Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of LifeJeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For some reason I am really feeling juvenile fiction this summer. Just something about kids' books and summer that makes me all nostalgic, even though most of the books I read as a kid during the summer were Goosebumps. I still remember trading them amongst kids at school like they were Pogs. Oh, man, Pogs...

Anyway, this book is a really perfect summer-in-middle-school book. It features a weird kid and his weird friend, but the great part is throughout the book you realize that everyone in this kid's neighborhood is as weird or even weirder than him. It is great. It is a book that makes grownups actual people. Each adult in this story has their own beliefs and their own outlook, which comes to light as the main character Jeremy Fink asks them about the meaning of life. From a famous scientist to a boardwalk preacher, they all answer differently, really demonstrating how everyone's opinion is different, and how everyone must reach their own truth.

The main driving force behind the story, which is a box Jeremy receives the summer he is due to turn 13, is a clever device but the ending makes it all a little bit contrived. It's a nice ending that wraps up a lot of questions, but it left me unsatisfied. However, I really enjoyed the journey to the end of this book. Yes, some of it comes off as the author trying to impart Big Life Lessons to the kids reading it, but that was not a problem for me because I liked the characters and the setting so much.

There are a lot of little details that go into making this book good (such as Jeremy and his friend's difficulty with public transportation, Jeremy's love of candy, and other small things). What a great summer read.

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Embrace the Camera

Embrace the Camera is a fun photo project I've been meaning to start doing. It's a way to make sure you get in the picture... not stay behind the camera all the time! Rules & link up at the anderson crew blog.

Here's mine for June 30th...

Wait... Where'd My Lizard Go?

Entitled, "Hey, Where'd My Lizard Go?"

(Loki, my bearded dragon, really hates baths. I am starting to think she is smarter than I thought because yesterday she managed to get herself in the exact spot I can't reach!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Learn Something New Tuesday

1. If you could be friends with any one reality show star, who would it be?
Oh jeez... I don't really watch a lot of reality TV. I've been watching The Glee Project this summer because Damian McGinty of Celtic Thunder is on it... so if that makes him a "reality TV show star" I'll go with Damian...

...but if I could pick somebody from Celtic Thunder it would be Keith. We have the exact same birthday! June 10, 1986 represent!

2. What is your favorite flavor coffee creamer?
I don't have one, I don't drink a lot of coffee and when I buy creamer it just goes to waste in the fridge.

3. Do you have a favorite pizza place? What is it and why?
Right now it is a tossup between Papa Kelsey's (just around the corner, cheap, good food and they send out tons of coupons) and Barro's Pizza (lots of good options, also cheap, yummy wings).

4. Do you have any family traditions?
Kind of, my family tends to do a lot of the same things on holidays and stuff like that. Scotty's mom makes a birthday dinner for every kid on their birthday (I have tacos coming up!!). Uhm... I think I may have to invent some traditions when I have kids!

5. What is your favorite crafty type thing to do?
 I like making things for my pets, like fixing Loki's background wall and making her castle. It's fun and easy. Other than that, I'm not sure. I always see awesome crafts but never replicate them.

6. Do you like to have pictures taken of you or do you like to be the one taking them?
I definitely prefer taking the pictures!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Things I Love This Week

Argus Argoflex Vintage Camera

Mo's Dark Bacon Bar. Scotty found this at Cost Plus World Market the other day and it's delicious.
This absolutely amazing cherry blossom wedding theme.
Neil Gaiman's American Gods is getting a sequel!
This list of the top 10 myths about introverts. Describes me to a tee - except, yes, I am actually shy.
Who knew you could breed Corgis with pretty much any other breed to get something adorable?
And what a cool idea for a laptop!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Overlord Award

My friend Jennifer at What Would Jen Do awarded me the Overlord Award! Thank you, Jennifer!

To play, I must change three things, any three things I want, so I'm going with....

1. I would snap my fingers and make pigeons hate my house! Seriously, right now they love my house and I don't know why. I don't mind birds, but pigeons are so big and loud and messy. And they are soooo not afraid of anyone!

2. The city I work for would suddenly get a bunch of money. Maybe some anonymous donor or inheritance. It is such a good city with great programs. They deserve moolah they can do stuff with, and not to have to take the cost saving measures they have needed lately.

3. The Doctor from Doctor Who would be real! I just started watching the show with the new season that started this year. Now that it's on hiatus Scotty and I are catching up by starting with the 'new' first season with Christopher Eccleston. We just finished it the other day and are moving on to season two with David Tennant. I gotta say I really liked Eccleston! Either way wouldn't it be awesome if there really was a Tardis and time traveling and other worlds and dimensions? Cool stuff...

Anyway, I am going to give this award to the following people:

1. Arizona Writer
2. Caris O'Malley - okay, so I was waiting for a better award to give him (mainly one with princess graphics and sparkles, ideally), but mostly I just need an excuse to tell you guys to buy his awesome book: The Egg Said Nothing.
3. life and love and wings

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cellphone Pictures

Aren't cellphone pictures great? I love them. They usually turn out blurry and washed out, but they capture a moment.

Here are some random cellphone pictures from my phone - and yes, they are all of my animals. I love having these pictures on my phone to see my pets during the day.

IKEA Assembly Assistant (Cellphone Pic)

Sunbathing Lizard (Cellphone Pic)

Get to the sun any way you can (Cellphone Pic)

Buddies (Cellphone Pic)

Spring Fever (Cellphone Pic)

Guidance (Cellphone Pic)

Glass Dancing (Cellphone Pic)

Perch (Cellphone Pic)

Comfy (Cellphone Pic)

After Bath (Cellphone Pic)

Window Gazing (Cellphone Pic)

Race (Cellphone Pic)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summertime, and libraries

(source unknown)
 This is summertime at the library.

Libraries are a fixture of summertime for so many kids... and adults who were once kids. I remember carefully marking off my reading on the summer reading page, checking out dozens of books at a time (all from the paranormal section of course) and hurrying to finish a book before it disappeared into the big metal bookdrop.

Now that I work in a library I see it from a different perspective.

I see the kids still in their swimsuits, fresh from the public pool, wrapped in towels with their flipflops, coming in to dry off and pick out some Clifford books. I see harried sweaty parents who forgot their library card and a bazillion other things in the car. I see the kid's cart of returns fill up over and over while the large print cart remains nearly empty (reverse that in the winter). I see kids perk up when Ronald McDonald and McGruff the Crime Dog walk through the library on their way to host a program.

Because of the way the library is set up, I get to hand out prizes for the summer reading program. This year children get to collect four rubber duckies as they make their way along the bases representing Bank One Ballpark... um, I mean Chase Field. Sorry, it will always be Bob to me. Our library is also giving out a free book when they finish, plus they get a ticket to a baseball game just for signing up. I tell you... those duckies are my favorite thing. We have ninjas, pirates, royalty ducks with a crown, and a couple more. They have attachments so that the kids can wear them on the lanyards we hand out. Kids love to collect things, don't they? I love watching siblings especially. Some brothers or sisters will get exactly the same thing as their siblings... some will get the exact opposite... some will ask for four of the same duck. (It's gotta be good protection to have four ninja rubber duckies on your lanyard, don't you think?)

I love the subtle shift of the seasons at the library. From taking down the winter holiday decorations to saying goodbye to snowbirds to setting up the summer reading programs to the last minute rush at the end of summer for books kids were supposed to be reading all summer... back into school, then fall break and Halloween decor and Thanksgiving break, and back around again. What a library means to a community changes depending on the time of year. Whether we are setting up our Angel Tree for patrons to pick kids in need of presents or we are setting up water play games in triple digit heat, the library ends up meaning different things different times of the year. It's awesome to me.

It is part of the reason I love working where I do... never the same thing twice. We have our regulars - regulars who make me smile and regulars who, um, don't - who remain with the ebb and flow of traffic. And then we have people who have lived here for years and never been here. Who can't believe this place has been sitting here, ready to welcome them, for years, with books and video games and DVDs (yes, blockbuster DVDs... the same ones on display at Walmart and Target... here, for you to enjoy for a week, free) and computers and job help and kids' games and a castle and a teen space and much, much more.

I encourage you to check out your local library. Your kids will thank you. And if they don't offer something you want, help them succeed. Libraries depend on their community, not just for funding but for guidance and support. Enjoy your local library.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review: Across the Universe

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)Across the Universe by Beth Revis 

Across the Universe is a really cool, accessible scifi story combined with murder mystery. Just think about being trapped on a ship while someone is murdering people and you have no idea why and no one to turn to. History has been rewritten, there's a crazy man in charge, and the populace is made up of vacant, empty-minded workers. What can you do?

While I felt this book started out slowly, it drew me in, and by the end I was really fascinated with the twists and turns the story took. Some of it is pretty transparent and the male main character, Elder, could use a little bit more personality, but to me it was the claustrophobia of the ship combined with the psychological horror of being stuck onboard with hundreds of people slightly smarter than zombies and nothing to do about it that kept me enjoying it.

There is a lot of creepy stuff in this book that only increases in creepiness as you think about it. Even an explanation given of Lincoln's speech in this book has some ooginess to it. Man, I would not like to be stuck on this ship.

Unfortunately I was not a big fan of the ending. It just sort of... ended after some scenes that felt like they were supposed to be big and climactic, which mostly failed for me. Yes, it's a resolution, but it was unsatisfactory for me and I would have liked a little more focus on the big bad, their motivations, and the other characters' coming to terms with the ending they created. At the same time, though, it didn't feel overly set-up for a sequel, which was nice. There are certainly more stories that could be written about this ship, and seeing as how there's a #1 next to its title here on Goodreads there will be, but this book is nicely contained, a good story.

For some reason this story had a lot of parallels with the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, for me, at least. I didn't love it nearly as much as I did those books, but the idea of an inescapable life you are forced into sort of carried over, with the female character as an outsider, a creepy bad guy - it was definitely missing the frantic pace and bloodiness, though. If you like this book, though, definitely check out The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Yay for fun scifi! A good summer read, I think.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

A House, Three Months Later

Last weekend, we hosted our housewarming party here, and I am really happy to report it was a success. We held it open-house style, from 11 - 7, for anyone to drop in whenever they wanted. I did most of the tours, and it was fun showing people around the house and seeing their reactions to our animals and our backyard. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but I was also proud of the house, and it was fun to think about how empty it looked three months ago, versus the day of the party.

I took a few pictures today to match the "photo tour" I did the day we got the keys (March 4th), and here are some of my favorite before and "after" shots. These were taken today, not the day of the housewarming, so the house is not super clean or anything, just lived-in like it usually is. You can see all the photos by looking at my House Tour set on Flickr. The oldest photos are first in the set and then the new comparisons. Maybe I will do this again in a year, March 2012, to see how it changes by then.

House Tour: Front

House Front June
House Tour Update 6/5 Front 

Living Room/Dining Area "Great Room" March
House Tour: Living Room

Living Room/Dining Area "Great Room" June
House Tour Update 6/5 Living Room

Kitchen March
House Tour: Kitchen

Kitchen June
House Tour Update 6/5 Kitchen

Master Bedroom June
House Tour: Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom June
House Tour Update 6/5 Master Bedroom

Guest Bath March
House Tour: Guest Bath

Guest Bath June
House Tour Update 6/5 Guest Bath

Backyard, Farthest Point March
House Tour: Backyard

Backyard, Farthest Point June
House Tour Update 6/5 Backyard 

Some of my favorite things about the house... the guest bathroom, the sofa set, the kitchen, the backyard! I can't wait to see what another year or two brings.