Monday, October 25, 2010

Francesca Lia Block's Supreme Weirdness

When I decided to wipe my reading slate clean and start completely over, I really didn't have a preconceived notion of what I would pick up next. No mental checklist, no hovering idea leftover from my last bit of shelf browsing.

I knew I'd found my next book when Weetzie walked in. Specifically, a collection of Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books all in one volume. The five books included in this volume are: Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, and Baby Be-Bop.

I've heard little bits of information about the Weetzie Bat books for years, and even though I've loved everything I've read by Francesca Lia Block, something still kept me from picking them up. OK, I admit it, I was put off by the weird title. When this pretty cover landed in my mailbox I couldn't resist any longer.

So far I'm about 60 pages in, and it's just what I need--a fast read with plenty of quirk. I've always described Block's writing as kind of floaty, ethereal, otherworldly, and this collection is no different. Weetzie lives with her best friend Dirk and his boyfriend Duck in L.A. The whole shabang reminds me of a punk rock video swirled in fairy dust. The dialogue is Sixteen Candles on crack.

My only hesitation is whether or not I can handle this much lingo and oddity for a whole five books (478 pages). Time will tell!

Have you read the Weetzie Bat books? What about other Block titles?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I Hardly Know How to Re-Appear!

Hey y'all! I hardly know how to make my reappearance in the blogosphere. The last few weeks have been such a whirlwind, it's hard to believe I'm still upright. Work has been the biggest contributing factor to my absence, but there's been a lot going on all the way around.

I've been revamping myself, first of all. This all started several weeks ago when my mom took me on a grand shopping spree. Given that having a baby tends to change one's body and I've never been a shopper anyway, I didn't have a whole lot of clothing left. What I did have was wearing out, and suddenly I found myself wearing the same three outfits over and over.

The grand shopping spree was actually a pre-celebration for my 30th birthday (on November 10th), and the celebration hasn't stopped. Once I got back into clothes I like and that fit, I went nuts. I've been shopping steadily (surfing the sales) ever since, and my wardrobe has gotten darn-near impressive. Joking aside, I feel so much better, I can't even tell you. Oh, and those cute shoes down there are my latest purchase. Thank you, Kohl's!

So what was left after the new wardrobe? New HAIR of course! I chopped 10 inches off. I shit you not. It's in a bag in my car somewhere, and it looks like a cat was skinned and stuffed into a Paul Mitchell sack. My curls are now hovering somewhere around my jawline, and I dyed my dirty blond locks a distinct red. The official color is "violet brown"...so a really dark brownish purplish auburn thing. I also had my stylist throw in some coppery highlights for dimension. I'll post pics, I promise.

A while back I posted a whole worrisome "Who the Hell AM I?" post. It was all about having a baby and absolutely, positively forgetting who I was. I thought it was high time I pay some quality attention to myself. Lately this comes in waves of self-manicuring and jewelry buying (I'm addicted to "fashion rings"). I get excited every day about the prospect of picking something cute out of my closet and feeling professional, smart, and looking the part. Who knew clothes could make such a big difference? Everyone should do a home "What Not to Wear" makeover if they feel like crap.

All is well on the work front. Biggest different between my old job and my new one: no time to blog during the day. None. Nada. Zilch!!! I am busy from the moment I arrive to the moment I throw myself out the door at 6pm. Mind you, I'm not complaining at all. I absolutely love what I do. As a department chair I'm responsible for hiring faculty, managing faculty, team building, student issues, and other miscellaneous miscellany. I kinda feel like I'm playing a video game every day. We have W and X problems and Y and Z to solve 'em. GO!

With all of this madness going on, I'm also teaching five online classes. If I'd known I would get this new job, I would've chopped off two of those, and then my time might be manageable. As it is, I come home and work several hours at least two nights a week (and I'm still behind). I've been working all afternoon today, and I'll spend all morning tomorrow to get caught up.

