Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Pardon me. I must've passed out. Was I mumbling? Talking in my sleep? I've mentioned it here before, but I'm lucky in that my Access and Retrieval class doesn't meet in person every week. We met the first four weeks or so, had another three or four work sessions from home on Wednesday evenings, and last night was my first night back after that longgggg, luxurious break. I left earlier than usual, 3:30, with every intention of being inside the classroom to meet with my final project group at 5:00 and sit down to class at 6:00. Alas, I'm glad I left early because if I'd left at normal time I would've been late. Traffic set me back, and it took just over two hours to get to the university. I had just enough time to talk to my group and get a seat for class.
It was a long night listening to lectures and working in the lab. We got out at 10:00, I drove the hour and a half home, talked to Elise on Pearl the BlackBerry most of the way, and oddly enough, I wasn't sleepy when I got home. I ended up grading papers until 2am, slept for a bit, and Daisy woke me up at 6:30 this morning. I couldn't go back to sleep so I'm more than ready for a nap right now. The good news is, I got a couple of classes worth of papers done this morning, I got the bulk of my spring Children's Lit course syllabus done, and now I'm finishing up the fourth hour of my virtual reference internship for the day (I'm available on Meebo for chatters to ask reference questions).
Did I ever mention the finalized reading list for the Children's Lit class I'm teaching at the univesity in the spring? I'm too lazy to look back in the blog to check, so even if it's a repeat here's the plan:
Assorted picture books: The Giving Tree, Rainbow Fish, Rose Blanche, Dear Milli, etc.
Folk and Fairy Tales: the Grimms, Perrault, Madame d'Aulnoy, Andersen, etc.
Novels and Graphic Novels:
- The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Skellig, by David Almond
- Parvana's Journey, by Deborah Ellis
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis
- The Giver, by Lois Lowry
- American Born Chinese, by Gene Yang
Oh, and I decided to teach M.T. Anderson's Feed in my introductory writing class. I've never taught it, but I'm looking sooo forward to it.Daisy keeps wandering from room to room...from my bed, to the recliner, to the loveseat in the sunroom...to nap. It's all I can do not to follow her, snuggle up, and catch some zzz's.
Aside from being sleepy, it's been a good couple of days. No complaints. I have every intention of taking a bike ride this afternoon once I get some sleep. Then I think I'll finish up Silent Girl.
What have you been doing today?
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Gargoyle is one of those books that could easily throw me into a massive slump because there's almost no way that the very next book--if it's even remotely within the same genre--can measure up. Therefore, I'm taking a few flying leaps outside my comfort zone.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The Graphic Novels Challenge was to read six graphic novels this year. Because I love them so much, I've gone way over the six, but I haven't actually counted them all. SO, these are the ones I'm counting toward the challenge:
- Mail Order Bride, by Mark Kalesniko
- The Jew of New York, by Ben Katchor
- Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days), vol. 7, by Bill Willingham
- Fables: Wolves, vol. 8, by Bill Willingham
- In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman
- Magic Trixie, by Jill Thompson
Of these books, Mail Order Bride was probably my favorite. It was a great combination of dynamic illustrations and unique characters.
For Carl's third Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge, I chose to read four books, but so far I've finished six that would fit. We'll see how many more (if any) I can knock out by the end of the month.
- I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
- Ghost Files: The Haunting Truth, by the Ghost Society
- Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story, by Kim Powers
- Evernight, by Claudia Gray
- Magic Trixie, by Jill Thompson
- Ghostsitters, by Angie Sage
Of this year's RIP books, my hands-down favorite is Kim Powers' Capote in Kansas. It wasn't a traditional ghost story, although ghosts did make cameos, but it was haunting nonetheless.
Both of these challenges have given me extra incentive to bump up my reading, and Ill definitely be in for the next round!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Note: I did not proofread. Carry on at your own risk.
I Was Told There'd Be Cake: Essays, by Sloane Crosley
What led you to pick up this book? I first heard this interview with Crosley on The Bat Segundo Show and knew I had to snatch this collection up immediately. There seems to have been some controversy about whether or not Crosley is a nice person and whether or not she's fronting in some of the essays, and I didn't get that from the collection at all. Crosley strikes me as a witty, snarky, intelligent, and pretty honest writer. I can't think of too many people who haven't thought many of the same thoughts she has in the book. Or I have at least. Maybe I'm not terribly likable either. *sticks out tongue* ;)
Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. Essays about coming of age, entering the world of careers and responsibility and places to live with a sense of humor.
