Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prayer request

This is really several days late, but I want to ask for your prayers for the St. Herman's Monastery in Platina, CA and the St. Xenia's Monastery in Wildwood, CA. Both monasteries have been evacuated as a result of forest fires. The monks (St. Herman's) and nuns (St. Xenia's) are staying in Redding. This is a very anxious time for all of them, as they wait for the fires to be contained and hope that their monasteries remain safe. In addition, Fr. Gerasim, the abbot of St. Herman's is in Ecuador at the moment and could not be reached until several days after the monks were evacuated.

As far as we know, the situation is not as serious as it was on Friday and Saturday, but remains very worrisome.

You can find updates at the Serbian Diocese Website.


There's a church near our house that has a handpainted sign by the side of the highway that says in big letters THE WAGES OF SIN ARE DEATH and underneath, in much smaller letters it says But Christ died to save sinners.

They've got it backwards.

I mean, sure, the wages of sin are death. But that's not important. The important part is the love of God which led Christ to die to save sinners. That's what we should be proclaiming--the Love of God, not the fallen-ness of man.

We cannot find salvation, we cannot achieve perfection by fear of hell. We can only find it through love of God and by His grace.

An historic day

I went to the Post Office Friday morning and applied for a passport for the first time. *Eeep!* For some reason, this just makes the whole trip to England seem that much more real. (I'm still in the I-can't-believe-I'm-actually-going-this-must-be-a-dream state.)

Then I went over to the used bookstore across the street and almost died because they have so many books. Want, want, want. Unfortunately, they didn't have the one I really wanted to buy: The King of Attolia. Blast. But I did get I Capture the Castle in a lovely looks like new paperback edition for six dollars. YAY!

Also, I am re-reading Persuasion.

Let's see....I'm trying to think of any other happenings. Oh, job! I'm working at the local university now, cleaning dorms. This job is nice because it's so much less stressful than the job I had before. Granted, there's the "Oh no, we need to clean the whole dorm TODAY" kind of stress, but it's not like I'm feeling sick to my stomach whenever I think about work, which was happening before.

I'm also reading a ridiculous amount of books. Oh well, it's me. It happens.

My sister has left us and will be back on Tuesday (I think). She's in Santa Rosa, CA, attending the Young Woman's Conference. *tear* It's weird having the room to myself.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I've been tagged!

Becca was so kind as to tag me for I suppose I should fill it out. Sigh. Such a chore.

Who is your all-time favorite author and why?

I refuse to answer this question. My three all-time favorites are Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Who was your first favorite author and why? Do you still consider him/her to be among your favorites?

Probably Laura Ingalls Wilder. I still love her, but I don't read her books very often. (I know, shame, shame. If/when I have children I'm sure that will change.)

Who is the most recent addition to your list of favorite authors, and why?

Most recent...Probably Diana Wynne Jones. A few others are Megan Whalen Turner and Susanna Clarke.

If someone asked you who your favorite authors were right now, which authors would first pop out of your mouth?

Diana Wynne Jones, Megan Whalen Turner, Dorothy Sayers, Georgette Heyer, Robin McKinley.

I'm not going to tag, mostly because almost everyone I can think of that would like to do this has already been tagged! But if you feel like doing it, go for it!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Oh no!

Tasha Tudor died on June 18, 2008. She was 92.

It is with great sadness that we must tell you Tasha Tudor, 92, passed away in her Vermont home on June 18, 2008 surrounded by family and friends. We have created an online memorial website and invite all who loved Tasha to share their feelings and memories in the Memory Book section.

I grew up on Tasha Tudor. It makes me sad to notice how so many of the authors I loved, Madeline L'Engle, Lloyd Alexander, and now Tasha Tudor, are leaving us.

Hat-tip: Bookshelves of Doom

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dragonhaven: A review

By Robin McKinley

The first new McKinley since Sunshine! Woo hoo! I was definitely excited to read this one because a) it was written by Robin McKinley and b) it’s about dragons. I am fond of dragons—fictional ones that is. So this book already had a lot going for it.

It didn’t disappoint. For one thing, I very much enjoyed Jake’s voice. It is not the one I’ve come to expect from Robin McKinley, but it was true to the character in a way that the voice of, say Spindle’s End wouldn’t have been. It was, in the end, Jake’s voice, and it kept me going through much of the novel.

The other characters were all well-developed and interesting. I especially liked Dr. Mendoza and Eleanor. And Katie and Martha. And all of them, really.

A tiny bit of plot description: Jake Mendoza who has grown up on the Smokehill National Park, dedicated to the preservation of dragons, goes on his first solo hike in the park. While there he finds a dead poacher, a dying dragon, and a dragonlet. He saves the dragonlet, which lands him in a whole heap of trouble.

This is definitely a book for older readers. There are a few content advisories as far as language and relationship stuff. The language is in character.

Highly recommended.

Fairest: A review

by Gail Carson Levine

Fairest is a very (very) loose re-telling of “Snow White.” Aza is very ugly, compared to the rest of Ayortha. Her foster parents and siblings love her and she has a beautiful voice, but she still wishes that she was more beautiful. Through a circuitous series of events, she ends up as the lady-in-waiting to Ivy (or Ivi), the new wife of the king.

I liked this book, but nowhere near as much as I liked Ella Enchanted. Actually, I felt like the tenuous connections this book had to the world of Ella were quite distracting and kept me wondering if Ella and Ger were going to pop up. (They are mentioned late in the book, in a way which actually confused me all over again.) I also felt like Aza’s struggle with her appearance was too Message-y. That is, it was meant to teach the young girls who are the target audience for the book that even if you’re not beautiful, you can be loved, rather than springing out of the character or the plot naturally. The idea of the Snow White character being ugly was interesting, but I didn’t feel that it was handled as well as it could have been.

All in all, I’m not sorry I read it, but I don’t know that I’ll ever read it again.

Mildly recommended.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A review

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

I am totally in awe of Susanna Clarke. Seriously. First she created a system of magic which she stuck to consistently. Then she created an entire history and scholarship for that magic. Then she integrated the history, scholarship, and practice into real history. And her story was engaging and her characters well-drawn. All in flawless Regency language. For 782 pages. Wow. I am really, really in awe. And surprised that she was able to find a publisher.

English magic has died out, or so everyone thinks. Those who call themselves magicians are theoretical magicians only, scholars of magic, rather than practitioners. It is a shock for everyone then, when a gentleman named Gilbert Norrell demonstrates undoubtable magical ability. Eventually he takes a pupil named Jonathan Strange, whose approach is as different from Mr. Norrell’s as night from day. This book tells their story.

This book honestly reads like a biography rather than a work of fiction. There are copious footnotes, telling stories and referring to other works as if they actually existed. Clarke has the great gift of making you believe, just for a while, that there actually was such a history and story as the one she is telling.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes fantasy and Regency writing.

Monday, June 09, 2008


I am uncommonly tired at the moment, but my family is watching Star Wars V, which gives me the opportunity to recap a few remarks I made on my livejournal when I last watched the original trilogy.

So I'm watching the original Star Wars trilogy because it's been several years since I last saw them. Dudettes, I totally love Han Solo. He's the best character in the whole thing! I like Luke as well but to be honest, he's a little dweeby, at least in the first two movies. I seem to remember him perking up a bit in the third. But Han--he starts out as this totally mercenary guy, granted absolutely hilarious, but still mercenary, and ends up as a hero. Without losing any of the hilariousness.

Honestly though, I think I like heroes with questionable motivations and/or major secrets. I mean, we've got Eugenides from The Thief, Han, Shevraeth from Crown Duel and Court Duel, Thomas from Sorcery and Cecelia. Even Darcy and Wentworth, if looked at in a certain light, fall into that category.

A friend replied, saying that she liked Luke better--he's more of a developed character and isn't quite so annoyingly cocky. Here's my response:

See here's the thing with me. I love Luke (especially in the third movie) but you know he's going to be the hero from the first time you meet him. He's got "Hero" written all over him in shiny gold letters. Han, on the other hand, you think, "Oh, he'll be the crazy side-kick friend." Which he is. But then by the end of the second movie when he goes to what could well be his death with grace and dignity--that blows me out of the water. And at the end of the third movie, when he is ready to give up Leia if she loves Luke--that speaks volumes about his character change. He also says to me that you can be good without giving up your zany side, which I definitely like.

And now I think I'll go take a shower and try to loosen up my back.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The May book list

I'd like to write more about some of these, but right now I think I'm just going to throw the list out there. As always, if you have comments, questions, or would like to know what I think about a particular book, drop me a line. Don't assume that if I'm listing it here I liked it.

Well Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
A Knot in the Grain by Robin McKinley
Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer
The Cart and the Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones
A Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
Let Me Go by Helga Schneider
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Smoky House by Elizabeth Goudge
Northlander by Meg Burden
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Arabella by Georgette Heyer
Drowned Ammet by Diana Wynne Jones
Night at the Vulcan by Ngaio Marsh
Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer
The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby
The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
The Oracle Betrayed by Catherine Fisher
The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Anatopsis by Chris Abouzeid
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones
The Art of Prayer
A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunch
Meed the Austins by Madeline L'Engle
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

I'm not dead yet!

Even though my absence might have made it seem like I am. I apologize. It's been a bit crazy--I don't think I had quite realized how different it is to be working 9-4. Even when I'm at college and in classes and working at the library, we have wireless all over campus, and I'm not away THAT much. But at home, where wireless is sketchy and my sister is always on the computer for school, it's a lot different. I'll try to pop back in soon, but I can't promise anything.

The job is going well. The first few days were really rough but things evened out yesterday and today went well too. So hopefully things will continue in that vein.

Life is okay. My dad's in Ohio right now, trying to figure out something for our old house. Right now we don't know a whole lot because when my mother called earlier he was out. Praying that something gets resolved there!

And...that's pretty much it. I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I have a half-day which I can spend going (hopefully) both to the library and Jo-Ann's. I want to make another skirt.

What's going on in your lives?