Thursday, December 29, 2005

Strange goings-on in Chicago...

It was bad enough that the city lost Kroch's and Brentano's.

That they changed the name of the Conrad Hilton.

And that a spaceship ate Soldier Field.

Now, the Berghoff is closing!

And as of next fall, Marshall Field's will be a (shudder, cringe, vomit) Macy's!

Sigh. At least the Cubs are still lousy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Favorites of 2005 -- Older Readers

I've done a lot more reading this year than last. Oddly enough, with the release this year of TOFU AND T.REX, I've also done a lot less writing than last. I believe the two may be related. :-).

So I decided to do a list of my favorites for the year (of books that were not written by me or she who is my wife). Yes, there is significant overlap with Cyn's List, and also some significant differences. Note, however, that over the course of the year, we do not read all the same books. :-).

The List:

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie
, by David Lubar

Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl, by D.L. Garfinkle

Open Ice, by Pat Hughes

Pinned, by Alfred C. Martino

Boy Proof, by Cecil Castellucci

Monday, December 26, 2005

Close Encounters of a Third World Kind, by Jennifer J. Stewart

Close Encounters of a Third World Kind, by Jennifer J. Stewart (Holiday House, 2004).

Twelve year old Annie Ferris is hauled off, along with her mother and younger sister, to a remote Himalayan country by her father, to spend two months on a medical mission.
There she meets Nirmala, a local girl, and experiences (first-hand) yak cheese and why you should never take a shortcut.

A funny story of family, friendship, and culture shock.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas, Froehliche Weihnachten and the Christmas Pickle!

I hope everyone has a splendid and Merry Christmas this year. We're sticking around here in Austin year, since we've spent so much time on the road already.

Tonight, we're having some smoked salmon and scallops my brother and his wife sent us from Gerard & Dominique Seafood. (The stuff is terrific -- they sent it last year as well).

Tomorrow, we're having friends over and going to try to make this dish we had at Le Cinq on our last vacation (2001) in Paris. (Yes, we need to vacation more :-)). Anyway, they steamed a chicken and a lobster together and put on a very light sauce and good wine. I'm going to try to do it with some lobster tails from Whole Foods and chicken leg quarters from Central Market. And a very light remoulade sauce. Christmas Eve is also my brother's birthday, so we'll also probably have one or more toasts in honor of his being twoscore years old.

Christmas, we're doing a turkey, which I love to do even though we did one only weeks ago for Thanksgiving. For next year, though, I'm going to try to convince Cyn that a standing rib roast would not do too much violence to her "no mammals" rule. :-).

Finally, here's some info on the Weihnachtsgurke I didn't know (For the record, I'd never heard of it as a kid, but we do own one now. This may have something to do with the fact that there used to be an excellent ornament shop down the street. :-)). Why don't we just call it a German-American tradition?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Spacer and Rat, by Margaret Bechard

Spacer and Rat, by Margaret Bechard (Roaring Brook 2005)(middle grade)

Jack has lived his entire life at Freedom Station, a supply outpost run by the Company for those en route to the asteroid belt. His life is under control, and he has booked passage to finally meet relatives at the even more remote Liberty Station. Then he meets Kit, an "Earthie," which by definition means trouble. Worse, she carries a contraband maintenance "bot" named Waldo the Company is seeking to get its hands on. Should he turn them in or help them complicate his life?

In Spacer and Rat, Margaret Bechard has created a "world" that will feel familiar and yet fresh, with engaging and compelling characters.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A little bit of Scrooge...

This time of year, one of the local radio stations plays Christmas music non-stop from Thanksgiving through Christmas day. On the whole, I enjoy it.

However, I have a confession: I loathe the song about the Christmas shoes.

For those who have been blessed by not ever having heard this song, it's the one with this kid who doesn't have any money but wants to buy his mother shoes so she'll look pretty if she "sees Jesus tonight." (No, really). See, she's been sick and in the hospital and doesn't have much time and...Ughh. You cannot get more sickeningly and mawkishly manipulative than this one. It's as if a Thomas Kinkade painting threw up a Precious Moment figurine onto a compact disk. And then poured maple syrup on it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Interview and News

For both of you who don't come to this blog from Cyn's :-), she did a "Story Behind the Story" interview of me for TOFU AND T.REX, over on her blog.

Also, NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO was nominated to the ALA's Popular Paperbacks List.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, by David Lubar

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, by David Lubar (Dutton 2005)(tweener).

Scott Hudson is beginning his freshman year of high school. As if losing friends, gaining bullies, being dragged into too many activities, and missing sleep aren't bad enough, his mother's announced she's having a baby. Clearly, he's in way over his head...A charming and deeply funny novel.

Cyn has an interview with David Lubar here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Speaking of ice...

We had the pleasure of freezing rain last night and now it's about 22 F. Since there's no such thing as a salt truck down here, this means that everyone in Central Texas should STAY HOME. (Almost everything's shut down anyway -- all the schools, most government, etc.).

Have some cocoa. Or cognac.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Open Ice, by Pat Hughes

Open Ice, by Pat Hughes (Random House, 2005).

Sophomore Nick Taglio is passionate about one thing (other than girls): hockey. When he suffers yet another concussion, amid fears that a further injury could result in permanent damage, his doctor and parents are adamant that he quit playing. Nick struggles to come to terms with his new circumstance, while having to deal with family, friends, girlfriends, teammates, and that splitting headache, as he tries to recover.

Open Ice was nominated for the ALA's Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
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