Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

Well, my husband and I are back from Christmasing with my side of the family. The visit was in many ways just what I was hoping.

My biggest hope this Christmas was that my super fantastic homemade present of awesomeness for my brother would come together and be appreciated for what it was. Here's the story on the gift:

A little background first. One of the quirks in my family (my dad's side of the family specifically) is a tendency to hold entire conversations in movie quotes. I'm not entirely sure how this trend began, but I'm sure it's mostly because of my dad's love of movies.

Now one of the movies most often quoted is an old family favorite, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. If you've never seen it (or heard of it), it's a crazy sci fi movie from the 80s. It's also infinitely quotable.

As for the other piece of background info... well, my brother is in a stage of life where he's had a lot of major decisions to make this year. And big choices like that are often difficult.

So in thinking about what to get for my brother, the most appropriate thing to come to mind was a Magic 8 Ball. But while I liked that idea, the idea that came to me immediately after was much better: I'd get a Magic 8 Ball, and then I'd take it to pieces and customize it with my very own answer ball... and on that answer ball I would put quotes from Buckaroo Banzai.

Well, as you can probably imagine, this wasn't particularly easy. I came across pitfall after pitfall. Eventually I succeeded with an X-acto knife, a wooden answer cube, and a whole lot of aquarium sealant, but the process took a lot of time and a lot of trial and error.

But my brother's reaction to the gift was priceless. I had wrapped the ball back up in the original packaging, so he had no immediate reason to suspect that I had made any changes. Then he asked it a question and shook it and looked for the answer... and I watched as his expression went from confusion to disbelief to delight. He quickly shook it again and again to see what other answers it might provide. I think those were my favorite few minutes of Christmas day.

But there were other wonderful moments too. There was the moment I opened my new Kindle and the moment I discovered my stocking was full of more dark chocolate than I thought could exist in one place. (I'm trying very hard not to eat it all at once.)

There were several moments throughout the day when my cousin was reading my book (I finished the second draft before Christmas and gave it to my mom) and she would start laughing or gasp or make some other sound that indicated she was thoroughly engrossed. That was music to my ears.

And there were many moments both on Christmas and throughout the weekend when I simply enjoyed being around my family.

All in all, I have to say it was a pretty fabulous Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2009/2010 Top Books I've Read!

About a year and a half ago I started keeping track of the YA books I was reading. Here's the list of all the YA books I read in 2009/2010. My fifteen favorites are starred. If you're curious about any of these books, I'm happy to answer questions!

Top Picks by Category:

Top 5 Authors:
Diana Wynne Jones
Sharon Shinn
Scott Westerfeld
Meg Cabot
Rosemary Clement-Moore

Top 5 Books that Appeal to Boys:
Un Lun Dun
Percy Jackson
The Graveyard Book
The Hunger Games

Top 5 Books that Appeal to Girls:
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Teen Idol
The Splendor Falls
Summers at Castle Auburn
Wicked Lovely

Top 5 Classic Fantasy:
Poison Study
The Safe-Keeper's Secret
Sabriel (Abhorsen Series)

Top 5 Supernatural Fantasy:
The Splendor Falls
Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely series)
The Iron King
City of Bones

Top 6 Books to Make You Think:
Life of Pi
The Hunger Games
The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Life as We Knew It

Full List:

Laurie Halse Anderson
*Speak [rec]

MT Anderson

Dave Barry
Peter and the Starcatchers

Hilari Bell
The Prophecy

Ann Brashares
*The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series

Herbie Brennan
Faerie Wars 1, 2 & 3

Meg Cabot
*Teen Idol [rec]
Pants on Fire
When Lightning Strikes

Isobelle Carmody
*Obernewtyn Series

Kristin Cashore

Cassandra Clare
City of Bones, City of Ashes

Rosemary Clement-Moore
Prom Dates from Hell
Hell Week
*The Splendor Falls [rec]

Suzanne Collins
*The Hunger Games Series [rec] [Mockingjay rec]

Charles de Lint
The Blue Girl

Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book

Michael Grant

Diana Wynne Jones
*Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, House of Many Ways [rec]
Dark Lord of Derkholm, Year of the Griffin
Deep Secret
The Game
Chrestomanci Series

Julia Kagawa
The Iron King [rec]

Julie Kenner
Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even, Good Ghouls Do

Mindy Klasky
The Glasswright Series

Phoebe Kitanidis

Melissa Marr
Wicked Lovely Series [rec]

Yann Martel
*Life of Pi [rec]

Robin McKinley
Spindle's End
The Hero and the Crown
The Blue Sword

Stephanie Meyer
Twilight Series

China Mieville
Un Lun Dun [rec]

Brandon Mull
Fablehaven 1 & 2

Garth Nix
Abhorsen Series [rec]

Christopher Paolini
Inheritance Series

Mary E. Pearson
*The Adoration of Jenna Fox [rec]

Susan Beth Pfeffer
*Life as We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone [rec]

Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper
Magic Steps

Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass

Rick Riordan
*Percy Jackson Series

Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Angie Sage
Septimus Heap Series

John Scalzi
Zoe's Tale

Sharon Shinn
*The Safe-Keeper's Secret, The Truth-Teller's Tale, The Dream-Maker's Magic
General Winston's Daughter
Summers at Castle Auburn [rec]

Maria V. Snyder
*Poison Study [rec]

Maggie Stiefvater

Heather Tomlinson
Toads and Diamonds

Scott Westerfeld
*Uglies Series
Midnighters Series [rec]
Peeps, The Last Days
So Yesterday

Gabrielle Zevin
*Elsewhere [rec]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Life Form!

I've been working steadily on draft two of the novel and (more recently) on a creative Christmas gift for my brother, so I haven't had much chance to update here lately.  But this was just too good to pass by without linking, particularly after this post: