Monday, January 31, 2011


1.31.11 - Decode. To convert from code into plain text.

This week's book is Jay Z's "Decoded" - I have heard great things about it!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


1.30.11 - Search. To make a thorough examination of; look over carefully in order to find something; explore.

I am on the search this week for a book, for the perfect pair of birthday shoes and for the perfect steak! I have my work cut out for me.

G - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (590 pages)

I had low expectations for this book. Back in 2009 I had attempted to read it and I was so underwhelmed after 100 pages that I put it down and moved along to something else. Last week when I was searching for a book to read, I felt like I should give Lisbeth and Blomkvist a second chance. 

I know that most everyone has read this book and or the entire trilogy, so they are likely familiar with the story of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist and ward of the state Lisbeth Salander. But if you haven't read the book, here is the dime store re-cap. Blomkvist, a noted financial journalist, prints a story that it turns out he cannot prove. He gets taken to court and loses a libel case and gets sentenced to jail. Meanwhile the Vanger clan has a mystery of their own that no one has been able to solve. Henrik Vanger offers Blomkvist a job to solve the mystery while offering Blomkvist the opportunity to lay low and to stay of the out of the public eye. 

The mystery goes farther and farther down the rabbit hole and Blomkvist requests the assistance of the slightly scary, anti-social Lisbeth Salander to ferret out facts regarding the Vanger family (a pretty mean and scary cast of characters to say the least). The story turns up some very nasty information. I was shocked by some of what I had read. I have also learned that the original Swedish title of this book is "Men Who Hate Women" - there were some passages and even chapters of this book that lived up to that original title in a very nerve-wracking way.

The story is at times engrossing and infuriating. It was a very heavy book with only moments of lightness, but it was a great read. The characters were all really well-developed and I didn't guess "whodunit" until I was pretty deep into the book, but I still figured it out before it was revealed. I also loved that the book didn't end with the conclusion of the mystery - there was some unfinished business that needed to be completed. I like that loose ends were tied up. 

I have not seen the Swedish version of the film and I am not particularly looking forward to the American version either (although Daniel Craig is an appealing draw) but this story is certainly compelling enough to make me consider seeing one or both films. I will check out the second book in the series but it will be sometime before I get to it. I will pick it up when I need to read a book by an author whose last name starts with "L".

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Portmanteau Word

1.29.11 - portmanteau word. A word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two different words, as chortle, from chuckle and snort.

I never knew what a portmanteau word was, at least I did not know the this was the definition. It's a good day - I learned something new. Put your favorite portmanteau word in the comments if you like.

Friday, January 28, 2011


1.28.11 - Change. To give a completely different form or appearance to; transform

In my constant search for good hair, I am unafraid to make change after change! Change is good my friends.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


1.27.10 - Tween. A child between middle childhood and adolescence, usually between 8 and 12 years old.

I have a so-called tween and I work incredibly hard to counteract the vast amounts of marketing that is specifically designed to appeal to her and her peers. It is stunning what is created to gain their dollars. Today it was announced that Walmart will soon be launching a tween make-up line. WHAT?? Be vigilant mommies and daddies! (end rant)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


1.26.11 - Conference. A meeting for consultation or discussion.

Tonight was the night for parent/teacher kid is great, marches to her own drum, talks waaaay to much and needs to work on the 6th grade math concepts that she is learning. Thanks and good night!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


1.25.11 - Intrigue. The practice of engaging in secret schemes.

The intrigue of this week's novel is keeping me on the edge of my seat!

Monday, January 24, 2011


1.24.11 - Exhausted. Drained of energy or effectiveness; extremely tired

After taking care of my sick daughter today - I am exhausted! She is feeling a little better though and that is good news.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


1.23.11 - Anglophile. A person having admiration for England or the English.

I love Sunday nights! It is the night where my true Anglophile comes out to play. Masterpiece Classic and BBCAmerica - pleasures that are far from guilty.

E - Eerie Little Bedtime Stories - Madame M (132 pages)

This creepy little book of poems is a wonderful book for children ages 6 and up. I met the author in 2002 and at a book fair and she signed this and another book for my then 2-year-old daughter. "Alexandra, Get Creepy Baby - Love Madame M".  I thought that was a wonderful note and her books are just as good. My daughter has read them over and over since she was 6. She has a good sense of what makes a good book - so I picked up this slight tome and gobbled it up. 

Madame M covers topics such as art and spiders and mummies (oh my)! Engaging and fun - this is a great read for young and old. 

Here is an example of what you will find in this book:

Scary Larry

Scary Larry's a scarecrow
The best there ever was
No one else can hang around
Watching corn grow as he does

He's done it for many, many years
Just guarding his precious crop
From the big, black, dirty crows
Like a traffic cop

One time he even won 
The Best Scarecrow Grand Prize
So the crows, being jealous
Pecked out both his eyes

But that did not discourage him
Or even make him blue
He replaced them with two shiny buttons
And now he's good as new

This was one of my favorite poems in the book. If you have young children (especially boys) seek out this book - it is just creepy and gross enough to hold a young boy's interest and just fun enough for a young girl!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


1.22.11 - Procrastination. To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness. To postpone or delay needlessly.

