When it came to choose something blue, I found myself in the mood for something fun; I opted for Sarah Weeks’ Pie because it looked like it fit the bill. And it did, really. Sarah Weeks is perhaps not quite the writer I’d like her to be, but her storytelling makes up the difference. There are laugh-out-loud moments in Pie as well as poignant ones. (There are also recipes, some of which I’d quite like to try.) I did have a hard time with Alice’s mother–she’s terribly unlikable for two-thirds of the book–but given the direction of the plot and the different ways in which we express grief, it all works out believably . I almost died laughing at the Newbery Medal parody running through the book, and the scene with the principal was a beauty and a joy forever. The ending wasn’t actually what I expected, though. (Perhaps that was just me missing clues–you’ll have to tell me what YOU think!) All in all, this is a fun middle grade novel which balances humor and sentiment in a bit of a madcap way. Give it–and the pies–a try.
Okay, okay, I’m a week late coming back, but home improvements ALWAYS take longer than you hope they will, right? And I did take the kiddos to Idaho for spring break. Sadly, missing this past week in particular put me more behind than usual, because in addition to the books I’ve finished, I tried three new dessert recipes for my hubby’s birthday week–and then two beef recipes because rump roasts were on sale. So many reviews to write!
To get started, then, for my ‘something borrowed’ I picked Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration; my friend Britt lent it to me a while back, telling me that it was unexpectedly neat and I should look at it. At the time I remember thinking ‘really? okay…’ because interactive journals aren’t so much my thing–or hers. And while I certainly didn’t think she was lying, I couldn’t see myself being really into it. (I only picked it when I did because it was SHORT and I was stressed about painting and whatnot.)
I weirdly was. Into it, that is. And unexpectedly neat about sums it up. It has quotes upon quotes upon quotes from all sorts of people, but the–writing prompts?–are even more interesting. Even thinking about answering some of the questions nudged my mind in some different directions. And while I’m too busy with my littles to contemplate using such a thing as this book at the moment, I could see myself coming back to it in a few years. In the meantime, this is worthwhile for everyone to whom it sounds the least bit interesting–and most other people as well. Read it through–and think about it.
I’m glad I did.
- Removing wallpaper glued to textured wall can be a nightmare.
- Cleaning a grimy textured ceiling preparatory to painting IS a nightmare.
- I ache.
- I will be on leave from this blog for the rest of March so that I can deal with all of the texture (and the paint).
- I’d rather be blogging.
- Wish me luck.
I actually checked Randy Cecil’s Lucy out of the library because I thought it was intermediate fiction with a lot of illustrations (think Ollie’s Odyssey); I enjoyed it, but it’s really just a fat, fat picture book. (It averages a sentence or two–literally–per page.) The illustrations are all in shades of grey with a fuzzy sort of feeling, and both text and illustrations leave me wanting more–more detail, more description, more depth. If it had LOOKED like a picture book I don’t think I would have minded, but when it looks like a duck but chirps like a robin, false expectations mess with your overall impression. That said, it’s a sweet little story about a dog, a girl, and her dad, and Cecil does an excellent job creating a sense of people and place. Young animal lovers will likely enjoy this one, and it may be a confidence builder for readers who want bigger books but struggle to get through them. Its length, however, would make it an awkward read-aloud, at least for me. If you or one of your kiddos reads it, let me know what you think!
Weeks ago, my friend Britt (of Confessions of a Book Habitue, and please pretend there’s an accent on that last ‘e’) and I decided that–for kicks–we’d read something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue; I chose Parrot in the Oven: mi vida for my something old, because I’m pretty sure I bought it while I was still in college. (I graduated from BYU in 2000–how is that 17 years ago?!) Which means that I’ve moved it five times or so, possibly more.
It may be only a mass market edition, but still.
I will, however, NOT be moving it again. I’m bailing on it. In fact, if it had been longer, I’m not entirely sure I would have finished it. I’m in a list-making mood, for some reason, so here is my review in pros and cons:
- It was an interesting book–and it read quickly.
- It didn’t have a terrible ending.
- It will probably speak to Latino teens in less-than-ideal situations–at least to some degree. Certainly it will appeal to teenage boys far more than it did to me.
- It was basically well-written. Some reviewers took exception to the episodic nature of the book, but it worked.
- Martinez’s metaphors (isn’t that just fun to say?) get heavy handed.
- At least half of the Spanish words and phrases that I googled were words I didn’t care to know (although I suppose that explains why they didn’t sound even remotely familiar in the first place).
- While I had compassion for a few of the characters, I didn’t find most of them to be particularly likable.
- The main character’s little sister exhibits, within the same chapter, traits of an infant, a toddler, and a kindergartener. If you don’t know anything about small children, don’t write about one OR do your homework; a child who must be watched constantly so that she doesn’t fall off of the couch should not, in the same scene, tie her own shoe. My hubby pointed out that this is also poor editing, but seriously?
- I don’t particularly enjoy reading about characters in bad situations who make self-defeating choices. I know it happens, but I don’t find reading about it to be entertaining.
There you have it. In my opinion, there’s a reason that, while it won the National Book Award in 1996, I purchased a bargain copy–a remainder–sometime before the fall of 2000. Parrot in the Oven apparently came out at the perfect time, but it has flaws, and those flaws diminish its staying power. The good news, of course, is that I’ve read it, and now it can leave my house! On to something new!
- I am absurdly excited to have chocolate chocolate chip banana muffins for breakfast tomorrow morning. It’s a Saturday morning tradition, but last week there was all the vomit.
- I’ve been practicing Sunday’s hymns for a month; we’ll see how I do. The one is long and fairly hard, but it’s also fabulous, perfect for the lesson, and rarely sung. The other isn’t bad, but it’s still a new hymn for me.
- Watching my 4-year-old son down a Costco hot dog and then ask me if he could have his sister’s was somewhat disturbing.
- Five gallon buckets of sheet rock mud–of the topping variety–are really, really heavy.
- Tomorrow is supposed to hit 79, and it feels so wrong to be contemplating using the AC on March 18th.
- I like our elementary school, but MUST they have so many fundraisers?
- One eye tooth down, three to go.
- Why am I so tired when I don’t feel like I accomplished all that much today?
- Would pasta three nights in a row be a bad thing?
- I miss being able to do puzzles without toddler “help.”
Yesterday was, of course, March 14th–Pi(e) day. I’m still trying to make fun traditions with my kids, and making pie for 3.14 seemed doable this year. (Partly because my lovely niece was up for the day, which meant an extra adult in case the kiddos got grouchy.) I browsed my Pinterest pie board–yes, I have a pie board–and came up with this Oreo Banana Cream Pie. And OH. MY. GOSH.
My older girls, whose appetites are still resetting after their flu, gave it thumbs middle; my hubby told them they were broken. Honestly? I had to agree. The homemade pudding was lovely and rich–3 cups of half-and-half per pie, baby!–the crust was every bit as good as, well, crushed Oreos and melted butter can be, and the bananas were perfect. I only put Cool Whip on half, since I had spray cream and I prefer the dairy option, but either way–SO good. It was sweet and rich and creamy and lovely, and I ate way too much (and then had a seriously bizarre dream). This pie is definitely happening again, which will THRILL my 2-year-old; my son, who was in bed last night, no longer eats bananas willingly. (More for us, right?) If you love Oreos and/or Banana Cream Pie, this is a must-try.
If not, you’re broken. (At least a little bit.)
That was last night, folks–and believe me, after three nights WITH vomit, it feels like something to celebrate. Not to mention that we no longer have to wait and wonder if any of the kids will escape, because none of them did, BUT they all seem to be on the mend. Wahoo!
In the meantime, I read Judith Viorst’s Lulu and the Brontosaurus last week, and I’ve been trying to decide how to review it. It had a delightfully funny tone, and the story was humorous as well; very Roald Dahl-esque. Lulu is a spoiled brat of a child who marches off to find a brontosaurus for a pet, since her parents won’t agree to give her one for her birthday. (They’ve always given in to her tantrums before.) She ends up finding more than she bargains for and becoming a less objectionable child in the process, which (again) makes for a fun story; I think my issue with the book as a whole is how very brief it is. A 113-page book doesn’t have to have amazing depth (although it can, depending on the author), but it ought to be noticeably more fleshed out than a picture book. Lulu has so many illustrations and so little text that it really just wants to be a long picture book. That would have been fine if I’d known that beforehand, but it’s no longer suitable for the child I was thinking might enjoy it; it would have been a better fit a year ago. This is going to be a good series for kids just getting ready to graduate from the “I Can Read” books, especially girls who aren’t into super-girly. (It would also be a fun read-aloud.) Right now, it’s not a good match for any of my kiddos–but I may revisit it in a year or two!
I was totally going to review a book tonight, but then my motivation crashed and burned. Frankly, between the time change and all of the vomiting and general digestive unpleasantness in this house in the past few days–I’m over it. May this stomach virus pass you by!
…you should really try this Upside-Down Raspberry Cake. My two-year-old LOVES raspberries, so I made this for her birthday–after all, she’s not verbal enough to tell me exactly WHAT she wants, and I wanted to try it! And it was lovely. Buttery, moist, raspberry-y–mmmm. My only trouble was the done-ness–it seemed to go from gooey in the middle to slightly overdone appallingly quickly–but I’m blaming that on the altitude, since the recipe appears to be from a woman in Ohio. And even with that to contend with, I’m totally making it again.
Okay, so that sounded high school-ish (I’m assuming they don’t say “Valley Girl” anymore?), but still. I’ll make this, you should make this–everyone should make this.
The world would be a happier place.