Friday I’m in Love – November 23, 2012

This week I’m loving…

*My friends, who graciously cooked us a delicious Thanksgiving dinner and let us hang out in their amazing apartment.

*That boy I love, and the second, mini-Thanksgiving we had for ourselves today at home.

*Black Friday sales, which allowed me to purchase 2 adorable Modcloth dresses, a new camera (so I will finally be able to post pictures!), and a Christmas surprise for the boy all while sitting on the couch in my PJs.

*Love Actually. My favorite way to kick off the holiday season!

*Best of the year lists, like the Kirkus list of the best children’s books of 2012.

*The fact that someone took the time to make this hilarious video. (Remember the “Jizz in My Pants” digital short from SNL? As if that wasn’t funny enough, someone went and made a Twilight mashup. PURE COMEDY GENIUS I TELL YOU!)

*This amazing wood sign, made by Miss Kaelah:

J+J stands for Jeff and Jessica, and 2008 is the year we got together. Isn’t it perfect?!

What are you loving lately?

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My random weekend: Chatty old ladies, impromptu wine tasting, Abraham Lincoln and mermaids

This weekend I…

Drove around trying to find a place to get a flu shot. Ended up at Target (surprise surprise!).

While poking around the clothing section, I made eye contact with an old lady who proceeded to talk to me for 20 minutes. Notice that I don’t use the word “conversation” which would imply 2  people talking to each other. This was more me nodding along as she told me about her childhood and 9 brothers and sisters, and then she criticized the sweater I was buying for being too expensive. There is something about my face that seems to prompt complete strangers to tell me their life stories…(did I ever write about the time a woman spent half an hour telling me about her life-threatening corn allergy at the library?)

Once I managed to extricate myself from the situation and pay for my supposedly overpriced sweater, I walked across the street to the liquor store to pick up some wine for Thanksgiving. They were having some kind of wine tasting in the back of the store, and the owner saw me browsing and invited me over and offered me some free wine! Was the universe rewarding me for patiently listening to that old woman? I like to think so.

That night we went to see Lincoln. Jeff is a huge American history buff and has been looking forward to this for AGES. When we got to the theater there was a HUGE line winding through the lobby. Obviously it was for Twilight, right? WRONG! It was for Lincoln! There is hope for America yet folks.

Yesterday I baked pumpkin spice cookies and finished reading Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel–a gorgeous graphic novel about a sailor that falls for a  mermaid. It was beautiful and complex (so much so that I had to read the ending twice because I was so confused…and I still don’t quite get what happened. Have any of you read it?). I was sold when I read the blurb on the cover that promised erotically charged drawings. Check it out:

Gorgeous, right?  I highly recommend this book.

Anyway, hope you all had a lovely weekend as well!

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October Reading Recap

Wow….I totally forgot that I hadn’t written about my October books yet! I didn’t read as much in October because The Diviners took me foreeeeeever so I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet.

1. The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

This book was SO FREAKING GOOD. So good, that I know whatever I say about it will not do it justice. But I must spread the gospel of awesome books so here’s a little bit about it:

Blue Sargent comes from a family of psychics. Her own power is a bit different though–she’s not really psychic, but her presence helps magnify the abilities of other psychics. So every year on St. Mark’s Eve, she goes with her mother to a churchyard where her mother is able to see every person in town who will die within the year. Blue never sees the spirits herself, but this year, a boy appears and speaks to her directly.

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at the local private school, Aglionby. The students there are known as “The Raven Boys” and though Blue has always avoided them, she’s strangely drawn to Gansey. She’s been warned by her psychic family her whole life that she is destined to kill her true love. Could this prophecy have something to do with Gansey’s presence in the churchyard?

I know this sounds like it could potentially be just another paranormal romance but it isn’t. It isn’t even really romantic. It’s gorgeously written and so mysterious and every character is perfection and just SO GOOD. Please read it. And tell me if you do–I’d love to hear your thoughts!

2. Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play Vol. 15 (Guardian) – Yu Watase

Goodreads description: Miaka must reenter The Universe of the Four Gods and collect the seven magic stones that contain her soulmate Taka’s lost memories . . . or else risk losing him forever. (This is sort of a spin of story as the main narrative quest ended with Vol. 14. I wasn’t crazy about this one).

3. The Diviners – Libba Bray

Goodreads description: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.” When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

I had high hopes for this book–I love the 20s, I love the occult, and Libba Bray is super cool. This book is like 600 pages long and was pretty meh until about halfway through, and it thankfully picked up the pace. Historical fiction is tough, and the beginning was fraught with Bray’s overboard namedropping of historical people, places and events in an attempt to set the scene–basically, this book was in want of some editing. Overall: Cool story, cool characters, but some problematic writing and pacing issues.

4. Every Day – David Levithan

Every day, “A” our protagonist, wakes up in the body of a new person. Every day a different body, a different life.

A never knows who he/she (it?) will be the next day, and it never stays in a body for more than 1 day. A has established some rules: Get through the day without interfering too much, and never get attached to anyone.

