Until I Return

I'm leaving for Ann Arbor later today.  If you want the play-by-play to my weekend of family, old friends, and bridesmaid craziness you can follow me on twitter.

Also, Go Blue!

*Michigan is playing Western Michigan this weekend which is Ben's alma mater as their season opener.  Unfortunately, my friend Janelle planned her wedding at the same time.  But I will try to soak up the football vibe around me.

Read and post comments


Send to a friend

Books: August 2009


  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy

Full list can be found here.

Books Purchased:


  • Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy
  • Jane Austen by Carol Shields
  • America, America by Ethan Canin
  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon
  • Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
  • Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
  • You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers

Full list can be found here.

The last four books are actually from July but I’d forgotten about them and incorrectly reported that I hadn’t bought any books.  I have a 3:1 books bought to books read ratio if you exclude those.  I think I need a moratorium on buying anymore until I read more.  If only I hadn’t recently discovered bookdepository.com.

Not sure how Gatsby always manages to sneak into the shot the second I take the picture.

PS – The reason this post is so timely this month (it’s only September 2!) is because I really should be packing for Michigan.  So far I’ve put the suitcase on the bed and load of laundry in the machine.  Then I started doing this.

Read and post comments


Send to a friend


War and Peace (Modern Library Classics)The day I thought would never come finally did.  Last night I finished War and Peace.  I started it back at the beginning of May.  I would set it aside for weeks at a time while I read other books.  But slowly I trudged through the book.  And I’m glad I did.

The book follows the lives of 3 (allegedly 5, but really it focuses on 3) families from 1805-1812 (and then jumping ahead to 1820 in the epilogue) during Napoleon’s attempt to conquer Russia.  There are quite a few peripheral characters, but it wasn’t hard to become invested in the main characters.  Natasha’s story fascinated me the most at first, but later it was Pierre’s as well as Princess Marya’s stories that kept my attention.  I can’t say that I loved any of the characters, but I did enjoy them.  The length of both the novel and the time period it covers allowed for all the characters to grow and change and become very different people than they were when I first met them.

It was the story that I enjoyed.  I could have done without some of the military explanations and philosophical digressions (basically boiling down to the free will of men vs the predetermined nature of history).  It was these sections that slowed me down (I did not react well when I discovered the last 40 pages read like a philosophical treatise).

This book is unlike any other novel I’ve read (even Anna Karenina).  Possibly because it’s less than a novel.  Stories wrapped up but didn’t end.  Characters grew but never achieved all that they could.  The Russians won, but not really.  Still, it was a fabulous piece of literature.  It captured the Russian spirit.  It showed how even under the threat of impending doom, Russians will not give in.  Even when their greatest city is occupied, they will not assimilate.  They remain their own individual people and this perseverance is what captivates the reader.

I’m glad I read it.  Not just because I can now say I’ve read War and Peace (by the way, I’ve read War and Peace) but because it really is a great story.  The 1386 pages make it look daunting but if you can get past it’s length, I bet you’ll enjoy it, too.

Read and post comments


Send to a friend

The Book Depository


Dominique mentioned the good deals she’d found at the Book Depository so I thought I would check it out.  It has fantastic book prices and free shipping anywhere in the whole world!  Today, I bought The Elegence of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick, and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordin for $18.96.  It was such a good deal that I wanted to pass it on to all of you book lovers out there who may not know about it.  🙂


Send to a friend

Books – July 2009

S0rry, no pics.

Books Read

  • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  • The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
  • Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's  by John Elder Robison 

And I made pretty good progress in War and Peace

It looks like I didn't purchase any books in July which is great considering my books read to books owned ratio.

P.S. I really wish vox let you have better control over your fonts.  Is there an html code or something I can use?  Or am I just stuck with different fonts when I cut and paste?

Read and post comments


Send to a friend

Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome (Signet Classics)I am so glad that this book was picked for RBC and I was encouraged to finally read it.  It was amazing.  Some of these thoughts are already posted on the book club thread, but I wanted to share them with the vox universe as well.  I’m going to give away some major parts of the book because it’s an older book that a lot of people have already read and also because I don’t know how to talk about it otherwise.  So if you haven’t read it, please stop reading now, go to your library and find a copy, curl up in a comfy chair, and come back here when you’re through and let me know what you thought.


