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Best Books of 2011

December 31, 2011

I wish I’d kept a better list of books I’ve read this past year; I only blog about some of them, and not always the best ones. I’m having trouble coming up with even a handful of books to put on my “best of” list, and I think that’s only partially due to my poor memory. Here are the ones that come to mind:


The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear

Patrick Rothfuss

Fantasy series featuring an arrogant, yet surprisingly likable, magician.


The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to  the Nation
M.T. Anderson

Young adult historical fiction set during the Revolutionary War era, exploring racial eugenics.


Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese

Dramatic and engaging story of twin brothers who grow up and become surgeons, like the father who abandoned them, as revolution threatens their Ethiopian homeland.


When You Reach Me
Rebecca Stead

Part mystery, part science fiction middle grade Newbery Medal winner.


Wizard’s First Rule
Terry Goodkind

First book in the (long) Sword of Truth series. I’m hesitant to recommend this one, though I can’t deny that I got caught up in it and had trouble putting it — and then the second book (Stone of Tears) — and now the third (Blood of the Fold) — down. But I only recommend it/them for fantasy lovers.


Well, that’s all I can think of. A little shabby, I admit. What’s on your best books of 2011 list?

My year in pictures

December 30, 2011

national conference

spring break visit to future brother- and sister-in-law

grad school graduation


lazy summer

lovely fall


thesis chapter published


Here’s to a great 2012: some big changes up ahead, including a (probable) move, (hopeful) new job, and (possible) wedding. A little nervous, and a lot excited!

Five Things Breaking Dawn Got Right

December 7, 2011

There is plenty to complain about with the Breaking Dawn movie, but let’s focus on the positive this time, shall we? Five things Breaking Dawn got right:

1. Bella’s appearance while pregnant. It’s one thing to read about Bella slowly starving to death, her spine breaking, and all of the other lovely effects of her pregnancy, but it’s another thing to see it. While the movie could have downplayed these effects (like it did with Bella’s honeymoon bruises – something not done well), it makes a point of showing Bella as gaunt, skeleton-like, with protruding bones and sickly skin and highlighting her near-death state. She looks terrible. Just as she should. Hopefully young women will see this side of the story and realize, hey, that’s not so romantic after all.



2. Jacob’s reaction to the name Renesemee. I don’t remember exactly what he said, and I don’t have a photo, but it went something like this:


3. Jacob’s vision of future Renesmee. By allowing Jacob to have a vision of Renesemee as a young women (not what happens in the book)the movie makes his imprinting slightly less disturbing. Slightly.

Love at first sight:





4. The Wedding. Just look at these decorations. The ceremony and reception at the Cullen’s mansion was gorgeous and fitting, given the Cullen’s wealth and Alice’s style expertise.


5. The final shot. Even though possessing supernatural beauty apparently means having thick eyeshadow… and even though I knew this is what the final shot would be… that last image of Bella waking up from the dead was perfect.

Are there others I missed?

Breaking Dawn comes out on Friday! Get your snark on…

November 15, 2011

In honor of the Breaking Dawn release, links to my two favorite Twilight critics:
Alex Reads Twilight – British guy summarizes Twilight, chapter by chapter. Get ready to laugh out loud.

Reasoning with Vampires – Awesome editor picks Twilight apart, page by page. Get ready to be amused and to improve your understanding of writing.

(c) Reasoning with Vampires

Venturing into new book territory…

September 18, 2011

A whole summer gone by, and nary a blog post! Please forgive me. I’ve been busy with new reading material…

What I Read This Summer

September 14, 2011

Getting Things Done
David Allen

I’m always trying to be more organized, and I would recommend this book, even though it’s old (2002, I think) and a lot of it is common sense. But there are some good tricks and tips that I’m taking away from it, and that’s worth it to me.

Jonathan Franzen

Not nearly as good as I expected. Almost tedious to get through at times. And I hate the cover.

Jennifer Connolly
(YA Historical Fiction / Fantasy)

Also not as good as I’d expected, from all the buzz I’d heard about it. Good, if you have it lying around. Maybe not worth going out and getting.

When You Reach Me
Rebecca Stead

Wonderful, surprising story. 2010 Newbery Medal winner.  Great for upper elementary / middle school readers, but I really liked it, too. Draws on Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time — pair these two for young readers.

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
Todd Burpo
(Nonfiction / Inspirational)

Just couldn’t quite swallow it. I’m sure the author fully believes his son’s story and has entirely good intentions. But he’s a pastor, so he also has an agenda.

The Name of the Wind
Patrick Rothfuss

Going into this without high expectations, I really enjoyed it. I’ve requested the second book in the trilogy through the library.

The Night Watch
Sarah Waters
(Historical fiction)

Liked it, didn’t love it. Shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker. GLBT relationships.


Sarah Waters
(Gothic Fiction)

Liked this one better, though not as much as The Little Stranger, which many readers prefer. Some good twists, although almost too many — sometimes caught myself anticipating the twists rather than engaging in the story. GLBT.

Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese

Heard great things about this book and was not disappointed. Recommend.

I’m going to be published!

June 20, 2011

Coming to you this fall (or maybe winter, but hopefully fall)…

So, what’s the big deal about this book? One of the chapters is my first masters thesis!

Yep, I’m going to be published!

Theorizing Twilight: Essays on What’s at Stake in a Post-Vampire World
Edited by Maggie Parke and Natalie Wilson

From McFarland’s site:

Since the publication of Twilight in 2005, Stephenie Meyer’s four-book saga about the tortured relationship between human heroine Bella Swan and her vampire love Edward Cullen has become a world-wide sensation, inciting screams of delight from loyal fans, sighs of derision from detractors, and fervent pronouncements about what “Team” one is on. Those looking deeper into its pages and on screen can find intriguing subtexts about everything from gender, race, sexuality, and religion. These accessible essays examine the texts, the films, and the fandom, exploring the series’ cultural reach and impact. Aimed at both the casual fan and the careful academic, this thought-provoking collection offers one of the first thorough analyses of the saga, compelling readers to examine more deeply their own reactions to the cultural phenomenon that is Twilight.

My essay is about Bella and some of the other main women in her life–Emily, Esme, Alice, and Rosalie. I look at how the saga denies agency to its female characters, creates a pattern of violence against women, and upholds rape culture myths. I submitted my abstract more than a year ago but I didn’t want to say anything about the book and my essay until it was for sure, for sure going to happen. I was absolutely thrilled that my essay was accepted, and the revisions have been a great process with some wonderful editors. I don’t know much about the other essays, but Maggie and Natalie both do fantastic work and I can’t wait to see the finished product. I’ll let you know when we have a set publication date.

Now, back to work on another Secret Project… which I’ll tell you about when it’s for sure, for sure. Oh yeah, and I’m back from Italy… more on that later 🙂

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