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Say Hello to my Butt*…Babysitters Club! (Or, Why You Should’ve Just Let Your Mom Fix Your Hair in Seventh Grade) 07/18/2011

Filed under: Books — kimbolee @ 9:10 PM
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It’s safe to say that my favorite books when I was a kid were The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. Which is why it was totally crazy of my mother to give them to my cousins after I’d stopped reading them, only to have them donate the books to the church library or something, never to be seen again. Naturally, it took me a few years to realize that a)the books were GONE and b)they were NOT COMING BACK. (And then I whined about it for at least a decade.)

Luckily, in awesome Mom fashion, two years ago she got her hands on a pristine set of the books (from the 80’s**, before they redesigned the covers and made them ugly***), through book 82 or so (long after Ann M. Martin had stopped writing them and I’d stopped reading them.) I’d never been so happy. My broken heart was mended; my shelves are the envy of some.
(Insert raucous applause for mom here.)

I’d venture to say that the Baby-Sitters Club girls were like the Sex and the City girls of their day. I was definitely a Mary Ann, (who I guess grew up to be Charlotte?) except I dressed like Kristy. (A freaking slob. A thrown-away slob whose clothes never even remotely matched. I had a t-shirt that said “Freak in the Room” (complete with Fruit of the Loom logo.) It took me many years to learn how to dress myself and sometimes I’m still not sure that I know what I’m doing. I mean, I didn’t start wearing eyeliner until like a year ago. And I still don’t know how to fix my hair.) I look at pictures of myself from 7th grade and wonder why my mom ever let me leave the house looking like I’d been left on the side of the road for days. I realize now that she probably figured it wasn’t worth the fight and that I’d look back someday and wonder just what the hell was wrong with me — which is possibly the ultimate mom victory.
(Insert slow clap for mom here.)

The worst is probably my 7th grade school photo**** — I’d forgotten it was picture day, and so my hair was in fine form, pulled back into a ponytail, with a mess of bangs that kinda look like a deflated pompadour on my head. Like someone had taken my ponytail and flipped it back on top of my head so the ends of my hair made my bangs. Except they were my actual bangs, not a reverse ponytail. I was a mess. And the sad (awesome) thing was that I really didn’t care. (Perhaps I will locate this photo and scan it. Don’t hold your breath, though). Did Kristy ever care what she looked like? Hell no! That girl went for comfort from the get-go.
(Insert sideways glance and slow nod of approval for Kristy here.)

But I was also an extreme goody-two-shoes (still am) who did her homework and minded her parents (even if it meant sneaking Kudos granola bars out of the kitchen cabinet for a snack every now and then. Not that they would have denied me a snack. I was just afraid to ask for fear of rejection. And also, they were delicious and I was hungry.) And I didn’t play sports because mostly I was afraid of the ball. So, Mary Ann prevailed.

I didn’t relate to Claudia because I was smart (but I did admire her candy collection.) My cousins had diabetes, so they had Stacy covered (though from the big city they were not). And I probably didn’t meet any crunchy Dawn types until high school, but she was alright I guess. At least she didn’t come across as a major biotch like the other girls did (in at least one book apiece.) And I didn’t pay attention to the younger girls because I was one of the older girls. Mallory Who? Jesse Somebody? They are worthy of a pat on the head.

Tonight I just got a few new (used) books to add to my collection (for 35 cents each!) and felt the urge write a little love note to those books and to my momma. There’s a life lesson in here somewhere. (And it is to let your momma help you with your hair even if you hate hairspray and think it stinks.)


*Theme song parody courtesy of my family, circa 1994

**Acceptable cover:

***Unacceptable cover:

****There is a picture from a birthday party in 7th grade that is a pretty close second, though.


Oh, Hai 06/21/2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — kimbolee @ 7:52 AM
Tags: , ,

I’m going on month 3 of unemployment (not as fun as you’d think), so I thought about blogging again.

I’ve been reading a lot of Charlaine Harris, and little to none of children’s and YA. I think this is indicative of two things: 1) my mental capacity right now and b) the segue into a new part of my career and my life.

