National Poetry Month Tour – Reach for the Horizon

I have been traveling a lot lately, the past four weekends to be exact and I’ll be traveling again this weekend. (Hence the lateness of this post! When I signed up, I was expecting to be home on Sunday night, but we decided to come home a day later.) I have seen thousands of miles of road and I’m craving a quiet weekend at home. Only one more weekend! Fortunately, there’s a poem for everything, so I thought I’d share this lovely one by Charles Tomlinson that expresses my feelings exactly. I wonder if there is some ambiguity at the end, about longing for travel while at the same time savoring in being home? I feel that, too. Against Travel by Charles Tomlinson

These days are best when one goes nowhere,
The house a reservoir of quiet change,
The creak of furniture, the window panes
Brushed by the half-rhymes of activities
That do not quite declare what thing it was
Gave rise to them outside. The colours, even,
Accord with the tenor of the day—yes, ‘grey’
You will hear reported of the weather,
But what a grey, in which the tinges hover,
About to catch, although they still hold back
The blaze that’s in them should the sun appear,
And yet it does not. Then the window pane
With a tremor of glass acknowledges
The distant boom of a departing plane.
Click here to read more of the posts in this month’s National Poetry Month blog tour hosted by the lovely Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit. 

Quotes & Notes: Lexicon by Max Barry




“That’s bullshit! I loved Cecilia!”
“If you say so.”
“I’m being lectured about love by a robot! I’m broken? You’re broken! Tell me what you think love is! I seriously want to know!”
“Okay,” Eliot said. “It’s defining yourself through the eyes of another. It’s coming to know a human being on a level so intimate that you lose any meaningful distinction between you, and you carry the knowledge that you are insufficient without her every day for twenty years, until she drives an animal transport at you, and you shoot her. It’s that.”
Wil watched the road awhile.
“I”m sorry I called you broken,” Eliot said.
“Forget it.”
“Everyone’s broken,” Eliot said, “one way or another.”


Reading the descriptions of Lexicon, and there have been a lot of them because this book was everywhere a few months ago, I thought it would be the kind of book that would be difficult to get into. I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t, not even a little bit. It grabs you and speeds along from page one as you slowly piece together this strange world where words have an almost magical power.

And that’s part of the fun – piecing together the story and how it will fit together in the end, so I won’t tell you too much. There is a mysterious school and a sinister organization run by “poets,” people who take on the names of famous poets throughout history who wield the power of words. Poets must control every aspect of their personality so they can’t be controlled or “compromised” by their words. Showing emotions, desires, wants reveals your inner thoughts and feelings. There is a poet named Eliot who is on the run along with Wil, a man who can’t be controlled by the words, which makes him dangerous to the poets. Finally there is Emily, a drifter and con artist who has nothing to lose and so attends the school, even though she thinks it must be too good to be true, but who does the worst thing you can possibly do there: she falls in love.

Lexicon feels fresh and different, it feels like a smart book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think if I had any complaints about the story it’s that sometimes the world-building felt a little bit on the weaker side, especially if you’re used to reading more complex science fiction and fantasy. I really wanted to know more about the intricate structures of the organization, how the words worked, and what other sinister acts the organization was getting up to. Max Barry is an author I can’t wait to read more from, though. It sounds like his other books, like Jennifer Government and Machine Man, have that same combination of plot-driven satire with sci-fi elements. I certainly wouldn’t complain if he decided to write another book set in the world of Lexicon. Just throwing that thought out into the world!

Quotes & Notes: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor




The real world, already a distant thing – just a crackle of fireworks at horizon’s edge – faded away entirely. A high, sweet thrill sang through Madrigal as if she were a lute string. Akiva took off his gloves and dropped them, and when he touched her, fingertips trailing up her arms and neck, it was with his bare hands. He reached behind her head, untied her mask, and lifted it away. Her vision, which had been narrowed all night to what she could see through its small apertures, opened, and Akiva filled her sight, still wearing his comical mask. She heard his soft exhalation and murmur of “so beautiful,” and she reached up and took off his disguise.

