Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saying Goodbye

When I get where I'm going
on the far side of the sky.
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly.

I'm gonna land beside a lion,
and run my fingers through his mane.
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles,
I have carried all these years.
And I'll leave my heart wide open,
I will love and have no fear.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Don't cry for me down here.

I'm gonna walk with my grandaddy,
and he'll match me step for step,
and I'll tell him how I missed him,
every minute since he left.
Then I'll hug his neck.

So much pain and so much darkness,
in this world we stumble through.
All these questions, I can't answer,
so much work to do.

But when I get where I'm going,
and I see my Maker's face.
I'll stand forever in the light,
of His amazing grace.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.
I will love and have no fear.
When I get where I'm going.
Yeah when I get where I'm going.

8/26/09 - Grandma and Grandpa finally reunited - thanks for being the best Grandma a girl could ever have.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review - Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall

Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall

published 8/09
319 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Olivia Harker Cross owns a strip of mountain in Pope County, Kentucky, a land where whites and blacks eke out a living in separate, tattered kingdoms and where silver-faced wolves howl in the night. But someone is killing the wolves of Big Foley Mountain–and Olivia is beginning to realize how much of her own bitter history she’s never understood: Her mother’s madness, building toward a fiery crescendo. Her daughter’s flight to California, leaving her to raise Will’m, her beloved grandson. And most of all, her town’s fear, for Olivia has real and dangerous enemies.

Now this proud, lonely woman will face her mother and daughter, her neighbors and the wolf hunters of Big Foley Mountain. And when she does, she’ll ignite a conflict that will embroil an entire community–and change her own life in the most astonishing of ways.

My thoughts:

This book was poised to be on my list of favorites for the year. It has great writing, a fantastic protagonist, and a heart-wrenching narrative. And then the last 7 chapters happened.

I've seen a couple of reviews that liken Sweeping Up Glass to the beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird. I can understand the comparison - the plucky young girl and her beloved father, no maternal figure, the segregated south during the Depression, the fight between justice and evil. But if this is Scout, it is a very grown-up, world weary Scout, who has certainly seen more of life than when we last encountered her. Olivia has spent her life working for her very survival, and she has the strength and wits to prove it. She's haunted by the death of her father, and the craziness of her mother, and she has cobbled together a sort of family that she loves and protects fiercely. She was a completely fascinating character, and her voice was the strength that held the story together.

"With Will'm beside me, I drive the pickup six miles to the graveyard. There'll be a crowd, and Miz Grace Harris will go into the earth knowing she's loved. She knew who she was. I, on the other hand, know who I am when I'm selling vanilla and cardamom, or baking a brown sugar cake with Will'm. When I'm with Love Alice, I'm sure and strong. But something happens when I'm alone. When there are no other eyes to reflect my own, a great doubt blindsides me, and in those moments I wonder if I'm here at all."

Like much contemporary, literary fiction, this novel is often sad, and sometimes brutal. Evilness and death are companions to these characters, and they deal with both the best ways they know how. It wasn't always easy reading, but Wall is able to keep her story filled with just enough hope - just enough laughter - that even when it was somber, it wasn't depressing.

"I sigh and feed the last two with the eyedropper Dooby gave me, and tuck them back into their box. I carry their brother and a big cooking spoon out to the rise, bury him next to his ma'am and say a prayer in Will'm's name. I mark the place with a stick. It's an extravagant funeral for so small a thing. But all living things do not feel about their ma'ams the way I do. In fact, maybe this one missed his so much, he went off to be with her. That's what I'll tell Will'm when he comes home, that it's dying was a loving thing."

The only complaint I had with the novel was that, for some reason, the last 7 chapters suddenly changed from engrossing literary fiction to what felt like a mystery/thriller. There had been hints of the mystery throughout the novel, but suddenly at the very end the author charged into a fast-paced, near-fatal action squence that seemed a bit out character with the rest of the novel. It didn't ruin the book for me, but I didn't feel that the ending fit with the rest of the story.

In general, however, I loved this book. Olivia is a fantastic heroine, and the story was beautifully told. I will definitely be looking for more work by this author!

Finished: 8/21/09
Source: the publisher
Rating: 8/10

Friday, August 21, 2009

BBAW Blues

I was nominated for 5 awards - yep, that's right FIVE! - for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Wow!!

Speaking of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, have I mentioned I'm helping out? Yeah, I might have possibly taken on a BIT more than I can ever realistically accomplish - honestly, I haven't spent this much time in front of the computer since college. Yikes.

So I'm doing something I haven't done since I started this blog - I'm taking a few days off. Hopefully, this avalanche of activity will be over sometime next week - or at least a little bit more manageable - and then I will be back to my regularly scheduled programming.

See you soon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Thanks to everyone who commented - I get to choose THREE winners!!

After putting everyone's names in a hat, and randomly drawing out three entries, I am happy to announce that the winners are:




I'm sending you all emails - Congratulations!!!

Thursday Tunes

Thursday Tunes is a weekly event hosted by S. Krishna, devoted to sharing the music we love.

S. Krishna usually features a new artist each week - just to be different, I'm going to focus on a specific song, because it's the song that hooks me. There are very few artists whose entire body of work is in my MP3 player, but I have thousands of songs I love.

I mentioned last week that I come from a very musical family. Three of my cousins have participated in the Land of Lakes Choirboys, a chorus program that trains boys starting at a very young age, teaching them not only music, but manners, respect, honesty, social skills, etc. It's a very cool thing. This video is from one of their summer tours - I'm not sure if this is the particular choir that my cousin Isaac is currently a member of (that could be him with the very blonde hair directly to the left of the accompanist), but you get the general idea. They're pretty good!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Nonfiction Files

The Nonfiction Files is a weekly journal of my adventures reading my toppling piles of nonfiction books. I won't be posting reviews, but rather my thoughts about what I'm reading, while I'm reading it.