So, cozy mysteries are about all I can handle right now, though I’ve been throwing in some nonfiction to try and keep my brain functioning (‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall, since I have started running, lazily, and ‘Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live,’ since I have been wistfully reminiscing about my comedy days.)

Three Bedrooms, One Corpse
Charlaine Harris
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1994

I started ‘Three Bedrooms, One Corpse,’ which is Book 3 in Harris’ Aurora Teagarden series. When I checked the book out, the clerk at the library saw the title and started laughing.
Quote: “Mysteries are so crazy! I mean, look at this title: Three Bedrooms, One Corpse. If there’s a corpse in one bedroom, what do you think happened in those OTHER bedrooms?”
I told her I’d come back and let her know when I was done.
Oh, and by the way, Aurora is supposed to be a “librarian” but she really is a library clerk. Aurora Teagarden did not go to library school and does not know about “Boolean logic.” She also doesn’t do library programming, cataloging, or collection development. She checks out books and reshelves them, which means she is an integral part of a library’s front line staff. Not a librarian. Front line staff are important, but they are not librarians. Not everyone who works in a library is a librarian. I don’t mean to be elitist, but I did not spend two years of my life and thousands of dollars to be lumped in with everyone who works at a library. I have a master’s degree and therefore I am a librarian. Okay, thanks, bye.

Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Christohper McDougall
Knopf, 2009.

This book is about crazy people who are crazy and run mega miles in sandals. But apparently they don’t get running injuries like the rest of us so maybe we are the crazy ones.
Side note: My shins hurt like they’ve never hurt before.
Second side note: I am getting old.
Third side note: This is the kind of nonfiction I really like.

Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests
Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller
Little, Brown and Company, 2002.

I suggest reading this book if you want to hate men in comedy!


Revolution 12/16/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — kimbolee @ 8:24 AM

Jennifer Donnelly
496 pages
Delacorte, 2010

Um, hello. This is the best book I read in 2010, hands down (and I read a lot of books in 2010).

It’s historical fiction, but it’s the kind of “historical” “fiction” that tricks you by really being set in the present, and then taking you back in time through a diary. Jennifer Donnelly is a trickster!!

Basically, Andi (main character) is depressed about her younger brother’s death, which she feels is her fault. So, she stops doing her schoolwork. Except she goes to a really prestigious school in NYC and her father (a super-genius geneticist who cares more about DNA than his own children) simply won’t stand for that! So he whisks her off to Paris (sooo awesome) and tells her she has to write her senior thesis or ELSE! And then Andi discovers the diary of Alexandrine Paradis, the companion of the dauphin of France, and begins to read her first-hand account of the revolution. And that’s where the real fun begins! (Seriously, it is very wonderfully great).

Anyway, I don’t really want to say a lot about this book because I’m afraid if I think about it too much then I might not like it as much as I do right now. And this book, I want to keep loving.

I’ll just say that if you’ve ever had any interest at all in music, the French Revolution, and the fate of Louis-Charles (or even if you haven’t), then just read the dang book already!

Also, I should note that this novel has a bibliography. ‘Nuff said!

Also also, the cover is beautiful and I like to look at it.


Bright Young Things

Filed under: Books — kimbolee @ 8:06 AM
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Bright Young Things
Anna Godbersen
389 pages
Harper Collins, 2010

In what I hope will become a new awesome trend in YA literature, Bright Young Things is one of two books to be recently released set in the 1920s. Come on, people. Why doesn’t anyone write books set in the ’20s? I’m guessing since Boardwalk Empire is HBO’s hot new thing, the 20’s are just SUPER HOT NOW!! YEAH, PROHIBITION! JAZZ!

Anyway, Bright Young Things tells the story of two teenage girls, Cordelia and Letty, who hop on a train from Ohio to the big bright lights of New York City. These are some girls after my own heart. While I did inform my parents of my plans before I moved to Chicago at the age of 22 (unlike our characters here), I did sorta hop on a plane one day with a couple of suitcases, a cat, and a dream…so I can relate!

Letty wants to be a star ; Cordelia wants to find her long lost daddy, whom she believes is bootlegger Darius Grey. They have a big fight their first night in the city, and split up (good job, girls). Along the way there are boys (good and bad), forbidden romance, lonely socialites, wild parties, a hidden tunnel, and a creepy creepo Broadway producer. Woo hoo!