See my quandary? Reading and most other things I used to do for fun have taken a far backseat. I am reading snatches of magazines and other little bits, but a book has not been finished since the Read-a-Thon. I am also chipping away at How Did You Get This Number? by Sloane Crosley, but between you and me, it ain't no I Was Told There'd Be Cake!. Not so much. Am thinking of wiping my reading slate completely clean, sticking to graphic novels and other short books and skating through the rest of the year that way. I don't see any other options at the moment!

That's about all of my news. I will be here more often. I miss you all too much to stay away. Oh! And Greyson turned six months old last week. There are pics. Many many pics. We went to the Dallas Arboretum and rolled in the pumpkins today. Photo evidence to come.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Update

Chuck's mom in the hospital + a 60 hour work week for me + lots of online class maintenance for me means no Texas Book Festival. :(

Back soon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Art of Disappearing and Giveaway!

To finish The Art of Disappearing, by Ivy Pochoda, was high on my "to do" list for this year's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. Sadly, I didn't finish it just yet, but the Read-a-Thon gave me the opportunity (during a very chaotic week both personally and professionally) to snuggle down with this book for some serious quality time. While I would've liked to complete it by my tour stop, I definitely have some opinions to share thus far.

First I thought about going with a synopsis from the publisher, but it's a little too long and too revealing for my taste, so I'll give you my 30-second version:

Toby Warring is a magician--specifically, a real magician who does real magic--and Mel Snow is a textile designer. They meet in a dusty Nevada diner and marry two days later. Soon, Mel finds herself swept up into Toby's world of magic, which is often less than perfect and glazed with a bit of mystery and danger.

In a couple of reviews, I've seen Toby and Mel's relationship compared to The Time Traveler's Wife, and that's a tall order, in my opinion. One of the things I loved most when I read TTW was the intense, romantic, often heartrending relationship between Henry and Claire. I definitely don't feel the same about Toby and Mel, and I'm over halfway through the book. I often find their relationship unbelievable since Mel is prone to refer to him as "the magician" and it seems like the dialogue between them is stilted. It's a tangible distance. This could be Pochoda's way of emphasizing the fact that they really didn't know each other when they got married. I just haven't decided if it works for me.

On the other hand, Pochoda's brand of magical realism is enough to keep me flipping pages. While I'm tempted to compare this book to Sarah Addison Allen's writing, that would be somewhat misleading. Allen is far sweeter and Pochoda a little more raw. Toby pulls objects out of thing air, conjures wonders from the natural world, and can see pockets and channels through dimensions to do his magic. Mel, in all her ordinary existence, hears music and sees the stories behind the fabrics she comes in contact with. It's a weird "power," but it's also really charming in the context of the book. It sounds all good and fine, but on the flip-side, Toby is haunted by the assistant he made disappear and couldn't get back. Mel is haunted by the brother who left.

Toby is often troubled by his abilities. Mel often wonders over the decisions she's made and her new husband's motivations. While I find some bits of the writing unbelievable, I am enjoying this book enough to finish. Pochoda has created a great premise, and I hope the rest of the book delivers.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me a crack at this novel!


Win A Copy of The Art of Disappearing!

If you'd like to win your own copy of the book, leave a comment below! I will draw the winner on Monday, October 18th. It will arrive in your hands via the publisher.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Hour 16?

Where did the day go?

I had lunch with the family at a woooonderful Japanese restaurant, visited Chuck's mom in the hospital, called to check on Baby G. at his G-Mama's house, and then I finally got to settle in to read.

I knocked off Kith, by Holly Black, which I mentioned earlier. I've also read about 112 pages of The Art of Disappearing. I'm withholding any thoughts for the moment. Hmmm.

I stopped for a while to do some work, but now I'm back on the reading train. Here I come, middle of the night!

Six-Word Celebration Mini-Challenge Winner!

It was a tough decision, but after agonizing over the winner of the Six-Word Celebration Mini-Challenge, we've decided on the triumphant blogger!

"400 participants - Dewy would be Proud!"

--written by Darcy at Reading Derby!