What did you like most about the book? Crosley herself has a great writing "voice" and the situations she describes had me laughing out loud. There's one essay in particular, about her time (grudgingly) volunteering at the New York City Museum of Natural History's butterfly exhibit. In this essay, titled "Sign Language for Infidels," she writes:
People are shockingly uncreative. A whole animal and everyone wanted to know the same things. Even the wisecracking dads all cracked wise in the same way (see: "How much butter do the flies have to eat?"). More mainstream questions that were impossible to answer honestly: how long do butterflies live? (one week, maybe two), how do they mate? (sitting, but they'll fuck 'n' fly if they have to), how many kinds are in the exhibit? (um, a bunch), how do they eat? (through a straw attached to their face).
What did you think of the characters? Well, in this case, seeing as there's only really one that matters, Crosley seems willing to divulge the best and worst of her character, make fun of herself, and generally admit to thoughts and actions that many of us might try to hide. That makes her a winner in my book!
Share a favorite scene from the book: In "Christmas in July," Crosley describes her summers at a Christian camp (even though she was Jewish...a "lax Jew" in her words) this way:
Every Saturday night the entire camp marched into a clearing in the woods, where we lit a gigantic bonfire. Four girls were selected each week to dip torches into the crackling fireball. Each torch represented a moral category at which we aimed to excel: Friendship, Cleanliness, Sportsmanship, and Love. What they really were were long sticks we'd find in the woods the evening before. We'd wrap the ends in extra-large overnight maxi pads and roast them in the flames as we said our prayers. The we'd hold them above our heads, imagining how embarrassing it would be to explain that one's death--or worse, one's disfigurement--came from a flaming maxi pad to the face.
Recommended for those who like David Sedaris, Haven Kimmel, and Sarah Vowell.
Incantation, by Alice Hoffman
Little Brown and Company
Young Adult Novel - Historical
What led you to pick up this book? Heather F. read it a while back and was kind enough to send it to me! She knows what I like.
Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. From Alice Hoffman's website: Estrella is a Marrano: During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, she is one of a community of Spanish Jews living double lives as Catholics. She is living in a house of secrets, raised by a family who practices underground the ancient and mysterious way of wisdom known as Kabbalah. When Estrella discovers her family’s true identity — and her family’s secrets are made public — she confronts a world she’s never imagined, where new love burns and where friendship ends in flame and ash, where trust is all by vanquished and betrayal has tragic and bitter consequences.
What did you like most about the book? Hoffman's writing always has a lightness--or maybe an airiness is a better way to put it--no matter the subject. In this case, it was far less magical realism than you might find in Practical Magic, Blackbird House, or The Ice Queen. However, Estrella's discovery of her family's involvement with Kabbalah is quite mystical in its own way.
What did you think of the characters? Loved 'em! I fell thoroughly in love with Estrella and her family. Her aloof but wicked smart grandfather, her quirky grandmother, and her sweet neighbor, Andres. On the flip side, I loathed and wanted to choke her enemies!
Share a favorite scene from the book: I'm recycling this one. I quoted this earlier, but it's a great example of the tangible details in Hoffman's writing that really brings it to life for me:
She was kneading dough at the big table. Our table was so old you could see the dents in the wood where my great-great-grandmother had chopped vegetables. My great-great-grandmother had kneaded bread here so often, the table curved down in the center, and now my grandmother was kneading bread in the very same place. She added olives and garlic to the mix, then braided the dough in three parts so that it rose prettily.
Recommended for anyone who likes Alice Hoffman's other word, fans of historical fiction, and anyone else who might have an inkling. This is a highly likable book.
Note: It's the day after I posted this post, and I couldn't ignore the typos any longer. I proofread (ack!), and I apologize if it's showing up twice in your feed readers.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It's less than a month until my 28th birthday, and as is usually the case, I'm in the process of getting sick. It's probably a combination of allergens in the air and weather changes in Texas, but I am sick on or around my birthday every single year, and if things keep going the way they are now, this will be no exception.
I have a medium pile of stuff to do:
- Print off lecture notes for tomorrow night's online midterm.
- Finish up my next Bibliobuffet column.
- Grade the second writing assignment for one class before 3 other classes come sliding in.
- Read for my other graduate class and post some discussion before the module is due on Sunday.