My current read: Stalin's Children by Owen Matthews.

Synopsis from publisher:

On a midsummer day in 1937, a black car pulled up to a house in Chernigov, in the heart of the Ukraine. Boris Bibikov-Owen Matthews's grandfather-kissed his wife and two young daughters good-bye and disappeared inside the car. His family never saw him again. His wife would soon vanish as well, leaving Lyudmila and Lenina alone to drift across the vast Russian landscape during World War II . Separated as the Germans advanced in 1941, they were miraculously reunited against all odds at the war's end.

Some twenty-five years later, in the early 1960s, Mervyn Matthews-Owen's father-followed a lifelong passion for Russia and moved to Moscow to work for the British embassy. He fell in and out with the KGB, and despite having fallen in love with Lyudmila, he was summarily deported. For the next six years, Mervyn worked day and night to get Lyudmila out of Russia, and when he finally succeeded, they married.

Decades on from these events, Owen Matthews-then a young journalist himself in Russia-came upon his grandfather's KGB file recording his "progress from life to death at the hands of Stalin's secret police." Excited by its revelations, he has pieced together the tangled and dramatic threads of his family's past and present, making sense of the magnetic pull that has drawn him back to his mother's homeland. Stalin's Children is an indelible portrait of Russia over seven decades and an unforgettable memoir about how we struggle to define ourselves in opposition to our ancestry only to find ourselves aligning with it.

My thoughts:

The first part of this book has been a terrifying account of what happened to the author's family during Stalin's purges and the start of WWII. Matthews' grandfather, a Party loyalist, ends up on the wrong side of the Stalin/Trotsky power struggle and is forced to sign a false confession of treason, leading to his execution. His grandmother is then arrested, and his mother and aunt (ages 4 and 12) sent to prison, and then an orphanage. They are separated at during the German invasion of Russia, and both live lives of incredible deprivation until, miraculously, they are reunited at ages 10 and 18.

Much of the women's stories has been wrapped up in the evils perpetrated on the Russian people by Stalin and his party in the 1930s and 40s. The systematic starvation of the peasant population and the turning of neighbor upon neighbor was the backdrop to these girls' lives. I can't imagine growing up where such fear and uncertainty was the norm. It's no wonder the two girls bore the scars of this early nightmare for the rest of their lives.

"Solzhenitsyn once posed the same, terrible question. 'If my life had turned out differently, might I myself not have become just such an executioner? If only it was so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good from evil cuts through the heart of every human being...' It is easier to imagine that such acts are committed by monsters, men whose minds had been brutalized by the horrors of war and collectivization. But the fact is that ordinary, decent men and women, full of humanistic ideals and worthy principles, were ready to justify and even participate in the massacre of their fellows."

Once again, I am completely captivated by this story. I often read comments from people who say they don't enjoy nonfiction - I think perhaps they just haven't found the right stories. This book, to me, is just as compelling as any piece of fiction I might read, and the opportunity to learn is immense. If you don't think you like nonfiction, I urge you to give a story like this one a try. I think you might be surprised at how engrossed you find yourself!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review - The Boomer Burden by Julie Hall

The Boomer Burden: Dealing with your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff by Julie Hall

published 2008
225 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

With fascinating stories and comprehensive checklists, professional estate liquidator Julie Hall walks Baby Boomers through the often painful challenge of dividing the wealth and property of their parents' lifetime accumulation of stuff. From preparation while the parent is still living through compassionately helping them empty the family home, The Estate Lady® gives invaluable tips on negotiating the inevitable disputes, avoiding exploitation from scam artists, and eventually closing the chapter of their lives in a way that preserves relationships and maximizes value of assets.

My thoughts:

Since both of my parents are starting to think about what to do with THEIR parents' stuff, this book seemed highly appropriate. It's written in a conversational style, making it a quick and easy read, with highlighted boxes and checklists scattered throughout to make sure readers catch the most important information. Much of what was in the book seemed like common sense to me - have a will, don't fight over possessions, try to encourage your parents to dispose of things before they die, etc. - but I know that common sense advice is often easier said than done, so seeing it explained step-by-step is probably helpful.

It was shocking to me to read Hall's stories of families splintering into fights and lawsuits over who gets what, but I'm sure it does happen. I can't imagine that happening in either my mom's or dad's families, and I'm pretty sure it won't happen between myself and my siblings either - I guess I just can't imagine stuff being that important. However, I'm sure most families think that right before the lawsuits start, so Hall's tips on how to divide things equally, to avoid conflict and hurt feelings, make sense in the context of what she's seen.

The section I felt most helpful personally was her extremely logical method of clearing out a house. Starting in the attic and working down, Hall gives method and advice on how to best clear out each room, and it really made a lot of sense. I think that is the thought that is the most daunting to me, and I appreciate this reference from someone who has obviously done the job many times before.

I think for a lot of people this will be an extremely helpful book. I felt that I already had a basic understanding of much of the information, but her specific tips on the hows and whys will potentially be very useful. I think this would be a great tool for anyone who is contemplating the liquidation of an estate - its a quick read, but the information is practical and will probably save a great deal of time and stress.

Finished: 8/16/09
Source: the author
Rating: 7/10

Monday, August 17, 2009

BBAW meme

We are just about 1 month away from Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2009. YAY!

If you haven't nominated your favorite blog for consideration - too late! Nominations closed Saturday. Right now, blogs are being alerted to the fact that they have been nominated, and are being asked to supply specific information for consideration by the panel. Soon, the panels will have selected their shortlist, and it will be time for YOU to participate once again - by voting for the winners of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2009.

