Monday, January 21, 2013


I've recently read the first two books, Glow and Spark, in a new trilogy by Amy Kathleen Ryan.  Two spaceships are traveling to a distant planet, which will be called New Earth, to colonize it.  All the adults on one ship, the Empyrean, are either killed or captured by people from the other ship, the New Horizon, and the girls are kidnapped because the people on the New Horizon are determined to be the first to populate New Earth.  I really enjoyed both books, and am eagerly awaiting publication of the third, but I had a problem with one character's name, and it kept jolting me out of the book.

The leader of the New Horizon's name is Pastor Anne Mather.  This probably doesn't mean anything to most people, but in real life, Anne Mather is the author of a number of Harlequin and Mills & Boon Romances, and one of the original authors of Harlequin's first spin-off imprint, Harlequin Presents.  I think I know why Ryan chose this name for her character:  Pastor Anne Mather presents herself as a motherly figure, and "Mather" is close to "mother."  Reminding myself of that didn't help me get past the issue, unfortunately.  Every time I encountered the character's full name, I would have to regroup and get back into the story.

I had a similar experience on a recent re-read of Susan Elizabeth Phillips's book It Had to Be You, which was published just before O. J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.  Football is a major part of the story, and the fictional characters make reference to real-life players and coaches.  It was almost surreal to read this book, which portrayed O. J. as a good guy, and to realize that while it was still on the shelves, O.J.'s reputation was forever smeared with the blood of his victims.

Still, it's weird how the tiniest things can rip me right out of the pages of an otherwise good read.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I'm just as fascinated as anyone with timesaving measures and doing things the quickest way possible, even though I sometimes do things the hard way for reasons of my own (building some extra walking into my day, for one).  However, I've recently been reminded of a time-saving strategy that makes absolutely no sense to me.

Reading an article in a women's magazine, I became reacquainted with this tip:  group your silverware together in the dishwasher for faster unloading.  I object to this four several reasons.

First of all, how long does it actually take to put the silverware away once it's clean?  It takes me less than a minute to put all my silverware away, and that's in a couple of steps:  first I take out all the big serving utensils and put them away, then I put away all the steak knives, then all the bread knives, then everything else.  Less than a minute, total. 

Secondly, when you group like silverware, they tend to nestle together.  When they're nested, they don't get cleaned properly, so you have to wash them again, thus using more time and resources than if you'd just mixed them up the way most of us do.

Finally, unless you're part of the Gilbreth clan (the family in the original Cheaper by the Dozen), does saving ten or fifteen seconds really make your life that much better?  It would take you weeks to accumulate a significant chunk of time. 

In my opinion, this is a timesaver that really isn't.

Monday, January 07, 2013


If you know me personally, you probably know that I've been complaining for some time of an abnormality in my abdomen.  Even though I've lost roughly 60 pounds from my highest-ever weight, my stomach is still large and round and looks like I'm six months pregnant.  Plus, when I push on my stomach, it's really hard to the touch. 

After a lot of false starts and failures, I finally got a referral to a doctor who listened to my concerns.  At the very beginning of his examination, he placed his hand on my stomach and promptly said, "You've got fibroids."  At last!  I know it's weird to be happy about that, but I feel vindicated, that this wasn't just me playing the hypochondriac card.

Today I went back to my doctor's office for an ultrasound, and I saw this big dark spot in the middle of the screen.  I asked the tech if it was a fibroid, and she did a little half-laugh and said, "I can't tell you that."

So I said, "Well, can you answer a question?  That's not a big empty space in my stomach, is it?"

Another almost giggle, and, "No, it's not."

I don't know what the scale is of what I was seeing on the screen, but the size of the big dark spot was somewhere between grapefruit and cantaloupe, with several smaller spots ranging from plum to lime.  I have another appointment later this week, where the doctor will tell me the results of this ultrasound.  I really hope that if these are fibroids (and ovarian cysts), they can be removed so I will stop looking like I'm trying to shoplift a bowling ball.

I have immense faith that this is all going to turn out well, but I would still appreciate it if all of you would keep me in your prayers.  I'll let you know what the doctor says later this week.

Friday, January 04, 2013



Now that the holidays are behind us, many of my favorite TV shows will be coming back on the air.  It's been a while since I've had regular appointments with my television, the only recent one being Thursday nights at 9 for Project Runway All-Stars, so I'm looking forward to hanging out with some of my favorites.

Justified is coming on again, and I can't wait to see what Raylan's up to this season.  I love his relationship with Boyd, and can't help thinking about what a team they'd make if they were both on the same side of the law.  Plus, Timothy Olyphant is just so pretty to look at, and I admire how grounded and honorable he seems to be in real life.

Game of Thrones should be back soon.  I've been very lazy in not having finished the third book in the series, so I'll have to get to that soon to keep up with the show despite the many changes.  I feel like I would enjoy it nearly as much even if I hadn't read the books, but that OCD part of me needs some closure.

I'm interested in a new show, The Face.  It's a modeling competition set up like The Voice, with Nigel Barker (formerly one of the judges on America's Next Top Model), as host.  Tyra Banks has got to be upset that one of her people has gone over to the dark side, since her arch-enemy Naomi Campbell is one of the team captains.  From the previews I've seen so far, however, the girls on this show are much prettier than most of those who have appeared on ANTM.

My son has turned me on to a BBC show, Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, most recently seen as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.  I've been reading the forums at and watching youtube clips of these guys on various chat shows, because I just can't get enough of "the 'Batch," as they're calling him on twop.  That deep voice is extremely compelling.  I'm also quite looking forward to the new Star Trek movie, due out in May, in which Cumberbatch plays the villain.  He's got a big career ahead of himself here in the States if he can keep the momentum going, and with his upcoming roles as Smaug and The Necromancer in the next Hobbit installment, that's almost guaranteed.  I love Martin Freeman as well, although it always feels like there's something profoundly melancholy in his eyes, even when he's smiling.  He doesn't smile often on screen, but on talk shows, he's very funny and charming.  The new Sherlock episodes are due later this year, and I can't wait to see the aftermath of Sherlock's dive from a London rooftop.

Last but not least, I've been waiting impatiently for the second half of Season 3 of The Walking Dead.  I have a serious crush on Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon, and when last we left the show, Daryl was in deep doo-doo, having been captured by the evil governor of Woodbury.  I must find out how he gets himself out of trouble. 

Of course I'll be glancing in on a bunch of other shows, but these are the programs that will be ruling my DVR.  Here's to a wealth of watching in 2013!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013



There were a lot of weird things about my reading in 2012.  I got really wrapped up in The Hunger Games right about the time the movie came out, and I think I read each book three times in one month because I couldn't get it out of my head.  I read a ton of children's books because I wanted to hand them out on Halloween at my school's Treats No Tricks Night, but I didn't want to hand out books I hadn't read.  I ended up giving out about 300 books, many of which I had not read.  I spent the rest of the year reading more children's books to give away at my school's spring book fair (to children who don't get money to spend there).  I also read a lot of dystopian fiction, especially from the YA racks.

I've done a lot of re-reads, too.  I think I read Fudge-a-Mania about four times, because I read it once myself, then read it again with several second grade classes.  I've been writing study guides to help Frank Long Elementary's students prepare for the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, so I've read each book once, then again as I write questions for the book.  I haven't counted all the rereads, though.  Finally, there are a lot of things I read that don't make it onto the list--children's storybooks that are not chapter books, magazines, posts and articles at, etc.  Because of that, and because of reading so many low page count books, my pages read average was way below my goal of 300 pages per book.  I read 196 books with a total of 45,960 pages, for an average of 234 pages per book. 

With no further ado, the books of 2012.

Howl's Moving Castle--Diana Wynne Jones (212)
Sweet Devotion--Felicia Mason (280)
She Walks in Beuaty--Siri Mitchell (399)
Cats--Elsa Z. Posell (46)
Toby Lived Here--Hilma Wolitzer (92)
If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?--Melissa Kantor (283)
Not Another Bad Date--Rachel Gibson (377)
Smooth Talking Stranger--Lisa Kleypas (372)
Snow Queen--Emma Harrison (377)
The Boy Next Door--Meggin Cabot (374)
Treachery in Death--J. D. Robb (372)

Jinx--Meg Cabot (262)
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming--Joshilyn Jackson (319)
Summer's Child--Diane Chamberlain (AUD)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban--J. K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale (AUD)
Lucy's Launderette--Betsy Burke (331)
Sinister Abbey--Elsie Lee (220)
Taken by the Prince--Christina Dodd (390)
The Haunting of Derek Stone--Tony Abbott (145)
You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?--Jean Fritz (82)
The Early People of Florida--Eva Deutsch Costabel (34)
Famous Paintings: An Introduction to Art--A. Elizabeth Chase (120)
Bayou Dogs--Tony Abbott (130)
Lady Be Good--Susan Elizabeth Phillips (372)
Kiss an Angel--Susan Elizabeth Phillips (373)

The Search--Nora Roberts (472)
The Red House--Tony Abbott (129)
The Ghost Road--Tony Abbott (162)
Seven of Magpies--Doris E. Smith (187)
Out of My Mind--Sharon M. Draper (295)
The Twisted Room--Janet Patton Smith (154)
North American Racer Snakes--Adele D. Richardson (47)
Glass Slippers Give You Blisters--Mary Jane Auch (169)
Wesley the Owl--Stacey O'Brien (229)
The Princess and the Peabodys--Betty G. Birney (249)
Dear Lola--Judie Angell (166)
The Oxford Christmas Book for Children (160)
Scat--Carl Hiaasen (371)
St. Patrick's Day--Dorothy Rhodes Freeman (46)
Hoot--Carl Hiaasen (292)
Love Is My Reason--Mary Burchell (189)
The Other Linding Girl--Mary Burchell (192)
Silver Flame--Hannah Howell (383)
A Clash of Kings--George R. R. Martin (1,030)
The Hunger Games--Suzanne Collins (374)

Catching Fire--Suzanne Collins (391)
Mockingjay--Suzanne Collins (288)
Hannah's List--Debbie Macomber (412)
Prom Nights from Hell--Stephenie Meyer, Kim Harrison, Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, & Michele Jaffe (319)
Nature Girl--Carl Hiaasen (306)
Mockingjay--Suzanne Collins (288)
Surrender to the Devil--Lorraine Heath (377)
Glory--Jodi Lynn (172)
Catching Fire--Suzanne Collins (391)
Girl with a Challenge--Mary Burchell (158)
Mockingjay--Suzanne Collins (288)
Sugar Daddy--Lisa Kleypas (371)
That Summer--Sarah Dessen (198)
Pearl's Promise--Frank Asch (152)
Glitter Baby--Susan Elizabeth Phillips (438)

Married by Morning--Lisa Kleypas (341)
The Rake--Mary Jo Putney (410)
Carnal Innocence--Nora Roberts (391)
Stay a Little Longer--Dorothy Garlock (372)
Return to Harken House--Joan Aiken (118)
Helen Keller: A Photographic Story of a Life--Leslie Garrett (127)
The Knife of Never Letting Go--Patrick Ness (486)
Dirty Martini--J. A. Konrath (347)
Children of the Wild West--Russell Freedman (107)
Living in Space--Judy Nayer (48)
Switching Well--Peni R. Griffin (218)
The Fetch--Laura Whitcomb (379)
Love in the Afternoon--Lisa Kleypas (341)
Ida B.--Katherine Hannigan (249)
The Ask and the Answer--Patrick Ness (524)
A Wallflower Christmas--Lisa Kleypas (216)
Explosive Eighteen--Janet Evanovich (311)

Because You're Mine--Lisa Kleypas (376)
Monsters of Men--Patrick Ness (603)
At the Scent of Water--Linda Nichols (416)
Just Down the Road--Jodi Thomas (329)
Another Summer-Georgia Bockoven (395)
Spun By Sorcery--Barbara Bretton (324)
Falling Awake--Jayne Ann Krentz (424)
Black Magic Sanction--Kim Harrison (561)
Wonder Women of Sports--Betty Millsaps Jones (71)
The Book of Baseball Greats--S. H. Burchard (64)
Through the Sheriff's Eyes--Janice Kay Johnson (255)
Simplify Your Life--Elaine St. James (239)
The Long Way Westward--Joan Sandin (64)
Second Sight--Amanda Quick (390)

Willow--Linda Lael Miller (374)
Darkly Dreaming Dexter--Jeff Lindsay (288)
Junior--Macaulay Culkin (201)
Royally Jacked--Niki Burnham (229)
Peaches--Jodi Lynn Anderson (313)
Joey's Father--Elizabeth August (217)
Draw the Dark--Ilsa J. Bick (338)
Antsy Does Time--Neal Shusterman (247)
The Far Side of Evil--Sylvia Engdahl (324)

Ninth Ward--Jewell Parker Rhodes
Amelia Bedelia and the Cat--Herman Parish (48)
The Precious Present--Spencer Johnson (74)
Years--LaVyrle Spencer (472)
Silver Lining--Maggie Osborne (348)
The Moon Looked Down--Dorothy Garlock (387)
A Creed in Stone Creek--Linda Lael Miller (384)
Frog and Toad Are Friends--Arnold Lobel (64)
The Other Side of the Island--Allegra Goodman (280)
Something BIG Has Been Here--Jack Prelutsky (160)
The Josefina Story Quilt--Eleanor Coerr (64)
More Stories to Solve: Fifteen Folk Tales from Around the World--George Shannon (64)
The Last of the Honky-Tonk Angels--Marsha Moyer (388)
Helen Keller: A Photographic Story of a Life--Leslie Garrett (127)
Enthralled--Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, et al (452)
Close to Famous--Joan Bauer (265)
The Peach Keeper--Sarah Addison Allen (279)
Fudge-a-Mania--Judy Blume (146)
Ginger Goes on a Diet--S. P. Williams (48)
What's the Prize, Lincoln?--Dale Fife (64)
Little Critter's Bedtime Storybook--Mercer Mayer (45)
Who Is Neil Armstrong?--Roberta Edwards (105)
The Luck of the Buttons--Anne Ylvisaker (228)

The Water Wars--Cameron Stracher (243)
The Scorch Trials--James Dashner, narrated by Mark Deakins (AUD)
The Limit--Kristen Landon (291)
Icing on the Lake--Catherine Clark (358)

Lessons in French--Laura Kinsale (458)
Lucky Me!--Lisa Papademetriou (45)
Runaway Twin--Peg Kehret (197)
With the Might of Angels: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson, Hadley, Virginia 1954--Andrea Davis Pinkney (334)
Springwater Wedding--Linda Lael Miller, read by Jenna Stern (AUD)
The Castle in the Attic--Elizabeth Winthrop (137)
Werewolves Don't Go to Summer Camp--Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones (93)
Belle Prater's Boy--Ruth White (196)
Claim to Fame--Margaret Peterson Haddix (257)
A Time of Angels--Karen Hesse (277)
Barbie: A Sea of Friends--Rita Balducci (55)
Who Was Marco Polo?--Joan Holub (105)
I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916--Lauren Tarshis (106)
Brave Bear and the Ghosts: A Sioux Legend--Gloria Dominic (47)
Bear (The Puppy Place)--Ellen Miles 78)
Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying--Barbara Park (72)
We the Children--Andrew Clements (143)
Mick Harte Was Here--Barbara Park (90)
Her Evil Twin--Mimi McCoy (182)
The Devil's Arithmetic--Jane Yolen (170)
Radiance--Alyson Noel (181)
The Promise--Jackie French Koller (73)
Taylor Swift: Her Song--Riley Brooks (48)
Freedom Crossing--Margaret Goff Clark (148)
Heart Secret--Robin D. Owens (350)
The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall--Mary Downing Hahn (153)
Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia--Barbara O'Connor (104)
Mystery of the Runaway Sled--Erica Frost (44)
Valentine's Day--Elizabeth Guilfoile (64)
Beyond the Moon: Future Explorations in Interplanetary Space--C. B. Colby (48)

Merry Christmas, Miss McConnell!--Colleen O'Shaughnessy McKenna (155)
Diving Dolphin--Karen Wallace (32)
Teeny Tiny Animals--Lexi Ryals (32)
Pirate Mom--Deborah Underwood (48)
Spider-Man: The Amazing Story--Catherine Suanders (32)
Fancy nancy and the Mean Girl--Jane O'Connor (32)
After Glow--Jayne Castle (343)
Gabriel's Angel--Nora Roberts (288)
A Creed in Stone Creek--Linda Lael Miller (384)
It Had to Be You--Susan Elizabeth Phillips (376)
The Lost Night--Jayne Castle (339)
Land of a Hundred Wonders--Lesley Kagen (302)
Rescue Me--Rachel Gibson (373)

Peeled--Joan Bauer
Kung Fu Panda: Po's Crash Course--Catherine Hapka (32)
Understood Betsy--Dorothy Canfield Fisher (176)
Car Trouble--Jeanne DuPrau (274)
Trapped Beyond the Magic Attic--Sheri Cooper Sinykin (70)
On Mother's Lap--Ann Herbert Scott (38)
The Precious Present--Spencer Johnson (74)
A Place Called Home--Jo Goodman (411)
Judy Moody Gets famous!--Megan McDonald (127)
Elsewhere--Gabrielle Zevin (288)
Whiter Than Snow--Sandra Dallas (293)
No Regrets--JoAnn Ross (457)
The Courage of Sarah Noble--Alice Dalgliesh (55)
A Day in the Life of a Marine Biologist--David Paige (32)
Why Do Cats Meow?--Joan Holub (48)
Santa's Twin--Dean Koontz (64)
Wonderstruck--Brian Selznick (608)
Starstruck--Cyn Balog (245)
Glow--Amy Kathleen Ryan (311)
Such Good Boys--Tina Dirmann (245)
Jane--April Lindner (373)
The Skeleton Inside You--Philip Balestrino (34)
The Ghost and Mrs. Hobbs--Cynthia DeFelice (186)
A Temptation of Angels--Michelle Zink (439)