Things I would rather do:
- Read The Year of Living Biblically.
- Watch Big Bang Theory that I DVRed last night.
In other news, Daisy has officially become a teenager. I know this because she's been digging an intricate system of tunnels and ditches in the back yard just in case McCain-Palin manage to pull off a victory. She's an Obama supporter, too, ya know. Or she might just be bored. I walked out in the back yard a few minutes ago in an attempt to rescue a potholder she got hold of, and then I noticed that she'd hidden pillow fuzz and potholder stuffing, fake flowers, and an empty Pepsi bottle in several of the holes. Stockpiling.
Never a dull moment around here.
For now, I'm off to shower in hopes of unclogging my head.
P.S. The owl necklace at left arrived in the mail yesterday. I love pretty baubles. They make me not care that I sound like a drunk munchkin when I talk with a stopped up head.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Incantation, by Alice Hoffman
The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell
I Was Told There'd Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley
I may leave the other books with just captions in the Read-a-Thon posts. They were shorter, less to say. We'll see.
I'll have a full wrap up in a few hours along with some proper reviews.
Thanks to Dewey and all her helpers, all the readers, and all the cheerleaders for making this a great time!
The final challenge: The Wrap Up!
1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Incantation, by Alice Hoffmany
I Was Told There'd Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley
The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The organization was flawless!
5. How many books did you read?
8 and some bits
6. What were the names of the books you read?
See the sidebar.
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
8. Which did you enjoy least?
They were all good, so there wasn't really a loser.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
100% I love it!
No, really, I'm still awake. Fading, but I'm determined to make it the WHOLE WAY THROUGH. Determined I tell you. If I have to hop around and dance to cheesy 80s songs before it's over I will MAKE THE SACRIFICE! And scare the neighbors.
Ghostsitters, by Angie Sage was really cute. It sort of reminds me of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but far more upbeat. A blurb...
When Aunt Tabby and Uncle Drac head off to Transylvania, Araminta is upset—they're going to be away on her birthday. However, when it turns out that her almost-grown-up cousin, Mathilda, will be babysitting, it seems things couldn't get any better. But Mathilda's brought along trouble: two rowdy teenage ghosts, Ned and Jed, who listen to no one. It's a disaster! Can the girls figure out a way to get Ned and Jed out of the house for good?
Good times. I didn't realize it at first, but Sage is also the author of the Septimus Heap books. I haven't read them yet, but they're waiting patiently on my stacks. To learn more and see some fantastic illustrations, head on over to the Araminta Spookie website!
What the HECK am I going to read now?! Definitely needs to be something else mindless, or if not mindless at least very visual. Will have to paw through my graphic novels. See y'all in a bit!
Total pages so far: 1237!
Total Books: 7 and a half, 2 short stories, 1/3 of a will-remain-unfinished novel
Total Pages: 1, 130!!!!
Off to finish up Ghostsitters! Thanks to all of you who have been stopping by with cheers and encouragement! I need CAFFEINE!
Perfect! I shall endure!
From Amazon (no spoilers)...
The opposing forces of love and hate, loyalty and betrayal underscore this brief but rich tale set during the Spanish Inquisition. Told by 16-year-old Estrella deMadrigal, the novel shows how gruesome beliefs nourished by ignorance and prejudice destroyed the lives of countless people. Hoffman weaves a tale of a close friendship between two teens, Estrella and Catalina. Both envision that their lives will be intertwined forever. However, there is a secret about Estrella and her family that unfolds in spurts.
This is the latest book I've finished for the Read-a-Thon, and it could very well be my favorite! It's a quick read, but like most of Hoffman's work it's rich in imagery and it's just a lush reading experience all around. I'm always fond of Hoffman's use of symbolism and color, and I always feel like I step into the world she creates every time I read one of her novels.
Here's a favorite passage that made me hungry at this late hour. Estrella approaches her grandmother to ask her some questions...
She was kneading a dough at the big table. Our table was so old you could see the dents in the wood where my great-great-grandmother had chopped vegetables. My great-great-grandmother had kneaded bread here so often, the table curved down in the center, and now my grandmother was kneading bread in the very same place. She added olives and garlic to the mix, then braided the dough in three parts so that it rose prettily.
Yeah, I want that bread now!
I'm off to choose my next book and maybe whip up a big bowl of popcorn. Or maybe just coffee. Ha!
