Posts Tagged ‘books’

I am not one for backing down on a challenge.  Right before I went off to grad school I decided I needed to refinish and reupholster some dining room chairs.  It was right in the middle of packing and preparing to move to D.C. for grad school. It isn’t like I had the time, but the challenge was

  1. do something creative and make beauty out of crap
  2. do something that you’ve never done before
  3. do something that is so far removed from the stress of life as you know it so that you can escape and have more control over your crazy and chaotic life.

Most challenges I do have something to do the above reasons. Sometimes they arise because of a third, forth, or fifth option, namely:

  • do something because your brain is bored
  • do something because people told you that you couldn’t do it
  • do something because hardly anyone has ever done it.

This is why I should never be allowed near any lists that say anything like “most people have never ” or “things you should do before” or “best <fill in the blank with subject> ever”. They become challenges to me.

Challenges are not always a good thing.  I triple dog dare you to lick that icy pole in the middle of winter springs to mind.  Challenges can sometimes be to do the things we know better than to do.  However sometimes those challenges can be good things. My chairs were good things. They still are.

List in my Kindle CaseHowever, there is no whitewashing this challenge.  I set it for myself in the first month after starting grad school.  I was feeling out-of-place, and freaked out, and a lot like I couldn’t do it.  So when I stumbled upon this list on Flavorwire I knew that it was a safe haven. There is precious little I do better than read.  Combine reading and a challenge? WOOT!  I calculated out of the 50 books I had read about 17, leaving 33 that I needed to complete. I wrote the list out in my Kindle cover, and embarked on the mission.  I will read all 33 before I graduate from George Washington.  For an ongoing record, the list will follow below.  The ones I had read to begin with will be in Blue. The ones I haven’t read yet will be in grey. When I complete them I will change them to Green, complete with a rating. I have a goodreads shelf completely dedicated to this challenge. If you have any that you love, please let me know and perhaps that can influence my choice of next in line.

