Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Need your help with something and oh...I found my happy place

First things first.

Liv is a huge reader. She is currently finishing up The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy. So tonight, she comes in to talk to me with her finger holding her place in the book.

Since I am the responsible parent (stop sniggering, youse), I did ask her if she was finished with her homework. She was. And since we just had parent/teacher conferences last week and I found out that her lowest grade is an A- and that was in music (Yee Gods, you should have seen the look on Bing's face! "In MUSIC? But, she is brilliant. She plays three instruments! WHY is that her lowest grade?" Um...A- is not too shabby and she got it because she forgot to hand in one of her papers...), I am not too concerned with her school work.

She came in and sat next to me on the bed.

"I'm almost done with this last one in the series, Mama," she said. "I need a new book. Any ideas?"

Well, let me just say here and now that she thinks I am a brilliant book picker outer because I was responsible for bringing Harry Potter, Hunger Games Trilogy and The Mysterious Benedict Society into our lives.

So, I have set that bar high. But, now...I'm sort of bewildered. I told her that I would think about this and get back to her tomorrow. So, c'mon, trusty readers, don't fail me now. I need suggestions for a really good book for a 12 year old girl who ADORED all three of the books mentioned above.

She likes fantasy, I think it is fair to say.

Any suggestions?

And because so many of you have asked me if I am sliding into a depression or something because of my last several posts...I should tell you that I think I have cut it off at the pass.

Last night, I lay in bed resentfully listening to Bing snore peacefully.

I was feeling grousy about my car (and yes, it does need a new door...it would actually cost MORE to fix the damn hingee thing...and that sucks, yes? And seriously, dudes....you KNOW Bing. Do you really think she can be trusted to get that door painted? Remember now that it took her THREE years to finish the paint job in the bathroom....)

Work has been stressful. So many little children suffering WAY too much emotional trauma.

True Story: A foster parent calls me to ask if I know if she can get more money from social services if her foster child is declared autistic. I tell her that I don't know (this is a lie...I do know that they get more money if the child has a disability, be it physical or mental...) and she should call her health and human service worker. An hour later, this SAME woman calls and plaintively asks if she can have her foster child evaluated for autism since he "shows signs like he spins in a circle and such and he don't like nobody touching him, plus he don't play no good with the other kids in his class."

God, double negatives just depress me. But, even more so, it depresses me to see people running their foster homes not out of their heart, but their pocketbook.

So, feeling stressed. Poor kiddos.

It is getting cold, like really cold here. Like hard freeze cold. I have no idea why I am here since unlike my ancestors, I am a wussie pants about cold weather and I detest snow. But, as Bing helpfully reminded me....we both have good jobs and that is lucky in this economy. So, we stay.

My marriage has been more work than play lately. Some weeks/months are like that. You just have to roll with the punches. Living with someone who is one's opposite might be sort of exciting at first, but as the years go by, it is painfully obvious that all the love in the world won't change the fact that you see the world through very different eyes.

So, last night I tried to sleep and told myself to find my happy place.

And I blame Oprah for the fact that I was doing this. She would not only be finding her happy place, but would also be diligently writing out a "gratitude list" as well. Well, fuck that.

Because when you're Oprah, I don't imagine it is too hard to find a happy place. You enjoy that million dollar condo in the windy city, girlfriend. And I seriously doubt if you have ridden in a car with a door painted a different color than the rest of the car. And if Steadman starts to get on your last nerve, well...you and your bestie, what the hell is her name? Gayle something? Anyway, you and Gayle can scamper off on a private jet to New York and go shopping for that perfect jewelry. Those of us who live in the real world sometimes have trouble finding our happy place. But, I was going to give it the old college try.

I thought of an ocean. Too big. All that water flying at me. No. I thought of a lake. Better, but the truth is that I am a born and bred prairie girl. Water doesn't soothe me much.

Okay, I thought, think of a mountain. This made me think of rock climbing. Rocks made me think about that guy who had a boulder pin his hand to a canyon wall and he ended up amputating it. I don't think I could do that.

No happy place there.

I thought of a forest. Wild animals and small vermin. Panthers and raccoons. No thanks.

A meadow. Now, meadows look lovely, but if you have ever stood in one, you know that all those movies where lovers are lying in them are big fat lies. If you lie down in a meadow, when you get up, bet your bottom dollar, you will have chigger bites.

Ok. A desert. I already have dry skin. I don't need more.

I was feeling sort of hopeless and then suddenly it hit me.