Everything’s fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. A falls in love with Rhiannon, and attempts to find a way to be with her every day.

I’m not normally a huge fan of David Levithan’s writing but this premise was too interesting to pass up, and I actually found that the fantastic nature of the plot made his melodramatic writing style easier to stomach. It felt more appropriate here, as this book asks some pretty big questions about gender and sexuality, fate and free will, the nature of the soul, etc. I thought this book was interesting and thought-provoking, but plot-wise, the end lacked a sense of resolution.

5. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

I’ve been meaning to read this book forever, and I finally picked it up just before Halloween. I actually read it during the storm we had as a result of Hurricane Sandy which was the perfect spooky setting.

This book was really great, and I’m just going to give you the vague Goodreads description because I don’t want to give too much away:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. Fiction is based on real black and white photographs. The death of his grandfather Abe sends sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and explores abandoned bedrooms and hallways. The children may still live.

Also, check out the awesome book trailer created by the author!

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Vote!

Just a heads up to my American pals: GO VOTE! DO IT!

I got up early and headed straight to my polling place (Witchcraft Heights Elementary–gotta love Salem!) and made my voice heard!

Obama 2012

 

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Halloween in Salem, MA

After rushing home from work and scarfing down dinner, we put on our Whovian finest, and prepared for Halloween night in Salem.

I went as the TARDIS, and Jeff went as the Eleventh Doctor. Our costumes were a hit. People kept asking to take our picture. Jeff was especially popular–he even had a nerdy teen Who fan run up and hug him. She was freaking out as though he were the ACTUAL Doctor! It was hilarious!

We began the evening by checking out the carnival. And we came across a band of roving Doctors. So much timey-wimeyness!

The Doctors WhoAnd then we wandered beneath the eerie Salem moon marveling at the spooky graveyards, and masses of people all decked out in the craziest, most elaborate costumes.

Salem Moon

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11 Things

Suzy tagged me to do an 11 Things quiz and it’s taken me ages but I’ve FINALLY gotten around to finishing it! I love these things!

1. If you could be any musical instrument, what would you be?

This is a great question! I was a band geek in high school. I played the clarinet and I definitely think it’s fitting. The clarinet can go from playing a really really looooooooow note to a really really high note in a flash, and as much as I hate to admit it, I can be the queen of mood swing city!

Also, who wouldn’t want to be a clarinet after hearing that opening solo from Rhapsody in Blue?

2. What is the best thing about you?

Hmm this is a tough one. I suppose one of the best things about me is that I am very caring. I like to make sure that everyone I love is taken care of and has everything they need.

3. Tell me a weird fact about yourself.

When I met my current boyfriend….I was engaged to someone else. We are real life Jim and Pam (minus the whole getting married and having 2 babies and working at a paper supply company thing…yep).

4. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oh goodness…I love food so much so this is really difficult. Chocolate chip cookies? Cereal? Scrambled eggs and bacon? Key lime pie? Oooh key lime pie…I just may have to go with that.

5. What is your favourite smell?

It’s a toss up between cookies baking and book smell.

6. What is something that you really want but can’t afford?

To move back home to Colorado. Also, to pay back all of my ridiculous student loan debt!

7. Name one item you’d put in Room 101.

I’m so glad that Sarah googled what this meant! One of my hugest pet peeves is YA books with terrible covers, particularly covers with faces on them. I prefer simple, graphic designs. I hate books with random models on them because they never match what I think the character should look like, they get dated SO quickly, and I think they perpetuate unrealistic expectations about beauty. Also they can be so embarrassing to carry around. I wish publishers would respect young adults enough to give their books beautiful covers!

8. If you were president/prime minister, what would be your first issue to tackle/policy to implement?

Oh where to begin…I would definitely tackle reproductive rights (making sure everyone had insurance and access to sex education and birth control) and I would legalize gay marriage for sure. I would also completely revamp the way the higher education and student loans are handled–higher education should be much less expensive and we need to implement a system that doesn’t force young people to start their lives with thousands of dollars in crippling debt.

9. What is the best compliment you have ever been given?

I recently had a teen tell me I was “an excellent reference librarian” after I recommended and helped her find some books. It was just a small compliment but it really meant a lot.

10. Describe your style.

Classic with a splash of girly and a side of lazy. It’s a little bit random and it’s changed a bit recently since I’ve had to buy a lot of new work appropriate clothes. I tend to wear a lot of a-line dresses with either boots or flats. I like to spice it up with bright color combinations though. And I’ll be completely honest here…on days when all I have to do is run to the store or something, the best you’ll get from me is a t-shirt and jeans. (And I put my PJ pants right back on as soon as I get home!)

11. When was the last time you laughed until you cried?

I laugh until I cry at least once a day. And usually at one of my own bad jokes. But the best time recently was when I re-watched this scene from Parks and Rec. I freakin love Jerry!

 

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September Reading Recap

Yeah yeah yeah, I know we’re already a week into October but here it is finally: September’s reading recap!

