Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet


by Matthew Van Fleet

April 8th 2008
by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Hardcover, 20 pages
1416955658 (isbn13: 9781416955658)

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not as captivating or rhythmical as his Tails but still a fun, sturdy book with all sorts of interactive pages for the little ones.

Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

Skin Hunger (A Resurrection of Magic, Book 1) Skin Hunger
by Kathleen Duey

September 30th 2008by Simon Pulse
Paperback, 368 pages
0689840942 (isbn13: 9780689840944)
rating: 3 of 5 stars



For those of you who don't know, I have a rule that I neither buy, check out, borrow or otherwise read books whose sequels have not been published. I just get too darn impatient for the continuation of the series.

Well, I did not realize that Skin Hunger is a trilogy. Yes, it says so right on the book. Yes, I really can read. But I didn't. Big mistake.

Skin Hunger tells two stories, alternating chapter to chapter between the two. The first is the 3rd-person narrative of Sadima, a young woman with the ability to talk to animals in a place and time in which such magic is strictly forbidden. The second story is the 1st person account of Hahp, a second son sent to wizarding school, centuries after Sadima.

Skin Hunger is not like The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which has a sequel but is a perfectly complete story in its own right. It's not even like Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, in which each book does a respectable job of tying up a few plot lines before moving on to the next volume.

Instead, Skin Hunger introduces the two storylines, as well as the four main characters: Sadima, Franklin, Sommiss, and Hahp. These are difficult enough to learn, with the back-and-forth points of view. Indeed, it takes at least a third of the book, if not more, to even understand why there are alternating points of view. For a 350 page book, it's too confusing; it may be more appropriate for the 1000 page novel that the trilogy will become.

Then, just as you settle into the flip flopping and characters and their possible motivations, the book ends. The story doesn't end; in fact, I thought I'd maybe purchased a misprinted copy. The reader is left with more questions than answers and with severe annoyance at the abruptness.

Still, Duey's book won Newbery honors, probably because of her original concept and well-paced writing. I am definitely looking forward to the second volume Sacred Scars, but I strongly encourage you to wait until the third book (as yet unwritten) is released before diving into the trilogy.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Book of a Thousand Days Book of a Thousand Days
by Shannon Hale

September 18th 2007
by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Hardcover, 320 pages
1599900513 (isbn13: 9781599900513)

rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dashti is a mucker, a steppe-dwelling nomadic herder, who journeys to the city after her mother dies. There, she is taught to read and to write, and becomes the lady's maid of Lady Saren, the third child of the royal family. What she discovers is that no one else wanted the role of Lady Saren's maid, because Saren was, that very day, being walled up inside a tower. Saren had refused her father's choice of a husband, and would live in the tower for seven full years. The "Book of a Thousand Days" is the record that Dashti keeps of their time in the tower, and of the amazing events that occur after they leave it.

Book of a Thousand Days has been on my wishlist since before it was released, but I've put off reading it. While I loved Hale's Princess Academy, I was less keen on Goose Girl and Enna Burning. Also, I had just (literally, not half an hour prior) finished her adult novel, Austenland, which was the most fun I've had reading in a while.

I loved Book of a Thousand Days. It's fresh, the pacing is perfect, the characters are lovely (the women strong and the men wise and compassionate), and there's a wonderful ending. It's not a profound book, but it is sufficiently complex that it's no mere fairy tale retelling, either. If you liked any of Hale's works, or if you like fairy tales retold, you should pick up this book right away.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Austenland Austenland
by Shannon Hale

May 29th 2007 by Bloomsbury USA
Hardcover, 208 pages
1596912855 (isbn13: 9781596912854)

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book Sense pick for June 2007, Wall Street Journal "notable book" for summer 2007

Oh, my goodness. This book was such fun. As serious dramatic fiction, not so much, but as chicklit, it's intelligent, well-written, and just enchanting.

Jane Hayes has a specific obsession, with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice." This obsession interferes with her ability to develop any lasting relationships (as early as tenth grade). When a wealthy aunt passes away, she bequeaths to Jane a three-week holiday in Pembrook Park, a living reenactment of Regency England. Jane discovers how much she misses real underwear, how much she loves wearing bonnets, and how she has hidden her real self in this Darcy fantasy.

