Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!!!

Well, I'm off to spend the holidays with my family. The ONLY thing I want for Christmas this year is a nice, happy week with my loved ones.

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years. Thank you for sharing your lives and creativity with me through your blogs. I can't wait to see what the new year brings to all of us!!!

Peace be with you----Amy

Fall into Reading Wrap-up

Well, another Callapidder Days reading challenge is wrapping up. Hard to believe! I did pretty well. I got all but two of my books read. Since I rely on the library for my books, I am sometimes at their mercy when it comes to getting books on my list. I still plan to read the last two as soon as they come in.

Here is my reading list along with review links.

My favorite book that I read this time was probably THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy. It was a quick read yet very disturbing and thought-provoking. It really stayed with me. I also really loved BRIDGE OF SIGHS. The story is so simple yet really effective. Russo is a terrific writer.

My least favorite was probably ALMOST MOON. I still liked it but I was a little disappointed. I expected a bit more from Sebold.

I'm really looking forward to the next Callapidder Days challenge!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample kit of South Beach Living including the Tide Me Over Drink Mix, Granola clusters and $2 in coupons.


An Early Present

I don't know why this delights me so much but that poo head xenophobe Tom Tancredo dropped out of the Presidential race. Not that he had a chance. And when I call him a xenophobe, I'm being nice. It would probably be more accurate to call him a racist fear-monger. I hope he crawls back into the hole he came out of.

Too harsh?

This Makes Me Giggle

I went to Trinity University in San Antonio for my undergraduate degree. And I love my alma mater. Truly. One thing they are especially good at is Development. Especially for such a small school.

Anyway, a winning play by Trinity has been named as the TIME magazine sports moment of the year. The development department created this little inspirational clip to show you how really great we Trinity people are.


The moment itself is pretty cool but the words flashing on the screen make me giggle. It's kind of silly. If you watch it, make sure to do it with sound. The music is especially cheesy.


I thought Perrotta's previous book, LITTLE CHILDREN, was absolutely wonderful. The movie adaptation was quite good as well. I was interested to see what he would do with his new book, ABSTINENCE TEACHER. The premise was intriguing.

A divorcee single mom discovers that her high school sex education is being taken over by Christian fundamentalists. She is forced to go from teaching "sex ed" to strictly teaching abstinence. This sets the stage for a quiet battle between non-Christians and Christians in this little suburban town.

I was a little wary at first because I get tired of the way Christians can be caricatured in fiction and film lately. We are not all fundamentalist crazies. I think Perrotta did an excellent job of creating complex and multi-layered characters. No one is perfect. No one is clear-cut in their beliefs and ideals. Each character struggles with his/her problems and identity.

The "powers-that-be" work really hard at pitting us all against one another. Especially in the arena of religion. I think this book really captures the idea that, ultimately, we are all individuals just trying to make our way in the world. While I didn't like this book as much as LITTLE CHILDREN, it was an interesting read. The ending was a little abrupt. I would have liked more. But I will definitely be reading Perrotta's next book.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Boogie Woogie Christmas

Gary and I went to the Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas show last night. It was so great! This is the second time I have seen it and I highly recommend it. I have decided that I really like Rockabilly. It's the perfect blend of rock and country. And just so much fun!!! A really terrific band called the Detonators opened the show. Gary tried to go buy one of their CDs but there was a mob of people. We'll have to order it online. Brian Setzer played lots of holiday favorites and a bunch of great Stray Cats stuff. It was a rockin' good time!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

I am not a fan of Corman McCarthy. I think he's a good writer but I found ALL THE PRETTY HORSES really tedious. So, I wasn't sure I wanted to attempt THE ROAD. However, I am always intrigued by apocalyptic literature. I really like this book. It is a really fast read but so affecting.

McCarthy story follows the travels of a father and son in an apocalyptic future. McCarthy does not specify when this happens. It could be 100 years in the future. It could be ten years. He doesn't even explain how this dreary future came to be. And that is part of what makes it so chilling.