Books read: 7 and a piece
Pages total: 1,004 <--holy crap!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
It deals with Spiegelman's anger and confusion that came with 9/11 as well as the days and years after. The book itself is stunning. Constructed out of board, like a child's board book, each layout is two full pages; a huge expanse of space for Spiegelman to weave his most famous characters--himself as drawn in Maus as well as more realistic interpretations interspersed with classic comic strip characters. It's really a raw chronicle of his feelings about the incident itself and a searing indictment of the government in the years after 9/11. Spiegelman really is the father of contemporary comics. Excellent, as always.
Books read: 6 and a piece
Total pages: 838
Note: I tried to upload a gorgeous spread from In the Shadow of No Towers, but Blogger put its foot down. *sticking out my tongue at Blogger*
I Was Told There'd Be Cake was excellent. Very funny, self-deprecating, snarky, wonderful. I will definitely consume whatever Sloane Crosley puts out into the book world from this point forward. In the next few days I'll properly review the books I've read for the RAT. At that unnamed point I'll dole out snicker-worthy quotes. Until then, I have more books to rape and pillage.
What will my next book be? Heck if I know. I have Incantation which looks yummy, I have the very short The Book Shop, by Penelope Fitzgerald. I also have a pile of other books sitting here. Let's see what sticks!
Books: 5 and a piece
Pages since last update: a bunch
Pages total: 790
P.S. My eyes are feeling a bit like a dump truck had its way with them!
I Was Told There'd Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley
2. How many books have you read so far?
4 and 3/4s
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I just pulled Alice Hoffman's Incantation from the shelves. I'm thinking that one will definitely be a winner.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Not really. I alerted my mom and she agreed to provide meals and distract the dog.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Not too many. Daisy craziness here and there, restlessness.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How quickly it passes! It's sad to be half done. :(
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nope! Perfect as always.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
More snacks, definitely.
9. Are you getting tired yet?
Not really tired in body, but my eyes are a wee bit tired. After this book I'll probably switch to something with bigger print or a graphic novel.
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Myers is well known for his fiction about inner-city youth. His novels Scorpions and Monster are probably his most famous.
So far Dope Sick is a really good read. I should finish it soon, so I'll report back in a bit.
Books read so far: 3, about to be 4, and part of a 5th.
Pages since last update: 130
Total pages: 486
After we got off the phone, I dove into Francesca Lia Block's Psyche in a Dress. So far I've polished off 93 pages of it, which is quite misleading and way more unimpressive than it sounds. The book is a thing of beauty, but it's also written in verse, so it's really quick reading and not too many words on any given page. That said, I should finish it up in a few minutes and move on to my 3rd book of the read-a-thon.
Wish me luck!
Books read so far: Almost 2
Pages read so far: 194
Up next: No idea!
So here's the breakdown:
Title of book(s) read since last update: The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell
Number of books read since you started: 1 (OK, a half)
Pages read since last update: 101
Running total of pages read since you started: 101
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 90 minutes roughly
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 90
Mini-challenges completed: Introduction meme, commented on featured readers
Off to read something else! Not sure what just yet! Be back later.
Where are you reading from today? I'm reading from a very small town in northeast Texas. It's about 40 minutes northeast of Dallas. As for my own personal location: my bed!
3 facts about me:
1. I have very curly hair.
2. I have no intention of getting out of my pajamas today.
3. I like Spicy Nach Doritos better than any
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? 17 pulled especially for thi occasion (no way in hell I'll be able to read them all), plus the hundreds in my TBR stack.
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I only managed to polish off 2 books last year, and I'm shooting for five this year. More if possible. As for hours, I ususually take a break or two an hour to do things like this (although it may be less this time around). We'll see.
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? Read short books and rest as needed. In other words, don't kill your eyes!
Now, back to The Partly Cloudy Patriot!
- 1. Brush teeth.
- 2. Wrap up (it's chilly in Texas)
- 3. Turn on available lights to stave off eye straing (thank God for CFL bulbs)
It's not too late to plunk down some cash for green business, Eco-Libris. I realize it's probably a risky choice going with a green biz instead of a non-profit, but Eco-Libris has always been great to me, they try to keep everyone current on environmental issues, and I don't think they're knocking on the Fortune 500 yet. Keep in mind, money handed over to Eco-Libris will then earn us collective BookMooch points which will go to a library in the Philippines. Holler at me in the comments or by e-mail if you're feeling loose with your wallet. I have a few sponsors and a few of you have taken it upon yourselves to pass the word along on your blogs. Thank you so much for your kindness, and I'll post those thank you's at the end of the event.
