Bloggiesta ~ I Didn’t Play, but I Wish I hadda!

blogiestaI hate housekeeping. 

When I was a kid, and my mom was trying to force me to do my chores, I’d mouth off that I was going to get a maid when I grew up, so I didn’t need to learn how to do dishes or laundry or clean the toilet. 

I’m still waiting for my maid.

This past Friday and Saturday (June 19-20), Natasha at Maw Books hosted the first ever BloggiestaOlé!  The idea was to clean out the broken links, write the reviews you’re behind on, clean out the clutter, and in general bootify yer blog.

Housekeeping.  For my blog.  Blech!  Needless to say, I didn’t sign up. 

However, as I read through everyone else’s Bloggiesta updates and challenges, I found myself doing all the activities and wanting to fix up my blog, too.  I don’t wanna be the family in the trailer with four foot grass and the car on blocks while everyone else has mansions…  Wait, I wanna bootify my place, too!

So here’s some of the things I ended up doing.

1.  Updating Mt. TBR’s inventory page, adding a page for my ARC-alanche pile.  Unfortunately, I got about halfway through the TBR page when LibraryThing pooped out on me, so I’ve still got some more work on that.  It’s no where near what’s allon my TBR shelves.

2.  Stealing a page from Stella Matutina, literally, I’ve written up a review policy for Mt. TBRand linked it in my “contact me” widget on the sidebar.  I didn’t really have a policy before… not one set in stone, anyway, just a  kinda-sorta flimsy plan.  This fact is made painfully obvious by the amount of books on my ARC-alanche pile.

Other things to improve my blog, more on the cosmetic side of life:

One of the things that irk me is that I can’t find a theme that I like… I mean, really like.  The colors on this one seem a bit pale, and the sidebar and main area run together for some unknown reason sometimes, but my problem is:  I wanna knew layout, but hate all the wordpress ones, halp?  Is there a site somewhere that makes them to paste in the CSS thingy like MySpace does?

Another thing I’ve been wondering lately:  Is my site too busy?  Too many pics?  TMI?  Is it navigable and readable, or does it overwhelm and turn off?

A third, and major… in my opinion it’s big, is that there will be a book review change.  I’ve learned that blog posts look a lot different on Google Reader, and I’m beginning to see that the whole itemized list of title, author, publisher and date and page numbers… blah blah blah… is unnecessary.  Who cares what year it was published and how many pages!  It’s making the post needlessly longer.  From now on, the reviews will have the title, author and ISBN only and smaller covers.  Personally, I like the ISBN handy to grab and paste to my wishlist instead of having to sift through similar titles and other books by that author.  Smaller covers, again something I’ve learned from Google Reader, because, while the big ones with detail are pretty, they take up soOOoo much space.

Website Grader, FINALLY!  After months and months of trying to make the web grader inspect my blog, and every time the ‘tarded thing telling me my URL was invalid, I clicked the link “free seo tool” in the gray box to the right and MAGICALLY! it took the URL in the next page.  It was so frustrating to hear everyone tell all about the wonderful things they discovered through this thing, and I couldn’t even get past the front dang door!  BTW… I gots a 95 🙂

Meta whota whata?

Some of the things in the report from Website Grader made sense, but some things left me very confuzzled.  like Meta.  Meta tags.  Meta description.  I’m missin’ out on the Meta deal, but have no clue on how to get hip and get with it!  How do I add the Meta parcels?

 

File that under miscellaneous…

I took time to add the newer awards I’ve received, added the Viral Video Wednesday button, and put my 4Rchallenge button and linked them all up, so now they’re all good to go 🙂

RSS feed ~ Fail?

 

  IDK… I’ve tried to use the RSS feed (thank gawd for Google Reader!), but this is what I see:

My view of an RSS feed

Is this what I’m suppose to see?  With all the code and stuff?

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So that’s where I’m at on all the “Keep the Bloggie Beautiful” stuff, though… I figure it’s probably a lot like my desk.  No sooner than I clean it all up, someone will dump a load on it and I’ll have to start over.

Now here’s where I need your help, everyone…

What kinds of things would you suggest to improve Mt. TBR?  Any help is appreciated!