As the father and son journey south and struggle for their existence, they encounter all kinds of obstacles and horrors. Although the descriptions are not explicit, they are very arresting and disturbing. The story really shook me and made me think about what I would do in the same circumstances. Would I have the will to carry on? Would I make the near impossible choice to kill myself and my child in order to free us from the nightmare? Would I be able to ignore the plight of others in order to save myself and my child? So many questions ran through my head. I think that is what good books do. They challenge you and make you think. I may have changed my mind about McCarthy.

THE CLEFT by Doris Lessing

When I first heard about the premise of this book, I was intrigued. Lessing speculates about the true origins of humankind. In the CLEFT, women are the first human beings and men come later. Lessing recounts this tale through a Roman historian in the time of Nero. The historian is piecing together the story of humankind through a variety of records that have been passed down. He tells the story of the Clefts (early women) and what happened when they started giving birth to "monsters."

I thought the idea was quite clever and I couldn't wait to see what Lessing made of it. However, I didn't like the book. Even though it was short, it was boring and difficult to get through. I did not understand the construct of the Roman historian. It didn't seem to fit and it was distracting. Instead of offering compelling ideas about early men and women, Lessing's portrayals become caricatures where men just want to be free to do what they want and women are cast as nagging irritants. The stereotypical nature of these characters was very off-putting. The idea of the book was good but the execution was really lacking.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another Loss

I'm sure many of you have heard about the recent shootings in Colorado. An angry young man shot people at a church and a Christian ministry. Of course, we will never understand why he did such a thing. It is just so horrible. But today I discovered an added dimension to the tragedy. My friend and former co-worker e-mailed me and told me that two of the girls who were murdered are former library patrons of ours. I remember the family well. They were regulars at our little branch library. We would see them often and all four girls were always so sweet and polite. They were very enthusiastic about reading and had big plans for the future. Now, two of them are dead at ages 18 and 17. I looked at their pictures this morning and thought of all the interactions I had with them at the circulation desk over my years at the public library. I thought of how they would take home large stacks of books and how they were always pursuing new interests. I think when you work in a public service capacity, you watch people come in and out of your life and you take for granted that you will continue to see them. That life will go on as usual. It's hard to grasp that the promise of these two girls has been snuffed out so early. Their family is in my thoughts and prayers today.

Read about the tragedy here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Carols

*warning: Christian propaganda ahead*

In church last Sunday, we had a "Lessons and Carols" service. The service consisted of scripture readings surrounding the Christmas story each followed by a Christmas carol. Some I knew and some I didn't. It struck me, though, how many Christmas songs involved talking about preparing your heart for Christ's arrival.

For example, in "Joy to the World" (one of my personal favorites):


Not too long ago, I talked with my friend Gary about the nature of sin. I know some people who were raised Christian and are now atheist who have a very different experience with the Christian concept of sin than I do. One of them said to me that all he ever hears in Christian "mythology" is talk about fear and sin. He believes theology to be a long list of "DON'Ts." That has not been my experience. None of us is perfect. No matter what we believe or don't believe. We will always make mistakes. But Christians believe in the concept of grace. And I personally believe that true sin is whatever keeps us from God. It isn't a laundry list of rules such as "don't have sex" and "don't have doubts."

In the Christmas season, we are compelled to prepare our hearts to receive the greatest gift. It is the perfect time for a little pre-Spring cleaning. Because when Lent rolls around, we'll have lots of spiritual work to do. In the meantime, we can put aside all the stress of gifts and parties and hustle and bustle and make some time to prepare Him room. And to spread a little of that cheer and love to our neighbors.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. What are your favorite Christmas carols and why? Drop me a comment.

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Sun Crystals natural sweetener.


Monday, December 10, 2007

ALMOST MOON by Alice Sebold

I was really interested to read Sebold's follow up to her monster bestseller LOVELY BONES. Sebold is clearly not afraid of exploring controversial topics.

