Friday, June 29, 2007

apropos of nothing

This article is amaaaaazing. I love how the reporter characterizes the zorse as being the product of a "holiday romance". I'm imagining the cartoon movie now . . .

Also, don't miss the photo caption: "Eclyse has earnt its stripes as one of the zoo's main attractions."

Nice work!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

2007 book 92

I have been overwhelmed by books lately--eight books that I've had on hold for months at the library all came in at once, I got tons of awesome freebies at ALA, PLUS I need to start re-reading the Harry Potters! All that AND the next library book discussion group is less than two weeks away! Of course, I was happy to re-read this one and look forward to the discussion:

Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants
This was one of my favorite books of last year, and it still held up on a second reading. It's the story of a 93-year old man who's flashing back to his days as a circus vet in the 1930s, when trains of circuses were wandering America struggling to keep their acts together. Romance, fistfights, and elephants--all the elements of a perfect story are there! It still gets an A.

If I keep up this frenetic pace, I will be well on my way to breaking my previous most-books-read-in-a-year-record (155, in 2005), or at least since I've been keeping track.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

2007 book 91

Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible
This was an often-hilarious novel about a supergenius supervillain and the team of superheroes trying to bring him down. Told alternately from the villain's POV and one of the hero group's newest members, a cyborg girl, the story manages to maintain a high level of dramatic tension while throwing in a few twists. Grossman pokes a lot of fun at the superhero/villain relationship (I especially enjoyed the appendix, which really brings out the cliches) but all of his characters are interesting and whatnot. I think readers of Powers would probably enjoy this. It gets an A, because of course I am a nerd.

2007 book 90

Ann Brashares' The Last Summer (of You and Me)
Brashares, author of all those books about pants, has written her first adult novel (though honestly I'm not sure I could tell the difference, except that the characters were in their 20s and the font was smaller). Anyway, it's about a summer beach town, two sisters, and the boy next door. I think Brashares is shooting for depth, but doesn't quite make it--it's extremely predictable and seems like the perfect book to read at the beach. Eh, B.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

2007 books 88 and 89

I'm back from ALA and wow, what a weekend! Getting back was a hassle and a half, but at least I read two books (plus one volume of the Azumanga Daoih manga, the latest New Yorker, an issue of Mental Floss . . . the usual while being delayed in airports).

Dana Reinhardt's A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life
This YA novel was the recipient of a few awards within the Jewish book community, so I was psyched to meet its author and get her signature while at ALA. It's a really likable book too, about an adopted teenage girl whose birth mother suddenly wants to meet her. I really enjoyed the way it all played out, though there were a few too many moments of Jewish education for my taste. I already know all about Passover and Hannukah, thanks, and I think the non-Jews in the audience don't need to be talked down to. Anyway, A-/B+.

Dalia Sofer's The Septembers of Shiraz
In this novel, an Iranian Jewish gem dealer is arrested just after the Iranian revolution. What happens to him and his family in the aftermath of his arrest is a really moving story. I especially liked the way his daughter was written, and wondered if this novel was a little autobiographical--apparently Sofer and her family fled Iran in 1982, when she was 10. I also suspect she's Jewish--her last name is Hebrew for "writer". A-.

Monday, June 25, 2007

east side story?

Arianne and I went on a tour of the Folger Shakespeare Library this afternoon, where, while perusing their current exhibit (Shakespeare in American Life), I discovered what may be the awesomest fact of all time!

It turns out that when Leonard Bernstein was originally working on his musical version of Romeo and Juliet, he envisioned it as EAST Side Story, with the gangs being Jewish and Italian!! In fact, in his original conception of the main parts of each scene, for the second scene he had written, "ball or seder or motzi shabbat" with motzi shabbat written in Hebrew/Yiddish letters! How cool is that? And imagine what a different movie that would have been . . .

2007 book 87

Claire Matturo's Sweetheart Deal
I think I would describe this mystery as a southern-fried cozy. The author, a former professor at FSU's school of law, creates a story set in a tiny SW Georgia town called Bugfest. The protagonist is a high-powered attorney (who possibly has a series--there were allusions to past events that indicated so) who returns to her hometown after her mother apparently shoots and kills a man. She's drawn into trying to figure out what happened, adventures ensue, ex-loggers try to set her up with their available sons, etc. There were few twists and turns and the villain was slightly cartoonish, but it was still entertaining enough for those few minutes before sessions were starting. B.

Back to conferencing!

Friday, June 22, 2007

2007 book 86

Andrew O'Hagan's Be Near Me
I only read one book on the way to ALA (I slept on the plane, and read the newest issue of Craft magazine), and was really excited for it, b/c I loved O'Hagan's Personality. Unfortunately, this novel involved one of my least favorite plot points--an old dude forming an inappropriate relationship with someone much, much younger. And O'Hagan is way too young to be writing a book about a pretentious old British priest who takes a post in a tiny town in Scotland and forms a friendship with two drug-addled asshole teenagers. The conclusion was extremely predictable, the main character was weak-willed and unlikable, and there was an abundance of interminable dinner parties discussing the situation in Iraq and fine wines. Ugh. C-.

Here's hoping for some stellar advance copies to make up for this torturous read!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I'm an oldest child, so clearly I think this study is totally on the ball.

I'm off to ALA in the morning! The free advance copies are just one of the things I'm looking forward to. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

news for knitters

The latest Stitch 'n' Bitch book, which is a whole collection of patterns for dudes, is available for preorder . . . and my friend Stef has a pattern in it! It's even on the cover!! (I believe it's the one on the far left.) She is a knitting superstar!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

2007 book 85

Will Allison's What You Have Left
This novel, told in alternating chapters by three of its main characters, revolves around a little girl whose mother dies in an accident and whose father leaves her at her grandfather's to be raised. As she struggles through life as a virtual orphan, her father has struggles of his own . . . and so on. I really liked all of these characters and the ending didn't feel forced. A-.

Monday, June 18, 2007


I got home from work to find two awesome packages--one from my mom, of a homemade tote bag and a bunch of yarn, and one from Chapel Hill Comics, containing the new issues of Y the Last Man, Fables, Buffy, and SiP (the final issue--though the series has been dead in teh water for a couple of years), plus Re-Gifters and Plain Janes (the first two books on the teen girl-oriented Minx label from DC), Jason Shiga's Bookhunter (library-oriented! I believe this is the published version of his infamous webcomic), Fashion Kitty, Rutu Modan's Exit Wounds, and the new Stuck in the Middle anthology. Needless to say, I am a happy girl and comics fan!

Friday, June 15, 2007


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Woohoo! I'm going to Atlanta this weekend to see some of my favorite people!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

2007 book 84

Stephanie Kallos' Broken for You
This novel was recommended by a fellow librarian whose tastes I trust implicitly, and it did not disappoint. The story centers on a 70-something woman who discovers she has a brain tumor; deciding to change her life completely, she ends up taking in all sorts of metaphorical waifs and strays, particularly one damaged stage manager named Wanda. Kallos does an excellent job of weaving all her narrative strands together, and though the ending was perhaps a little bit too neat, I really liked it. A.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

2007 book 83

Aryn Kyle's The God of Animals
This is the story of a twelve year old girl living on a poor horse farm in Colorado; her older sister has just run off to be married, her mother never gets out of bed, and her father is struggling to make ends meet by selling out. It's a very moving coming of age story that doesn't spare the reader (I'm still reeling from one event near the end) and gets a solid A.

Monday, June 11, 2007

2007 book 82

Michael Ondaatje's Divasadero
I'm not really sure where to start with this one. The first half centers on two sisters and a young man who works on their farm; they are torn apart and the novel follows their three divergent lives. Then suddenly it becomes the story of a writer one of the sisters is researching. Um, what? I kept waiting for it to get back to the main plotline, but it doesn't. In retrospect, the second half is stronger, but when you're waiting for the conclusion of some other story entirely, it's hard to get into it. B.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

2007 book 81

Harlan Coben's The Woods
This mystery/thriller type story involves a county prosecutor, Paul, who's had more than his share of tragedy--his sister disappeared twenty years ago, presumably murdered along with several other campers at the summer camp where Paul was a counselor; his mother left him; his wife died of cancer. When a dead man is discovered who may be tied to the summer camp murder case, things go haywire. The writing in this novel is often ham-fisted and overly dramatic, but the story moves quickly and was pretty riveting. I saw some of the twists coming, but not all of them. Definitely a good summer book. B+.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Just a few of my third batch of cupcakes in four days!

2007 book 80

Larry Doyle's I Love You, Beth Cooper
EW gave this a rave and Evan Dorkin did the cover and chapter heading art, so I've been looking forward to this for a while. Unfortunately, it was really stupid, trite, etc. It's all about the night of high school graduation, after the valedictorian (the stereotypical loser nerd) confesses his love for the head cheerleader during his speech, inciting the rage of her Army boyfriend. Wacky adventures ensue--think classic 90s comedy "Can't Hardly Wait" without cool subplots like Lauren Ambrose and Seth Green macking in a bathroom--until the entirely predictable ending. D.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

tony cartoons

Hooray for Sean McBride (who I knew in college), whose Tony cartoons premiered on Salon today. Apparently a new one will be appearing every Wednesday. I've seen some of them and they're hilarious, so check 'em out!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

library thing

OK, OK, after several years of thinking about it, I finally joined Library Thing and started listing my books. I'm listed under "wordnerdy" so if you're on it, add me as a contact! I look forward to perusing your libraries as I keep adding books to mine.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

2007 book 79

Laurie R. King's The Game
And yet another Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes book finds the duo in India, in search of the missing titular character of Rudyard Kipling's Kim. This one had all the madcap adventures and danger lacking in the previous volume, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Side note: the dedication reads "For the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness"--hee!

Monday, June 04, 2007

summer reading

NPR's trotting out the summer reading lists. Hooray for Scott Pilgrim love!

cute sweater

Stef, who was kind enough to teach me how to knit back when we were freshmen in college (ah, nostalgia! Remember when all our boyfriends and guy friends joined our Stitch 'n' Bitch group, making the bitching a lot harder? Those were the days), has an awesome sweater pattern up at Magknits. Yay Stef!!


Opus and Berke Breathed are back!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

summer tv

Ah, summer. The time of year all tv fans dread; the time of year they all expand their Netflix subscriptions. Luckily there are TWO food-related reality shows to see us through these dark times! The Next Food Network Star premiered tonight (one early notable character starred in The Mighty Ducks 2 and 3) and season 3 of Top Chef begins on Wednesday. Hooray for food-related drama! But please let is my less head-shaving heart-breaking drama than we saw on season 2 of Top Chef. That almost killed me for food-related competitions for good--except that I'm really bored. I was hoping to get hooked on the cheesiness of The Starter Wife, but it was too stupid for me to even make it through one episode.

Luckily here in North Florida we're only half an hour from Georgia and get the Georgia Public Broadcasting network, which has been pretty outstanding lately thanks to pledge drive season. I got to watch several hours' of Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel and almost called my mom to ask her to mail all the books to me so I can reread them!

GPB is also the station that got me into the Vicar of Dibley several months ago; after seeing an episode that ended with a raunchy jokes about three nuns going to heave, I netflixed the entire series and fell in love. Imagine my joy last weekend when, flipping through the channels, I caught the 2006 Christmas and New Year's specials that I hadn't even known existed. They were a sweet and funny capstone to a classy and hilarious series, and the sheer randomness of catching them on a night at a time that GPB doesn't usually air the show felt like a special present to me and warmed my cynical and tv-snobby little heart.

Back to food tv star competition! I'm hoping the show pulls out another Dan and Steve and not another Guy Fieri, b/c that dude is pretty annoying.

Other pleasant tv surprises tonight: TMC's Wizard of Oz/Spirited Away double feature. Nice!

2007 book 78

Laurie R. King's Justice Hall
Yet another Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes story finds them reunited with some of the characters from O Jerusalem in a very different setting--a rich old noble English family's majestic manor. I think these stories are more fun when Mary and Sherlock are off having adventures; the staid English society life can be a little dull even with all this murder and intrigue. I also thought the end was kind of predictable, but I guess the story was entertaining enough. B.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

2007 book 77

Peter Abrahams' Nerve Damage
A well-known sculptor, still in love with the wife who died 15 years earlier, manages to get a copy of his pre-written obituary and reads that his wife, who he believed worked for a think tank, worked for the UN. As he investigates this bizarre anomaly, he gets in some pretty deep stuff. I actually thought it was going to turn out that he was imagining the whole thing--there are a few red herrings that made me think so, or else I just assumed there was more to the story than this silly mystery/adventure plot. But it's pretty surface-level. The ending was really abrupt and kind of dumb, but it was entertaining enough. Maybe this was more of a beach book. B/B-.

Off to see Knocked Up!