Monday, July 26, 2010

Battle of the Books

I've really been digging the literature lately; my Goodreads account has been hopping. Check out my profile there for all my reviews, but here are my thoughts on a few recent faves that were a little bit special or out of the ordinary for me.

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

This book had a very original premise and dealt with frustration, social perception, and family relationships. I thought the writing was fantastic, even if the subject matter was a little far-fetched. It was the kind of story I was telling my husband about.

Invisible I by Stella Lennon & Melissa Kantor
I had no idea what to expect with this book - I added it to my list too long ago to remember why. And I was so surprised and pleased at the fresh, modern mystery. A little bit sci-fi, a little bit techie, and a whole lot of fun. I read through it super quick, too engrossed to set it down. It was set up well for a whole series and I can't wait to get my hands on the others.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford
Takes place in Seattle during WWII. A young Chinese boy becomes friends with a Japanese girl, who is then relocated along with all the Japanese people from coastal cities. I was fascinated with the history of the time period, both war-related and not. The evolution of relationships figures prominently and despite being plot-driven, this book was all about the characters to me.

The Likeness by Tana French
This author is awesome! These are pyschological thrillers, I'd say, rather than classic mysteries. The characters are very intriguing and I loved this as a follow-up to Into the Woods, but it can certainly stand alone too. I gave this 5 stars and am thinking of choosing it for my book club.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
I loved this book! It was clearly French, with a bit of a different view and style than American books, and was very refreshing to me. I love the format of very short (2-3 pages) chapters. Even when the material gets deep & philosophical, it is in short bursts and leaves you time between chapters to put the book down and think about what you just read. I don't think I have ever read a book like that. I have never put a book down so many times to ruminate on the subject matter, then pick it back up a little while later.

The vocabulary level was quite high for me, and I pulled my dictionary out a dozen times to check words. Barbery is a fabulous writer, but I think almost as much credit should go to the English translator, Alison Anderson.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog was full of beauty and love and appreciation for art and literature. I feel inspired to take courses in fine art, Russian literature, and Japanese cinema. I'm a huge fan of books that leave you wanting to know more about art and culture. I want to be an autodidact like Renee! (I had to look up autodidact - it means self-taught) I bought my own copy so I can reread it very soon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Music to My Ears

We have been going to the Maricopa County Library for about a year now. Besides all the lovely books, they have a great selection of music CDs, movies (including new releases), and the latest seasons of tv show. And recently, I applied for my own card rather than bumming off my husband. Because...


Yes, if you go to their website, you can click over to Freegal Music, where with your library card number & pin you can log on and download three songs a week. All for free. This is run by Sony Music Entertainment and while no iTunes, they have plenty of music for me, including new & current stuff. Libraries nationwide participate so check yours out today. I've been downloading for 3 weeks now & my ears have never been happier!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Old Friends & New

Since my family settled into a new house about four months ago, I've thought a lot about friends. Obviously, everyone needs to make new friends when they're in a new area, new church, new school, etc. I worried about my kindergartner, whom we unceremoniously pulled out & stuck in a new school. But he's very social & had a new posse within a week. My husband isn't worried about having lots of new friends, but I am. I've tried hard to be social, attend events, talk to people, and push out of my comfort zone. And it's worked. I've found many women in my new area who are friendly, kind, fun, and interesting. But I still don't know if they want to be friend-friends with me.

I spent a few hours this morning with one of my oldest friends, whom I've know since preschool, and probably before. We were very close through high school, but different colleges, marriage, moves, and just... life have taken us to the point that we only spend time together once or twice a year, despite living in the same city. I still love her, and when we get together I enjoy it immensely and wonder why we don't do it more often. I know she would be there for me in a crisis - she's done it before. But, she has new friends. Like, tons of them. Friends that live close to her, and have kids that are friends with hers, and that go on girls trips, couples vacations, and babysitting exchanges with each other. And we are not that kind of friends anymore.

When my family lived in Florida for a year, the best part was meeting the Johnsons. Shannon & I clicked immediately and she was the kind of friend that was willing to hang out with me two, or three, or four, or more days a week. That's the kind of friend I like. The kind of friend I want to make now. Well, maybe not hanging out sooo many days of the week. That's a little harder to do with older kids. But someone who doesn't think I'm a stalker-freak if I call every day.

But honestly, I think I'd be happy with some friends who like to actually spend time together. Not just trade babysitting, or sit next to each other sometimes at church events, but who will go with me to a girls night out, or shopping, or to lunch, or spend time at my house while we talk & ignore our kids until the screaming gets too loud to hear each other.

I went to a blogger meet up on Saturday night, and despite the organizer being disappointed by the low turn-out, I had a great time. I convinced Sue to go with me, mostly through threats & begging, and was so glad to hang out with her for an evening, as well as meeting some other interesting women. I'm hoping for more of these events in the future, as well as more friendship connections in my new area, but in the meantime, I'm going to spend a lot of time talking to my old girlfriends, who are as valuable as gold, but mostly live in the wrong state.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Finally Presentable

For all my friends that care, and for anyone who might still be hanging onto a subscription, despite the fact that I haven't posted seriously in forever, here are some up to date photos of our new house. These are the formal living & dining rooms, which take up the left side of the house, from front to back. We had new carpet installed in the entire house, but I laid new flooring myself in the dining room. It only took my three months after we moved in. Finally all the boxes are gone, furniture in place, etc. I even hosted a couple of events here.

Now, for the to do/want list: curtains, artwork, etc. In our last home I had a very long stretch of wall that I didn't know what to do with. That problem is solved, thanks to many, lovely windows. But what to do vertically? We have some VERY tall ceilings, on both floors. Anyone have some great ideas?

Also, what does everyone think about plants? Do we need some? Are faux trees & plants faux paux? Should I get real? Can I keep them alive?