Monthly Archives: May 2016

Summer Reading

Hello All!

I have to tell you, it’s tough getting to the keyboard on Tuesdays. I’ve got about 2 and a half weeks until my book goes to the publishers for the first round of edits (the first time my editor will see my book–yikes!) and I am trying to get work done on it, but my baby needs SO MUCH TIME, y’all? (Who’d have guessed, right? Babies take up time?) I am enjoying every moment with Bear, but I can’t work at 100% capacity and parent him at 100% capacity. Something has to give, and I feel like I’m just not doing ANYTHING very well. (I know, Chorus of Moms: Welcome to Motherhood! We TOLD you it would be like this!!) I’m not sad or disappointed–I did know it would be like this. I’m just trying to adjust my estimates of how long things will take and how focused I can be. So that’s a new thing. It’s hard, because I am used to being very efficient, and now I move super slowly doing everything. Cooking dinner takes longer, a “quick trip” to CVS takes longer, getting through work emails takes longer! But let me tell you, my kid is cute. Like way, way cute. It’s been so incredible getting to know his personality and watching him smile for the first time! He’s a very smiley, happy baby. I never thought that I could be this exhausted and behind while being so amazingly happy.

 

Ah yes, the title of this post. Summer reading. One thing I miss (probably the only thing, if I’m honest, besides my skinny jeans) from my pre-baby life is reading. I still read a lot now, but it’s more Confident Baby Care: Secrets from Super Nanny and The Foot Book. Reading is a huge part of who I am–it’s why I became a writer. I need books in my life, to inspire me to write better and love better and BE better. So, I am going to challenge myself to a “summer reading” program–like the ones we used to do in elementary school. But how? What shall I read? AND WHO WILL GIVE ME STICKERS AND COUPONS FOR PIZZA HUT?

 

New York Public Library has an adult program here, which has some books I’ve been wanting to check out, but I know I can’t get through them all. I think I can read about 1 book a month (1/4 of my usual speed…le sigh). So we’re talking 3 books (June, July, August). I feel like I should pick books from one of those challenge lists, like this one, despite the fact they misspelled “criteria” in the description. Does anyone have any ideas?

Maybe just three Pulitzer winners I haven’t read yet? There are so many I’d like to try. I have a crazy dream of reading every Pulitzer winner since 1985 (the year I was born). Or clean out some author’s entire catalog so I can say “I’ve read every book written by Michael Chabon” (for example)? The mind boggles at the choices.

Right now, I’m thinking of:

  1. A book based on a fairy tale
  2. A National Book Award winner/finalist
  3. A YA bestseller

These are the first three book suggestions from the Popsugar challenge list linked above. Options for these include:

1.

A) Sleeping in Flame, Jonathan Carroll. Supposed to be a re-write of Rumplestiltskin featuring a writer. It’s also supposed to be very weird. I’ve heard good things about this author.

OR

B) Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. A Snow-White inspired tale that explores race and skin color politics. And it’s written by a woman of color! I’m in.

2.

A) A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. This book is “an epic about love and friendship in the 21st century” about four friends who move to NYC in their twenties and how they grow together and apart. I have been warned that there’s some seriously heavy and upsetting stuff in here, but also told it was really really awesome. I feel like this is maybe a “wreck you in a good way” book, like Louise Erditch’s The Round House ? Not sure if I’m up for that, but thinking about it…
OR

B) Charming Billy by Alice McDermott. It’s about a tight-knit Irish community in New York and love lost, according to the National Book Award website. I’m a sucker for books involving Ireland or Irish people and this sounds like a good one.

3.

A) More Happy Than Not, Adam Silvera. An “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” for the YA set, a debut novel that’s getting awesome reviews. Featuring a gay protagonist, so of course I’m so there.

OR

B) Bone Gap, Laura Ruby. This has been recommended to me several times, although nobody can really summarize what it’s about. People get a gleam in their eyes when they talk about it, that gleam that says “just read it, then you’ll know.” Plus, there’s a bee on the cover? And I love bees.

 

These titles were chosen during a very haphazard google session of lists of “best YA”, “best adult fairy tales”, and “National Book Award winners and finalists”. So the list is far from definitive, to say the least.

Dear readers, I’m calling on YOU!! What should I read this summer? Do you have a suggestion not on my list? Would you like to read along and have a virtual book club (I can provide the stickers!!)? Let me know! I need some interaction with the world aka You. Because my Bear is brilliant, but he cannot yet speak English at the tender age of 11 weeks. So let me know what I should be reading, and if YOU want to read too!

 

Stay safe out there and be good to each other.

 

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Girl Meets Boy Who Lived, the FINAL CHAPTER

Hello!

Sorry for the late update–newsflash to everyone, parenting takes a lot of time and effort 🙂 I am still totally loving it, but little Bear requires a lot of cuddles and cuddles don’t go well with typing. And cuddles win, every time. But I will keep at it!

