Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 10 Reads of 2008

In descending order of how much I loved them. These are my favorite reads of 2008, though not necessarily published this year.
10. Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Sweet fairy tale with just enough humor, romance, creative detail, and sarcasm for me to fall in love with. 

9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A remarkable combination of wit, wisdom, innocence and hatred. This novel entertains as it reveals profound truths about humanity. A treasured classic that I loved infinitely more in my adulthood reading than my adolescent reading.

8. Birdwing by Rafe Martin
A thoroughly engrossing and well-paced fantasy. I enjoyed all the coming-of-age angst, magic, betrayal, and triumph. There is a just a hint of romance, a lot of adventure, unexpected twists in the plot, and several quiet, tender moments.

7. Peony In Love by Lisa See
A beautiful, haunting love story set in 17th century China. I loved how all the hurts and injustices of the past were finally washed away by the end of the novel and Peony finally finds redemption after all those long years! Absolutely recommended.

6. Katherine by Anya Seton
Lovely piece of historical fiction with a beautiful, timeless romance as well. This novel is highly emotional, epic in scope, richly detailed with some of my favorite themes in literature: the enduring quality of love, redemption, personal growth.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Collins gives it to us all: compelling plot, smart writing, strong female character, a great balance between horror and hope, brutality and tenderness. I could not put this book down and nearly had a coronary when I read the words "end of book one". (You're killing me Ms. Collins) I can't wait to see what happens next. A thoroughly entertaining read, with the beginnings of a devastating love triangle, and no end to the suspense. Well done!

4.  Anything written by Shannon Hale
Shannon is better known in our house as the Writer Who Can Do No Wrong. I love anything she has written. If you are just getting started, I would recommend The Goose Girl. It is the first of a delightful, loose series. Or possibly you might enjoy a contemporary romance Austenland, or her Newberry Honor book Princess Academy or her book published last fall Book of a Thousand Days... anything she writes I love.

3. Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
Intensely emotional story of a father's unconditional love for his son. I could not put it down. It was raw, yet tender and achingly familiar. I loved Sheff's use of words, as well as all the many quotes from many resources--Shakespeare to Cobain and the way he weaved them into his story. I grieved for Sheff as I grieve for myself, my drug addict brother, my entire family, and every family whose lives are ripped apart by the insidiousness of addiction. This book was validating, motivating and fascinating. (Reader beware: high use of profanity)

2. These Is My Words by Nancy Turner
The characters lived, laughed, struggled, loved, breathed, and died around me while I read. The detailed historical authenticity and voice of the novel seemed so real I could not believe it wasn't coming from an actual diary. I instantly fell in love with the main character, Sarah, for her courage, child-like innocence, and down-and-dirty-spunkiness. I could not get enough of Captain Jack Elliot! What a great hero–ranking right up there with Rhett and Gilbert as my all time favorites. Their love story was so beautiful and true to life from beginning to end. This book was so funny, so exciting, so tender, and at times so sad I thought I would find a whole in my chest for the aching I felt (as well as the laughing I did). A COMPELLING, BEAUTIFUL read. I will read this one again and again. "A nice girl should never go anywhere without a loaded gun and a big knife."”

1. The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak
Best book I've read about Nazi Germany, and one of the best books I've ever read OF ALL TIME. Heart wrenching, beautiful, creative prose, vivid detail, rich characters. Although it is written about one of the most tragic events in human history, the story itself leaves one feeling hopeful and very satisfied. A MUST READ.

Friday, December 26, 2008


"The music teacher came twice each week to bridge the awful gap between Dorothy and Chopin." -George Ade

"That fearful gap is seen everywhere by all of us. It's the gap between what is, and what we think would be better." -Steve Chandler

"Gaps are a fundamental mortal condition, and thus the process of closing those gaps is a fundamental mortal exercise. In fact, there is reason to think of conversion–which is rarely something that happens as a blinding, stunning, single event, or as a moment we can mark in time–as the process of narrowing and eventually closing gaps.  True conversion takes a lifetime, and perhaps longer." -Sheri Dew

I love my gaps. They have kept me on my knees for a lifetime, and I am assured they will continue to do so. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 Top 10 Favorite Things

As a way to say goodbye to 2008, I thought I'd post a few top 10 lists this week. Up first: a list of favorite things I discovered in 2008.

1. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer
A kiss of color and pearlized shine perk up their world famous 100% natural lip balm, while natural ingredients like vitamin E and coconut and sunflower oils moisturize and soothe your lips. Tastes like mint. My favorite shades: Cocoa andGuava.

2. Greek God's Honey Flavored Yogurt
Sweet, smooth, and creamy with a delicious honey taste. The only ingredients are milk, cream, sugar, honey, pectin and live cultures. Just don't read the label for the fat content.

3. Rusk Calm Nourishing Shampoo
If you have fine, thin hair like me, you will love this shampoo. It smells great and you can get it at Target. The best shampoo I've ever used. Formulated with protein extracts it gives hair a healthy, natural shine and helps maintain natural moisture and sheen. Ginger extract helps to maintain hair's moisture balance.