  1. UBIK -Philip K. Dick
  2. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card.  Have read all of these. Multiple times. The Shadow series as well.
  3. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien.  Loved all of these since my dad read them to us as children
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood Ouch.  Reading this just after the shooting in CA, and in the response to the #YesAllWomen campaign has been harsh.  This was a good, but definitely not an easy read.
  5. Dhalgren – Samuel R. Delany
  6. A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin. I didn’t love this as much as I think I should have.
  7. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley.  Not at all what I expected.  So philosophical.
  8. Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake
  9. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
  10. Kindred – Octavia E. Butler. So good. Everyone should read this book. Everyone. I cannot wait to read the rest of her catalogue.
  11. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin. It grew on me.
  12. Nine Princes in Amber – Roger Zelazny
  13. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke * Currently reading
  14. Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut. Jr.   My first Vonnegut.  I liked it a lot.  Odd. Quirky. Remarkable.
  15. The City & The City – China Mieville.  I had almost written him off after trying to like Un Lun Don.  Glad I gave him a second chance.  This book was very palatable.  A hard-boiled detective novel set in the most imaginative of circumstances.
  16. The Once and Future King – T. H. White
  17. The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
  18. Zone One – Colson Whitehead * currently reading
  19. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling.  I came to this late, and have never let go.
  20. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle.  I have long loved this book, and series. It saw me through some dark times as a kid.
  21. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis.  I always check the backs of my wardrobes.  Just in case.
  22. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman.  I was very intrigued, and quite captivated.  The last in the series was a bit of a letdown though.
  23. The Female Man – Joanna Russ
  24. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne.  Meh.  I see why it was so important back in the day, but it wasn’t as imaginative as I expected it to be.
  25. Brown Girl in the Ring – Nalo Hopkinson
  26. Solaris – Stanislav Lem-Yeah This was ok, not BRILLIANT, but ok.
  27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams.  I read it at 11 and didn’t appreciate it much.  Came back to it as an adult and couldn’t get enough.  I understand it now.
  28. Dune – Frank Herbert.  I read this young too.  Liked it, but it wasn’t all that memorable to me.
  29. 1984 – George Orwell.  I read this during an election cycle, I think the second G.W. Bush presidential run.  Not wise.  It gave me the shivers.  I love how psychological this book was too.
  30. Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
  31. The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester. I liked this book a lot.  I felt the rage and loved the fascination of the different worlds. The ending really got me.
  32. Neuromancer – William Gibson. Well. This was not the book I expected. What I did find was that this book was clearly in the DNA of the Matrix movies.
  33. American Gods -Neil Gaiman.  I loved, LOVED, this book.  I ate it up and chewed on it for days.  I like Gaiman most of the time anyway, but this made me think, and that is such a gift.
  34. Foundation series – Isaac Asimov.  Chaz G. has whet my appetite for Asimov, but I have yet to dive in.  I hope I like it. Good news, I did. I want to read the whole series now.
  35. The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett.  Sir Terry has a place in my heart.  I am working my way through his entire catalog. It is my goal to have all of his books on my shelf.  All of them.  He is a genius. That is all.
  36. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll.  I always found these fantastical, but Alice a bit insipid.
  37. Among Others – Jo Walton. I did not enjoy this much. It felt more of an homage to the love of Sci-fi than a groundbreaking novel. I actually felt like it was more the story of a traumatized little girl who had lost her sister and had an abusive, or perhaps mentally afflicted mother, and seeing fairies, and magic were her coping mechanisms, or the product of her very wounded psyche.
  38. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley *currently reading
  39. The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle. I wish I had read it as a child. I think I would like it far more. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t blown away.
  40. The Drowned World – J. G. Ballard
  41. Witch World – Andre Norton
  42. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury. Savored every sentence.  This man writes so evocatively.  I have his Martian Chronicles on my shelves.  May read them soon. 
  43. The Time Machine – H. G. Wells. This book was intriguing, but it felt very preachy, and also very one sided.  I listened to the audio, so it went by very fast. 
  44. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro. Long ago Yuge told me to read Ishiguro.  I should have listened to him.  This book was heartwrenching.  Literally. Take your heart, tear it out, destroy it. Yet remarkably subtle.
  45. Little, Big – John Crowley *currently reading
  46. Dragonflight – Anne Mccaffrey.  I read this when I took my brother to Chicago.  We went to Shedd Aquarium, and brought it out when he wanted to see the dolphins.  I thought it would be boring and I would want to read.  I learned a lot that day.  McCaffrey is not better than dolphins.
  47. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe – Charles Yu. Innovative, but not brilliant. I think Jaspet Fforde would have done it better.
  48. Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede
  49. Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones. Already purchased the next in the series. So good.
  50. The Giver – Lois Lowry.  Have read this several times.  Was convinced that the end was death.  I was wrong.  How glad I am.  Read the forth in the series, Son, earlier this year.  So very good.  Such a satisfying ending.  The whole series is so full of things to talk about and think about.

I’m sure you all have opinions.  There are books you think should be on this list, and they are not.  Also probably some you think should have been skipped. I am curious what your favorite sci-fi and fantasy books are. I really think The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell should have made this list.  We shall see if I can complete this challenge, or if it will best me.

Updated 7.3.15. Six months left to compete the task.


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Last year I acquired a housemate extraordinaire. She is exceptional in many ways.  One is that, like me, she has a great love of all things literary.  Her room is upstairs from main level. For Christmas this year I decided to give her something unique and different. Something created.  Something just for her.  I was inspired by this:

What a nifty idea.

What a nifty idea.

Once I had decided to do this I had to start figuring out what her favorite books were, so over the course of several weeks I worked to find out what she’s loved over the years. Then, because I was limited by the number of stairs, I had to narrow that down to 10. Final selection was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers; Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller; The Giving Tree by Shel SilverStein; The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck; The Hobbit  by J.R.R. Tolkien; A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving; The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe  by C.S. Lewis; and Harry Potter and the Sorcerers’ Stone by J.K. Rowlings.

Most of the work I did myself, but I did get some help from a good friend, Courtney.  She was completely in charge of the Lewis step and the Rivers step.  She did the lettering for the Tolkien step and the Miller step, as well as some of the background on the Miller step.  The rest is all my fault 🙂

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Things I learned:

My knees need more padding. Kneeling on stairs for hours is hard.