To get us into the spirit, BBAW has a meme for those who participated last year, as well as questions for those who didn't get to participate. I was aware of the event last year, but unexpected outside forces kept me from really participating, so I'm going to answer the newbie questions.

1 - What has been one of the highlights of blogging for you?

It has been such a pleasure meeting so many wonderful bloggers and authors - I can't believe how kind and generous everyone has been. It's also been a lot of fun being able to share my opinions on what I'm reading, and getting such thoughtful feedback from so many people. I still can't believe there is anyone who actually read this! (Except my mom - Mom, I know you read me every day, and I love you for it!)

2 - What blogger has helped you out with your blog by answering questions, linking to you, or inspiring you?

Beth Fish Reads and Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? helped my early on with some wonderful, practical HTML advice, as well as a tutorial on how to make those nifty little buttons everyone uses.

Literary Feline, My Friend Amy, and Medieval Bookworm were some of the first bloggers to comment on my blog - and stop back regularly - making me feel like I was really a part of the community.

Tripping Toward Lucidity was what made me want to start my own blog in the first place - I've been reading Andi since long before I had a blog of my own, and even though I'll probably never be as cool as she is, I felt like I wanted to try this blogging thing out thanks to her.

3 - What one question do you have about BBAW that someone who participated last year could answer?

Am I going to have to quit my job to keep up with all the new blogs I'm going to discover?? =)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

TSS - Review - Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy

Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy
published 6/03
272 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Set in California, Liars and Saints follows four generations of the Catholic Santerre family from World War II to the present, as they navigate a succession of life-altering events -- through the submerged emotion of the fifties, the recklessness and excess of the sixties and seventies, and the reckonings of the eighties and nineties. In a family driven by jealousy and propriety as much as by love, an unspoken tradition of deceit is passed from generation to generation, and fiercely protected secrets gradually drive the Santerres apart. When tragedy shatters their precarious domestic lives, it takes astonishing courage and compassion to bring them back together.

My thoughts:

This was my Random Book selection for Jenners' Take a Change Challenge. It was not, unfortunately, a big hit for me.

The novel had a feeling of detachment, which I can only assume was purposeful on the author's part, but it really kept me from feeling any sort of concern for any of the characters. Additionally, I didn't really like any of them - they just seemed spoiled and whiny. And there was a specific storyline that I really didn't care for that wrapped up the novel, making me anxious to be done.

I don't think it was horrible - I could appreciate that it was well written, and there were moments that were funny and heartwarming. But overall, it is not a novel I would recommend, or an author I would look for in the future. Perhaps the biggest problem was that it was the first book I read after The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I loved - it probably never really had a chance.

Finished: 8/13/09
Source: Franklin Avenue Libary
Rating: 5/10

This book counts toward:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Movie Review - The Band's Visit

The Band's Visit (2007)


The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra has been invited from Egypt to Petah Tikvah, Israel to play at the opening of an Arabic cultural center. However, when one of the band's members mistakes their destination, they wind up in BETAH Tikvah, where they are not at all expected. Dina, a restaurant owner, takes pity on them and finds lodging for all 8 men for the night. Over the course of the next 24 hours, the band and the town get to know one another, as they wait for someone to figure out where the band is supposed to be.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this movie. It is not loud or flashy - I don't think there is a single special effect in the whole film - but I was engrossed from beginning to end. Often, instead of dialogue the actors would communicate simply with facial expressions, or body language, and their simple movements were able to convey as much as entire solliloquies. Parts of the movie were hysterical - the entire scene at the roller skating rink was laugh-out-loud funny - but the humor was subtle, in keeping with the tone of the film.

There was also a strain of lonliness that ran throughout, giving the movie a bittersweet feel that was never overplayed. And, of course, the love of music that, as Tewfiq says, is as essential as a man's soul. There was so much to love in this quiet, simple movie - I highly recommend it!

This counts toward:

Orbis Terrarum Film Mini-Challenge - Israel

Friday, August 14, 2009

451 Fridays

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

Today I am thrilled to welcome Cathy, AKA Connie, from one of my favorite new blogs of the year, Constance Reader's Guide to Throwing Books with Great Force. She's only been blogging since April, but she's already one of the blogs I check first in my Google Reader. Her reviews are smart and funny, and she's not afraid to say it when a book goes wrong. AND she dedicated a review to me - yep, that's right, you can read it here. If you don't read her blog, you need to get the over there now! Cathy, welcome!

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved, and why?

This is an incredibly difficult question. I love all books, good and bad, and picking only five is like something out of Styron. Do I pick the ones I'd want to read, or the ones I feel would do most good to future generations? And in this particular exercise: Do I pick the ones that will impress you guys, and make you think I'm sparkling and witty and charming and well-read? (I'm none of those things, except occasionally, I sparkle. Like Edward Cullen.)

Can we just stipulate, though, that you all will try to think of me that way, so I can give my real choices?

1. Anne of Green Gables, by LM Montgomery: I can't imagine being without Anne, and I can't imagine future generations of girls growing up without Anne, so this is a necessity. I read this book on my first night of college, when I was languishing from homesickness; when my grandmother died; in the hospital; all of these times, it has made me feel better. Love that scrappy red-head from PEI and her (mis)adventures.

2. The Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller: I'm not in love with Miller himself, or the loosely fictionalized version that exists in ToC, but in my opinion, he's the best prose writer ever. He uses the English language the way a musician uses quarter notes and time signatures, or a painter, paints. He's one of the very few writers that I would go so far as to call an artist: he gives us a mood, a setting, a feeling, of the Lost Generation and he does it as easily as breathing. A horrible, dirty, filthy, immoral, beautiful book.

3. We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. Shriver's story is about the aftermath of a school shooting, the factors that led up to it, and the idea that a parent's love for a child can be as varied as there are parents and children. It's a great read, perfectly written, and will serve as a cautionary tale to young hooligans in the post-Apocalyptic world. YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN.

