Wednesday, December 1, 2010

nanowrimo: i am a winner

See that cute little widget in the corner? I am a winner, people! This is good news.

I have a tremendous amount of satisfaction from completing my goal. There were a few moments I didn't think it would happen. But I really did love writing every day. Well, mostly everyday. I did skip a few.

However, I am completely disappointed with the last 6,000 plus words of my story. I went with another idea, abandoning the previously outlined and much thought about ending. I deviated to see where this new idea would take me, but in the end I should have gone with the first idea.

6,000 words may seem like a lot. It is. But I once wrote about 5,000 in one day so I don't feel like I lost a week of my life. Besides, I think you sometimes have to explore other ideas in order to feel more confident about your previous ideas. You have to write and write and write and write until it feels....well, right.

So what happens next?

First, I will rewrite the ending.

Then, I am going to print it out and leave it in my nightstand drawer for several weeks and work on something else as suggested by Stephen King. He has an awesome book called On Writing, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to write. Amazing, solid, interesting advice. I will need to reread it for sure. Anyway, he suggests you let your story sit for awhile without reading it and then come back to it ready to see all the flaws with a fresh perspective.

After that I am going to give it to my sister and husband to read. If they don't completely laugh at my attempt to write a novel I just may try to have it published. This quote is encouraging:

"There are no tricks I know of for getting a book deal. The proposal just has to find an editor who loves it. Given the great number of books published every year, quality is clearly not a major criterion. Getting published is a combination of determination and luck."
Mark Bowden

I will definitely participate next year. It really helped me to have a goal and make it public. Just enough pressure to finish and not give up :)

Thanks to all of you who encouraged me!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

nanowrimo: 7 days left!!!

Ahhh! I have over 13,000 words left to write in order to reach my goal of 50,000 by November 30. I got behind again at the end of last week. I blame Harry. Which, by the way, was the best movie I have seen in a LONG TIME. Having just finished the book it was even more emotional and satisfying to see. Just full of pure awesomeness.

I'm very happy they made it into two films. Granted I have to wait 9 months to see it, but it's worth it. My fellow HPBC members and I went to the midnight premiere. It was so much fun. I will post pictures soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

nanowrimo: day 16

Still plugging along. I had a major setback last week. I wasn't able to write for like 4 days. And getting behind was one of my biggest fears for this challege. You can't catch up on what you missed and then take a breather. You have to keep going!

I told my sister, "I've got to write more than 5,000 words to catch up...aahhh."

She said something like this, "Then go do it. Don't quit."

Today I'm at over 25,000 words. I should be 26,000 something. So not too bad.

I thought the pressure of catching up would hinder my creativity. The opposite happened. I don't know if that will always be the case, but it worked this time.

Thanks for the pep talk Natalie! I might have to name a character after you ;)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I'm done. I'm done, I'm done, I'm done, I'm done!!!!!

In other words--I'M DONE! I finished Deathly Hallows last Wednesday.

Oh. My. Word.

Such an amazing finish to an incredible series.

I don't think I can really write about it. I feel like I'm still trying to process everything.

It's pretty much official. I have huge literary crush on J.K. Rowling.

SO GLAD I finished before the movie. We have our tickets for the midnight show. And don't worry, the Harry Potter Book Club has secured Team Gryffindor outfits for the occasion. Can't wait!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

nanowrimo: day 8

So here's the weekly update.

Day 8 and no major moments of writer's block. Having an outline is tremendously helpful. I've veered off of it a couple of times, but that's okay. The outline allows me to take these creative detours and still get back on track.

Check out my stats. I kinda like this. I like knowing my average word count, and when I will finish if I keep writing at this rate, and how many words I have left, etc.

So my life in a nutshell: Still sane. Still having fun writing. Still reading Harry Potter.

My middle child asked me the other day, "You're still reading Harry Potter? When are you going to be done?" She's totally annoyed I'm not done yet. Well, it will be soon since the movie comes out next week! Squeel!! The trailers look soooo good!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Meeting Suzanne Collins

So last night I went to Hicklebee's Bookstore to meet Suzanne Collins and have her sign my copy of The Hunger Games. Well, she stamped it. She had a wrist guard on her right hand so she couldn't do any signing. She used a stamp that will be discontinued after this book tour. It's kinda cool--has a mockingjay next to her signature. Anyway, there were probably about 200 people crammed inside the bookshop. It was great though. I really didn't have to wait long. I wanted to say something cool and perhaps intelligent in the 3.5 seconds I had to interact with her, but the only thing that came out was, "How are you? Thanks for coming." What I really wanted to say was, "You're pretty much awesome and I wanna be you when I grow up!" I was really hoping for a little Q&A session, but no such luck. She read from both Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Loved every minute of it.
(p.s. always do your hair...even if they say you won't be aloud to take posed pictures with the author)

Okay, I was not prepared to hear her read in southern accent. She referred to it as a futuristic Appalachian accent. Very interesting.

