Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Writing

My uncle is Stephen King. THE Stephen King, you ask? Of course! THE Stephen King who writes books? Oh. No, not that one. The one who lives in Oregon.

This book by the author Stephen King (not my uncle, as clarified before) gets a 5 out of 5. Beautifully, truthfully written. And thats the point, isn't it? To write our truth as vividly as possible so people get a glipse into a life? You can write beautifully about a terrible story, and I realized that is what King does in his novels. This memoir gave me a picture of that.

It made me self conscious for a few minutes-- am I a bad writer? A compement one? Do I make Shakespeare look like a chapter book or Danielle Steel look like a genius? Honestly, I don't know yet. And it doesn't matter, because I'm not there yet. These posts are SFDs (Shitty First Drafts, thank you Anne Lamott) and what King would call "writing with the door closed". My door is both physically and metaphorically open, because it gets damn hot with it closed, and because people can read my first drafts, but I'm cool with it. Eventually I'll edit and see what we come up with, but for now, enjoy the spelling errors and occasional bad grammar.

Is it ok to have a crush on Stephen King? I'm realizing that every book I fall in love with, I end up falling in love with the author too. I don't know if I'm ready for Carrie or The Shining, but I do want to read some of his fiction. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Prince (Sons of Encouragement)

Another book in the Sons of Encouragement series done! You know, while I am glad I have read this books, I'm not proud to include all of them in my challenge. Yes, they are quality fiction by a well known author, but they are, well... short.

I guess I feel like a terrible person for reading a novella when I should be reading literature or longer memoirs, but enough of that.

This is a book from the perspective of Jonathan, Saul's son and David's best friend. It was pretty interesting to see things from his perspective-- I guess I hadn't really thought about him being as caught in the middle of a battle that wasn't his (between his father and David).

Well, expect a longer, more vivacious book with a ravishing review tomorrow my dear readers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


As I was reading Pnin today I realized how greatly under read I am in Russian literature. I think the extent of my exposure is this novel, a sci-fi book based in a fantasy world with Russian tendencies (The Winds of Khalakova- which is also worth a read) and the tiny mice in the children's movie Babe who peep "Crime and Punishment teeheeeheee" at the beginning of one of the movie's "chapters".

Does this make me a horrible person? Probably. Or at least a vastly undercultured bibliophile. Oh well. Most of Tolstoy's and Dostoevsky's work is too long for this year.

But Pnin fit the bill. It was a captivating, succinct, endearing and bittersweet. At first glance, I felt a patronizing pity for Pnin, but as I got to know him through the book and watched his character develop I was very endeared to him, and while he had his faults, was a full character, and indeed a worthy protagonist.

So if you have been interested in reading some Russian lit but wake up with night sweats after nightmares about reading the tome of War and Peace, give this a go!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hello, Bento!

Today's book is a... you guessed it... cook book! As I have been asking people for recommendations a fair amount of people of the female persuasion told me that they mostly read cook books, so I decided to give it a go.

Unless you're reading a biography of Colin Firth, its hard to find non-fiction that makes you salivate. But just reading through the ingredients and the narrative about the final creations almost made me jump on a bus to the nearest store, purchase all the needed ingredients and release my inner Julia Childs.

Even though I did not, in fact, stuff my face with bento goodness, I am really excited to experiment more with Asian cuisine (my wonderful neighbor Hee Sook offered to help) and make cute lunches for the hubs. And for those of you who have not experienced bento boxes, the actually definition of one is "a meal packed in a box". So even if you just shove an apple and a spam sandwich into your child's lunch box, you are, in fact, a bento maker.

And now, just for fun- pictures of Bento boxes!

 Courtesy of News & Nonsense and Live Journal Bento Challenge


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Einstein the Lazy Kitty (and Melody the Lazy Reader)

Feel free to laugh, blog friends, but today's book is about a lazy, lazy kitty who sleep everywhere and never plays with her poor distressed owner.

Ok, today's book is kind of a joke. But at least it's an ENTIRE book! It's been a long week at work, so my level of reading comprehension (and speed) diminishes drastically. Hence, Einstein the lazy kitty and lazy, lazy Melody.

But it did get me thinking about children's books and how influential they are in helping children comprehend big ideas like love, bed time, first days of school, even loss. There are books out there for everything!

One day a few years ago I was playing with my nephew and all we had to play with was an apple and and a drawing of a snail, and Scary Apple was created. My first idea for a title is "Scary Apple and the Snails' Potty Party" which is how Scary Apple (who is not so scary at all, in fact) runs into a bunch of snails who are having a party at a potty (potty training) and since Scary Apple has never been to a potty party before, the snails show him how to P-A-R-T-Y!!! Gertrude is the princess of the snails and occasionally slips into spoonerisms when she gets excited.

What ideas do you have for childrens' books? What was your favorite growing up?

The Warrior

Today has been a long, full day. After work and dinner, my poor lonely house-husband wanted to get out and do something fun, so I agreed to go watch a movie at 10pm. I imbibed superfluous amounts of Coke so I would stay awake, and I think I'm still feeling it now. We watched Men in Black 3- which was surprisingly good! But really, even if it was bad I would have loved it-- I have a secret crush on Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords, who plays Boris the Animal, the villain in the movie. I guess my crush isn't a secret anymore, since I've just told the whole internets. (I think Jared secretly has a man crush on him too.)

But about my book! I read The Warrior by Francine Rivers, the second in the Sons of Encouragement Series. (Side note: I first typed "Spoons of Encouragement". I feel like that book would have gone in a slightly different direction than Sons of Encouragement).  It was a book from the point of view of Caleb during the Old Testament exodus, leading up to the capture of Canaan, the promised land. Even though all of River's books are fiction, this one was less believable than others. Don't get me wrong, Caleb is a stud, but the background my picture of him. But only 195 tiny pages, so its worth reading to experience the author's perspective of the story.

