Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"The world was hers for the reading." - Books of 2012

(Quote from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)

For the first time in my life, I kept track of the books I read this year. I was curious how many I read in an average year (67, this year), and I wanted some record to help me remember. I forget things really easily (which is why I love to re-read things. I'm always surprised!). I'm really glad I did - it's been fun to remember the year in books! When I started reading Changeling, I had no idea that by the time I read Snow we would own a house and have another little one on the way! I THINK differently about the world, too, in part because of the wonderful things I've read. I wonder what will happen in my next year of books?


A caveat - I'm easily pleased, especially with books. Mostly, I use reading as an escape. If it takes me somewhere new, I'm happy, even if the writing is not great. That being said, I've bolded my favorites - ones that made me think differently or that were particularly charming. I also wrote down some of my favorite quotes.

Also, there are some spoilers. I've tried to hide them by making them white text, but let me know if there is something I've missed.




* 1-6. Changeling by Delia Sherman - fun little young adult novel! Filled with Folklore and a great plot. I loved catching the allusions to literary characters like Water Rat.

 * 1-8. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. - What a lovely, lovely book. Maybe one of my favorites ever. Reminded me of I Capture the Castle - that same feeling. Full of joy, wonder, and hope. Read it in a single day.


"Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct on books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were!"


* 1-12. Mississippi Jack by L. A. Meyer.  E-book. Oh, I love that Jacky Faber! Such adventures, and so spunky! When can I read the next one?!

* 1-13. Scarlet Pimpernel by  Baroness Emmuska Orczy. Audiobook. Love the movie, never read the book. I totally had Ian McKellen and Jane Seymour in my head the whole time. The story was different, so I was still surprised, even though I already knew who the Scarlet Pimpernel was. Credited as the first disguised superhero tale- before Zorro and Batman. So much fun to know the story!

* 1-16. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. E-book. A book about finding yourself. Three book-loving sisters who have each made mistakes, a Shakespeare-obsessed father, and a mother with breast cancer. I really see myself in each of the sisters - my avoidance of my problems, like Bean, my need to be needed, like Rose, my irresponsibility, like Cordy. There are good parts of me too, like Cordy's good heart and Rose's nurturing. I especially loved Rose's change of heart as she climbed the tower in Oxford. I loved her sense of flying. That's how I feel on my best days. The first person plural narrative was really interesting, too. Each of the sisters talking as a whole about each other.

* 1-26. My Bonny Light Horseman: Jacky Faber book 6. E-book. Jacky becomes a spy in France and meets Napoleon. Love it, as usual!

* 2-10. Jeeves in the Offing by P. G. Wodehouse. Audiobook. I read my first Jeeves book on our honeymoon, and I am always happy to pick up another one. I like the high English society, foppish Wooster, and clever clever Jeeves. This one had Bertie visiting Aunt Daliah, with the engagements and tangles you would expect. A fun quick read, enjoyable and amusing. The reader was perfectly British, as well.

* 2-11. Rapture of the Deep. Jacky Faber book 7. E-book. Jacky goes deep sea diving for gold for the British. She's actually with Jamie for once! Read in a day, as usual.

* 2-19. Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger. I'm not sure how much I liked this book. Assisted suicide, girl who dies too young and teaches the man to live life to the fullest. Maybe I'm just jaded from reading too many books like this. It STARTED off with her dying, and that stalled me for a long time. I'm thinking now, though, that might have bugged me MORE if I was surprised by it at the end of the book. I DID really like their life together (especially the big round window in their carriage house), but it just feels like such a cheap plot point, that you aren't a good enough writer to come up with interesting stakes besides death.

* 2-25. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. What a beautiful story. Santiago the shepherd seeks his Personal Legend across the deserts of Egypt. In the same sort of vein as The Little Prince, and touched me similarly. What is my Personal Legend? How to I listen to the omens and to my heart? 

