Archive for September, 2010

BOOK HUNGRY: gods in alabama

September 16, 2010

who says you have to be crowded into the living room/kitchen/dining room to hold a book club? we are ladies of the 21st century. we don’t need no stinkin’ couches. so pull up a blog and join in the conversation.

the members of the BOOK HUNGRY are (alphabetically): patty blount, kelly breakey, karla nellenbach, vanessa noble, alyson peterson, cynthia reese, elizabeth ryann, and myself. here’s the deal. we pick a book to read. we discuss via email. we post a review on our individual blogs on the same day (3rd thursday of the month). we link to each other. done. i know, genius. click on each one of their names (above) and it’ll take you to their review. browse. enjoy.

side note to all readers: if you’ve read the book, jump in on the conversation. comment away. if you haven’t read the book, go out and buy a copy, you ninny. and then come back and comment. if you’d like to become a full time BOOK HUNGRY member, contact one of us and we’ll get you set up. no need to have a blog. we can post for you. it couldn’t be easier. and it couldn’t be more fun.

this month’s BOOK HUNGRY selection is:

GODS IN ALABAMA by joshilyn jackson.

the premise of the book (as it reads on the back of the book, yes i shall type it all out for you): “When Arlene Fleet heads up north for college, she promises God that she’ll stop fornicating and lying, and never, ever go back to her hometown in Alabama. All she wants from Him is one miracle: make sure the body is never found. Now, ten years later, God breaks the deal when a dark secret from her past lands on her Chicago doorstep. With the fickle finger of fate pointing her south, Arlene must return to the heart of redneck country, where a powerful truth can destroy her life…or save it.”

this book was cynthia’s selection, which means it was out of my normal reading zone, but since everyone read my suggestion which was an unusual choice for them, i figured i should be brave and read into uncharted territory. i’m glad i did. the way the main character Lena/Arlene narrates the story is fascinating. one of the deals she made with God is that she won’t ever tell a lie. and she doesn’t. not to other characters and not to the readers. you know what happened that night from the very beginning. but what you don’t know are the events that lead up to it. and those events are told in alternating chapters of current Lena’s life vs. flashbacks of Arlene before she left Alabama.

a quick note on the names, growing up, the main character was known as Arlene, but once she left for college, she chose to go by the nickname Lena. this is an interesting part in and of itself because she clearly thought that she would be able to ignore what happened by leaving town and changing her name. she was trying to reinvent herself, but as you know, you’re still the same you. the events that happen in your childhood turn you into the adult you become whether it’s a reaction to or avoidance of those events. there was an amazing passage at the bottom of page 117 where Lena goes into what it a name means (to her) for her. i won’t quote it because it won’t make sense without the context of the rest of the story/it might be a bit spoilery. but if you read the book, make sure to note it. so good!

the pacing is perfect. the supporting cast of characters is so strong, it sometimes threatens to overwhelm Lena’s character, but it’s pure joy for the reader. the descriptions of people, places, and events are rich and lovely. in fact, i want to share some of my favorite lines with you. (never fear, they don’t give anything away).

pg. 96 (Lena is referencing a moment where she is a bit terrified to walk by a group of boys in the mall food court.) “I was a skeleton beside her. It was as if I had no skin to soften the stark grin of my skull, no tendons or muscles to keep my bones from clashing and jangling together, chipping and splintering as I walked.” (it’s a graphic image, but so vivid to that emotion of feeling scared).

pg. 133 (Lena’s talking about the moment when your crush walks closely by). “The heat of him was toasting the skin right off my back.” (you totally know that feeling, don’t you?)

pg. 136 “In that moment I felt myself catch fire and spontaneously combust, burning up in half a heartbeat to nothing but a crisp cinder. When the burning passed, I was still standing there.”

pg. 197 “I woke up in a panic. I sat up straight and froze there with my heart thumping an erratic tattoo against my rib cage, not sure why I was so afraid, until I traced back what had awakened me. A noise. The doorbell.” (come on, haven’t you had this happen? i sure have. you wake up terrified and it takes a minute to figure out why. my alarm clock often scares me like this every morning. good times.)

pg. 224 “I felt my silence change then, as my body went so still that a single beat of my heart shook me like an earthquake.”

this book appears to be about one thing (a murder), but in fact, it’s a simple tale of love and acceptance and growing up. lena/arlene thought/assumed many things, but it turns out that she was wrong on many fronts. families express their love for each other in unique ways. you can’t push them away because you don’t understand it. you ask and you listen and you return the love to the best of your ability.