The plot is, of course, somewhat predictable, but Hale has a magic touch. Even when the predictable happens, you feel comfortable and easy with it, more that it's a cherished friend rather than a obstinate relative.

Austenland is a quick, easy read, one that's fun and could be read over and over and over. I'm definitely running out to purchase one for my own collection.


Someone Tell Me About AdSense

A Good Idea?  A not good idea?

Are we talking $.05/month or $5/month or what?

Detracts your readers?

Readers, does it turn you off?

What do we think?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Notes from Around the Blogosphere

March 2-8 is Book Giveaway Carnival.  I'll be participating by giving away oodles of books.  Well, at least a single oodle of books.

Carrie's cats do not approve of my stalking her.  I did not win a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Love it or Hate it?  The new Google Friends Connect app for followers makes me glad I mostly rely on my Google Reader and "Google Subscribe" button.  A million years from now, archaeologists are going to think Google and Facebook were our gods.

VERY exciting new Blog Tour, details totally and completely stolen from Jen:

I'm thrilled to announce an upcoming blog tour that I think is really going to make a difference: the Share a Story - Shape a Future Literacy Blog Tour. This literacy blog tour is the brainchild of Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub (my partner in the weekly Children's Literacy Roundups). It was assembled with remarkable speed and enthusiasm through the efforts of Terry, Sarah Mulhern, Susan Stephenson, Eva Mitnick, and Elizabeth O. Dulemba (links to their blogs below). The tremendous response to my blog post about encouraging read-aloud was a partial catalyst for the timing of the event, and we will be sharing some take-home suggestions gleaned from those responses.
Here is the detailed announcement and schedule that Terry posted on the Share a Story - Shape a Future blog (a blog that we hope you'll add to your reading list):
Within the kidlitosphere, the children's literature bloggers comprise and reach a very broad audience. One of the group's greatest assets is its collective, community-minded approach to sharing information and ideas. Through events like blog tours, authors and illustrators have had wonderful opportunities to share their story and their craft. Given the success of tours for "producers," what about an event for and by the people who create and engage their readers: teachers, librarians, parents, and people passionate about literacy?

Voila! Share a Story - Shape a Future is just that event. This is an ensemble effort not only to celebrate reading among those of us who already love books, but to encourage each other to reach beyond ourselves and do it in a way that we are neither judging nor instructing others. This is a venue for communicating practical, useable, everyday ideas.

The event begins March 9, 2009 and lasts one week. Each day we will have a group of bloggers sharing ideas around a specific theme. There are a number of book giveaways and free downloads that will be announced by the various hosts as we get closer to the kickoff. Here is the tour schedule,, but just to whet your appetite:

Day 1: Raising Readers
hosted by Terry Doherty at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, the Reading Tub blog

  • Finding Time at Home - Tricia Stohr-Hunt @ The Miss Rumphius Effect

  • Making Time in the Classroom - Sarah Mulhern @ The Reading Zone

  • Helping a Reader in Need (remedial readers) - Sandra Stiles guest post on Scrub-a-Dub-Tub

  • It's Bigger than the Book: Building Strong Readers at any Age with a Daily Dose of Read Aloud - Cathy Miller interview on the Share a Story - Shape a Future blog

  • Keeping Gifted Readers Engaged - Donalyn Miller @ The Book Whisperer

  • Sue_steph1

  • Tuesday, February 24, 2009


    Random Complexity Writing Challenge (RCWC) is still on, and February reports are coming due soon.  I already have Richard's (which inspired the idea that some month I will randomly reward the first person done with their quota.)

    I haven't heard from everyone who initially signed up for RCWC.  I'll be doing a round of reminders, but after that, I don't have time to do individual visits.  Also, if by March I haven't received any updates (for any of 2009), I'll be removing your name from the contest.

    Please make sure you somehow to subscribe to the RCWC blog so you don't miss updates.

    CARRIE RYAN Shout-Out

    Many of you know I have a near-stalker obsession with Carrie Ryan, author of the soon-to-be-released The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

    First,  I discovered her personal blog and made really stupid comments in hopes of showing my interest in her book.

    Then, I begged and cajoled and pretty much sold my soul to Sharon to get an ARC of Forest.

    Finally, I read and reviewed The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

    Well, now, we are two short weeks away from its official release.  To celebrate, Carrie is giving away copies of her fantastic and creepy book.  Just head over to her blog to enter!

