Monday, December 31, 2007


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Some of the aforementioned cupcakes--in chocolate-orange flavor! Yum. Happy New Year!

top 11 of 2007!

I know, with 185 books read, you'd think I'd have more than eleven favorites. It turns out 2007 yielded a lot of pretty good books, but not a lot that I totally loved. Here they are, in no particular order!

Heather McElhatton's Pretty Little Mistakes
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Diana Abu-Jaber's Origin
Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Austin Grossman's Soon I Will be Invincible
Haruki Murakami's After Dark
Joshua Ferris' Then We Came to the End
Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files
China Mieville's Un Lun Dun
Lisa Tucker's Once Upon a Day

The list is slightly dude-heavier than last year's, though a few books by women almost made the list (Lionel Shriver's Post Birthday World, Stef Penney's Tenderness of Wolves, and Aryn Kyle's The God of Animals [which was disqualified b/c I can't stand reading about brutality toward animals]). Anyway, these were the books I found particularly appealing this year--clearly my tastes are running more toward mystery type books these days (Spellman Files' sequel comes out in March!) but there is a healthy dose of fantasy in there as well.

OK, now it's time to bake cupcakes for tonight!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 book 185

Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex
It's been a few years since I read this--I loaned my copy to a friend for her book group in like 2003 and never got it back, but now one of my several book groups is reading it so it was high time to get a new copy. Our discussion is actually a few weeks away, but I was really down to the dregs of my library books and figured a great epic novel would be a good way to wrap up my year's reading (seriously, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE BOOKS. Thirty books more than I'd ever read in a year! That has to be a record! Why aren't I doing this for monetary gain or fame and fortune???). Anyway, yes, it's the story of a man who was misidentified as a girl until he hit puberty, plus he's telling his intricate family history (which is full of inbreeding). Eugenides is such a great author; I really wish he'd publish more frequently, but when it takes like eight years to write something this awesome, I'm willing to give him the time. :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I finally got to go see Juno today and of course I loved it! (Clearly I was its target audience, since every few minutes I'd say "hey, I own this cd" and get all happy.) It was a great movie besides its soundtrack, just for the record. Ha ha, record, get it? OK, sorry, just go see it.

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 book 184

Laura Kasischke's The Life Before her Eyes
Two stories of one woman's life--we see her in high school, flashing back to the day when a kid brought a gun to school, and we also see her as a 40 year old mother and wife who's so happy with her perfect life but clearly losing it a little. Or is she. Whatever. B.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 book 184

Megan Abbott's The Song is You
A booze-soaked wannabe-noir mystery, this is based on a true story of a starlet who went missing in 1949. When a publicity dude who knows more than he should decides to find out what really happened after drunkenly spilling secrets to a girl reporter . . . it's a surprisingly boring story. There is absolutely zero dramatic tension and I almost didn't even finish it. The end was kind of ok, but really, totally a boring book. B-.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007 book 183

Gail Tsukiyama's The Street of a Thousand Blossoms
This story of two families in Japan during and after WWII, and especially of two brothers, one who becomes a sumo champion, and the other a Noh mask maker, is a generally engaging one. Both families are struck early and often by tragedy, though some of Tsukiyama's characterizations are a little weak and the emotional impact is lessened. Still, her writing is lovely and her descriptions of plant life and of the sumo world are worth the read. B+/B.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
I've finished a few knitting projects recently--this scarf will be sure to keep me warm at Midwinter! I'm a little obsessed with Noro yarns right now--I almost want to knit a scarf to match the hat I made!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

2007 book 182

Tana French's In the Woods
This mystery involved an Irish homicide detective and his partner who take on the case of a young girl whose death may be related to another child murder that took place twenty years earlier. The twist here is that one of the detectives was the only survivor of the earlier murder, but has no memory of the event. French does a great job of ramping up the tension, though one key piece is fairly obvious to a close reader before it is to the detective which is slightly frustrating. I had seriously mixed feelings about the ending (though it was entirely suitable), but I read the whole thing in one sitting so it gets a B+.

2007 book 181

Linda Sue Park et al's Click
A bunch of notable authors--Nick Hornby, Ruth Ozeki, Eoin Colfer, Gregory Maguire, and more--got together and wrote a book to raise money for Amnesty International. Each tackles a chapter of the tale of a photographer and the legacies he leaves his grandchildren, as well as the other lives he touches along the way. I really liked it until the last two chapters, which veer too far into the realm of fantasy. B+.

Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 book 180

Ha Jin's A Free Life
Sigh. I wanted this book to be awesome--Ha Jin is awesome!--but it REALLY could have benefited from closer editing. It was way too long and dragged a bit--not that his story of a Chinese family acclimating to life in America isn't a great one, but really nothing much happens in it. It's all about a wannabe poet's daily life, which is great, but hard to get caught up in for 600+ pages. Not to mention a couple of character notes that kept popping up--if you've already said that a couple act like newlyweds, does it really need to be repeated in those same words a hundred pages later? Before reading this, I thought it'd be a likely contender for the end of the year list, but instead I give it a B.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

j.k. rowling interview

Time named J.K. Rowling its person of the year, and here's a pretty good story about it (quoting some prof at Pepperdine, no less). Anyway, she is officially writing a new (adult) book, so yay! (Not a Harry Potter one, but I'm excited to read anything she writes.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

best comics of 2007 as chosen by the artists (and me)

The Daily Cross Hatch has compiled a list of various awesome comic book artists' five favorite comics of 2007. There's a great variety of titles, though not nearly enough love for Scott Pilgrim, and too much love for the Fletcher Hanks book (which I didn't really like much).

My own five favorites?

Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together
American Elf vol. 2
All of the cute new Love and Rockets reprints (I keep wanting to buy them, but it's hard to justify since I own all the content already--but here's one that I think is a great starting point for newcomers to the series)
Aaaand the Yotsuba&! series (vols. 4 and 5 came out this year, so it counts), which I finally started reading and it is ADORABLE.

I read a lot of other great graphic novels this year, and of course there are the comic book series I'm still reading and loving (like Y the Last Man, Fables, Powers, Love and Rockets, and others I'm forgetting), but these are the stories I keep coming back to.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

i have no words

I'm not sure what disturbs me more, that teenage Jamie-Lynn Spears is pregnant (adn we always thought she was the normal one!), or that TV Guide felt the need to send an urgent email with this "breaking news".

2007 book 179

Tayari Jones' The Untelling
A young Atlanta woman reflects on a car accident that changed her family forever as her adult life is also changing. Pretty good, but I didn't love the ending (though it was quite believable). B+.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

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Originally uploaded by wordnerdy

2007 book 178

Marie Phillips' Gods Behaving Badly
This novel is kind of like Neil Gaiman's American Gods, if that book was a light and silly romp that has the Greek pantheon living together in a house in London. Wackiness ensues when a cleaning woman and her sort-of-boyfriend enter their lives and when Aphrodite takes revenge on Apollo. I actually quite liked it, mainly b/c Artemis was the central figure and she was always my favorite goddess when I was little (I loved her stories and pictures in D'Aulaires'). Interestingly, this book was sitting on my couch this morning waiting to be read after I finished the paper, and the one-page book section actually had a review of it! It didn't say much (didn't even mention Gaiman, which is really the most obvious comparison) but did note that Ben Stiller had optioned it for a tv series. I did love the Ben Stiller Show when it was on a million years ago, so maybe it would be good? Another reason to hope the stupid studios settle with the writers soon . . .

Oh yeah, I'll give it an A, b/c it really was fun.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

2007 book 177

Ray Robinson's Electricity
This was a pretty good book about a young woman with epilepsy who goes to London to search for her missing brother after their abusive mother dies. It had some interesting epilepsy-related typographical features, which were ok. B.

Friday, December 14, 2007

tales of beedle the bard won the auction, and they're making some images available online. That is an insane amount of money but since it goes to charity, it totally rocks!

2007 book 176

Elias Khoury's Yalo
Another book for review that I didn't like, this novel is a really kind of dark story about a guy in Lebanon being interrogated and tortured. I'm pretty sure he's a serial rapist, though, so it's hard to sympathize. D.

Monday, December 10, 2007

best holiday gift guide ever

Still hunting for that perfect gift for pretty much anyone and everyone in your life? Well, Chapel Hill Comics has just posted their AWESOME gift guide. The photos are hilarious and I can speak to the high quality of their selections.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

omg cute!

I almost died of cuteness flipping through the channels tonight--Animal Planet had their latest episode of Growing Up on and it was about pandas!!! Yes, there were baby pandas galore!! Those of you who have known me for a long time may remember the hours I spent fascinated with the pandacam at the San Diego Zoo back when they had a baby panda, so I'm sure you can guess how much this show delighted me. It airs again on December 31st at 7 pm--like you have better new year's eve plans than watching pandas??? OK, probably you do, but that's what VCRs/tivo are for.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

2007 book 175

Autumn Cornwell's Carpe Diem
Cornwell's novel about a typical high-school overachiever whose parents are blackmailed into sending her away to Southeast Asia for the summer with her free-spirited artist grandmother is a very funny, cute, and engaging one. As Vassar (named for the college her mother hopes she'll attend) embarks on her adventures, she meets an Asian cowboy, bonds with the grandmother she's never met, and attempts to solve the big family secret (which I accidentally saw while putting my bookmark into a back page, so it was pretty easy to catch all the hints and I think a general reader could figure it out relatively quickly). A-.

Friday, December 07, 2007

2007 book 174

Joanna Kavenna's Inglorious
The jacket describes this novel as "piercingly wise and bitingly funny" with a main character who is "a triumphant modern heroine." I can;t think of worse ways to describe this book, which was profoundly depressing. The main character, a successful journalist, suffers a sort of mid-life crisis after the death of her mother and abruptly quits her job. Then her boyfriend of ten years dumps her for another woman, and all her friends are jackasses, and she's just in a terrible mental state for the entirety of the book, which is completely unpleasant to read. D.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

hanukkah treats

My quest to find locally stocked latkes has been fruitless, and making them is way too much work, so my Hanukkah has been a little lame. I'm almost tempted to try these Jones Soda Hanukkah drinks. I love all their themed beverages--well, I love the concept, but have never mustered the courage to imbibe in stuffing-flavored soda (or whatever their other seasonal offerings are). But I am so sorely lacking in Hanukkah goodies that I might rethink my position if I find these in person!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

2007 book 173

Kirsten Miller's The Empress's Tomb
The second book in the Kiki Strike series--about a group of girls with somewhat extraordinary abilities trying to thwart troublemakers in New York--is just as good as the first one, adding smugglers and giant squirrels into the mix. I can't wait for more books in this series, and I'm dismayed it doesn't get more critical attention, b/c it's seriously fun. The website is also top-notch, and needless to say, I'm jonesing for the squirrel shirt! A.

Now I'm off to finally see Enchanted, yay! I love Amy Adams.