TSS ~ Meme Meme Meme Sunday

The Sunday Salon.com

I’ve been bookmarking and meaning to do several one-time memes, but I’ve been lazy and kept putting them off. Inspired by the Bloggiesta that I didn’t sign up for, but seem to be doing anyway… unofficially… I figured this Sunday Salon post would be a good time to do it 🙂

First off, I grabbed this one from Page247‘s Sunday Salon over a month ago:

Diversity in Reading Meme

1. Name the last book by a female author that you’ve read.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, but I’m currently reading Water for Elephantsby Sara Gruen (and loving it 😉 )

2. Name the last book by an African or African-American author that you’ve read.

I can’t remember, actually… The last one I remember was Sacred Cows and Other Edibles by Nikki Giovanni, but I’m sure I’ve read something since then *hangs head in shame* Must remedy this….

3. Name one from a Latino/a author.

One that I read?  or just a title out of the blue?  This is harder than I thought… it looked so fun on Page247’s site.  Love in the Time of Choleraby Gabriel García Márquez.  It’s on Mt. TBR… somewhere….

4. How about one from an Asian country or Asian-American?

Finally!  an easy one!  The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and an excellent book, I might add 😉

5. What about a GLBT writer?

I don’t know the author’s sex life unless they say it in bold print at the beginning.  It doesn’t matter to me, as long as the writing’s good and the story pulls me in… the rest is their business.  Jordan, the main character in the modern part of The 19th Wife is gay, does that count?

6. Why not name an Israeli/Arab/Turk/Persian writer, if you’re feeling lucky?

Yeah, I got this easy…. lol.  A book I’d love to get to on Mt TBR:  The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be Godby Israeli author Etgar Keret.  One of the short stories in this book was made into the movie Wristcutters:  A Love Story

7. Any other “marginalized” authors you’ve read lately?

I guess I should be more politically minded or something.  Marginalized?  IDK…  Um, I’m reading The Last Lectureright now… it’s author, Randy Pausch died of cancer before it was published.  Is he marginalized now?  He can’t vote, and if he were to speak through Melinda Gordon or Allison DuBois, I don’t think anyone would listen.

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Okay, this looked like too much fun to pass up.  I’m ripping it off Sink or Swim, who did it as part of Ten on Tuesday meme.  Okay, so I’m a couple days late on it…

Ten Things You’d Bring on a Deserted Island

  1. The entire inventory of Mt. TBR… That’ll keep me busy for a good five years at least, and if I don’t like a book, it can be re-appropriated for other purposes:  Firewood, note paper (remember The Book Thief?), TP, etc.
  2. TWO lifetime supplies of Charmin 2-ply quilted with aloe and floral scent.  Hey, I might as well splurge on something!
  3. Charlie Hobbit of Driveshaft, wait… he died.  Mr Eko, then … crap, he’s dead, too… John Locke… he died, but came back… No, wait… he’s possessed by an evil spirit or some such…  Aw, heck… Gimme the Professor, then.  Is he dead, yet? 
  4. The Magic Conch Shell 🙂 
  5. A volleyball and some red paint.. So I can make my own friend 🙂
  6. A team of sexy masseurs 😀
  7. Ioan Gruffudd Ioan... *sigh**drool* And Hugh Jackman sexy man-candy…  and would it be greedy of me to want Gerard Butler I'm seeing a pattern here..., too…  *long, cleansing breaths…. I think I need to lay down*  Oh heck, since I’m being greedy… Gimme James Callis James Callis is hot!, too… he was who I pictured as Max in The Book Thief.
  8. Ty Pennington, he can build me an awesome island home 🙂
  9. A laptop with solar charger so I can blog about it all.
  10. A helicopter so I can leave whenever I want.

The Magic Conch Shell Rap

Okay, after number 7 on what I’d bring to the island, I now have to go to confession…  I’ve got some thoughts of a sinful nature 😀  no, no smilies… that’s bad!

So what would you bring to the desert island?

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Title:  The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Author:  Kim Edwards

Paperback:  401 pages

Date Published:  2006

Publisher:  Penguin Books

ISBN:  0143037145

The head crowned.  In three more pushes it emerged, and then the body slid into his waiting hands and the baby cried out, its blue skin pinking up.

