Category Archives: Life

February Round Up

Ah, February. You were so blissfully short. You see, January was one of the longest months of my life. It dragged on and on and I thought I would never see the other side of winter, mild one that it is. Then February came and went like it was nothing and I’ve never been so happy to see rainy, miserable March. I don’t know that I’ve ever so eagerly awaited spring and summer, even when I was a student. I can’t wait for warmth and walks in the sunshine and a garden on my balcony and trips to the beach.

All in all, though, I would say this was a lovely month for reading, if not for reviewing.

Books Read

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville – I conquered Moby Dick and now I see cultural references to it everywhere I look. I feel like my eyes have been opened to something I was missing before.

2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon- I’d been meaning to read this one for forever and it was worth the wait. I really enjoyed it, though I don’t know if it’s really one of my favorite novels. I had some problems with it, structurally, though I loved the story. I do think that Chabon is one of the most talented and interesting writers publishing today and I would like to read everything he writes.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This was easily my least favorite book of the month. I read it for book club and while I enjoyed our discussion, I probably never would have finished this book on my own. I know it’s a lot of people’s favorites, but it just wasn’t for me.

4. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – I didn’t expect to love this one as much as I did, but I just adored it. I thought the sisters were wonderful characters and I loved how much of a presence the town had. I am also very excited to see what Eleanor Brown writes next. I think she’s a wonderful writer.

5. The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor – This one was a recommendation from Ana from eons ago, because Philip Larkin plays a big role in the novel. I liked the book, but it took me a long time to get through it. I can appreciate the very Victorian tropes on this side of finishing the novel, but I’ll admit it frustrated me at times and I was a little disappointed by the “big reveal.”

6. Vita Nova by Louise Gluck – As much as I love Louis Gluck, this poetry collection did not work for me.

7. Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey – This, on the other hand, was poetry perfection.

8. Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages by Elizabeth Little – This is the book I broke the TBR Dare for! But… I couldn’t resist. I hope CB James will be able to forgive me. I have to admit, it was totally worth it. I really loved this book.

On the Blog and Around the Blogosphere

The Read More/Blog More Poetry event went swimmingly again. Kelly and I would like to do more throughout the month to promote it, but I think February got away from both of us. That being said, we still had an excellent turnout and I loved reading everyone’s posts. Slowly, poetry is becoming more and more prominent in my life and on this blog. I am reading it more and I feel the need to post about it more. I hope you’re okay with that. You can find the wrap up post and Mr. Linky for this month’s Read More/Blog More Poetry Event at Kelly’s blog.

There were a lot of intelligent, fascinating discussions going on around the blogosphere this month, but I mostly stayed out of them, except for a comment here or there.

Maggie Steifvater’s post on book reviews (“The Only Thing I’m Going to Say About Book Bloggers in 2012″) ignited a passionate and excellent discussion on various book blogs. Some of my favorite posts about the subject:

Nymeth from Things Mean A Lot in the post “On Objectivity, Again.”

Iris from Iris on Books in the post “On Celebrating Subjectivity

Bettina from Liburuak in the post “The Review Continuum

In My Life

I finished a huge freelance fact checking project that I’m glad to have behind me. I’m always grateful for the experience and the extra work, but it was a lot of extra work and not a lot of sleep. I’ve been a much happier (if much lazier) person since I finished. I went home for the weekend last weekend and I really loved my stay, though it was so short. I miss my family a lot and I hope they’ll be able to come visit us soon.

Exciting news: my sisters are coming into the city to go to the Hunger Games with me the weekend it comes out! I’m so excited!

Looking Ahead to March

Now that I’ve completely destroyed the TBR Dare (What? I gave it a valiant effort!), my reading seems a little bit more wide open. I’m currently in the middle of a ridiculous YA novel that is a lot of fun, though I’m embarrassed to say I’m enjoying it. Obviously, not because it is YA, but because it is just so cheesy. After that, I will be reading Quiet by Susan Cain for my book club. My goal is to read two books off my shelf for every other book I read, so that means I’ll need to pick 4 from my shelves to make up for those two.

I’d really like to get more reviews up, but I’m also preparing a lot of posts for April, which is National Poetry Month.

I’m going to a book launch party for Kevin Young’s new book The Grey Album this week. I’m really looking forward to it!

Well, I think that’s enough rambling. I hope everyone has an amazing March! (It’s almost spring!)

