan White from the '80's. This book is a really wonderful deep, slightly dark young adult novel exploring love and grief. It's quirky but lovely, and includes a number of images with such a haunting painterly quality that even months later they stand out starkly in my sleep-addled, sieve-like memory. I really loved June, the main character; loved her dry sense of humor, her observations, and her humanity. Also, I thought Brunt really nailed the ending. Sometimes a story just builds and builds, getting better and better and the author just can't pull off a satisfying ending and the story just takes a big old bellyflop. Not here though, I found the conclusion to be fulfilling.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Husband Does Not Appear to Understand Texting

There are just some things that warrant a phone call...

I would begin by suggesting that if one's text includes the word "urgent" in any context, a phone call might be the better choice. Though actually pretty much any of these words should suggest a call rather than a text. Seriously; "urgent" "inflamed" "lung lining" all seem pretty call worthy to me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

You Know You're a Booklover

Last week I got a little carried away on our employee ordering site (I get 60% off Penguin books!) and ended up spending about 3 times as much as I intended. I eagerly awaited the package and when it arrived on Wednesday, it felt like Christmas morning!

But here's the thing, not a single one of the books in that box was over 25 pages...they were all for Eleanor. And she's FIVE MONTHS OLD. Kid can usually manage to enjoy one whole book in a sitting, sometimes two if she's in the right mood, but I'll level with you and admit that I realize she doesn't care what we're reading. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, she seemed just as enthralled when I read some of my Dublin Murder Squad novel out loud to her (it was very enjoyable for us both. Nothing like getting to read a tough Irish guy's speech patterns out loud. Sometimes cursing can be really fun. No, Eleanor, that's not true. It makes us look cheap. Don't curse. Unless you can do it with an Irish accent.)

However, as I pulled book after book out of the box, positively cackling with glee, I realized I may have an addiction. A serious addiction demonstrated by the full two shelves already dedicated to books for Eleanor. But I'll tell you this-we read every one of those books aloud that afternoon, and Eleanor did not pull her usual shriek/freakout in the middle of any of them.

Some of the best ones that we acquired:

Secret Pizza Party (This one even got a thumbs up from Daddy, and he's a hard sell. The running commentary of asides from him when he's reading to Eleanor is the stuff of comedy routines. "Holy cow, that beard in the costume shop is almost twice as much as the hat. No wonder he went with the hat and trench coat as his disguise..." "Look, Eleanor! That guy bought the beard!")
The Day the Crayons Quit
Lost and Found
This Moose Belongs to Me

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just a Minute: August 2013

August was a learning month for me. I had to learn to let go as Eleanor started daycare, I learned that I really can't prepare for Leisure Games by myself anymore, and I learned that Miley Cyrus has a lot of tattoos. I try not to watch her somewhat disturbing video, but that song is so catchy.

reading...I just finished the fourth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French. They are incredibly good. A lot of people were probably turned off from her later novels because her first one, Into the Woods, didn't ever solve one of the mysteries. Her later ones tie up all the loose ends, however, and they keep getting better and better. This one, Broken Harbor, left me incredibly unsettled for days afterward. I don't want to give anything away, but it was so well-written that the details of the book stayed with me.

listening...A Ghost in My House by Lucy Schwartz never gets old no matter how many times I listen to it.

adjusting...Eleanor's first day of daycare of August 26th. It was awful. But only for me. She was her usually sunny self, happy when I left her, happy when I picked her up again. It's never going to get easier, I'm told. Preschool, grade school, high school, college. Every time I say goodbye to her as she stands on the brink of a new precipice, I will be a mess. Sigh. Having a kid just tears you open and exposes your tender insides to the world.

Photo by BĂ©atrice Peltre
via allabroadbaby.com
cooking…I have made numerous batches of Oatmeal Carmelitas this month. It seems they go over well for every occasion. As this is the beginning of zucchini season, I broke out my favorite zucchini recipe, Cherry Tomato, Zucchini, & Goat Cheese Clafoutis, while Sarah was here, and I plan to make it again at least a few more times this fall.