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    It's My Breath, Isn't It?

    In the past three days, I've lost seven followers.  Seven!  Did I miss Annual Dis Aerin Week?  Or, seriously, did I say something offensive?

    The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

     The Red Tent 

    The Red Tent
    by Anita Diamant

    September 15th 1998 (first published 1997) by Picador
    Paperback, 336 pages
    0312195516 (isbn13: 9780312195519)

    rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I've decided not to write a review of The Red Tent because Dinah was (by choice) the topic of nearly every paper I wrote in seminary.  My take on this book is therefore way too multi-layered and complex for me to do a brief blog review.  But - for everyone who's said to me "You haven't read The Red Tent????" - now I have.

    An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

    An Abundance of Katherines An Abundance of Katherines
    by John Green 

    August 14th 2008(first published 2006)by Puffin
    Paperback, 256 pages
    0142412023 (isbn13: 9780142412022)

    rating: 5 of 5 stars

    John Greene popped up on Steph Su’s “Coupla Interviews” – I simply noted the coincidence that he’d written a book on my wishlist – An Abundance of Katherines – and that, for an Indiana boy, he’s hot.  Not all authors are - think Stephen King, J.K.Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Stephanie Meyer (obviously there are exceptions).  Still, my sister’s name is Katharine (the spelling difference is very important) so I knew I needed to read this book.  Yes, I'm that shallow.

    An Abundance of Katherines is the story of child-prodigy Colin Singleton, whose girlfriend Katherine breaks up with him the day of their high school graduation.  It turns out that Katherine is Katherine XIX, and that Colin has dated – and been dumped by – nineteen Katherines.  To escape his heartbreak, he and his best friend Hassan head out on a road trip.  It's the quintessential summer road trip, two oddball guys in a beat up old car with no destination in sight.  They end up in Gutshot, TN at the (alleged) tomb of Archduke Ferdinand, staying with the owner of a plant that makes tampon strings, and eating every other meal at the local Hardee's.  Colin seeks a Eureka moment, some stupendous discovery to bring meaning and significance to his life. He eventually finds it in Gutshot -- however, it is not the mathematical revelation he was expecting, but rather a personal breakthrough, the culmination to his journey of self-discovery.

    The most appropriate review I can give this book is from online shorthand:


    An Abundance of Katherines, 2007 Michael L. Printz Award honor book, is hilarious.  It’s easily the funniest book I’ve ever read (with the possible exception of anything by George Carlin; and no, I’ve never read David Sedaris.)  I think I had a crush on Hassan in college – the dark-skinned, dark-eyed meaty guy who was too unabashedly funny to give a nerdy girl the time of day.

    This is a fun, well-written book.  With its footnotes and mathematical interludes, it represents the best of style in a postmodern young adult genre (here's the worst). There are references to sex and drugs, but it's the almost understated philosophical rants that make this book best suited for high school readers and older.

    Other reviewers:


    The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

    The Midwife's Apprentice The Midwife's Apprentice
    by Karen Cushman

    September 30th 1996 (first published 1995) by HarperTrophy
    Paperback, 128 pages 
    006440630X   (isbn13: 9780064406307)

    rating: 5 of 5 stars
    I read Catherine Called Birdy, a Newbery Honor Book, about ten years ago, and while it was interesting it wasn’t quite captivating enough for me to want to read anything else by Karen Cushman. Still, when The Midwife’s Apprentice showed up on Paperback Swap, I figured I’d give it a try.

    A Newbery Medal book, The Midwife’s Apprentice tells the story of a girl with no home, no parents, and no name. One frosty night, she find warmth sleeping in a dung heap. The next morning, Jane Sharp, the village midwife, discovers the girl, who becomes the midwife’s apprentice. The girl works long, and hard, beyond the point of survival to a place where she thinks and learns and ponders and chooses a name for herself. Her only friend is Purr, a cat she rescues from being drowned by the same boys who torment the girl apprentice. Eventually, she is challenged to deliver a baby in the midwife’s absence, and her future begins to both unfold and unravel.

    Karen Cushman has graduate degrees in Human Behavior and Msum Studies. She has a long-standing interest in history. She says, "I grew tired of hearing about kings, princes, generals, and presidents. I wanted to know what life was like for ordinary young people in other times."

