Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Recommendation: Goose Girl

The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale
Shannon Hale
Pages: 383
Ages: 10+

Ani has always felt uncertain about her title of 'Crown Princess'. She doesn't have the gift of persuasive 'people-speaking' like her mother. Instead, she can talk to animals. But how will that help her rule the kingdom of Kildenree? A plot to kill her and infiltrate the throne sends her fleeing to the safe anonymity of a foreign city - taking a job as the king's goose girl. As she tends the geese and her animal-speaking and storytelling skills grow, so does her confidence, until she's ready to face the enemy lurking within the king's walls.

I loved, loved, loved this book. The story was layered, compelling, and surprising, and Shannon Hale's writing is simply beautiful. I loved the complexity of Ani's character as she learns about herself, the things she's taken for granted in life, and the things she finds herself capable of. Hale's rich, startling, descriptions of ordinary objects and scenes pull you out of your seat and force you to look at the world in a new way. I ended the tale wanting to read more about the lives of each of the endearing characters (and even some of the not so pleasant ones). I can't wait to read the rest of her books!

Official website of Shannon Hale.

Want more book suggestions? See my other Book Recommendations.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


This morning, amidst other madness consisting of a million-and-three things on my to-do list before a training session this Saturday, and my bike falling apart on the way to the gym, I finally submitted my short story! There's a three month lag time, which is fine I suppose because over the next 2-3 months I will have very little time for anything but academia!


As I stepped outside the restaurant last night after dinner, I said, "What is that funny cloud?" By the time we'd crossed the parking lot, that funny cloud had overtaken us and turned the sky from a waning light blue to a deep brown. By the time we got home the wind was howling, the power was out, and the lattices in the garden were ripped apart. To step outside was to be immediately swathed in a fine, brown dust that clung to our teeth and eyeballs. I suppose if you live in the Phoenix area long enough, these haboobs might seem dull, but in my four years here, I've never experienced anything like it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Suds & Surveys

I sent out a survey this morning! My very first data collection instrument for my PhD dissertation. It was a very exciting moment (or really, hours worth of moments, as I had to manually email each request)! Now the problem is something inside me keeps thinking that at any moment I will receive more responses to my survey. So this has been my day so far: type a few sentences, check my survey website, write an email, check my survey website, type up an agenda for this weekend's training session, check my survey website, get a drink of water, check my survey website . . . you get the picture. But so far I only have one measly response! I know that very soon (and perhaps several reminder emails later) all that will change, but right now the one response just looks so sad and forlorn on my screen. Which is why I decided to do the dishes instead of looking at it.

Question - If the whole point of a barbecue is to keep the mess outside, why are there are always 10 times more dishes left in my sink than when I cook a regular meal?? Not that I'm complaining. I was the one that wanted to barbecue in the first place, and sometimes I (secretly) enjoy doing the dishes as a break in my day, but still!!!

I've decided I need to brush up on my Australian English - otherwise I may not understand a word that's being spoken once I get there!

This is how "Barbecue" is pronounced in Australia, courtesy of - click to listen:

Baahbecue  . . . very similar. I'll be fine on the grilling front.

However, I've been looking at: Koala Net's Australian Slang page, and the differences seem dizzying, though I am not sure how widely used some of these phrases are. For example, is a teapot really a "Billy" ?? As an avid tea drinker this will be a critical piece of my vocabulary! And if a "jug" is an electric tea kettle, then what do you call a jug?

Monday, July 4, 2011

My First Blog Entry

It's funny how the little things can change the direction of your life. Applying for an impossible job on a whim, and then landing it. Deciding at the last minute to walk a different way home and meeting someone you spend the rest of your life with. Things like that. So that's why I'm grateful that at the beginning of the year, frustrated with the lag time between my Comprehensive Exams and Prospectus Defense, I decided to start writing up bits of a story that had been forming in my thoughts for some time. At first I thought it was just a time filler (I am horrible at sitting still), but then I realized I loved it. I'd forgotten all about that kind of writing . . . the kind you aren't trying to write up for a term paper or academic journal.

So, here I am, six months later, editing my first YA dystopia / fantasy novel, amidst beginning research for my dissertation on farmers' markets, and completing research for another grant on urban food environments. And hoping that in a few weeks? months? I can start sending off my manuscript to agents. And hoping that putting so much time and energy into my novel writing wont jeopardize my chances of finishing my Ph.D. on time, or at least that I'll finish my data collection before I move to Australia in January!

Because, yes, I am moving to Sydney. It's official! Though no plane tickets are bought yet, my very talented husband has accepted a job as a full time faculty at the University of New South Wales. And so begins the next saga in our adventure. I'm very excited about it . . . I think Australia will be a great place to live, and I can't wait to get out on the Great Barrier Reef! Perhaps at long last I will get my Scuba Certification, bad ears and all. Though the intertidal world has served me well it might be time to progress a little deeper. And of course, Australia is home to the amazing Garth Nix, whose Old Kingdom series is incredible!


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