I hate lettering with a paint brush.

I really should have made it so that the risers have dimension, and look slightly rounded like a book spine.

Things I love:

The Hobbit and The Giving Tree steps.  They really make me happy.

So does the Lewis step, and the Rowling step, and the Kingsolver step, and…

Even though this is Annie’s present I get to benefit from it. I get the view of the stairs from my reading chair.

I hope you guys like it as much as I do.

I hope Annie likes it as much as I do 🙂

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(or reason #57 that I am envious of Kelly)

I wish I was friends with Real Life published authors.  I follow quite a few of them on Twitter, and they all seem so quirky and likable. Normal, and yet slightly more elevated than the rest of us plebes.  Okay, I know authors are just like the rest of us, one leg at a time and all that, but still, I wish I knew some.

But not for the selfish reasons you’d think.  And not because I need someone professional to tell me not to start sentences with ‘but’ or ‘and’. (oh well partly because I think they should be my friends but mostly not).

I actually just really want to get them involved in what I do.

I volunteer for a not for profit organization that works with first time juvenile offenders and gives them a chance to change their lives using reading, virtues, and mentoring. Plus it affords them the opportunity to have their record expunged if they’re offence free at 18.  The program is called Reading For Life.  I’ve been working with it since it’s inception, and I love every minute of it.

Kids get placed into groups with similar reading skills and then choose a book to read together.  Some only read one book, some go through as many as 5 in a session.  The group mentors help shepherd the group time which involves discussing concepts and actions of the books, getting the kids to journal and talk about the stories.

In the groups we also introduce the concept of virtues to the kids. We use 7 virtues, the 4 Aristolean: Justice, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude; and the 3 Thomist: Faith/Fidelity, Hope, Charity (Eros, Phileo, Agape).  N.B. This would be as in Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.  We get the kids to start looking at the situations in the books, weighing them and seeing if the actions are virtuous or not.  Slowly, and without them really realizing it, we begin to help them transfer this skill to their own lives.

Recently I read a blog at Barnesandnobel.com talking about the decline of reading fiction and the decline of empathy. The author states:

A novel is like a puzzle.  As soon as we start reading it, we begin trying to figure it out.  We compare our own reactions to certain situations with the reactions of the characters in the story.  When these reactions differ, we are compelled to put ourselves into the shoes of other people, and see things from a different perspective.  The more often we do this, the easier it is for us to see universal truths and gain insight into the human condition–not just our personal condition, but the condition of other people in this world.  This is empathy.

It’s so true.  This is what we get to do. We get to connect them to worlds beyond their own, and expand their perspectives, hopes and dreams. This can be so much fun, especially with the books they read.  All kinds of stuff comes up.

Like last summer, I had a group that read Ellen Hopkins’s Crank , Jodi Piccoult’s The Pact,  and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. That group of girls dove head first into questions about suicide, teen pregnancy, drug use, and found themselves weighing questions like “Is it always good to keep a secret?” and “What kind of expectations do you feel other people set for you that weigh you down?” and even “Am I aware of how I treat other people?”  Fascinating stuff.

We have such fun with these groups.  Not only do we allow there to  be an element of fun (and good snacks) but deliberately disassociate with schools, so the kids never see the mentors as teachers. On top of that, none of the mentors ever know what their kids did to get there, so they don’t have to live under the burden of what we might think of their lapses in judgement.

There is also an element of service that gets brought into the mix.  Each group does a service project that corresponds to the book that the group chose.  The girls that read  Twilight went to work at a local blood bank.  A group that read Life of Pi  painted an amazing mural of jungle scenes on a clinic for occupational and physical therapy for kids.  See.  Isn’t Richard Parker so very cute?  The kids that read Kite Runner and Persepolis  volunteered with an organization that sent aid packets to refugees in Afghanistan.

