Julia's Chocolates

Sunday, December 20, 2009
I spent the day with my family, reading today's book while they were making Christmas cookies. And while she was making Christmas cookies, Alissa managed to squeeze in some time to peer pressured me into doing a countdown to the end of the blog.
So here you go Alissa: 12 days left of the blogging project.
Can you believe it dear readers, only 12 days left? I can't even wrap my mind around that. I remember when it was February and this point of the year seemed so far away, and now here I am so close to the end. It just doesn't feel real yet. And I'm going to have to give this some more thought before I come to the last entry of the year, so I will have something more articulate to say that sums up the year.

Mom baked the cookies, Dad and Alissa helped decorate them and Oliver "helped" by checking to make sure the powdered sugar was at its freshest. We've discovered this holiday season, that Oliver is a very helpful dog - he likes to "check" the garland to make sure it's in the right place, he likes to rearrange bows on packages, and he loves to "check" the water in the Christmas tree to make sure its fresh.

Today's book, "The quirky debut romance from Lamb opens as Julia Bennett flees the Boston altar where her blue blood abuser fiancé, Robert Stanfield III, awaits her. She leaves her wedding gown in a North Dakota tree, and arrives in the tiny town of Golden, Oregon to take refuge with her beloved Aunt Lydia. As Julia slowly returns to a semblance of normalcy, Lydia's eccentric friends soon become Julia's near and dear as well: minister's wife Lara, psychic Caroline and abused wife Katie all have their own hidden pains, to which Julia can relate. Robert, who hit her and made her feel bad about her body, is never far from her thoughts, nor is her incapacitating "Dread Disease"-a feeling of panic she can't name."

Chocolate thoughts:

  • Mid-way through reading today's book I realized that this is the third chocolate-related book I've read in the last three months. First there was Choclat, and then Hershey. Clearly my subconscious is trying to telling me something. Lucky for me, and my subconscious, Christmas is coming and so is the suspension of the no-sugar rule, so there's a chocolate cupcake in my very near future. All of the chocolate books were good, but in order of enjoyment it goes: Chocolat, Hershey, and then today's book. Today's book was good, but I didn't get instantly sucked into it the way I did with Chocolat and there were no fun facts like in Hershey. And the book started to get tackier and tackier as it went. Normally I enjoy a tacky book now and then - just as I enjoy a tacky episode of Roseanne every now and then, but the tackiness started to wear thing after awhile.

  • My favorite line of the book was the first one (that's right, the first one - how lazy can I get?), "I left my wedding dress hanging in a tree somewhere in North Dakota." - I love it when a book has a really intriguing first sentence, particularly when it's as odd as that one. So many authors start out with lackluster first sentences, and it's such a wasted opportunity.

  • The odd parts of the book did not stop with the first sentence of the book. Here is another example of the weirdness, "During my visit, people would come to a screeching halt in front of Aunt Lydia's house, as usual. Not because it looked like a pink marshmallow, burned in the center, and not just because she has eight toilets in her front yard." - I'm not even going to tell you whether today's book is worth reading dear readers - I'm not even going to presume to know whether you are the kind of people who enjoy reading about the kind of people who keep toilets in their front yards. I personally enjoy reading about people like that to a point, so I'm glad that I read today's book but I don't think I would want to read it a second time.

Cherries in Winter

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The month of December has been going by so quickly that sometimes I lose track of what day it is, but today when I realized that it's the 19th already I was startled to think of just how close I am to being done with this project. I am both excited to be done and just a little bit sad that it's almost over. I would be really sad if I wasn't already planning to finish the blog beyond this year because, while I'm happy that I will soon have a break from having to put a blog entry up every day, I don't want to be doing with this whole blogging business altogether. I have grown much more attached to it than I ever expected, especially considering I was the kind of person who mocked blogs before writing one (I really should be more careful what I mock because I almost always end up doing it at some point.)

Today's book, "When Suzan Colon was laid off from her dream job at a magazine during the economic downturn of 2008, she needed to cut her budget way, way back - and that meant home cooking. Her mother suggested, "Why don't you look in Nan's recipe folder?" In the basement, Suzan found the tattered treasure, full of handwritten and meticulously typed recipes, peppered with her grandmother Matilda's commentary in the margins. Reading it, Suzan realized she had found something more than a collection of recipes - she had found the key to her family's survival of hard times."

Shallow thoughts:

  • I loved today's book! It was the kind of book that was perfect for reading in one day (I've had a bad run of luck with books that aren't good for that lately) and I got sucked into it immediately. I was on the very first page when I already knew I was going to love the book. But then I have always been a big fan of books about food. What could be better than combining my two favorite things, reading and cooking. If I was a different sort of person I might consider it cheating to read a book that has recipes - but I read recipes like they are poetry so there's no skipping over them for me. I read every single one.

  • I was going to pick out one of the recipes from today's book to cook today, so I could report back to my dear readers about how it tasted - but I couldn't find one that I wasn't allergic to. Instead I will tell you about the strangest recipe in the book: Hot Dog Soup (a version of Split Pea Soup the author improvised when she was out of ham.) Perhaps I will pass the recipe along to my Dad who considers the four food groups to consist of: hot dogs, steak, pork chops, and sausage. That's it. He could live off of those things. He can be eating one of them and think of the other and end up having a Homer Simpson-esque moment of "HMMMMM STEAK."

  • Favorite passage: "I was never a picky eater as a kid. Mom remembers that even as a toddler I had a curious palate. "You loved martini olives," she says. "What were you doing feeding martini olives to a two-year-old?" I ask. She shrugs, "It was the sixties. . . " - This sounds startlingly close to my Mothers excuse for letting me eat cookies for breakfast when I was a child, "It was the 80s, people didn't know about nutrition then. "

I Love You Like a Tomato

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's happened two days late, but better late than never. It's chapter and page count time.

For the week -


PAGES - 2,203

For the year -


PAGES - 93,587

Today's book, "ChiChi Maggiordino will do anything to get God's attention. She will hold her breath, stand on tiptoe for an hour, walk a mile backward, climb up stairs on her knees - anything. When her grandmother teaches her how to use the Evil Eye, telling her it's how Jesus Christ made his miracles and how the Italians got rid of Mussolini, ChiChi realizes it's what her prayers have been missing. Now she can get started on the business of making her mother happier by helping her find love and healing her brother's weak lungs."

Shallow thoughts:

  • I picked today's book because of the title was so odd. There I said it, I'm still shallow and easily seduced by a good cover and an interesting title. But, unlike at the beginning of the year (oh who am I kidding, the beginning of the month) I have finally learned my lesson about picking out books based just on that. So I did actually read the description of today's book before picking it for the blog. Although I didn't think through all the way the plan to read a book that's almost 500 pages on a Friday. Fridays always feel like they should be goof off days, time to get done with responsibilities early, and curl up in front of the TV with Grape Faygo and Chocolate Stars to watch TGIF . . . oh wait, I'm not eight-years-old anymore.