4. We Were the Mulvaneys, by Joyce Carol Oates. The best stories, in my opinion, are the ones that show us how families are formed and operate, what brings them together, and what tears them apart. WWTM is symphonic, full of hurt and longing and joy, the best example of that that I can think of. Even including a certain work by Mr. Tolstoy.

5. The Courage of their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court by Peter Irons. As a general rule, I don't like nonfiction, but Irons's account of these landmark Supreme Court cases is full of the things that make works of fiction so great: pain, suffering, redemption, trial, triumph and loss.

Of those 5, which book would you choose to "become"?

The Courage of Their Convictions--if we're talking about ideas that need to be kept alive, this book is chock-full. You have these amazingly humble people, ordinary people, standing up to the machinery of government, throwing themselves under the wheels of it because they believe in an idea larger than themselves.

Each chapter in the book recounts one Supreme Court case dealing with Bill of Rights guarantees that have been denied certain groups of people. In each case, one person has come forward to try to secure those rights for themselves and the rest of us. You have conscientious objectors arguing for the right to remain peaceable during times of war, schoolteachers demanding the right to teach evolution, women who feel that they should be able to decide when and how to raise their families. African-Americans who just want to own property, or vote, or attend public school. In each instance, Irons has written an essay setting out the technicalities of the case, and then follows an essay by each of the plaintiffs, recounting their feelings about the ordeal, what prompted them to sue for their rights, and how they felt after the matter was settled. In many cases, they lost; in some cases, even decades later, these people feel betrayed by their government. In others, they are profoundly grateful. In yet others, they are befuddled at the importance others place on them. "I didn't do anything so great," they say. "I just wanted to be free to live my life."

I think these ideas deserve to live on. I think it's good for people to know that there are times when the individual can face down the behemoth of government and come out victorious. I think that people should know that it's important to fight for what you think is right, even if you know you won't win. To remember that government can't exist without the consent of the governed, that the people made the Constitution and that it lives only by their will; that underneath the laws and statutes there are common inalienable rights that are due all people, that can't be legislated away.

Do you have any favorite quotes from that book, so we know why you love it so much?

"We may be generations away from a shared vision about the things upon which we can build a harmonious, secure, and just future for all of humankind. But if we survive at all, it will come, I really believe. And I think it is fitting that the survival question must remain, for the time, unanswerable. If we knew for sure of an optimistic answer we might be tempted to sloth. If we knew for certain that disaster was inevitable, we would be paralyzed with despair. The fact that human survival is truly hanging in the balance keeps us striving. I can't conceive of a more enlivening and worthwhile thing to do with one's days than grapple with these great questions." -Daniel Seeger, a Quaker jailed during WWII for his conscientious objector status, United States v. Seeger.

Cathy, thanks so much for taking the time to share with us YOUR list of books which must be saved. I'm always looking for more participants - if you are interested, send me an email. I'd love to chat!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blog Tour and Review - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Hardcover publisher 7/08, paperback 5/09
304 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My thoughts:

This book was an absolute delight from start to finish. I've been reading rave reviews about it since last year, and I'll admit I didn't believe it could possibly be as good as everyone kept saying it was. Well, I'm here to tell you that I was wrong - it's that good.

Books written in letter form can be very hit-or-miss for me. Often I find myself drifting off while reading, because the letters just don't hold my attention. In this case, the I think the authors completely nailed it. Each character has a distinct voice, and I found myself looking forward to the next letter from Dawsey, or Isola, or Amelia. With each letter, I'd think I had found a new favorite character, until the next letter, and the next character, and I fell in love all over again. They felt like real people, and I wished I could meet them, and chat in real life.

"Spring is nearly here. I'm almost warm in my puddle of sunshine. And down the street - I'm not averting my eyes now - a man in a patched jumper is painting the door to his house sky blue. Two small boys, who have been walloping one another with sticks, are begging him to let them help. He is giving them a tiny brush apiece. So - perhaps there is an end to war."

I love novels that are able to tell a story about a specific period in history in a fresh way, and this book was a great example. I've read a LOT of books about WWII, but this is the first time I've read about the German occupation of the Channel Islands, and I was fascinated. The authors really brought the history to life, for me, with their "eyewitness" accounts of the occupation. I found myself alternately laughing and in tears as the Society told their stories of hardship and friendship.

"Would you like to know of my first sight of the Germans? I will use adjectives to make it more lively. I don't usually - I favor stark facts."

I truly loved this novel. I can't imagine it won't be on my list of favorites for the year. While it is about the war, it is ultimately about friendship, and making it through the hard times, and how reading can be a light in the darkest of times. If you haven't read it yet, go get it! It's a beautiful, beautiful book!

"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason that sheer enjoyment."

Finished: 8/11/09
Source: TLC Book Tours/publisher
Rating: 9/10

About the authors:

Annie Barrows is the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half. She lives in northern California.

Visit Annie’s website HERE.

Her aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer, who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.

Read an excerpt of the book HERE.

The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away UP TO FIVE copies of the book!! I will give away one copy for every 10 comments I recieve, up to FIVE copies!! So, tell your friends - the more entries I get, the more I can give away! To enter, leave a comment with your email address on this post. The contest will last until next Wednesday, August 19, and I will announce the winners on Thursday, August 20. Good luck!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Nonfiction Files

The Nonfiction Files is a weekly journal of my adventures reading my toppling piles of nonfiction books. I won't be posting reviews, but rather my thoughts about what I'm reading, while I'm reading it.

My current read is American Eve by Paula Uruburu. If you need to catch up, you can read my first post about this book here, my second post here, and my third post here.