In the meantime, put on your reading shoes, and let's go!
My first book o'the day will be Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot. I know, no one here is surprised. ;)
Friday, October 17, 2008
I am caught up on work.
Work includes: grading papers for 6 classes, posting new assignments for 5 classes, fielding e-mail from 120 students, projects for my own grad courses, reading for said courses.
This never happens.
I feel a wee tad like I've been released from shackles. I have *free time without guilt* today. Without guilt is really the key there. What shall I do with myself?
Probably the same thing I did yesterday afternoon and last night: read Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. Now I've said that I'm enjoying this book, but admittedly, despite my enjoyment, it was moving a bit sloooow. Until yesterday. Yesterday I hit page 100 and it took off like a rocket! I read something like 200 pages yesterday, and I'll no doubt finish up today. The sad part about this is that I won't be able to post my review until November 12th (blog tour)....soooo, you'll just have to wonder exactly how much I love it until then.
Let's have a champagne toast for free time. So what will I do with my day besides reading:
I'm going to lunch at my mom's office (City Hall) today. The city manager gets a wild urge to cook for everyone from time to time, and today I think it's going to be steak, taters, beans, banana pudding, and heaven knows what else.
I think I'll walk! It's a gorgeous day with temps in the 50s and 60s in Texas, and it's just a little over a mile round trip.
I MUST get caught up on my Bust reading. The newest issue has been sitting here staring at me for far too long.
If I get in the mood, I might stream a Netflix movie. OR, I have this week's episode of Pushing Daisies to watch, as well as the Project Runway finale (already know how it turned out) and some back episodes of Ghost Hunters.
Oh, and I'm building a faculty website through one of the colleges. That's fun work stuff, so I don't mind.
Until tomorrow, bright and early, I wish you well, friends!
*skips off into the midday glare*
Thursday, October 16, 2008
- Tideland, by Mitch Cullen
- Magic Trixie (vol. 1), by Jill Thompson
- Suicide Notes, by Michael Thomas Ford
- Wondrous Strange, by Lesley Livingston
- Dope Sick, by Walter Dean Myers
- After the Train, by Gloria Whelan
- The Running Man, by Michael Gerar Bauer
- Bullyville, by Francine Prose
- Psyche in a Dress, by Francesca Lia Block
The majority of these are childrens and YA books, some ARCs from publishers. Why not use the Read-a-Thon to get ahead on reviews, right?
Of course, I also have some fantastic-looking adult books and graphic novels, also mostly for review:
- The Man Who Turned Into Himself, by David Ambrose
- The People on Privilege Hill, by Jane Gardam (short stories)
- It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments, by Amanda Marcotte
- It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken, by Seth (graphic novel)
- Another Dirt Sandwich, by Ray Friesen (graphic novel)
- Silent Girl, by Tricia Dower (short stories)
And while I think these might be too long for me to tackle during the Read-a-Thon, I'm really looking forward to:
- The Edge of Reason: A Novel of the War Between Science and Superstition, by Melinda Snodgrass
- Nation, by Terry Pratchett
Whew! Plus there are always the new books I got recently and the library books. And, well, all the books on my shelves that haven't been read (well over 100), plus the books I've already read but that need re-reading for the children's lit course I'm teaching in the spring. Wow, when I put it like that, I'm almost overwhelmed!
This Read-a-Thon is like heading into a candy store with an unlimited allowance. 24 hours of nothing but reading. JOYYYYY!
And that reminds me...I need to stock up on snacks. Ideas?
***ALERT***ALERT***BOOK GIVEAWAY AHEAD***
If you're in the mood to win a box of spooky books from the Hatchette Group via Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf go drop your name in the hat before Friday (10/17/08) by noon PST!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Raz from Eco-Libris interviewed me about the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon since I'm urging readers to give money to plant trees. You can read the interview here.
If you're still on the fence about the Read-a-Thon, read Dewey's latest post for an extra dose of information.
You can read my latest "Finicky Reader" column at Bibliobuffet to learn more about my interest in children's literature then and now.
In other reading news, I'm well into Jennie Shortridge's Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. Admittedly, I was a little unsure about this one when I started, but the cover is one of those "I'd sell my soul to live in the world of this cover" covers, and I'm finding that the contents are indeed worthy of the cover. I still want to lick the book regularly. More on that later...