    This book showed off Cushman’s strengths to their full advantage. Her writing is sure-handed, with lots of showing and not too much telling. She fully brings the reader into a medieval village without overusing words and explanations. The story of The Midwife's Apprentice incorporates realism without fatalism, spirit without warrior-heroics, and a truly empowered character whom readers will love.

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: by Karen Russell

    St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: Stories St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
    by Karen Russell

    August 14th 2007 by Vintage
    Paperback, 256 pages
    0307276678 (isbn13: 9780307276674)

    rating: 5 of 5 stars 

    A San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year

    I came across this book during a grab-Starbucks-browse-Barnes&Noble getaway from my children.  An hour of drifting through the aisles, jotting titles to add to my Paperback Swap wishlist, sipping a hot espresso truffle – heaven. 

    St. Lucy’s was sitting face-out on the shelf, and for better or for worse, I am drawn to books that I judge by their covers.  The paperback version features the illustration of a little girl in a white and red pinafore riding the back of a shaggy brown wolf.  The girl’s pudgy pink hands pull at her short, unkempt hair.  I knew how she felt.

    The author of the collection of short stories is the rather beautiful wunderkind Karen Russell, who was 25 years old at the time of printing.  I didn’t expect much, but having recently entered a short story contest, I realized how little I knew about crafting a short story.  And how I really don't like short stories.  With a penitent heart, I took the book home and began to read.

    In the ten stories, Russell whisks us away to the darker side of the Florida Everglades and to the plains of the Old West and to an Eskimo ice cap.  She lovingly presents characters grotesque and disturbing, who act in grotesque and disturbing ways.  Families run theme parks for wrestling alligators or exploiting Giant Conch shells, brothers seek their sister’s ghost in underwater caves, orangutans perform at an ice rink, and, yes, wolf-like girls are reformed by nuns.

    These stories may be surreal, but what’s far more astonishing is Russell’s magic with words.  Russell unabashedly expects the best of the English language and refuses to settle for less.  Her phrasing is orgasmic.
    Now the thunder makes the thin window glass ripple like wax paper.  Summer rain is still the most comforting sounds I know.  I like to pretend that it’s our dead mother’s fingers, drumming on the ceiling above us.

    I shadow the spirit manatees, their backs scored with keloid stars from motorboat propellers.  I somersault through stingrays.  Bonefish flicker around me like mute banshees.

    Somewhere, an Avalanche is about to happen without us.  Rangi must know this before I do, and the dead bear in eyes comes racing towards us across old snow.

    And sometimes, if she sits long enough, it happens.  Beneath the hum of her own blood, beneath the hum of the world itself, she thinks she can hear the faint strains of another song.  It’s a red spark of sound, just enough to cast acoustic shadows of the older song that she has forgotten.

    Words fail me to describe this book.  I grasp at adjectives like “satisfying,” “complex,” “ bizarre.” Russell’s book is the reason the word “phantasmagorical” exists.  I think about sucking your own blood from a paper cut or pouring salt on a slug.  Reading St. Lucy’s is like drinking a glass of thick, perfectly aged red wine and being fully sated in both hunger and thirst.

    This is a book writers should read, readers should read, adventurers should read.  It’s not for the timid, but neither is it for the fearless.  It’s for all of us who are in between, and up for the challenge.

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

    Writtenwyrdd (D. Lynn Frazier) has a talent - sheer, unadulterated, nearly omnipotent - for finding sites and information that make me derail my "to-do" list and follow her fun suggestions. Recently she posted about Site Dossier, a program that will tell you what sites link to yours directly.  It's in the Beta Testing Stage, still, and has a few bugs to work out, but is still incredibly fun.

    Many thanks to everyone who links to me!

    Referers for
    (Anyone else read that as "reefers"?)


    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Random Complexity Button

    Use this code to put the button in your sidebar!!

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    In the Woods by Tana French

    In the Woods In the Woods by Tana French

    May 27th 2008 (first published 2007) by Penguin
    paperback, 464 pages
    0143113496   (isbn13: 9780143113492)
    rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Tana French, the author of the mystery-thriller In the Woods, has a delicious way with words.  I actually pulled out a pencil to underline brilliant lines, which I’m just going to unashamedly pour over you:
    “I worry that I might come out of hypnosis with that sugar-high glaze of self-satisfied enlightenment, like a seventeen-year-old who’s just discovered Kerouac, and start proselytizing strangers in pubs.”

