Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. This little person handled his shots like a champ today. No tears! Plus he was nice to the doctor, so that was a welcome change.

2. I CANNOT stop listening to this song. I don't care who thinks it's stupid, it's on repeat constantly. 

3. To help me regain some credibility, it's actually alternating between this song, which makes me wonder why I don't listen to more Beck. Nonetheless, I'm psyched for the album that this will be on:

4. I have the novel Lila by Marilyn Robinson but learned that her books Gilead and Home are actually set in the same city prior to the one I have, so I just ordered the other two. I enjoyed Housekeeping and hope I like these three as much, since I'll have basically committed to the series that's not a series.

5. It's a three-day weekend! Yes! It's actually made this week feel ten times slower, but it'll be worth it. I'm supposed to meet up with a friend or two but other than that nothing too serious. We might head out to a local fair in the town over, since I'm pretty sure it will be a lot more "fair-like" than the OC one (this one is Norco, for local folks. I suspect there will be some legit cowboy boots). I'm also planning to get in some serious pool time, since I'm thinking (probably naively, since it's only September) that my weekends of warmth are limited. 

6. I have had my arm twisted into buying one of Pampered Chef's Deep Covered Baking dishes, under the assumption that it is "magical" and can basically make an awesome dinner for me. It's pretty pricey, so it better be all that and more.

7. The adulting just won't end. In the last three or four months I've done life insurance, college fund set-up, refinancing, solar panels, an HOA and loan application for the panels, and now I have to provide all of these documents that I don't technically have on hand for a health insurance audit at work AND we're buying a new fridge that has to extensively be researched (of course). I know I'm lucky to have access to all of these things, but my god, it's just so boring sometimes.

8. I listed to Lianne Moriarty's Big Little Lies on audiobook over the course of a couple of weeks and it was the perfect listen; it was fun, didn't require my full attention, the lady reading it was absolutely perfect, and it kept me interested. It's not the type of book I'd read, but it was perfect for commuting home. And seriously- I just saw a "blond bob" hustle her kids into a mini-van on my walk around the neighborhood a bit ago.

9. My students are all in a slight tizzy about the new Macbeth movie, which I'm happy doesn't come out until after we're done studying it (we're on Act 2 right now and it isn't released until December). It looks creepy, but good.

10. I've asked before, but I'll try again: does anyone know a legit way to scrub your twitter feed? I'd like to unlock it, but I ultimately know that students will find it and I don't want anything I mentioned years ago public. Not that there's anything bad, I just don't want the past lurking around.

August Reviews

August is probably my most challenging month of the year, between the heat, getting back into work routine, and accepting that we're about to begin the longest part of the school year (the August to November stretch is very, very long). But it's over! Onward and upwards. Here's what happened in between bitching about 103 degree temperatures, five am wake-up calls, and back-to-school meetings:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer 
531 pages 
I briefly mentioned this book earlier when I did my summer round-up, but I feel like I'm the last person to read it. For those not familiar, it's set during World War II, focusing on a young French blind girl and a brilliant German orphaned boy. The book skips between when they're a bit older and then when they're kid and we watch how the war influences the young adults they turn into. 

Verdict: This is not a book I would have chosen to read, since I'm not generally a fan of war novels, but it was selected for book club. I thought it was well-written and did something differently than other books from this time period, but I didn't love it. I appreciated it, but I wasn't "ohmygod so happy I read it." It's completely a matter of preference. 

In the Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib
288 pages
I wrote about this debut novel here.

Verdict: There was a lot to like about this novel, and a fair amount of negatives to get nit-picky about. I thought a lot of the dialogue was unnatural, but the subject matter itself was interesting.

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson
240 pages
This novel is about Roland Nair, a white man, and Michael Adriko, an African, who have known each other for years. They are reunited, along with Adriko's fiancee, Davidia, in Africa and travel through Uganda and The Congo, on the cusps of a few different scams. Do they trust each other? Are they really working for government or NATO agencies? Who wants them dead? Who is crazier by the end? This book instantly reminded me of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness; the deeper they went into the continent the more unstable and primal they become. 

Verdict: I was drawn to this book, fascinated by Johnson's handling of the setting and relationships between the characters. There were times I was frustrate and felt mislead, but once I accepted the fact that this feeling was a direct mirror of the situations the characters were embroiled in I applaud Johnson's writing ability. While not for everyone, this was my favorite of the three I read this month. 

1,059 pages

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

It's almost Thursday! Which means it's almost Friday! Which means it's practically the weekend? Yes? No? Damn. Link up, link back, say hi, be understanding of my horrible commenting these days.

1. It's not that I'm okay with having a cold, because I'm not, but for the first time in two years I can actually load up on cold medicine. Also, when a child is sick feel bad for the parents. Mom and dad are already feeling super sad for their little kid, but meanwhile they're the ones that turn into a human effing Kleenex and has to subject themselves to the whim of an unhappy little person that is already a tiny bit volatile in their unsick state. So, if you can't read between the lines, I had to deal with a sick kid and am now sick myself so feel bad for meeeeeeeeeee. But not really, because I can now take my favorite cold medicine that has my most favorite side effect EVER: "may cause excitability." Achoo. 
2. I signed up for Artifact Uprising two weeks ago and was given 25 free prints (only the price of shipping, which was about six or seven bucks). I loved the quality of printing on heavy card-stock and will definitely use them to print Instagram pictures in the future:

3. I'm also a fan of my new necklace:

[Christine loves Scott? Sawyer? Soda? Saturdays? Starbucks?]

4. I just honestly filled out my first-ever workplace satisfaction survey, which is sad, considering I've worked in the district for ten years. I was honest... I hope they really are anonymous. And read. And considered. 

5. I'm considering a monthly, or yearly if I like it, membership to Gaiam TV so I have access to a ton of yoga videos. I've started doing PiYo at night occasionally and I really started missing yoga. Part of it is the studio itself, but it's also the practice. You can do the first month for a buck, so I can't really argue with that!

6. Sawyer is walking... sort of. He can take a few feet worth of unassisted steps (yay!) but has absolutely no desire to take the initiative. I'm trying to give him any opportunity I can to get him on his feet... even if that means he takes off with the stroller.

7. I've been telling my husband about what I thought was a unique conspiracy theory about the Clintons paying Donald Trump to run to put yet another wrench in the Republican Party. Apparently that's a thing already! Part of me hopes it's true just so I can see the looks on his supporter's faces to see they've been duped BY THE CLINTONS!

8. I ordered twenty binders at work to supposedly organize every single IB novel and AP lang unit I teach. This is a very, very ambitious undertaking that would make life so much easier, that I'm optimistically hoping will be done by the end of the year. Part of me is always nervous about what I'll be assigned to teach the following year, so I'm concerned I'll do all this work for nothing. 

9. Despite its gains today, the stock market has been having a rough time lately. This is bad news for many, but good news for people like me who are considering investing. I have a little bit of money that I'm trying to work up the courage to play with, but I'm having trouble cutting the cord. This is why I don't gamble when I go to Vegas! I'm so worried that I'll lose money that I just don't put in any to begin with. Realistically, though, I know that right now is the time. I don't know what to do and I don't want to pay for financial advising. I thought about downloading an app and "practicing," but then I'll still miss this window of opportunity. Investing and overthinking are a hard combination. 

10. And because it's National Dog Day, here's one of two:

Things to Look Forward To

Once upon a time I knew what books were coming out when, and what the author's tour schedule looked like before they did (not really, but I was a bit of a go-getter when it came to stalking the websites of places that host the big guns here in Southern California). Then I had a kid and my concern has been more about when I can go to bed, rather than go to a reading. 

I know. I know

Anyway, I finally started digging around and found a few favorite authors that have some books coming out this fall and thought I'd share, just in case you live in under rock like I apparently am.

John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries (11/3)

David Mitchell, Slade House (10/27)

Salman Rushdie, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (9/8)

Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last (9/29)

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (9/15)

Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking (10/13)

Marilyn Robinson, The Givenness of Things (10/27)

Isabel Allende, The Japanese Lover (11/3)

Now, the real question is if I can wait until my birthday/Christmas for most of these.... 

Sponsored Post- In the Language of Miracles

This book was provided free-of-charge from Penguin. 

I don't accept many books for review anymore, since my time is limited and my shelves are over-flowing. But Rajia Hassib's novel about an American-Egyptian family that must cope with a tragic event sparked my interest. Plus I can be a sucker for a first time novelist.

Just to give a brief synopsis, Samir and Nagla's family is devastated after their older son, Hosaam, shoots his ex-girlfriend and long-time neighbor, Natalie, and then himself. Given their Egyptian background, the community is quick to start a loud, angry, violent backlash towards the family. They find themselves in the midst of the chaos once again a year later when a memorial is planned for the young girl. The family must accept their own dysfunction as they react to Samir's decision to speak out at the service, despite everyone's advice not to. 

There's a lot that I appreciated about this novel. Racial intolerance is at the forefront of our society constantly, whether people are lashing out at African Americans, Mexicans, or those from the Middle East. Drawing attention to the issue in an appropriate, compassionate manner, is always a good thing. I also liked the touches of science, both in Samir's career as a doctor and his son Khaled's passion for butterflies and hiking. The narrative structure, in terms of a countdown towards the memorial, with flashbacks to pivotal moments for the family, contributed towards's Hassib's perfect pacing and suspense. 

As a whole, though, I did find fault with a lot of the dialogue. It frequently felt forced and unnatural, which therefore made the relationships between the characters a bit flat. I also thought some of the references were a little awkward, like how Khaled regards Facebook (Facebook's main demographic these day isn't really with the high school crowd...) and how he listens to Matchbox 20 and Jay-Z (I personally like both, but the way they were both mentioned was odd). Like with any sort of pop-culture references these sorts of things tend to date themselves, which can work sometimes, but here did not. While I'm being nit-picky, I'll throw in the fact that the beginning of the book, a flashback to a time when Khaled was sick and his grandmother was trying to heal him did not hook me at all. I understand the set up in terms of establishing a conflict between American and Egyptian ways, as well as the family dyanmics, but I found it a bit hard to settle in at first.  

As a whole, I thought this was a decent book for an author's debut and I think her writing shows a lot of potential. I'd be interested in checking out her future projects.