Synopsis from publisher:

By the time of her sixteenth birthday in 1900, Evelyn Nesbit was known to millions as the most photographed woman of her era, an iconic figure who set the standard for female beauty, and whose innocent sexuality was used to sell everything from chocolates to perfume. Women wanted to be her. Men just wanted her. But when Evelyn’s life of fantasy became all too real and her insanely jealous millionaire husband, Harry K. Thaw, murdered her lover, New York City architect Stanford White, the most famous woman in the world became infamous as she found herself at the center of the “Crime of the Century” and a scandal that signaled the beginning of a national obsession with youth, beauty, celebrity, and sex.

My final thoughts:

This last section of the book covers Harry Thaw's murder of Stanny White, and the subsequent trials that Evelyn was forced to take part in. The author does a great job of explaining Thaw's misguided logic that prompted him to murder White and believe he could get away with it, and Evelyn's increasing feelings of fear and entrapment as she is forced to reveal to the public the secrets of her life that she had held close for so many years.

Predictably, Evelyn's mother was nowhere to be found again when her daughter needed her, and was eventually proven to have been feeding information to the prosecution to help convict Thaw. One of Evelyn's relatives said this about her mother: "She knew better. She also knew that she was sacrificing her child's soul for money by which to live without effort. She could have taken in washing or done a thousand other things that would not have placed her child in harm's way....Even a dumb brute would protect its young....She was the degenerate." I know I have returned again and again to Evelyn's mother, but I cannot help but imagine what Evelyn's life could have been like if the person whose job it was to protect her wouldn't have abandoned her. I can't help but think of other famous young women who have had spectacular, well-publicised breakdowns (Britney Spears comes to mind), and wonder how much her parents let her down in a similar way.

It was interesting to read about the frenzy of press this trial produced - again, I can't help but think of modern equivelents, and wonder about the advisability of allowing the press to pursue their subjects almost without restraint. Evelyn says, "It is a frightening experience to hear a thought to which you have never given words babbled aloud in the street....It sets you frantically anxious to attend, to contradict, to correct. Your little secret is everybody's secret now. It has gained in importance, has been twisted in detail until it is like nothing you ever knew." Sound anything like the tabloids of today? Once again, I have been amazed at how this story from 100 years ago parallels so much of our society today.

I found this book to be a fascinating read. The author is clearly a fan of Nesbit's - if you do a little research on the internet, you can find several accounts of the story that are not as kind to Evelyn. There were moments when I felt the narrative was a bit too overdone and sensationalistic - the prolific use of adjectives bothered me in the middle sections of the book. I was completely drawn in to the story, however, and felt so much sympathy for Evelyn and her plight. If you are looking to try some nonfiction and don't know where to start, I would definitely recommend giving this one a try. (And as an interesting aside, author L.M. Montgomery used a photograph of Nesbit as the model for her beloved heroine Anne in the Anne of Green Gables series.)

"The tragedy wasn't that Stanford White died, but that I lived."
-Evelyn Nesbit, 1934

Finished: 8/4/09
Source: Riverhead Books
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blog Tour and Review - The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall

The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall

published 8/11/09
341 pages

Summary from publisher:

Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose–or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

My thoughts:

I thought this was a lovely book. I have to admit I haven't read a great amount of Christian fiction in the past few years - it seemed like every book I picked up had the same 3 stock characters (nonbelieving or backslidden protagonist, christian love interest, earnest christian friend to bring the two together), and the christian characters were all so GOOD. They never had a bad thought, or negative moment, or bad day - just so GOOD. As a Christian, I just ended up feeling bad about myself, because I could never be that GOOD all the time. So I sorta wrote that genre off, and moved on.

The Hope of Refuge has, in its own way, a pretty similar version of those three stock characters. It does, however, have one major difference - the Christians feel REAL. Sometimes they are jealous, petty, unbelieving, disobedient - in short, they're like me. It was so refreshing to read about a group of believers who weren't perfect, but sometimes questioned the choices they had made, and the faith they had chosen. I really appreciated that about this novel.

They story itself wasn't especially groundbreaking or new. I think it follows a fairly standard romance narrative, and many of the plot points were predictable. But Woodsmall writes characters that I cared about, and even though I could guess what might happen next, I wanted to keep reading because she is a darn good storyteller. I enjoyed nearly every minute of reading this novel, and if I hadn't had other commitments in my day could have read it in one sitting.

When I was approached to do this blog tour, the publisher asked the question, "What's all the hubub about Amish fiction?" Basically, why are these types of novels selling by the millions across America? The ABC program Nightline did an interview with Cindy Woodsmall, where she attempts to answer that question - you can read it here if you are interested. My answer would be this - in a world where time seems to move faster every day, and the chances to spend time with the people and doing that things that really matter get fewer and fewer, it is comforting to read stories about a group who have chosen a different way. It is appealing to think that faith and family still means something to someone, somewhere. We all wish we could have that, even if we aren't willing to give up our lives to achieve it. But when we read these books, we can imagine, just for a little bit, that we belong to that type of community. And, for a little while, it's enough.

I plan to look for more work by this author, and hope the next book in this series comes out soon.

Finished: 8/9/09
Source: Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging for Books program
Rating: 8/10

Monday, August 10, 2009

Review - Gentle Infidel and Queen's Cross

Gentle Infidel by Lawrence Schoonover


In a turbulent and changing world where old orders are threatened by a new strength rising from the desert, a young warrior discovers a history he had long forgotten and must choose between two worlds.Lawrence Schoonover's powerful tale of religions and cultures challenging and testing each other on the world's greatest stage, for the highest stakes on earth.

Queen's Cross by Lawrence Schoonover


Accident, or Divine Plan? Castillian princess Isabella's unlikely inheritance of Spain's crown and her arranged marriage to a handsome, rash ally opens the door to her greatest dream: a united, powerful and enduring kingdom. This is Lawrence Schoonover's gripping and elegant story of intrigue, hard combat, and the love of a woman for her country, her religion, and her dynamic and flawed partner and husband.