Mostly, I want to know authors because I want to tell them about how their books are getting used.  I want to tell Suzanne Collins how kids who have been in trouble for fighting latched a hold of Katniss, and  learned about how to keep their temper and be wiser about their choices.  I want to tell Orson Scott Card that a 16 yr old boy who had given up on so much and hadn’t read a book in 3 years started Enders Game and hasn’t stopped since.  He’s your hugest proselytizer too, Orson, you would be amazed at how many people he’s convinced to read the series.  I wish I could show Jay Asher the anonymous encouragement cards the group made after reading Thirteen Reasons Why  and how they prowled the library sticking them in their favorite books for people to find.  I wish Jodi Picoult could hear a girl almost cry when she realized she could speak her mind and not be yelled at, when she questioned religion during the reading of Change of Heart. She had never been allowed to say she didn’t believe before, and by the time she was done with the group, she was open to faith that brings life.  Neil Gaiman, I bet you would have loved to be in on the conversation among the group that read your book, and enjoyed their trip to work at a graveyard, and think about legacy and life.  I wish you could all see what your books are doing.  Your imagination is changing lives.  I think you would get such a kick out of these kids.  Most of society would write them off.  Your writing helps them change course.

And it really is, you know.  We have an incredible success rate.  Our non-recidivism rate is very good, especially compared to kids who are just expected to do community service.  Beyond that, we have on going relationships with kids who now think they have different opportunities.  Many times they’ve seen that a different life is possible. Sometimes it just helps to get a different view of history, a different perspective, and you can get out of the mundane trajectory of your life.

You should check out our website, it’s in the process of getting upgraded, because recently we received funding by our county to be an official part of the Juvenile Justice System.

Couple quick stories I love from groups over the years.

The group that read Twilight was staunchly pro-Edward at the beginning, scarily, droolily pro-Edward.  After we had many conversations of the nature of love, brotherly, sexual, self, and sacrificial love, the group unanimously though he was a controlling ass, and cared about himself more than he cared about Bella, and that she was as co-dependent as they come.    The young teens that read Lord of the Flies had the unique opportunity to speak with a renowned cultural anthropologist, and went to a university to assist in a fetal pig dissection.   (Big shudder to most of us, but three low-income forgotten teen boys thought they had died and gone to heaven).  I’ve ended up with some ongoing mentorships due to this program, and one girl I worked with was removed from her home just after her group was done.  She had never thought she was smart enough to graduate, and as she began to change in the group, she began to dream. I was so happy to celebrate her graduation two years later.

So someone tell John Green that Looking for Alaska changed the lives of some awesome teens, and Paolo Baciagalupi that we can’t pronounce his name but Shipbreaker inspired some great conversations about loyalty, family, and sacrifice between some inner city teen boys, and J.K. Rowlings that without Harry Potter  this whole program would never have been dreamed up, and tell Christopher Paul Curtis that Bud not Buddy helped a kid on the fast track to gang life imagine a different possibility.  Tell them to keep writing.  Tell them to keep imagining. Tell them to be my friend, because I will tell them this all the time, and then bug them to donate books to Reading for Life.  Or maybe put the decal on the back of their cars. Or maybe make them wear a reading for life T-shirt.   Or….

Also my sincere apologies.  I was just typing away at this post, when it posted up on WP like multiple times.  Sorry if you got notified frequently, or got an incomplete version of the post.

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Two more, and a bonus

Although I am not as voracious a reader as Kelly, I finished two more books, on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Back in the day I used to watch "Politically Incorrect". Even though a good fifty percent (or more) of the time I didn't agree with him, I loved the discussion, and differences of oppinion. I also thought it was a crock the way he got drummed off the air after 9/11.  I tend to really agree with his assessment of political things and (gasp) gay marriage. That being said this book was horrid.  Mostly it was him enjoying hearing himself talk-albeit in print.  Basically it was every way in which Bill's way was better than everyone elses way. I'm sorry Bill.  It isn't. You haven't solved everything. Mostly you sound like a crotchety old man yelling at the damn kids to get off your lawn. 2/3's of the time you weren't even funny. Get over yourself.  Other people have valid points of view. You're not the only one.  I was really glad when this was done!

