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September 30, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Friendship

This week's question:

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

This is a hard one, because it really depends on which friend we're talking about. I don't think there are any books that ALL my friends would like. Hm. How about a short list of books I've recently given or recommended to friends?

The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion
The Eight and The Magic Circle, Neville
Love Walked In, de los Santos
A Great Deliverance, George
Storm Front, Butcher
Posted by Kat at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2007

This is wrong.

It should not be too hot to knit on September 26.

Posted by Kat at 08:19 PM | Comments (3)

September 20, 2007

Oh, hey, look!

A book review I recently wrote for a local paper is online!

Posted by Kat at 02:24 PM | Comments (2)

Booking Through Thursday: Sunshine and Roses

Chappysmom let me know that the book meme I posted earlier in the week was actually made up of questions from her Booking Through Thursday weekly meme. I hadn't realized that and therefore neglected to give credit. Sorry! Today's Booking Through Thursday:

Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially-sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .
What is it?

This was designed as the opposite of the previous question about what you'd read when everything was going wrong, but my answer is pretty similar. L.M. Montgomery and Jane Austen are my first impulses when I'd happy or sad, it seems. To this one, I'd add pretty much anything by Meg Cabot, or a really good mystery.

Posted by Kat at 09:36 AM | Comments (5)

September 19, 2007

Blah Wednesday Randoms

Yay, Wednesday. That means the week is almost over, right? Hah.

1. I've had some sort of lingering change-of-season cold all week. I feel slightly better today, but not much. I'm just trying to make it to the end of the week, and then I'm planning to spend the weekend cleaning, reading, knitting, and watching TV. Hopefully that will miraculously cure me.

2. Find of the week: Burt's Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm. I like it even better than the regular Burt's Bees lip balm, which is saying a lot.

3. Speaking of "things I like even better:" I think I like David Boreanaz even better as Booth (on Bones) than as Angel, and I REALLY didn't think that was possible. I'm almost done with season one, and then will race through season two while the beginnings of season three are kept on the TiVo. So I should be caught up in, oh, a few weeks. :)

4. Okay, speaking of fall TV: What's everyone watching? I'll probably do a separate post with my list in a day or two.

5. I'm trying a new sort of rotation thing with my knitting, because I have way too much going and way too long of a Christmas knitting list and just need to get some stuff done already. So, my new method: work on Project A (in this case, the Crochet Project) until I can't possibly stand one more stitch. Switch to Project B. (Yes, so far this is pretty standard.) But when I am thoroughly sick of B, I have to go back to A, and then B, before I can work on C. Et cetera. Even if "as long as I can stand" is only one row in some cases, this should at least help me make visible progress and maybe even finish some stuff.

Posted by Kat at 01:12 PM | Comments (1)

September 18, 2007

Ooh, yay, a book meme!

I stole this from Rachel, although I'm not entirely sure why I bothered, as I agree with almost all of her answers anyway.

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.
What do you read?

Anne of Green Gables. Or maybe Pride and Prejudice. They're probably my most comforting comfort reads. Or, on the other hand, a new mystery in one of my favorite series - it would have the comfort factor but also the absorbing unknown plot factor, to distract me.

(Of course, now I'm trying to remember what I did read last time I was dumped. I know I knit Birch, and my roommate and I watched Lady Jane [which is really not, you know, comforting in the slightest], but I can't come up with anything in particular I read. Okay, I just looked in my archives, and yeah, I didn't read much. Anyway.)

So, this is my question to you – are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?
Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?
Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

Hah. The latter. This isn't to say that I don't have certain conditions I'd prefer for reading, but really, I'll read anywhere.

One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar?

I always have bookmarks in lots of books, but I'll often concentrate on one for a few days, either finish it or get distracted, and move on to something else for a while.

1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference?

