Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy days are here again

Or they will be in two weeks, when Scott Pilgrim 4 finally comes out!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

2007 book 153

Hillary Jordan's Mudbound
This book's plot is vaguely reminiscent of another book I read a couple years ago (though I can't remember which one and don't have time to check my archives right now--the Wii is calling me!), involving a husband, his wife, and his brother on a farm. The story starts with the burial of the brothers' father, and flashes back to the events leading to his death. Things are made more complex by the time and the setting--Mississippi in the 1940s--and by the presence of a black family whose oldest son is a war hero and chafes at returning to his previous subservient ways. The story is told from the perspectives of multiple characters--the four I've mentioned, plus the soldier's parents--which isn't always a narrative technique I like, but it really worked here, especially as the story sped up toward the end. A-.

2007 book 152

Philip Pullman's The White Mercedes
I was all excited to discover there was a YA book by Pullman that I hadn't read, b/c of course I love his other books. Unfortunately, this one was a stinker; described as a "modern-day Shakespearean tragedy", it was really more of a "stupid young boy meets random young girl and somehow there are mobsters involved" story. Pullman never makes you feel for any of the characters, so when the melodramatic denouement finally occurs, I was just glad it was over. D.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
I went to the annual Monarch Butterfly Festival today with some friends--I think there were more butterflies last year, but the weather was perfect and we got some good shots. Then we came back to my place and played my new Wii! I suck at golf but am a bowling champ!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2007 book 151

Jan T. Gross' Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland
Yet another book for the Jewish literature discussion group, and yet another that I feel was a poor choice (not least of all b/c it's non-fiction, and not literature!!!!). Anyway, it's a depressing read about how a Polish community killed their 1600 Jewish neighbors in 1941. Gross does little to breathe life into this event; he's more interested in its historiographical context. However, I really don't know where he's coming from--he makes all these weird generalizations about how historians blame the Germans for everything, which they don't. We've all known for ages that local communities were involved in the genocide. Anyway, at least this book was short.

Back to Pushing Daisies!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

2007 book 150

Oh my goodness--my previous yearly reading record is 155--I am so going to beat that!!

Ann Patchett's Run
This has been getting mediocre reviews, which I think is undeserved--of course everyone is comparing it to Bel Canto, which really isn't fair, because it's not that epic sort of a story. It's much more comparable to Patchett's earlier, maybe more character-driven works. Anyway, it's about the two adopted (black) sons of a former (white) politician, and what happens when one of them is saved from being hit by a car. I really liked this, barring one identity twist that I don't think the novel needed. Patchett really has a gift for characterization and this novel's sympathetic family is no exception. A-.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
It's been a long time since I baked bread from scratch, but today was a cloudy day that needed something that smelled good in the oven. This is a Sephardic Jewish recipe from Greece and it smells delicious!

2007 book 149

Haven Kimmel's The Used World
I wanted to love this--I love pretty much all of Kimmel's books--and it started off strong, with three somewhat quirky midwestern women all working in a used-stuff store called Hazel Hunnicutt's Used World Emporium. I mean, that's great, right?? And gradually bits of their somewhat broken pasts are revealed, and there's one secret that is like sooo obvious, and then things just get a little mish-mashed at the end and I was just disappointed. B.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

2007 book 148

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I've had a hankering to re-read this for a couple of weeks, and finally had some time for a good dose of fun reading! And yes, there were several moments where Dumbledore's sexual identity could have been more explicitly revealed, so that's something of a shame. Still, this may be my favorite HP book! I want to read it again already!

Made some delicious chocolate-orange cupcakes this afternoon . . . yum yum!

who knew the harry potter news would keep on coming?

Apparently Dumbledore is gay. I really wonder why Rowling didn't reveal that in any of the books--especially book 7, which has so many Dumbledore flashbacks. I was actually planning to re-read book 7 today anyway and it will be interesting to read that with Dumbledore's sexuality in mind . . .

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
I whipped up a new pair of wristwarmers tonight during the NBC comedy block--a perfect Thursday night combination! My previous pair is something like five years old and pretty worn out, and it's been fricking freezing at work, so immediate action needed to be taken!

And check it out--it's been almost a year since I posted a picture of any of my knitting. That's because I've been busy cranking out baby blankets for several friends who occasionally read this, and I didn't want to ruin the surprise! Also, I've had some major knitter's block--I need some new projects but can't find any that inspire me. Have any of you knitted something fun recently?

Monday, October 15, 2007

2007 book 147

Alia Mamdouh's The Loved One
This book was soooooo sloooowwwwww. I wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't had a review to write.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

2007 book 146

Marina Lewycka's Strawberry Fields
One of the blurbs on the back describes this as "a comic triumph", which is a completely ridiculous assessment--not to say the book is bad, which it isn't, but it's mostly not funny at all (there is plenty of dark comedy, but also many depressing scenes as well, most of which involve chicken farming). Anyway, it's the story of a bunch of immigrants (legal and not) in England working on a strawberry farm. When the farmer's wife runs down her cheating husband, they must figure out how to make due. Several characters who figure heavily in the first half of the book completely disappear for the rest of it, leaving the three youngest workers to carry on with the story. Oh, and bits are narrated by a dog, which I had mixed feelings about. I really enjoyed this, but would recommend that any of you who read it ignore the book jacket, which totally gives the story away. A/A-.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Multimedia message

Multimedia message
Originally uploaded by wordnerdy

A Pittsburgh-themed bar in Florida . . . what will they think of next?

great essay; peirogies

Here is a thought-provoking essay by Heidi MacDonald (of Publisher's Weekly) about the current state of comics and comics snobs. I agree with most of her points and am looking forward to next year's Abel and Madden version of the Best American Comics anthology.

In other news, I'm eating dinner at a Pittsburgh-themed restaurant tonight. In Florida. Life never stops amazing me. I will probably even bring a camera.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

nobel prize!

The Nobel Prize for literature went to Doris Lessing! I'm especially excited about this, since I reviewed her latest novel for Library Journal. (It was excellent.) Women hardly ever win, so this is extra-awesome.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

finally a little scared of google

Google Street View expanded to Pittsburgh today--I am seriously looking at my parents' driveway on the internet. And I'm a little freaked out (in a good way).

Saturday, October 06, 2007

2007 book 145

Ann Patchett's Bel Canto
I was glad to have a chance to reread this for one of my several book groups; I first read it a few years ago (actually, more like five years ago, long before I was book-blogging) while flying home for Thanksgiving and I remember wishing I could read it again for the first time. Of course, it's one of those books that sticks with you, and it's hard to read because you know exactly what's coming. For those who haven't read it, it's the story of the participants of a party in South America who get taken hostage. How the hostages and the terrorists negotiate their new relationships is a fascinating story (and an excellent example of Stockholm Syndrome). It's still an excellent novel as a re-read--A.

2007 book 144

Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry
I've been home sick for a couple days, but managed to finish this book, the next one for our Jewish literature discussion group. Red Cavalry is Babel's series of stories about his time in the Russian army in 1920. I'm glad we have a professor leading discussion on this, because it can be hard to tease out the relevant strands of story. I really think whoever chose the books for this book group didn't always do a great job.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

an exercise

1. Go to (Barnes and Noble)

2. Search for "last summer of the world" (without quotation marks)

3. Click on the top choice--the novel by Emily Mitchell.

4. Scroll down.

I'm famous!!