Then, while I was finishing getting my room in order I read this book.
It was very good.  There were many times when it reminded me of the Giver, by Lois Lowry, but not in a plageristic sort of way. They were both set in these "everything is grand" types of places, even when the cracks were starting to show.  It's the story of two 12 year old's, Lina and Doon, who figure out that thier city, Ember, is dying.  And no one knows how to fix it. It's running out of supplies and the generator is not working, and outside is just darkness….true darkness.  Lina and Doon puzzle through cryptic messages and clues, and change their destinies and that of the City as well.  I enjoyed it, and it was well worth the read.  I'm for darn sure going to read the rest in the series.

The bonus is that while I was listening to this I was also getting my room finished. Unpacking the last of the stuff, nailing things on the wall.  In the process

I took a picture of one of my favorite groupings.  I'm a person that for some reason just likes to gather things that pique my interest and then display them.  This display contains a framing of my favorite fortune from a chineese restaruan "You are doomed to be happy in wedlock"  We'll see if it's full of crap or not.

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Reading frenzy.

So I have another 3 to add to the list.
My fun light reading:

It is no secret that I'm a Buffy fan.  Buffy afficionado…if you will [1]. I've even subscribed to a delivery of the Buffy season 8 (in comic book form) so that I can have continued exposure to new things from the Buffy-verse.  So it was fun to pick up this compilation of comics from my library.  Basically it's a tale told of Buffy's early years, as she is easininto the life of a slayer.  There is a bonus tale of Dawn and a teddy bear.  Easy reading, fun, nothing strenuous or vital to Buffy lore, but I enjoyed it none the less.  Didn't help my longing for a good young female lead.  Buffy is, hmm, a tad impetuous, and Dawn…well let's just say she's not my favorite person on a good day.

Ok, so that's the lightness done, but the fun remains.  Dark fun! Mmwahahaha!
Started with this book:    Great Fun!  I will definitely be looking out for more

by this guy. This book was witty and engaging, and I enjoyed the characters.  In this book a downtrodden woman of the masses, always trying to be what every one else wanted is suddenly turned into a vampire.  Jodi copes better than most, ditching the stupid live in boyfriend and hooking up with Tommy, a grocery store clerk fresh from Indiana.  The two do many experiments on how to be vampire, make many mistakes, and all the time try and dodge the traps set for them by Jodi's elusive sire.
What a fun romp through San Francisco this was.  Jody and Tommy have lots to learn, and inventive ways of learning it.  The Animals are quite the breed unto themselves, and I much enjoyed every encounter with The Emperor….a homless man with two dogs, Lazarus and Bummer…or quite possibly the protector of the city, and ruler.  This is a book to enjoy, though not by the reader I heard on by CD.  She was a little obnoxious at times. 
I learned a lot, however, about somethings I would rather not, like what night crews at Safeway stores get up too, and which Turkey's are best for bowling, and the step by step process of bronzing living things.  Still these may prove useful. You never know.

The last book I read was  Sam Noir:
This book was a Literary and Visual

Mishmash of a Graphic Novel, but in a good way.  In the tale of all classic Film Noir detective stories a Dame walks into Sams office and immediately he's smitten by her gracious gesture, pretty cries for help, and those Fabulous Gams. When she is killed in front of him, Sam goes for revenge.  The quirk is that Sam is a Samauri.  This book was enjoyable in large part due to the seamless way it fused both worlds.  There wasn't cognitive dissonance like I would have expeceted, but rather a well crafted fusion of two cultures. 

The artwork was also a treat.  The use of color (or lack there of) was just beautiful.  The Shading, the movement, and action of the pictures really created both the dark word of detection, and the delicate beauty of the samauri culture.  The characters were good, and the turns of phrases were also fun.  I can't wait to read the next volume.  I highly recommend it, if you like the graphic novel world.

1. Oblique Jon Stewart reference.

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I did a lot of reading over the last few weeks, and now is the reckoning.
I Started off with this book:  Chuck Palahniuk can't be happy to save his life.