    “I think I had a narrow escape: a couple of years further into the eighties and I would probably have been sent to kiddie counseling and forced to share my feelings with hand puppets.”

    “The joy of the new, hip, happening, double-espresso Dublin is that you can blame any strange mood on coffee deprivation.  This never worked in the era of tea, at least not at the same level of street cred.”


    On an evening in 1984, in the woods around a small town near Dublin, three children go missing.   The next day, one of them is found, clinging to a tree, with his sneakers full of blood.   Twelve years later, 12-year-old Katy Devlin is found murdered in those same woods.  Detective Rob Ryan teams up with a new partner, Cassie Maddox, to discover the strange circumstances of Katy’s death.  What Ryan doesn’t tell his Captain is that he was the boy found alive, and that there may be a connection between his missing friends and the murdered girl.

    I don’t usually read mysteries, because I’m paranoid and suspicious and I figure them out too quickly.  It’s a game for me to see how early in an episode of Law & Order or Criminal Minds I can guess “whodunnit.”  The premise of In the Woods intrigued me.  Could I uncover clues and solve the mystery before Ryan and Maddox?

    Well, yes.  Yes, I could.

    Reviewers of In the Woods herald French’s debut novel as having “tender characterizations,” (Seattle Times) with “nuanced characters and a richly detailed sense of place.” (Kirkus Reviews)  “The beauty of the novel comes from French’s adept handling of character.”  (Metro New York).  There’s a reason her characters are what excited reviewers: her plot is utterly predictable (solid - no hocus pocus that lesser authors rely on - but predictable.)

    I’d figured it out French’s who and why by the time the perpetrator was introduced.  And the predictability is not the only drawback of this novel.  Another detractor is that you lose respect for the narrator/protagonist Ryan by midpoint.  Truly, Ryan is – well, an idiot.  He’s a little taken with his learned-English accent (he’s Irish, of course) and his “beautifully cut” suits.  What he does do is introduce us to Cassie Maddox, a delightful little package of wits and fire.  As for Ryan himself, he spends quite a bit of time telling the readers that he wasn’t damaged by what happened in the woods in 1984 – really he wasn’t! – and then spending the rest of the time demonstrating how very much he was. 

    In the Woods did receive an Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author.  And, in spite of its drawbacks, I kept reading.  In fact, I made it to the end, by which time I was convinced that all 429 pages were merely backstory to set up French’s next book, The Likeness the continuing story of Cassie Maddox.  Not a bad way to spend 429 pages, actually, and The Likeness moves to the top of my wishlist.

    Flat Affect Romantica

    I have the plague (or its second cousin once removed which still reduces grown people to whiny little snot heaps) and my voice sounds like more grotesque version of Maxine's.

    Still, I have been looking forward to participating in Robin's latest voice challenge so here it is.  The challenge for V-Day was to make something romantic sound as unromantic as possible.

    I can't get podbean to obey me, so you'll have to go elsehwere to listen to
    "Groovy." Sorry.

    Well, just so we're clear that I don't yell at my kids more than seventy times a day, it's actually my sister and my son, being goofy on cue. Do you think that's enough to get a SAG card?

    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    Katie the Kitten Fairy by Daisy Meadows

    Katie the Kitten Fairy (Rainbow Magic) Katie the Kitten Fairy 
    by Daisy Meadows

    April 6th 2006 by Orchard Books
    Paperback, 80 pages
    1846161665   (isbn13: 9781846161667)

    rating: 2 of 5 stars

    This is the first book I read to my three-year-old daughter.  She chose it at the bookstore, and I told her we'd read it a little bit each night.  I'm still not sure she understands that the story isn't over when we close the chapter, but she is fascinated in helping me recall the previous chapters' events each night before we move on to the next part.

    There are enough pictures to keep her interest, and the plot is predictably simple.  Still, to be able to read a "chapter book" to my not-yet-in-preschool daughter is an unexpected and heartwarming development in my journey as a parent.  I'm thankful to Daisy Meadows for that opportunity so early.

    The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro

    The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club
    by Laurie Notaro

    July 2nd 2002 by Villard
    Paperback, 240 pages
    0375760911   (isbn13: 9780375760914)

    rating: 3 of 5 stars

    “I’ve changed a bit since high school.  Back then I said no to using and selling drugs.  I washed on a normal basis and still had good credit.”

    Laurie Notaro offers a collection of the same humor she uses in her Phoenix newspaper column to describe life as it really is.  From crashing high school reunions to describing the eight stages of drunk, from arriving at jury duty only to be mistaken for homeless to wearing ex-boyfriend un-washed boxers to the gym, Notaro recounts the misadventures of herself and her fellow Idiot Girls.

    The book is a light, quick read.  I think Notaro herself might punch me if she found out I read it on the treadmill.  There are parts that are funny, and parts that are gross enough to be funny, like an entire section on public bathroom etiquette.  She writes lightly, however, with just enough self-control that you could take Idiot Girls’ to read on the bus and still be able to look your co-workers in the eye once you got to the office.

    Unfortunately, Notaro belongs to the group of people who are about ten years older than I am – people who were in 6th grade in 1976 when I was born.  I call these people “the Seinfeld people,” because they’re people who thought Seinfeld was funny.  I was too young; the whole “Master of My Domain” thing was totally lost on me.  If you are a Seinfeld people, you will love Idiot Girls Action-Adventure Club.  If you are not a Seinfeld people, you will still get enough of a chuckle that it’s a book you should pick up if you can.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Catching Up part 1

    I am realizing I have loose ends from the past few months that I, without intentionally doing so, have never properly tied.  Here goes.

    Bas Bleu Bountiful Basket of Books

    Way, way, waaaayy back in October, I stumbled across Elizabeth's blog "As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves."  She was celebrating her 100th post with a giveaway from Bas Bleu booksellers.  Well, guess who won??

    I know!  I'd love to say that I never posted about it because I was too mad at her for causing me a new addiction (hello? The Bas Bleu catalog itself is delightful!), but the truth is, we started into birthday month (November) and Christmas month and by January I'd forgotten I had never posted.

    So, let me tell you what happened.  Elizabeth posted a book I had on auto-request at Paperback Swap (The Eyes of a King by Catherine Banner).  When she mailed me the book, she PMed me to say "hi."  How fun is it to be on the receiving end of good books from like-minded blogosphere buddies??

    Anyway, I headed over to her blog, and it has a beautiful new (to me) red template, with swirls and curlicues - very fetching and elegant.  So, go over and tell her I sent you.

    Critique Group Apologies

    Several of you volunteered to read the short story I wrote for the NYC Midnight Madness competition, and I never took you up on your offer.  I truly, sincerely appreciate the sentiment, and I'm sorry I didn't send it to you.  I didn't have anything to email by Thursday night, and by Friday night I knew what I'd written was crap and I totally started from scratch.  I wrote frenetically for almost 24 hours, and submitted the story with minus two minutes to go.  (They told me I qualified anyway.)   I'm a chronic procrastinator and this is where it gets me.  If you still want to critique, hit me!


    Mostly for Sharon, I wanted to share pictures of the new members of my household, Heidi and Lucy:

    They're three-month-old sisters, and strays from the shelter, and very sweet and playful, and I had no idea kittens pooped as much as babies do.

    Prizes and Awards

    What this guy is doing giving out prizes, I don't know, but I won one of them!  Thanks, Trav!  (For those of you who don't already, go follow Travis on Twitter.  It's very fun to follow his trains of thought.  Well, fun, in a run-for-your-life they're-going-to-collide kind of way.)

    My darling Absolute Vanilla has been helping a woman named Angela and could use our advocacy.  She's already drafted an email for you!   In that same post, she awarded me the Premio Luz En El Alma ("light in the soul award")

    (I tried to research this award a little bit and didn't find much - I think it's a pretty self-explanatory award - but I did stumble upon this gorgeous website by UK blogger Tessa.)

    I'm charged with "passing on" the award, so I will give it to those who have helped encourage the light in my soul to burn brightly, and fed the flames when they were waning:

    Amy at Life at the Riverbank
    Katie at Tater's Tots
    Tess at Arch Words
    Merry at Mom and More

    All right, a few more items on the way in Catching Up part 2, plus three book reviews I've let lapse!!


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