I really like this bookstore...I will have to revisit with the kiddos.

One of the best things about this bookstore is what's written on the walls. And that would be tons of author's signatures and drawings. Very cool. These are from the bathroom :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

nanowrimo: day 1

So the first day of nanowrimo my kids had the day off school. There went the idea of writing while they're gone. However, I managed to exceed my daily goal and didn't feel like I ignored them too much. They played outside and did crafts. It's all good.

This was a good writing day. I'm curious and excited to see how the rest of the month goes. It's only going to get busier so I hope these next couple of weeks I can surpass my daily word count goals. That way I can relax over Thanksgiving weekend. That's the plan anyway. We'll see what happens.

P.S. It's so much fun!! I'm loving it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reader's Guilt

So I just spent the last day and a half reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I could NOT put it down. There must have been some sort of jinx on the book causing me to pretty much ignore all of my responsibilities. I can't even remember what I fed my kids yesterday...did I feed my kids yesterday?

There was so much I loved about this book...

Harry and Ginny...knew I liked her.

Snape's deception and betrayal

Harry and Dumbledore at the Pensieve--those memories were creepy and cool and I loved it!

Dumbledore's emotions about Harry...Dumbledore being touched by Harry's loyalty

The love potions--perfect touch of humor

This novel was paced perfectly. Like I said, I couldn't put it down...did I brush my teeth yesterday?

So now I am a bit overwhelmed and feel a great deal of reader's guilt. There are so many things I SHOULD have been doing yesterday, but didn't. One more book to go--so excited! I'm picking it up tonight. This weekend is packed so another all day read-a-thon will most likely not occur...

Well, we'll see...:)

Monday, October 25, 2010


Okay. I signed up for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) today. I will attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.

It's official.

I'm crazy.

BUT...I'm someone who needs deadlines and pressure from a website to complete a goal. I've had this idea for a novel for years. I've written outlines and scenes and it's time to bring it all together. In one month. Yeesh. Monday I will become a bit of a hermit and social outcast as I attempt to squeeze every ounce of spare time into writing time.

My worst enemy? Self-doubt and T.V. I must avoid both if I am to complete this goal. However, watching North and South (yes, again) and going to see the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows does not count.

Anyone else wanna go for it? Let's do it!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

**For the one other person who hasn't read this book...I'm very spoilerish and kinda jumbled in this review...***

Finished yesterday. Ugh. Really?! Sirius dies??? I really liked Sirius. I liked that Harry had someone who cared about him like a son. Someone who had a connection with his parents.


One of my favorite quotes came from Ginny:
"The thing about growing up with Fred and George is that you sort of start thinking that anything's possible if you've got enough nerve" (655).

I like that Ginny.

I liked the beginning of the book with Harry's trial and learning more about Sirius and the Order, but it got a tad tedious with Umbridge. I just got so frustrated that NO ONE believes Harry. Ever. Argh!

The scene where Harry finds the mirror Sirius gave him made me cry. I don't know. I could just feel Harry's sadness. Rowling did a great job of showing how he felt without overdoing it.
Started Half-Blood Prince last night. Now, I saw the movie and I know another major death is coming up...not looking forward to that. But I also remember something about love potions and laughing quite a bit.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Raising Readers

One thing I desire as a parent is to raise kids who LOVE to read.

We started reading to our oldest daughter when she was just a couple months old. She would cuddle up with her dad in the soft yellow chair in her room and listen to him read Goodnight Moon. Last night, this same child stayed up quite late (unbeknown to me) to finish reading a book she started that same day. What?! I didn’t do that until I was in college and that was mostly because it was an assignment. She has experienced the magic of reading and I’m thrilled.

My second daughter, who’s becoming a great reader, recently told me she wants to read so she won't be bored. Yes!

I started a tradition with our oldest daughter to give each child a classic book for Christmas. I write a note on the title page telling them why I chose this book for them.

For my daughter’s first Christmas, she received The Secret Garden. I chose this book not only for it's wonderful story, but the cover made me think of my daughter’s middle name, Rose.

My second daughter received Anne of Green Gables. Her spunk reminds me of Anne Shirley! I can totally picture her accidentally dying her hair green!

