Sunday, November 30, 2008


So tired right now. Today was a day of some misadventures--my baked potato dish took longer than I thought it would and the apple cider vinegar tipped over on my bed and spilled all over my mattress. I worked for six hours, two longer than usual. That was definitely tiring. I did have a nice, albeit brief, chat with my adviser about my 25-30 page paper. I'm trying to work on that right now, but the brain, it is not focusing. I'm thinking maybe a snack and a break and then we'll try again?

I know this is all fairly boring, but I'm trying to give a little sense of my life. And right now my life is homework, work, homework. I'm hoping for a little space to breathe soon.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Re-reading The Thief, again. I can't get over how much I love this series and how impatient I am for the next book to come out. I've heard rumors of a 2010 release date. Please? EDIT: According to Publisher's Weekly, these are more than rumors. YES!!!

I also can't get over how differently you have to read this book the second (or sixth) time through. See, The Thief is one of those books that managed to take me totally by surprise. I think I knew that something was up, but I didn't know what. You read it again and all of a sudden certain lines have this very different resonance. You read the other books in the series and then read it again, and a whole nother set of lines have a very different resonance (some of them make me wince because I know what's coming and it hurts).

Incidentally, I more than highly recommend this series. The second book opens with an extremely distressing sequence of events but it ends beautifully. There is some language throughout all three, but nothing too awful. And they're amazing. I've got almost my entire family hooked on them.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful day everyone!

I'm off to Olympia with my family soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A quote

“I didn’t become a Christian because somebody with a Bible badgered me till I was worn down. I wasn’t persuaded by the logic of Christian theology or its creeds. I met Christ. This was, at the time, a big surprise, and pretty disconcerting.” At the Corner of East and Now by Frederica Mathewes-Green, p. 3

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Just a quick housekeeping note: I've put all the books I've read for the past five years up on my Goodreads account. If you're interested, feel free to take a gander. Also, feel free to friend me if you have your own account.

Now I'm off to churn out some words for NaNo.

Speaker For the Dead

Speaker For the Dead
by Orson Scott Card

I read Ender's Game way back in August and somehow, in spite of being completely blown away by it, forgot to write it down in my book notebook and therefore forgot to review it here. But it was amazing in that way that only really, really good sci-fi can be. I will try to be as non-spoilery as possible here, but if you haven’t read Ender’s Game, you should probably do that before reading this review. Seriously, go read it.

After I read Ender’s Game I didn’t read any of the sequels because I didn’t want my perception of the first book to be ruined by potentially not-so-great books in the series. I’ve had this issue a few times which leads me to be wary of series in general, especially those I know weren’t originally intended to become series. But then I talked to two friends who told me that the whole series was good and possibly even better than the first book and I should read it. So I ordered Speaker For the Dead and stayed up ridiculously late reading it one night. I think maybe the latest I have ever stayed up reading. But it was totally worth it. Because this book is even more incredible than the first, in my humble opinion, of course.

It picks up three-thousand years after the events of Ender’s Game. Ender Wiggin is now a name spoken with disgust since people now see him, not as humanity’s savior, but as a Xenocide, someone who wiped out an entire race of ramen, intelligent beings who share many characteristics with humans. What none of them know is that the Speaker for the Dead, Andrew Wiggin, who travels from world to world as an itinerant Speaker is Ender Wiggin, still young because of the effects of inter-planetary travel. No one except his sister Valentine knows his real identity or that he is the original Speaker who wrote The Hive Queen and The Hegemon. He is still tortured by the guilt of what he did, still trying to work out some kind of reparation for it by Speaking the truth.

When Ender receives a call to go to Lusitania, a colony of Brazilian immigrants which is fenced to protect the colonists from the piggies, the only known ramen, his life and the lives of those on Lusitania begin to unravel. As he questions their foundational beliefs, he exposes ugly truths. It is only then that they are able to reach some kind of healing, that they are able to go on.

I loved Ender in the first book. I think you have to, for the book to work. But in this book, I loved him even more. For some strange reason, I have a soft-spot for characters who break my heart and Ender did that several times.

I did have some quibbles with this book. Card’s Mormonism made a sudden appearance at one point, which meant that there was part of the book that I had some problems with. On a more minor level, I’m not sure how no one in three thousand years connected “Ender Wiggin” with “Andrew Wiggin.” However, I can see how if you are thinking of Andrew Wiggin, Speaker for the Dead, Ender Wiggin, Xenocide doesn’t really pop into your head. So I guess that one is just me, being bothersome.