I've also been picking through The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell when I need a paper grading break or my butt falls asleep sitting at the kitchen table tapping away on the laptop. I've only read a couple of essays, but she's already got me laughing out loud. A very good sign of things to come.
This passage, from the essay "The First Thanksgiving," made me giggle. Discussing her Montana family's intentions to spend Thanksgiving with her in New York, she gets a little...concerned...
I was terrified we wouldn't have enough to talk about. In the interest of harmony, there's a tacit agreement in my family; the following subjects are best avoided in any conversation longer than than a minute and a half: national politics, state and local politics, any music by any person who never headlined at the Grand Ole Opry, my personal life, and their so-called god. Five whole days. When I visit them back in Montana, conversation isn't a problem because we go to the movies every afternoon. That way, we can be together but without the burden of actually talking to each other. Tommy Lee Jones, bless his heart, does the talking for us.
Note: The opinions about family expressed above are not necessarily related to Andi's in any way. Her family is quite fun, talkative, and delightfully warped. Although, admittedly, talking about non-country artists can be a problem in certain circumstances.
P.S. I can't wait to see the new movie, W.
Monday, October 13, 2008
It was my usual day, I woke up around 6:00 or 6:30 when the sound of Daisy chewing on her feet in the crate rattled me out of my slumber. I checked e-mail, did some work, ate a muffin, and got ready for work. Headed out about 9:00, got to the college, read over my students' assignment for today, taught from 9:50-11:05, and I went to the library to finish up a few Information Hunt assignments for my Access and Retrieval class.
Before I out myself, my question for you, dear book lovers, is:
Can we ever really pass up free books? Really. Can we?
In my case the answer would be...NOOOOO! I came home with the following:
The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson. This seems to have become one of the "it" books in the blogosphere as of late, so that explains how I came to be interested in it. Well, that, and the cover. I'm a whore for a great cover and this is one of them. A blurb, my dearests:
The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul.
A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany.
If I had to guess, I would say I'll dive into this book before the others I checked out. We'll see. My reading habits are as shifty as Texas weather (retarded, cliche comparison...shhhh!).
I've decided to try to let go of my bloodthirsty grudge I've had aimed at Curtis Sittenfeld (biatch!) for years. I can let it goooo that she said this about Melissa Banks' novel, The Wonder Spot:
To suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut -- doesn't the term basically bring down all of us? And yet, with ''The Wonder Spot,'' it's hard to resist.
Ok, fine, I'm not letting it go at all. To read the rest of the review, click HERE. I haven't even read The Wonder Spot, but I find Sittenfeld's review so needlessly bitchy, I just can't let it go. BUT, I'm still going to try one of her books. Part of me hopes American Wife is really worthless so I can sorta, kinda call her a slut, too. Or maybe just a pretentious a-hole, but we'll see how it goes. Why do I have a sneaking suspicion I won't be receive any books from Random House...ever? Ha!
Blurb from Bookmarks Magazine:
While critics couldn’t say for sure whether or not Sittenfeld captures the exact thoughts of Laura Bush, they did agree that she creates a realistic and highly sympathetic portrayal of the (soon-to-be former) First Lady. (The author supposedly based the novel on Ann Gerhart’s 2004 biography, The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush.) Sittenfeld asks provoking questions about marriage, loyalty, and responsibility. But many reviewers couldn’t fundamentally understand why the very decent Alice had supported her husband despite her doubts about his capabilities; Sittenfeld’s pat, unsatisfactory answer is that Alice leads a life “in opposition.” That, combined with the author’s obvious contempt for Charlie, brought the reviews down a notch. Still, there’s nothing as titillating as a look, albeit fictional, inside the White House—especially during an election year.
Finally, The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff. I want this book for two very distinct reasons 1) Susan liked it 2) the cover is DEL-I-CIOUS! Almost as yummy and edible as The Gargoyle.
Blurb from an Amazon review:
On the very morning Willie Upton slinks home to Templeton, New York (after a calamitous affair with her archeology professor), the 50-foot-long body of a monster floats from the depths of the town's lake. This unsettling coincidence sets the stage for one of the most original debut novels since The Time Traveler’s Wife. With a clue to the mysterious identity of her father in hand, Willie turns her research skills to unearthing the secrets of the town in letters and pictures (which, "reproduced" in the book along with increasingly complete family trees, lend an air of historical authenticity). Lauren Groff's endearingly feisty characters imbue the story with enough intrigue to keep readers up long past bedtime, and reading groups will find much to discuss in its themes of "monsters," both in our towns and our families.