My little boy received 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for his first Christmas because it was one of his dad’s favorites as a kid.

So far we have quite the collection. Little Women, Stuart Little, The Wizard of Oz, Robinson Crusoe, Alice in Wonderland, just to name a few. These are books I hope we’ll read aloud together, books I hope they’ll read on their own, and hopefully books they’ll treasure and want to take with them someday. They should each have a nice collection when leave home (sniff).

There are so many great books I can’t wait to introduce them to. Someday my girls will read Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion (squeal)! And then I’ll get to tell them all about The Count of Monte Cristo and To Kill a Mockingbird. The list goes on…

What are some of your favorite classics or reading traditions?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It All Ends Here

What a cool poster. I'm getting excited to see the movie!!

I have about 5 1/2 more weeks to finish Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows before the movie comes out November 19. Can I do it???

It has been made very clear to me that I will not be allowed into the movie theater by my fellow Harry Potter Book Club members if I do not finish these books!!

All I can say is thank goodness for audiobooks. The fact that I'm almost done with Order of the Phoenix with just 5 days of listening, reaffirms that I practically live in my car.

I've watched movies 1-3 and just rented number 4. I have to say, the casting is pretty much brilliant. I adore Ron. He is so fantastic! All of them are.

This HP marathon is no joke. It is intense. But my book world has not just been about wizards, I'm still reading and enjoying North and South. Oh, how I love this story. I'm hoping to review it next week and probably watch the mini-series yet again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Goblet of Fire

Neglected my laundry today so I could finish. Great ending, as usual. All the pieces come together for an intense finish.

Favorite quote:

"Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory."

Okay. On to Order of the Phoenix. I checked out the CD's for this one. Since I'm in the car shuffling kids around most of the day it's a good way to go.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Betty Suggests...

My Antonia by Willa Cather

"I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." p. 11-12

I read My Antonia while staying in a cabin in Utah. We were en route to moving from green, lush, rainy Seattle to flat, hot, humid Texas. I sat outside the cabin with my book and watched the Quaking Aspen Tree's leaves tremble in the wind. I fell in love with the way Cather described nature. The memory of reading this book has stayed with me for fifteen years. I completely related to the narrator, Jim Burden, who had to move from a place he loved to a land quite different from what he was used to.

He meets a Antonia, a young girl from an immigrant family, who is trying to farm the untamed land in Nebraska. Antonia is a hopeful girl who has to endure many hardships. This story is about their friendship and their struggles growing up.

I read this at the beginning of the summer before going to college. So I took every opportunity to learn more about Cather's work when assignments permitted me. I gave presentaions about her, took Western Lit. classes, and even took a class from a professor who also adored her.

Several years ago I suggested this book for our book club. At the beginning of our discussion someone said, "Yeah, it was okay. I just don't understand what the big deal was or why you chose it." This novel was so personal to me it really upset me to hear her say this. What I've come to realize is that our personal life can greatly affect our reading experience. If a character is struggling or dealing with the same issues or appreciates the same values as we do, then the connection is as real as if we were identifying with a real person.

Has this ever happened to you? What books have you strongly identified with? Did others agree or disagree with you?

Friday, September 24, 2010

You know it's one of those days when...

you prefer books to people.

Do you ever have one of those days where everyone you encounter is annoying, insensitive, rude or aggravating?


Thank goodness it's Friday!

Also, I have quotes:

"We read to know that we are not alone."
~ C.S. Lewis

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
~ Ernest Hemingway

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences."
~ Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Georgette Heyer Audiobooks


This was fun to listen to while deep cleaning my kitchen. I find that I work better while listening to Richard Armitage say things like “rake” and “my dear delight”.

But let's face it. This man could read my phone bill and I would swoon.

From Goodreads:
In all her twenty-five years, lovely Venetia Lanyon has never been further than Harrogate. Then she meets her neighbour, Lord Damerel, and before she knows better, she is egging on a libertine whose way of life has scandalized the county for years.

Venetia has lived a sheltered life with her father and two brothers. Her father has recently died and her brother Conway is off at war. So she is left to care for their home with her younger brother Aubrey. Aubrey is about 17 and likes his sister, but really prefers reading books to people (um, yes).

She first meets Lord Damerel by accidentally trespassing on his property. Venetia meets him again after Aubrey has an accident and Damerel comes to his rescue. Venetia and Damerel become friends, much to the dismay of well, everyone. You see he's a rake! Indeed.

I don't know. It was okay. There were so many glowing reviews, but it didn't appeal to me as much. It’s essentially light-hearted fair. Something pleasant to listen to while doing the dishes or folding laundry. I think I prefer dark, Gothic romances.