  • Today's book was really good, but also kind of odd (which is actually a quality I enjoy in a book, so it works) - it was also bleak but the main character ChiChi (who I wish had a different name because it annoyed me senseless to have to read that name over and over again throughout the book) had a sense of humor so it kept the book from being totally depressing. I would definitely recommend today's book, with the caveat that it's not the kind of book that should be read in one day. I spent most of the day wishing that I could have taken my time with the book. So I will be setting the book aside and reading it a second time once the year is up. I may even get crazy and take an entire week to read it!

  • My favorite sentence came when ChiChi was describing her baby brother, "I've seen prettier sardines." - I love it. No attempts to sugar-coat. No cute little euphemism such as "What a sweet baby" or "look at those cute little hands" - just straight out with it.

  • Most depressing sentence, "And Mama sank into a quiet sadness so dark and bottomless she seemed not to breathe." - As you can see dear readers, today's book gets right to the point. Which is a quality I've always enjoyed both in people and books.

The Christmas Train

Today has been an extremely challenging blogging day. Up until today I had gotten a little bit cocky about this whole blog business, thinking that since I was just days away from the end of this project it would smooth sailing from this point on, like the last few weeks of school before vacation. But instead, I spent the day struggling to read my book in between trying to finish my Christmas shopping, then I lost my blogging notes, and then I spent 2 hours trying to get on the Internet, unsuccessfully, before calling Comcast and spending 40 minutes talking to a really nice and very helpful person who managed to help me finally get online again. So here I sit at 1:25 in the morning, wishing I was asleep, trying to get my blog entry written because I can't bear the thought of going to sleep without the entry being up. A blogger's job is never done. But, I'm considering it a personal victory that I did not use even the slightest bit of profanity during the almost-three-hour attempt to get on the Internet. I handled the crisis in a manner that would make Mike Brady proud.

I was going to do the chapter and page count today, but since I had whining about my tough day to do and Christmas pictures to share, I have decided to move it to tomorrow. I know I promised that I would post it today, but you'll just have to muddle through another day without knowing how many pages I've read this week (try to be brave - I know your hearts are breaking right now.)

Here I am on Christmas morning when I was about five-years-old, attempting to rock the I-just-woke-up-and-was-too-lazy-to-even-bother-to-brush-my-hair look (and pulling it off if I do say so myself.) The Barbie house in the background was one that my Dad built for me. I only got to keep it for six months because we eventually found out that my Mother was allergic to the wood the house was made out of and so we had to get rid of it.

Here is my sister with, what I'm going to presume to call, one of her favorite Christmas presents ever. Don't be fooled into thinking that's some ordinary toy doll. No dear readers, that's not just a toy. That's Mr. Bally. He has a name. He has a heart. He has feelings, which can be easily hurt when someone leaves him lying face down (although some of us did that by accident because we could never remember where his face was supposed to be.)

Today's book, "Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to L.A. in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight "misunderstanding" at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic."

Shallow Christmasy thoughts:

  • I picked today's book because I have always been fascinated by the idea of train travel. I blame this on old movies which make train travel look elegant, glamorous and exciting. I'm sure the reality is gritty and boring - but I like to cling to that illusion. Which is probably why I've never actually attempted to travel by train - I'm sure that within five minutes my happy little bubble would burst.

  • Today's book was good but not great, worth reading once but probably not one I would read again. In other words, it was better than most of the books I have read this year, but not good enough to do on my list of "Books I'm Going to Re-read Next Year When I Can Take My Time." I'm toying with the idea of doing a blog post once a month next year to report back on whether I enjoyed the re-reads more or less once I got a chance to read them slowly.

  • And here's your fun fact for the day dear readers: Never flush an airplane toilet while you're still sitting on it. One would assume that's common sense - but one would be wrong. Because there are allegedly people who are not smart enough to figure that out who, as a result, ended up suctioned to the toilet for the remainder of the flight. Since this book is a novel, I simply must go google that story and find out if it's ever actually happened. . . darn it, it seems that story was a rumor that turned out to be false. The part of my brain that will always be eight-years-old so desperately wanted that story to be true.

A Dog Called Perth

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The chapter and page count has been moved to tomorrow (try to hold in the tears) because today is what is known in our family as Oliversary (otherwise known as: the day Oliver was adopted from the shelter.) Yes, we're those kind of people, the kind who dress their dog up for Halloween, and take more picture of him than some people have of their babies, and bring him back special surprises when we go on vacation. In other words, Oliver has the cushiest life a dog could possibly have. But don't take my word for it, I have pictorial evidence:

Here is a picture of Oliver from last Christmas, when he was beginning his life as the most photographed dog in history. No really, sometimes I look through the pictures on my Mother's computer and count to see how many pictures of Oliver there are in a row on there- sometimes the number has gotten as high as 47. Not that I can blame my Mother since he is very cute. Or as I like to say to him, "Who is the cutest puppy in the entire world? Why it's Oliver." Yeah that's right, I'm actually dorky enough to talk to the dog like that.

Here's Oliver catching up on his sleep. I have no idea how that could possibly be comfortable, but Oliver has decided that it's the most comfortable sleeping position ever and can be found sleeping like that on a regular basis.

And here's Oliver sitting in the window seat that he believes is his but which really belongs to my Mother. He's squirrel watching, an activity that he approaches with the same intensity that some people bring to watching soap operas, leading me to regularly make the oh-so-lame joke that Oliver is watching another episode of "As the Squirrel Turns."

Today's book, "From the moment Peter and Cindy Martin spotted her as a puppy in a kennel and she came streaking toward them and staring with her intense gaze, they knew she was the one. Almost immediately, she became a central part of their household. Always left to run free, she became an indefatigable explorer, gone for hours, sometimes for entire days, but her infallible compass always brought her home. From her exploits in upstate New York to the story of her incredible survival in the Vermont wilderness and her later adventures in the English countryside, Perth displayed the same pluck, intelligence, devotion, unshakable trust, and unstinting love."

Oliversary thoughts:

  • Today's book was similar to Marley & Me in some ways, but definitely not as good. The difference being, the pet owners in Marley & Me didn't get on my nerves. The annoying pet owner behavior included: claiming that their dog was smarter than a lot of school-aged children; letting their dog run free at all times because they didn't want to crush her spirit; responding to their dogs repeated attempted to bite and even maul people by blaming the behavior on the dog's boredom over living in the state of Ohio (So if any of you are reading this blog from Ohio, good news, you're no longer responsible for your behavior from this point on. You can't help, you live in Ohio, so it's out of your hands.) I could go on and on, but you get the point dear readers - basically nothing the dog did was wrong or bad, it's just the high-jinxs of a spirited puppy amusing herself by doing things that result in people needing to get stitches.

