Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is special. I'd even dare to call it perfect. I realize that this is highly subjective; that there will be someone who won't share the same opinion as me. But when you read such a book, it stays on your mind and you want to tell all you meet.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is such a book.

Though I don't usually post reviews, I wanted to share my enthusiasm for Monster, especially since I haven't seen many reviews of this book around the blogosphere. Trust me...this is a gem of a novel. One that I will buy in hardcover and be proud to add to my collection of favorites.

A Monster Calls is the extraordinary tale of Conor, a 13-year-old boy, dealing with a painful truth, as he tries to handle living with his mother who is undergoing cancer treatment. Now wait a minute. If you're thinking, "Yeah. This is not my kind of book. It will be too sad and depressing," may I suggest that you give this book a chance (and trust me, you'll only need the first chapter). Not only did I fall in love with Conor, but I was fascinated by the monster "that comes walking" to visit him.

Okay, that's all I'm going to give away about the story line. But let me share one more thought. Most of you have probably read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (and if you haven't, why not? this is one of the most amazing books ever written...ahem, but I digress. sorry for the opiniated aside) and most you remember how you felt when you finished that novel. When I first heard that The Book Thief was about a girl living in Nazi Germany who steals books, I put off reading it because I thought it would be too depressing and not really my kind of book (whatever "my kind of book" actually means). After many recommendations, I finally borrowed it from the library, became completely immersed in Liesel's story, smiled and cried as I read it,  hugged it tightly to my chest when I finished, and declared it one of my all time favorite books.

A Monster Calls is a very different story, but it had the same effect on me. In my humble opinion, every word is perfect, every illustration is perfect. Words that come to mind are powerful, haunting, and yes, sad.

But every word, every tear is worth it. Read it. You won't be sorry.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Walk Like A Zo-om-bie

It's not the B-side to the Bangles', "Walk Like an Egyptian." Though now that tune will be on replay in my head all day.

But if you find yourself feeling like the undead, or exhibiting 1 or more of the following zombie-like symptoms this morning...

  1. eyes swollen shut and/or dark circles under your eyes
  2. shuffling around the kitchen or workplace
  3. uttering unintelligible moans that sound something like cooooffeeee
  4. an unnatural craving for your neighor's, spouse's, workmate's brains
(scratch that last one. if you do have an appetite for innards then you may want to examine where you've been sleeping lately.)

...don't panic! The acopolypse isn't here just yet. It's only...


Give yourself a couple of days to adjust and in no time you'll be back to feeling your normal early morning exhaustion.

But until then enjoy the extra hour of daylight today. Here in the northeast, the temps will be flirting with 70 degrees this afternoon. My advice on how to eliminate that zombie state of being is to get out there and bask in the beautiful sunshine, or if you're like me, open a window and take a nap.

How do you handle daylight savings time? Love it or hate it?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mourning A Piece of My Childhood

Last week was long and exhausting: work, anxiety over college forms, and tackling projects around the house. But I was able to work through it with patience, diligence, perseverance, and even a few tears.

What I didn't expect to deal with last week was mourning the death of one of my first crushes...Davy Jones.

Over the past few days I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos of Davy which has brought back many memories of my adolescence. I  loved watching reruns of the Monkees during the 70s. Although the band was created for the television show, something I didn't know at the time, I instantly fell for the shorter Monkee with the dark, bowl cut hair, cute dimples, and British accent. Oh, that accent! I don't remember how old I was exactly when I discovered the Monkees, somewhere in the 10 to 12 range. I loved their zany antics and catchy songs. But the only one who set my heart a flutter was Davy.

What I'm going to write next will undoubtedly sound goofy to some, (though I suspect not to my female readers) but remember my age at the time.  Forget the boy (another Dave) in my 4th grade class who shot 'i love you' notes across the room with elastics to get my attention. He even had a similar hairstyle - bowl cut around the ears (it was the 70s, folks). Wasn't interested. Most of the boys I knew either acted weird, ignored me, or teased me. Alex liked to point out that I walked funny. Richie thought it was funny to ask me, "Why don't you ever talk? And what's on your forehead? (pimples)"

Watching Davy on that silly TV show stirred something inside me. Around this time I started taking tenative steps away from childhood and toward young adulthood, experiencing feelings that were both confusing and exciting at the same time. I began to think, Hey, maybe boys aren't that bad after all. Maybe kissing a boy wouldn't be that bad (if he looked like Davy). Maybe the Monkees will come to my town someday, like they sing in the opening song, and I'll get to meet him! Yes, I was a bit of a daydream believer.

Leif couldn't do it.
Donny didn't do it.
Shawn? Uh uh.

But Davy? He could and did.
Davy was cute, fun, had a smile that lit up the room, could sing, and did I  mention his accent?

Rest in peace, dear Davy. Thanks for the sweet memories.

Tell me about your first adolescent crush.