Drawing on the Wrong Side of the Brain

Earlier this week, this fun set of drawing pencils arrived at my house.

It was waiting for me when I got home from work, and after the kids were in bed and Tony had left for his weekly Euro-gaming night, I opened it up and looked at everything in it. It seemed like an awful lot of different pencils, all marked with cryptic number and letter combinations.  I tried out a few, noting how the softer lead of some of them slid onto the paper so effortlessly. The charcoal looked fun too, but I’ve always hated how chalk or pastels feel in my hands, and had no desire to get black all over myself, although that eventually happened anyway, since I just had to try smudging the pencil lines with my fingers to see how the different hardnesses of graphite reacted. read more

My Top 20 Books

My Top 20 Books

You know that Facebook thing that’s been going around where people tag you and you have to list your top ten books? Well, I was waiting and waiting to get tagged. I finally did a couple of days ago (thank you, Jared) but by then the number had ballooned to 20 books. Which I guess is OK, because I had a hard time as it was narrowing it down to just 20. And I didn’t think I could just post a list without explaining what each and every book meant to me. So it got too long for a Facebook status, and ended up on my blog. Here, in no particular order, are my top 20 books: read more

Game of Thrones, Falling in Honey, Bigger on the Inside, and Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Lives and Times

Game of Thrones, Falling in Honey, Bigger on the Inside, and Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Lives and Times

It’s been a while since I published a book review. As is probably obvious, I spend most of my discretionary time these days watching Doctor Who. It’s still not clear whether my infatuation will eventually burn itself out, or develop into a lifelong love affair. Of course I am hoping for the latter–doesn’t everyone who’s in love want it to last forever? In the meantime, I just signed my daughter up for an online homeschooling class entitled Traveling Through History With Doctor Who, because who doesn’t need another excuse to watch a Doctor Who episode every week and then write papers and do projects relating it to history, science, literature and ethics? read more

Silence in the Library

As per our usual Saturday routine, I took the children to the library this morning. Upon walking in the door, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a book sale going on in the Book Nest, our library’s resident book store. It was one of those $3 per bag sales that I absolutely love, because I don’t have to weigh the relative merits of each book–I simply have to concentrate on stuffing as many books as possible into my allotted grocery bag. I’ve become quite an expert at this. Here’s my haul for today: read more

Exciting News!

You know all those times people told me I should write a book about our international adventures? Well, last week I indie published my very first book. Here it is:

Paradise Interrupted: Romantic Adventures Backpacking Across the Philippines, Baby in Tow by Sarah Bringhurst

It’s available on Amazon for Kindle here. Check it out!

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Voices, City of Bones (Ashes, and Lost Souls), Under the Never Sky and Graceling

Despite the fact that I have spent a fairly obscene amount of time watching Doctor Who during the past several weeks, I have managed to get a little reading in too. Stay tuned later for my review of Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside, which I currently have on hold at the library. But in the meantime,

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I quite loved this book. Yep, it was violent. And quite disturbing. But the characters were so very compelling to me. Especially Lisbeth Salander. She’s a person whom society has completely failed, who is in an incredibly vulnerable position. And yet she refuses to be a victim. She transcends her circumstances and refuses to be defined by what has been done to her. In fact, not only does she tackle everything life throws at her with incredible courage and resourcefulness, but she is also a champion of justice and defender of the helpless. read more

The Red Tent, Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin, The Mists of Avalon, and A Song for Arbonne

Yes, more book reviews! Here are a few incisive feminist retellings from the Bible, Arthurian legend, and the Age of Chivalry. As well as a funny and heart-wrenching memoir about being single in the Mormon Church.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The core of this book is one of those disturbing and troublesome stories in the Bible that we don’t tend to talk about much–like the time Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law got pregnant and he wanted to burn her alive, but then it turned out that he was the one who had impregnated her. Or the time Lot hospitably offered to give his virgin daughters to the mob of rapists outside his door. Or the time the nameless female actually is shoved outside to appease the mob of rapists, and ends up being raped to death and then dismembered. read more

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Across the Universe, Champion, and All Our Yesterdays

Hurrah for YA speculative/dystopian fiction. There’s nothing like remembering you are no longer full of teenage angst, nor is the world disintegrating as a result of natural disaster, antibiotic resistance, or runaway time travel to improve your day.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was surprisingly good. It’s not often that you run across a YA novel that is both provocative introspective literature and fascinating speculative fiction. If you must have things happen in your books, then this might not be for you, but I loved the slow, pensive unfolding of Jenna’s awareness of herself. I listened to it on audiobook, and the tentative but deliberate tone of the reader really enhanced the mood of the book read more

Insurgent, Allegiant, Legend, Prodigy, One Light Still Shines, Children of Men, and For Darkness Shows the Stars

What do you think about the proclivity of YA authors lately for choosing one-word titles? Did it start with or predate the Twilight craze? I think it’s kind of fun, but will probably have a fairly short shelf life (sort of like how clever one-word URL’s are pretty much unobtainable nowadays).

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book even more than Divergent, I think. It was a little action-packed for me, but there were some introspective moments too. Roth portrayed the effects of trauma on Tris very well. Although the idea that imprisonment, torture, and serving as the subject of experiments with hallucination-inducing drugs was effective therapy for said trauma is a little strange. read more

Oryx and Crake, Gregor the Overlander, The Maze Runner, Solstice Wood, and The Night Circus

Here’s a tip for you: if you’re stressed out and reading to unwind, try to avoid apocalyptic dystopias. Because yeah, things could be worse, but wallowing in just how much worse might not actually make you feel better. Case in point below:

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I hate to give this book a bad rating, since from a literary standpoint it’s likely a masterpiece. But it was so terrifyingly depressing that I could not finish it. Rampant genetic engineering resulting in disaster of the highest order? Check. Society rotted to the core by soulless consumerism? Check. Pandemic introduced by mad scientist? Check. Complete environmental apocalypse? Check. Murder, sexual exploitation of children, and complete extinction of humankind? Check, check, check. read more