Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"The Year of the Gadfly" Review

Less than four weeks until the of summer, which means less than four weeks to finish my summer reading pile.  I thought I could do it, until I picked up 3 of my selections from the library and realized how LONG they all are.  We'll see.  I will be posting my review of "Rules of Civility" by Amor Towles soon, and am working my way through "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society."

On to my review of "The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller."  If you've read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

What it’s about:  Teenage Iris, a hopefully journalist who has been deeply affected by the loss of her best (and only) friend, has moved to a new town to begin school at Mariana Academy.  It seems Mariana is full of secrets, as are most of its students/faculty.   Aside from Iris, there is science teacher Mr. Kaplan, a Mariana alum with his own secret, troubled past.  Parts of “Gadfly” are told from the perspective of Lily and take place in the late 1990’s, a victim of bullying who was hiding her own secrets.  And then there is the resurfacing of Prisom’s Party, a once inactive secret society that sees themselves as moral watchdog vigilantes.  The boundaries between bully vs. victim, and right vs. wrong are muddled as Iris tries to unravel the complicated web and blow the cover off the party responsible for a string of disturbing rumors and bullying. 

What drew me in:  Prestigious prep school, eccentric characters (a “Marvelous Species of sorts) that all have some sort of secret, secret societies, and a plucky main character.

What it reminded me of:  “Special Topics in Calamity Physics” by Marisha Pessl, for starters.  This is partly because Jennifer Miller, author of “Gadfly” sent me a little message on Goodreads suggesting that I read her book because of my rating of “Special Topics.”  The two do have their similarities…dark mystery, prep school and cliques, clever main characters, etc.  The main character here, Iris, reminded me more of a combination of Veronica from “The Heathers” and Flavia de Luce from “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.”  Oh, and Iris’s science teacher, Mr. Kaplan…for me, sort of a Mr. Keating (of Dead Poet’s Society) wannabe.   Mr. Keating to students: “Carpe Diem!  Seize the Day!”  Mr. Kaplan to students:  “Embrace extremity!”

What worked for me:  The story is told from the point of view of three characters, which I enjoyed, especially when each of their stories began to merge.  “Gadfly” shifts back and forth from present time and a late 1990’s timeline, and Miller did a great job slowly revealing the many ways that they intersected.  (I also admit to feeling a bit old when I realized that the “past” storyline was around the time I was actually in high school.)  Miller pretty much nailed the unique affects the loss of a (close) peer has on a teen-ager, and certainly captured the teen-age angst.  The story shows what we all know from experience:  What happens to you in high school follows you long after you graduate.

What didn’t work for me:  I found myself wondering as I read if this was actually YA Fiction (which it is not), and there were just a few scenes that seemed a bit…gratuitous.  Not really a big deal, but they irked me in relation to Iris only being 14, and because they seemed totally unnecessary to the plot.  The resolution was wrapped up a bit too “neatly” for the dark tone of the rest of the novel.

I gave this one a 3 star rating on Goodreads.

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 24, 2012

High Five For Friday

Friday...I am so happy that you are here.  Linking up with From My Grey Desk Blog!

1.  Just started Season 1 of Mad Men...love it!  How did I take so long to catch on?
2.  Thank you, Martha Stewart, for teaching me how to fold a fitted sheet!  Life changing.
3.  Adorable note pad I found in the $ section of Michael's.  
4.  Taking advantage of the beautiful weather with some outdoor reading.
5.  One of my sweet readers gave me a "Leibster Award."  Check out her blog.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

30 with 30, Week 10

Here we go with 3 outfits for the last official week of the challenge with Lauren of From My Grey Desk Blog!  I missed a few weeks in between, and am determined to come up with my final few looks, so check back next Tuesday.

 Cardigan/Top/Shorts:  Forever 21
Jeans:  Rue La La
Sandals:  Target (1), Nine West (2)

Necklace:  Anthropologie
Tank: Target
Skirt:  American Eagle
Sandals:  Steve Madden


Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's the Little Things...

We hit a milestone around here this week.  My little guy (who from here on out I'll be referring to as "Steele," a nickname he earned recovering from a nasty fall as a baby) learned to pedal his tricycle.  This is big for several reasons, not the least of which is that it ends the back-breaking job of bending down to push him.

So today, we took a little tricycle ride.  By little, I mean approximately 25 feet, 50% of which was downhill.  Hard work for a 2 1/2 year old who just learned to pedal!  And there I was, walking beside him and cheering him on (from a standing-straight-up-non-back-breaking position, no less!), encouraging him to keep going and try to make it "all the way to the driveway!!"

He couldn't have cared less about how far he got, because he was too busy enjoying the ride.

After about three feet, he slowed to a stop.  As I reached out to give him a small nudge and get him going again, he said "No, Mommy.  Look!"  He climbed down and examined a tiny (by tiny I mean maybe 3/4 inch tall) root-like thing growing between the sidewalk cracks.  "Whose beanstalk is it?!"  (We've been watching "Mickey and the Beanstalk" lately.)  Steele examined the "beanstalk" for a few minutes, tugging on it and trying to make it grow, and then resumed his ride.

For about three feet that is.  This time he climbed off of the trike and noticed a slug.  This was the first slug he has ever seen.  He spent a few minutes just looking at it and it's gooey trail, cheering it to "Go!  Go, Slug!  Get to the grass!" before he realized just how slow that slug was moving and climbed right back on that trike.

As I'm encouraging him speed a long to make it to his destination, he is busy marveling at the little things along the way.  The little things I wouldn't have noticed without him pointing them out to me.

Thanks for the reminder, little guy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

30 with 30, Week 9

I was so excited this morning when I checked out From My Grey Desk Blog and saw that Lauren and Kate from The Small Things Blog chose me as their favorite look from last week.  Thanks!!

On to this week...two things to mention.

First, the lack of lipstick in any of these shots.  What can I say...there was a toddler sleeping in the room where every tube of my lipstick happened to be, and no way was I going to risk ending naptime for lipstick!

Second, I love, love, love the necklace I am wearing with two of these outfits.  It's from Simply Livly on Etsy.  Because it is a jersey knit, you can easily tie it to adjust the length.  I love their necklaces...check them out!

Grey Top:  Forever 21
Tank:  Target
Jeans:  Rue La La
Skirt:  Forever 21
Sandals:  Target
Necklaces:  First- Anthropologie, Second-  Simply Livly @Etsy.com

Cardigan:  Forever 21
Tank:  Target
Belt:  H&M
Sorry for the horrible picture quality on this one!  Not sure what happened...but I am eagerly awaiting my new camera so I  can stop relying on the one on my phone!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

30 with 30...Better Late Than Never!

Unfortunately, I only had time for two outfits this week since we are still working on settling in from our move last week.  And I had an "extra" sneak in for one of the shots (p.s...he is wearing snow boots in the summer because he is a fireman)!

Top:  Target
Jeans:  Rue La La
Skirt:  Forever 21
Belt: H&M
Sandals:  Target


It's not too late to get in on the challenge!

Friday, August 3, 2012

High Five for Friday!

Hooray for Friday!  This week has been a crazy one, so I am super happy that it's just about the weekend, especially since we have an exciting week ahead.  But, before we get there, here are five ways I feel blessed this week:

1.  The reason I have been MIA in the blogosphere this week:  we moved.  Moving is never fun.  Throw in a toddler, and you get extra-crazy.
2.  Anyone remember this show?  Well, they have the whole series on DVD.  Turns out our little one loves it...which gives us an excuse to relive our childhood Saturday mornings.
3.  Major high five for my brother who was promoted to Sargeant yesterday!  I'm a super proud big sis!

4.  This was at the bottom of the page in my "Parents" magazine (Judy on Duty section).  It made me really happy to see someone in a non-allergy related publication to say this.  As an allergy mom, I can understand that food-related regulations can be annoying to non-allergic families.  But...I cannot understand why so many people have to communicate their annoyance with eye-rolling, nastiness, and without compassion.  We just want to keep our kids alive.  Thanks to "Parents" for pointing this out!
5.  You never know what you'll come across while moving and re-organizing.  Here, we have a poem from my obviously melodramatic 9 year old self that my mom must have held onto as a laugh.  I don't remember why on earth I was so upset about our baseball stadium closing (in favor of a brand new one).  I do find two things about this extra-funny.  One: I wasn't really an exceptionally big baseball fan and rarely went to baseball games.  We watched them on tv...not in the stadium.  Two:  My teacher's comment, "The closing of this stadium will cause you much pain, won't it?"

Linking up with Lauren at From My Grey Desk!

What were the highlights of your week?