I've been working since about 6am with a few breaks for meals and whatnot. It's after 9:00 pm now, and I really want to stop, but I still have a job application to complete. See y'all later!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I picked up three books that I've been lusting after for ages...
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A.J. Jacobs. I actually first discovered Jacobs when I happened upon The Know-It-All in North Carolina while I was browsing one day. I put it on my wishlist and before I'd even gotten around to it, this book hit the market and blew up! I'm excited to finally have my hands on a copy because I feel a non-fiction urge coming on soon (as evidenced by this and my other purchases today).
The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell. I'll just give you a blurb for this one since there's no way I can describe it as well as Publishers Weekly:
Looking for insight into why she prefers Little Bighorn and Gettysburg to Martha's Vineyard, Vowell (author of the witty Take the Cannoli) calls her friend Kate, who works as a counselor for survivors of torture, who says, "That's how we try to make sense of the worst horrors. We use humor to manage anxiety." If Kate's right, then Vowell is managing her anxiety very well. Her best short, personal essays (anywhere from about two to 12 pages) focus on her ambivalent relationship to American history and citizenship: no one in recent memory has been as insightful on the direct pleasures and perils of voting, the misuse of Rosa Parks as a metaphor, the appeal of Canadians (who "ha[ve] this weird knack for loving their country in public without resorting to swagger or hate") and the relative merits of presidential libraries. Further undone, perhaps, by her devotion to such topics, Vowell also offers an eloquent defense of being a nerd...
While I find it grating and damn near impossible to listen to Vowell on Chicago Public Radio's This American Life, I do find her quite funny and insightful, so I hope beyond hope that I can get her voice out of my head as I read this collection. With America (myself included) embroiled in political hoo-hah, this sounds like the perfect humorous fix. I voted last week, by the way. Absentee is a wonderful thing. Now I've really got to get my car inspected and my Texas license back!
Finally, and I've probably wanted this book the longest, is I Was Told There'd Be Cake, a book of essays by Sloane Crosley, Associated Director of Publicity at Vintage/Anchor books. Another pre-fab blurb for ya:
Wry, hilarious, and profoundly genuine, this debut collection of literary essays is a celebration of fallibility and haplessness in all their glory. From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions-or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character that's aiming for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is.
I've heard every imaginable comment about this book, from "Crosley is mean!" to "Crosley is hilarious and honest!" I became interested when I heard her interview on The Bat Segundo Show, and I knew I had to have it.
It's been a long day, so for now I'm off to settle in with Jennie Shortridge's Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. Hopefully my eyes won't get droopy too fast.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
We'll start with the good ones and work our way down:
Jamberry, written by Bruce Degan, I actually think I remember this book from my childhood. It was published in 1983, so that would be about right. Jamberry is a really fun long poem about a bear and a boy that go out berry picking, and I found myself with a mad urge to lick the pages a few times. I want to say this book came into my kindergarten classroom as one of those GIANT BOOKS that had to be propped up on the chalkboard because it was too big to hold. The berries look even better when they're huuuuuge! Great book back then and now.
Papa and Me, written by Arthur Dorros and illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, is a story of a father and son having a good day together, and it's sprinkled with Spanish words. It's certainly a nice teaching tool, but it also has stunning illustrations. The cover is gorgeous, but the goodies inside are even better. Not my favorite story, but the pictures made up for it.
Don't Bump the Glump, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. This one has a big sticker on the front that says "Shel Silverstein's first poetry collection!" And I'm happy for the disclaimer because I didn't care for this one at all. It's a bunch of short poems about weird animals. Cute, sure, but not nearly as entertaining as Silverstein staples like Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic.
Welcome to Your World, Baby, written by Brooke Shields and illusrated by Cori Doerrfeld, was a bomb. Not the bomb. It reads like a book written by a celebrity! Who'd have thought. At first I was sort of delighted with it because I thought the little girl had a baby brother and had swathed him in pink and tortured him with tea parties all the way through, but now I'm pretty sure baby sibling was a girl, and the book isn't nearly as much fun without the cross dressing. Illustrations: A+. It's another tragic case of a fine illustrator getting stuck with a boring book.