It was a boy, red-faced and dark-haired, his eyes alert, suspicious of the lights and the cold bright slap of air.  The doctor tied the umbilical cord and cut it.  My son, he allowed himself to think.  My son.

“Where is the baby?” his wife asked, opening her eyes and pushing hair away from her flushed face.  “Is everything all right?”

“It’s a boy,” the doctor said, smiling down at her.  “We have a son.  You’ll see him as soon as he’s clean.  He’s absolutely perfect.”

His wife’s face, soft with relief and exhaustion, suddenly tightened with another contraction… he understood what was happening… “Nurse?” the doctor said, “I need you here.  Right now.”

…”Twins?” the nurse asked.

…This baby was smaller and came easily… “It’s a girl,” he said, and cradled her like a football… The blue eyes were cloudy, the hair jet black, but he barely noticed all of this.  What he was looking at were the unmistakable features, the eyes turned up as if with laughter, the epcantha fold across the lids, the flattened nose… A mongoloid.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, pages 15-16

When Norah Henry goes into labor during a blizzard (I know, very Lifetime Movie, right?), Dr. David Henry is forced to deliver their children himself.  There is only one other person present at the delivery, the office nurse, Caroline Gill.  When David realizes that his newborn daughter has Down’s Syndrome, he passes her to Caroline with the directions to a “home for the feeble-minded,” and the name of the person to talk to there.  His intentions are to tell his wife, who is passed out from the anaesthetic gas, about their daughter’s condition when she comes to, however, when the moment arrives, he lies to her and tells her the girl is dead and her body sent to be buried in the family cemetery on his partner’s farm.  In her grief, Norah plans and announces a memorial for the lost child, “Phoebe,” and informs David of all this after it’s been made public, sticking him fast to the story he told her of the baby’s death.

Caroline, after seeing the deplorable conditions of the place David has sent his daughter to be dumped off and after being informed that the person to whom she was to speak no longer works there, decides to keep Phoebe.  Caroline, now in her early 30s, has spent her whole life waiting for her life to begin, waiting to be someone and to make a difference, she takes Phoebe and moves to Pittsburgh to raise her as her own.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards is the unfolding of the outcome of David’s decision.  It shows how this one secret, and really, much more that David has kept all his life, erects a wall between him and his family.  In his attempt to spare his wife and son the pain of having a daughter and sister who’s condition he believes will be a burden on them their entire life, he has only substituted one pain for another.  By the time he realizes his lie has caused more heartache than the truth ever could, his family has become individuals, islands unto themselves, lonely and feeling like they could never be good enough for the rest.

Because this book does a great job at recreating the sentiments of the time period toward special needs children, there are times when what’s being said is offensive.  My two older girls have special needs, and when the nurse in the Pittsburgh hospital asks Caroline if she really wants her to save Phoebe’s life, it rankled me as much as it did Caroline.  The book doesn’t crank out a happily ever after scenario, nor does it become an “Oh my God, yet another tragedy” soap opera, instead it presents a plausible, heart-felt outcome.

Things to keep in mind if you plan to read this book:  It is a real look at what life is like raising a child with special needs, and raising that child into adulthood.  It is a lifetime of events, and therefore can seem long, but it doesn’t drag.  Also, it does have heavy and sad moments, the character’s don’t do “the right thing” and there are no heroes… except maybe Paul and Phoebe, and even then maybe just Phoebe.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards can help the reader have more compassion for caretakers of special needs children, as well as having a moral that the truth is always the better way to go, that the best of intentions is often the surest and straightest path to Hell.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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P.S.  Do NOT watch the Lifetime movie of this.  It is officially the WORST book to movie EVER! EVER EVER EVER EVER EVERI give that POS movie NEGATIVE infinity out of 5 stars.  It made the characters appear flat and shallow, it changed parts of the story that didn’t need changed and it was just plain crap.  Anyone who says they didn’t like the book because the characters were shallow and selfish, I have to wonder if they really read the book or watched the movie.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Title:  The 19th Wife

Author:  David Ebershoff

Hardcover:  507 pages

Date Published:  2008

Publisher:  Random House

ISBN:  9781400063970

Twenty minutes later we were outside the Chevron, eating a sack of microwaved burritos.  ‘Now I know who you are,” said Johnny.  “But remind me:  why’d you get kicked out?”