My thoughts:

I received these novels from the author's grandson for review - he is currently reprinting all of his grandfather's historical fiction, first published in the 1950s, and is hoping to publish one per year until all 9 are back in print.

I thought the novels held up well for stories originally published over 50 years ago. There are times when they do feel a bit dated - mostly due to word choices that are not as common as they used to be - but both novels were rich with history and vivid characters, and I didn't ever have the feeling that I was reading a book that was "old". Rather, it felt almost comforting, and certainly wholesome in ways that contemporary novels don't achieve. Schoonover writes a good story, and I enjoyed his take on the historical events of the time.

Both novels dealt quite a bit with the politics and battles that occupied much of the characters' time, and I admit I struggled through some of those sections - I don't enjoy descriptions of war, or the planning of war, and have trouble with that in any book I read. However, Schoonover more than made up for it with his interesting explorations of religion, race, and male-female relations throughout both novels.

Of the two, I favored Queen's Cross - its strong female lead drew my attention immediately, and I fell in love with Isabella as the story progressed. She was a strange combination of powerful and submissive, which could be due to the 50s value system Schoonover was writing within. I also LOVED her friend Beatriz - not least because that was my name in Spanish class in high school. *grin* But I definitely enjoyed both books, and would recommend them as good, clean, entertaining reads with an interesting look at a turbulent period in history.

Finished: 7/09
Source: George Scott - Fountain City Publishing Company
Rating: Gentle Infidel - 7/10
Queen's Cross - 8/10

These books count toward:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

TSS - What I Did on my Summer Vacation

Ate - a lot! Lots of wonderful food, prepared by lots of family members. Even sushi!

Ancestor Tour - spent time with my Grandpa, and later my Dad, visiting the places my ancestors grew up, and where they are now buried.

Sang - any time someone asks where my musical talents come from, I cite my family. This is what we do when we get together - Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all singing together.

Babysat - for the cutest little niece on the planet! She discovered sand for the first time, and likes it.

Bought books!! Notice I didn't say READ books - I was too busy! But all in all, my family bought 30+ books this week - this is my cousin, Mark, with his haul. "We are a reading family."

It was a very busy, very fun week - I love my family! I already can't wait for next year!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Poe Fridays (on Saturday)

Since I was out of town last weekend, this week I have TWO Poe's to discuss - the poem, Bridal Ballad, and the short story, Mesmeric Revelation.

Bridal Ballad

The ring is on my hand,
And the wreath is on my brow;
Satins and jewels grand
Are all at my command,
And I am happy now.

And my lord he loves me well;
But, when first he breathed his vow,
I felt my bosom swell--
For the words rang as a knell,
And the voice seemed his who fell
In the battle down the dell,
And who is happy now.

But he spoke to reassure me,
And he kissed my pallid brow,
While a reverie came o'er me,
And to the churchyard bore me,
And I sighed to him before me,
Thinking him dead D'Elormie,
"Oh, I am happy now!"

And thus the words were spoken,
And thus the plighted vow,
And, though my faith be broken,
And, though my heart be broken,
Behold the golden token
That proves me happy now!

Would God I could awaken!
For I dream I know not how,
And my soul is sorely shaken
Lest an evil step be taken,--
Lest the dead who is forsaken
May not be happy now.

I found this to be quite a beautiful poem. The narrator (a woman!) is about to be married, but is not marrying her first love, who was killed in battle. She wants to be happy, but is afraid she will betray the memory of her first love, and will make his spirit unhappy. This is certainly a feeling I can understand, and I found the "voice" of the narrator to be quite lovely. I really enjoyed this one.

Mesmeric Revelation

(read the full text here)

Well. I think Poe was attempting to explain some of the tenets of early 19th century spiritualism. The narrator mesmerizes (hypnotizes) a man who is dying, and asks the man a bunch of questions. The dying man then says many things about God, ether, spirits, etc. I found it interesting from a historical perspective, but didn't really ENJOY reading it. It certainly wasn't a great story, but it was not a horrible read.

Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.

Friday, August 7, 2009

5 years ago today....

The way you say my name
The sound that your voice makes
The funny way you turn a phrase
Sounds like love to me

And when I feel alone
Your tender words they calm the storm
They are simple and yet so strong
And they sound like love to me

When you speak
It's like you know just what my heart needs
You words they bring healing to me
And help me to remember what is true
And I hear love when I am listening to you

I look into your eyes
Full of wonder and surprise
The care your gaze implies
Looks like love to me

You have seen me at my best
And wrapped up in my arrogance
You remain unimpressed
And it looks like love to me

And you see
Not what I am but what I can be
The way you look at life it is inspiring

And it helps me to remember what is true
And I see love, when I am looking at you

Every day I am amazed
That God would show His love for me this way
When you speak
It's like you know just what my heart needs
The way you look at life it is inspiring
And it helps me to remember what is true
That I hear love, when I am listening

And I see love, when I am looking
And I find love
With You

- With You, Geoff Moore

451 Fridays

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

Today I have not ONE, but TWO 451 lists for you - I'm thrilled to welcome Padfoot and Prongs, from the fabulous blog Good Books Inc. These two lovely ladies blog together, each sharing book reviews and other fun things. They are also designing a line of T-shirts based on famous books, and I can't WAIT to buy one! Welcome, Padfoot and Prongs!

Hey there folks! Padfoot and Prongs here from Good Books Inc, hope that you are having a wonderful literary Friday. We just wanted to thank Elizabeth for this opportunity; we are both excited and proud to participate in one of our favorite weeklies. This week we thought we would be a bit of rebels and come up with 2 lists for you! Hope you enjoy.

