Tuesday, September 30, 2014

3rd Quarter Books

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One More Thing by B.J. Novak. A great collection of short stories, and sometimes short short stories. Most of them were very funny or clever, and a few were surprisingly serious. I preferred the funny ones, because they were really good, like “How did he come up with this?!” good. Even the serious stories, however, had twist endings, so they were interesting to read as well. I’d definitely read more by Novak.

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley. Peter Brooks works in a lab testing animal viruses. He and his wife, Ann, are unhappy in their marriage, so Peter suggests a separation. Ann starts teaching art at her youngest daughter’s school, until Peter finds a lake full of dead ducks. His lab begins testing them, and realizes they have H5N1. The bird flu starts to mutate and infect humans, so cities are closed down. People mostly stay quarantined in their homes, viciously fighting when they venture out for supplies. Everyone has to decide how far they’ll go to protect their family from the virus. This book sucked me in so completely that, reading in the middle of the night, I started to believe that what was happening in the story was actually happening outside of my window. Such a great book!

The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills. Mills was a reporter in Chicago assigned to write an article about Harper Lee. She went to Monroeville, Alabama to interview people who knew of or had seen the reclusive author around town. As Mills endeared herself to the townspeople, Lee’s friends caught wind of her, and allowed her to interview them. Then, knocking on the door of Harper Lee’s home, Mills meets Harper’s older sister, Alice. They become friends, and Alice tells Harper to contact Mills. This begins a long relationship between the sisters and the reporter, detailed in the pages of this book. Many things were told to the author off the record, but Lee later said they could be included in a book, if Mills wrote one. Other things stay off the record, piquing curiosity. I absolutely loved this book because Mills wrote so vividly, I could imagine myself in her shoes. I’ve already recommended it to several people, and can’t wait to read it again.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. I was eager to read this book because I thought the premise sounded great: a girl and boy break up, the girl sends back a box of the boyfriend’s stuff, with a letter explaining each piece. I especially loved that it was an illustrated novel, because I think seeing the items returned adds a lot to the story. When I first tried to read it, I couldn’t get into it, so I put it down for later. I’m so glad I came back to it. One of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Min is writing a letter to her ex, Ed, and at first I didn’t like the writing style. It was a bit too formal to convince me a heartbroken teenager wrote it to her boyfriend. But as I got more immersed in the story, that issue bothered me less and less until I was dying to know what happened. So good. Read it.

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick. I read this for a school assignment, and probably never would have read it on my own. That would have been unfortunate, because this book blew me away (no pun intended). The action takes place over 36 hours, and honestly, there isn’t much action - but there is SO much suspense. Sig’s father froze to death after falling through the ice on a lake. Sig’s sister and stepmother have gone for help, leaving Sig alone… with his father’s corpse. When a man his father used to know knocks on the door, Sig has no choice but to let him in. The book deals with Sig battling if he knew his father at all, and whether he should shoot the evil man or not.

Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe. My favorite graphic novel to date. When Sadie and her mother move to a new town, Sadie finds herself as the new girl in a high school where everyone has grown up together. To overcome her shyness and have something to talk about, Sadie tells everyone she has a peanut allergy. She makes friends and even has a boy interested in her, but what will Sadie do when the nurse needs a health sheet from her mother and spare Epipen? Can Sadie fake a peanut allergy, or will she be found out and lose her friends?

If you want to see what else I've been reading, check out my Goodreads account.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Scrambled

I try to post on this blog and Made Up Mamas once a week. I feel like that's not a big commitment, and it feels good to hold myself to something. I used to write here three days a week, and schedule posts weeks in advance because I had so many. Now, when I think of something to write about, I feel excitement and relief.

Today, I was going to post about Banned Books week. I'm studying to be a librarian, and I've been a reader since I could identify those squiggles as letters - longer, if you count my parents reading to me.

But, as I said, I'm studying to be a librarian. I have work due this week, work that I'm not really even that ashamed to admit I've left until close to deadline. I have a baby who's been a fussball the past couple days. I have an inability to sleep (unrelated to the baby, believe it or not) that has made me feel zombie-ish. I don't sit anywhere for long, I can't read anything for long, I just kind of wander around and complete half a chore here, part of a task there.

So, instead of something about beloved books and censorship, today's post is just like my brain: scrambled.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Time Mismanagement

Inspired by Jessica's post, "the Reading Lunch", I decided to try and get my life on some sort of a schedule. The thing is, having a baby throws everything off. No two days are alike. And I love that, because there's no way to get stuck in a rut! Will has only morning and night classes, with three day weekends. My class is online, so with the exception of a collaborate session every other week, I'm completely flexible.

This means I can sleep as late as the baby allows. This means I can nap with the baby whenever we're both tired. This means my days are free to spend time with my family, and if an adventure tickles our fancy, well - off we can go!

This means I (too often...) leave my schoolwork until the last minute. This means I occasionally forget a lot of everything I don't write down. This means I keep thinking I need to read for class, even when I can't focus.

Jessica's post struck me because I too like to schedule and over-schedule, even though I know by now I never accomplish what I think I will. The thing is... her goal is manageable. And it made me think about my days, and how I could make them more manageable.

This means reading for fun will happen when I wake up in the morning, and before bed at night. If I manage to make time for a midday meal, I can read then, too. I'll get to wake up slowly with an enjoyable activity, and drift off to sleep during an enjoyable activity. On the nights I don't pass out on the couch at 10p, that is.

My schoolwork will, whenever possibly, be done in the morning hours. I don't mind sitting at my desk then because the coffee is still hot and the baby is just fine playing by himself.

Afternoons are for chores and/or errands. Or pleasure reading, if I have a particularly productive morning. As I said, our days are pretty unpredictable, so it's not like every day will go like this. But as long as I start getting my work done well ahead of time, and stop forgetting things, then I'll feel like it's a good schedule.

And... go!