“How do you know there wasn’t something that he touched kindly? Someone who loved him, who was blessed by his love? Destroyed everything he touched—that’s a lie that can’t truthfully be said of any human being who ever lived.”

I can't wait for the next book.

The Scent of Water: A review

The Scent of Water
by Elizabeth Goudge

When I was younger I really didn’t like this book. I liked almost every other Elizabeth Goudge book out there. But not this one. I think that Cousin Mary scared me. Anyway, my grandmother gave me her copy when they moved, about five years ago, I think. Eventually I thought, well I should really read it to make sure I don’t like it before I sell it. I read it and I loved it. Which is all to say, sometimes there is a right time and a wrong time to read books.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this book besides read it. It’s beautiful. So here are a few quotes.

“Most of us tend to belittle all suffering except our own…I think it’s fear. We don’t want to come too near in case we’re sucked in and have to share it.”

“….one of those moments when the goodness of God was so real to her that it was like taste and scent: the rough strong taste of honey in the comb and the scent of water. her thoughts of God had a homeliness that at time seemed shocking, in spite of their power, which could rescue her from terror or evil with an ease that astonished her.”

“If one’s intellectual equipment was not great, one’s spiritual experience not deep, the result of doing one’s damned best could only seem very lightweight in comparison with the effort involved. But perhaps that was not important. The mysterious power that commanded men appeared to him to ask of them only obedience and the maximum of effort and to remain curiously indifferent as to results.”

“You want to love and you can’t, and you hate yourself because you can’t, and all the time love is not some marvelous thing that you feel but some hard thing you do.”

Wolf Tower
by Tanith Lee

I enjoyed this book when I read it—it got a little star in my book notebook which is the equivalent of about a four star rating—but now that I’m thinking about it later, I’m realizing that this was essentially an apathy rating. I wasn’t blown away by it but it was solidly good. There were a few quibbles I had.

First, Claidi’s voice seemed a little unsettled to me, like the author wasn’t quite sure how old she was or how old the readers were. Sometimes it seemed very young adult, sometimes a couple of years younger. I suppose you could make a case for that given that Claidi was both very protected and forced into adulthood. However, it felt less like a device and more like an actual problem.

Second, what with the beautiful gardens and the Waste and the balloons, I kept making these connections to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was extremely distracting. I was expecting the whole way through for it to suddenly fall into some sort of back-story for the Oz books. When it didn’t, I was just confused. Now, granted this may be the fault of my mind making connections where it shouldn’t. But really, when you start talking about an oasis in a desert called the Waste and then add in balloonists, I start to get suspicious.

All in all, I enjoyed this, despite these issues. I’ll be interested to see where the series (four books) goes.


Friday, November 14, 2008


Stephen Colbert takes on Jane Austen.

Hat tip to AustenBlog.

Question for my readers

I've been doing a series of posts over at my LiveJournal called "Orthodox Things" in which I try to elaborate a little bit Orthodox culture as I've experienced it. Would you be interested in me re-posting those here? Please do keep in mind that I am not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination. But I know that several of you expressed some interest in hearing more about how Orthodoxy impacts my life and I think this might be a good beginning. Let me know.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Quentin Blake talks about and demonstrates his process as an illustrator. Very cool.

Penguin is issuing sets of books. I wish I had more money because then I would buy this one and this one and this one. Sigh.

Hat-tip for both of these to Bookshelves of Doom.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

October booklist

Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones: This one was odd, in a good way. It felt dream-like.

Fool's Run by Patricia McKillip: The only sci-fi McKillip I've read so far. I liked it, although in some ways it felt more like fantasy than sci-fi.

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey: One of my all-time favorite books by Josephine Tey.

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer: A wild romp, complete with unlikely heroes, crazy siblings and duels.

Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones: Eh. If you're on a Diana Wynne Jones kick, go for it. If not, there's no real reason to read this one.

Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters: Leila at Bookshelves of Doom was reading this one. Looked fun, so I picked it up. It was fun. It's one of those that if I'm ever in the mood I'll read another in the series but I don't feel any particular compulsion to keep going.

Better Than Running at Night by Hillary Frank: Eh. Young Adult in a style I don't often enjoy. "Realistic" teen fiction. Well, I suppose it is realistic for some people but it's not for me and it didn't touch anything in me.

A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Schlitz: It took me awhile to get into this, but after I did it was worth it. A tale of mystery and horror. Be aware that several of the main characters are involved in conducting fake seances.

Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock: Somewhat in the style of Ella Enchanted, but I like Ella Enchanted better. It was sitting on the shelf at work and I finished it in one four hour shift. Not amazing, but not terrible either.

Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer: A comfort read. There's something so magical about Lucinda Wyman and her year of New York life.

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer: I enjoyed this one a lot. While I often grump about Independent Girl raised in Unconventional Manner Thwarts Male Authority and Makes Her Own Way, Georgette Heyer often manages to pull it off without annoying me. Maybe it's because her plots feel like plots, not Message in Disguise.

Stopping for a Spell by Diana Wynne Jones: Short stories. Not wild about it.

Downright Dencey by Caroline Dale Snedeker: I enjoyed this one a lot. One of my favorite classic children's books. There is some major of-its-time description of a Native American character. But it's still a lovely read.

Away Goes Sally by Elizabeth Coatsworth: Another comfort read. I always loved the bear and the house on a sled. Next up: Five Bushel Farm.

The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip: I've found myself really enjoying Patricia McKillip's work and this was one of my favorites so far. Very haunting.

The Year of Jubilo by Ruth Sawyer: We revisit Lucinda from Roller Skates, several years older and suffering from the recent loss of her father. This has a very different feel from Roller Skates. Older and less exuberant. But Lucinda is still Lucinda and it's a beautiful book.

The Foundling by Georgette Heyer: Probably in the top 10 Georgette Heyers for me. I liked that the main character was male and he was interesting on top of it!

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer: This one, not so much. Nothing wrong with it, but it didn't stand out in any way from the rest.

The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones: I didn't like this one terribly. It was confusing and felt almost claustrophobic. Meh.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Again, for school.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: Also for school. I'm always struck by how much they changed Bessy Higgins' character for the movie. Also the ending. Can I say, as period-incorrect as the ending of the movie is, I like it much better than Gaskell's? Oh well.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson: Sweet story of a family struggling to re-adjust after WWII. Not amazing, but very nice all the same.

The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip: I couldn't keep several of the minor characters straight, but I got enough of the plot to enjoy it a lot.

Leerie by Ruth Sawyer: Eh. It's a typical late 40s-early 50s romance: sweet and innocent. But it lacks the dash of the Lucinda stories

Seven Miles to Arden by Ruth Sawyer: Ditto Leerie.

Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones: After several disappointing Diana Wynne Jones, we're back on track with this one. Quite nice.

Chalice by Robin McKinley: I re-read it because I'd gobbled it down so fast the first time. Just as good on a second go.

Dragonfield by Jane Yolen: Short stories. Very lovely and haunting.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede: I've loved these books since middle school. They turn fairy tale conventions on their heads but do it in a fun and sweet way.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Things I have learned about myself recently

*I can always be bribed with free crayons. Chocolate is also acceptable.
*Procrastination is the name of the game.
*I do actually need sleep sometimes. Who knew?
*I am in love with Sweets from Bones. If you have not seen the latest episode (aired yesterday) go watch it. Particularly the last few minutes, but that won't make sense if you haven't seen the rest of the ep.
*I dislike a messy room, but often not enough to actually clean it (right now would be a good example).
*I'm an emotional sap.
*Muslin curtains fluttering in the wind=happiness.
*Wind in general=happiness.

And now I'm off to try and knock off some NaNo-ing. No, my paper is not done. But I'm at two (almost three) pages, so I'm giving myself a little break. A break involving more writing. (But fun writing, she tells herself forcefully. Right, self answers her. Fun.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh my gosh, guys

I bought my ticket to London. *faints*

Skellig: a review

by David Almond

Michael's baby sister is ill, and to top it off, he's had to move from his old home to a new one, a real fixer-upper. In the garage he finds a mysterious man with a secret. With the help of a new friend he tries to find a way to save his sister and rescue the mystery man.

This was a lovely story. I won't presume to say what it is about, but to me it says something about family and love and a great deal about wonder and hope. While I could have done without some of the emphasis on evolution, it was still a beautiful book. I liked that Almond was able to include a character who is homeschooled but is not antisocial or psychotic and is in fact wise beyond her years. I picked this one up on a whim but I'll definitely keep my eye out for more of his books from now on.