1. I agree with Rachel about the Ehle/Firth Pride and Prejudice.
2. I am probably about as picky as Rachel here. Does Anne 3 even pretend to be based on a book? Because, if so, that would "win."
3. Yes, it matters. For one thing, if I see a movie first, I have trouble picturing the characters any other way. I often try to read books before seeing the movie, but sometimes I go in the other order. Regardless, I almost always like the book better. Sometimes with very complicated books, I will admit that seeing the movie first makes it easier to get into the book.

Posted by Kat at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)

September 17, 2007

Chilly Monday Happy Things

1. It was cold out this morning! There was frost! I felt totally justified in getting out a scarf and fingerless mitts for the first time this season.

2. Bones. Have I mentioned how much I love Bones? I adore it. I'm almost done with the first season, and I'm going to keep the third season on the TiVo until I watch the second. Yes, part of it is that I'd happily watch David Boreanaz read the phone book, but I also do really like the other characters and the forensic anthropology.

3. I have a big stack of library books to read. Don't you love that feeling?

4. I have a new bookcase! I bought it yesterday and a very nice friend put it together (with help from Dewey, of course). Pictures soon.

5. I also found three books and two videos at yard sales, for a grand total of $1.50. Love that.

Posted by Kat at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2007

Crafting Miscellany

I'm not sure I mentioned that last week I went to a sale at A.C. Moore and got the yarn I needed for about half of the Christmas presents on my list. Wheee. Yes, I am trying, again, to give all handmade gifts (although not necessarily all knitted). I think I may have a better shot this year, since I am not a) in school, b) working retail around the holidays, or c) doing NaNoWriMo. Therefore, my November and December are looking much less stressful this year.

I am afraid that some sort of crafting alien possession or something has happened this week. Because you know what I've been doing? First of all, I've been crocheting. This is for a Christmas gift, and after I bought the yarn it suddenly came to me that this particularly item needed to be crocheted, and um, okay, who am I to argue with the yarn? (Even though it's really awful cheap acrylic, I have to admit. You'll understand when you see what this object is. Which probably won't be until after Christmas, because way too many of my gift recipients read this blog so I have to be really careful this year.)

And the other thing? I woke up the other day actually thinking "I feel like knitting a fun fur scarf." There is at least one of those on my gift list (because I try to give what the recipient will like/use, not necessarily what I will enjoy knitting), so I dove right in, because seriously, this feeling happens to me, um, never. And yeah, my enthusiasm began ebbing after, oh, three rows. But I've stuck with it, because boy, is fun fur on size 15 needles quick! Sheesh. In about three episodes of Bones, I had half a scarf. And that half only took one skein of yarn, and I bought four (on clearance, even), so I'll probably make two: one for the original recipient I had in mind and another for the Long-Range Planning Box, because you never know when you're going to need to give someone a fun fur scarf.

I did actually start and finish another project this week, and it even used respectable wool yarn and decent-sized needles, but it was a test knit for a pattern a friend is submitting somewhere, so I can't show you yet.

Attn. Cate and anyone else on whom I inflicted my "What should I do with this green laceweight?" angst at Fiber Revival: this will be pretty much perfect, huh?

Query: Does anyone know of a source for small amounts of roving, suitable for needle felting? I want to make some ornaments and/or pins as small Christmas gifts. I have a bag of assorted colors I bought when I took the needle felting class, but I'm going to need some more of specific colors and I'm not sure where to get that.

Posted by Kat at 07:44 AM | Comments (9)

September 11, 2007

Rainy afternoon

It's lovely and cold and rainy out, which is my second favorite type of weather for September. (My favorite is cool and crisp.) I worked ridiculously late last night: I had a project that I just wanted/needed to finish. So I listened to podcasts and ate microwave popcorn for dinner and drank lots of cocoa and just got it done. At 9:30. Ack. At that point, there's not much to do but go home, go to bed, get up, and go back to work.

But at least that meant that I got to leave early today (and will again on Thursday). I was going to do some errands and shopping, but as I mentioned above, it was rainy. Really hard, at that point. So going in and out of lots of stores did not seem particularly appealing. Plus there were flood warnings, and my main route home floods out at the drop of a hat, so getting home as soon as possible seemed like a good idea. And, you know, it was just one of those days, when I wanted to be all cozy at home in my pajamas, cuddling my kitten, watching the rain from inside, instead of being out in it.

So I came home a little after three, and it was lovely. It's now 5:30 and I've scooped the litter box, cleaned the bathroom, done laundry, paid the bills, and finished a freelance assignment, so I'm feeling very virtuous. :) The kitten and I are ready to watch Heroes and knit Christmas presents and read all evening.

Posted by Kat at 05:21 PM | Comments (4)

September 10, 2007

Commitment to Loveliness, September 9

Commitment to Loveliness

1. Buy pumpkins for my porch and steps.
2. Finish clearing off my kitchen table.
3. Get a frame for the Grease poster I got when I saw it on Broadway.
4. Find nice, affordable brown flats or Mary Janes.
5. Finish making at least one Christmas gift. (Trying to do all homemade this year.)

Posted by Kat at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2007

I love dishcloths.

They're so small and satisfying! And nice for knitting in the awful heat we've been having recently (although it has cooled off today, thank the Lord). I've finished a few in the past week or so:

Mistake Rib
(Sugar 'n Cream, mistake rib. I love this stitch. I use it on scarves and socks and now apparently dishcloths.)

Pink Moss Stitch
(Sugar 'n Cream, moss stitch. A bit bigger than most of my dishcloths because I wanted to finish the yarn.)

Teacup Cloth
(Sugar 'n Cream, this teacup pattern. No, really, I promise. Anyone have any tips on how to photograph these types of dishcloths so that the pattern actually shows up?)

I think I have enough for my daily use at the moment, so I'm going to start on a bunch for Christmas gifts. Which means I won't be posting them... hmmm.... maybe I'll put them in a stack and post pictures of the stack from the side every so often, so you can see how many there are. Because there are probably going to be a lot.

Posted by Kat at 02:13 PM | Comments (3)

September 08, 2007

"I saw eternity the other night..."

Madeleine L'Engle, one of my absolute favorite writers ever, died on Thursday. I am working on a tribute post, but for now, I'll go with lines from the Henry Vaughan poem from which she derived the name of her novel A Ring of Endless Light.

I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years,
Driv'n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov'd; in which the world
And all her train were hurl'd.
Posted by Kat at 01:17 PM | Comments (4)

September 07, 2007

August Books

One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead
Genre: Sociology
Pages: 245
Rating: 4.5
This was a fascinating exploration of the business side of weddings. Mead talked to wedding planners, photographers, ministers, travel agents, and many brides; she went to a wedding dress factory in China, various wedding business conventions, and wedding-oriented resorts in Aruba and Jamaica. Her main point was to show the way that the wedding industry has shaped the perception of what is "traditional" or even "necessary" for American weddings, and to explore what this says about American culture in general. To some extent, she is trying to find out what weddings really "mean" now that they often don't mean the start of living together, having sex, etc.; she concludes that a lot of the consumerism associated with modern weddings serves as a substitute for meaning. Mead has a somewhat holier-than-thou attitude which is finally explained in the epilogue, when she mentions that she herself got married halfway through writing this book. (Personally, I would have liked to have had that information in the beginning.) I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who is getting married, participating in a wedding, or just interested in weddings or social history.

Back to Mr. & Mrs. by Shirley Jump
Genre: Romance
Pages: 192
Rating: 3
I don't read series romance often, but this one is by a writer I've known a bit on various forums, so I figured I'd give it a try. It wasn't anything particularly memorable, but the story was cute enough, and the writing was decent.