Since I've had so much Coke, I've spent the last 15 minutes trying to come up with a storyline for the "Spoons of Encouragement" series. No luck yet. I think there's a reason I typically go to bed by 11.

Another thing that I typically do is take off my pants when I'm tired.

I'm tired.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Priest (Sons of Encouragement #1)

Today I read The Priest by Francine Rivers, which is the first book in the Sons of Encouragement series. Before I talk about this books specifically, just a general shout out to Francine- her books are great. She paints biblical characters as people! Which, you know, is what they are! So often I read the bible and just read the stories as vague stories, not stopping to think about the people in the stories: their thoughts, feelings, and the fact that they were HUMAN and SINNERS! Just because they were in the bible doesn't mean that they were perfect, it just means God chose to use them.

While The Priest wasn't my favorite book by Francine Rivers, it gives us insight into the world and mind of Aaron- the elder brother of Moses. How would you feel if your younger brother was chosen by God for something great? That he lived in a palace while you were a slave? While Aaron's attitude was kinda whiny at times, it was a not often portrayed view point and therefore very enjoyable.

On a side note about today: if you are going to go to Starbucks to blog, be prepared to wait for a table to open up. And if you decide you don't want to wait, bring your computer cord so that you can plug in your dead computer. And if you don't bring your cord, be sure that you have a library account. And if you don't have a library account, be sure that you try to get one on a day that the library computer systems are working. That being said, I'm back at home blogging in my office. On a more positive note- my husband and I bought curtains for our living room today!

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm back!

Well, I'm back! It's been over two months since I've blogged (yikes) which means that I've read over 80 books, and that sadly, you have not been able to hear anything about them. So hopefully I'll be able to do a quick review of the last two months and we can get up to speed :)

Firstly, the reason I haven't been blogging is because we moved! We packed all of our belongings into a 6x7x8 storage cube (my husband is a master packer) and shipped off to California! We love it here. Such a diverse environment, gracious neighbors and friends and PALM TREES OUT OUR WINDOW!!!

Here are a few highlights of the past two months (in no particular order)

1. Fitting everything we own into a 6x7x8 ft storage cube. Seriously, hubs has mad skills.

2. Walking around our new town. We LOVE PASADENA! The city hall, beautiful palm trees, and exploring houses used in movies.

The Pasadena City Hall

One of the houses used in Father of the Bride

View from the roof of one of my favorite libraries. 

3. Celeb stalking sightings

 So when Chris Hemsworth first walked in to the coffee shop that my husband and I were at in Santa Monica I turned and thought "that is a tiny baby" and after a second glance I realized that no, the baby was normal sized, but THOR was holding her! Such a cute family. And i felt that we were finally initiated into SoCal- isn't celeb sighting what its all about? :)

4. My new job! I was able to track down a job within two weeks of us moving here, which is very helpful financially. It's similar to what I was doing before (working in Residential Life at a college), but this time with grad students and more office based. But still great fun! I get to plan a retreat, work with like minded folks, and enjoy free breakfast every Friday.

5. Fresh produce. THE. BEST. EVER. Seriously- I keep posting pictures on Instagram of all my my great finds, and I'm sure my followers just *love* the #foodpics. Oh look! I found one :) All of this for $5.50! I'm in heaven. Strangely though, no starfruit! My husband is saddened- its his favorite fruit!

6. Entering sweepstakes! I've been a sweepstakes entering machine for the past 3 weeks- and so far have won 4 books (a great win considering I'm reading a book a day) and $15 worth of laundry detergent. Start small, win big! I'm currently hoping for a Soda Stream... those things will change your life!

7. Okay, this isn't a highlight, but its the only culture shock that we've really experienced so far: we cannot find kings sized sheets anywhere! And believe me, we've looked. California King is everywhere, which, considering our location makes sense, but its still strange that we can't find them anywhere! Any tips, Cali residents?

8. Coffee art. And lavender breve lattes. swoon.

9. New friends. From playing games to having free haircut days to having people over, we have loved our new community.

10. And of course... the books I've read! I have enjoyed (most) every book, and am still enjoying this challenge!


I read this entire book on either on the bus or waiting for the bus. It's definitely an adjustment not having a car (my husband and I sold our car before we moved out to SoCal), but it is very freeing not having to pay attention to traffic. However, you still need to pay attention to where your stop is.

Waiting on a bus is never fun, but when you have a book, it makes the wait much more bearable. This book definitely improved my attitude-- it was a gem of a find from an author I hadn't heard of before-- but the name and the cover drew me in. Plus, I needed me some YA fiction.

There are a few other books with the same title, but this stands apart in theme. Without spoiling the book, there is an interesting amount of chaos magic, which is pretty fascinating. The protagonist is a teen-aged girl who blossoms through the conflict into this coming of age fantasy novel.

It was a very quick read, and although there wasn't much depth in the story, the characters were pretty well formed.

Give it a whirl!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Maus I and II

I'm not typically one to read graphic novels, but I really wanted to branch out into different genres during this challenge and I had only heard good things about Maus so I decided to try them out, and I am very glad I did. There is so much depth to these books and the graphics only add to the story. I think so often I forget that we as humans are visual beings, and think that the only way to glean "serious" knowledge from a book is by reading words, and not by absorbing image. I can be pretty "judgy" sometimes, and I definitely pay for it by not experiencing all that I could.

I urge you to read this book. Not only is the metaphor phenomenal, but its a true story about an Auschwitz survivor and his tumultuous relationship with his son (who is the author). Here's a glimpse of what it's like: