Just to make you happy.

Hey, did you see I started posting again?

Everybody cheer!

I’ve actually written quite a bit today, even if you aren’t going to read my reviews (which is fine), so your real updates are just going to be in a nicely numbered list.

1. I’m not doing a class on campus this semester, after all. But it’s ok because my cousin Jennifer, who was going to watch the Bwun while I was in class, had her little baby boy 5 weeks early – he’s healthy and tiny (compared to the Bwun, at least) and adorable. Will you think I’m weird if I have a secret yearning for a tiny baby now?

2. That really should have been two separate things. Pretend I wrote it as 1a and 1b.

3. We got a new(ish) car! Remember how the Dodge died? And it might be because I jinxed it? At Christmastime I had a conversation that went like this:

me: “I really hate our car. I kind of wish it would die.”

My mom: “What?”

me: “I hate it and I wish it would die so we could replace it.”

So…that maybe was my fault. Want to hear the juicy details? It was New Year’s Eve. The Romgi and I had just picked up a dozen cupcakes from The Sweet Tooth Fairy, thanks to the gift card my cousin Katie gave us, and were heading up I-15 to meet Ben & Krista for some good New Year’s Eve fun.  We had just passed the Center Street on-ramp when there was a sound like a pop and a hiss, followed by loss of power to the engine. You know as well as I do that that is a bad thing. The Romgi pulled us over to the side of the road and turned the car off. Too bad it wouldn’t turn back on, huh? And too bad it was the middle of winter and we were in Utah, huh? Cold! So I piled another blanket on the Bwun (thank goodness we had extras) and we made some calls. Cell phones + internet = lifesavers. I had my dad google a tow truck and a mechanic, so while we waited I had our neighbors come rescue me and the Bwun. The Romgi went with the nice tow truck man, who seemed a little less nice when he charged us $90 for the towing. Oh well. Then Ben came and picked all of us up to bring us for New Year’s. It was super nice, and I guess it means they really like us. Or they were really desperate for company. Could be both.

That was Thursday night, and of course the mechanic was closed the next day because it was New Year’s. Of course. We didn’t expect to hear anything until Monday, but one of the employees had to go in on Saturday for a few things and gave us a call around noon. He explained that the timing belt broke, damaging quite a bit of the engine, and it would cost $toomuch to replace the timing belt – plus, he couldn’t guarantee that the car would work after that. Sigh. So we made a few more calls, were able to borrow a car from the Romgi’s aunt, and decided not to gamble the $toomuch on the repair. Instead we started looking for a used car to replace the Dodge. We ended up selling the Dodge to the mechanic for $200, which covered the cost of his labor and the towing and gave us $10 on top of that. I think we used it to buy Taco Bell or something. It was a rough weekend.

A week after the car broke down, we bought a 2003 Suzuki Aerio. It has some cosmetic damage that we’ll eventually repair (read: we could only afford a dinged-up car), but it also has LATCH for putting carseats in, and it’s a cute little car. We’re really happy with it! Thanks, Roni’s parents and the Romgi’s parents, for helping us out!

4. I forgot about just making a list, because it was such a fun story to tell. This one will be brief: the Romgi has two internships lined up for next summer. One is at a firm in Korea where he can get a feel for international law, and the other is at a small firm in Greensboro, North Carolina where he can get a feel for the East Coast. And insurance law. Each internship will be about 5 weeks, and the Romgi is hoping to do a few weeks of part-time work up in Salt Lake with the public defender’s office. It should be a fun summer! (That wasn’t as brief as I meant it to be.)

5. The Bwun has been fussy the past few days and just wants to nurse. Is he teething? If so, where are the new teeth? I sure don’t feel them. If not, will you please come babysit so I can have a break?

6. Right now, the Bwun is sitting on the fl0or next to me, talking to a board book (The Very Hungry Caterpillar). Yesterday he was waving to Harry Potter – on the cover of a dvd. He’s quite social. The Bwun, I mean. Not Harry Potter. (Especially in Book 5.)

7. Fried rice for dinner. The Romgi makes the best fried rice ever. Maybe we can even have dessert tonight! Wouldn’t that be cool?

8. Check out my plan for reading in 2010.

And that is all. Leave a comment so I know you still read my blog despite the fact that I didn’t post for 3 months!

P.S. Sorry about that “juicy details” link. Just wondered if you clicked on my links or not.


The Bartimaeus Trilogy

by Jonathan Stroud

I’m lucky my mom bought me the entire trilogy this Christmas, because otherwise I would have stopped after the first book – and I would have missed out. I started The Amulet of Samarkand while we were in California and, quite honestly, only picked up the second book (The Golem’s Eye) because I was bored on the train ride home.

So that should tell you something: the first book isn’t amazing. I disliked the main character and felt the plot left a lot to be desired. But the second – fabulous! The third (Ptolemy’s Gate) – unbelievable! The story became so intricate, the characters so real, the writing so impressive…you’ll probably laugh when I tell you I cried at the end of the last book. (Yes. I cried after The Bartimaeus Trilogy but not The Last Lecture. I’m going to say I had different hormone levels affecting each reaction.) This is a really interesting take on how magic works – I get tired of the “it’s a stream we tap into” theory. I would definitely add these to your list of books to read.


Samson's Walls

by Jud Nirenberg

{ 2010 | Paul Mould Publishing | 169 pgs }

You probably know the basic story of Samson: an angel appears to his mother and informs her that she’ll bear a son who is to be a Nazarite, Samson is born and is strong, he marries a Philistine, she tricks him, he kills a bunch of people/animals, he hooks up with Delilah, she tricks him, he’s captured by the Philistines, he loses his sight but eventually regains his strength, he topples a building on top of himself and a bunch of Philistines.

More or less.

Like The Red Tent, Samson’s Walls is an attempt to fill in some of the gaps in the Biblical version of the story. While the elements Nirenberg has added make for a scintillating read, I feel very strongly that these elements are almost entirely a product of our modern way of thinking. The way the characters are portrayed does not seem realistic when you consider the interpersonal relationships and societal norms of the time period. And although Samson was always one of my favorite Biblical characters (for reasons I can no longer recall), Nirenberg’s characterization had me hating Samson within a matter of pages.

Because I read a pre-publication unbound copy of the book, I cannot guarantee that what I saw was the final version. However, in my copy, there were endless typos and grammatical errors on top of the amateur writing. I was disappointed that Nirenberg seemed unable to make the story – either the original Biblical narrative or his own interpretation – plausible. From completely unnecessary swearing to uncomfortably, pornographically descriptive sex scenes, Samson’s Walls felt like the author’s intention was to get a movie deal. I’m sure it would do well on the big screen, since it has many best-selling features: revenge, killing, prostitutes, sex, and an overriding focus on the self. In the hands of a more talented author, perhaps it could have been a best-selling book, as well.


Austenland

by Shannon Hale

{ 2007 | Bloomsbury | 208 pgs }

This piece of fluff had a disappointingly happy ending. I read it because there was nothing else to read in our house (aside from the Romgi’s other textbooks, which I didn’t want to pick up at 11pm).

The main character, Jane (!), has a secret Mr. Darcy crush, and compares every man she meets to her Darcy ideal. When her great-aunt, who knew about the secret crush, dies, in her will she gives Jane a trip to a Jane Austen pretend-a-thon. Basically there’s an estate in the English countryside where you pay to play make-believe, like you live in Regency England and are an attractive, eligible young woman. The whole point was really for Jane to get over her fantasy, but [SPOILER] she has a happy, blissfully romantic ending anyway.

Dumb.

(For the record, this is why sometimes I won’t read other books by favorite authors.)


The Anatomy of Peace

by Arbinger Institute

{ 2006 | Berrett-Koehler Publishers | 231 pgs }

I was originally planning to take a class on campus this semester, titled Self & Society. It examines how we form our identities and how we interact with other people, among other things. This was one of the assigned texts, and I figured I might as well read something before I got busy with school and the Bwun and so on. It took me about an hour and a half – it isn’t a textbook, and on top of that, it’s fiction. Ea-sy read.

At a wilderness camp for out-of-control teenagers, parents are asked to stay two days with the camp’s leaders and learn how to resolve the conflict in their homes – not by fixing the teenagers’ behavior, but by adjusting their own attitudes and behaviors. The philosophy of the book is that when we act with our hearts at peace towards ourselves and those around us, harmony is possible; when we act otherwise, we invite conflict.

Definitely an interesting book, and I’d recommend it to those who feel angry, bitter, slighted, or resentful – so, to all of us, at times.


The Candy Shop War

by Brandon Mull

{ 2007 | Shadow Mountain | 358 pgs }

Mull, author of the Fablehaven series, has written a thoroughly delightful book about kids, candy, magic, bad guys, time travel, and more candy. I’m just going to tell you it was great, and leave it at that. Go find a copy! Now!

(Ok, if you have to know more, a candy shop opens in this little town, and the owner, a grandma-type woman, tells this group of four friends that she’ll give them magical candy if they do a favor for her. Foot-in-the-door, people. That’s really all you need to know.)


Princess Academy

by Shannon Hale

{ 2005 | Bloomsbury | 250 pgs }

What looked to be a dreadfully boring, sappy, girly book turned out to be one of the most enjoyable books I read last year. Surprise!

A long time ago, I read Hale’s Goose Girl, and loved it, although now I remember almost nothing about it. I was hesitant to read any of her other work, in case it ruined my opinion of Goose Girl (the same reason I won’t read anything besides the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander). But I wish I’d picked up Princess Academy earlier! It had a strong heroine, of course, and believable characters. Perhaps if Hale had chosen a different name for her book, it would draw more readers in. It sounded to me like that Disney movie where Cinderella has to learn how to be a princess. Dumb. Princess Academy is really nothing like that, and I enjoyed the plot twists, even if they were a little bit obvious.

This is another book I won a free copy of, but I’d probably spend money to buy it for myself. At the very least, you might check it out from the library. If you’re into that sort of thing.

P.S. My copy has a different cover – I wish it had this one! Check out the artwork.