Story of a Girl

This is a story about Deanna, a small town girl whose dad caught her in the back seat of an older boy’s car three years prior to the story’s start.  Her life (mostly unfairly) has been defined by that moment ever since, but this is the summer where she begins to move forward, forgiving (sort of) herself and those who hurt her.

It’s well written, with sparkling dialogue, and though I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending, there’s enough hope there that I don’t hate it.  Well worth reading.

Thanks, Mom.  You were right–it is a good book.

 

 

The Left Hand of Darkness

This book immersed me in a world of cold and ice, where devious politics threatened to overwhelm me–and the androgyny of the people seemed among the most normal things about them.

As Le Guin says in her introduction,

Yes, indeed the people in it are androgynous, but that doesn’t mean that I’m predicting that in a millennium or so we will all be androgynous, or announcing that I think we damned well ought to be androgynous.  I’m merely observing, in the peculiar, devious, and thought-experimental manner proper to science fiction, that if you look at us at certain odd times of day in certain weathers, we already are.

It’s a testament to the power of Le Guin’s words that I actually read the introduction. Normally I skip such things.  But once started on this one, I couldn’t stop.  The book was lovely, but the introduction has given me food for thought for days.

Thank you, Craig.  Great gift.

Friends

For most of the last year, J. has been extraordinarily lonely, hardly connecting with anyone his own age–but recently, a few friends from school have introduced themselves, and he also seems to be getting along better with B. and K. (Not all the time, and he doesn’t often get along with them both at the same time, but they’re often watching movies, playing computer games, trying out catch, or playing hide-and-seek.) All this seems to make J. a bit happier with his life.

B. seems to be making some new friends as well–he’s found a couple of kindred spirits at the middle school, and though that doesn’t entirely make up for not seeing his old friends as much as he’d like to, it’s making his transition to the new environment go about as well as it possibly could.  There are rough spots, but it is middle school, after all.

K.’s new friends moved right into the neighborhood.  They’re from a wonderful family a couple of houses down from ours, and though the kids are a bit younger than K., they all seem to get along.  In fact, it may even be good that they’re younger–a lot of K.’s same-age friends are beginning the craziness of the preteen/teen years, and occasionally it’s nice for K. to get away from that drama. Maybe when her new friends enter it, K. will be far enough in that she’ll be able to be the stabilizing influence. We can hope.

 

Shanghai Girls

A beautifully-written book about two sisters who are chased from their beautiful life in 1930s Shanghai to the US by their father’s gambling debts and the Japanese invasion.  The characters and setting are very well drawn, and the plot is both enlightening and heartbreaking.  Immigration to this country has never been easy, especially for those who have to deal with racism on top of the trauma of leaving their homeland.

The ending doesn’t give me as much closure as I prefer, but I still found this a very, very good book.

Backyard Shed

We’ve been planning to put up a shed in the backyard for a couple of years now–more as a sort of playhouse than anything else, but we also plan to use it to store bicycles.

We finally got our shed (in a giant kit) about a month ago, and bit by bit, we’ve been putting it up.  J. has helped with almost every step of the process, but B. & K. have also done a fair amount of the work.  We got the roof shingled just in time for it to snow last Monday.

It has been fun to work together and has helped our relationships to have a common goal.  We have the last bit of painting to do (as soon as we get a day that’s warm enough with little wind–and there are adults around to supervise).  Then we may need to think of a new family project.  Because working together seems to be good for us.

Circle of Gold

Recommended to me by K, this is a beautiful tale about a young girl whose family is weighed down by grief, and the lengths that girl will go to to show her mother love and earn her mother’s approval.  It’s more serious than K’s usual fare, and that’s all to the good.  (There’s nothing wrong with cotton candy, but I don’t think it should become a staple of our diet.)  At any rate, this is a good story, well told.  Definitely worth reading (and it takes no time at all if you’re used to adult-length novels).

Outlander

I’ve been meaning to read this for months because one of my critique group members recommends everything by Diana Gabaldon.  And yet, somehow, I hadn’t managed it.  I think I was half afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype.

But it really is that good.  The characters and settings are rich, the plot engrossing, and the romance fresh and satisfying.  I’d read it again.  I might even want to replace my e-book copy with an actual book.

Six Weeks of School Already

I can’t quite believe it either.  Where has all the time gone?I have only one elementary school student these days.  K enjoys walking to and from the school, sometimes with our new neighbors, and she seems to enjoy school.  K recently helped me a bit with my latest novel–reading and giving comments.  She was very encouraging.  And I also loved it when she said, “Anya hates math?  How can anybody hate math?”

B seems to be enjoying his first year in middle school.  He’s making a few new friends and has joined a puzzle-game club.  (He was invited after designing a digital Rubik’s Cube.) On the whole, the transition has gone better than he feared it would.  Hopefully that will continue.

J is handling school reasonably well, also.  At last count, he had thirty-two of the pride tickets they give kids for working hard, being respectful and helping others at school.  He’s also been doing a lot of work at home to help us put up a bike shed/playhouse in our back yard. (The other kids have helped some, too, but J has been out there as often as it’s not raining, working hard.)

So, all in all, we’re doing pretty well.  In fact, we’re worlds away from where we were this time last year.  It’s refreshing.  (Or would be if we didn’t have such a long ways to go yet.)

Tainted Mountain

It’s always fun to read books by the nominees for RMFW Writer of the Year.  Digging into this lighthearted mystery by Shannon Baker was no exception.  The heroine is a great character, and though I figured out the mystery sooner than I’d like, the ending was still a very satisfying (though bittersweet) surprise.  I may try to pick up some more of these.

One Year

It has been a year since we first brought J. into the US.  Quite the year.  I think we’re all feeling a bit exhausted, but it’s also easy to see that we’ve come a long way.  Sometimes it even seems like J. is happy to be with us.

We haven’t had any pictures in awhile, so here’s a few from recent months.

From the Spring

J & K at the Arvada Kite Festival.
Hiking at Eldorado Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From our trip to pick B & K up from their grandparents:

Feeding the Fish
Paddleboat
At the hotel in Kansas City

From our 4th of July Camping Trip

Giant Chess

As you can see, we’ve been managing to have some fun as a family. There are still plenty of tense, angry moments in our home, but we’ve had some good times, too.

J & Tia