The perfect idea.

My happy place:

A new car smell. AHHHHHHHHHH.

So? Any book suggestions? And anyone else love beetles?


Jennfactor 10 said...

Just got MY Liv the Mysterious Benedict Society for when she finishes the Eragon books by Paolini.
My dad has a newer beetle and loves it. We borrowed to go to Disneyland and LOVED the Diesel mileage! Maybe not a BRAND brand new one to show Bing you're down for the savings? Although the new ones are purty...

Peggy said...

Lynn Flewelling's first three Nightrunner books would be in her wheelhouse, I think.

As to the car-I've always wanted a Beetle. That would put ME in a happy place. Some cars just make you feel young, and what's wrong with that? (Especially for those of us who are of a certain age.)

e said...

Your daughter and my daughter and I share the love of the fantasy genre. So many great books and series! So much lovely escapism! Here are two series that are terrific:

Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud. The first one is called, The Amulet of Samarkand.

His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman. The first one is called, The Golden Compass.

I'm afraid that some of these may have been turned into movies. NEVER go see a movie of a book you love. Ugh.

Liv may have already read these. They are very good. Also, hasn't she read the Narnia series or the Lord of the Rings? Classics of the genre!

I have more suggestions, if these are already old hat... I'll be interested to see what other readers recommend!

Kaitlyn said...

I read a book last year that is part of a trilogy. It is for kids I think, but I am 24 and I really enjoyed it...
The first one in the series is called The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud.
Might be something she would like, it involves some fantasy, magic, the main character is a warlock's apprentice.

sybil law said...

Sorry - I haven't any book recommendations for Liv.
But for craps' sake - I drove a Beetle for a week after the idiot ran into my car - I only chose it because I knew Gilda and her friends would love it, and they did, but my GOD what a piece of shit car. I was HAPPY to give back the rental, even though my own car wasn't ready, yet.

JohnD said...

Good car - try to get a fully imported model and not the "Assembled in USA"-type. A lot of car workers are quite the Luddite when it comes to working on "foreign models"!

Miss L said...

ANYTHING by Tamora Pierce. Seriously. feminist, smart, YA fantasy filled with awesomeness. i started reading them younger than Liv is now, but I think they're still pretty age appropriate. The best are her Tortall books: The Song of The Lioness Quartet, The Immortals Quartet and the Protector of the Small Quartet (emphasis on the first and last, in my opinion, but Liv is such a scientist that she might like the Immortals--it's more about scholarship and ecology). Anything by Daniel Pinkwater is very strange and aimed at smart kids--it's not exactly fantasy, but fantasy lovers tend to like it (try The Snarkout Boys and The Avocado of Death to start with). Sylvia Engdahl writes lovely scifi/fantasy blends: I recommend starting with Enchantress from the Stars (it's a combination classic quest fairytale/space invasion story, and much smarter than you'd guess from that description).
hope that helps!

although, i really don't get the new car smell thing, i have to say. i think new cars smell dreadful!

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments Series. The first book in the series in The City of Bones. Both my cousin and I are really enjoying the series. I didn't know it was a Young Adult book when I came upon it on a display table at Barnes & Noble. I'm in my 40s and I bought a copy for my then 13 year old cousin and she loved it as well. Here's a link to the author's website where you can check her books out. http://www.mortalinstruments.com/

John Gray said...

if she has not read it
WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams

it figured highly in my childhood

MB Partlow said...

The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett. This is how I introduced my daughter to Pratchett, and she cackles madly while reading the books. And I love them as much as she does, and now she reads the rest of the books in the Discworld series. (He's prolific. I love that in a good author.)

In order:

The Wee Free Men
A Hat Full of Sky
I Shall Wear Midnight

I dare you to read about the Nac Mac Feegle and not laugh.

Chris said...

soooooooooo cute! perfect for you, I think. what color would you get? I rather like the white, though I think black would be fantastic with those wheels. just nothing better than that new car smell!

Frontier Mom said...

My boy loved the Pendragon series (MacHale) as well as the Eragon series (Paolini-a fellow Montanan).

Glad you're on the upswing!


Golden To Silver Val said...

I'm just finishing 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs'
( http://www.amazon.com/Miss-Peregrines-Home-Peculiar-Children/dp/1594744769/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319044621&sr=1-1 )
She may really love it....basically it's about time-travel (present day to about 100 years earlier)with a little twist. As you can see from Amazon's website, the story is enhanced by very old actual photographs that the author collected from others over time.