My only complaint is that the story just sort of ended. Well, I guess my other complaint is that it never really took off, either. I probably spent a week or more on this book (which is a lot for me), and unlike Jennifer Donnely’s Revolution (more on that later), it wasn’t because I didn’t want the book to end. I guess what propelled me through the story was the setting/time — I’ve always been a Gatsby girl, after all.


Countdown 08/23/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — kimbolee @ 8:12 AM

Countdown (The Sixties Trilogy Series)
Deborah Wiles
New York: Scholastic, 2010.
400 pp.

First thought: Ahhh! This book LOOKS SO COOL. I think the term “documentary novel” (or, as I like to call it, “docu-novel”) is being tossed around about this book, because Wiles intertwines her story with images, advertisements, speeches, and song lyrics from the early 60’s. My short attention span was so grateful to have black and white photos with large bold text to look at in between (short) chapters. This book is absolutely a joy to flip through.

The story is set in 1962, where our narrator, Franny, is learning to duck and cover at school, for the Cuban Missle Crisis is in full-swing. In addition to worrying about being blown up by the Soviets, Franny has other issues to deal with — her PTSD-stricken uncle, who is stuck in the trenches of WWI, her budding flower child older sister, running away to secret meetings and joining the Civil Rights Movement, her perfect younger brother who cannot tell a lie, the cute boy down the street who actually talks to her, and her (former) best friend who has completely turned her back on her and starts openly mocking her in school. A lot to deal with. And, oh Franny, it’ll all be okay.

I really like Franny. Franny may have been catapulted into my top 10 favorite young girl narrators. I want to give Franny a hug. And I applaud her for not losing her mind despite the mess she’s in.

I wonder though, if children will embrace this novel as fully as I have. I think this is definitely a niche novel; it’ll appeal to a certain type of reader, but I’m not sure if it has that universal appeal that makes a novel truly great (in my opinion). It’ll be interesting to see this novel’s progress. Some kids might be turned off by the images strewn throughout the book (it may be too much of an interruption; too “nonfiction-ey”.) This kid was not.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Movie 08/18/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — kimbolee @ 6:51 AM

A great post over at A Fuse #8 Production (one of my top 5 blogs) about the mysterious new girl in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie. I’m glad I’m not the only one who was confused by her presence. Betsy Bird does it again!!!


Will Grayson, Will Grayson 08/12/2010

Filed under: Books — kimbolee @ 7:14 AM
Tags: , , ,

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
John Green and David Levithan
New York: Dutton, 2009.
310 p.

This book combines two things I love: John Green’s writing and Chicago. (I haven’t read anything by David Levithan but am inspired to grab one of his books right now!) Two dudes with the same name meet each other one night in Chicago. That is what the book is about and it is also not what the book is about. One Will Grayson is a high school loner, content with hanging out with his Big Gay Best Friend, Tiny, and not getting noticed at all. The other Will Grayson is also a loner, content to hang out in his bedroom chatting online with his e-boyfriend all night. And then one night in the city…THEIR WORLDS COLLIDE!!! I love this premise.
I am a fan of books with alternating narrators (Time-Traveler’s Wife, anyone?), and I loved that the book still had a consistent undertone, despite being about two different characters and written by two different authors. And then! Tiny Cooper (Will Grayson #1’s BGBF) enters into Will Grayson #2’s world, and both authors end up writing the same character. And…it works! Wahooo!
I took my time with this one, and I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t love it love it, or I had been flying through too many books at the time and just wanted to slow down. In any event, I enjoyed this book, mostly because I could close my eyes and imagine exactly where the characters were at any moment. Sooooo….maybe I just really like books set in Chicago. I won’t say that I would have disliked this book had it been set somewhere else, but I will say that I wouldn’t have liked it as much. (I just blew your mind, didn’t I.)
Anyway, this book is about relationships, and high school, and friendships, and Chicago…and I’d like to applaud it for having an unabashed, unapologetic, big gay best friend as a main character. (Begin slow clap…)