Happy New Year!!!

Hello and happy new year, dear friends and readers!

Nothing earth-shattering to report-- just wanted to say hi and wish you all well (and show you a picture of my Christmas cactus blooming). I've had a nice few weeks-- it's been relaxing since I haven't had to teach night classes or answer too many emails. I managed to meet my revision deadline for Star in the Forest, which was a relief. Now I'm focusing on the second book of my notebook series (still at the day-dreamy first draft stage-- exploring the plots and relationships and characters and themes and all that). I've also been doing a lot of cozy reading in bed while sipping chamomile tea lately.

Some highlights of my reading are:

Peeps and Uglies by Scott Westerfield (I had to see what all the fuss was about. Indeed, they're good YA books. I liked Peeps best-- parasitical vampire speculative fiction stuff. The parasite-host relationship is truly fascinating (as you will see if you read the book, which is chock-full of true, gross tidbits). Both books make you reflect (squeamishly) on your society and assumptions, which is the sign of good speculative fiction.

Another smart book I read was E. Lockhart's YA book The Disreputable History of Frankie [somebody-- can't remember the last name]. She manages to throw Foucault's ideas in the book-- stuff I didn't even know about til grad school. Impressive. And a smart, reflective, burgeoning feminist-revolutionary narrator.

Lessee... what else? Oh! Books on tape (well, CD.) I'm in the middle of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Riveting, I must say. Spooky and gossipy-feeling at the same time. I definitely recommend listening to this one, since the whole premise is that a dead girl is talking to the narrator on cassette tapes, explaining why she killed herself. I think hearing it makes it extra-good.

For a younger crowd, Savvy by Ingrid Law was lots of fun, as was Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson. I kept wishing my son was about eight years older so we could read these aloud together-- they'd both be fantastic read-alouds, I think. Adventure, suspense, humor, touches of magic/fantastical elements.

{a fountain in Provence}

For the next book in my Notebooks series, I've been reading Contes de Provence (Tales from Provence) and Les Eaux de Provence (The Waters of Provence). Take note-- I just gave away where the second Notebook will be set! (in case you missed my blog entries from Provence over the summer.) I so much prefer listening to French (and Spanish) than reading it. It's laborious for me to read word by word. In English I'm so used to skimming and breezing through page after page. These French books are exhausting. Shoowee...

{Samenakoa-- troubadour-ish street performers I hung out with in Provence}

The content, though, is really fascinating and makes the agony of the reading process worthwhile. Lots of underground water-related mysteries are involved, is all I'll say. And the tales are fun-- amazingly, several tales involve troubadours, who vagabond around (that's a verb in French, I just discovered)-- as do certain characters in my book-in-progress!

My favorite phrase in the book so far is about this troubadour Pierre who wandered with his viola through the countryside, from chateau to chateau, making every day a poem.

So go! Make today a poem!

gros bisous (fat kisses),