“Hello,” she whispered, as she had when they had come together in the Emberlin and happiness had bloomed in her. That happiness was like a spark to a firework, compared with what filled her now.


I am smitten. I read this book on planes and trains and buses and, yes, sometimes this story was enough to distract me from beautiful rolling hills and glorious mountain countrysides. It’s the kind of book that benefits from having no knowledge going into it. All you really need to know is that it’s a magical, tragic story about an artist in Prague with blue hair and mysterious tattoos.

Laini Taylor’s writing style is so evocative and has poetic flourishes that I just devoured. I am sad that it took me this long to read – I kept confusing it with Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, which I liked, but oh, I loved this one so much more. I’m in awe of Taylor’s imagination and the world she created in Daughter of Smoke & Bone. My heart was Taylor’s puppet: it sang when she wanted it to and broke on command.

I never wanted it to end. I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley, I suppose so they could hook a new reader in advance of the publication of the third book, and I just wanted everyone at Netgalley and Little, Brown to know: your scheme worked. I have already purchased the second book, I’ll be purchasing the first to have in my physical collection, and I’m sure the third will not be far behind.

2014 Travels

When I graduated from high school, my aunt took me on an amazing trip to Spain. I loved it so much, I ended up studying Spanish in college and going back to live for a month five years later. This year, my sister graduated high school, and my aunt took her on a trip to her destination of choice: Ireland. Of course, I hitched along… because how could I not?? That’s why I kind of dropped off the face of the planet for a few weeks. I was so busy at work preparing to leave, then actually leaving for a week, and now it’s taken me a few days to get sorted out and recover from jet lag. I promise I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled programming soon!

I spent 3 days in Ireland, 2 days in Paris, and 1 day in Geneva, then one day traveling back to Ireland to catch my plane back to the States. Everything was amazing! Dublin is a big city that feels like a small town and the Cliffs of Moher are stunning. Plus, I learned a lot about Irish history and came away wishing I knew more about my ancestors who left Ireland and why. Did you know that Ireland still hasn’t recovered population-wise from the Potato Famine? Paris is just like any other big city, and it feels HUGE, but the sites are out of this world. They don’t even look real most of the time. Also… the food. Can we talk about the food? Everything I ate was impossibly good. In Geneva, I got to visit ATLAS at CERN. Did you know that fewer people have seen ATLAS as have climbed Mount Everest? There’s a good fact for you to pull out at parties. I got to see where all the Higgs Boson magic happens. And it was really cool. Mostly I just spent the week in awe of what the world contains and feeling so lucky that I got to see it.


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Quotes & Notes: girlchild by Tupelo Hassman



The letters are sitting right here, bound in dirty string so they can’t come open too easily, so they can’t steal my nights as I look for secrets in their creases. Mama developed Grandma’s preference for onionskin paper too, and felt-tip, I wait for this to happen to me, I’m certain it will. The only way to tell the difference between Mama’s letters and Grandma’s at first glance is that Mama’s stay bundled up so tight the string rips into their pages and Grandma’s are loose and open, all over this table. I keep Mama’s letters closed, keep their edges close together like a cut that needs force to heal. I’m all wrapped up in there, jumbled with her, small i‘s and slashes, her story in my story at every turn. (70)


Oh, girlchild. I finished reading this book earlier this afternoon, but I don’t know how I felt about it. Rory Dawn Hendrix has grown up in the Calle, a trailer park in a town north of Reno, and all she wants, all her mother and grandmother want, is to grow up and get out without making the same mistakes that the women in her family have made before her.

