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I’m back! Plus, a (very) mini-review

3 Jan
Well, four months later and I’ve returned to blogland. Let me tell you, having a baby really takes it out of you. What a complete and total turnaround of your life, your time, your energy…I’m still adjusting. However, I’m finally feeling like I can read some books and venture out into the blogosphere again to see what the rest of the world is up to. How I’ve missed it all! So get ready for me to post some more reviews and share some thoughts as this new year gets rolling!

son of the shadows_juliet marillierAs far as my reading goes, there hasn’t been much of it, unfortunately. Endless feedings and lack of sleep have made me more receptive to reruns of Hoarders than to reading, but I’m getting back into it. I did just finish the second book in Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series, Son of the Shadows. Honestly, why is she such a fantastic writer? She’s the kind of author that could make the back of a cereal box mysterious and moody. It’s been about a year since I read the first in the series, Daughter of the Forest, which is brilliant and lovely, and I instantly was catapulted into Marillier’s world of fairy tale retellings, strong heroines, and beautiful atmosphere. Seriously, if you love fairy tales or well-written fantasy, try this series.

Where I’ve been…

12 Sep

Hello all,

I just wanted to post a quick note explaining my absence these past couple weeks, and excusing myself for the upcoming few weeks as well. My baby finally arrived in early September! It was a bit of a surprise as he came three weeks early, but we’re all doing well and I’m trying my best to adjust to new mommyhood. I’ll be back soonish, as soon as I have time to focus on anything other than feeding, sleeping, burping, and poop. 🙂

Sunday reflections

3 Jun

I thought I wanted to write another review today, since I still have a small stack of finished books waiting for me on my nightstand (this is my procrastination tip, because I am inherently very, very lazy: if I move those books out of my way, into, say, a bookshelf where they belong, I will NEVER write them up. Out of sight, out of mind, and all that. So there they sit, staring at me until I write up reviews for them, after which they can go to their new home on my bookshelf). But alas, I am tired and slightly cranky from hormones and Sunday shopping.

I HATE to shop, especially now that my pregnancy takes a physical toll on me. How can one person be so tired from simply driving to two stores (although one was that behemoth Target, so maybe that counts as 1.5) and doing some Sunday shopping? Sometimes my legs feel like they are actually filled with water balloons or lead, something heavy that prevents me from moving quickly or efficiently. Ugh, and everyone was so annoying with their big carts, all standing in my way. So I came home, ate a ginormous salad with garlic bread, and am now feeling much more content. But I also don’t want to do anything that requires more brain cells than perusing my favorite blogs, so I’ll just give a little update on what to expect on here in the next week or so.

  • Review of Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. Waldman writes both fiction and nonfiction, but it was her controversial essay about marriage and motherhood that landed her in the hot seat – she even went on Oprah to defend herself. In her essay, she made the comment that she loved her husband more than her children, and as you can imagine, she was crucified by many, many people, mostly women. I was interested in what she meant by her statement (no context is ever given when that line is quoted), and I was attracted by her reputation as a writer who frequently addresses the overwhelming expectations of motherhood. I’m just getting my feet wet with this whole motherhood thing, but I have to admit I’m a little ambivalent so far toward the whole  attachment parenting thing, and Waldman seemed like a good place to start when exploring some other perspectives on parenting.
  • Review of Tinker by Wen Spencer. Finished this a week or two ago, really loved it at first, got a little frustrated toward the end. I’ll hash that out in a review coming up.
  • Review of Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James. Picked this up on a whim while at the paperback bookstore, since I remember that I’ve read and liked another of James’ books in the past. She writes contemporary romance, which is a newer subgenre for me, since I like the ol’ historical ones usually
  • Review of Follow My Lead by Kate Noble. I’m reading this one right now. Features a beta hero (not my usual forte, but it’s fun to switch it up). Noble is a newer historical romance author, and she’s very, very good. I read a lot of reviews of her work when she released Summer of You a while back and was adored by all the romance bloggers. She’s definitely a must-read author.

 

So that’s what’s coming up on the blog, barring any surprises. I will leave you with a video I saw this morning on Buzzfeed. People, prepare yourself for some tears – if this doesn’t make your heart melt, you are a robot made of bitterness and canker sores.

On rereading, or “I can’t believe it sucked the second time around”

27 May

Oh man, I’m so disappointed. Don’t you have a secret stash of books in your head, an imaginary stack of books that rocked you, that you loved and remember with warm, fuzzy feelings? I like to dip back into my secret stash from time to time; I’m a huge proponent of rereading. My husband is always bemused by my tendency to rewatch my favorite movies and reread books – his own philosophy is to constantly seek out new experiences, and that’s what allows him to grow. But for me, so much comes from insight, from rolling over ideas in my head and looking for something new to mine. There’s a reason why a book appeals to me, and I like to come back to that reason and let it keep giving me something. But…oh, there’s a heartbreak in coming back to a book sometimes and it’s just…ugh. Less than. Not as good. Flat.

Obviously, the book stayed the same. It’s me that changed, and it just breaks my heart when I don’t find the same enjoyment and experience I did the first time around. This just happened to me when I tried to reread James Clavell’s Shogun. Oh my God, I LOVED this book when I first read it around age nineteen. It was so exotic, and the first time I had ventured into Japan in my imagination. I loved all the ritual, the tradition, the beauty in small things. I was really in the mood to fall headlong into another culture like that again, so I picked it up and…yick. This Blackthorne guy is a total turd. How did I miss that? And the violence! I got as far as one of Blackthorne’s crew being boiled alive and just said no. But it wasn’t just the plot and characters – Clavell’s writing itself fell flat for me. There was a ton of telling, not showing; all of a sudden, I’d be transported to one of the character’s point of view, and this character would end up having a VERY lengthy, not-so-realistic conversation with him/herself about the long history between characters, motivations, etc. I get it, it’s hard to write an epic and introduce so much history, but jeez. I felt like I was sitting through a clumsy exercise in How to Write a Historical Epic 101.

