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Not All My Friends Are Dead!

I will never grow out of being completely excited to receive packages in the mail. Surprise packages are even better!
HERE'S THE MAIL

Lookie what my friend Cassie sent me this week! All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen & Jory Jon. It’s so morbidly delightful.

All My Friends Are Dead

Cassie is a sweet friend that Blogs at What Momma Does. This is a girl that gives & gives & always has an ear (& hilarious gifts) for her friends. She came to visit me once & we spent an hour laughing at funny greeting cards in a shop.

My life is better for having Cassie in it.

And not just because of her potato soup recipe.

February Book Wrap-Up

I made a goal to do more reading in 2014. I don’t have a set goal, like 50 books in a year, or anything, but over the years I’ve noticed I was reading complete books less & less often. Pretty shameful, for a librarian…

I also have enough social media sites to manage, so instead of keeping Goodreads updated, I’m keeping a running spreadsheet of the books I read in 2014 & blogging about them here.

In January, I read 9 books. In February… I didn’t read for 3 weeks. I don’t know really know what happened, I wasn’t busier than in the previous month. Part of the problem was that the last book of the series I read last last month was really, really awful (like, CHAPTERS about a 13-year-old girl working as a prostitute & it “not being a bad life for her”, awful). I couldn’t make myself read any more of it, then I just didn’t read anything else until the last week of February. What the hell, Piers Anthony?

I still read 5 books, bringing me to 14 (& a 1/2, counting the terrible rapey book) novels for the year, totaling 3823 pages + 1 audio book. I’m starting to feel like a real librarian, with the reading & all. 😉

bookimage

In February 2014, I read:

And Eternity (Incarnations of Immortality, Book 7) is the last book of the original series. It’s worth reading if you read & enjoyed the earlier books. Under a Velvet Cloak (Incarnations of Immortality, Book 8) is the terrible child-rapey Piers Anthony book, written over a decade after the other books. Did he get all gross & dotty in his old age? Under a Velvet Cloak honestly made me regret ever recommending On a Pale Horse to people, even though it’s a really fun, solid fantasy novel.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story came to my attention because I read that it’s author, Ned Vizzini passed away in December & had written some of the most popular YA books of all time. I am screening books for this summer’s teen book club at work & wanted to check it out. This semi-autobiographical book based on the author’s own stay in a psychiatric treatment facility is a very accurate look into suicidal thoughts & depression, especially what a teen goes through. I can’t really speak to how accurate a representation of being in a psychiatric hospital it is.

I don’t know if I should really give this spoiler, because it very much colored how I processed the book, but it’s part of a very important dialog. Ned Vizzini is dead. After over 15 years fighting the depression he so clearly describes in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, he ended his pain by jumping off a roof. It’s heartbreaking. There’s so much to talk about here.

Who would I want to read this book? EVERY single person who believes suicide is “the easy way out” or for “weak people” or for “selfish people”. Or family of people who deal with cyclical thoughts & depression. I’m not sure I could in good faith put it in the hands of someone who deals with this level of depression, especially if they know how the story really, truly ends. It kind of put me in a dark place, myself. But it’s such valuable work.

Now on to The Fault in Our Stars. Oh, what a book. This is another YA book I’m screening for the teen summer reading book list.

The Fault in Our Stars is beautiful. Sad, but in a true way. Not manipulative or shallow, nor at the expense of joy, or humor.

The book is about terminal cancer, but it’s not Stepmom. It doesn’t just go for cheap shots, rubbing salt in easy wounds to illicit a big teary response. It’s clever, with characters that you love because they’re fleshed out & you’re invested in them. They’re smart & they don’t WANT you to love them, or cry for them, or pander to them.

It is the truest & most natural teen dialog I have ever read. Laugh-out-loud lines, giggle-inducing lines, heart-stopping lines.

The Fault in Our Stars doesn’t follow the formula books about kids with cancer follow. Great, because I HATE that formula. Why do they DO that?! It’s not for people with cancer that they write these emotionally-manipulative shallow stories, kids with cancer know what’s on their plate. And if it’s for the general public, then we’re pathetic. Kids with cancer aren’t a story you can read so you FEEL something. I have shit tons of feelings every day, many of which are pretty awful. I don’t WANT to be gut-punched by cliches, cry until I’m sick, then just close the book & go on my way. I don’t want kids with cancer to dance for me, so I can feel something.

Do read it. You’ll cry, but it’s worth it. I don’t even want to say anything more.

The links in the post are Amazon Associate links & I receive a percentage of sales made after clicking those links. My opinions aren’t biased by this. All proceeds received from my Amazon Associate account go towards the kids’ homeschooling materials & supplies.

Why The LEGO Movie is the best family movie of the year

We took the whole family to see The LEGO Movie last week & boy did we have a great time!

It was seriously the best family movie I’ve seen in years. Here’s 10 reasons why The LEGO Movie is the best family movie of the year!

My son brought Little Emmet to see his big movie with him!

My son brought Little Emmet to see his big movie with him!

1: It’s a multi-generational movie. My husband played with LEGO. I played with Lego. My son REALLY, REALLY plays with LEGO. We’re a LEGO family.

We all enjoyed this movie together. Like doubled-over-laughing enjoyed it.

2: This is a gender-neutral movie. The lead is a boy, but the ACTION doesn’t start until the girl gets there. And she doesn’t sit in a castle, rubbing her minifigure claws together pining for a prince.

3: The cast. Chris Pratt from Parks & Rec plays the lead. Liam Neeson plays Good Cop/Bad Cop. Allison Brie plays UniKitty, a cat/unicorn combo, BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE DOES! The cast is amazing. Amy Poehler’s ex-husband Will Arnett plays Batman. Nick Offerman! *forgets what she was saying, due to mustache-enduced swooning*

4: The movie was really clean. No sex jokes! Sometimes kids’ movies try to appeal to adults by adding innuendos. I hate that. Stop it. If you can’t go 90-minutes without a sex joke, you need to reevaluate things.

5: The references! There’s a reference in this movie for everyone. From riffing on LEGO series that didn’t take off, to history, to pop culture over the last 40+ years, to super heroes, to HARRY POTTER REFERENCES…

6: The music, by Mark Mothersbaugh, of DEVO or Rugrats fame, depending on your age, sticks in your head in a cute, chipper, inside joke way.

You could say it was AWESOME.

7: The morals: You don’t have to follow the directions. In fact, life’s more awesome if you don’t.

Secondary moral: Mom? Dad? Relax. Let your kid’s imagination guide you. Don’t be a Micro-Manager. (My husband & son would’ve rather the movie didn’t have the sentimental live-action part of the story, but still loved the movie.)

8: The details. The movie is made up of… Lego parts! The whole hour & a half, my son was squinting at the screen, deconstructing how they were making it happen. The muzzle flash when they fire their blasters? It’s the 3-prong flower stems (Part 3741!). My first comment leaving the theater? “We’re going to have to buy that, so we can pause it 100,000 times, because I did not catch everything!”

9: The LEGO Movie celebrates creativity. It sparks it. It ignites it. It causes hours of quiet play on my livingroom floor, creating:

10: The reason The LEGO Movie is the best family movie of the year is that it’s been weeks since we watched it & we’re still talking about it, playing out scenes from it, giggling at the jokes, and singing EVERYTHING IS AWEEESOMMMME! The online hype wasn’t wrong this time. Yeah, it’s a great big ad for LEGO & the kick-butt girl character is a bit of an angry-girl trope, but she’s still head & shoulders above what they could’ve done with her. It brought us together & I heard somewhere that everything is cool when you’re part of a team. 😉

Refreshed Perspective

I was doing a lot of running around in town the other day, for my boy. We took him to see The LEGO Movie & he fell in love with the little blind packs of minifigures you can get from the movie.

He very rarely asks for anything specific, the last time was Christmas 2008, when he asked for discontinued Teen Titan toys, so I was going full Super (Crazy) Mom, looking for these dang things & everyone was sold out. We live 20 miles out of town & there’s no “Just hop to the store for one thing”.

As I crossed to the opposite corner of the town, I thought “Man, I’m hungry, my husband’s almost off work, but I have 2 more stops. I wish I lived in town, so I could finish this up later.” But I can’t because of how far out of town we live. I was tired & grumbling & cranky at the world.

I checked the last 2 stores & decided there was no way I was going to cook dinner when I finally got home, so I stopped at the grocery store that’s next to the exit to the highway, grabbed a chicken meal & got in line.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy looking at me, it gave me a weird vibe, but not a dangerous one, so I didn’t think much of it. Until he said “HEY! I haven’t seen you since high school!”

I have no freaking clue who this guy is, but he gets in line behind me, so I’m stuck. He’s got an adorable little boy with him & I make small talk with the kid & ignore the guy while the checker rings me up. As I’m trying to swipe my card, the dude says “Man, you sure new how to party.”

Yeah. I knew how to party 17 years ago. Yep. That’s why I have a kid that’s about to turn 16!

I paid, grabbed my bags & headed for the door, hurrying through the parking lot because I didn’t want to get stuck chatting in the parking lot with this guy that remembered me as I was at 17.

That’s when I thought, “Thank fucking God I don’t live in town.”

Sometimes life gives you reminders that you live the way you do for a reason. For me, my desire not to hear “You sure knew how to party!” like I’m still defined by my teen years in a small town, is much stronger than my desire for speedy shopping.

Ick! I was really struck by how the thoughts juxtaposed each other. I enjoyed every long mile of the drive back home to my podunk town on the edge of nothing, even if the trip was a total Lego-man failure.