I enjoyed the first half. The second half I kept waiting for more conflict. And they set up some characters only to abandon them completely. I realize this audio version is an abridgement. I wonder if this storyline was left out of the novel as well. Also, a plot point that I thought was supposed to be quite dramatic fell flat because the main character’s reaction seemed so unrealistic.


Yawn. This is nothing against Mr. Armitage's reading. He is excellent! But the story was not very interesting. Again, so many amazing reviews! Is it me?

Sylvester is a Duke who suddenly realizes it's about time to take a wife.

Phoebe Marlow is a plain, country girl who's written a novel. She'd met Sylvester once before at a ball in London. He did not make a good first impression (hmm, sounds familiar...) His behavior and pointed eyebrows (what?) inspire her to write him as a villainous character in her book.

They meet again and fail to impress each other once more. Phoebe has been told that his reason for visiting is to ask for her hand in marriage. This will not do! She must run away....blah, blah, blah.

Oh, I forgot! Her book is to be published! Oh no! He will figure out she's based her villain on him! The scandal of it all!!!

It's clear there are many Georgette Heyer fans who love her stories. Are you a fan? Am I completely out of line?

P.S. Would it be too much to ask Mr. Armitage to read Pride and Prejudice or The Count of Monte Cristo? Please…PLEASE.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I just added this novel to my to-be-read status. I stayed up very late last night to watch the BBC mini-series and I can't stop thinking about it. It's so good!! How have I never heard of this book or movie before!?

North and South is about a young woman, Margaret Hale, who moves with her mother and father from their middle class, southern home to the northern, industrial town of Milton. She meets John Thornton, one of the masters of a cotton mill. They clash and dislike each other immediately. There is turmoil rising in the town as the workers threaten to strike. Margaret is strong and opinionated and Thornton is determined and brooding and full of angst. It's just fantastic. The character development of the two leads as well as the rest of the characters is superb. I like that you get to see what's happening to the town and their relationship from both sides.

It's just a lovely, lovely film and I can't wait to get my hands on the novel.
I just bought this vintage classics edition. Isn't the cover fantastic?

Friday, September 10, 2010

On Parting

I've always loved these final lines to Byron's On Parting.
I'm missing my hubby today (he's in Tawain for two weeks). I remember sending him these words while we were apart the summer before we married.

By day or night, in weal or woe,

That heart, no longer free,

Must bear the love it cannot show,

And silent ache for thee.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Newberry Honor Book

I first heard about Megan Whalen Turner from Shannon Hale’s blog. They interviewed each other through email. Pretty cool. You can read it here.

After reading about Turner, I bought The Thief and began reading. However, I got sidetracked with other books, ahem, The Hunger Games, and forgot to come back to it. The other day, I found it in a pile of to-be-read as I was cleaning my room.

Here’s a snippet from the book cover:

"I can steal anything."

After Gen's bragging lands him in the king's prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king's scholar, the magus, needs the thief's skill for a seemingly impossible task -- to steal a hidden treasure from another land.

To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.

The setting feels very much like ancient Greece with refernces to gods. I loved the stories Gen and the Magus tell about Earth's Creation and her relationship with the Sky. The plot unfolds slowly, but the characters and descriptions keep your attention. And then things start to get interesting and exciting! I really liked the main character, Gen. He is clever and stubborn and full of surprises. I also found the relationship between Gen and the Magus fascinating, and by the end ironic. There's dimension to these characters; nothing is as it seems.

The Thief is followed by three more books--The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia and The Conspiracy of Kings. I'm looking forward to reading them. It's nice when you don't have to wait for the sequels :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I hang up the phone and run outside to the mailbox. It's here. The book is here. I dial my sister's number again and tell her Mockingjay is in my hands. She tells me I won't be disappointed. I put my son down for a nap. I have two hours before I have to pick up the girls. I'm glad we don't have any plans this weekend. I read. I neglect the house. I immerse myself in a story.

***Major SPOILER Alert. Do not read any further until you've read the book. You've been warned. :)

I finished Mockingjay about 1am this morning. It messed with my dreams. I've been thinking about it all day trying to figure out how to articulate my thoughts on this final book of The Hunger Games series.

As in most cases of a series finale there is a wave of disappointment. I can understand some of the frustrations people are sharing about the book--Katniss seems like a week pawn. We don't experience the Capitol's downfall through Katniss. It's retold during her recovery. And she didn't choose Gale. However, I was very satisfied with this book. Collins strikes me as a fearless writer. She isn't afraid to make you wince or question or even hate or disagree with what she's done with the story. I love how she uses symbolism. I appreciate her style immensely.