Diary: A Novel
Chuck Palahniuk

That being said, this was a gripping book. Written as a diary of a woman who's husband is in a coma after an attempted suicide, it is written to tell him of her life now that he's brain dead.  Palahniuk does his homework.  Not only does he make you believe the story, he throws in all the details that make it visceral.  The muscles of the face and how they work, Misty's sagging breasts, the odd and unique costume jewelry.  The sardonic weather forcasts were also an especially nice touch.  However the book does divert a bit from the diary format and it drove me nuts.  Also Palahniuk's penchant for repeating sentences.  It was really annoying.  This books twist, and the end of Misty May were really interesting, and I found it fascinating. I was also on the south side of depressed when I was done.  I needed something more enjoyable.

That is when I attempted this book:

It was singularly Useless!  I'm a pop culture person.  I giggle when people use "frack" in conversation.  I give Joss Whedon a mental high five everytime someone says "jealous much?".  I am the pop culture guru of all my friends.  But even I found this self agrandizing book too much.  Really, listening to the author go on for almost an hour on 'the Real World', the MTV 'reality' show, was way too much for me.  I resolved to give it more time, and one day I rode back and forth to work while Klosterman went on and on on the relative merits of Billy Joel.  It wasn't even funny, or sardonic.  It was just a man who thinks his opinions are the wittiest and most insightful ever.  He just likes to see his words in print.  He could have used a better editor, and, truthfully, someone to tell him that he's really just a pompous windbag who should try and accomplish something real in his life.  Therefore I decided that even the abridged version that I had on CD was too much  of a waste of my time.  So I took it back to the library.

I decided that I'm going to read this book to make up for Klosterman's nonsense:

I haven't started it yet, beyond the first page.  It is already brilliant.  This is the inscription.

"The author would like to thank the French government for introducing the thrity-five-hour week and giving him time to do more interesting things on a Friday afternoon than work. Merci"

The book is by a British Ex-pat who is working for a French company in Paris for a year.  It looks very fascinating.  I'm very much looking forward to this read. It should purge the uslessness of pop culture ruminations that Klosterman came up with.

I have also read Prepared for Rage, the latest book by Dana Stabenow.  I have been a long time fan of Stabenow.  I enjoy her Kate Shugak books, and the Liam Campbell series, and her stand alones also keep my attention.  This is second in a series of loosely connected books that invlove terroism and the Coast Guard.  I appreciate that the Coast Guard is getting it's day in the sun.  They face a lot of the issues that are at the forefront of all the so called 'war on terror'. This book involves a plot to shoot down the Space Shuttle. Stabenow does a great job weaving a story, and creating characters. She is an excellent researcher, and storyteller, but this isn't her best work.  While it is still good, the books she writes best are the ones set in Alaska, and I long for her to go home again and write from there.  The high seas, and terrorism are intersting, but I miss the lyricism of the previous books. 
I also read the first in the Sookie Stackhouse Vampire mysteries: True Blood.

I had accidentally read the second in the series first, so I went back, now that season 1 of the HBO show based on it was done.   I enjoyed the book a lot, but prefered book two better.  This book had a lot more focus on sexuality, and less on the mystery, and I didn't like it as much.  It felt too kinky, which is odd since I love the TV show which has it all over the book in the kinky department. 
I did actually, like the book though, and probably will continue the series as it is a good diversion.  I think the books have a much lighter nature than the book, and I enjoy Sookies voice that come through.  I'll follow her and Vampire Bill Compton for a while.

I also read the latest Alexander McCall Smith story

"The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday."I enjoyed very much the latest installment of Isabel Dolhousie and her antics as a philosopher, mother, lover, and amature sleuth.  Again Mccall Smith has done an outstanding job of creating characters and exploring the situations they find themselves in.  He was excellent at keeping characters true, rather than altering them to fit the story line.  I'm enjoying seing Isable and Jamie's relationship progress, and how she and Cat are trying to keep going. In the midst of it all she tries to get to the bottom of Marcus McCrief's shame. I enjoy these books much, but know they are not for everyone, as there is a lot of philosophical ramblings.  Everything becomes a moral, ethical, or philosophical question.  It was enjoyable, and a welcome diversion.  It made me want to go back and Visit Edinborough.
The last book that I'm reading is Writing in the Dust. 