“I was caught alone with one of my stepsisters.  What about you?”

“I was listening to the Killers.  It wasn’t even my disc, it was my brother’s.  But they caught me.  I don’t even like the Killers.”

That wasn’t the real reason.  They get rid of the boys to take away the competition.  With no boys around, the old men have the girls to themselves.

The 19th Wifeby David Ebershoff, page 96

In The 19th Wife, David Ebershoff switches back and forth from the story of Ann Eliza Young, 19th wife of Brigham Young and his only EX, and the mystery behind the murder of Jordan’s father.   Jordan’s mother, wife number 19,  sits in jail, accused of shooting her polygamist husband, insists she is innocent.  Jordan believes her and sets about to discover the truth, which ends up being a lot more convoluted than he thought possible.

One of the interesting things about this book is how the two seemingly unrelated stories of the two 19th wives were used to not only display how such a lifestyle can be possible in the 21st century but how such a belief system came to be.  It gives the history behind the “Revelation” of plural marriage through the eyes a Sister Wife, and how the practice affected the whole family.

How this book affected me:

I couldn’t help but get angry again and again while reading it.  For one, it boggles my brain how any woman with half the sense God gave a house plant would tolerate such a practice.  I don’t mean that I don’t understand it on an intellectual level, the book does an excellent job of showing how it was a progressive thing, but at a heart level I can’t believe (it scares me to think it possible) that a woman would say, “Why yes, you have my permission to objectify me and treat me like livestock.  Then, when my daughters are older, you can passel them out to their uncles and other men three times their age to be chattel.  It sounds like a lovely set up!” 

No, I learned the history of it, that a man decided to use his position as a leader to cover up his own leachery by saying, “God said” then made his followers eternal salvation contigent upon their following along because if everyone’s doing it then it’s not as bad.  Then the powers that were discovered that if they kept the women breeding their numbers and voting power would be formidable.  Also, the idea of the man being king of his castle and serviced and waited upon by as many women as he wants, doing whatever he wants, would bring in flocks of them in a time when men were the only ones with legislative powers.

To be honest, I haven’t finished this book yet, I’m not even halfway through.  But I will continue to read it because it’s very compelling and well-written.  I want to know how 5 will fare… Why did she lie about not being there the night her step father was killed?  Will Queenie get caught? or will she escape the Firsts?  Did Jordan’s mom do it? Will she be found guilty?  What’s the lawyer’s, Mr. Heber’s, real angle and why does he seem to want her to be guilty?  Is there really unrest within the Firsts? And how did Ann Eliza become the 19th wife of Brigham Young?  I can’t put it down… I wish life would leave me be to read it, though.

Well written, intriguing and, best of all, inspires conversations and further study, The 19th Wifeby David Ebershoff is an excellent book.  I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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And NOW for the good stuff…. 

How would you like to win a copy of The 19th Wife? 

To enter, leave a comment telling me you’d like a chance to win 🙂  Contest ends 11:59 pm, June 23, with the winner announced at the beginning of next week’s Viral Video Wednesday post (June 24th).

 

Tweet, blog and email about this contest for an extra entry each.

BTT ~ Next Stop, Fantasyland!

Booking Through Thursday

One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.

As she puts it:

So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

Well, actually, June 24th is my middle daughter’s birthday, so I’d imagine I’ll be busy shopping around for the cake and dinner and presents.  That is also a Tueday… not that that means anything, just that the 23rd’s a Tuesday.

As to whether I read sci-fi and fantasy, heck yeah I read it!  It’s really cool to see what bends, twists and detours the human imagination can take.  I’m forced to deal with reality on a daily basis, so it’s nice to escape from it in a good book.  Some of my favorite authors of this genre are Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, and others for whom I’m drawing a blank… but they’re great!  lol…

I have H. P. Lovecraft on Mt. TBR, as well as several Richard Matheson books.

Viral Video Wednesday ~ Oh, Baby!

Hello and Happy Wednesday 🙂  As of this minute, Jen of Devourer of Books hasn’t delivered yet, though I’ve been keeping an eye on Twitter for the #babyk hashtags to start popping up 🙂  So, in her honor, this week’s VVW topic is:

Babies!