On the one hand, it’s hard to believe in Rory’s voice. On the other? The writing in this book is absolutely beautiful, with a lilt that makes the words sing in a way I find so appealing. This is the story of a lot of ugly things. About what it’s like to grow up poor. About what it’s like to be unable to escape the abuse that is rampant in your community. About what it’s like to want. It’s also about the beautiful things that can be found anywhere, even a place like the Calle. A mother’s love for her child. Hope when it seems impossible to do so. A patchwork carpet made from sample tiles from the carpet store, mismatched and lovely for it.

We bring home another stack of carpet pieces, outdated samples and remnants too short to sell, different-colored, different-styled, different-lengthed, and different-piled, and Mama gets down to it. She cuts the squares precise, the colors blending against the mortar and brick under the woodstove, against the frame of the door, and she mumbles through the nails she holds in her lips, murmurs about this green and that yellow while she hammers them in, and never after that does she ask for my help or advice, and I don’t offer anyway, and as the paydays roll past, our wall-to-wall becomes a reality.

Six pay stubs later and our living room is carpeted in the brightest blues, golds, and violets, patterned and deep. As she’s packing up her tools, Mama is all smiles and says, “See if you can pick a favorite, R.D. I bet you can’t.” I don’t think to question this until I walk across it in bare feet, sink into the plush of this square and that. I don’t think to question this until I imagine doing it myself, deciding what goes with which and making it permanent, believing in my choices enough to pound them with a hammer. (196)

Quotes & Notes: While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

while beauty slept



Is it possible that ten years could pass as one? A single afternoon with Marcus could demand an hour’s telling: the feel of the sun on my face, the looks that passed between us, the things he said to make me blush. Yet I can recount the decade after our parting in a few words: My life carried on, unchanged. Within the castle, day followed day, month after month, the rituals of court unaltered by the passing of time. Yet beyond our walls the shadows gathered. The evil we had sought to hold off for so long swirled inexorably closer, spreading suspicion and panic in its wake. (241)


A few of us at work have started a fairy tale/classic literature retellings book club, which sounds very specific, but it was after reading this post and after we all enjoyed While Beauty Slept. I also happened to be reading the Lunar Chronicles, which I’ll post about soon, so it’s turning into something of a themed reading month for me! If you’re interested in following along at home, the next book we’ll be reading for this book club is called Dark Companion by Marta Acosta, a retelling of Jane Eyre.

While Beauty Slept takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and puts it into a plausible historical context. It begins with Elise as an old woman, overhearing her great-granddaughter telling a story about a witch who casts a spell over a castle, filling it with sleeping sickness, until the princess is woken up by true love’s kiss. Elise, though, knows the true story, the real story of what happened and it has nothing to do with magic.

One of the best things about While Beauty Slept is seeing a fairy tale you know well in a new way. The book can drag on in parts, but it’s worth it to see how the tragedy of Rose, the beautiful princess, and her lady-in-waiting Elise plays out. I also loved that Elise is truly the main character, not just a witness to the “heroine’s” story. Elise herself is the heroine, a woman born of humble means, who uses her intelligence and honesty to become someone important to the queen and her daughter.

The Great TV Re-Watch of 2014

I woke up this morning in a bad mood. Don’t worry, there’s nothing seriously wrong, but let’s just say there have been more than enough mornings when I’ve woken up feeling entirely too cranky. Plus, it’s going to snow a lot tonight. I just don’t have time for that. Every time the bus drives by and I hear their snow tires, my eye twitches.

After reading Ana’s amazing post about Friday Night Lights, I started thinking about all the wonderful shows I’ve watched and how much they mean to me, but I don’t make time for rewatches. And about how nice it would be to just spend some time with the shows I love. So today, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to rewatch my favorite episodes from my favorite shows and just get lost in the story lines and characters again.

I don’t often talk about television here, something I’d really like to change! So I’ll be updating this post throughout the day with my thoughts on my favorite episodes and favorite shows, so I hope you’ll check in. I’m going to start with FNL, just because Ana’s post started this and it’s the show I’ve been thinking about the most. Here’s to not letting a cranky mood rule your day.