I loved this book. I read the last half in one sitting and got completely lost in the story. It was heartbreaking and
haunting. In the end, Ethan and Mattie got what they wanted (to never
be separated) but in such a way that no one would ever be happy again.  As much as I knew the characters were destined for despair, I couldn’t help put put all my hope behind Ethan and Mattie’s success and was ultimately devasated by the outcome.

Wharton did such a great job of eliciting empathy from the reader. I felt what Ethan felt; my heart was breaking right alongside his as they drove to
the train station. I despised Zeena for making everyone miserable. I
felt the hopelessness that Mattie must have felt at being turned away
from the only people who could protect her.

The setting played a large role in Ethan Frome just as it did in The Awakening (the previous RBC choice).  The vast, cold wilderness of western Massachusetts in the late 1800s is the perfect place to set a novel about a wasted marriage and a hopeless dream of escape.  Like the heat in The Awakening emphasized the loosening of morals, the frigidness in Ethan Frome emphasized the misery of the main characters.  In fact, the two stories are so similar that the setting is really the only thing that differentiates them (and the gender issue…).

The other comparison that popped into my head while reading this was Wuthering Heights.  An outsider leads us into the story and out again just as in WH.  The love story is doomed from the start.  The passion Ethan feels for Mattie leads to destruction like Cathy and Heathcliff.  They are very different stories, but I got similar feelings from both of them.

This is one of those books that I wish I had read years ago. I was missing so much by not reading it.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous JourneyI spent a wonderful Sunday morning in bed finishing this book.  I have to admit that after the first book I had very high expectations for this one and it didn’t quite live up to them.  But, it was still a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The second of the MBS books takes the 4 main characters – Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance – on a whirlwind round-the-world trip to save Mr. Benedict.  New characters and past ones join them (or attack them) along the way.  Once again, each child must use his or her own unique gifts and work as a group to achieve their goal.

I enjoyed that the kids grew up a little in this book.  A year has passed since their previous adventure, and you can tell.  Kate has someone other than herself to care about; Sticky is struggling to control the pride he feels at his vast amount of knowledge ane maybe find that courage he’s always lacked; Reynie is still as insightful as ever – I think he was grown up long before the first book.  Constance was by far my favorite character in this book.  As she’s matured, she’s learned to think of others.  She is dealing with her newest gift and handling it admirably.  I’m glad to see the characters change and grow along the series.  I’m not sure how many books are planned, but the only way they will remain interesting is if the characters do.

Random thoughts: I loved that Reynie and Sticky were afraid of flying – it made me feel closer to them.  I disliked that the Recruiters are now called Ten Men (for the 10 ways they can hurt you) because I always pictured ten of them and had a hard time keeping track of how many there actually were.

At first I didn’t like the way that all the “good guys” are afraid of harming the “bad guys”.  I mean, if someone is about to kill me, am I really going to care if he accidentally drowns?  At first I though it was just because it was a kid’s book, but they do have their reasons and I get it now.  I think the ending (no spoilers) finally put me at peace with that idea.

My previous post about the first MBS book referenced that it gave me the Harry Potter feeling I’ve been searching for.  Having read Half-Blood Prince and this in the same week, I think I may have been mistaken.  They are fantastic books, but nothing gives me that Harry Potter feeling but Harry Potter.

Looking forward to the third in the series this fall and highly encourage anyone who has not yet done so to give The Mysterious Benedict Society a chance.

Harry Potter cake

Emily’s post about her Harry Potter cupcakes reminded me of the Harry Potter cake that my friend Susan and I made for Ben’s birthday a few years ago.  We originally had grand plans for the design, but eventually settled on what you see below.  In the interest of full disclosure I should add that I had very little to do with the cake other than encouragement.  Susan did most of it and another of her friends actually did the final design.  But I did a very good job eating it.

Random Pics 2006 006