When I think back to when each of my kids were still crawling and cruising, I remember their discovers, sometimes with a chuckle and a smile, others with a bit of panic.  My kids all had jacks-in-the-box, and I myself remember cranking the little grinder around for hours on end.  The following clip shows baby Legend  (who would name their son that?) with his first “POP” experience.

Now, I do believe Jen is having a single, but you never know… surprises might occur and she could get double the pleasure, double the fun 🙂

And bath time can be quite fun, though it’ll be a few weeks before she’s giving him a bath. The following vid clip has a rather sagastically wise message: When making bubbles in the tub, don’t push too hard or you’ll make number two. Words to live by.

I leave you with this final clip. Little baby Damien stretches and yawns in a rather unique manner….

Next Week’s VVW topic: Dinosaurs 🙂

Now it’s your turn: Gimme yer fav baby vid clip 😀

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Title:  Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Author:  Jeff Lindsay

Paperback:  275 pages

Date Published:  2004

Publisher:  Orion Books Ltd

ISBN:  9780752865744

Moon.  Glorious moon.  Full, fat, reddish moon, the night as light as day, the moonlight flooding down across the land and bringing joy, joy, joy.  Bringing too the full-throated call of the tropical night, the soft and wild voice of the wind roaring through the hairs on your arm, the hollow wail of starlight, the teeth-grinding bellow of the moonlight off the water.

All calling to the Need.  Oh, the symphonic shriek of the thousand hiding voices, the cry of the Need inside, the entity, the silent watcher, the cold quiet thing, the one that laughs, the Moondancer.  The me that was not-me, the thing that mocked and laughed and came calling with its hunger.  With the Need.  And the Need was very strong now, very careful cold coiled creeping crackly cocked and ready, very strong, very much ready now – and still it waited and watched, and it made me wait and watch.

Dearly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, page 1

Dearly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay is the first book of the Dexter series, and the basis for the first season of Showtime’s Dexter.  I’ve definitely decided darling Dexter is a delightfully delicious diversion 😀 (Okay, Lindsay does the alliteration-thing a lot better than me 😉 )

For those who might not know, Dexter Morgan is a forensic officer specializing in blood splatter for the Miami police department.  He’s a nice guy, well-groomed, a quiet gentleman with a witty repartee.  He has a sweet and shy girlfriend who has two young children.  And to keep the stress levels down and help him stay centered and focused, Dexter has a little hobby.  He likes to hunt. 

People.

Dexter has a Dark Passenger that demands he kill, but Harry, Dexter’s adopted father, recognized the predator in him at an early age and gave him a code of conduct.  He must be 100% sure the person is guilty before killing him.  Dexter is a serial killer who kills serial killers.  A monster with a conscious.

But Dexter is deeply impressed, one artist of another’s talent, when his sister Deb calls him to get over to the scene of a recently discovered, BLOODLESS, disassembled body.  He knows that, according to the Code of Harry, the Tamiami Butcher (as he is called in the book) deserves to be caught and killed, yet there is beauty in his presentation and work, Dexter wants to meet his new playmate.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay is a fun and compelling page-turning.  Showtime was good enough to make the show different enough from the book that you can still be surprised by the book if you’ve seen the series.  And I’d have to say Michael C. Hall is the best actor for Dexter I could think of (their Deb is perfect, too).  Of course, since I saw the show before I knew of the book (in fact, that’s how I found out about the book, it’s mentioned in the credits), so naturally I see the shows faces in the roles as I read the book.

Another beautiful Miami day.  Mutilated corpses with a chance of afternoon showers.  -page 164

Darkly Dreaming Dexter has a bit of a paranormal mystery to it, where as the show seems to lean more on logic.  The Dark Passenger is a character, a spiritual being, with a connection to other dark passengers and silent watchers in other killers, which enable Dexter to have something of a psychic understanding of them.  It’s this skill that make the detectives, and even his cop sister, turn to him on solving the serial murders.  It’s also what creates a crisis within Dexter, as he is unsure whether he himself is the Tamiami Butcher, killing his victims while sleeping.

I give Darkly Dreaming Dexter 4 out of 5 stars.