Friday Night Lights S1, E10 – “It’s Different For Girls” 

I decided to rewatch this episode because I wanted something from the latter half of season 1, and Ana brought it up in her post. Plus, it made its way on a few “Best of FNL” lists. I forgot how wonderful this show is at bringing levity to an episode that otherwise might have just been heartbreaking. I found myself laughing out loud at Coach Taylor and Tami when Coach was getting a little worked up about Matt dating Julie, including the idea of the “Matt Chat” where he decides to talk to Matt about what is happening, but instead just gives him hours of football games to watch on Saturday. This episode is really about Lyla and how she deals with the fallout when everyone finds out that she cheated on Jason with Tim and it’s brilliant. Friday Night Lights was also so great at doing episodes that grappled with a huge issue like double standards this while making it human and so far from preachy. There wasn’t nearly enough Tyra for me, or, strangely, enough football, but other than this was a perfect pick.

Friday Night Lights S2, E14 – “Leave No One Behind” 

I only cried three times while watching this episode! I didn’t love this episode as much as “It’s Different for Girls.” As much as I love Tyra, I really don’t like the Landry/Tyra story line. The best stories in this episode were Matt and Smash. Matt is having an all around bad time. Carlotta leaves him to return to Guatemala, Smash is suspended for the rest of the regular season and the entire team is counting on Matt, he is always worried about his grandmother, especially now that Carlotta has left. Matt acting out with Tim and his screaming match with Coach Taylor are the reason to watch this episode. Oh, Matt. You are always so sad. It makes me so happy to think that Matt has a happy, beautiful life ahead of him after the show ends. Then Smash encouraging his team and breaking down after they leave to play – excuse me while I go sob into my coffee.

Roswell S2, E5 – “The End of the World” 

Time travel! Max from the future! I remember loving this episode because of Future Max and present-day Liz and their conversations throughout the episode about the future and their romance. I also love the clothing that Future Max and Future Liz wear. Apparently we wear a lot of leather in 2014. This is also the episode that launched a thousand fanfics, I’m sure. Roswell is one of those shows where I desperately want to know what happened after it ended. If you could get all these actors together and do a show about being a 31-year-old alien I would totally watch it. Does the war happen? Do Max et al ever get back to their home planet? Is their race restored? Or do they create a new one of alien human hybrids? NBC is bringing back Heroes anything can happen. This was a good episode to watch randomly, because ALL THE FEELS. UPDATE: There are novels about what happens after the show ends. I must track them down.

Supernatural S3, E11 – “The Mystery Spot” 

This episode is always on tumblr because it has to do with Tuesdays, so naturally Supernatural fans regularly reblog it on Tuesdays. I had forgotten how just generally upsetting this episode is. It’s funny, sort of, in a devastating, awful kind of way. I guess that’s the show in one sentence?

I took a break to file my taxes.

Veronica Mars, S1 – The last three episodes

I knew it was going to be hard to watch just one Veronica Mars episode. I’ve been meaning to rewatch the whole series before the movie comes out on the 14th, so I might just continue with Season 2 right now.

I think this great re-watch of 2014 was a success. I wasn’t nearly as cranky for the rest of the day as I could have been. I hope you had a lovely, grump-free Sunday, too!

Quotes & Notes: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

the orchardist



Riding in the herd, the sound like one constant, endless sigh; some horses frantic and others calm, some remembering some wrong done to them while others wanted only to sleep, and each struggling with hunger and thirst; some horses pregnant, others desperate to copulate; and all moved forward as one body amid the heat and the dust. The men and Della spaced out and caught among among them like ornaments in a blanket; like disparate thoughts fretting to cohere. The feeling that this would never end, being caught in the herd, heading east or north, west or south, moving for some purpose though that purpose was for the moment lost; the horses – the herd- carried the men at times more than the men guided them. The men were bound by time – they must reach the auction that evening, or the next day – and yet the riding among the horses through the landscape was endless and timeless, distanceless. It made some men – not the ones who were riding, but others, who lived elsewhere, employed in different occupations – desperate; it made Della sink down under the pressing weight of all that time, all that distance – for it was not deficit but surplus experienced between two destinations – and though she felt at times she could not move, because of the pressing weight, she also felt placed. Ensconced. Safe.


The Orchardist is the kind of historical, lyrical novel that is appealing to me at the moment. It is a book that is executed beautifully, with lovely language that reflects the chaos of the horse herds and the quiet of the orchards in the same book. Talmadge, who lives alone at the apple and apricot orchard until sisters Della and Jane upend his life and leave him with a child, Angelene, is a quiet, stoic man, upended by the mysterious disappearance of his sister when they were teenagers. Later he is driven to do unthinkable things in the name of saving Della and leaving Angelene with something of a family, but most of the novel is spent in quiet contemplation of what to do with the life you are given.

Della, still damaged from her life before she escaped the unthinkable with Jane, leaves Angelene and Talmadge after Jane’s death, unable to cope with a life without movement. She travels from one job to the next, trying to blend into the world of men, trying to prove herself to be as strong, physical, daring as a man. Talmadge waits for her return, desperate for Della to want the life of the orchardist, bound by the seasons and by ties to the land and blood relations. Angelene, though, has written Della off, she is a memory. Angelene can’t understand why Talmadge would want to bother with Della and bringing her back, Talmadge can’t understand why Angelene wouldn’t want Della back in her life.

As much as I liked the majority of this novel, when the drama finally comes to a head and Talmadge attempts to rescue Della from the life she has chosen, I felt weary by the story and by Talmadge. He is blind to the women around him, only thinking instead of the women who have left him. I guess no novel can sit quietly in the happy parts of the story and I can’t help but wonder if this complaint reflects my current state of mind more than an actual technical weakness in the story, but I just wanted Talmadge to recognize what he had in the orchard. I wanted Della to be able to live the life she wanted without another man interfering. I wanted happiness for them both. But that doesn’t necessarily make a good story.

Comics February: Who Runs the World? Girls.

awesome ladies

My comics reading has slowed down a bit the past week or so, just because I couldn’t get to the library with the bad weather and I read almost everything I had! But I got a nice new bag of comics to read for this, the (sadly!) last week of Comics February, but I’m pretty much planning on making this Comics 2014, so don’t worry, you’ll be seeing a lot more.

The theme for the past week has definitely been comics about amazing women, some by amazing women.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki - It was pretty much guaranteed that I would love this, but I haven’t seen the movie Nausicaa, so the mythology was completely new to me and, as usual, I was blown away. I have loved Miyazaki’s movies for practically my whole life. My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service were on high rotation throughout my childhood and I loved Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle as an adult. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind takes place well into the future, after the industrialized world has collapsed after a brutal war. Earth, destroyed by humanity’s negligence, fights back by producing plants that emit dangerous spores, creating entire swaths of the planet that are an uninhabitable waste known as the Sea of Corruption. Nausicaa is a princess from the Valley of the Wind and she holds the secret to the Sea of Corruption and is also the only leader her small nation has, so she must lead them into battle. I never wanted the first volume of Nausicaa to end and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series right away.

Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Guts (The New 52) by Brian Azzarello with art by Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins, and Dan Green - So. Wonder Woman. I read the first volume last year and I liked it, but it didn’t blow my mind. I liked this volume a little bit more, but then I got to reading reviews. Folks say that the changes mythology of Wonder Woman in this series is something they’re not happy about, but I don’t really know anything about Wonder Woman or her mythology, so I can’t say one way or the other. It’s so interesting to read blog posts on the changes in The New 52 and every comment is either that they love the changes to the new Wonder Woman or they hate them. After reading this and all the demands for a Wonder Woman movie, I’ll definitely be reading some older Wonder Woman comics to learn more.

Hilda & The Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson - Hilda lives in a world that on first glance looks a lot like our own, but after a few pages you realize that it definitely is not. There are invisible creatures who want Hilda and her mother to leave the cabin they live in immediately and there is a giant, mountain-sized giant, who seems to be waiting for something. One day, Hilda’s eyes are opened and she sees that the invisible creatures are actually the citizens of a tiny city. Hilda’s cabin just happens to sit right on top of it and Hilda herself is the giant terrorizing the invisible town. I loved Hilda, I loved the art in this comic, and I adored the world building. It’s just the kind of comic that makes you smile.

Marbles by Ellen Forney - I talked in length about Marbles and Calling Dr. Laura over at BookRiot, so I won’t rehash everything I said there, but I did really love these two graphic memoirs. Marbles truly changed the way I look at mania and depression and what it means to be bipolar. Forney does an amazing job explaining what it is like to live as a bipolar artist. I think this is an important memoir, one that I’m so glad I read.

Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges  – I wasn’t sure I was going to love this memoir. There were times when I felt like the story dragged on a little too long or I wasn’t really sure what the point was, but towards the end the enormity of what Georges was trying to understand about herself and her past really hit me. Plus, the art is downright beautiful and I’m obsessed with her lettering.

What comics did you read for Comics February this week?

Quotes & Notes: The Golem & The Jinni by Helene Wecker



It took him nearly two hours to find the crate. Two hours of picking his way through stacks of suitcases and boxes bound with twine. His stomach burned and cold sweat dripped into his eyes. Finally he moved aside a rolled up carpet, and there it was: his crate. And in it, his bride.

[...] Heart pounding, he pulled the paper from his pocket and carefully sounded out the command “To wake the golem.” He held his breath and waited.

Slowly, the golem came to life. First to wake were her senses. She felt a roughness of wood under her fingertips. The cold damp air on her skin. She sensed the movement of the boat. She smelled mildew and the tang of seawater. She woke a little more and knew she had a body. The fingertips that felt the wood were her own. The skin that the air chilled was her skin. She moved a finger to see if she could. She heard a man nearby breathing. She knew his name and who he was. He was her master, her entire purpose. She was his golem, bound to his will. And right now, he wanted her to open her eyes.

The golem opened her eyes.


Hooray for the first audiobook of 2014! Finding and recording my favorite quotes is a little bit harder when it comes to audiobooks. I’m not always thinking about language the same way I am when I am reading. Audible does have a bookmark feature where you can make a note, but I only bookmarked one section and, while it’s an important part of the book, I don’t think it’s the most beautiful or representative quote from the entire thing.

I liked this book very much, but I don’t have strong feelings about it. I think my favorite thing was the combination of traditions from Jewish folklore and Syrian folklore, but I was a little bit tired of this story by the end of it. It felt a little long, but I’m not sure I would have felt the same way if I were reading it instead of listening to it. I’m beginning to wonder if I really like audiobooks that are this long, but I’ve downloaded quite a few long ones with my most recent Audible credits, so we’ll see if this is a trend going forward.

If The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is the perfect book to remind you of summer and being outside, The Golem and the Jinni is the perfect book to wallow in winter in New York. I do love reading about the time period, turn of the century, especially turn of the century New York, and I would have loved even more details about the different communities and what the city looked like back then.

The narrator was good, but it felt like he read the book so slowly. I ended up with the audio on double speed pretty quickly.My very favorite parts of this novel were when the golem and the jinni would walk together through the city and discuss the strange humans they lived with. I never wanted it to end, but of course the plot had to keep moving and it did.


Quotes & Notes: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

the homecoming of samuel lake



Every year, the day after school let out for summer, Samuel and Willadee would load up their kids and take off for south Arkansas. Willadee already had freckles everywhere the sun had ever touched, but she would always roll the window down and hang her arm out, and God would give her more. Her boisterous, sand-colored hair would fly in the breeze, tossing and tangling, and eventually she would laugh out loud, just because home made her feel so free.