4. Shade Printed Cap Sleeve Herringbone Print
Too bad you can't see the print online. You'll just have to take my word for it. Great pattern in an unexpected medium, and on sale now for $9.99

5. MP3
mp3s for 20 cents, albums for 2 bucks. And they are not protected like mp4s from iTunes. Try it, you'll like it.

6. Progressive Auto Insurance
Friday I decided to play bumper cars with the minivan and had TWO car accidents. Progressive Insurance was not only $100 (!!!!) cheaper per month than Geico, I actually have a claim adjuster making calls all day long to get things rolling on an accident that wasn't even my fault. Awesome.

7. MÅLA Ikea's White Easel
For $24.99 you just can't find anything to compare. I cannot wait for Emma to get this from Santa this year. It has a chalkboard, white board and dowel for a paper roll. Killer deal.

8. KangaROOS
In third grade I had some ROOS with a zipper pouch. Now I am kicking it in these. One of the few styles from the 80's that I will support. I wear these almost everyday. They are cooler than your shoes. 

9. Icebreakers Restore Lemon-aid Pomegranate Mints
Don't let the word "mint" fool you. These are a delicious, tangy treat that I pop one in my mouth whenever I have a craving for something sweet. I have 15 boxes of them in my food storage. They have Zinc and Vitamin C in them and a rad container.

10. Spoonflower
Now you can print custom fabric on demand for only $18 a yard. Perfect for those super picky people like me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Birdwing by Rafe Martin

Welcome to my first book review. As you may know, I read a lot. As a matter of fact, I just finished reading my 139th book of 2008. Have no fear, I will not burden you with a review of every book that I read. That is what shelfari is for. Only my most favorite, 5-star reads will earn a spot here. 

Birdwing by Rafe Martin is based on the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale The Six Swans in which six brothers are turned into swans by their wicked step mother. Through a great sacrifice of their sister, they are all eventually turned back into humans. Unfortunately, there is a small mishap with the youngest brother, and his left wing never changes back into a human arm. This is his story.

I found Birdwing to be a thoroughly engrossing and well-paced fantasy. I enjoyed all the coming-of-age angst, magic, betrayal, and triumph. There is a just a hint of romance, a lot of adventure, unexpected twists in the plot, and several quiet, tender moments. 

I wish the author would have delved a little deeper into the relationships, and it seemed like the resolution happened a bit too fast and easily, but overall this is a wonderful read. I loved it because of what it meant to me personally. The idea that something we think of as a weakness or curse can actually lead us down a path that will bless our lives. This book spoke to me at a time when I really needed to have that message. Highly recommend for grades 6 and up, who love fantasy or fairy tales.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A short story, kindly told as a caution to dear friends

On Wednesday I went to pick up Micah and Emma from a neighbors' house. It was early evening and I was feeling rather rundown. I was actually out of breath from walking from my van to their front door. Since getting sick three weeks ago I have not quite got my mojo back. I've felt weak, tired, breathless. Actually, I've felt like I was pregnant, only without the throwing up. Hhhhhmmmm...

Oh, where was I?

Ah yes. So, I haven't had the energy to get things done. Like cleaning the toilets, making my bed. You know, those kind of things. Well, said neighbor also happens to be a P.A. and generally an awesome person all around. When I mentioned my health woes to him, he whipped out his stethoscope (which was sitting on his kitchen table), took a listen to my breathing, and diagnosed me with Walking Pneumonia. Bless his heart.

Apparently, Walking Pneumonia is what people get who must carry on regardless of how they feel. You're body is thinking about getting really sick, but just not doing it yet. I think you could call it Procrastinator's Pneumonia. Also, You're not sick enough to deserve sympathy, because you are still functioning, but you would still like a little help around the house. If you can forgive my language, you could also call it Half-Assed Pneumonia.

So, he gave me some medicine (which was also sitting on the kitchen table). Perhaps you've heard of it: LEVAQUIN. Again, bless his heart.

I took the medicine before going to bed. That's when the trouble began. Because this is a short story, I will just copy the possible side effects listed on the medicine, and you can get an idea of what happened.

The most common side effects caused by LEVAQUIN, which are usually mild, include nausea, diarrhea, itching, abdominal pain, dizziness, flatulence, and rash. Quinolones, including LEVAQUIN, may also cause central nervous system stimulation which may lead to tremors, restlessness, anxiety, lightheadedness, confusion, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, nightmares, insomnia, and rarely, suicidal thoughts or acts.

I'll be taking them in the morning from now on.

The End

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I love Anna Marie Horner's Drawing Room fabric collection. Look at these lovely pillows I found on rubystella's etsy site. I think I will make three pillows for my bedroom in these three fabrics. Hope this gives some inspiration to my sister Angela, who is creating some artwork for above my bed. More on that later.


**postscript** Angela, the names of the fabrics are: Sketch Book-Ivory, Pressed Flowers-Rose, and Nouveau Bouquet-Teal. Here's some swatches: