December 18, 2014

Currently: The Birthday Edition

Currently // 8:31pm
Enjoying // My new hair cut. Although it's weirding me out when I run my fingers through my hair, and that 10 inches is missing off the end!
Looking forward to // My birthday tomorrow! I'll be 32. Which sounds officially adult-ish. Funny that I still don't feel very grown up sometimes. Does that ever change? (I'm queueing this post up for tomorrow morning, since I will be busy attending Eleanor's preschool Christmas program.)
Reading // The Young Elites by Marie Lu, The Siege Winter by Ariana Franklin, and The Devil is Here in These Hills by James Green. (The latter two will come out in February, I'm working on them for Shelf Awareness.)
Listening to // Serial. I am officially obsessed. I listened to the first 11 episodes in 4 days. I've been suffering withdrawals for the last 2 days. But the final episode is like a birthday present to me, whee!
Watching // Christmas movies with Eleanor -- she's old enough to be into "real" movies this year - we've watched Elf (which I dislike, it makes me cringe!) and The Santa Clause and White Christmas. But of course we've also watched Frosty and Rudolph and Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas.
Chasing // Juliet. Eleanor walked earlier (9 months, as opposed to Juliet's 10), but Juliet is taller. And our new house has lever doorknobs. So she can get into ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. It's seriously exhausting. Hopefully soon we're going to install latches on the pantry and some of the other doors so that I can keep her out of closets/rooms I don't want her in. And not have to pick up all the canisters and towels and dishes and snacks like eight times a day.
Eating // potato pancakes. I don't know why I'm so into them all the sudden. But we've had leftover potatoes lying around a couple of times, and yum! I've also had Christmas cookies for breakfast about five days in a row. Yippee for adulthood, ha! (Although I do have to be pretty sneaky about it, so that Eleanor doesn't catch me.)
Loving // Juliet's animal noises. When you ask her what a dog says she 'woofs', and she does the CUTEST roar when you ask her what a lion says. It makes me so happy.
Currently // 8:52pm

What are YOU currently into? 
Any fellow December birthdays?

December 16, 2014

Christmas Favorites for Re-Reading

The holidays often bring a nostalgic urge to re-read old favorites, especially books with a Christmas setting. Cozy up to one of these classics with a cup of cocoa, and you're guaranteed to feel a little less Grinchy and a little more Kringlely.
Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer is a quintessential country house mystery. Curmudgeonly Nathan Herriard is killed on the eve of Christmas, and nearly all of his guests and relatives are glad he's dead, leaving Inspector Hemingway quite a puzzle to solve.
In Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher, five lonely strangers are drawn together at the holidays. A grieving man, a lonely woman and a teenager on the run are among those who find affection in unexpected ways. A heartwarming story, Winter Solstice is a testament to the power of love.
Connie Willis brings a touch of the bizarre to her collection Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. From alien invasions to secret Santas to the time-traveling appearance of the actual Joseph and Mary in search of an inn, Miracle is a delightfully different twist on a traditional Christmas.
Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig is a romantic holiday romp, featuring Mr. Turnip Fitzhugh (who was not nicknamed for his mental prowess), Miss Arabella Dempsey, teacher at a select young ladies’ seminary, and some French spies who are trying to use the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale's Christmas festivities as a cover for their activities.
If you're looking for a book to enjoy as a family, you can't go wrong with The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, with illustrations by Judith Gwyn Brown. The hilarious hijinks of the terrifying Herdman children (the scourge of the neighborhood), and their shenanigans during a Christmas pageant will keep your children laughing year after year. 
I also have a sneaking fondness for a ridiculously cheesy romance by Emilie Loring called Forever and a Day. I didn't put it in my original Shelf Awareness recommendations because it's kind of embarrassing though.  I'm going to try and reread that one and Winter Solstice this year I think. And of course, I've got to sneak in some rewatching too. While You Were Sleeping and Love Actually are on my list. I've just gotta find some kid-free moments for some movie watching!

How about you? 
Do you reread or rewatch for Christmas?

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December 12, 2014

Musings On Anne: Six Thoughts from My Umpteenth Reread

Musings on Anne of Green Gables: Six Thoughts from My Umpteenth Reread

We read Anne of Green Gables for the YABMC in November, and of course I couldn't stop there. I'm now halfway through Anne's House of Dreams. It's crazy, since I've read the series at least a half-dozen times, and most recently I re-read them all in spring 2011; but I feel like I'm noticing new things again.

  • So much death! Babies die, children are orphaned, daughters have to care for widowed mothers. It's really kind of horrifying when you think about how many people actually die in these books. But L.M. Montgomery presents it so matter-of-factly (and accurately for the era), that it doesn't seem shocking.
  • Family was a big deal. This plays out both positively and negatively. Positively: in spite of all that death, children were cared for, and raised by distant relatives. You could count on family connections to prevent starvation and provide basic needs (although perhaps not actual affection, just 'duty'). 
  • But it was impossible to escape family connections. Mrs. Lynde says something in Anne of the Island about Sloanes being good people, but just unable to overcome their "Sloaneishness" and that sense of family bias (perhaps most noticeable in the Pringles of Sunnyside!) pervades all the books. Which makes you realize just how much Anne stands out as an orphan, without known connections.
  • L.M. Montgomery didn't write the books sequentially (which I learned in this article which someone posted in the YABMC Facebook group). And now that I know it, it's SO glaringly obvious! Anne's House of Dreams picks up right where Anne of the Island left off -- people keep referring to Roy Gardiner, and how they're glad that Anne chose Gilbert Blythe instead, which is super weird considering that for the three years of Windy Poplars she and Gilbert are happily engaged. And then surely she would've invited Rebecca Dew and the widows to her wedding -- except that she hadn't "met" them yet, and those adventures were written later.
  • I relate so much to Anne. I also was a bookish, imaginative kid who talked way too much, and whose tongue got her in a lot of trouble. (And, of course, my middle name is Anne!) While reading Anne of Avonlea I kept laughing, just remembering myself in some very similar situations.
  • Life was a lot of work. Most of the food was actually grown/processed by Marilla, laundry was done by hand, trips into town for supplies could take all day. Thank goodness for modern conveniences!

Have you reread an old favorite recently? 
Are you also an Anne fan?

P.S. A couple of weeks ago a picture of me reading Anne of Green Gables ended up on Buzzfeed, which is super random and funny. (Funnier: it accompanies a story about a mental institution which makes it sound like *I* was in a mental hospital.)