This is the first sentence of ALMOST MOON:

“When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.”

Sebold doesn't waste any time getting to the heart of her subject matter. The main character, Helen, kills her elderly mother and spends the rest of the novel contemplating why she did it and what she should do about it. The book offers glimpses into Helen's troubled childhood with two mentally-ill parents and how that childhood shaped her. Sebold seems to attempt to garner sympathy for her main character but it doesn't quite work. The book is interesting and a very quick read but the subject matter is sure to put off a number of readers. I think Sebold could have done so much more. In some ways, it feels as if she didn't go far ENOUGH. It isn't a particularly great sophomore effort but it is certainly an interesting one.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Worst Job

When I was in college, I spent the Christmas holiday working at FAO Schwarz toystore in Dallas. It was the worst job I have ever had. My training consisted of telling me I had to purchase FAO Schwarz brand t-shirts and sweatshirts to wear to work. Then, they sent me out on the floor. That's it. Each day, I would arrive and would be placed in a certain area of the store. I dreaded being put in the Barbie store. That was truly horrible. This was the year they came out with "Happy to Be Me" Barbie and people would come in asking to see "Fat Barbie." One day, they put me in the collectible doll section. People came in with perfectly reasonable questions about Madame Alexander dolls and other collectible toys that I couldn't answer because I had no training and no one to ask. In a mall where people are used to superior customer service, this type of store was destined to fail. And it did.

The worst part was that management insinuated that holiday staff would be needed after Christmas. Then, on Christmas Eve, they called people in individually and let them go. For some reason, they kept me on until I went back to school. But I remember how crushed people were to be fired on Christmas Eve.

The reason I'm thinking about all of this is because of the horrible Omaha mall tragedy. Evidently, the shooter was fired and lost his girlfriend in rapid succession. And, of course, the holidays can be hard enough on people. I don't think we'll ever be able to really understand what goes through the mind of someone like that. And I can't imagine what the families of the shooter and victims must be going through. It is so tragic and they will all be in my thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

BRIDGE OF SIGHS by Richard Russo

Richard Russo is a fantastic writer. He can make stories that seem quiet and insignificant both profound and moving. In this new book, Russo returns to the small-town life themes of his earlier work, EMPIRE FALLS. However, I think I enjoyed BRIDGE OF SIGHS even more than EMPIRE FALLS.

BRIDGE OF SIGHS focuses on two families in a small town up east. It is told from the perspective of two men who grew up as friends and took two very divergent paths in later life. The story moves backwards and forwards in time, revealing little bits of plot that leave you longing for more. Lou Lynch is a shy quiet boy who believe the best in everyone. He idolizes his friend Bobby Marconi who is popular and fearless. The two boys have very different home lives which lead them in different directions.

Each character in the book is well-developed and you have a good sense of who each person is. The book demonstrates that even in a small town, people can live quiet yet profound stories where even the most seemingly insignficant acts can have unexpected consequences.

This is not a quick book to read through. You will want to take your time with Russo's prose. But it is well worth your time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Side Sleeper

It's funny. For the first time in my life, I actually look forward to going to the doctor. I hold my breath until I hear the baby's heartbeat and then I just feel elated!

The doctor told me yesterday that it's time for me to start sleeping on my side. No one filled me in on the fact that you have to sleep on your side for much of your pregnancy. Now, this is a problem for me. I'm a back sleeper. I lay there like a corpse with the covers up to my nose and snooze away peacefully. Well, not anymore! I tossed and turned all night last night. I cannot get comfortable on my side. I tried stuffing pillows around me but I wasn't too successful. I guess I will just have to get used to it over time. But it sucks!

By the way, I got a little blurb in the current issue of ALL YOU magazine. See it here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

LBC Freebie of the Day


Get a free Angelina Ballerina plush doll as part of a celebration of Angelina Ballerina and National Dance Week. (while supplies last)