"When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too. Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World."
"Maybe God created the desert so that man could appreciate the date trees."
"If you can concentrate always on the present, life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we're living right now."

* 3-9. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. Audiobook. Oh man. Brandon knocks it out of the park once again. Dang. Wonderful plot, set 300 years after Mistborn and Sazed changing the world. Very old western - not steampunk, but mistpunk! Wax & Wayne were spectacular, all the characters were wonderfully believable, and so witty! That's always one of my favorite things about Sanderson's writing. I also loved picking out old characters from Mistborn - yay Marsh! Also, "you're welcome." hee hee. It was particularly awesome as an audiobook because you got to hear Wayne's different accents. High marks all around.

* 3-18. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. E-book. Recommended by John Green and didn't disappoint! A girl is sent to Paris for her senior year and finds love (after they stop being morons) The characters were full and well-rounded and interesting. The Ellie thing got a little stale, but it was so charming I didn't really care. I devoured it.

* 4-30. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. Silly, light hearted. Her shallowness is a little sad - what she obsesses about is ridiculous, but am I any better? Good fluff to read while moving.

* 5-2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Spectacular. Amazing to write a hopeful book about Nazi Germany. Hans-Papa- was my favorite. I loved his silver eyes. The writing was like poetry - the descriptions of the sky were particularly beautiful. And I always love Death as a narrator.

* 5-7. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. SO fun. Eleven yr old Flavia has a passion for poisons, and no idea about family relationships. Her Dad has a pretty awesome history too. An awesome mystery in a little English village. Adore. Looks like there are more books - I want!

* 5-16. The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks. Library book. Really enjoyable. Being a vampire isn't glamorous, it's actually more like having AIDS. Nina and Dave have some adventures, even though they are sick all the time. The descriptions of the pains of vampire-age were awesome.

* 5-18. Soul Music by Terry Pratchett. Library book. DEATH and Susan - two of my favorite characters. Always a romp. Buddy Holly was awesome, too. Abs the Dean - rebel without a pause.

* 5-22. Snuff by Terry Pratchett. Library book. Good, as usual, but I do feel like they don't run as smoothly as they used to. Not sure if it's from Terry Pratchett's Alzheimer's, or cause I'm tired. I do love Vimes, as usual.

* 5-27. The Scar by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko. Audiobook, translated from Russian. And you can tell its a Russian novel! Fascinating story about character and consequences. Curses, swordplay, and eventually, redemption. I agree with Mom - I do wish that the redemption had come sooner, that we could see Egert and Toria in real life. Their relationship was pretty spectacular, though!

* 5-30. The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell. Wallender book 2, audiobook. Really good detective novel. Wallender is a real life person - its awesome to hear his story. Very believable. And I don't actually know much about Latvia's revolution from the Soviet Union, but this was a fascinating way to approach it. I'll be finding more of these for sure. Bless Amy for getting me onto them!

* 6-1. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L. A. Meyer. Audiobook. Starring Jacky Faber! Always always love it! And the narrator is spectacular! All the various accents and the tunes to the songs are perfectly right!

* 6-5. The Mark of the Golden Dragon by L. A. Meyer. Audiobook. Jacky Faber. This might be one of my favorites. I really liked her interacting with the London ton. The stuff with Mad Jamie kind of felt like an afterthought, though.

* 6-10. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next book one. Yay! A wonderful new series! I think this is one that would stand up to rereading very well. There were so many references that I'm sure I didn't catch them all. (it would probably help to read Jane Eyre...) The whole alternate reality is really fun, and LiterTec sounds like the dream job of any English major!

* 6-11. Driving Mr. Dead by Molly Harper. Audiobook. Fluffy romantic novel, but definitely parts to skip. And language. 

*6-14. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next book 2. After killing Acheron, changing Jane Eyre to end happily and trapping Jack Schitt in The Raven, Thursday thinks she'll get a break. She didn't account for a little sister trying to kill her with coincidences, or her husband never being born, or having to save the world form being destroyed by Strawberry Dream Topping. 