Padfoot’s List

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand- Well, what do expect...I had to since I gave it the title of "Best Book EVER." Not only is it a wonderful written novel, but it is also a material object that contains all the secrets to how I live my life. Clocking in at 1000+ pages, I cannot imagine life without this book, and if I had to choose one book to save, this would be it.

Her work was all she had or wanted. But there were times, like tonight, when she felt that sudden peculiar emptiness which was not emptiness but silence, not despair but immobility, as if nothing inside her was destroyed, but everything stood still. Then she felt the wish to find a moments joy outside, the wish to be held as a passive specter by some work or some sight of greatness. Not to make it she thought, but to accept, not to begin but to respond, not to create but to admire. "I need it to let me go on."

Paradise Lost by John Milton- When I first read Paradise Lost, I was taking a class strictly on John Milton, and well ,I hated it. The complexity of his words and poetry left my head aching. However once I got into Milton's writing more, I realized that this is one of the most beautifully written piece of work I've ever read. The complexity and anguish of Satan really makes the story. Without this book, life might not be quite as beautiful.

"What though the field be lost? All is not lost; the unconquerable will/ and study of revenge, immortal hate/ and courage never to submit or yield."

I Am America and So Can You! by Stephen Colbert- Seems like an odd choice, eh? Well you are wrong! This contains some of the most hilarious written word known to man. As always, Stephen Colbert brings his epic use of sarcasm to all new heights. I have read this book several times, and I am pretty sure I could read it for the rest of my life.

"A messy home sends a coded message to children: 'I'm not loveable. Otherwise, Mom would dust.'"

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein- this was one of my first "big" novels when I was a child. Ever since then it has had a profound effect on my reading habits; after the first reading, I was hooked, and made me want to read more and more

Gollum got into his little boat and shot off from the island. He paddled it with his large feet dangling over the side, but never a ripple did he make.

The Iliad by Homer- I have always been crazy about Greek mythology, so to me, The Iliad is one of the most important stories in the history of literature. The outrageous, childlike behavior of the Gods always keeps me coming back for more.

"Rage: Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage,

Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks

Incalculable pain pitched countless souls

Of heroes into Hades' dark,

And let their bodies rot as feasts

For dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was done.

Begin with the clash between Agamemnon--

The Greek Warlord--and godlike Achilles."

Prong’s List:

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Well I figured the kids would need something to read. Not only is this book an amazing children’s work, but it is also a story that adults should really read from time to time, to remember what it is like to be young.

“But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.”

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Well not to be cliché but this is one book that I would jump into any fire to save. Not only is the writing beautiful and smart, but it is powerful enough to spark great blog ideas such as this. Plus Ray Bradbury sent me a birthday card once and I will love him forever.

“Those who don't build must burn. It's as old as history and juvenile delinquents."

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – I know what you are thinking… every one in the future will think we are a bunch of nympho-loving pedophiles. While I hope this would not be the case, I choose this book because I think it is just pure poetry.

Lolita, light of my life fire of my loins my sin my soul. (I already have the entire first page memorized).

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – Not only one of the most life altering books ever committed to paper, hopefully the kind of ideas found in this book would help to prevent the possibility of ‘book burning’ in the future. Padfoot is better than me, I choose the non-1000 pager.

“I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom. To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.”

Different Seasons- Stephen King – Kind of cheating here since this is technically a collection of short stories. However Shawshank Redemption and The Body are my 2 favorite short stories of all time… EVER. If you have only seen the movies then you are truly missing out on some of the best writing out there.

"I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12 - Jesus, did anybody?”

As for the book we would become, (still rebels, we chose outside our respective lists) both Padfoot and Prongs were in complete agreement on their choice. We would become Harry Potter and The Sorceror’s Stone by J. K. Rowling in a heartbeat. For starters we already have half the book memorized. Plus, we would like to always remember that there is magic in literature, both in print and the possibilities that the books present. The Harry Potter series could not be a better example of the pure magic that can be gained from reading a good book. Happy Friday all.

Thank you both, so much, for taking time to share with us YOUR lists of books which must be saved. I'm always looking for new participants - send me an email if you are interested!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday Tunes

Thursday Tunes is a weekly event hosted by S. Krishna, devoted to sharing the music we love.

S. Krishna usually features a new artist each week - just to be different, I'm going to focus on a specific song, because it's the song that hooks me. There are very few artists whose entire body of work is in my MP3 player, but I have thousands of songs I love.

This song is in honor of having to go back to work. (pout.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Nonfiction Files

The Nonfiction Files is a weekly journal of my adventures reading my toppling piles of nonfiction books. I won't be posting reviews, but rather my thoughts about what I'm reading, while I'm reading it.

My current read is American Eve by Paula Uruburu. You can read my first post about this book here, and my second post here.

Synopsis from publisher:

By the time of her sixteenth birthday in 1900, Evelyn Nesbit was known to millions as the most photographed woman of her era, an iconic figure who set the standard for female beauty, and whose innocent sexuality was used to sell everything from chocolates to perfume. Women wanted to be her. Men just wanted her. But when Evelyn’s life of fantasy became all too real and her insanely jealous millionaire husband, Harry K. Thaw, murdered her lover, New York City architect Stanford White, the most famous woman in the world became infamous as she found herself at the center of the “Crime of the Century” and a scandal that signaled the beginning of a national obsession with youth, beauty, celebrity, and sex.

My thoughts so far:

This third section of the book was very difficult to read. Evelyn's relationship with "Stanny" is starting to wilt, and things take a definite downward turn. Her mother, unable to see Evelyn as anything but a paycheck, sabotages the only healthy, loving relationship Evelyn ever has - with then-struggling actor John Barrymore. And then Harry Thaw enters her life, and the situation (unbelievably) goes from bad to worse.