Thanks to all of you who’ve stuck with me on this Harry Potter journey. I have to say, I’m really rather sad to see it go. Here are my thoughts–

 

  • OF COURSE they had to kill off my favorite, Mad-Eye, right in the beginning! I knew this book was “the one where everyone dies” but I was very, very sad for Moody to start it off. I spent the rest of the book muttering “if she kills Lee Jordan, I will BURN THIS MOTHER DOWN.” (Thanks, JK, for not killing Lee Jordan. I very much did not want to have to burn this mother down.)
  • I really liked how Harry struggled with Dumbledore’s legacy and what really happened. I feel like as a kid, lots of people told me “that’s how things are” and I was like “yeah but WHY and HOW?” so his issues with the “just believe Dumbledore loved you, dearie” rang very true to me. He wanted some answers, dammit, and by golly he was owed some by that point!
  • Is it just me or is 3/4 of this book Kids Hanging Out In a Tent? There was an awful lot of tent time. I did appreciate that the boys were all “oh no we’re doomed” and Hermione was like “you dumbheads, I’ve had everything packed for months. As usual.” But man, there’s a lot of Brooding in Tents. I can understand why in the movie they added the weird sexual tension dancing scene just to liven all the tent-sitting up.
  • Which brings me to my next point–I still don’t care about Ron. Yes, I know he saved Harry and broke that one horcrux, but it was after A LOT of whining. I know everyone loves him. I know I am a weirdo and clearly in the wrong. But I just don’t care about Ron at all. I will give him a pass for Hermione’s sake, but only because I love her so much.
  • Someone I DO like very much is Luna Lovegood. The scene with her dad at the Lovegood house is deeply creepy and I felt like JK really upped her game there. But dear, sweet Luna–you’re my everything. I didn’t cry when stupid Dobby died, but Luna’s tender eulogy did make me mist up. She’s just so loving and wonderful. Probably the best thing about book 7 is the rising of new heroes–since H,R, and H are on the run, some other people get to prove how great they are, like Luna, and Neville, and….
  • LEE JORDAN!! He is the secret radio announcer! He brought an end to the interminable Tent Hangout! He is just the best. That moment, where they’re all huddled around the radio and they hear their friends’ voices, is crystal-clear in my head. It’s such a testament to the power of hope and knowing people are cheering for you. It did my old, cynical, black heart good. Lee Jordan 4-eva.
  • All of the battles were pretty cool. The first one in Hogwart’s reminded me of the battle in “Beauty and the Beast” where all the furniture comes to life and raise hell on the unwitting townsfolk. There were so many things happening all at once and I liked it a lot!
  • Big unexpected emotional moment–Narcissa Malfoy throwing the Dark Lord over to save her son. I was really touched by that, and I immediately gave the Malfoy family a pass  for everything. She redeemed them for me.
  • I FORGOT ABOUT RIDING A DRAGON OUT OF GRINGOTTS! That was the best. I’m not a huge fantasy fan, but if this is what dragons do, I’m all for it. This was High Adventure and it was so utterly delightful to me. I can’t imagine how cool it would have seemed to a kid. But it was just so, so great. There are a lot of quiet, powerful moments in this book (like Dobby’s funeral, the radio broadcast, and Narcissa) but there are also a lot of BIG FLASHY moments and this is, in my opinion, the best of them.
  • I was worried Hagrid was going to die. I’m so glad he didn’t.
  • Speaking of parents, I was…let down? by the resurrection stone and Harry’s family showing up. They basically told him “it’s totally cool you’re going to die, don’t worry.” I know I’ve been a parent for all of ten weeks, but if someone told me my kid had to march bravely into death, I’d tell him HELL NO RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN THE OTHER WAY. None of this noble sacrifice stuff. Maybe it’s a British thing, I don’t know. But we FINALLY get to meet Harry’s parents, who he has been waiting and wishing for the whole time, and they just say “yup, you have to die. But you’re a good kid.” Nope. Nuh uh.
  • Ron and Hermione finally smooching over the house elves was a tiny bit cute. But also felt like it came out of nowhere? Even though I’ve known the whole time they were getting together? If JK Rowling has a flaw, I think it’s definitely writing romance. I just don’t believe it–with H&R or G&H.
  • The whole King’s Cross mid-battle interlude was a bit strange. Honestly, I thought the whole Grindewald/Dumbledore/his sister subplot was really weird and rather unnecessary. I’m glad she wrapped it all up, but it was like “oh yeah, I have to explain that” when I felt it didn’t really add to the story. I knew I was supposed to like the curmudgeonly Aberforth too, but it felt forced. I just wasn’t into the Dumbledore family drama at all.
  • PERCY! I can’t believe I forgot about him coming back. It was nice. I’d forgotten about him, but then I was glad he came back. I think I would have traded his death for Fred/George (I honestly don’t remember which one of them died), but it was a nice surprise.
  • Luna saves the day at the end! Of course she does, giving Harry a chance to slip off. She makes me want to be a better friend. If JK wrote a spinoff about her, I’d read it. She was so much more than a sidekick to me.
  • I was warned the epilogue was the Worst Thing Ever. It was not. I thought it was sort of fine. I was happy to see that Teddy Lupin turned out okay. (BTW, his parents’ deaths? Offscreen? Seemed a little unnecessary and over the top. Not a fan.

 

So that was it! I did enjoy it, even though I’d seen the films and knew what was going to happen. It was a wild, wild ride. I am truly glad that JK gave Hogwarts to the world. When I was a kid, I sometimes daydreamed about Han Solo picking me up on the Falcon and whisking me off to a galaxy far, far away. Now kids dream of Hogwarts. And if it makes a kid happy, or gives them hope, or helps them try for one more day, I heartily approve.

Being a kid is really, really hard. I think we all sometimes forget how hard it was. The “It Gets Better” movement was founded for gay teens, but I think it can apply to all teens–hang on. It gets better. You just have to make it through teen-hood somehow. I know these books helped a ton of people (and are still helping people) endure teen-hood, and I am grateful for it. I hope I write something half as good some day.

Thus ends my journey through Harry Potter! I’m so glad that I read these. They were more hyped than anything could possibly be and yet they still delivered.There were so many amazing adventures and sweet quiet moments and powerful messages and heartstopping thrills. I feel like the characters, especially Luna and Hermione, are my friends now IRL. These books have really enriched my life. I can honestly say I am a convert. I believe in the Boy Who Lived.

 

Tune in next time for an unrelated-to-Harry Potter topic! Stay safe out there, y’all. Be good to one another.

 

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