* 6-16. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next book 3. Thursday hides out in a book to have her baby and try to figure out how to get her husband back. She is apprenticed by Miss Havisham and foils a plot to upgrade books. So so much fun. I'm loving these, as evidenced by how quickly I'm reading them! I even went to the Orem library to pick up the rest in the series, because the Lehi library didn't have them.

* 6-20. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next book 4. Thursday and her son Friday come back, her husband gets uneradicated, they win a croquet game and defeat Kaine and Goliath. Totally in the real world. Also, I totally called (highlight for spoilers)Granny Next being Thursday. I'm completely intrigued by the Neanderthals. I hope we see more of them and they figure out how to have children.

* 6-27. Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde. Book 5. 17 years later, and another kid. (Thursday thinks there's a daughter, but it's just a mindworm, which was really interesting. I totally caught it.) I don't know if I was just paying less attention, but this one was harder to keep track of. Not as engaging. Still eager to read on, though! I DID like Thursday1-4 and Thursday5 though.

* 7-1. One of Our Thursdays Are Missing by Jasper Fforde. Book 6. The hippie fictional Thursday has to figure out what the real Thursday was working on. Or is she the real Thursday after all? I love that T. was hiding with her counterparts in Fan Fiction. Ha!

* 7-9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Audiobook. Interesting story with mediocre writing. It needed more editing. The ideas were pretty clever, though, especially with the berries at the end. I'm annoyed by the beginning of the Peeta/Gale thing. It's way contrived, and is unappetizing. And I'm sure it'll only get worse.

* 7-10. The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. A Nursery Crimes novel. Way fun! Like Thursday Next, but made more sense. I'm a huge fan of Jack!

* 7-19. The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde. A Nursery Crimes Novel. Silly fun, awesome to pick out the nursery rhymes.

* 7-20. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Audiobook. Again, interesting story but needed a pickier editor. The pacing was kind of weird. There are some seriously clever moments - the clock arena is really cool, and President Snow is believably vile. I just wish the emotions and dialogue were as well thought out. I'm not sure I'll listen to the third one - everyone I know was really grumpy with it.

* 7-23. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. A little too much like Austen at the beginning, but really quickly became it's own lovely book. Beautiful! 

* 7-25. Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal. A beautiful sequel. I'm happy they didn't shy away from the miscarriage, but I do wish she had come to better terms about not being able to do glamour. You don't want to be resentful of your children! Still, lovely, well written, happy. NOT a book that Evan would like, haha.

* 7-31. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. On Dad's Required Reading list. I don't really have words for how wonderful this book is. It perfectly captures idyllic childhood summers, and realizing that they never last. I want to find something like dandelion wine that can give me summer in a bleak February day. Rereading this will certainly help!

* 8-3. False Colors by Georgette Heyer. Totally awesome romance novel with all of the wittiness and none of the smut. The Regency and the ton, a missing twin, gambling debts and one of the best dowager dragons I've ever seen. Clever, light-hearted, perfect.

* 8-23. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Audiobook. So many genres all in one book! SciFi, history, mystery, romance, its amazing. Its fun to re-read and put the pieces together. I especially love all the Victorian stuff- its always the butler! I have a bunch of book suggestions from it, too, like Three Men In a Boat and Dorothy Sayers. The reader was fantastic, too. All the right voices and emphasises.

* 9-15. Dinner: a love story by Jenny Rosenstrach. A cookbook full of personal essays on how one family made dinner a priority, and tips for doing the same. I have yet to make a recipe of hers that I didn't like. Reading it made me feel that much more creative with my own dinners, and confident in my cooking skills. Also, I'm totally stealing the dinner diary thing. 