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Genre: YA fantasy, romance
Pages: 629
Rating: 4.4
This is the third novel in the Twilight series, about a girl who falls in love with a vampire. Now, there are lots of teen books about girls falling in love with vampires, but this series is actually good. The characters are complex and real (well, except that some of them are vampires and werewolves and things) and there are all sorts of literary references and the whole thing is wonderfully atmospheric. I read this whole book on the plane on the way home from Texas. It dragged a bit at times, but overall, it was great, as I've come to expect from this series. Definitely start the series at the beginning, though, because this one wouldn't make any sense read on its own.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
Genre: Juvenile, slice-of-life
Pages: 196
Rating: 3.6
The paper I write for gave me the newest book in this series to review, and because I'm insane, I felt it necessary to start at the beginning of the series. My feelings about this book were somewhat mixed. Basically, it's the story of a boy who has ADHD and a fairly awful family situation. The writing is amazing - Gantos really gets inside his character's head and (I assume) does a good job of portraying the thought processes of someone with ADHD. And it's all quite funny, and then you stop and think about what's actually happening, and it's sort of devastating at the same time. But the problem is that these are supposed to be children's books, and I think most of what made them so good would be lost on most young readers (especially the "reluctant readers" to whom these are often recommended). The writing is difficult and I'm not sure a lot of kids would catch some of the things that are actually happening, as it's all seen through the boy's eyes and therefore is somewhat difficult to figure out at times. So. I can't decide.

Posted by Kat at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)


I'm finding I can't edit an older entry at the moment, so this is just a test to see if I can add one...

Update: Apparently I can add new entries, but not edit that old one. So. I know the first paragraph of June Books Part Two is messed up, and I will fix it ASAP.

Posted by Kat at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2007

Signs of Autumn

(Yes, I know the season hasn't technically started, but in my brain, seasons all start on the first of the month. September 1, December 1, March 1, June 1. And yes, I know it's going to be 90 this weekend. I'm in denial.)

1. It was cold enough to wear flannel to bed the past two nights. Flannel. I cannot express the joy this brings me.
2. Dewey has been getting cuddlier as the temperature has been dropping.
3. Pumpkin spice lattes are back!
4. Halloween candy is starting to appear in stores. Reese's pumpkins... mmmm.
5. I saw pumpkins for sale for the first time yesterday, and on the way to work today I actually saw a few at someone's house.
6. The leaves are starting to change with a vengeance, although I sort of feel like this is earlier than it usually happens.
7. All I want to do is read and drink tea and bake things.
Posted by Kat at 09:01 AM | Comments (6)

September 05, 2007

Reading Lists?

I want to make myself a master list of books to read. I know this is a huge task, so I'm going to start with nineteenth-ish* century literature and philosophy (and maybe some other subjects, if they go along well), mainly British and American. (Mainly because that's what I'm in the mood to read at the moment.) Does anyone know of a good booklist along these lines? Or any personal favorites you want to be sure I include?

* With maybe a little late eighteenth or early twentieth thrown in, if it makes sense.

Posted by Kat at 01:16 PM | Comments (2)

July Books

See? I'm catching up...

On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar
Genre: Personal finance
Pages: 191
Rating: 4.6
I've been wanting to become more educated and informed in regards to money matters, and a few friends recommended this book, so I thought I'd give it a try. It was great. It managed to explain things on a basic level without sounding patronizing, and it had a very good balance of information and advice. It covered a wide variety of topics, from budgeting to retirement savings to investing to getting out of debt to buying a house. I'm not going to necessarily follow all of their advice word for word, but it was definitely helpful. Based on this book, I was able to make a plan for how I will save to buy a new car in the next few years. I got this from the library, but I'm planning to buy a copy eventually so I will have it for future reference.

All I Want Is Everything by Cecily von Ziegesar
Genre: Young adult
Pages: 215
Rating: 3.6
This is the third in the Gossip Girl series, and there's not much to say that I didn't say in the review of the second one (under June books). The books are fun in an artifical sort of way, and I thought some of the characters were more annoying in this book than the last. I may read more; I may not.