 


January Round-Up

I used to do a round up each month of my reading and blogging, but I gave up on it probably two years ago. There was some debate about whether this was a useful kind of post. Did it really provide your readers with any information that they didn’t already have? Was it productive? Was it spam? Also, I am lazy. Pulling that commitment left me time to do other things with the blog. While getting rid of the monthly round ups was, at the time, the right decision, I’ve realized that I missed the posts. I like seeing everything that was accomplished in one month and I like having all the books I’ve read in one place. It gives you a big picture glimpse into my reading and what I’ve liked. Plus, then at the end of the year it’s easier to go back and see what I’ve done for all the year-end lists we all love so much.

I’m sure that’s way more information than you needed about why I stopped writing a monthly review post. And, now, look at me, it’s almost March and I’m just now getting up the January one. It doesn’t bode well for a new start, does it? Oh well, there’s always next month.

Books Read

1. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
3. Proust Was  A Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
4. How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by Chris Boucher
5. So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
6. On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad

I think my favorite book this month was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, though it wasn’t my favorite novel by Green. The strangest book I read was most certainly How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. None of the books were disappointing. I liked all of them.

The only disappointing thing about this list is the fact that I spent most of the month reading one book that didn’t make this list because I finished it on February 1st: Moby Dick. I also spent most of the month posting about Moby Dick, so I didn’t get a chance to do a lot of reviewing this month. Is there a book on this list that you’re dying to see a review of? Otherwise I will probably just do mini-reviews.

On the Blog

January was an excellent month for blogging. First, there was the Moby Dick readalong, which went swimmingly, hosted by The Blue Bookcase. I loved participating and I’m so glad I read this classic. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The first month of The Read More/Blog More Poetry Event was a hit. I’m so proud of how well this went and I sincerely hope we see it happen again this month.

Finally, I participated in the 50 Years, 50 Blogs book tour for A Wrinkle in Time, an event I was thrilled to be a part of.

In My Life

Things were pretty quiet after the holidays. Just a lot of work and freelancing and a lot of Friday Night Lights. I am working on two big crochet projects that January-Leslie will be disappointed to learn I’m still working on. The weather really got to me in January, but now that it is almost March, we can accurately say that spring is around the corner… right?

Next month (read: in nine days), I’d like to also include my favorite links from around the community, though I was much too disorganized to make that happen in January.


January and February were busy!

Oh, hey there!

I feel like I always start off my first post after a break with these words, like we’ve just randomly bumped into each other on the street. Totally random, right? Fancy you here! How’ve you been?

Me? Oh, I’ve been doing this kind of ridiculous freelance project. I’ve been fact checking, which is a fine side job, but is also one that has taken up the bulk of my time that I wasn’t at work.  I finished the project on Friday, though, and after two days of sleeping in and doing a whole lotta nothin, I”m ready to get back into the swing of things. Things being watching Friday Night Lights, crocheting, and blogging. Oh, and reading.

Since I have the subway rides still, I’ve been reading. I finished The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which was great. I’m also in the middle of The Book Thief, which is not so great, but it’s for book club, so I will power through. There is also The Weird Sisters, which I’m finding completely charming.

I have a lot of books to review, since January was taken up mostly by reading Moby Dick. Now that I’m participating in Tasha’s The Project Gutenberg Project, I see a lot more classics in my life. I’d like to do a more thorough write up of this blog in the future, but you should definitely go check it out. I’m so excited to be a part of it.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have any reviews written up to post right away, but thankfully there are bloggers like the wonderful Chris from Stuff as Dreams are Made On, who tagged me for this meme, which is just what I needed! Basically, Chris asked me 11 questions and I have to ask 11 other people 11 questions. Fun, yes?

1. What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2012?

I feel like I’ve read a lot of middle of the road books. They’re good, not bad, but just almost great. Nothing I’ve read stands out immediately, but I guess if I had to pick I would say it is a tie between The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. If I’m honest with myself, though, neither of those will probably grow to be lifelong favorites. They were great, don’t get me wrong, but not personal favorites.

2. What’s your most anticipated book of 2012 so far?

These are the books I currently have on pre-order, so I’m very much anticipating them:

The Chameleon Couch: Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa
Secure the Shadow: Poems by Claudia Emerson
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

3. What’s your favorite song or album of 2012 so song (doesn’t have to be from this year)?

Lately, I’ve been picking a song of the week and listening it on repeat until I’ve totally killed the song. So far this year I’ve fallen in love with Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye, Half-Acre by Hem, Bloodstream by Stateless, I Want to Break Free by Queen, Keep Yourself Warm by Frightened Rabbit, Naive by The Kooks. Wait, was I only supposed to pick one?

4. What’s the best thing to happen to you so far this year?

Pilates! I’m in love with my pilates class. It’s a very difficult class, but I always miss it when I don’t take it.

5. What’s the worst thing to happen to you so far this year?

This winter has been so dreary. No, it’s not all that cold and there hasn’t been a lot of snow, but I feel like I’m always in my rain coat, wishing for just a bit of sun.

6. What’s the best piece of news you’ve heard not concerning you so far this year? This could be a political event, a news item that made you smile, something that happened to a friend, etc.

A friend of mine is making a huge change in her life and I’m so proud of her for doing it. I am going to miss her, but she is so brave and wonderful. I know it’s going to be amazing for her.

7. What’s the best thing you’ve cooked/eaten/best recipe you’ve saved so far this year?

I haven’t felt very inspired by cooking lately, but I think one of the best meals we’ve eaten that I’ve cooked this year was a spare rib ragu.

8. What’s your biggest goal for this year and how’s it working for you so far?

To find one small thing that makes me happy each day. I haven’t always been successful, but it’s good to have that reminder.

9. Have you discovered any new to you blogs yet this year that you’re loving?

I haven’t really made any new discoveries yet this year! But that’s something I’d really like to do this year. If you’re a new-to-me blogger, stop lurking!  I promise I”ll visit your blog.

10. What’s your favorite thing you’ve seen on the screen so far this year? This could be a tv show/music video/movie/documentary, etc.

I am currently obsessed with Friday Night Lights and The Vampire Diaries!

11. Do you plan on doing any gardening in 2012? Come on it’s me…you knew there’d be some gardening in here :p

Actually, yes! We have a balcony that actually gets decent sun. We’re going to start planning out what/when/in what to plant this week or next. I’m pretty excited! I don’t have much of  a green thumb, so it will be nice to see how it goes and if I can successfully grow things!

Now for my questions!

1. Tell us one thing that we don’t know about you!
2. Is there one book you’re always recommending? Which book is it and why.
3. Have you convinced anyone to read said book? Did they like it?
4. What do you do besides read?
5. Are you crafty?
6. Whom do you miss right now?
7. What are you going to eat for dinner?
8. What is the one book you’ve been dying to read but you haven’t yet?
9. I need some new music recommendations! What have you been listening to lately?
10. If you could go back to any time in your life and live through it all again, when would you return to?
11. What’s one goal you have for this year?

Now, who shall I tag? No pressure! Do this if you like, but my feelings won’t be hurt if this isn’t your thing. I understand.

1. Jenny at Jenny’s Books
2, Teresa and Jenny at Shelf Love
3. Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness
4. Ash at English Major’s Narrative
5. Debi at Still With Nothing of Importance
6. Meg at Write Meg!
7. Sara at Wordy Evidence of the Fact
8. Clare at The Literary Omnivore
9. Jenn at The Picky Girl
10. Memory at Stella Matutina
11. Bettina at Liburauk 

I apologize if you’ve already been tagged! Otherwise, have fun. Have a great week! Hopefully you’ll be seeing some reviews up soon.


50 Years, 50 Days: A Wrinkle in Time 50th Anniversary Blog Tour

I have talked about how much A Wrinkle In Time has meant to me as a reader here, here, and here, but I have only talked about Meg Murry once, during a Top Ten Tuesday when I declared her one of my literary best friends. In a lot of ways, Meg was everything I was and wanted to be.

When I was approached to participate in this blog post, I was told to write about my favorite character from the book. I thought, surely, Meg had already been taken, but to my surprise, she was still available. Reading A Wrinkle in Time, for me, as a ten-year-old, could accurately be described as a rapturous occasion. I know, it’s heavy language, but it’s a book I remember reading so clearly for the first time. I remember where I was and what I was wearing and what I was doing. I remember feeling as though the entire universe had shifted and changed because this book had been written and I had read it. I know, I know, that’s dramatic. But I was a ten-year-old avid reader with a flair for the dramatic.

The reality was that I didn’t find a lot of characters I could relate to when I was reading, but there was just something about Meg that I understood. She wasn’t popular, she wasn’t considered beautiful, she was smart, but she sometimes still had trouble in school. Her family was brilliant and strange and she loved them. She met a boy who loved her for who she was. She went on intergalactic adventures. She grew up and was beautiful, had a lovely family, eventually went on to get a PhD.

To ten-year-old Lu, Meg was the friend I desperately needed in my real life. Slightly older, who could tell me that even if things are hard, right now, they will eventually turn out okay. You may have to fight evil itself, travel through the planets, be nursed back to health by Aunt Beast, but it will, eventually, work out. Being a child, for me, was an awkward, frustrating experience, and it seemed like it was for Meg, too. Meg and I understood each other.

I went on to read other books in the Murry-O’Keefe storyline, and even though Meg didn’t have as much of a presence, I loved seeing her as an adult, confident and sure of herself, so different from the Meg of A Wrinkle in Time. I wish I could have met Madeleine L’Engle and told her how much her books and her characters, especially Meg, meant to me as a child and teenager. Now, as an adult, L’Engle’s own memoirs have been pure comfort reads, like talking to my family or friends. Though it’s impossible to know for sure, one way or another, I think I would have been a completely different person if A Wrinkle in Time hadn’t found its way into my hands. I’m just so grateful that young-Lu had Meg Murry in her life.

To learn more and see the full list of participants in the 50 Years 50 Days blog tour, please see the official Facebook page, here. It turns out I’m not the only one who looked up to Meg: the New York Times ran a piece yesterday called “‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and its Sci-Fi Heroine.” It is definitely worth a read!

A note about the 50th Anniversary Edition:

The 50th Anniversary Commemorative edition features:

Frontispiece photo*
Photo scrapbook with approximately 10 photos*†
Manuscript pages*†
Letter from 1963 Caldecott winner, Ezra Jack Keats*†
New introduction by Katherine Paterson, US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature  †
New afterword by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Voiklis including six never-before-seen photos †
Murry-O’Keefe family tree with new artwork †
Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery acceptance speech

* Unique to this edition                † never previously published


Only one goal for 2012

Last year, I made two sets of goals: one on my birthday and one on the new year. That’s a lot of goals. I just don’t think I have it in me this year to do two full lists of goals. So I just have one New Year’s Resolution and it’s from our friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

And that is what I shall try to do.

Happy New Year!


ABCs of Thankfulness

Starting in 2009, I began following the tradition of the ABCs of Thankfulness. I’m thankful for lots of things, so why not address them all here on the blog every year? It looks like I originally found this on Trish’s blog (thank you Trish for helping me start a Thanksgiving tradition!). So if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today in the USA, you celebrated it a few weeks ago in Canada, or you’re just enjoying your Thursday, join in me the ABCs of saying thank you to all the things that make life as amazing as it is.

Apple, the Big. Thanks for being such an interesting place, for being an awesome place with amazing food and amazing things to do.

Bloggers. As much as I love blogging, it wouldn’t mean nearly as much without all the other bloggers out there. Thank you!

Cranberry sauce. I used to avoid this stuff like the plague. Then I tasted the salty-sweet goodness on my turkey and I realized what I had been missing. Thanks for being delicious, cranberry sauce. Even when you come from a can. (Yup, even when you come from a can!)

Dresses. Thank you dresses, for not being pants.

Early mornings. Even though I like my sleep, I’m grateful for the quiet peace of early mornings and the productiveness of getting up early.

Food. Thank you good food, for nourishing my body. Thank you for a little indulgence on the holidays.

Gym. Pilates, boxing, spin class. I’m thankful for the motivation to go and the great way I feel when I’m done. Like they say, no one’s ever regretted exercising, but you sure regret not exercising.

Hermione. Because before Hermione, I’d never seen anyone in a book quite like me before. Bushy hair, weird teeth, and a little bossy. Yup, sounds about right. Thank you, Hermione.

Icing. The icing, when done right, is the very best part! Thank you icing for being delicious.

Journals. I haven’t regularly kept a journal in a while, but thank you journals for being a way to jump back into past-Leslie. Thanks for being a place to write my thoughts.

Knitting and crochet. Thanks for keeping my hands busy while I watch Vampire Diaries.

Love. I’m so thankful for all the love in my life.

Music. Thanks for making long hours doing work pass a little bit quicker. Thanks for being a beautiful, meaningful distraction!

Niceness. I’m thankful for everyone I encounter who is nice. Thanks for being nice, nice people!

Owls. 

Click for gif action! Need I say more? I’m thankful for owl gifs.

Pals. I’m so thankful for my friends!

Questions. I am thankful that my Q&A Journal asks me questions every day and that I’m comfortable with all sorts of questions and questioning.

Relatives. Thanks, relatives, for being so lovable.

Stories. I’m so grateful for all the stories I’ve been fortunate enough to read or hear.

Tomorrow. I’m thankful for all the promise and opportunity tomorrow always brings.

Ululation. I’m thankful of words like ululation, because they sound so cool.

Verse. It’s no secret that I love poetry! I’m so thankful for everything poetry and verse have bought me.

Words. Thank you words, for making up poetry and novels and newspaper articles and stories and all the good things that come from the written word.

Xylomancy. Another cool word, but one that’s symbolic in my life. I’m thankful words can have that power.

