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3 Beautiful Things: Dinning Together, Time Off, & Power

  • We speak in soft words and through unfolding light in each other’s eyes. Of dreams and hopes and promises. The deep red Smoking Loon disappearing from our glasses, tainting our smiles with that same passionate red. We stumble laughing into the cold, late December night. Arms folding, circling, supporting. You lead me home to summer castles that will not fade into clouds.
  • Five days of serenity. No looming over my shoulder, no NOW, no MUST. Only licked clean kitty fur and fresh laundered fleece and the hum of a movie playing on the screen. And the perfect curve where your shoulder meets your chest – perfect to rest my head.
  • The wondrous buzz of power through my body after showering off time at the gym.

inspired by the blog three beautiful things

Books of 2010

How Many Books Read in 2010: Completed a total of 26 (this does not include the handful I started and stopped in disgust, or stopped with intentions of picking back up later).

Fiction/Non-Fiction Ratio: 22/4

Male/Female Authors: 11/13

Favorite Book Read: This is difficult. I read four books that really blew me away this year. I’d say it is a tie between The Book Thief and House of Leaves. They would be followed in no particular order by I Am The Messenger and In the Lake of the Woods.

Least Favorite: Well, not counting the ones I started and threw across the room without completing them…How To Write A Damn Good Novel, followed close behind by Beloved. The “how to” book was just terrible and I disagreed with a lot of the man’s opinions on writing, but it was a required read for my MA program.

Oldest Book Read: Tricky…John Keats’ letters to Fanny Brawne were written around 1819-1820, but Bright Star, a collection of his letters, was published in September 2009. The Book of Werewolves was originally published in 1865. I’m going to say Bright Star only because the letters are older than the werewolf book (although the werewolf accounts within that book date back much earlier).

Newest Book Read: Matched, pub. Nov 2010

Longest Book Title: How To Write A Damn Good Novel

Shortest Book Title: Room

How Many Re-Reads: Don’t think I have any for 2010, although I did re-read parts of Wuthering Heights.

Most Books by One Author This Year: Markus Zusak gets 2 and Tasha Alexander gets 2

Books in Translation: 1 – Beauty and Sadness

And How Many Books Were From the Library: Sadly, none. I need to get my library pin set up with my ereader. It’s so easy just to download books that I rarely make a trip to the book store or library, but I should start downloading library books. That will be a goal for 2011, to support my library again.

Best Book Published in 2010: The Passage

The 2010 List:

Matched, Ally Condie (pub. 2010)

Room, Emma Donoghue (pub. 2010)

Eat to Live, Joel Fuhrman

I Am The Messenger, Markus Zusak

Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender (pub. 2010)

The Passage, Justin Cronin (pub. 2010)

The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

Plainsong, Kent Haruf

How To Write A Damn Good Novel, James Frey

In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O’Brien

Beauty and Sadness, Yasunari Kawabata

House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater

A Poisoned Season, Tasha Alexander

And Only To Deceive, Tasha Alexander

Case Histories, Kate Atkinson

A Gathering of Old Men, Ernest Gaines

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Too Good to Be True, Kristan Higgins

The Book of Werewolves, Sabine Baring-Gould

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

Bright Star, John Keats

The Care and Taming of a Rogue, Suzanne Enoch

Matched: A Book Review

Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Genre: YA Fantasy

Awards: Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction 2010

Rating: 3 stars

Thoughts: After seeing this title pop up in book news around the web, I thought I’d check it out. Sadly, I needed a break from the rather slow going The Bards of Bone Plain (McKillip) and thought this would be a quick read. It was. Matched is your typical dystopian tale. Nothing new here, but it held my attention and I suspect some intelligence behind the writing. Here’s why: The words felt stilted at first, but as the character progressed in her knowledge of her world, particularly in poetry, the words became smoother, lovelier. That I would like to attribute to the author’s skill as a writer.

It is like The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and (tho to a lesser extent) The Hunger Games. But it was still an entertaining read. The world in Matched is well explained and I thought the author did a fine job of keeping the reader in that world throughout the story. There was nothing that broke the spell for me.

But there is something that still bothers me about the characters. I think boys are often too romanticized in YA books, giving young girl readers a misconception of the opposite sex and what real romance is all about. While I liked Ky and even Xander, they (particularly Ky) were not like any boy I knew growing up. I suppose you could argue that the world they live in grooms them to be “perfect” but it is a trend in YA books that is a little unsettling. Adult romance novels do this too. The men tend not to have real personalities, just mirrors of what the women want them to be. Maybe we’ll see Ky and Xander develop more in book two now that things are starting to change in their world.

Overall, I’m willing to bet that young female readers, particularly between the ages of 11 and 14, will enjoy this book without the bias of many older readers who have read its predecessors.

I’ll actually pick up book two (Crossed) when it comes out November 2011. I’m willing to give Condie a second chance at showing me what she’s got hidden in her ink well.

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Catmas 2010

It’s Catmas in the tabby cat household. Today they were surprised with a new tree that includes two different scratching posts and two open beds. They also received a slew of mice that Guinness didn’t want to share. He shoved three in his mouth and growled at anyone who came near him.

Scout claimed the tree top as his own.

Don't let the looks fool you - he really is a bully.

Sonny likes the scratching posts

Guinness gathering the mice

That's 3 mice in his mouth

Close up - hard to see, but I swear there's 3

3 Beautiful Things: Writers, Work Family, and Love in a Smile

  • Dinner with friends on a cool winter’s evening just before heading over to the JHU MA in Writing biannual thesis reading where we see many familiar faces for the last time. I ask my husband, “So, writers are a bunch of boring weirdos, huh?” He smiles and nods, “Yup.” Ah well, at least I seem to entertain him. 🙂
  • Running into an old coworker on a cold, wet night. I realize while chatting how much I miss my newsroom family. A lot of good people I could trust to have my back. A lot of fond memories.
  • The smell of spices and breakfast potatoes warm the room. My husband takes my hands in his, our fingers threaded. He softly presses me against the kitchen counter, smiles the most amazing smile and I know how deeply I am loved.

[I just want to add that writers are actually rather interesting weirdos (take that how you will). Boring happens when you get them in a room with an audience of nonwriters. They totally freeze up, pretend to be civil.]

Inspired by Three Beautiful Things, the blog.

Make Room for Room (Book Review)

Title: Room

Author: Emma Donoghue

Genre: Fiction/Literature

Awards: NYT Top 10 Books of 2010

Rating: 4 1/2

Thoughts: What captured my attention immediately with Room was the voice of the five-year-old narrator.  Donoghue had me completely enchanted with this boy and his story.  Jack has always lived in Room with his mom. He is completely unaware that there is a world beyond Room that is real.  He doesn’t understand that they are captives. I found myself giggling, cooing, and crying over this book. It was well written and the first person, five-year-old perspective was beautifully consistent. Highly recommended to anyone interested in a fast read and a feel-good story (albeit uncomfortable at moments because of the subject matter). Make room for Room on your book shelf (or ereader).