I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark
Genre: Mystery, psychological suspense
Pages: 318
Rating: 3.7

I read lots of Mary Higgins Clark in middle and high school, so I was curious to pick up one of her new ones and see what I thought now. I didn't like it as much as I had liked them then, but I'm not sure whether her books have gotten worse or my tastes have changed, or both. This was enjoyable, but I didn't think it was as thrilling or clever as I remember thinking her older books were, but that is likely because I've read so many more adult mysteries now than I had then. This one is about a librarian who marries a rich recluse whose family her father used to work for. He was a "person of interest" in the disappearance of a friend long ago and in the death of his first wife a few years ago, and these cases are reopened around the time of his new marriage. The main character, whose name I have apparently forgotten in the month since I read this, has to decide whether to trust her husband and how to protect herself, as the killer is almost certainly someone in her husband's family or employ. There were lots of twists and turns, some more interesting than others, and I kept thinking it was about to become Rebecca, but it never did, quite. It was enjoyable enough, and made me want to read some of the books I missed in the 8-10 years since I stopped reading Clark regularly.

Reread: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Pages: 672
Rating: 4.6
I had originally read this the day it was released, and realized that I didn't remember much of it, so I reread it to prepare for book seven. I thought it was very good, of course, but not quite as good as some of the other books in the series, as a lot of it was set-up for the finale.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Pages: 759
Rating: 4.8
I don't want to give spoilers, just in case, but I thought this was the perfect end to this series. I read it in less than a day, of course, and it was actually a pretty emotional experience: a few of the deaths had me crying, and some others had me just stunned. I know the epilogue has been criticized by many, but it was probably my favorite part. In a few months, I'm planning to reread the whole series to see how various things in the seventh book were set up all the way through.

Posted by Kat at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2007


Okay, time for a Resolution. It's not really that I've been spending too much on yarn, but more that a) I'm trying to save up for a new car and b) I'm trying to clear out some stash. So. I will not buy any more yarn in 2007, with the following exceptions:

1. Gifts. This will likely end up being quite a lot, but I'd be spending money on gifts regardless, so it's fine.
2. Materials for classes or workshops. As of now, there are none I'm planning to attend, but it's not outside of the realm of possibility, so I want to have that option in there.
3. Work. I'm going to be writing craft articles for a local paper, and will likely need yarn for things related to some of those.

We'll see how it goes...

Posted by Kat at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)

September 03, 2007

Commitment to Loveliness, September 2

Commitment to Loveliness

I loved doing this last week. My poem (Shakespeare's Sonnet 73) is just about memorized - I found that memorizing while kneading bread this morning worked well. I'm working on my list of birthdays, but I haven't had time to find cards yet. The leaves are definitely starting to change, although it was all yucky and hot today. Bah. I did well with the earrings and necklace each day, and I have one more dishcloth done and two almost done. ANYWAY. New list for this week:

1. Actually fix my hair each morning, instead of just brushing it and letting it hang.
2. Get back in the habit of lighting pretty scented candles in the evenings, as long as the kitten-safe place I found remains kitten-safe.
3. Wear skirts or dresses to work at least twice.
4. Start knitting Christmas gifts (finally).
5. Read at least a few pages of Jane Eyre every day.

Posted by Kat at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2007

Sunday Evening Miscellany

It's just that sort of evening...

1. I seem to have come down with some sort of cold/sore throat/general ickiness thing. Right in time for the long weekend. Lovely. Of course, it meant that I could justify spending most of the day on the couch reading and knitting and getting some freelance stuff done, so it's not all bad.

2. The weather is all lovely and cool, but it's going to be 90 again next weekend! That is not acceptable.

3. They're making a new Ballet Shoes TV movie!!! That's one of my favorite books ever, so I'm VERY excited. AND this led me to discover that there was a 1975 version too! I know what I'm Netflixing next...

4. Speaking of favorite books, I am totally in a "reread old favorites" mood. Although I'm also in the mood to read new things, so I guess I just want to read all the time. Which is different from me normally how? I don't know. Sometimes it's more severe than others. :)

5. And speaking of Netflix, have I mentioned how much I love Foyle's War? Love love love it. I'm about to start series two.