Thaw has been obsessed with Evelyn for some time, and begins pursuing her relentlessly. Her mother, true to form, basically abandons her on a trip abroad, and Harry viciously attacks Evelyn. Once home, Harry blames his abuse on "temporary insanity", and continues his suit. Evelyn, seeing her prospects drying up, eventually relents, and marries Harry.

This part of the book has just been a recounting of one abuse after another, both physical and emotional, that the people in Evelyn's life have perpetrated against her. Her short relationship with John Barrymore is the first time she seems to have found someone who truly loves her, but it is doomed from the beginning, as both her mother and Stanford White are bent on sabotaging it. When Thaw enters the picture, he seems to care for her with no ulterior motive, but it soon becomes clear that his hatred for White is a much more motivating force than his concern for Evelyn.

Evelyn said, "Some women have a conscience; some have a sense of self-preservation; they frequently exist together, but most often one does duty for the other." Her choice to marry Thaw was clearly the latter - having thoroughly ruined her reputation, Thaw ensured that she had no other choices. Evelyn's life is tragic because the people who should have cared for her abandoned her, and the people who didn't abandon her abused her trust and forced her into situations she never would have chosen for herself.

Next week I will finish up with this book, and it will almost be a relief - this has been an engrossing read, but Evelyn's story has been filled with so much sadness. I'll be ready for a change in tone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tube Talk - on hiatus

Just wanted to let you know that Tube Talk is going to be taking a little break for the next few weeks - due to the overwhelming amount of work Amy is putting into making the 2nd annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week a success, we have decided to postpone our discussions of Supernatural until mid-September, when BBAW has concluded. But don't worry! We'll be back soon - we can't just leave the Winchester brothers hanging! =)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Review - Written in Blood by Sheila Lowe

Written in Blood by Sheila Lowe

306 pages
published 09/08

Synopsis from publisher:

The widow of a rich, older man, Paige Sorensen is younger than—and hated by—her stepchildren. And they’re dead set on proving that she forged their father’s signature on his will, which left his entire estate, including the Sorensen Academy for Girls, to her. Claudia admits she’s intrigued by this real-life soap opera, and breaks her first rule: never get personally involved. But she’s grown attached to a troubled Sorensen student—and when disaster strikes, she’ll realize that reading between the lines can mean the difference between life and death…

My thoughts:

This book was a lot of fun. Lowe's heroine, Claudia Rose, is a handwriting analyst, which is something I've always been fascinated by, so I found those parts of the story to be incredibly interesting. Lowe is a professional graphologist as well as an author, and she uses her years in the business to make Claudia an interesting, well-rounded character. I found some of her secondary characters to be not quite as vividly drawn, but each was fleshed out enough to keep from feeling like a stereotype.

The mystery itself was fast paced and entertaining, and while I had several ideas about who the bad guy was, Lowe kept me guessing up until the end. This is the second book in what has the potential to be a great series, and I definitely plan to keep reading. The third book in the series, Dead Write, will be available August 4. I enjoyed reading this very much!

Finished: 8/2/09
Source - the author (Thank you!)
Rating: 8/10

Sunday, August 2, 2009

TSS - Monthly wrap-up

By now I should be back in Iowa, although quite possibly still not recovered from the car ride yesterday. I should be back to regular blogging activities in the next couple of days - I shudder to imagine my Google reader....

Here's what I read in July, minus the vacation reads - those will get their own post in a few days.

A Good House by Bonnie Burnard
- 50 year in the life of a small-town Canadian family, this was a quiet, introspective read. Rated 7/10. (My review of A Good House)

Exodus by Julie Bertagna
- YA sci-fi about the polar ice caps melting, and a young girl's quest to save her family. Interesting, but a bit heavy on the message. Rated 7/10. (My review of Exodus)

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
- fascinating novel about an autistic man pressured to "fix" himself. Highly recommended. Rated 9/10. (My review of The Speed of Dark)

Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson
- classic sci-fi romance, about a man who falls in love with a picture and travels back in time to meet the woman of his dreams. Rated 7/10. (My thoughts on Somewhere in Time)

Trap by Un-Tied Artists
- suspense thrilled about an American interpol agent trying to solve a series of arsons in Paris. Rated 7/10. (My review of Trap)

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
- fun women's fiction about a tv-cooking-show host trying to salvage her career, and "fix" her loved ones' lives. Very entertaining. Rated 8/10. (My review of Comfort Food)

Still Alice by Lisa Genova - honest, heartbreaking novel about a 50-year-old woman's diagnosis and descent into early onset Alzheimer's. Highly recommended. Rated 9/10. (My review of Still Alice)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My Month in Movies

"Film is one of the three universal languages. The other two: mathematics and music."

-Frank Capra

Sadly, it's time to say goodbye to this for another year....

Right now, I'm somewhere on the delightful 9-hour car ride home, potentially with some combination of 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and 8-month-old to distract on the way. Good times.

Since I don't know what Kristen has cooked up for Poe this week, I'll catch up with that in a few days, and instead, bring you a little summary of the movies I've digested this month.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
- This was beautifully filmed and acted, but something about it just didn't sit right with me. I didn't dislike it, exactly - I just couldn't ever quite bring myself to CARE about these people. I all seemed very detached, to me. The most emotion I felt was in the hospital scenes, with Caroline and her dying mother. But, it was certainly an interesting story.

Somewhere in Time (1980)
- interesting book/movie comparison - one of the few times I think the movie might actually do the book justice.

The Uninvited (2009) - why do I watch movies like this? I just wind up having creepy dreams for the next week.

Taken (2008) - Yikes! This movie had me on the edge of my seat - Liam Neeson was scarily wonderful as the father determined to find his daughter. And Hello! Ruby Demon from Supernatural - nice to see you again.