Wednesday, June 30, 2010

this world we live in

During my tenure as a YA library worker, I only had one book officially challenged. I'd read the book right after it came in and loved it.  When the patron filed a complaint, I provided the director with the book's information as well as a list of all the accolades it was earning.  That novel was "Life as We Knew It" by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  The book stayed on the shelf.

I just read the third book in this series, "This World We Live In."  Hats off to Ms. Pfeffer for continuing to provide such excellent YA fiction. She never pulls a punch. She doesn't talk down to her audience. She portrays the grit, the heartache and the survival decisions with a keen eye on what is plausible.

In these stories, an asteroid has moved the moon closer to earth and the ensuing cataclysmic events change everything. The novels feature a senior high school girl, Miranda Evans, and her family, as they try to survive in a world where the old rules don't apply and living is a daily struggle. Family, friendship, love and forgiveness are all on the table and are viewed through a lens tempered by the need to exist. No one is riding in on a white horse to save the day in these books. Characters have to save themselves and sometimes make decisions to act in a way that a year prior would have been unthinkable.

Good stuff.

Now I'm moving on to Melissa Marr's latest. I thoroughly enjoy her gritty faery tales.  Should provide a nice counterbalance to all the Twilight garbage we will be inundated with now that the third movie has hit the theaters.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the lace reader

If I'm not mistaken, our Friends book club read this novel a while back. I found a copy in the bookstore inventory closet and borrowed it for my vacation.  It was neat to read this story down on the beach as the author, Brunonia Barry, uses setting or sense of place in such an important way.

The novel takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, well known historically for the whole American witch hunt phenomena.  But the story also has key locations in an old house, several islands and other locales.  The overall sense of place becomes as important as the characters. The Lace Reader was a very good read and I enjoyed the settings and the characters. 

I did paint my pantry yesterday and can't stop myself from admiring the fresh walls, the organized shelves and the overall sense of neatness when I'm in the kitchen.  Now I just need to replace the ceiling fixture and it will be complete.  I think I'm going to have Painting Mondays for a while.  It has always bothered me that the backsides of many of the closet doors, and the closets themselves, were never repainted beyond the original dingy cream color the previous owners used. We had to move in and get settled in such a hurry that it wasn't even on the 'to do' list.  Now, however, it is and I will slowly make my way through the house taking care of that matter.

Up next on the reading list is a book from Dave Duncan. I started it last night, but it needs to be returned to the library as it is due today. I will have to check it back out on Thursday I guess.

Monday, June 28, 2010

in my mind

In my mind, if I concentrate hard enough, I can still hear the gulf waves hitting the shoreline. I can still feel the sand between my toes and hear the gulls calling to each other over head.

But, I will have to wait for at least a few months to enjoy all those simple things in person. Our trip to the beach was a huge success and I loved every minute of it.  I feel rested and recharged.

I did finish the Jim Butcher novel, "Changes", I took. Boy, oh boy. His Dresden Files series just gets better and better. Major, major twists in the plot. HUGE. I. Loved. It.  If you aren't reading this series and you enjoy sci/fi and fantasy, you are really missing out.

Right now I am trying to finish "The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry.  Good stuff there also.

Up today, I'm going to empty the kitchen pantry and paint it. It looks so dingy, it need a new coat of paint to spruce those walls. Who knows what else will get painted once I get started. But first, lots of boxes and cans to remove. I better hop to it.

Friday, June 18, 2010


No, I don't have one of those infernal vuvuzela things that they are blowing in South Africa. Arghhhh. It takes some of the fun out of watching soccer when you have a swarm of bees buzzing in the background.  But, I will be cheering on our team as they face Slovenia and I am hoping for a decisive win. I'm thinking 3-nil would be a perfect result for our men.

But first, a bit of housecleaning and then later, a bit of reading. I've started the latest Jim Butcher novel about his intrepid wizard, Harry Dresden. Like all of the other books in the Dresden Files, this one offers one heckuva exciting read. Go Harry Go!!

Taking a break next week. Time to recharge the mental batteries.  Catch ya later.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

two very different books

Shortly after I finished reading the latest Sarah Addison Allen book, I updated my book count on a facebook page I frequent for avid readers. One of the other members commented on my post and asked if I had read any Alice Hoffman.  I hadn't read any Hoffman that I could recall, so when I spied one of her titles in the bookstore, I snapped it up and brought it home.  I read "The Probable Future" in a just a few days. Hoffman's books, like Allen's, focus on a type of magical realism.  Hoffman, however, seems to delve a bit deeper into the complexities of relationships and isn't afraid to explore the darker shadows of what motivates humans.  Good, good stuff. Hoffman is a fabulous writer and her prose is rich, textured and invites you to linger on the pages.  I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and will make sure to read her YA novels next.

