A Revelation

Today, I discovered that a Facebook friend of one of my Facebook friends is named – wait for it – Leviticus. This, I have determined, is the Best. Thing. Ever. And so I took it to Google Chat. (Because goodness knows I can’t have a conversation with my husband, who is two rooms over, in person when we’re both sitting in front of computers.)

ME: Can we name a kid Leviticus?

RYAN: Of course we can.

ME: Leviticus Baker. That’d be a boy, I reckon. And we could have a girl named Corinthians Baker… call her Cora… [pause for stroke of genius] She could be twins: First and Second Corinthians.

RYAN: That’s just excessive. I’ve vetoing Corinthians.

ME: Not with that grammar you aren’t. Okay, you can veto Corinthians, but then we get to name one Deuteronomy.

RYAN: Okay, we can bring Corinthians back. Cora is better than Deuter.

ME: I think I draw the line at Haggai, though. And Lamentations is a bit… Appalachian. Probably.

RYAN: I like it.

ME: You do? Lamentations Baker?

RYAN: It’s perfect.

ME: Better than Deuter? He’d have so much fun in middle school!

RYAN: Lamentations is the best ever.

ME: Okay, so we’ll have Leviticus, and the Corinthians twins, and Lamentations. Kid #4 can be Jude. [pause to check math] I guess that’d be kid #5.

RYAN: Jude?

ME: What, you’re okay with Lamentations but you don’t like Jude?

RYAN: I’m just curious if that’s short for something…

ME: It is short. It would have to be a very insignificant kid. It’s only one chapter long.

RYAN: Short for what?

ME: Short for a book of the Bible. Most are longer than one chapter. [send link]

RYAN: I’m not sure that I’d ever heard of the book of Jude before.

ME: Well, if you’re vetoing Jude, then what do you suggest for kid #5? Ecclesiastes? Habakkuk? I’m sorry, but that one just sounds like a hairball.

ME: BTW, I am so totally blogging this conversation.

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Reading, Rainbow

One of the nice things, for me at least, about being gloomy is that I get a lot of reading done. Some people, I’m sure, turn to controlled substances; I turn to escapist fiction. 🙂 I’d committed to reading 75 books this year through Goodreads, and have already made my way 26% toward my goal. Of course, the books weren’t exactly the most intellectually challenging ever:

reading2011

This collection of book covers is generated automatically by Goodreads, and is arranged from most recently read (top left) to first read in 2011 (bottom right). You’ll see that I started off the year in a mad dash to wrap up the Ender and Bean series (serieses? what the heck do you do with that plural? serii?) by Orson Scott Card. (Still trying to track down a copy of First Meetings so that I can put the series to rest, at least until the new book comes out.) I re-read Night with my class, took a couple of little detours into COMPLETELY RANDOM LAND (i.e., True Grit and Bishop Blackie), and read Lives on the Boundary for a class.

NOTE TO SELF: There ought to be another for-class book up there, but there were disasters. So yeah, I may be in deep trouble with my grad class this time. I did so love that 4.0…

I picked up the Parasol Protectorate series (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless) and was initially underwhelmed, but then got wrapped up in it enough that I’m dying while waiting for book #4 to emerge. I stumbled upon a used copy of Briar Rose and fell in love; I bought a $4 copy of a book about roller derby and enjoyed that pretty well, too. I finally finished the audio book of Life As We Knew It – easily one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read, I think, which is something considering it’s YA – and made a second tentative step back into the world of science fiction with John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and sequel. (I just checked out the third book from the library and am excited to read it… so far, so good.) And then, curious about a much-hyped YA post-apocalyptic dystopia series, I read and am reserving judgment on Gone and Hunger. They’re good, and I want to know what happens next – but the hype, it is too hype-y.

Right now, I am splitting my time between behaving and escaping with the following:

reading2011currentThe two yellow books are for classes; the one with the saxophone is as clear as mud and as dense as bricks, but it makes me feel smart (except when it’s making me feel dumb), so that’s something. The one on the far left is actually pretty interesting, for a bunch of short pieces about teaching developmental writing. The Jack book is another adult/modern retelling of a fairy tale, in the same series as Briar Rose, and so far I’m quite liking it. It reminds me of Emma Bull’s urban fantasy, which is a very, very good thing. There’s not nearly enough of it to go around. And finally, Princess Academy is my current “listen while commuting” pick. I don’t tend to pick very challenging audio books – YA is just right, neither too tough nor too juvenile – because I’m trying to listen to them at 7 AM while not yet awake, and at 5 PM while trying to stay awake. This one is a “full cast” recording, which means that there’s a different voice actor for every character instead of a single reader. Jury’s still out on that one; I’m not a very audio-capable person (world’s biggest understatement) so any sort of audio recording challenges me, and the multitude of voices actually seems to make this a bit tougher. We’ll see.

