Monthly Archives: February 2010

Stuck in a Rut

I feel like I’ve been stuck in a blogging rut for a few weeks now.  Every time I sit down to write, I find plenty of other things to distract me until I realize I have no more time.  I have plenty of books to write about but the motivation is just….not here.  What do you do when you can’t get motivated to blog?  Do you have any advice?

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Photo Friday

Instead of posting a photo of my own, I had to post a photo of Sadie, the Best in Show winner of this year’s Westminster Kennel Club. Look at that face – she is adorable!

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Thursday Tidbits

We finally went back to school on Wednesday this week.  I can’t believe we had 2 weeks off due to the February snow.

It was a month ago today that we had to put Jake to sleep.  I miss him more than I can say.

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All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab; read in February, 2010.  ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.

Description from GoodReads:

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

I loved All Unquiet Things.  Anna Jarzab has written a fantastic mystery, and I am not normally a mystery fan.  The story is told from the point of view of two characters: Neily and Audrey.  The perspective changes only after a decent chunk of chapters, giving the reader time to dive into each character’s head and understand them.  The story also moves between the present and the past, which allows the reader to also get to know Carly from both character’s perspectives.  I especially loved getting to see the relationship between Neily and Carly progress until its heartbreaking ending.

The book is set in a wealthy area of California, centered in the private school the characters attend.  Rich teens tends to be overdone in YA lit, but Ms. Jarzab creates a unique setting that never feels like the reader has seen it before.  She also gives insight to the negatives of young adults with lots of money and not much supervision.  There are references to alcohol and drugs, never in a manner that glorifies them.

The mystery development is believable and surprising.  I found myself suspecting just about every character at some point in the book.  The way the two teens investigate Carly’s murder is realistic, which is often what can turn me off a mystery.

While the mystery is page-turning, at heart the book is about relationships, love, and loss.  All three main characters have suffered a big loss at some point, each affected in a different way.  How they each deal with loss and what happens after it is what makes each character realistic and relatable.

All Unquiet Things is a strong, well-written novel that I highly recommend to high school and adults readers.  Definitely one of my favorites of the year.

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Dog show!

Tonight is the first night of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show!  While I am still pretty irritated about Mario Lopez being involved, I can’t wait to watch!

Edited to add: Hurray!  Mario Lopez had a “scheduling conflict!”  He’s not there!  My night got even better!

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Oscar Nominated Shorts

I try to see as many of the Oscar nominated films  as possible (for me) before the awards.  ITunes usually has all the nominated shorts available for purchase at some point before the show, but a few of the animated shorts are currently available on You Tube!  If you would like to watch some, this post on Oh No They Didn’t has them, plus clips/trailers for most of the other shorts.  So far, my favorite is “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” but I might be biased because it is from Ireland.

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Photo Friday

Snow picture of Brinkley!

A video of Brinkley bounding through the snow in our back yard is available on You Tube.

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Thursday Tidbits

Wow, all the snow we have been getting in the DC metro area has been crazy!  We haven’t had school since Thursday.  You would think that after a week off, I would be all caught up in things that need to get done, but no – I have wasted so much time just watching the snow and going out in it.  The practical side of me says this is such a waste of time, but the rest of my disagrees.  I have never seen this much snow fall in such a short amount of time.  I find the snow so beautiful, and the cold always pleases me.  It is also awesome that in a time of technology, Mother Nature can still make everyone pause.  Extreme weather can bring out the best and the worst in people.  My husband has been helping a lot of our neighbors dig out, and he’s also been helping people get cars unstuck.  We lost count of how many times someone has gotten stuck driving down our residential road and cars just stack up behind them, waiting for the first car to dig out, but never getting out to offer to help.

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm whether facing the SnOverload or some other February weather.  In the meantime, here are some Thursday tidbits!

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Free E-Book Suggestions?

Even though we’ve been off all week, I’ve been trying to get some real work done from home.  I have been feeling bad about my students who read voraciously not having books this week.  I thought I’d post a list of free e-books on our library webpage. I know Little Brother is one that is always available, but I’d love suggestions on what else is out there right now!  Any thoughts?

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Commencement: a Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan

Commencement: a Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan; read in July, 2009. Copy purchased by me.

Description from GoodReads:

A sparkling debut novel: a tender story of friendship, a witty take on liberal arts colleges, and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the choices in the world, but no clear idea about which choices to make.

Classmates their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t be more different. Alone and together, they soon learn that Smith is a hothouse: of sexual discovery, political activism, female bonding, and carbohydrates eaten with abandon. And although several years after graduation they live in far-flung places, their Smith years have left them fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they must decide how it all applies to their own real world in matters of love, work, family, and sex. For Celia, Bree, and Sally, it will mean grappling with one-night stands, loneliness and heartbreak, parental disapproval, and changing maiden names. But for April, whose college activism becomes her life’s work, it will mean something else entirely.

Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement not only captures the intensity of college friendships and first loves, but also explores with great candor the complicated and contradictory landscape facing young women today.

Commencement is an adult novel that came out last year.  I was up and down with this novel.  I enjoyed the sections set in college; it was fun to follow the girls as they explored their identities (including politics and sexuality) and the options available to them.  The bond developed based on room location is something many college freshmen can relate to.  I grew less interested in their post-college life and found April’s storyline downright irritating and unbelievable.  All four of the main characters never felt completely developed and I was unable to care about any of them.  The author takes advantage of many opportunities to discuss feminist ideas.  This was interesting to a certain extent but I can only read so much about what private school-educated white girls think about being a woman in today’s world before it grows tiresome.

Commencement is chick lit wanting to be more literary but not quite making it.  I think with more work, Ms. Sullivan could have put together a better book, but there is too much she is trying to accomplish.  It is a decent fluff read, just don’t expect too much, and be prepared for the outlandish storyline involving April in the second half of the book.

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