  • My favorite passage was one in which Cindy and Peter were discussing what to name their new puppy. Cindy tells Peter that she doesn't want to give the dog a feminine sounding name, and here is his response, "I was thinking the same thing," I replied, becoming poetic. "It would be too narrow for her. She needs to travel this earth with a larger identity. She needs a name that doesn't tie her down to her sex, a distinctive name." - If you weren't able to tell by the passage, Perth was the Martins' pre-baby dog. You can always tell the difference between people who got a dog before having kids vs. those who get one after by how many theories the people have about the correct way of "raising" the dog. I never stop being amused by hearing people talk about their dog as if he/she is a seven-year-old child.

  • And here is your fun fact for the day dear readers: A beagle can run up to 400 miles in one weekend because their lung power never wears out. - I didn't bother looking that fun fact up the way I normally do because I was too busy looking up the lyrics to songs that I've listened to for years but never knew all of the words to (time well spent if you ask me), so I'm just going to have to take the author's word for it on that one.

The Best of Everything

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today's book, "When it was first published in 1958, Rona Jaffe's debut novel electrified readers who saw themselves reflected in its story of five young employees of a New York publishing company. There's Ivy League Caroline, who dreams of graduating from the typing pool to an editor's office; naive country girl April, who within months of hitting town reinvents herself as the woman every man wants on his arm; Gregg, the free-spirit actress with a secret yearning for domesticity."

Retro thoughts:

  • Perhaps it's just that today's book takes place during one of my favorite time periods - the 50s - but I loved it! I do tend to get totally sucked into any book that takes place in the 40s and 50s and judge it by different standards. But, even removing the time period from the equation, I still really enjoyed the book. My favorite part: the main character, Caroline. I felt an instantly connection to the character - which is something that happened to me regularly as a child, but hasn't happened as frequently since I got past the age of twelve.

  • The author of today's book mentions in the introduction that she was approached by Hollywood producer Jerry Wald, who was looking for a modern-day Kitty Foyle - but she quickly read the book, hated it, and decided that she could do better. I read Kitty Foyle a few months ago for the blog and while I didn't hate the book (in fact, I kind of liked it), I do agree that the author of today's book was able to do a much better job. I learned while reading today's book that like Kitty Foyle, the book was made into a movie. So now I think we all know what I'm going to be wasting ridiculous amounts of time doing on the Internet when I'm done writing today's entry.

  • Today's book included the thing that I always hope for in old books, talk of money. I know talking about money is supposed to be very bad manners, but I just can't get enough of the characters in old books talking about how exciting it is to be earning $50 a week! It reminds me of my all-time favorite line from Homefront, "I'll never be a $10,000 a year man."

  • And now time for an extremely shallow and totally pointless thought: One of the characters in the book was named Miss. Farrow and I spent the entire book trying to force my brain to read her name as Miss. Farrow. But my brain continued to protest and insist on reading it as Mia Farrow. After fifty pages I decided to just stop fighting it, because trying to force my brain to behave like a brain that hasn't been fed a steady diet of celebrity gossip for the last twenty years became futile. It was slowing me down. So I decided to just embrace it. So basically I've started to treat my brain like a child that's so bratty its own parents are afraid of it.

How to Be a Movie Star

Monday, December 14, 2009

I am a little over two weeks away from the end of my year-long project (a fact which boggles my mind) and the questions have begun rolling in. Are you looking forward to being done? What are you going to do when the year is over? Are you going to do another reading challenge next year?

In case you are losing sleep at night wondering the answers to those questions (hey it won't kill you to humor me on that one dear readers, so just play along), I will end your suspense. Yes, I am looking forward to the year being over. I'm counting the days (18, if you count today) because I'm really looking forward to finding out what it will feel like when this is over. As for what I will do next year, I am continuing the blog, but since I will not have to stick to the format of a book every day, I'm going to have a chance to do some fun blogging stuff that I couldn't do this year. I'm also looking forward to writing some blog entries about books that were either too short or too long to have read this year. And, I will be working on turning my experience with this year-long project into a book. And, no, there will be no reading challenge next year. I am toying with reading my way across the fiction section of the library at some point in the future, but that will not be happening next year. I need a bit of a break from reading projects for awhile.

Today's book, "Readers will feel they are sitting next to Taylor as she rises at MGM, survives a marriage engineered for publicity, feuds with Hedda Hopper and Mr. Mayer, wins Oscars, endures tragedy, juggles Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton and her country's conservative values. But it is the private Elizabeth that will surprise--a woman of heart and loyalty, who defends underdogs, a savvy professional whose anger at the studio's treatment of her led to a lifelong battle against that very system. All the Elizabeth's are here, finally reconciled and seen against the exciting years of her greatest spirit, beauty, and influence. Swathed in mink, staring us down with her lavender eyes, disposing of husbands but keeping the diamonds, here is Elizabeth Taylor as she was meant to be, leading her epic life on her own terms, playing the game of supreme stardom at which she remains, to this day, unmatched."

Hollywood thoughts:

  • I loved today's book! I've always been a huge fan of biographies and autobiographies - especially those that feature actors/actresses from my favorite old movies. I'm a big fan of the original Father of the Bride (I enjoyed the remake as well), so I when I discovered there was a new book out about Elizabeth Taylor I was anxious to read it. Especially since the author promises that today's book is, ". . . not a traditional biography. I do not cover every year of Taylor's life, or every film, or every up and down of every romance. There are plenty of other books that do that . . . What intrigues me are those areas that haven't been fully investigated before: the mechanics of Taylor's fame and the alchemy that assured her enduring celebrity." - As much as I love biographies, the one big flaw I often find is that they focus too much on the subject's personal life at the expense of their career. I'm interested in hearing about the personal lives of actors as well (the number of times a day I visit People.com will attest to that) but I am much more interested in the behind-the-scenes stories from the movie sets.

  • The biggest advantage today's book has over the traditional biography is that the book doesn't get bogged down in the boring details of every failed marriage Taylor had. As much as I love biographies, while reading the traditional kind, there is always that moment that comes about mid-way through when I think, This book should have been named "Stupid Reasons for Marrying the Wrong People." Don't get me wrong dear readers, the bad marriages are mentioned, and the stupid reasons are given (and they were stupid) but the book doesn't dwell on them to the point where it becomes tiresome.

  • And here are your fun facts for the day dear readers: 1. Elizabeth Taylor was the first female star to be paid a million dollars a picture. (Are you breathing a sigh of relief right now dear readers, and thinking Finally, a fun fact that is actually fun!) 2. Elizabeth smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, and always insisted that her cigarette holders must match whatever outfit she was wearing at the time, and coordinate with the tablecloth. - Because when you're destroying your lungs, it's always import to do it in style. Ordinarily I applaud people for color-coordination, but I think I'll make an exception in this case.

The Willows at Christmas

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today I was feeling depressed because I think I'm allergic to my Christmas tree, so I decided to try to pull myself out of my pre-Christmas funk by reading a Christmas-themed book and sharing a few childhood Christmas pictures with all of my dear readers - and, of course, I managed to find time to watch some children's Christmas specials (because being 30 years-old doesn't mean I can't still watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. You're never too old for Charlie Brown.)