When I dropped off the middle kid at the library yesterday I was on my way to run some errands, so when I needed to pick her up after her volunteer shift ended, I arrived a bit early so I could look for some more books.  I hit the jackpot and came home with five new titles to enjoy.  I've already read one of them.

"Jane Bites Back" is a wonderful romp of a story featuring Jane Austen. Of course, Jane has been turned into a vampire by none other than Lord Byron.  She is currently the owner of a bookstore and is attempting to get a manuscript she finished just prior to her 'undeath' published. After 100 rejections (gasp!) she finally snares a publisher and all sorts of mischief ensues.  This was a very fun and light hearted read.  Michael Thomas Ford does a great job of poking fun at the vampire craze and the Austen craze while keeping our centuries old heroine busy with her maintaining her well cultivated 'life.'  I will look for the next one in this series, "Jane goes Batty."  Too fun!!

Two good reads in a row and this morning, while the middle kid was getting her learner's permit, I started the latest Harry Dresden book. Wahoooooo! Love Harry and this one starts off with a major revelation. Got to love a novel that grabs you by the throat, throws you on a roller coaster and zooms off.

Off to read:)  Enjoy the day.

Monday, June 14, 2010


It had been a while since I found a YA novel I was eager to read. When I was able to check Lauren Kate's "Fallen" out of the library, I was pretty excited.  And as I delayed reading this one, I will only have to wait a short while for the sequel as it will be out in just a few months instead of a year.

But the ironic thing is, until I read the last few pages, I wasn't sure I'd be interested in reading the next installment. Yep, the author got me at the end.

The bare bones basics of the story are pretty common. Possible love triangle, lots of secrets and hidden agendas among a group of kids at a reform school.  Luce (Lucinda) has been sent to the Cross and Sword School for two reasons. Her last date died in a fire and it looks like she set it and she sees weird inky black shadows following her.  So, she appears to be a pyro and a psychotic.  Good stuff.  Of course, she's not, but what about all the other kids at the school. Are they who they seem to be or are they much more?

The story was a bit predictable, but the ending was very solid and very intriguing. Based on those last five pages I will be looking forward to the next title arriving in September.

Up for today, oldest kid gets to have all four of her wisdom teeth extracted. Soccer drama continues to unfold for some of the girls as an unheard of 3rd tryout is tomorrow. Of course after chatting with the coach who called us, my kiddo is excused with the admonition to rinse with lots of salt water ....also, off the record and you didn't hear it from me, her position is secure and we will be getting the confirmation phone call regarding that later in the week. The additional tryout is for field players more than keepers. So, she is all good and will be playing for the coach she wanted to play for.  Good things!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

the girl who chased the moon

I love Sarah Addison Allen's books.  "The Girl who Chased the Moon" is a wonderful, well written story, full of great themes, and good characters.  Her books are so vivid. You can feel the magic.  Yummy. Who knew that finding yourself could involve baking and a good pulled pork and coleslaw sandwich?

Now, of course, I'm craving good barbecue and an awesomely decadent layer cake.  I'm not going to try and recap the novel, just go and check out one of Allen's three books. Give yourself a no calorie treat.

Up next is Lauren Kate's YA novel, "Fallen."  Love, love, love the cover of this book. Very dramatic!!

Glad it is Friday. The busy week is winding down and we slide into a slower pace as the oldest gets all four of her wisdom teeth extracted on Monday and the rest of us just hang loose while she heals.  We are also waiting for the phone to ring with the results of the club soccer tryouts.  We actually got a phone call from a fellow parent last night regarding the oldest kid.  This mom and dad were at tryouts to watch their daughter, who will be one of the high school varsity captains. They called to let us know how good our daughter did.  It was a wonderful call to get.  The younger daughter is a bit concerned as she counted 8-10 'new' faces at tryouts. Every so often players from other clubs test the waters and see if things wouldn't be better for them in another program. This makes everyone nervous and can lead to some real drama.  I'm sure it will all work out just fine, but until the phone rings, the girls will be a bit edgy.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I was talking with my best friend earlier in the week and she was telling me her weekend plans. It will be her wedding anniversary on Monday and she and her hubby are sneaking away for the weekend. She said they really needed some time to be themselves and not Mom and Dad. She has six children who keep her very busy and it will be a huge treat for her to get away for a couple of nights and just be herself and not Mommy.