6. Does anyone have any tips for getting kittens to stop destructive habits? Say, just for example, eating the carpet?

Posted by Kat at 07:55 PM | Comments (7)

September 01, 2007

June Books, Part Two

So I was reading Rachel's comments on Nineteen Minutes (and other books she read in August) and realized that I never finished posting my June books, never mind July. Oh, and it's September 1, so I guess I owe you August too. We'll get there. Here are the rest of my June books:

Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know - And Doesn't by Stephen Prothero
Genre: Religion, current events
Pages: 296
Rating: 4
Prothero, a religious studies professor at BU, argues that Americans need to be more "literate" about religion in order to understand cultural references as well as current national and world events. Among other things, he believes that students should learn about the Bible and world religions in public school. His argument is pretty convincing, but I think in his zeal he underestimates how difficult it would be to enforce that teachers taught about religions without arguing for or against them. He certainly made me want to learn more about various religions, though. I thought the most interesting part of the book was the short history he provides of religion in American public life in general and in public education in particular. After his argument, Prothero provides a "dictionary of religious literacy" - almost 100 pages of terms, definitions, and explanations. He says that he concentrated on those concepts that have played a large role in recent political and other events, but it still seemed odd that he didn't even mention Wicca or other pagan religions. You'd think that would at least come up in Harry Potter/witchcraft/censorship discussions. Prothero could have used a better editor - I found a bunch of typos, and at least two different dates given for the Westminster Confession. And the subtitle bothered me, because it sounds like the "doesn't" means "doesn't need to know" rather than "doesn't know." Overall, though, it was a thought-provoking read.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Genre: Literature
Pages: 455
Rating: 4.2
I have a love-hate relationship with Jodi Picoult. (Well, it's entirely one-sided, so not really a relationship, but never mind.) I really like her characters and some of the situations she creates, but at the same time, she drives me crazy. Especially her endings. This time, she addresses the causes and effects of school violence by looking at it from the viewpoints of the shooter himself, his parents, local lawyers (one of whom was a character in Salem Falls as well), cops, and judges, and affected classmates (one of whom happens to be the judge's daughter). As usual, I got pretty attached to some of the characters, and had trouble putting the book down during certain sections. And, actually, the ending wasn't anywhere near as dumb as the ending of, say, My Sister's Keeper. (I have to confess that I peeked ahead at the ending of this one, so I'd be prepared if it were as awful as some of her others. And that's saying a lot, because I very rarely peek.) My main problem with this book was a few big factual errors. Glaring. In a scene set in 1990, a character refers to Elaine Chao as the head of the Dept. of Labor. Chao is the Secretary of Labor NOW (since 2001), not 17 years ago. And in a scene set in 1995, Jeanne Shaheen appears as the governor of NH. Shaheen was elected in 1996 and didn't actually become governor until 1997. Other than that, though, it was a pretty good read, even if the explanations it provided were a bit facile at times.

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich
Genre: Chick lit
Pages: 262
Rating: 4.6
Frankly, the synopsis of this book didn't grab me: a television producer does a story on a psychic quiltmaker and is given a quilt with psychic reading, and then her life falls apart and she blames the quilt. So she goes back to the quiltmaker and ends up living for a while in the eccentric small town where the quiltmaker lives. And then elements of her old life resurface and she has to decide how or whether to combine her lives. It sounded pretty formulaic and gimmicky, what with the psychic quilt and all. It ended up being much much better than I'd expected, though. The main character is sufficiently flawed as to be likeable, and the situations in which she finds herself are a bit weird but not ridiculously extreme. And her struggle to decide what she wanted in her life was exactly what I was in the mood to read about. There's a large cast of interesting (if wacky) secondary characters and believable personal growth in several areas. It's definitely a feel-good read, and I will be looking for more by this author.