* 10-1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. What an amazing book! The breadth of topics it covers is amazing, from adultery and politics to class warfare and society to art and philosophy to Russian history. And spectacularly written. If I ever was tempted to commit adultery, this book would be a great deterrent! Anna's life is so terribly miserable, and it's all because of her own choices. Levin might be one of my new favorite fictional characters. Even when he is doubting, he lives his life in such a lovely way. I love the scene where he threshes with his peasants, and feels so at peace. And the chapter near the end where he realizes that he must live for the soul and remember God is one of the most beautiful and hopeful things I've ever read. I feel like that's how revelation really works - it is a reminder in your soul of something you already knew. I need to buy my own copy of this - its a reread for sure.

"It showed him the eternal error people make in imagining that happiness is the realization of desires."
"But neither of them dared to speak of it, and therefore everything else they said, without expressing the one thing that preoccupied them, was a lie."
"...it was up to him to change that so burdensome, idle, artificial and individual life he lived into this laborious, pure and common, lovely life."
I'm amused that Stepan never quotes things quite correctly. 

"Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed."
"Spring is a time of plans and projects."

* 10-2. Among Others by Jo Walton. It's funny how much I liked and was annoyed by this book. Actually, that's not fair. The only part that I didn't like was that I didn't get most of the SciFi references, and that's only because I haven't read most of the hard SciFi she lists. The ones I had read made me smile, though! The magic system was wonderful. It makes things happen by coincidence! And that feeling of finding "your people" is totally accurate. I need to read Vonnegut so I get the karass reference. I love that idea. I also love the last battle. The pages of the book she loves becoming trees was beautiful and fitting. And the wonderful way that magic fits the place where she is. I wonder what magic would be around here?

* 10-9. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Very interesting book. I think it might make me more suspicious of conventional wisdom. I don't necessarily think that all of their premises are true, but they all are fascinating.

* 10-17. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. This is the first from the Among Others recommendations. I actually got these books a while ago from Jon. I remember starting this in the tub at our apartment, but it didn't really grab me. I think I had been reading too much modern stuff, so I took a break. This time, I was determined to give it a fair shot. There must be a reason it's so popular! The first thing that struck me (the second time) was the beautiful prose. All of the words are spot on perfect. And when I started letting the words wash over me, the story became so much more interesting! It really does feel like an established legend. And I loved what the shadow's name turned out to be.

* 10-20. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin. Second in the Earthsea books. Really interesting. I thought Ges would be in it more, but I really liked Tenar. It was less of a legend-feel. We basically lived her life with her. I'm really pleased with all of the self-examination after the collapse of the tombs. It made her a much more real character. I wish I had read these books when I was a kid, and had them as part of my personal mythology. My kids certainly will!

* 10-23. The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin. Third in Earthsea series. LOVED it. I don't know if I'm just getting better at reading her style, or if this one was a little different, but it was a much easier, faster read. Maybe I was just more interested in the story. I am kind of sad we didn't get more of Ged's adventures -maybe they'll be in the other books. I loved him as a wise old man who still had some of his personality traits from the first book. And Arren's hero worship was wonderful. It was a great start to the book! Funny - in reading reviews, this seems to be people's least favorite of the series. I guess the eternal optimist in me always knew that they would save the world, and that all the names would return. 

* 10-28. Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin. Forth in Earthsea. Even even better! I started it at 9ish last night and finished this afternoon. What is a woman's power? Does she have her own, besides what a man gives her? Tenar, awesome, like Ista in Paladin of Souls.  The adventure after you raise children. And Ged, after he saved the world, but gave up his power to do so. How does he deal with that? And the dragon-people, and Therru. And the king! So much awesomeness in this book. I want to recommend it to everyone, but they have to read the other ones so they have the story! Later: and once again, I love the one that everyone hates. I LIKED the domesticity of it. I loved that Tenar chose a life of woman's work, because it's the same choice I have made. I feel that there is value in it. I also loved the feeling of "this is what it's like to live on Gont." 