I'm a list person. I think the best way for me to write about this book is to make a list of what I liked and didn't like.

What I liked:


The line where he tells Katniss about how he knew she only kissed him because he was in pain stuck with me.

"Gale, who I have never seen cry, has tears in his eyes. To keep them from spilling over, I reach forward and press my lips against his. We taste of heat, ashes, and misery. It's surprising flavor for such a gentle kiss. He pulls away first and give me a wry smile. "I knew you'd kiss me."

"How?" I say. Because I didn't know myself.

"Because I'm in pain," he says. "That's the only way I get your attention." He picks up the box. "Don't worry, Katniss. It'll pass." He leaves before I can answer. (p.130)


Also, the heartbreaking irony of him going back to save Prim after the Capital's attack on 13 only to later become the likely cause of her demise. He doesn't even try to make peace with Katniss about it. He walks away. Some say that was weakness on his part. But he knows Katniss better than she knows herself sometimes and he knew it would always be an issue. Walking away meant he loved her more. He didn't want anything to do with causing her more pain.

Katniss shoots Coin.

Great twist. When Coin announced they wanted to do another Hunger Games with children from the Capitol, I was completely shocked Katniss agreed. Then I quickly realized she was playing Coin. Katniss is back, I thought. Don't mess.


His death stung. I wasn't expecting it. I liked learning his back story. His tenderness with Annie reminded me of how Peeta felt about and treated Katniss.


Collin's style is to the point, well-crafted, and symbolic. One of my favorite passages:

"I look at the bushes, the clods of dirt hanging from their roots, and catch my breath as the word rose registers. I'm about to yell vicious things at Peeta when the full name comes to me. Not the plain rose but the evening primrose. The flower my sister was named for. I give Peeta a nod of assent and hurry back into the house, locking the door behind me. But the evil thing is inside, not out. Trembling with weakness and anxiety, I run up the stairs. My foot catches on the last step and I crash onto the floor. I force myself to rise and enter my room. The smell's very faint but still laces the air. It's there. The white rose among the dried flowers int he vase. Shriveled and fragile, but holding on to that unnatural perfected cultivated in Snow's greenhouse. I grab the vase, stumble down to the kitchen, and throw its contents into the embers. As the flowers flare up, a burst of blue flame envelops the rose and devours it. Fire beats roses again. I smash the vase on the floor for good measure." (p. 383)

The Ending.

Katniss is with Peeta. Things are hopeful, yet not unrealistic. The nightmares are still there. Their children play on an unmarked graveyard. But there is hope and goodness.

What I didn't like:

Too much time in District 13.

I felt like this section of the book dragged a bit. I thought there would be more action at the beginning.


Again, a little too much time spent filming propos. I understand the significance, but after awhile I thought, really? more? okaaay...

What about Gale?

Here's all we know: He got a fancy job in district 2 and he's occasionally seen on TV.

Really? That's it? That's all we get? Katniss didn't seem too interested in what really happened to him after he left. Didn't sit right with me.

Overall I loved this series. Unique. Gut-wrenching. Fascinating.

What's next Ms. Collins? What's next???

P.S. She's coming to a bookstore near me in November to read excerpts from Mockingjay! Can't wait!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

HPBC Meeting Has Been Called to Order (sweet potato fries, that is...)

Last night was our first Harry Potter Book Club meeting. Amy, Becky, and I gathered to discuss books 1-3. So what did we talk about whilst eating burgers and fries? Plenty. We talked about our favorite characters so far, Rowling's cleverness, and the fact that I never should have gone to see Half-Blood Prince before reading the books. It was peer pressure I tell you!

What I I love about these books is that it doesn't take a lot of effort to believe in this magical world of wizards. Of course this world exists. No question. I love the twists and the surprise endings. I love learning more about Harry's parents. I love the friendships. Rowling has created such a fascinating story with interesting characters. My friends tell me the character development only gets better. I'm looking forward to it. And to more sweet potato fries as well :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban

Finished book 3 the other night with a big smile on my face. I loved it. I love the twist at the end. Already into number 4. I will need to take a short hiatus from Harry next week when Mockingjay comes out. Harry will understand. Katniss rocks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Goodreads summary:
Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle's mother has disappeared. While tracing her steps on a car trip from Ohio to Idaho with her grandparents, Salamanca tells a story to pass the time about a friend named Phoebe Winterbottom whose mother vanished and who received secret messages after her disappearance. One of them read, "Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins." Despite her father's warning that she is "fishing in the air," Salamanca hopes to bring her home. By drawing strength from her Native American ancestry, she is able to face the truth about her mother. Walk Two Moons won the 1995 Newbery Medal.