Willadee loved this ritual. This once-a-year road trip, when she was snugged into the car with her good, healthy family – all of them fairly vibrating with anticipation. This was her time for thinking about where they’d been and where they might be going and how well the kids were growing in to their names – the names she’d given them as blessings when they were born. The first boy, she’d called Noble. Her clear call to the universe to infuse him with courage and honor. The younger son was Bienville. A good city, or as Willadee thought of it, a peaceful place. The girl, she had named Swan. Not because a swan is beautiful but because it is powerful. A girl needs power that she doesn’t have to borrow from anyone else, Willadee had thought. So far her blessings seemed to be working.


The Homecoming of Samuel Lake has been sitting on my shelves for a long time. I’ve picked it up on occasion, reading the first chapter, but it always goes back. I don’t know what was different this time, but this novel and I just clicked. We had a right-book-right-person-right-time moment.

The language is the kind that you want to read out loud in a drawl and it felt lush and beautiful. This is a novel that oscillates between the happy and the sad, the small pains and joys of day to day life, and the bigger tragedies that mark each family’s trajectory in this world. I feel like I used the exact same sentence in my Quotes & Notes on Someone by Alice McDermott and maybe there is just something about this kind of novel that is speaking to me right now.

There are some horrible things that happen in this novel, truly horrible. I admit I was frustrated by the ending, when something life-altering happens in the last 20 pages, enough to write an entire second novel on how the characters dealt with the horror of it. Even with the ending, it’s a novel that I am happy I read and that I wanted to return to. It helps, too, that much of the novel takes place on a farm in the summertime and there was no better antidote to the endless days of snow.

I won a copy of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake in a contest held by the publisher.

Music for your winter blues, part 2



Part one was about songs that let you escape winter and the cold and relive long summer drives with the windows open, but sometimes that’s not what I want. Sometimes all I want is to wallow in my winter blues, to listen to songs that reflect the dreariness outside. Here’s that list.

music 1

Acts of Man / Frightened Rabbit / Pedestrian Verse – “I’m here, I’m here, not heroic but I try” – There comes  a moment every winter when it feels like I’ve just had enough and nothing could accurately express how done am, but the anger, frustration, exhaustion that comes across in Frightened Rabbit’s lyrics does. Bonus track: Keep Yourself Warm.

Gravity / Sara Bareilles / Little Voice – “No matter what I say or do/I still feel you here until the moment I’m gone” – Sometimes winter songs are just sad songs. This is one of my go-to sad songs, but with Sara Bareilles’s smart lyrics and beautiful voice it’s one that’s worth listening to again and again.

Retrograde / James Blake / Overgrown – “You’re on your own/In a world you’ve grown” – James Blake’s soulful voice screams winter to me.

music 3

Human / Daughter / If You Leave – “Underneath the skin there’s a human/buried deep within there’s a human/and despite everything I’m still human/but I think I’m dying here” – Dreamy vocals and lyrics like poetry, plus a beat that’s just a little bit faster than the other songs on this list.

Holocene / Bon Iver / Bon Iver – “And at once I knew I was not magnificent” – It was not a question of if Bon Iver would be on this list so much as which song and can I include more than one. I never thought I could love a song off of Bon Iver’s second eponymous album as much as his debut, which included the forever-on-repeat “Skinny Love,” but “Holocene” is almost as frequently on repeat in my house.

Norman’s Walk / Jon Brion / ParaNorman Soundtrack - On one level, this is just another opportunity for me to tell you to PLEASE go watch ParaNorman because you will adore it, but also the music is just so lovely and I especially love this song and there are plenty of winter mornings when I don’t want to listen to songs that have words that tell me how to feel. I’m very cranky on winter mornings. Bonus tracks: “Intro” by The xx and “Bom Bom” by Macklemore (featuring The Teaching).