Cris said...

The bug is a MOST awesome car!!!

Be careful of the Phillip Pullman works and the Narnia series.....very steeped in conservative christian dogma.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (the first of a planned series)

John Armstrong (Grey & Yarn)

Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking

Those are a few I have read recently that may fall into her interest areas.

Does she have a Kindle or access to a Kindle App? I know its not the same as turning real pages, but I have found mine to be an endless source of reading. Also have signed up for lots of free books/novellas to download.

Watership Down is an excellent suggestion too. Different, but well worth the time.

jen@its all about me said...

I don't have any suggestions about kids books my kids are grown and my grand kids are boys and I'm not sure their taste translates.

Shit, I found my happy place, it cost me $100 plus and hour once a week for 4 1/2 years. Imagine sitting on a couch in a room with a therapist, he didn't have that new car smell either,crap!

And your happy place go there ASAP life's to short to not be happy, I'd buy the VW, go for it!

Anonymous said...

I would highly recommend THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley (Actually anything by her but this one is great!) Fantasy, strong woman character. Another young adult book but I loved it and I am not young. :-D

Earth Muffin said...

I'm in serious need of a happy place right now myself. Not sure I'd find it in a VW, but you've inspired me to look a little harder than I have been.

Wish I could recommend some books for Liv...Big M. isn't much of a reader, which just bugs me to no end, and my students have never been big into fantasy. I tend to read them gritty, realistic, bad-boy-does-good type of novels.

lyon de clarasvals said...

Terry Pratchett's teen books, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, and any of the Wee Free Men books, The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and a new one,?, maybe the last, Pratchett has Alz. now. They are in the teen section, but maybe the humor would be too obscure and adult. Since she reads fantasy, it would probably be her thing. The whole family loves them.

Katie in CT said...

I had a really old beetle once, and unfortunately it never smelled like new car for me. But I think they're really cute.....kind of cute like the mini coopers.

I don't get much chance to read YA lit but what about John Marsden's series that starts with Tomorrow, When the War began. Or Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Katie in CT (since when I ID my google account it puts me in as Brookfield Library)

fairydogmother said...

Slug Bug!

I'm no help in the book rec department because you have already mentioned anything I would suggest. However, have you ever read Zoot's blog? (Miss Zoot, I think it us called) She & her older teenage son seem to have great taste in that department - maybe swing by her blog & check it out.

Anonymous said...

I think Liv might enjoy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.


Mitch Block said...

Ah, Maria, I am so glad you found me so I could find you. I hope you're in a happy place at least for today.

Josephine said...

Actually, the His Dark Materials Trilogy is very anti-religion - Pullman is a notorious atheist.


The heroine, Lyra (who is about 12) actually, by accident, kills God. And there are gay angels in it.

So, yes, there is a lot of religion in it - it become a war over religion in the later books - but it is also an adventure story which I think she'd love. I really liked them and I'm a (gay) not at all conservative Christian.

Rose said...

I just finished reading an incredible YA book called BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young. It is going to be a trilogy, but only the 1st book has been released so far. I couldn't put it down, and it reminded me a bit (in a good way!) of THE HUNGER GAMES. Strong female character, really interesting voice, and a very exciting, relentless storyline. Plus a love story! I think Liv (and you, Maria!) would love it!

My dad drove a VW bug when I was a little girl. I don't remember it well at all, but I've always like the look of them driving on the road. I hope you find the perfect car for you!

And I'm also glad you're feeling a bit happier. Keep it up, dear!

Snooker said...

That Next Generation Beetle does look hot! I managed to get up close to one about 6 months ago by chance. They say it is marketed more towards men this time. But it still looks cute if you ask me. I had a 2001 New Beetle Vapor Blue right before I left the country. Blue so light that most men thought it was white.

Loved that car. I say get a new one. Maybe you don't dig right into the '12 model to show that you are thrifty too. But in my experience, 5 years of age is about enough on a car. After that they start to get more and more expensive to bring back to 100%.

Grumpy Granny said...

I am late to this but I would recommend ANYTHING by the late and lamented Rosemary Suttcliff. Her specialty is Iron Age/Roman Britain and I got hooked on her in the 7th grade and still read and reread those books. Some titles: Warrior Scarlet, The Lantern Bearers, Knight's Fee (this one will rip your heart out), The Silver Branch, Mark of the Horse Lord, Eagle of the Ninth (recently made into the move "The Eagle") and more.

Good luck!