You Know You Love Me: A Gossip Girl Novel by Cecily von Ziegesar
Genre: Young adult
Pages: 227
Rating: 3.6
This is the second book in the Gossip Girl series, which I started reading because there's a TV show of it (with Kristen Bell, a.k.a. Veronica Mars) starting in the fall. They're complete trash, but fun and addictive. Total candy. Cotton candy, actually. Very little substance. The characters in this series are superrich teens at snobby private schools in Manhattan. They spend lots of time shopping, drinking, and smoking pot in Central Park. They all have Issues, of course - family stuff, eating disorders, etc. But these are just touched on, not explored in any deep fashion. Much of this second volume revolves around college visits and applications. Some of the characters are pretty awful, but most have redeeming qualities of some sort.

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Genre: Young adult
Pages: 221
Rating: 4.5
This novel has been much-discussed in YA circles, and it was one of those books I almost didn't want to read because I was afraid it wouldn't be as good as everyone said it was. And... it wasn't, honestly. It wasn't the Best Book Ever. But it was extremely good. It tells the story of a somewhat pretentious loner who goes to boarding school and meets, among other people, a unique, captivating girl named Alaska. The book revolves around a tragedy that occurs in the middle of the story, and I could tell what was coming practically from the beginning, but I don't think that really ruined anything. This story is more about how the characters react to events than it is about the events themselves. The pretentious tone annoyed me until I realized that it fit with the characters perfectly. The book may have been taking itself way too seriously, but the fact that the main characters took themselves way too seriously made this okay. I'm planning to read another book by Green soon, so we'll see if the tone really belongs to him or the characters.

Anyone but You by Lara M. Zeises
Genre: Young adult
Pages: 245
Rating: 4.7
I picked this up somewhat randomly from a display at the YA section of my local library, and I was very pleasantly surprised. It was great. It's about teenage almost-stepsiblings (Seattle's dad dated Critter's mom and then disappeared, leaving her with the ex-girlfriend) and what happens to them over the beginning of a summer. Seattle* and Critter have always been best friends, but suddenly they're growing up and things get weird. They each start dating someone the other hates, but what's really behind the hatred? How do they really feel about each other? And then Seattle's dad comes back, and things get really complicated. The chapters alternate between the two characters, and Zeises does a very good job of making these voices different from each other but both believable. Seattle uses a bunch of skateboarding technology I didn't understand, but that didn't really take much away from the book as a whole. The romantic in me sort of wanted a more idealized ending, but the actual conclusion of the novel is just how it should be, I think.

I was already pretty impressed, but a few hours after finishing the book, I suddenly realized** that at one point, Critter watches Clueless and then has a dream in which his girlfriend sort of becomes Alicia Silverstone but with elements of Seattle. This little detail seems very telling, as Clueless ends with Alicia Silverstone's character getting together with her almost-stepbrother. The whole thing is very subtle, but it would be too coincidental - Zeises must have done it on purpose. And this made me hopeful about Critter and Seattle's future. Because, as we've established, I'm a hopeless romantic. But anyway. Read this book.
* What's with the weird place name thing in the books I'm reading? Alaska, now Seattle...
** Confession: because I'm a dork, there was an intermediary step in this revelation. Critter/Seattle actually reminded me of Knightley/Emma, and then I realized the Clueless thing after that.

Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky
Genre: Women's fiction
Pages: 358
Rating: 3
Rachel warned us that this was awful, so I had to get it from the library to see the awfulness. I'm not really sure why. Anyway, I read this book while home sick, and it was perfect for that sort of thing. Completely mindless, pretty bad writing, iffy characterization, but a page-turner. It's about a white couple who gives birth to a baby who looks African-American, and what they go through between themselves and with their families and communities. I have a feeling it was supposed to make me think about lots of Important Issues, but it really didn't, since it all seemed so bloody obvious. And the big shocking reveal at the end? It was exactly what I thought was going to happen. Basically, the whole time I was reading the book, I was thinking "this is really pretty awful," but I couldn't put it down.

Posted by Kat at 03:39 PM | Comments (1)

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