A very interesting theological response to September 11 by Rowan Williams, Arch Bishop of Canterbury, who was near the Twin Towers on that Fateful day in September.  He really explores the question of God in the midst of all of this horror and pain.  He talks about suddenly realizing that God is not the deity of easy platitudes who fits our agenda's.  He talks about the reality of forgivness and the messiness of facing into this place of pain, and try to understand why.  He ask where we go from here?  How do we make a way from devisation that is not panic or dangerously retalitory. An excellent, thoughtful, gracious book.  A quick read, but with a lot to absorb.

So that is the list.  It was diverse and interesting (mostly). It puts me over my 50 in 365 quite handily.  I'm also re-reading the twilight series for the group I lead, and Persepolis for book club.

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Disclaimer:  These things are not necessarily in chronological order
My brother cross-dressed for his church panto…"Peter Pan and the Pirates of the Caribbean"  He was the cook.  Check him out.

Apparently the good looks run in the family.

So my mom came to visit…it was good.  It wore me out.  We went to Wisc. to visit her extended family. We went to my cousin's house (itching to vent but it will only make me look petty) and hung out with his kids. I'll spare you the story of how I got chastised for not giving my mother grandkids.

KL, B, and MumB, Mum, and meAunt Chris, B, and MumBekki, and KL and Maddi

Mom is now using a cane to get around.  That kinda  killed me.  I mean every downhill turn she takes comes all at once for me not gradually, as it would if I was there.

I finished Norms sweater, and mailed it off.  It had a hiccup.  I followed the pattern to a t, and found that the sleeves looked really tight, so I knitted a strip to go up the middle of the sleeve, and added it in.  His response?  He called me and asked how I got it to fit so perfectly.  I'll post a pic of him in it when he sends it to me.

Other knitting projects?  Cousins kid got a sweater and hat, Lily got a hooded cape jacket, and her sister to be has one almost done.
Yet to be finished, the jacket and dress for Zion, and the fingerless gloves I'm knitting myself.

Christmas…mostly good.  My sister Beth scored in amazing ways.  She got me some Swarovski Crystal Tie necklaces ( i collect ties, and love jewelry)  She got me a little miss compendium book, a great bag for my knitting, and a collection of classic books on cd (Frankenstein, Middlemarch, Crime and Punishment, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, and more.  10 IN ALL)   She rocks!
Mum got me a $100 gift card to Starbuck's. It made me so happy as I'd cut them out of my budget in order to save more money.

Ok  Random Facts:
I spent more than 6 hrs on this web site http://www.chihuly.com
Here is a taste of what you will see

Atlantis moonChihuly gold paintbrushesAtlantis ChandelierKew ChandelierChihuly at KewGlass Grass at KewSun at Kew Gardensfireworks of glass in indy

This mans artistry is amazing.  But morbid though it is….I want to know how he lost his eye.

I've been reading a lot of Jasper Fforde in my car

. Very amusing.
Plus I've been starting to read the third Dallas Willard book in book club.

I'm very excited….I love Dallas Willard.

Other books accomplished?  3 of the Jane Austin mysteries, Persuasion, The big Over Easy, Sourcery and the Wyrd Sisterd (Terry Pratchett), The Kite Runner, Become Jane Austin, Leonard Sweets book 'Summoned to Lead', a re-read of Velvet Elvis, The Black Dossier, and the Miraculous journey of Edward Tulane.  In the works at the moment, besides the Willard and Fforde books, The Uglies, and several graphic novels/comic books, and Stardust

I'm working my way back through 3 seasons of Veronica Mars….(my friend B is now a new recruit, though she told me off for making her love a show that had Paris Hilton as a guest star.  We both needed mental enema's after that). 
I saw, and loved, Sweeny Todd.
My birthday is in a month.  I'll be 35.
Good lord I'm old.
I'm working like a crazy person, training another newbie, and trying to settle into life again now that the holidays are done.  Maybe, after a few more months pass, I can put in a photo collage of our trip to see Tori Amos in Milwaukee.

Oh and the baby rant I had a few posts ago…yeah I'm going to have to go ahead and expand that.  In 12 months there will be 12 new babies in my circle of acquaintance.  OUCH.

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