I wanted an excuse to make this entry’s title “reading rainbow,” so here you go: You should join the Rainbow Delegation and get a free wristband and wear it. And then you should tell me how likely it is to get in trouble at my workplace if I ask around  about starting a GSA. I don’t have job security yet, but if the legislature has its way I’ll never get it…

Review: Going in Circles

Going in CirclesGoing in Circles by Pamela Ribon
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Charlotte, a miniature-making tech writer, marries Matthew, an lawyer with OCD. Five months later, their marriage is over – but it can’t seem to just die and let Charlotte move on with her life. Instead, she finds herself caught in an anxiety-inducing maelstrom of insecurity, guilt, questions, and uncertainty. So Charlotte does what any reasonable woman ought to do under such circumstances: she becomes a roller derby girl.

Going in Circles is a bit as though you took the movie Whip It and recast it, substituting a thirty-year-old for Ellen Page’s alleged seventeen-year-old protagonist. Well-developed characters and a pleasant, strong voice make this a lovely little read, especially for any woman who has wondered whether the life she’s living is the life she’s meant to have. The supporting cast is almost as three-dimensional as the main characters; I suppose robust characterization is often a feature of well-written “chick lit” (after all, we chicks are supposed to be all into people and relationships) but hey, I’m not going to look a gift book in the mouth.

I actually found this book new for $3.99 at Hastings, so if you’re interested and live in the vicinity of such an establishment, look at the racks of bargain books for a trade paperback with a prone roller skater on the cover. The skates in the cover art don’t accurately reflect derby skates, of course; grown women rarely “break their damn ass” while wearing polite little white rink skates. 🙂 You’ll laugh out loud at least twice while reading this one, and you might get a little misty too, if you’re so inclined. Regardless, I think it’s worth taking for a spin.

PS: As the reviewer blurbs promise, it will likely make you entertain fantasies of roller derby, too. I’m about 90% convinced that I would love it, but the other 10% keeps running film of my fingers getting crushed under someone’s skates, and my lifelong horror of injury to my hands kicks in. Dang it, parents! Why didn’t you get me hockey lessons instead of piano lessons? 😉

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* I am totally kidding about the piano lessons, Mom.

Review: Briar Rose

Briar RoseBriar Rose by Jane Yolen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an extraordinary story. I can’t believe I’d never read this before.

Yolen rolls back the iconic story of Sleeping Beauty to its roots – long before Disney or even the Victorian age – when it was a much darker, much grimmer (no pun intended) tale. Then, instead of going the predictable route and writing a fantasy novel, she overlays the fairy tale with a story about a woman tracing her ancestry back to the darkest parts of the Holocaust. The result is a gripping historical fiction novel that not only captivates the imagination but teaches about parts of the Holocaust that are seemingly forgotten.

The first 2/3 of the book go back and forth between the childhood and adulthood of Becca, the protagonist and granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. The childhood vignettes trace the grandmother’s telling and retelling of her version of Sleeping Beauty. As an adult, Becca is sifting through the mystery that her grandmother left behind after her death, trying to understand who she really was. Her quest takes her to a Polish concentration camp, from which no woman ever escaped – and yet which seems to be the beginning of her grandmother’s story. The last third of the book takes us back to WWII, showing the Holocaust through the eyes of a “pink triangle” prisoner. I won’t go into more detail lest the ending be spoiled.

Briar Rose is, on top of everything else (historical fiction, geneaological quest story, fairy tale retelling) a delicately lovely romance on multiple fronts. Romantic love, filial love, courtly love – all play a role.

This is technically, I believe, a YA book. I just finished re-reading Night and love the idea of offering this as an optional supplementary book, particularly for girls who may have been put off by the predominant male point of view of Night, but a teacher would need to tread lightly as the material in the last third of the book is, at times, rather adult in nature. It certainly taught me things I’d never learned about the Holocaust, and illuminated a window into a survivors’ perspective that I’d never considered. Although I’ve only watched parts of it, I believe this book would also make an excelltnt companion piece to the movie Defiance.

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