I read this book last summer and loved it. Sharon Creech is an impressive writer. Her characters were so believable, likeable, and relatable. I especially loved the relationship between Sal's grandparents.

Sharon Creech also wrote Love That Dog about a boy named Jack who believes he can't write poetry, only to discover he actually can. The book is written in poem form. Very clever. It's one of my 8 year old's favorites. She's read it at least three times. Creech also wrote Hate That Cat too. We haven't read that one yet, but it's on our list!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book Club

* Update: Today I sadly returned the Harry Potter tapes sans tape number 6. The very sweet librarian (we talked about how she used to play the accordian) asked my daughter if she had hidden the tape somewhere. I told her it was all me and that I couldn't blame my children for this one (that might have been less shamefull...grown-ups should not lose cassette tapes).
"I'll just pay the fine." I'm pretty sure my eye twitched as I said this. When she asked me if I would be paying with check or cash, I answered "debit". But apparently, if you've lost a TAPE CASSETTE you need to pay for it the old fashioned way--CASH!
Then she asked, "Are you sure you don't just wanna look again for the tape?"
"No, I need to wash my hands of this. I will go get cash. What time do you close?"
"In fifteen minutes."
"Right. I'll be back."

Luckily, my bank was next door. I made it just in time. It's done, it's over, I'm ready to move on!

In other news, I have officially joined the Harry Potter Book Club. There are only three members thus far. Of course, I am the only member reading the series for the first time. BUT I am already almost done with Prisoner of Azkaban. I'm winning. Just kidding. This isn't a race...(p.s. it kind of is). I'm also very excited that we will have our meetings at Betty Burgers. Talking about Harry over a Basic Betty Burger AND sweet potato fries--that is a win, win situation. No joke.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I'm panicking for a few reasons.

Number one. Remember how I listened to Harry Potter on tape in the car during my road trip? Yeah, well I can't find tape number six. It's gone. I've searched my car at least sixteen times. Why? Why is it gone? I've only listened to them in the car. How could it have disappeared??

I renewed the tapes hoping it would turn up like a five dollar bill in my jeans. Oh, how lovely--there you are!

Two weeks later and it is still nowhere to be found.

Today I mustered up the courage to explain the situation to the librarian (I have this fear of mean librarians). The lady was beyond nice and encouraged me to keep looking. I asked her what the worse case scenerio would be. She typed on her computer as fast as an airline ticket counteress and said if I couldn't find it there would be a $15 fee.


Okay, so I won't be banned from this library and publicly humiliated for losing a tape? That's a good deal compared to the alternative I had going on in my mind (I really didn't want to explain to my children why we can't check out books anymore because mommy lost a tape. Followed by the question, "What's a tape, mommy?")

So I will keep looking and pray it turns up because I'm so annoyed with myself.

Reason numero dos. There are way too many books I want to be reading right now. Fellow booklovers--do you ever feel panicky about not being able to read everything you want to read? It's weird. It doesn't feel normal. Please tell me you've experienced this. And maybe tell me you've misplaced things from the library as well and it all worked out in the end :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Quick Harry Update

Okay. I know I've upset some of you because I have not yet read this series. Rest assured I have seen the error of my ways and I am quickly trying to set things right. I have completed books 1 and 2. I know this doesn't clear me yet, but please know I am working on it.

Wow. I am just amazed at Rowling's cleverness. To create such a believable, magical world is inspiring. And the detail. Sheesh.

I listened to Chamber of Secrets on tape (once I remembered how to use one) and I have to say that Jim Dale is a fantastic reader. Love.

Anyway, off to read...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Harry Who?

So, I've been challenged and re-challenged to read the Harry Potter series.

How is it possible that I have not read it yet?

I have no excuses. Except...I was in the throws of writing English papers and reading ridiculously boring books as an undergraduate when the first book came out. After school I was over reading. It took awhile for me to enjoy it again.

About a year ago a friend of mine asked me if I'd read the series. When I answered no, she looked at me as if I had committed a crime--a crime against the love of books and reading.

She then told me she wouldn't be my friend anymore if I didn't read them.

I laughed until I realized she was kind of serious. I really don't want to lose this friend...she's pretty awesome.

I'm happy to report that I started last night and I am currently on page 165.

There's no turning back now.

P.S. I think it's kind of cool I'm the only one left in the world who hasn't read it ;)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


So I'm doing a little research.

I want to know what makes a great character.

Why do you love some book's characters and not others?

Who are your favorite characters and why?


Elizabeth: "Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?"
Darcy: "For the liveliness of your mind, I did."
Dang--love that Mr. Darcy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

There are two kinds of books in this world. Those you leave in your car and read for ten minutes at a time and books you carry with you everywhere in hopes you’ll get a chance to read. The kind of book you put your kids in front of the TV so you can finish that last chapter uninterrupted (not that I’ve ever done that ;) The kind of book that messes with your laundry status (although I really don’t need books to interrupt laundry efficiency).

Unfortunately, The Maze Runner is a leave in your car book.

Here’s a synopsis:

“When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.
The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.
And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.”

Doesn’t that sound cool? It completely appeals to my Lost/Alias/The Hunger Games loving heart, but there was something missing.
I didn’t care.

The premise was cool, but I didn’t care about the characters. I didn't believe it. I didn’t really care to believe it. In other words—I DIDN’T CARE. I’m all for crazy plotlines (hello—LOST!), but there has to be some connection to the characters. If I care about what’s happening to them, I'm willing to go along with it, craziness and all. I've read others describe this book as a real page turner. This just didn't happen for me at all. Even when things started to get interesting, which for me didn’t occur until chapter 47, I still didn’t care about the characters.

Another thing I didn’t like was all the emotion listing. For example, “He’d been through the gamut of emotions in the short time since he’d arrived in the Glade. Fear, loneliness, desperation, sadness, even the slightest hint of joy.” It sounds like he’s listing ingredients. I would like to add a dash of disappointment, a pinch of frustration and a heap of annoying! The same thing occurs on the very next page. “Thomas quickly gathered his thoughts, grasping for the right words inside the swirling cloud of frustration, confusion and anger in his mind.” Funny, that’s exactly how I felt while reading this novel. Exceptional novels show rather than tell what a character is feeling.

I also had a problem with the invented slang. It grated on my nerves like the sound of someone cutting apples (I have serious issues with that sound. I know. It’s weird). I found it distracting and unnecessary.

This book is the first in a series of three. I will not be pursuing the rest.

Now I have to say, the wanna-be writer in me feels that reading a bad novel is just as important as reading a well-written novel. It teaches me what not to do. To be an effective writer you need to read it all—the good, the bad, and the mediocre. It’s important to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Quote

"And by the way, everything is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
--Sylvia Plath

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What are you reading?

My reading momentum came to screeching halt when I got the stomach flu followed by a "touch of pneumonia."


I had pneumonia. I don't do a "touch of pneumonia."

So I'm trying to get back into what I'm reading.

My goal is to read two books at a time.

Right now it's The Maze Runner and Emma. Could not be more different from each other, which is probably a good thing.

So far I'm only so so on The Maze Runner. I was hoping for a Hunger Games/Catching Fire experience, which really isn't fair since those books are AMAZING. If you haven't read them yet, stop reading this blog and get a copy NOW. (Note: you will significantly fall behind in your laundry!)

Emma is lovely. I'm really enjoying it. Also, I'm craving a trip to the English countryside...

So, what are you reading?

What books are piled on your night stand waiting to be read?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Get Lost in Sawyer's Bookshelf

Love this show. Love books. Win, win.

What meaning can be found in the books seen on the hit television series Lost? Take a look at the books Sawyer has been caught reading and more!

Check it out!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Newbery Award Winner (2010)

This was a lovely book. I look forward to when my kids can read it.

Here is a summary from the jacket cover:
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death.

Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

I highly recommend this book. There's mystery and humor and a mother who's diligently preparing to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark. You just can't beat that. Miranda is quite savvy and interesting and she comes to know herself and those she cares about in a unique way.

For me, every book has a sentence in it that makes me say to myself--see, that's why I want to be a writer. Here's an example of such a sentence.

“So I had to sit there, thirsty, and then I had to put on my warm, but still-dirty coat and take the elevator down to Annemarie’s lobby, where the lamps glowed yellow and the doorman remembered my name. It had stopped raining.” p. 113

As much as I enjoyed this book, I might have loved it even more if I’d read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, the novel which helps Miranda figure everything out. Madeleine L’Engle spoke at my college graduation. I think it’s time I read her books.

I discovered Rebecca Stead has a blog and I have added it to my list of sites to stalk. She mentioned she’d just read Stephen King’s On Writing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is considering being a writer. I will never read a Stephen King novel, but I found him very interesting and quite brilliant.

