Monday, July 30, 2007

Great Books!

I've been on a spurt of great books lately. You will have seen them over there on the right hand sidebar, in my Librarything widget, but I feel I need to tell you more about them. I feel this so strongly, that I've even written most of this post twice. Because apparently just letting Blogger autosave your message doesn't keep it in draft form. I guess you actually have to save it to save it. I wrote about most of these books on Saturday before I left work, and the message is gone! All this to say, these books are so great, I'll tell you about them twice.

My list is in reverse chronological order, so the first one I read back in Dallas, and the last one, I just put down this morning.

  • The Last Summer of You and Me, by Ann Brashares -- This is the first grown up novel from the lady who wrote "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" books. Ann did a great job of getting readers inside the heads of her characters, and though I would have been even more impressed if she didn't take the easy way out of the love triangle she'd so carefully built, I still loved the story. Very well done.
  • Dedication, by Emma McLaughlin and some one else -- The same two ladies who wrote "The Nanny Diaries." I loved this book, partly for the plot, who doesn't love a story where a girl with a life long obsession with a boy finally gets to be with him? But more than that, I loved the references to being a teen in the late 80's early 90's. These ladies had me at "Salon Selectives."
  • The Amelia Books, by Marissa Moss -- Amelia is a grade school kid, she's an author, an artist, and bless her, an avid journal keeper. Moss has created a series of notebooks with Amelia's thoughts and her drawings, and they are funny and intelligent. And somehow Moss dumps a life lesson in each one without sounding obvious. I want to be like Amelia when I grow up.
  • Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan -- Both of these authors have written other young adult books that I've really loved. The book alternates between Nick's perspective, all written by David, and Norah's all written by Rachel. I love stories with multiple points of view. And I love this story. One night, two people, and the sweetest edgy little love story you'll ever read. Warning, lots of profanity. But it's sweet.
  • A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb -- This is a story about a ghost haunting a high school English classroom. Y'all know I'm not much of a ghost story person, but this was touching and only barely spooky in a few small places. As the story opens, the ghost realizes that for the first time in 130 years, someone can actually see her. And, another bonus, this book totally did not end the way I thought it would.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling -- Plenty of hype around this book, last of a seven part series. I think I liked taking part in something like literary history almost more than I liked the book itself. But, all good things must end and all that. It was still a good read. And Hermione rocks. Obviously, I recommend this for folks who've read the others. For non-Harry Potter fans, I'll just add this to demonstrate the sweep of good books I've been reading.
  • The Uglies Trilogy, by Scott Westerfeld -- I checked out this series after seeing the wait list for it at the library. And because it has a pretty cover. In a future version of the world, everyone gets an operation when they turn 16 that makes them stunningly gorgeous. Of course, as it turns out, it also makes you a bit slow witted. Rats. I've read Uglies and Pretties, and I'm waiting anxiously for my turn with the last volume, "Specials."
  • The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron -- This is the Newberry winner that raised such a fuss 'cause it has the word "scrotum" on the first page. Somehow I managed to overlook that travesty and enjoy this book heartily. I'd recommend it in audio format, especially, since the reader does such a good job. Lucky reminds me a bit of Ramona, and her friends are quite likeable. The residents of Hard Pan, CA remind me of the characters you'd find in a Barbara Kingsolver novel.
  • Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke -- Okay, I'm cheating with this one, because I'm not even halfway through it, but it's wonderful. It's Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets that artist I like, Michael Parkes. It's about a girl who's father is a bookbinder who has the unfortunate gift of bringing people and things out of books just by reading them aloud. And you really, really should listen to it as an audio book. Lynn Redgrave does a splendid job of reading this story. It has one of my new all time favorite characters, Meggie's aunt Eleanor, who is wonderful. She's like Farmer Maggot telling off the Black Riders. That's another thing I love about this book. When Meggie is leaving her home, she suspects for a long time, she packs up only her most-favoritist books ever. One of them is the Lord of the Rings. You have to like book characters who like your favorite books, don't you. I think this one will become an all-time life favorite. Though I've still got two and a half books to go.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Favorite Marathon and Tidal Waves

Ah, blog friends, I'm sorry that for the most part you live too far away to come to a movie marathon. But we did have a great one this last weekend. We started at 10 a.m., a little later than we intended, and it lasted until one in the morning. Sarah wins a prize for being the only guest to make it through all three movies, but both Lisa and N.S.L. arrived not far into The Two Towers.

It had been SO LONG since I'd seen the movies. Even little bits of the movies. I mean, at one point, I was watching some part of the movies almost daily, and it had been probably close to 18 months since I'd seen any of them. There was stuff in there I felt like I'd never seen before. Lines that seemed completely new. AND, this time through, there was the bonus of being able to say "We were THERE!" when we saw familiar bits of New Zealand.

Oh, and we had good food!! Gina stopped by and dropped off HOMEMADE donuts! Donuts, the traditional food of Bastille Day of course. Nathan and I had made homemade ice cream. There were Toll House cookie bars. I made an enchilada casserole. We had dips and chips and salsa. Sooooo much good food.

The best part though was the thoughtful discussion that came up. The Teos had some great questions about Middle Earth. "So, if orcs are descended from elves, are they also immortal?" or "If Gandalf is somewhat super-human, a Maia, how come he couldn't kick Saruman's fesse in the first movie?" or "How would Aragorn and Arwen have kids, if they aren't the same race?" I mean, these are the questions of TRUE Tolkien dorks. Between Sarah and I and Nathan searching the Encyclopedia of Arda, we came up with the answers.

I've spent every free moment since watching the commentary on ROTK. I'd never watched it before. How is this possible, I ask you. Or if I'd watched it, I'd forgotten it. But there's a bit in there about the dream of the tidal wave that Faramir has in the book, and that Eowyn has in the movie. Turns out it was Tolkien himself who originally had the dream. I'd known this at one point, but forgotten it, so I got to have the "Whoa. That's so cool!" moment all over again. I remembered we'd had a great email exchange about this. I've also had tidal wave dreams in the past and found them oddly relevant. And there are some interesting allusions to tidal wave dreams in other things I've read. I'm including our previous conversations here, because I find us so interesting. This'll be long.

Ah, technology. I've used my Google webspace and put it all on it's own little page.

Two things:
1) I got so engrossed in this project that I forgot to go upstairs and tell the knitters that their Knitting Librarian was out sick today. Argh.
2) I'd forgotten that we used to use the fact that Jim took Greek as a general Trump Card of Geekiness. "Oh yeah? You think I just did something chart worthy? Well, you took Greek!" (Jean, kind of a "You like Keeler!" moment.) But you know what Jim? Jean also took Greek.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stephen King said it best

I don't get to say that very often. Read this great column by Stephen King about the end of Harry Potter, and the end of stories we love, generally. Funny, he doesn't mention the end of Gilmore Girls.