This one hit the perfect note in my house. We were knocked over by the number of participants this year when we looked back at the Read-a-Thon site, and the shout-out to Dewey was a winner, too. I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Darcy, I'll be in contact with you for mailing info and your choice of book from The Book Depository.

And a huge THANK YOU to all the participants.

Announcing Soon...

Hey folks! I'm astonished by the number of you who jumped in on the Six Word Celebration! Thanks so much for participating. My family and I will be reading through the entries, but first we're off to see Chuck's mom who is currently in the hospital. I hope you won't mind working with us on this one too much, and thanks for your patience.

I've finished one book this morning: Kith, a graphic novel by Holly Black. It was so-so, and I'll post more thoughts later. This afternoon it's on to How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley and The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda

Mini-Challenge: Six Word Celebration!

In the spirit of six-word memoirs or six-word stories, I thought Dewey's Read-a-Thon to be a perfect opportunity to offer a six-word celebration to show our appreciation to Dewey for starting this thing in 2008 and to our ongoing book blogger community for making it such a monumental event and such a great time twice per year.

Your challenge is to creative a six-word celebration of Dewey's Read-a-Thon. Go on, you know you want to!

And, I should mention that there is incentive. The winner of this mini-challenge: the most innovative, colorful, and celebratory in six words will win a book of his or her choice of up to $15 from the Book Depository.

My family will act as a totally objective and uninterested panel of judges.

What are you waiting for? This challenge runs from 9am to noon Central Time. Add the link to your Six-Word Celebration to the Mr. Linky below or add it to the comments area.

Good morning, Read-a-Thonners!

I just woke up, and it looks lik we're just a wee bit into hour three? Is my head-clock right? You all know the math and I don't always jive. Anyway, I'm off to make sure Rocketgirl is up, and I'll be starting my first book of the day: The Art of Disappearing, by Ivy Pochoda.

I hope you're all having a great morning, and I'll be around to your blog soon!

Even though I'm a little late, here's the Hour 1 Meme:

3 facts about me …


How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? I haven't made as meticulous a stack as I usually do because I wasn't sure I'd get to participate today. I'm glad to be here, if a little tired (will explain later), and reading! I have over 100 unread books in the house, so I'm sure I can find something!

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)? If I could finish even one book, it would be a huge accomplishment. I haven't finished one in two months or something sick like that. *hangs head in shame*

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? Read a variety of books! It really does help stave off some of the boredom in the later hours and break up any possible monotony.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ack!

Whoa! Taking an administrative position just as we're going into a new academic term is much like my first job. I started working in a florist's shop the week of Valentine's Day. Can you imagine? That was the first and last time I've ever been ass-deep in roses. Now I'm just ass-deep in paperwork.

I'm hiring new faculty, orienting them, fielding student grade appeals, etc. Let me get my legs under me, and I'll be back.

See ya when I'm a little more sane and don't have a stress headache!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Personally: Monday Already?

I can't believe it's Monday already! Yesterday was Chuck's birthday, and we spent our weekend wrapped up in birthday madness. Saturday, we had Babe's Chicken catered in for the big birthday party. If you live anywhere in Texas and haven't been to Babe's Chicken Dinner House, you are truly missing out. It's the best gravy, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and fixins outside of my grandma's kitchen.

23 of our closest friends and relatives graced us. We had a really good, rowdy time having a few beers, a few chicken legs, and some rousing rounds of horse shoes. My mom's exact words were, "You had a bunch of type A personalities in the house."

Yesterday Chuck had a drawing class from 9:00-3:00, so I had some retail therapy time with Greyson. Around noon, the Rockets and I put our grand plan into effect. We made a quick trip to the store, picked up an iPad for Chuck's big day, thought about picking up some adult diapers for when he actually opened the thing, and made our way back home.

We downplayed the whole setup: sat around eating leftovers as he came in from school, wrapped his new iPad in newspaper, and watched him screech when he opened it. Good times were had by all, and he's been petting his new toy ever since.

Incidentally, he bought American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang from the iBooks store, and I made him download the Nook app, so I can access my books and we can share. That's the important stuff. :D