//

flight [home] of the conchords

September 14, 2010

today’s the 14th and before we go any further at all, i want to say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. carrie.

with that on the table, can you guess where in the world i am? anyone? bueller? bueller?

you probably guessed italy. and you’d be WRONG because by the time you’re reading this, it’s approximately, oh i don’t know, afternoon time in europe which means i am currently winging my way back to the US with a quick stop over in frankfurt. and by quick stop, i mean a 2 hour layover. that should give me enough time to see all the germanic sights. or well, give me plenty of time to work my way through the terminal to the plane that will deliver me back to boston.

speaking of flights, here’s a little treat to distract you from how much you miss me.

classy, no? (side note to TB, thank you for introducing that to me).

speaking of thank you’s, the reason you’re even able to read this is because i am now privy to the “scheduling” capabilities of wordpress. and how do i know about it? that’d be because of patty blount (she of twitter and book hungry fame). all together now, kids, THANKS, PATTY.

and all of this means that i can wish one of my besties a happy birthday, since i can’t do that from italy or germany or an airplane. also, i wished her a happy day now because there’s a large chance that when i touch down in boston, i’ll be so delirious, i won’t know what day it is, what time it is, or who i am, much less that i’m supposed to be wishing people happy birthdays and many mores.

did somone say s’more?

yum. go get one! and save some for me.

STORK, review

September 10, 2010

Stork by Wendy Delsol. Candlewick, October 2010. 355 pages.

here’s the deal:
“Katla is a true California girl. She lives for fashion and she hates the cold. So when her parents get divorced and she moves to her mother’s hometown in Minnesota, Katla’s sure that life’s going to be a drag. The town doesn’t even have a Starbucks!

But soon after Katla arrives in Norse Falls, strange things start happening. She discovers that she’s part of an ancient order of magical women, the Stork Society, who guide undecided new souls to their mothers. And Katla meets Jack, a handsome senior to whom she’s¬†inexplicably drawn. As Katla gets to know her place among the Storks and gets closer to Jack, she’ll figure out the truths that have been hidden from her.”

here’s my opinion: the premise of a person who guides “undecided new souls to their mothers” is new (to me) and i thought it was well done and really interesting. i read a lot of paranormal books, so this felt fresh and new. the whole stork and ancient magic and norse mythology were pretty awesome and when combined with a spunky main character, that’s a recipe for fun. katla is a great character to root for. she’s strong and individualistic and unique and real and funny! i laughed.

(a side note about her name. it bugged me, but only because i’ve previously read and intensely loved two other books with similarly named main characters: katniss from HUNGER GAMES trilogy and katsa from GRACELING).

the relationship between katla and jack was well drawn out and had just the right amount of teen angst that flowed into the all encompassing first love. and jack. woowee. wendy desol did a fabulous job with him. athletic? check. smart? check. ambitious? check. a good, caring, devoted guy? check. a real, live good guy. (well, you know what i mean). now THAT is refreshing.

there were all those good parts, but then, there’s the pacing of the book. and i didn’t like it. the book was moving along at a slower clip and was introducing a lot of pieces, but then the end came crashing down and fumbled its way towards a resolution while opening even more doors and loop holes and options. i didn’t realize this was to be a series, until i set to writing this review, so i guess that clarifies why the ending was the way it was, but the first book in a series needs to stand alone and honestly, this one doesn’t.

that said, i’m excited to learn that these characters will be continuing on. i’ll definitely make it a point to pick up the next book in this series, FROST (september 2011).

FTC Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

will the real slim shady please stand up?