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I’m so excited! Season 3 of Dexter comes out on DVD August 18th… Oh, how wonderful! Kids go back to school and Dexter comes home with me for my viewing pleasure 😀

Emma by Jane Austen

Title:  Emma

Author:  Jane Austen

Paperback:  416 pages

Date Published: 1997

Publisher:  Wordsworth Editions Ltd

ISBN:  1853260282

The very first subject, after being seated, was Maple Grove, ‘My brother, Mr Suckling’s seat’; a comparison of Hartfield to Maple Grove… ‘Very like Maple Grove indeed! She was quite struck by the likeness! That room was the very shape and size of the morning-room at Maple Grove; her sister’s favourite room.’ Mr Elton was appealed to. ‘Was not it astonishingly like? She could really almost fancy herself at Maple Grove.

‘And the staircase. You know, as I came in, I observed how very like the staircase was; placed exactly in the same part of the house. I really could not help exclaiming! I assure you, Miss Woodhouse, it is very delightful to me to be reminded of a place I am so extremely partial to as Maple Grove. I have so many happy months there!’ (with a little sigh of sentiment.) ‘A charming place, undoubtedly. Everybody who sees it is struck by its beauty; but to me it has been quite a home. Whenever you are transplanted, like me, Miss Woodhouse, you will understand how very delightful it is to meet with anything at all like what one has left behind. I always say this is quite one of the evils of matrimony.’

Emma made as slight a reply as she could; but it was fully sufficient for Mrs Elton, who only wanted to be talking herself.

Emma by Jane Austen, pages 217-218

I finished this book almost a week ago after being stuck in it for about six months.  I’ve wanted to give it time to sit and think about it before making an official judgment by way of a review.  And, while I still say it was the hardest Austen book so far and my least favorite, I have to admit a serious amount of respect for the women of the era.  I’m definitely grateful times have changed since then!

Long and short of things, Emma Woodhouse more or less grew up the Miss Woodhouse of her father’s home, meaning she was the society keeper.  The golden daughter, beautiful and clever, she has never been denied anything by her father, who’s a bit of a hypochondriac, nor by her governess Miss Taylor, who has just married Mr. Weston in the beginning of the novel.  Emma believes she is responsible for making this match and decides to aim her powers at the single vicar, Mr. Elton.  Her brother-in-law’s brother, Mr. Knightly, however, admonishes her to leave match-making be, to let love take its course, but she doesn’t listen (OF COURSE!) and this sets a series of events into motion that forces Emma to grow up and re-evaluate her own position and judgments and that of those around her. 

What Austen does in Emma is to recreate the sense of isolation and near-claustrophobic sensations of the life and choices living as an early 19thcentury English woman.  She equates the life of a governess as a polite form of slavery.  She also conveys the sense of captivity and inertial force of the class stratification of the era.  Everyone had a place, and everyone had acceptable and unacceptable pools of “friends” within the system to choose from:  Either their equal or many levels beneaththem so as to help improve them, but no one only a little below them.. lest they degrade themselves.  Those who tried to improve their social standing by latching onto those above them and trying the seem their equal were treated with civil incivility:  Invitations “forgotten,” stories told to remind them where they belong, arguments about things immaterial that vented hostilities and prejudices.

Emma by Jane Austen presents the parlor life of  emotional constipation and gilded-cage existence without choices beyond who to invite for dinner that ran on and on until death was begged for.  In this day and age, when I can tell my neighbor flat-out, he’s an ass, and go on.  He and I live a life of pretending the other doesn’t exist, which works well.

The book also conveys the sense of the inescapable lot assigned to a person because of who one’s family is and what they’ve done.  Harriet is a persona somewhat non grata because her parentage is unknown.  She could never expect to marry a gentleman, because no respectable man would take in the chance of social disaster if her father ever turned out to be a criminal or worse.  You are who your grandparents were, and if you screw up your life, you ruin your grandchildren’s chances for a future, destroy your siblings’ reputation and shame your parents. 

It amounted to a suffocating life where the most seemingly trivial choices could destroy one’s life and reputation.  While Emma by Jane Austen is not one of my favorites, it’s a worthwhile book to read.  I’m glad to have read it, as much as I am glad I’m DONE reading it.  4 out of 5 stars.

TSS ~ Half-done Is NOT Well-begun

The Sunday Salon.com

Oh, how I wish I were a speed reader with photographic memory, that way I could zip through all those lovely books and then digest them later!  Or, that I had clones, each with a feed into my own brain, so that I could read all the blogs and comment on them, read all the books and write their reviews, get all the house work done and cook and walk the dog and….. *sigh* and just the other million and one things I would do, meanwhile I would lay back and receive the feed and process it all.

But, alas… it is just little ol’ me.

But li’l ol’ me did manage to get a lot done this week.  I figured out how to work Google Reader, but I’ve promptly forgot to CHECK IT EVERYDAY… now I’m scared to look at how many new posts will be waiting.  I finished Emmaby Jane Austen… finally… and I’ve started the review, but I just don’t know exactly what I want to say or how I feel, so it sits in the drafts pile, waiting.  The Cable modem had a malfunction and I was without internet for about 26 hours, so in the absence of my feed (addiction), I managed to read Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (have yet to start the review), get about 2/3 the way through The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, and get a good start on The 19th Wifeby David Ebershoff, but had to set aside Of Bees and Mistby Erick Setiawan until after the blog tour books since they take precedence as they have specific dates to post.

I got on the stick and started sorting clothes for keepers, winter clothes, Goodwill and trash, and now my kitchen table is covered with laundry, the job half done, so now we can’t eat at the table.  We just kinda disperse to which ever cave, er, I mean “room”, we prefer to huddle in front of TV or monitor or book while consuming our food.  It feels so separate and distant, I can’t see how people do that on a regular basis. 

Maggie’s dad’s suffering the economic crunch, and this multiple-times Employee-of-the-Month-where-ever-he-goes will be outa a job as of Wednesday, the company he has worked for for six years is closing their doors.  So my coming weeks will involve helping him with unemployment paperwork, filling out job apps, looking up openings online and helping him talk to potential employers.  I do all of that because he’s Maggie’s daddy and if he gets a job here, then he’ll stay in the area and she’ll get to grow up as much with him as possible.  When he first found out about the closing, he talked about moving back to California with his parents.  Mags wanted me to let him live at our house, but I had to set her straight.

Me:  “Maggot, that’s NOT going to happen.”

Daddy’s Princess:  “Why not?  He can sleep on my top bunk.”

Me:  “Honey, if daddy were to move back in with us, it wouldn’t be long before you’d be an orphan because I’d be in jail for killing him”

Needless to say, he and I are great friends but we did not get along under the same roof AT ALL.  I enjoy our relationship now that I can tell Mr. Anal-Retentive to “Go home if you don’t like my messy house.”  The very things that I love and admire in him drove me insane when living together.

Yeah… As the sands through the hourglass, such is The Kool-Aid Mom’s life. 😀

BTT ~ All Things Vietnamese

There are certain types of books that I more or less assume all readers read. (Novels, for example.)

But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect souffle. Rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.

What niche books do YOU read?

As many of you may know, my youngest, Maggie, is half-Vietnamese.  Now, in my honest opinion, it should be her dad teaching her all things Vietnamese.  However, that’s not often the case.  And the distance between him and us also makes it a bit more difficult for him to impart his cultural wisdom to her.  So I read what I can, then pass it along.

Some of the Vietnam-related books I have are cookbooks, with stains on several pages… Pho Bo gets made a lot, as does Mung Bean soup.  I also have a Kinh Tanh (Vietnamese Bible), and an English-Vietnamese dictionatry.  I’ve read The Boat by Nam Le and also interviewed him.  And I’m always on the lookout for Vietnamese kids books and folklore books.

That’s our little niche, what’s yours?

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Edited to add this vid clip. I felt so incomplete leaving this post without any media. For the most part, the recipe in this video is how I make Pho Bo, except I don’t use meatballs, nor have I ever ate anyone else’s soup that did. What we always do is slice a nice cut of beef paper thin, put the raw beef strips on the top of the noodles and everthing else, and when you pour the hot broth over it, the beef cooks. Very nice that way. Interesting point, btw, I char the ginger on my electric stove’s coils… so ghetto, I know, but it’s the only way I can do it.

YUM!