It stuck a major chord with me.  Most folks have so many identities. They have a parental one, a work one, a historic one etc.  We are not always the same person and it is often the people we are with who define who we are.  This concept, for me, goes beyond the idea of 'role.'  Yes, when I am being the parent, I am filling the role of Mom, but I also feel something different inside, my identity slides into a different place. Sometimes this sliding and shifting is seamless, other days, it can be a more difficult transition.

Like on those days when I have to be the Mom and I just don't want to maintain that identity. I'd rather be the Liz I was in college, or the Liz I was before I was married, or the Liz I was after I was married but before we had children.

The book I'm reading, "The Girl who chased the Moon" has an identity plot thread weaving through it. Who we are, who we want to be, who people think we are, who our parents are provide the underpinnings for this novel.

Identity is malleable and thank goodness that it is. I may have to sneak away for a few hours and de-Mom myself and be Liz for a while. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Found a few good books while I was at the library yesterday. I also picked up the one they were holding for me; it was the Sarah Addison Allen title.  I brought home "Wench" and "Fallen."  I read Wench yesterday, just couldn't put it down once I got started. 

The author was profiled in our regional newspaper a while back. I'd also seen the title listed quite frequently on a facebook page I visit.  So, I gave it a whirl.  What a riveting novel.  Dolen Perkins-Valdez does an amazing job exploring the complicated and tragic dimensions of the slave and owner relationship. She juxtaposes several different slave women and their 'masters' against each other to explore the commonalities and the differences in those relationships.  She crafts a well written and fascinating story that leaves your heart breaking and brimming with hope all at the same time.

I will start to read the Allen book today and then dive into Lauren Kate's "Fallen" for the weekend.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the right foot

What a great day we had yesterday!  Both girls made the high school soccer team. Yeah!!!!  Lots of smiles and very happy faces all around.  Older daughter had a good day at GK camp. Younger daughter had a good day at VBS with her kiddoes. Youngest had 'the best day ever' at middle school camp learning about his new trumpet, getting ready to make a web-comic and learning to build a bird house.  I had a wonderful 4 hours of silence, laundry and light housework.

We then hit the pool for a few hours. I'm back to reading the Percy Jackson series.  I plan on making it to the library today to pick up a book I placed on hold. Should be either a Sarah Addison Allen or a Laurell K Hamilton.

Plus, the weather was beautiful and it seems that we are starting off this week on the right foot. More soccer ahead, more VBS to come, and more hours to meet new friends at middle school. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

the help

I finished Kathryn Stockett's debut bestseller, "The Help" this past week.  It was a good read and it is obvious why this book wound up doing so well for so long.  Interesting characters, lots of tension, good pacing, good writing; the book is just put together really well.

I don't think "The Help" will wind up being a reading list book, unlike "The Secret Life of Bees."  That one should be on reading lists and I think it will be.  

Busy week ahead for all three of my kiddoes. New adventures lie ahead and new friends to make. Newness will abound for them in the next five days.  But today's big event is the high school soccer roster. Said roster is supposed to be posted after noon today.  Let's hope it goes live at 12:01 so I can view it before the girls get home from their morning activities.  We are all on pins and needles and hopeful for our soccer girlies.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Even in summer, Friday is a great day!  We don't have anything we HAVE to do today, a much anticipated event this week.  I'm thinking a few hours at the pool with a good book may be in order.

I've finally started reading "The Help." I can understand why the topic/subject bothered so many of the ladies in the Friends book club.  I'm enjoying the novel, the voices of the three narrators are unique and well developed.  It is an easy to read book, and offers a window on a place and time that are quite foreign to me.

Once I finish this book, I need to reload my TBR pile.  May have to start cruising the library's online catalog and come up with a list of things to keep myself entertained for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

off to the library

I have a Friends of the Library meeting today. I'm hoping for an extremely short, calm and unremarkable gathering.  I need to make a few notes for myself on my agenda so I don't forget anything important.

Other than that, I have a few 'taxi' runs to make and a dinner time gathering for the boy's PRE class at a local park.

All in all, a busy summer day.

Next week is the marathon. Goalie camp, VBS and middle school camp.  Where is that mommy-clone when you need her??

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

and so it goes

We had a good weekend even though the soccer games didn't go as well as we'd hoped. No championship game appearances for either of the girls' teams, but they played hard and learned a lot.  It was nice to be at the events as a family and we enjoyed spending the weekend and Memorial Day together.

We celebrated my hubby's birthday yesterday in fine style. Good food, some swimming, some croquet, some relaxing. It was very, very nice.

Now we dive back into our summer routine. The girls are helping at the Library. I have a meeting to attend there this week. We have an end of season soccer party to enjoy. We all have books to read. Lots of lazy, hazy, summer days ahead.

And so it goes.