September 7, 2010

by the time you’re reading this post, it will have been written by past abby. present abby is in italy and unable to access this thing called her blog, but she didn’t want her dear readers to go without a post because, well, she’s (hopefully) off having fun gallivanting around italy and falling in love with vino and eating her weight in gelato and topping that off with another bowl of pasta and taking pictures of all that’s european and supervising a rather large work project and most definitely not getting lost, AND SO, she couldn’t be the one having all the fun. her readers need some too. welcome to the fun.

so that’s past abby and present abby, but what about future abby? what’s she up to?

well, if you ask 4 year old abby, she’d just ask where her blanket is. she doesn’t care (yet) about future abby. just the whereabouts of her blankie. and future abby (who is, let’s say 7) would pull the blanket out from in between the tangled sheets.

if you ask 13 year old abby, future abby (who is, let’s say, 17) gets her license on the very first try. the first of the mumford kids to accomplish that. HOORAH. but also, she’s the first that had to wait until she was 17 to be able to drive. dumb NJ laws.

if you ask 17 year old abby, future abby, (who is, let’s say 18) goes off to JMU for undergrad and despite balling her eyes out and feeling very scared for college to start, finds that the southern charm of virginia suits her and finds herself balling (again) when it’s time to come home for the summer. ah, the tears of youth.

and 19 year old abby would say to 18 year old abby, talk to your science professor when you’re having trouble! in a freshman science class that’s got a couple hundred kids, the prof can’t know the difference between you trying hard, but still having trouble vs. you deciding the kegger in apartment 205 is more important than science homework, so if you talk to him, he’ll then know it’s that your brain is having trouble rather than just deciding to take the afternoon off. so, go talk to him!

and 19 year old abby discovered the art of persuasion when she decided she wanted to study abroad in london for a semester, but she’d only do so if she had a familiar face with her. and thus began her campaign to convince R to come with her. note: abby FTW. and come on, it’s not like me convincing R to study abroad was a bad idea. living in london is never a bad idea. (“this sounds familiar!” says 29 year old abby, who wonders when her persuasion skills got so rusty, which is why she’s now alone in italy.)

21 year old abby waves happily from the other side of the pond. CHEERS!

and 21.4 year old abby goes on spring break to italy (venice, rome, florence) and 29 year old abby looks down the coast hoping to see the ghost of her former self (along with R and J). 29 year old abby thinks that would be AWESOME if she could see the ghost of her former self, like the time trials in Mario Kart where you can race against your best time which takes the form of a ghostly Toad. (yes, Toad was my character of choice).

if you ask 22 year old abby, future abby (who is, let’s say 24) says that boston is great. come on over!

if you ask 25 year old abby, future abby (who is, let’s say 27) happily skips across the lesley U stage during graduation. that MFA is totally worth it. so stop dilly dallying and apply already!

if you ask 29 year old abby, she’d tell everyone that she’s never typed her name so much. it’s to the point where the word abby sounds weird now. agreed?

and what would you tell abby (any age, any year, any incarnation) if she asked you to leave her a message so she has something to read upon her return to the states? OR you could just wish my friend melissa many happy returns of the day cause it’s her birfday. and that’s a cause for confetti.

arrivederci

September 3, 2010

that’s pretty much all i have to say at the moment, though i will admit, my high school french kicked in for a moment and i wanted to say bon voyage, except that’s a little weird for me to tell YOU “good journey”, isn’t it? except it’s not because YOU go on journeys every day as YOU traverse the highways and local roads and sidewalks and stairs on the way to work whether it’s 40 miles, 4 miles, or 4 steps away. so, i take it back, i do wish YOU bon voyage on YOUR daily journeys.

and i wish ME bon voyage, as i embark on my first solo international trip. starting tomorrow night. and ending 10 days later. don’t forget me while i’m gone!

actually, YOU can’t, my blog has special things in store for YOU. special things YOU’ll have to come back to see because i wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise. let’s hope the blog works as it should and doesn’t ruin its surprise for YOU. that would be typical though. technology turning its back on me and on itself whenever i come around. i don’t know why that is. i’m part of the generation that’s supposed to be whiz bang good at this stuff. maybe i’m just not good at whizzing and banging and uh, wait a second. now the words are failing me, so i best bid YOU adieu and let’s hope i don’t have to utter the words “non capisco” more than 87 times per day. and let’s hope the italian weathermen are just as inaccurate as the american ones because i’m not liking the look of this forecast, which says rain, light rain, AM showers, PM showers, thunderstorms, um, italy? really? i thought you were all sun and vino all the time. you’re not? well the italy in my head is, so please realign yourself.

ok, ok, ok, i’ll stop stalling and get to packing and provided i don’t get lost in translation, i’ll see YOU on the flip side.