Yarn stores! I’m so thankful for my amazing yarn store. It’s a joy to go in every time, even though I always end up spending way too much money!

Z, love of my life. I’m so thankful for you.


23 for 23

Saturday was my birthday. Last year, I wrote a list of 22 things I would like to accomplish before I turn 22. After my birthday, I wrote them down on a list and put it up on my wall next to my desk. I saw it every day, and while some of those things eventually got crossed off because they didn’t make much sense anymore, a lot of them stuck around. I ended up accomplishing a lot of my goals, as you saw yesterday. Today, I have 23 Things I Would Like to Accomplish Before I Turn 24. Now, they aren’t things I need to accomplish, but simply want. I’m not above failing to realize where I need to be; I think I’ve proven that enough in my life. But setting out with some goals for the year gives me a little focus. A lot of focus and I end up getting stressed out, but a little bit of focus that is Goldilocks-just-right makes my year just a little bit more productive and enjoyable.

1. Translate a book of poetry from Spanish to English. This is my new thesis plan.

2. Write more. With NaNoWriMo helping me write more, I’m remembering why I love it.

3. Move that body! Walking around the city, pilates, spin class, boxing. Keep moving!

4. Eat more veggies, especially salad! I get so sick of salad! But it’s one of the easiest ways to get good-for-you and delicious veggies. So I need to come up with some new salad ideas.

5. Reduce the number of things I own. Books, clothes, etc. As I lose weight, I’ve been getting rid of clothes that don’t fit me anymore by giving them away. I’m also trying to get rid of the books I read and don’t want to keep. Also, other things.

6. Perfect the Curly Girl method. So. This book. It’s a book we sell at work and there was one left over in our “free help yourself” bin. So I grabbed it and it’s kind of changing my life. I want to start making this part of my daily routine.

7. Find a better way to display my books in our tiny apartment. We have these amazing Ikea desks, which offer a TON of storage for books, but not a ton of display space. I have been saving my money and buying nice copies of the books I love, like hardbacks of my favorite graphic novels and physical copies of books I know I’ll want to keep. But what’s the point of owning these nice things if I’m not going to make them easily accessible or put them on display?

8. Save more money. Develop a budget. Pay closer attention to Mint.

9. Go full gluten free. I’ve been gluten free for a little while, but I cheat a lot (and then pay for it with a stomach ache). I do not have Celiacs and my doctor didn’t really think that this would change anything dietary, but it really did. Whenever I eat gluten in large amounts, like a sandwich or a piece of cake, I do get sick to my stomach. I don’t have to worry about small amounts, like trace amounts in spices or oats, but I really want to stop eating large amounts.

10. Get crafty! I like to create things, but I haven’t done too much outside of crochet for the past few years. So I’d really like to use my Pinterest account for some inspiration.

11. VITAMINS. I spent a lot of money on vitamins a couple weeks ago and I have been horrible about taking them. I need to do better! Especially with the fish oil, which will help with the Curly Girl.

12. Volunteer. Self-explanatory, yes? Perhaps at a library?

13. Explore more freelance options. I’ve done a few freelance jobs in the past few months and I’ve really enjoyed it, because often they’re writing or editing.

14. Take a class. About something. I miss school! Sort of. I don’t mind coming home and not having homework, but I do miss learning things. Maybe I could take a late night class once a week.

15. Travel to a new city I’ve never been to before. I want to try and do this once a year, every year, at the very least.

16. Get a massage. I’ve never had a professional massage and it’s just something I’d like to treat myself to. And it’s an easy goal to accomplish!

17. Keep up my new Q&A A Day journal. This journal asks you one question a day. Each question has five spots for an answer, so each year you loop through again, seeing how your life has changed.

18. Keep things simple. 

19. Be more organized! So many simple stresses could be solved if I could just be a little bit more organized. At least I keep telling myself this.

20. Go with the flow. I get stressed out easily. I feel my brow furrow and I get upset at myself for letting things get to me, which adds more stress. Recently, I’ve just started trying to let things go. Just let them go right on out the window and out of my life. When things don’t go as planned, I should think of it as an adventure, not a failure. This is a life-long goal.

21. Don’t buy the cheapest. So it might seem like this is going against some of my other goals, but it’s not. A lot of times I buy what is cheapest so I can buy more things, whether it is clothing or housewares or anything else, but I also want to buy things that last. Saving my money and buying something that will last a little longer and be an investment will keep me motivated to budget and also keep me happier with the things I have. I also should realize that more expensive does not always mean better. I need to do my research.

22. Do at least one thing I’m scared of. 

23. Always, forever, be thankful and grateful for my health, my life, and the love in my life. 



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