* 11-1. The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. I love this series like an old friend. I didn't realize until talking to Savannah that the way that Miles always seems to find a frantic way out is consistent with my life. If you tell the story, if you push in the right way, forward momentum, you can probably make it work.  This is just the first in a LONG line of that. Ivan - he's still kinda a jerk at this point, swivving the maids and messing with Elena, but I guess he's still 17. That idiot Ivan indeed.

* 11-2. The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. One of the benefits to my terrible memory is that I often forget crucial plot points. It makes re-reads so much more fun. I always lose track of who is who in the Hegan Hub. Gregor walking toward Miles's combat group until Elena's gun touches his chest is one of my favorite scenes in this book. Poor Gregor. Ivan - mostly there for Miles to know what he's missing in Vorbarr Sultana. He does help Miles get top-secret info on Metzov. "I didn't say it was idiot-proof!" Poor Simon.

* 11-4. Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. You can tell that I love these because I'm reading about a book a day! One of the lesser books to be sure, but still really fun. Ivan - being 'popular' because of Barrayaran practices (Donna Vorruyter taught him well!), the kitten tree, keeping Miles's secrets and covering when Miles needs him to.

* 11-6. Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. Poor Miles. Poor Mark! Really, poor Galeni! I love this first meeting of characters that become so important later! Lots of Ivan - being good at diplomatic work, holding open security holes, being important enough to be the kidnapee, Miles realizing he is practically a brother. Saving Miles as usual.

* 11-8. Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. This is the book where Mark becomes AWESOME. You can see that he is truly Miles's brother, but he is also his own person. Ivan- crying in the gazebo alone about Miles, more mentions of his lady-killer ways, Cordelia tells Aral that Ivan-the-idiot is much smarter than he lets on, Alys pushing Vor budlings on him.

* 11-9. Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. The only thing you can't give for your hearts desire is your heart. Miles figures out who he truly is. A wonderful book, sometimes painful because it is so true. It's hard to watch a character you love make a huge mistake, but Miles comes through it even better than before. Ivan: the ice bath awesomeness, sitting by Illyan, being Miles's assistant and witness, panicking and asking the Koudelka girls to marry him. Ha!

* 11-10. Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. Not QUITE as awesome as the last few, but there are still instances where I laugh out loud and jump up and down cause I'm so excited. Especially Miles telling Ekaterin about his girlfriends. Hee hee! Some of the technical stuff I get a little bored with, but the payoff is good. Ivan: really only mentioned as Miles tells a few that-idiot-Ivan stories.

* 11-12. A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. Miles does romance. And awesomely well. The scene in the Council of Counts makes me more giddy than pretty much any other scene in literature. I always end up bouncing and grinning. I love how much we get to see of other characters here- Kareen, Mark, Gregor, even Aral and Cordelia. Ivan: LOTS of Ivan. Assigned to Lady Alys, Miles not needing him and his bafflement over that, the WHOLE thing with Dono, being the hero at the end.

* 11-14. Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold. Re-read for the new book. I like this one more than I remembered. It gets CRAZY complicated near the end. I love that Ekaterin made it all happen in the end. Ivan: mentioned twice, I think, once when Bel asks if he's related to Admiral Vorpatril, once for Miles's death notes.

* 11-16. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold. New book! Oh man. It's totally awesome, enough that I don't really have coherent words for it. In its own Ivan-y way, as much cheering and bouncing from me as during A Civil Campaign. 

* 11-23. A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer. Lovely, happy book. A marriage of convenience that becomes a true deep friendship. Love the London ton, but I wish there had been more scenes between the Aunt and the Father-in-law!

* 11-28. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. One of my favorites. Death and Susan and Christmas time. We must believe in the little lies like Hogfather and the Tooth Fairy as children so that we can grow up to believe in the big lies like Truth and Justice.

* 12-4. Legion by Brandon Sanderson. Audiobook. Really interesting concept. A genius has multiple hallucinations that are all experts on something. I love that (according to Zach) JC is Jayne Cobb/John Casey, and Tobias is Morgan Freeman. The camera concept was really interesting, too. Complete story, but MUCH too short. He needs to write more in that world! (like always)

* 12-8. Emma by Jane Austen. If I've ever actually read this it was so long ago that I've forgotten. I know the plot well, though, from the Gwyneth Paltrow movie and from Clueless. :) So fun! The class consciousness is a little unfamiliar, but I guess it was just how people thought. It seems like in the movie she didn't brush off being in love with Frank Churchill quite as quickly.  I do like the odious Mr. Elton's quote about Christmas: "This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas every body invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather." 

* 12-10. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. An American classic. A lovely book about growing up poor in Brooklyn before WWI. And seeing to beauty in everyday things - Getting drunk by looking at a tulip, or a cold clear perfect night when you can almost touch the stars. A book like Girl of the Limberlost, that makes me grateful and a harder worker. I think it means more to me now than it would have before being married with a baby. I understand Katie better than I would have, with her thin invisible steel.

Francie's little rituals for reading on the fire escape are a lot like mine for reading in the bath. It makes it special, an event.

"Home at last, and now it was the time she had been looking forward to all week: fire-escape-sitting time. She put a small rug on the fire-escape and got the pillow from her bed and propped it against the bars. Luckily there was ice in the icebox. She chipped off a small piece and put it in a glass of water. The pink-and-white peppermint wafers bought that morning were arranged in a little bowl, cracked, but of a pretty blue color. She arranged the glass, bowl and book on the window sill and climbed out on the fire escape. [...] Francie breathed the warm air, watched the dancing leaf shadows, ate the candy and took sips of the cooled water in-between reading the book."
"The world was hers for the reading."

And the quote that starts with this: "People always think happiness is a faraway thing..."

* 12-12. Viva Jacquelina! by L.A. Meyer. Audiobook. Yay, a new Jacky book! Jacky in Spain, working for Goya. As fun and far-fetched as the rest. I DO like that no matter how high Jacky gets (owning a fleet, being a hero, etc) she always adjusted well to being penniless when she inevitably falls. 

* 12-13. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I was a huge fan of this one. I love that it's a young adult novel that teaches a girl to be something OTHER than sweet and innocent and pretty and not as smart as her boyfriend. I loved  that Frankie challenged the status quo, that she confronted Porter with the all the assumptions behind his casual "Be careful now that you're pretty." And the neglected positives were awesome. :) I didn't love the ending. It was kind of abrupt, or something. I wish Frankie had more success, I guess, and that she didn't feel like a monster and understood by no one. Really interesting feminist questions, and very appropriate, considering all the wear pants to church stuff going on right now.

* 12-15. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Classic Sci-fi. He's got a very unique style. I wouldn't say I was delighted by this book, but I certainly enjoyed it.  A little too "everything is hopeless," but I guess that's what you get at the end of the world. I loved all the pieces coming together, and there are ideas that will stay with me for a long time - ice-nine and karass and "peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."

* 12-16. Coronets and Steel by Sherwood Smith. Book one of Dobrenica. Gah! I didn't know this was a series! *sigh* After reading Vonnegut, who writes so wonderfully tightly, no wasted words, this felt like it needed a lot of editing. It was a fun story, swashbuckling, but the pacing was kind of off, and I wanted more concise writing. I'm going right out tomorrow to find the sequel, though! I did really like Kim, with her fencing and ballet and crazy long hair. 

* 12-22. A Song For Summer by Eva Ibbotson. A lyrical historical fiction with a lovely, light-filled heroine and a musical hero that defenstrates Nazis. I was afraid that this wouldn't have a happy ending, but it all worked out! Lovely comfortable feel, like Anne of Green Gables.

* 12-31. Snow by Tracy Lynn. A 'Once Upon A Time' book. This series is not particularly well-written (it can actually be pretty bad), but its a fun, mindless, light read. Retelling of Snow White. I liked the mix of scientific and magic.


If you made it all the way to the end, you deserve a prize. So, what's your favorite book you read this year? Or what book has changed the way you look at the world?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It doesn't take much...

... to make me happy.

Just a fig, goat cheese, rosemary and honey quesadilla for lunch. I love figs, but I've never had a fresh one. Jon slipped these into the grocery cart yesterday, knowing it would be something I'd enjoy. It was so delicious I ate it too quickly for a picture!

Monday, August 27, 2012

It doesn't take much...

to make me happy.

Just watching my husband teaching his little boy the wonders of Lego.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jesse's Day!

Dear Jesse,

Happy First Birthday! Your dad and I decided that in our family, your actual birthday is going to be ALL ABOUT YOU - doing what you like to do, eating what you like to eat. We will schedule birthday parties when they are convenient, but Birthday Days Are Special!  So here are all of the things that we did on your birthday. Because you are so young and we have to guess what you like, this is pretty close to how our days typically go right now!


You woke up around 5am, as usual, and I brought you into our bed and we both got a few more hours of sleep. Dad kissed us both before he went to work at 7. Our morning really started at about 8 with you playing with my phone while I attempted to wake up. You need some time to wake up, too - you climb all over me, but you often flop down on me to get a little rest in between all the exploration. I have to be careful that you don't bonk your head on my knees!

You love to get into the bathroom cupboards while I get ready for the day. Now they have rubber bands around the handles so you can't. You don't appreciate being foiled.

Next we had breakfast - waffles, fruit...

and some of my "green juice" with spinach, yogurt, bananas, strawberries, and oranges. Your dad thinks it looks nasty, but you and I know how delicious it is. You've gotten so good at drinking through a straw!

You very closely supervised the baking of the birthday cake. It's an important job! You helped me measure and dump flour (we only got a little on the counter- shh, don't tell dad!) and turned on the mixer and then made sure it didn't burn. 

Finally, naptime! What a sweet little boy. And what a lucky mama to have such a snuggly kid!

After some rest it was time for lunch. Turkey, apples and roasted broccoli were on the menu for the birthday boy! Despite this face, you actually really like broccoli. I'm so proud of you! (The lemon and Parmesan probably help.)

While you were sleeping one of your presents came - a big-boy car seat! You were fascinated by the plastic covering, and even climbed right into the cart seat.

I supervised you carefully (babies + plastic = no good) while I frosted your little one-year-old cake. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting and a strawberry jam filling - yum!

Surprise! Dad came home early from work, just for his little boy's birthday (Actually he had a dentist appointment, but that's okay). He read you stories - Monkeys Jumping On the Bed, Baby's First Colors, and Belly Button Book - while I finished the cakes.

Yay more presents! You helped open the box, and anxiously waited while Dad used the tools (I love that impatient little face!). You are very close to walking on your own, but these alligators help a TON. You love the clacky noise that they make, and it's so much fun to spin the beads! You aren't very good about controlling your speed, so Dad and I have to help keep you from smashing into walls. And then we have to help you back up. You'll figure it out soon! (Too fast - you are growing up so quickly!)

Another surprise! Grandma Meacham stopped by on her way home from Salt Lake. She's telling you in your ear how much she loves you - it's bunches and bunches!
After another nap, it was time to go in the car. For all of your earlier enthusiasm, you were NOT impressed with your new car seat at first. You warmed up to it quickly once you realized how much you could see!

Our first stop was the pet store. Sorry, buddy, no pets this time! (Although it'll be soon, if your dad gets his way.) We looked at all of the fish swimming around, and you tried to catch them through the tank. We had to be careful with the tanks on the lower shelves - you wanted to stick your hand right in!

We also looked at the ssssssnakes...

And the little puppies and kittens. You love dogs - it probably helps that Grandma and Grandpa Meacham have one. Watson is very wary of you (Jack pulled out some of his eyebrow once!) but Grandma thinks it's funny to put your toes just barely on the floor and chase him around the kitchen. She's right, it's pretty awesome. 

Next up was the hardware store to go through the FAN AISLE! You've been a fan (haa) of fans for a long time. They were one of the first things you pointed to! We make it a priority to go through the fan aisle every time we go to the hardware store, but on Jesse's Day, we went to the hardware store FOR the fan aisle. And your reaction was just as awesome as ever! Pointing, back arched, giggling - it was great. 

By now it was getting close to bedtime, so we got some delicious Hibachi food (zucchini, mushrooms and chicken with a tasty ginger sauce for you, sushi for Mom and Dad) and headed home to eat. You love your sippy cup from Grandpa Meacham, too! It's very interesting to try and put things into the spout.

 After clean up and jammies, it was time to get ready for bed. 

 We played some games - Pattycake and Squish Mom's Cheeks...

and read some books. Gramalita got you this book and the Very Hungry Caterpillar that goes with it before you were even born! You love to look at all of the yummy food and poke your finger through the holes.

This time, the strawberries looked EXTRA delicious!

 I sang you some songs - I Love You So Much and I Am a Child of God - and then snuggled you to sleep.

 Goodnight, little boy! I hope you had a fabulous first birthday, filled with all the things you love the most.

We love YOU the most, little duck. Happy happy birthday - we can't wait for the next year!
Love, Mom and Dad

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A World-Dominating, Butter-Laden New Tradition


My uncle Gary jokes that in our ritual-obsessed extended family, if we do something two years in a row, it "officially" becomes a tradition. I sure hope that I can carry that over to Jon's family, because I would LOVE for this to become something we do every year!

What could have me so excited? Risk-y Baking Night, of course!

 Here's how it works: We play one of those strategy board games that are really fun, but take FOREVER. As people get out of the game, they come help the rest of us with the Christmas baking!

 Jon's family really likes to play Risk, but his dad LOVES it. In his own words, Kip tends to be ruthless. He won't pull any punches, but he will very helpfully point out what you are doing to let him crush you. 
 In this house, Risk has been banned from Sunday play - it's impossible to play and stay reverent. Joseph may be accusing Isaac, but it looks like, as usual, it's Kip's fault. 

 We start them young in this family! Jesse is learning the ins-and-outs of world domination from Auntie Chel.
 There are some of us that don't love the intensity of the game as much (my mom would call it "one of those stratty games") so we baked instead! You can see Laura and Ginny in the back working on the Almond-Cherry bars.

Ginny rolling out the lemon cookies. Kip didn't know it, but we were actually baking all of these goodies for his surprise 50th birthday party that Sunday! He thought they were just for neighbor gifts.

Of course, we had to take a fudge break! My Grandma's fudge is my favorite Christmas treat - it just wouldn't be Christmas without it.

 Sneaky Issac getting into the treats after being paid off by an older brother. *coughJoncough* It's hard work being a mercenary!

 Speaking of being paid off... Jon ran out of ones, so Joseph got a whole FIVE dollars to let Jon sweep through his area. Jon defended himself by saying, "It's not cheating! He's receiving a gift from a benevolent older sibling!"

 Kip said, "My insidious sons are plotting against me! I feel like the King of England!"

Despite his sons' efforts, Kip began to sweep the board. Look at that triumph on his face!


Eventually, Jon was pushed out, and only Chelsea (the red) was left to face the mighty wrath of King Kipper the First. She had a stay of execution when she and Jocelyn left (Jocey was studying for finals this whole time - we missed her, but she got straight A's so it was worth it!) for the midnight premier of Sherlock Holmes 2. Kip studied the board for a good half hour after she left, plotting her inevitable destruction.  I missed the final carnage, but I hear that she put up a good fight!