[Sidenote: my husband just reminded me about the time we rewatched Goonies, which we both loved as kids, and were just so turned off. Those kids were annoying.]

I guess at nineteen, this hit the right spot for me, but my tastes and pet peeves have clearly altered. Such a disappointment – I feel like I have to retire Shogun from that “favorites” list in my head. Still, I’ll never forget the exhilaration of reading it for the first time, and how it kickstarted my interest in Japan (only to be further cemented by Sophia Coppola’s move Lost in Translation, which is fantastic and quiet and beautiful). Maybe I’ll reread Pride and Prejudice to re-cement my belief in the pleasures of rereading.

Recap of the plagiarism debacle, a fun link, and upcoming reviews

1 May
Man, I’m kind of glad I was down for the count with moving the last couple weeks because I completely missed the plagiarism scandal in the YA blogosphere. Eeks, I’m not sure if I’m imagining this or not, but I feel like 2012 has had more than its share of bloggy nastiness so far. Apparently, back in January of this year, a very prominent YA blogger plagiarized a few fashion blogs and, after slight rewriting, posted their work as her own. At the end of April, the identity of this blogger was made public on the blogosphere, and A LOT of hootenanny has gone down discussing the whys/wherefores/whodunnits of the situation.

I’m really reluctant to go into too much detail with this, since I don’t love confrontation and other bloggers have discussed it with far more thoughtfulness than I would, but I think I will link to a couple of posts that explain what went down, and leave you to explore the situation as you will. What I do wish is that we could pare down the nastiness. I’m not here to rant on somebody else’s behavior (I do that very well in the privacy of my head), and I’m pretty sure the offending blogger is being punished enough via the public comments and humiliation of being caught. But the back-and-forth blame game that is being acted out in many posts’ comments is just…not nice. Am I totally emotionally naive for not wanting to participate in that? I just feel like life is hard and book blogging, both writing and reading posts, is supposed to be fun and a respite from the stress of my daily life, not an extension of it. I don’t know, I’m probably being very Mary Sue about the whole thing, but it’s worth a look if you’re interested. For an excellent general recap, read Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ Plagiarism and the Story Siren. And for a really nuanced and well-written discussion of the fallout of the scandal, read Read, React, Review’s My Three Cents on the Story Siren Plagiarism Case. These two blogs offer an intelligent and concise recap of what went down.

Ugh, so that was unpleasant, but it was on my mind. Now that I’ve exorcised that stuff, how about something lighter? I found this article via Buzzfeed. Mental Floss wrote up 19 Fun Facts About Children’s Books and I learned some new tidbits. Like, did you know that Chris Farley was the original voice for Shrek? Or that Jan and Stan Berenstain wrote a sex education book for kids?

Soon, very soon if I can stop being such a lazy ass, I’m going to write up some reviews for Patricia Briggs’ Steal the Dragon and Moon Called, and another book that I’ve finished but I can’t recall the name of (not promising, is it?). Oh, and I’m reading Jo Walton’s Among Others right now, and am loving it, so that’s on the horizon as well.

Small hiatus

13 Apr

Though it may seem like I’ve dropped off the end of the earth for the next week or so, I haven’t – I’m just moving. I have a backlog of books to review and some stories to tell, but my brain has fully depleted its creative juices. Seems contractors and packing and logistics, combined with some pregnancy hormones, make my brain feel like a withered, empty husk. So I’m taking a wee break while we move and get settled, and I’ll be back guns blazing and ready to go!

Until then, my dears, have a fabulous week!

Monday bits and bobs

5 Mar
I work with a woman who says the most charming exclamations, like “oh fiddlesticks!” or “dribs and drabs”. Obviously, working with her for a long time has led to me adopting some of her sayings, like “bits and bobs”. I don’t know, it just makes me laugh. So here’s my little hodgepodge of what’s going on in my reading world this lovely Monday. (It’s not really lovely, but maybe if I say it is, it will become true? Think positive!)

Moving soon

Oh lordy, we are moving once again. Truly, moving house is one my very least favorite things to do. I like to be settled. Grounded. In one place. The past few years, we’ve been moving yearly and it’s taken its toll. But, the reason I mention this now is that I realize I have to contemplate moving my books once again. Is there a way of doing this without breaking my back? I’ve never been able to master the ancient art of packing boxes smartly.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

I just started the lovely Briar Rose, written by YA novelist extraordinaire Jane Yolen. I feel certain that I’ve read her works before, but upon seeing her GIANT list of works on her website, I decided to just believe myself rather than wade through them all. 🙂 Briar Rose is part of an adult series of fairy tale retellings edited by Terry Windling. I’ve attempted Tam Lin by Pamela Dean twice and have yet to get hooked, but I’m hoping that this one will be the right fit for me. I adore fairy tales, and Yolen’s idea to use the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale to communicate the horror of the Holocaust sounds brilliant. In fact, it reminds me a little bit of Maus by Art Spiegelman, which I read in high school and really opened my mind to different ways of telling a story. Both books use alternate methods of narration and metaphor to tell the story of the Holocaust.