1. Happyface – Stephen Emond


I’ve kept finding myself drawn to Emond’s novels because of their covers, (just check out the beauty of Wintertown) but I finally decided to pick this one up after a recommendation from one of my favorite teen patrons.

I’ve seen this book on lists of book recommendations intended for older kids who enjoyed Diary of a Wimpy Kid….and I just have to say it: WTF?! Just because this book is written in journal format and includes a lot of drawings does not make it a Wimpy Kid readalike. The content is much more serious, and there are some pretty mature themes and issues going on.

After a death in the family, Happyface’s dysfunctional parents finally get divorced. His alcoholic writer father moves out, and he and his mom move to a tiny, crappy apartment across town. Seeing this as an opportunity to shed his nerdy gamer image and have a fresh start, our main character gets the nickname “Happyface” and gains a reputation for being a happy jokester, changing himself to please his friends and the girl he likes, all the while hiding his inner pain until it comes slowly comes bubbling out. (I wish I could show you this…but if you lift the jacket flap, there’s an alternate cover with a sad face underneath. Sums this character up perfectly!)

This book was a bit hard for me to read because Happyface reminded me a lot of myself as a teenager, and I’m sure other readers feel the same way. And some people will be annoyed by how angsty he is. I thought Emond did an excellent job of portraying a realistic teenager though, and I liked that everything was not still not quite right at the end.

2. Wonderstruck – Brian Selznick


I got this book for Christmas last year and never got around to reading it. I’d been putting it of because Wonderstruck is the kind of ginormous tome that doesn’t lend itself to carrying around in your bag to read on your lunch break, and I really think Selznick’s work is the kind that should be read in one sitting. So one rainy Sunday afternoon, that’s just what I did.

I have a particular fondness for books that take up multiple stories and weave them together beautifully. Wonderstruck tells the stories of Ben and Rose, living 50 years apart–Ben in Minnesota in the 1970s, and Rose in New York in the 1920s. Their fates collide at the Museum of Natural History after Ben run’s away from home to search for his father.

I wasn’t sure if Wonderstruck would live up to The Invention of Hugo Cabret but it really does. Selznick is able to take his unique, cinematic blend of art and keep it fresh and exciting. The story is heartwarming without being cheesy. I highly recommend this book.

3-9. Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play, Volumes 8-14 – Yu Watase

I finally finished the story! Hooray!

10. Imaginary Girls – Nova Ren Suma


I enjoyed Nova Ren Suma’s middle grade novel Dani Noir, but everytime I read the description of this one I felt a little conflicted. Books about maybe-dead-people are not really my thing. This book got a lot of awards buzz last year in the YA-Lit sphere, but ultimately got snubbed, and I heard a great deal of outrage from its devotees on book blogs. When I realized that this book was actually a work of magical realism, I finally decided to give it a shot.

Chloe and her older half-sister Ruby are inseparable. Best friends. Sister soul mates. Ruby is basically the town’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl Mascot. Everybody loves her, wants to be her, wants to be with her, and she just wants to be wild and free. When Chloe discovers a dead body in the lake at one of Ruby’s parties, her relationship with Ruby changes forever. Chloe is sent away for 2 years, and when Ruby finally brings her back, eerie secrets await.

Beautiful writing. Francesca Lia Block vibes. Intriguing mystery. Graveyards and ghost towns. Loved it.

11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

This is my all time favorite book and I decided to re-read it for like the 5th time in preparation for the new movie. It was just as special this time as it was the first time and made me feel nostalgic for that time in high school when I was infinite. (P.S. Going to see the movie TODAY!)

12. Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses – Ron Koertge

This is a poetry book with modern takes on classic fairy tales. I was so drawn to this book my the awesome illustrations, but I ultimately disliked it. Some poems were better than others, but most left me scratching my head in confusion. I’m not incredibly well-versed in folk and fairy tales, and I kept wondering that if I were that maybe I would get this book more (as in, is the problem me, or is this book just bad?) and I’m just not sure. If anyone else has read this, I would love to know what you think about it!

13. This Dark Endeavor – Kenneth Oppel

Twin brothers Victor and Konrad Frankenstein, along with their cousin Elizabeth, discover a Dark Library filled with eerie volumes about alchemy and the occult hidden beneath their home. They learn that it belonged to one of their Frankenstein forefathers, but their father forbids them to enter it ever again. After Konrad contracts a mysterious illness however; Victor defies his father and finds a book that speaks of a miracle elixir that could cure his brother. After finding an alchemist to assist them, Victor, Elizabeth and their friend Henry embark on a secret quest to obtain the elixir’s ingredients so they can cure Konrad.

I loved the gothic atmosphere of this novel, and the fast-paced adventure quest gave me Harry Potter vibes. I also loved that Victor wasn’t your typical YA protagonist. He’s selfish and hot-headed and frankly, not super likable guy–which makes him really interesting. This was an awesome book and I can’t wait to read the recently released sequel, Such Wicked Intent.

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