Just in case you haven't already seen enough of the hideous plaid couch from my childhood (which lives in my nightmares), here's a picture of me from when I was still at a respectable age for watching Charlie Brown. I've always enjoyed this picture because I think it looks like I'm pleading with Santa to give me presents, Please Santa, give me toys. I've been a very good child this year. . . well except for that time when I hit my brother because he wouldn't stop squeezing my hands in an effort to try to make them fall off.

And, so Alissa won't object to being left out of the first picture, a picture of just her. Well actually that's not entirely true, since she's sharing the picture with some one's legs (not sure whose) and the edges of Mom's feathered 80s hairdo, and of course her two best friends, Bert and Ernie. While my hardcore Laura Ingalls Wilder addiction was going on, Alissa was nursing an equally intense addiction with Bert and Ernie (as you can see by the look of pure joy on her face.)

Today's book, "Mr. Mole, a newcomer to the River Bank community, has happily forged friendships with Ratty, Badger, Otter, and Toad, with whom he expects to celebrate Christmas. But Mole is baffled when his invitations are met coolly. Soon, the reason is revealed: Toad Hall used to be the center of the community's festivities, but now the horrible Mrs. Ffleshe swoops in each year and ruins the holidays. Mole decides to launch a campaign to bring Christmas back to the River Bank. The ride is not smooth, of course, and before the happy ending, we see Toad fling himself into the river, Mole get caught by weasel hoodlums, and the most magnificent jailbreak in history. Quite appropriate for children as well as adults, this fourth sequel to Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows is as delightful as its predecessors. The characters are well drawn, as the story perfectly demonstrates Mole's shy kindness, Toad's grandiosity, Ratty's resourcefulness, Otter's loyalty, and Badger's wisdom. With understated dialogue and endearing characters, this is a most pleasant celebration of the season."

Shallow Christmas-time thoughts:

  • A few months ago, I read The Wind in the Willows, so when I discovered that there was a Christmas version of the story I knew I had to read it for the blog. I imagined sitting down in front of the Christmas tree and having a cozy afternoon reading a delightful book. The reality looked more like me sitting as far away from the Christmas tree as I could get while still remaining in the house, and passing the afternoon being bored out of my mind because today's book lacked all of the warmth and charm of the original book. In fact, I encourage you to take a good long look at the front cover of the book dear readers - drink it up, soak it in, because it was the only charming part of the book. This led to some investigative research (which, in my life, roughly translates to: stuff I should have already realized by now but haven't because I have the attention span of a six-month-old child) and I discovered that today's book was not written by the author of the original. Sequels written by different authors never work (although I would be happy to be proven wrong, so if anyone knows of an example, please share.) I got so bored with today's book that mid-way through I started trying to replay a movie in my head to get through it (a technique that I quickly discovered only works with bad movies, never with bad books.)

Favorite passage, "Be that as it may, Mole, Groat's telegraph concluded with these ominous words in reference to Mrs. Ffleshe: 'You will not find her in any way difficult or unpleasant provided you accede to her occasional whim and agree at once to opinions she may from time to time feel inclined to express with regard to your domestic arrangements, and upon three subjects in which she believes herself to be something of an expert: religion, politics and members of any sex other than her own, namely those who are of the male gender. On such issues I advise that silence is golden, and the virtue of turning the other cheek is to be practised." - Oh if only the entire book could have been filled with such gentle comedy, perhaps then I would have enjoyed today's book.

Perfect Love

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Welcome to the most boring day of my life dear readers. I spent the day puppy sitting my parents' dog Oliver, watching cartoons, and reading today's book. Try to hold the jealousy in dear readers, I know you wish that you were leading as exciting of a life as I'm leading right now.

Today's book, "In the uneasy role of a young bride encountering a new stepdaughter, Prue, now married 20 years, has never gotten along with Violet - still insolent at 27. The awkward blend of Violet's new husband and son and Prue's family has explosive results. Prior to meeting Violet's husband, Jamie, meek and obedient Prue's only passion had been Joan of Arc. She is researching and writing Joan's biography. In her relationship with Jamie, she is torn between meaningful love and family loyalty. The novel alternates between Prue's narrative and her research of Joan's life. Prue takes strength from Joan and sees similarities in both of their lives."

It's been a while since I've read a fluffy sort of book (or as I like to call them, airport books, because they are precisely the kind of book you would find sandwiched between People magazine and the candy bar rack in an airport gift shop) - so I decided today would be the perfect day for it since I'm not feeling great today and I don't enjoy having to think when I feel bad. I just want to shut off my brain, crawl under the covers, and watch Brady Bunch . . . oh, I mean read a nice fluffy book. But, unfortunately today's book was not a very interesting one. I had a hard time connecting to, liking, or caring about what happened to, any of the characters. Plus, the book felt like it was weighed down with too many different story lines going on at once.

Since the book was rather dull, I've decided to save you the trouble of having to read it, and share with you the notable sentences of the book, of which there were only a few.

Notable sentences:

  • "Let me tell you a story about an adultery, a heroine, a child's anger, voices, Joan of Arc, and since it was 1992, recession." - This was the first sentence of the book, which should have been a strong indication to me that the plot of today's book was going to be overwhelming and dare I say, overloaded. But, since I'm a literary optimist, I ignore the warning sign and instead thought, Wow, Ms. Author is really laying it all out on the table there. Live and learn. Or in my case, live and don't learn.

  • "But, then, it is almost impossible for the lives of people who are bound together by deep feeling and habit, not to seep into each other." - Do you think that's the reason why some mothers go around saying things like, "We're feeling cranky today. But we're about to drink a bottle and then we'll feel better." I really want to know - because I need to understand what force it is that makes people unable to realized that we are not drinking a bottle, the baby is drinking a bottle - so that I can avoid a similar fate in the future.

  • "Whatever else she had expected, she had learned quickly that bookshops are not peaceful places." - Not peaceful places? Every feeling revolts. Even now, hours later, I'm reeling from having read that sentence. As far as I'm concerned, there is no place on earth more peaceful than a bookstore. I would rather go to a bookstore than a spa (of course I hate spas, but you get my point dear readers.) I walk into a bookstore and my immediate reaction is Ahhhhhhh. All is right with the world once again.

Love Story

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Today is the Anniversary of the day when my parents met (which they celebrate every year.) As of today, they have known one another for 39 years, a fact I am having trouble wrapping my mind around. So to commemorate that I decided to share a 70s picture, and read a book that ties in with their early dating years.

I have been told by various relatives that my Mother had a teenage crush on Bobby Sherman, and that she also thought my Dad looked a little bit like him. Coincidence? I think not.

My Father has shared that his first impression of my Mother was that he thought she was out of his league. My Mother's first impression of my Dad, she thought he was looking up her skirt. They met, at the age of 15, when they were working at the same restaurant. My Mom was sent to refill salt shakers, and unbeknownst to her my Dad had been told to tape the tablecloths to the bottom of the tables (so clearly it was a classy joint) and so he was on the floor, under the table, when they first met. My Mother began yelling at him, accusing him of being under the table with the intention of looking up her dress, and when I imagine this scenario I somehow always see her hitting him with a menu. My Mom doesn't like this story because it's not exactly a fairytale beginning - but I like to remind her that almost every romantic comedy begins with the couple disliking each other and arguing over something trivial before they eventually realize they love each other.