I look forward to more from Rebecca Stead AND hearing from you!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring means Austen

It’s officially Spring, which means I can officially begin my Jane Austen obsession.

Every Spring I feel a strong desire to read and watch everything Austen. During my last semester of college, my professor told us that his wife read Pride and Prejudice every Spring. What a lovely idea, I thought. So the following year I read P&P for the second time. And that was the end of it. Then a couple of years ago when the new Pride and Prejudice came out I once again became obsessed with Austen’s classics. I decided to renew my springtime literary obligation to immerse myself in reading her love stories.

So far this year I’ve read Sense and Sensibility, watched both versions of Persuasion, saw the new version of Emma (which I adored) and started reading the novel.

After Emma, I’d like to read Northanger Abbey because I saw the movie and it was a little strange. Now I’m curious if the book is just as bizarre.

If you are not a Jane Austen fan and you don’t understand my obsession, then this quote is for you.

“Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” ~ Mark Twain, 1898

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

There are so many things I like about this book. It’s been months since finishing and I’m still thinking about it.

The story takes place in 1946. The main character, Juliet, receives a letter from a man from the island of Guernsey, part of the Channel Islands, which endured German occupation. They become quick friends. I knew nothing of Germany’s occupation of Guernsey, but I’m sure my history channel watching husband does. I just asked him. He knew.

Juliet is a writer in search of her next project. After a few letters pass between her new friends from the island, she discovers they formed a book club. She has to know more and decides this will be the subject of her next novel.

I will leave the summary there. I don’t want to spoil anything. Hopefully it’s enough to get you curious about reading it.

The book is comprised solely of letters. This worried me at first. But after reading a couple of Juliet’s letters to her publisher/friend Sidney, I was hooked. The main character, Juliet, is charming and funny and I kind of wanna be her pen pal too (if she were real, of course).

Here’s an excerpt from one of her letters to her friend Sidney:

“The sea and the clouds don’t stay the same for five minutes running together and I’m scared I’ll miss something if I stay inside. When I got up this morning, the sea was full of sun pennies—and now it all seems to be covered in lemon scrim.” p.165

“Sun pennies”—brilliant.

I appreciated the history lesson. War is horrid and after reading this book I felt like I came to know people personally affected by it. And many of the letters left me wanting to know more.

Do you want to know more?

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fear Observed

From A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis:

"What do people mean when they say, 'I am not afraid of God because I know He is good'? Have they never been to a dentist?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Quote

Every Friday I am going to quote something awesome about books or writing or the general merriment of reading. Enjoy!

From the movie Out of Africa (which I highly recommend, by the way) :

Karen: He[Denys played by Robert Redford!] has got lovely books. Does he lend them?

Berkely Cole: We had a friend...Hopworth, he'd got a book from Denys and didn't return it. Denys was furious. I said to Denys..."You wouldn't lose a friend for the sake of a book." He said, "No, but he has,hasn't he?"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Betty Begins

I've been wanting to start a book review blog for awhile now. I love books. I love writing.

Why not combine the two?

So let's get started.

First, I'd like to answer some FAQ's about my love of reading:

Why do you like to read?
I love to escape. I like to imagine what I would do in different situations. Good stories allow me to forget the world for awhile and live in someone else’s. I’m always a bit sad when I finish a good book. The characters and places have become real to me and I don’t want to let go.

I think I fell in love with language when I was assigned to read “To Kill a Mockingbird" in 9th grade. I became fascinated with how the author put words together to make such interesting sentences. I underlined and memorized and fell in love with phrases like “wallowing illicitly” and “subsequent mortification”.

When do you find time to read?
I always keep a book or two in my car. I read while waiting for my kids to get out of school. I read when my son has fallen asleep in the car on the way home from taking my kids to school.
I also read at night.
I also neglect laundry and making dinner in order to read a page turner.
If the book is good, you will find time to read!

What books do you recommend?

Book tastes vary so much from person to person. What I think is fabulous, others may not and vice versa. I try not to let it hurt my feelings when people don’t like the books I like, but I can’t help it. The best is when I let someone borrow a book, they too fall in love with it and then recommend it to their friends. Some recent favorites--The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, When You Reach Me, Book of a Thousand Days, The Ladies Auxiliary.

What is your favorite genre?
I pretty much love most genres, except horror. I am a romantic. I love LOVE stories. I can read about anything as long as it has a hint of a love story.

Side note: I also adore poetry--right now I'm kind of obsessed with John Keats.

So, how would you answer the above questions?

Let's talk books.