Today's book, "Oliver Barett IV went to Harvard, and Jenny Cavilleri to Radcliffe. He was rich, and she was poor. He was a jock; she was a serious music type. Nonetheless, they feel in love and got married. Their story is funny, touching, and infused with wonder, as all love stories should be. Unlike most contemporary fiction dealing with young people, Love Story makes no claim to showing where it's at. Rather, it simply shows how it feels."

Love thoughts:

  • I went back and forth for a few days on what book to read today, and I eventually settled on Love Story because the movie that the book inspired was what my parents watched on their very first date. Earlier today my Dad shared with me how nervous he was on that date because he was convinced he had been stood up. My Mother was late because she was too young to drive and therefore had to wait around for an adult to drive her to the movie theater, and the adults in question, her Mother and sister, were busy having a fight about whether my cousin should be wearing disposable diapers (My Grandmother being against them and my Aunt presenting the case in favor of them.) Lucky for everyone involved - and for those of us who are the result of the relationship in question - the argument was resolved in time for my Mom to get to the theater before my Dad left.

  • I am perhaps the last person left on earth who didn't know the way Love Story ends before reading it, and so when my Mother warned me that it was a downer I thought, How sad could it really be? And then I opened the book to begin reading, and this was the very first sentence, "What can you say about a twenty-five-year old girl who died?" So clearly I was laboring under some false impressions about what the book was actually going to be about. All I knew going in was that quote about how love means never having to say you're sorry.

  • Despite the sadness of the book, I really enjoyed reading it. Which is odd for me because I am generally the kind of reader who likes to be molly-coddled with pleasant diversions and a happy ending. I think what helped is that the book was unexpectedly amusing in places - and there's something about a book that makes me laugh and cry that is hard to resist (despite how emotionally dead I normally am.) So I would definitely recommend today's book - which earns the distinction of being the shortest book I have read this year at only 133 pages. Normally I like to read books that are no shorter than about 200 pages, but I just couldn't pass up the chance to read a book that was so perfect for this day. Besides, I think I've earned an easier reading day after reading a book that was over 500 pages earlier in the week.

And now dear readers, I would like to hear your How-We-Met or your How-My-Parents-Met stories.


After several hours of computer problems that involved my computer freezing up for long periods of time, I am finally now able to get today's blog entry up. Sorry for the delay dear readers.

Before I get to today's blog entry, it's page count time. Actually, it's supposed to be chapter and page count time, but I made the mistake this week of returning a few books to the library before checking to see how many chapters were in them, so I'm going to have to fill the chapter part in later.

For the week:

PAGES - 2,450

For the year:

PAGES - 91,384

Today's book, "During a summer at the Darlington Peach Orchard in Georgia, Murphy, Leeda, and Birdie discover the true meaning of friendship despite their differences. Murphy, a bright, sarcastic 16-year-old from the wrong side of town, is completing community service at the orchard. Wealthy Leeda lives in her perfect older sister's shadow. She decides to work at her uncle's orchard on a whim and then is too proud to change her mind. Birdie Darlington is trying to keep the farm running despite the fact that her mother has left and her father refuses to face the desperate straits that the business is in. As the summer progresses, the girls bond and realize that you cannot judge someone by her financial or family situation."

Shallow thoughts:

  • Last week, when I read Whislin' Dixie in a Nor'easter, my sister pointed out that it was the second week in a row when I had read a book with a peach on the cover, which was something that was not only unintentional but I hadn't even realized it until it was pointed out to me. It was at that point that Alissa and C. challenged me to come up with a third book with a peach on the cover. Naturally I had to do it (although I am firmly drawing the line here - there will NOT be a fourth book with a peach on the cover no matter who double dares me.)

  • Since I have now read three peach-related books in a row I feel it's only right to tell you which one was my favorite. The winner of the "Best Peach Themed Book" award goes to (drum roll please): Whislin' Dixie in a Nor'Easter. Today's book was my least favorite of the three. I struggled all day to connect to the characters and get into the book - but it never happened. I was on page 178 and I was still thinking, I don't even care how this book ends.

  • The book also mentions one of my biggest pet peeves, church signs that have stupid quotes on them - annoying things like, "Everyone has patience, successful people know how to use it." I truly want to know, is there anyone in the world who has ever seen one of those signs and thought, "Yes, I have found the source of wisdom. I must go inside." Whenever I see one of those signs I am often tempted to go inside, but for a vastly different reason. I want to go inside so I can plead with whoever put that sign up, and tell them, "Don't lower yourself to this. Don't toss your dignity away on the front lawn. You're better than this." But since what I have to say does not contain a catchy slogan, I'm guessing my words would fall on deaf ears.

  • Most horrifying passage of the book, "Birdie had been to Disney World, but she'd never liked it. It didn't feel like real life." - She didn't like Disney World? My brain can't even process that sentence. I have heard of these strange people who don't like Disney World, but I still find it hard to believe that they actually exist. How is it possible to not like Disney World? And how could a person not understand that Disney World isn't meant to be exactly like real life - it's supposed to be about fantasy - that's the whole point. Some people have no sense of childlike wonder.

True Compass

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Today's book, "The youngest of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, he came of age among siblings from whom much was expected. In this historic memoir, Ted Kennedy takes us inside his family, re-creating life with his parents and brothers and explaining their profound impact on him."

Today was a challenging reading day, with boring work stuff to get done, Christmas preparations to be made, and a 507 page book to read. So I'm feeling a little frazzled right now (so warning, this will be a short entry), and looking forward to tomorrow when I will be reading a book that's only about 300 pages. But, I am happy that I read today's book because it was fascinating.

Fun facts:

  • Teddy Kennedy was born on February 22nd, George Washington's birthday, which prompted his older brother Jack waging a campaign for him to be named George Washington Kennedy - obviously an unsuccessful campaign, but I do admire young Jack's attempt. I mean what's the point of having younger siblings if you can't treat them like pets and come up with crazy names for them.

  • Joseph McCarthy - before he began destroying people's lives - once dated Eunice Kennedy. - I think that brings a whole new meaning to the expression "dodged a bullet." I'm guessing Eunice was the grand winner of the "Who Dated the Biggest Loser" contest amongst her siblings.

  • The Kennedy's used their cloth napkins for a week before washing them. - Perhaps I should have filed that under "Pointless Facts" but I just thought that was too gross not to share. A week? YUCK.

Favorite passage, "To say that I love the Senate does not begin to convey what that institution means to me. Let me put it this way: after nearly half a century, I still cannot be in a car, headed for the Capitol, especially in the evening, and glimpse it in the distance without the hair standing up on my arms. I've told Vicki: if ever that sight does not move me, I will know it is time to step aside."

Wishin' and Hopin'

Monday, December 7, 2009

Today's book, "LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on every one's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade - easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy. Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysisus Gonzaga Parochial School. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of susbstitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from Quebec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova."

Shallow Christmasy thoughts:

  • I spent the day Christmas shopping with my Mother - in between reading today's book, of course - and so naturally I had to read a Christmas themed book. Although I want to warn you dear readers, that when I say "Christmas themed" I am using those words extremely loosely. I made it to page 131 before Christmas was even mentioned. And even then, I didn't have that swept-up-in-the-Christmas-spirit kind of feeling that I like to have when reading a book about Christmas. I'm having a run of bad luck with Christmas books lately - but I am convinced my luck is about to turn.

  • The part of the book that actually took place during the Christmas season revolved around getting reading for a school Christmas production - which naturally made me want to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas (which takes a much more interesting look at this subject - so if I hadn't been working on the blog I would have skipped reading the end of today's book and just watched that.) Since I had no choice but to finish, I decided instead to do both. So, in between reading today's book and while waiting for my Mother to come out of a store, I watched the Charlie Brown special on the DVD player in the car. What can I say dear readers, I'm a multi-tasker. It's very difficult to balance simultaneous addictions to TV and books, but I'm giving it my best shot.

  • And now, a shout out to my Dad and his weird habits. At one point during the book, during one of the many Annette Funicello references, a picture of Annette standing in front of Cinderella's castle with the inscription, "To America's Sweetheart and her Wonderful Family! With my fondest wishes, "Uncle" Walt. My Dad - who is mildly obsessed (okay, incredibly obsessed) with all things related to Disney World, comes home from work every single day and says, "Anything from Uncle Walt," and then he expresses sincere disappointment to discover that once again he has not received any mail from Disney World. And whoever is standing there smiles and rolls their eyes, because it's just part of the Dad-ness that is Dad.

And don't worry, I have not forgotten about the childhood Christmas picture (aren't you glad that you won't have to go to bed tonight wondering "But what did Angie look like during Christmas of 1983?")

This is one of my favorite sister pictures. This picture was taken the year that we both got dolls with hair that matched our hair. But, we decided that it would be so obvious to everyone that we were meant to have the dolls with matching hair that if we switched dolls for the picture everyone would instantly see how hilarious our little joke was. As you can see from the picture, we were endlessly amused by the switch. And so began our years of being in a room full of people and being the only two who get why the joke we just made was so funny.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Today's book was suggested by Sharon - so thanks for the suggestion Sharon.

Today's book, " A series of vignettes linked to the establishment and growth of Mma Ramotswe's "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" serve not only to entertain but to explore conditions in Botswana in a way that is both penetrating and light thanks to Smith's deft touch."

Mysterious thoughts:

  • Today's book was a good one to read in the middle of the Christmas season. I am one of those people who embraces the Christmas season - listening to Christmas music in the car as early as November, reading by the Christmas tree on a daily basis, recording every Christmas program ever made on the DVR and watching them repeatedly. But then there comes a point, every couple of days, when I start to feel all Christmased out and I need to experience something that has nothing to do with the Christmas season. Today's book did a great job of transporting me to a place far away from my present life. So, if you're feeling like you've had too strong of a dose of Christmas lately dear readers, you might want to check out today's book and take a little break for awhile.

  • Favorite passage, "She loved magazines. She loved their smell and their bright pictures. She loved interior design magazines which showed how people lived in faraway countries." - I have a bit of a magazine obsession myself - which results in an annual magazine spree, in which I buy every decorating, cooking, and health related magazine I find. It's fun while I'm buying the magazines - and then I come home and add reading the magazines to my to-do list (cause I'm the kind of person who adds stuff like "Read Magazines" and "Watch every episode of Roseanne ever made except for the last season when the show was totally ruined" onto my to-do list so that I can spent at least 20% of the day, okay 50%, goofing off and still feel a delightful sense of accomplishment.)

  • Passage I disagreed with the most, "The eyes allowed you to see right into a person, to penetrate their very essence, and that was why people with something to hide wore sunglasses indoors. They were the ones you had to watch very carefully." - Clearly the author of today's book has never discovered the joy of wearing sunglasses indoors in order to better pretend to be a movie star from the 40s. I understand, it's not his fault, some people just have no sense of drama. It's just sad is what it is. He's also never met anyone disorganized enough to misplace their glasses/contacts, while simultaneously being too lazy to go look for them, thereby leaving them no choice but to wear sunglasses indoors in order to better see what's happening on that days episode of Days of Our Lives. Not that anything like that has ever happened to me or anyone I know. Why I'm far too mature for that sort of nonsense.

  • And here's your fun fact for the day: Citizens of Botswana, when spoken of in the singular, are known as Motswana. And if you're sitting there wondering, When is information like that ever going to come in handy? - I'll tell you dear readers, it's not. Did I ever claim my blog was going to give you useful information or change your life? No I did not. I promised you a shallow, meaningless, pointless blog and that's exactly what you're going to get.

You Were Always Mom's Favorite

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Today's book was suggested by C. so thanks for the suggestion C.

Since today's book is about sisters, I feel like it's only right to write a little bit about my own sister - "it's only right" of course roughly translating to "my sister will be very, very upset if I let this opportunity to talk about her pass me by without taking full advantage of it."

Ahh, what can I say about having a sister. When trying to describe it to those who don't have sisters, I say that my childhood was like one long slumber party but without ever having to worry about my friend having to go home.

And now for my all-time favorite Alissa picture:

As anyone who lived through the 80s knows, Superman was big then. But Alissa preferred her own version, Supergirl. She would climb up on the rocking chair, stretch out and yell, "SUPERGIRL" at the top of her lungs.

As I'm sure you can imagine from looking at this picture, my childhood was never boring with her around. And so I can't help but feel a little bit sorry for girls who don't have sisters. In fact, I think of it as a disability. I call it "the sisterly impaired."

Today's book, "Conversations between sisters reveal a deep and constant tug between two dynamics–an impulse towards closeness and an impulse towards competition, as sisters are continually compared to each other. When you're with her, you laugh your head off, and can giggle and be silly like when you were kids. But she also might be the one person who can send you into a tailspin with just one wrong word. For many women, a sister is both. With a witty and wise voice, Tannen shares insights and anecdotes from well over a hundred women she interviewed, along with moving and funny recollections of her own two sisters."

Sisterly thoughts:

  • For most of the day I have had the song about sister from White Christmas stuck in my head. For those of you who don't have a sister who loves musicals and forces you to watch along, I will share this link with you (and by the way, one of my New Year's resolutions is to learn to embed videos so I can stop with this linking-to-youtube nonsense, but for now I'm too lazy to look it up.) I've had the song stuck in my head for roughly 5 hours now. A few more hours is all it's going to take to push me right over the edge into total insanity.

  • Today's book was good, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as another book on the subject of sisters, About My Sisters by Debra Ginsberg. And because I have no idea what else to put in this paragraph, I'm forced to fill in the blanks with things I like about Alissa (and also because I don't want to have a repeat of the "Why didn't you list things you like about me?" conversation that happened the last time I wrote a blog entry about my sister.) Here goes: 1. She has a way of coercing people into bringing her things on trays and making it seem like bringing her something on a tray is a privilege one must earn, instead of what it really is which is her treating people like servants. Some people might consider that a bad quality, but I don't (except when she tries to turn me into her personal Hazel.) 2. She has a great memory when it comes to reciting facts she learned from the books she reads. After a year long journey on the I-Can't-Remember-What-I-Read-Yesterday Train, I'm sure you can already figure out why I admire that quality dear readers. 3. She has great hair. (I believe I said that the last time I made a list of "Things I Like About Alissa" but it bear repeating.)

  • Favorite quote, "A word from a sister can send you into a tailspin because, as one woman put it, "She's part of my being, she's part of the fabric of who I am. So when there's disapproval, you feel it in a place that you don't feel it with other people." - My sister and I don't fight a lot, because neither one of us has the ability to stay mad at people when we're looking directly at them, which leads to the most ridiculous fights in which we end up having to stare at walls and walk out of room sideways in order to avoid looking at one another because there's just no other way to stay mad. And when we do stay mad, the entire world feels like it's coming to an end. Phrases like, "My life is over and nothing is ever going to be okay again," have been known to be used. Now it's true dear readers, I am a bit on the dramatic side, and yet even I don't bring that level of drama to fights with anyone but her. So I would definitely have to agree with the above quote.

There, I think I have sufficiently infused this blog entry with this Alissa-ness that is Alissa. But I suspect I will be getting a phone call sometime tomorrow to let me know for sure. Fingers crossed!

The Christmas Cookie Club

Friday, December 4, 2009

Welcome to another installment A Book a Day: Christmas Edition. Today I decided to figure out how to make wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free Christmas cookies, and since there are no books about people making allergy-free Christmas cookies (the publishing world really needs to get on that one) I had to settle for a book about people making regular Christmas cookies (okay fine Ms. Author, if that's how you want to play it, being all normal and everything.) But, before we get to a discussion of today's book, it's time to take another trip back to my childhood.

Ahh, is there anything better than being squeaky clean, straight from your bath, wearing pajamas that color-coordinate with your brothers and posing in front of the Christmas tree? It's just a shame that my Mother couldn't have found some way to color-coordinate us to the carpet. And oh what beautiful carpet it was. As you can see from the color of the carpet in question, the Wetzel family embraced the early 80s and gave it a nice warm hug.

Today's book, "Every year on the first Monday of December, Marnie and her twelve closest girlfriends gather in the evening with batches of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies. Everyone has to bring a dish, a bottle of wine, and their stories."

Shallow Christmasy thoughts:

  • If the book description has left you undecided as to whether you would want to read today's book, I'm going to tell you the first sentence, because you can tell so much about a book by the first sentence. Here goes, "I am the head cookie bitch and this is my party." If you are still undecided then I will tell you that today's book was better than the typical Chick-lit book (and apologies for using that expression because I do know how annoying it is - I just can't think of what else to call it) but it wasn't wonderful. It was worth reading once, but not something I would read a second time.

  • If you are squeamish I would strongly advise you skip pages 37-39 when one of the characters dies a gruesome death. I don't feel I'm giving anything away since the death is mentioned in the first couple of pages of the book. I'm not sure why authors feel the need to share ever brutal detail of really unpleasant deaths, but I really wish they would stop. I don't enjoy reading what I expect to be a fairly pleasant book and then run across passages that made me shudder. But, since I like to arrogantly think of myself as your literary tour guide I just thought of it as taking one for the team.

  • In between the chapters there were sections that told the history behind some of the ingredients used in Christmas cookies (wheat, nuts, etc.) and I learned a few fun facts to share with you. 1. Wheat is believed to have been cultivated in Turkey about ten thousand years ago. - But it wasn't until 1998 that it became the bane of a certain bloggers existence, and a source of amusement to her sister who insists she have her picture taken next to signs that say "Eat more wheat." 2. Cinnamon is a natural anti-bacterial. - So the next time you're eating a cinnamon roll you can tell yourself, "I'm doing this for my health." 3. It takes 2 to 3 gallons of milk to form a pound of butter. - Okay, now we're kind of veering out of "Fun Facts" territory and headed into "Stuff I Learned in Third Grade But Have Completely Forgotten Because There Are So Many Facts About TV Lodged in My Brain That There's No Room For Anything Else" territory.

Mad Girls In Love

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Today's book, "With young Bitsy Wentworth's nose-shattering blow to her philandering husband Claude's handsome face (motive: self-defense; weapon: frozen rack of baby back ribs), West launches this warm chronicle of three generations of Southern female eccentricity and spunk. It's August 1972, and Claude is out cold, so Bitsy flees Crystal Falls, Tenn., with their baby, Jennifer, a move that will lose her custody of (though not contact with) her daughter while setting in motion her evolution from girl-wife to worldly interior decorator 20 years later."

Shallow thoughts:

  • In my continuing quest to reach my goal of 100,000 pages by the end of the year, I ended up reading a really, really long book today (528 pages to be exact) which made it hard to fit in my daily allotment of Brady Bunch episodes. But rest assured dear readers, I still managed it. Nothing stands in between me and the Bradys. At some point in the last few months I made a vow that I would never read another 500 page book in a day again, but it's crunch time now and I'm not going to make it to the goal without several really long books this month. So now the thing that I am looking forward to the most when the year is up is reading a long book and taking several days to do it. Other things on my list of things I'm looking forward to post-project: 1. the first time I wake up and realize that I don't have to read and being able to have the luxurious feeling again of reading just because I feel like it. 2. the first time I read a terrible book and I don't have to finish it and 3. the first holiday when I get to just kick back, enjoy the day, and not have to read a thing.

  • Today's book was decent, but not great. It was the kind of book that was enjoyable enough to read once, but not good enough that I would want to keep it and read it again. In an effort to keep the entire house from being overrun with books, I keep only the books which I know I will want to read again. So, after reading a book, I have to ask myself "Is this book shelve-worthy?" - and sadly, today's book is not. The characters were interesting, and the basic plot was decent, but there was too much other stuff (that was unnecessary to the main plot) thrown in that was distracting from that, and I don't believe I would want to wade through all of that again just to get to the good parts.

  • Favorite sentence, "If I'd known I was going to become a girl sleuth, I would have eaten something more soothing, like chicken salad on toast - that's what Nancy Drew preferred." - Ahh, I love a good reference to Nancy Drew, a series I now have a great deal of affection for after having read it for the blog. I continue to be a total nerd when it comes to that sort of thing, getting excited any time a book mentions another book I love. This is something that I routinely mock my Mother for - as she sits there, brimming with excitement because the people on Brothers & Sisters have the same lamp that she does.

  • Most annoying expression used in the book: "a girlie-girl" - this is one of my all time pet peeves. It's like nails on a chalkboard for me when someone uses that expression. The only expression that annoys me more is, "he's all boy." I look back with wistful nostalgia to the days when those two expressions were not commonly used. I would be the happiest woman on earth if we, as a people, could permanently strike those two expressions from our vocabulary.

A Christmas Promise

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's that magical time again dear readers, chapter and page count time.

For the week -


PAGES: 1,784

For the year -


PAGES: 88,934

And, to kick officially kick off the holiday season here at A Book a Day, I've decided to share a holiday picture from my childhood (with more to come as the month progresses.)

As you can see, I wasn't very animated. But I had a very good excuse for falling asleep midway through the present opening. Being a baby was hard. There were naps to take, and toys to play with, and those bottles did not drink themselves. (And by the way dear readers, I promise that the Christmas pictures I show you in future entries will be much more interesting than this one. But I just had to show you this picture - any picture with carpet in it that's that ugly is just begging to be shown to everyone in sight.)

Today's book, "Three days before Christmas, in the freezing slums of London's East End, thirteen-year-old Gracie Phipps encounters Minnie Maude Mudway, who is only eight, alone, and determined to find her friend Charlie. However Charlie is no ordinary companion: He is a donkey who belonged to Minnie Maude's Uncle Alf. Gracie is shocked to learn that only the day before, someone brutally murdered Uncle Alf and made off with his rag-and-bones cart and the beloved beast who pulled it. Now, come hell or high water, Minnie Maude means to rescue Charlie - and Gracie decides to help."

Christmasy thoughts:

  • If you actually read the description of today's book instead of skipping over it (as my sister always does) then you are probably filled with questions right now. Who would be cruel enough to name their child Minnie Maude Mudway? What does any of that stuff have to do with Christmas? What in the world would possess Angie to read a book like that? All valid questions dear readers. The answer to those questions, in order, would be: 1. Someone with really, really, really bad taste. 2. I read the whole book and I still have no idea. and 3. Because I have slipped in my resolve to never pick out a book without first reading the book description. I had resolved a few months ago to stop doing that, but this Christmas season has really thrown me. There are so many pleasant, Christmasy looking book covers and I keep getting sucked in because of it.

  • Since I had no idea what the book was about going into it, I spent the first 40 pages thinking, Really? They're still looking for that donkey? When is this boring looking-for-the-donkey part of the book going to end and the good part of the book begin? And then when I got to page 47 I decided to actually read the book description (a crazy idea if ever I heard one), which resulted in me thinking, Whaaaaat? The entire book is about them looking for that stupid donkey? CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP - I do not want to spend the entire day reading about two children looking for a donkey. But, since I'd already posted the book for the day on my twitter page, I was forced to proceed.

  • I would like to be able to tell you that the book got more interesting from there, but sadly it did not. And, to add insult to injury (and my Mother would say) or to pour salt in the wound (as my Dad would say), the book was heavy on dialect. I have a hard time reading dialect without wanting to put my fist through a wall - and that's on a day when I don't have to read the entire book in one day - but it's an even bigger challenge (read: a total pain in the butt) to have to read dialect when I'm trying to get through a book quickly.

  • And here is your fun (and totally useless) fact for the day: a snotter is a rope or tackle used in sailing. - Am I the only one in the world who had no idea what that was? The book referred to a snotter-hauler, and let's just say this resulted in me conjuring up some really disgusting images, proving once again that no matter how old I get, there will always be a part of me that firmly remains an eight year-old.

Whislin' Dixie in a Nor'easter

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today marks 11 months of the blogging project. Although, since I technically started my blog on New Years Eve I guess it's not truly my 11 Month Blogiversary. Perhaps instead I should call it my 11 Month Projectiversary. And I spent the day reflecting on the last few months of the project - but I will be saving those thoughts for my special week-long end-of-the-project recap extravaganza (which clearly needs a much catchier title) and planning out the books I will be reading for the month ahead. Normally I am not organized enough to plan my books out a month in advance, but it's going to require some strategic planning if I'm going to make it my goal of 100,000 pages by the end of the year. I'm very excited about all of the books I have planned - Christmas books that will be scattered throughout the month, a special book in honor of the Anniversary of the day my parents met, a special Chanukah/Hanukah/Channuka book (however you want to spell it) and a few other surprises.

Today's book, "Leelee Satterfield seems to have it all: a gorgeous husband, two adorable daughters, and roots in the sunny city of Memphis, Tennessee. So when her husband gets the idea to uproot the family to run a quaint Vermont inn, Leelee is devastated . . . and her three best friends are outraged. But she's loved Baker Satterfield since the tenth grade, so how can she not indulge her dream? Plus, the glossy photos of bright autumn trees and smiling children in ski suits push her over the edge. After all, how much trouble can it really be?"

December thoughts:

  • I almost didn't read today's book because the title seemed so corny. But I liked the book cover so much that I decided to go ahead and read the book description, which sounded promising. Today's book was not without its flaws (events that were predictable, and oversimplification of some of the characters) but overall I liked the book. It was a cozy book, perfect for curling up in front of the fireplace on the first day of December and reading by the glow of the Christmas tree lights.

  • The book takes a concept that TV makes look so fun - running an Inn in Vermont - and shows us the other side of things, the unpleasantness that TV sitcoms rarely let us see. And there was that inevitable reference made Newhart, which made resulted in me having the theme song from that show stuck in my head for several painful hours. Don't get me wrong dear readers, I do enjoy that theme song in an I-was-a-child-in-the-80s-so-I'm-programmed-to-find-crappy-music-soothing kind of way. But hearing that song playing on an endless loop can really start to wear on a person's nerves after forty minutes or so.

  • And, because I'm always thinking of my dear readers who might be vegetarians, I feel the need to issue this warning: If you read this book, I would strongly advise that you skip over pages 93 and 94, in which there was a rather graphic description of the making of head cheese, which I really wish I could have skipped over. Unfortunately, that would have violated the parameters of the project, so I was forced to suffer through. I would also strongly advise that you never google "head cheese" a lesson I learned the hard way a few minutes ago when I googled those words to find out if head cheese was one word or two. Let's just say I am changed forever by the experience.

  • And finally, the most amusing part of the book was the part where the main character, Leelee, and her her two daughters, Sarah and Isabella, are complaining about how small their bedrooms are in the private quarters in the inn. - There was nothing particularly funny about that scene, only that it reminded me of when, at the age of five, my family moved into a new house and my sister and I spent weeks fighting over who got the smallest room. That's right, for some reason, which still defies all explanation, we both wanted the smallest room. In case you are on the edge of your seats wondering how that one turned out, I won (or lost, depending on how you look at it, because I quickly realized what a stupid idea it was to demand the smallest room.) It sort of became the reverse of Mike Brady's dad speech of, "Sometimes when you lose, you win." Sometimes dear readers, when you win, you lose (and you spend the next 8 years whining about it until your family moves again and you wise up and ask for a much bigger room.)