Today I am the queen of procrastination. I have many things that I should be doing, but no desire or inclination to do any of them! Gah - not good.

Friday, January 21, 2011


1.21.11 - Frantic. Highly excited with strong emotion and frustration; frenzied.

The book I chose to read for this week will not be finished this week...I am frantic because I need to find a replacement and flip this week's book to next week!! UGH!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


1.20.11 - Nosey. Offensively curious or inquisitive.

My daughter is SO nosey, it is more than the curious! She needs to stay out of grown folk's business!! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Second Chance

1.19.11 - Second Chance. Opportunity to try something again.

I am a big fan of American Idol, but last season was a mess. I have been persuaded by the pull of J. Lo (and the editor of the website) to give them a second chance! They better bring it!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


1.18.11 - Geography. The scientific study of the Earth's surface and its various climates, countries, people, and natural resources. 

So proud of my daughter, she competed in the geography bee today and made it to the final round! The knowledge in that little head is expansive.

Monday, January 17, 2011

R - Red Riding Hood - Sarah Blakely-Cartwright (329 pages)

I really wanted to love this book, but I walk away with just a bit of like and a lot of confusion. It took me a little time to get into this book, I think the main reason was because it read like a screenplay - with lots of stage directions without explicitly pointing out that "Valerie walks to stage left" was very distracting. Once I got past that annoyance, the story picked up.

This is a re-imagining of the classic Red Riding Hood tale with a slightly modern and gothic twist to the tale. The book is still set in some undetermined time in the past, but the "wolf" in question appears to be a werewolf (as is the trend these days). The story centers around Valerie (Red) and the village of Daggorhorn, a village that is tormented monthly by the wolf. As long as the village offers the wolf a sacrifice (usually a goat or some such thing) a tenuous agreement stands. Something happens to break this bond and as often happens, things get bad.

I chose this book because it is going to be a major motion picture in March of this year. The trailer was compelling and when I saw that there was a book I checked it out so that I could read it before I saw it. I believe that this may be a rare instance where the movie may be better than the book, I am really hoping that is the case anyway.

My ultimate frustration with the book came at the end, when I was finally completely engaged in the story - it ended abruptly giving us a website address to learn the ending. When you try to open the website - you get a page that says check back soon for the final chapter! How totally and completely frustrating! 

I am very disappointed with this book - it could have been great, but it wound up being just all right.


1.17.11 - Freedom. The quality or state of being free: as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint or action. Liberation from slavery or restraint from the power of another: independence.

Remembering the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. today. 

...And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sunday, January 16, 2011


1.16.11 - Classic. Serving as a stand of excellence: of recognized value

One of my greatest pleasures is watching Masterpiece Classic. I must say I am a bit of an Anglophile and stories set in the early centuries of England are a particular favorite of mine. Yay for PBS - don't forget to support this wonderful institution!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oy vey

1.15.11 - Oy vey. A Yiddish expression of woe or pain.

Oy vey is BG's new term of exasperation...somebody has been watching too much of "The Nanny" on Nick at Nite...

Friday, January 14, 2011


1.14.11 - Junkie. Someone who is so ardently devoted to something that it resembles an addiction.

Let's face it, I am a pop culture junkie! It is awards season and I will watch every single one of them. My name is Deejah...

Thursday, January 13, 2011


1.13.11 - Short. Having little height; not tall.

I surprised many of my co-workers today when I came to work in sneakers (Football jersey/t-shirt day) - they were all surprised to see that I am really quite short! It was funny to see the reactions. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


1.12.11 - Healthy. Having or indicating good health in body or mind; free from infirmity or disease.

I am taking steps to be healthy in body and in mind. The body part is going well - modified my diet, added some exercise and have lost some weight. The mind part is coming along as well! Here's to more healthy days ahead.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


1.11.11 - Transformation. A marked change as in appearance or character, usually for the better.

Sometimes a small transformation, such as a new hair style, can make enough of a change to lift the spirits.

Monday, January 10, 2011


1.10.11 - Phenomenal. Extraordinary, outstanding; remarkable.

Tonight I watched the phenomenal documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work". I have never been a fan of Joan - she really does not make me laugh, but this documentary was brilliant, the access that she gave the film-makers was above and beyond. I now admire this phenomenal woman. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011


1.9.11 - Distraction. The act of distracting or the state of being distracted; especially: mental confusion.

Today I needed many distractions to keep my mind from dwelling on what could have been. I tried very hard to focus on the now.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


1.8.11 - Gob-smacked. Extremely surprised or shocked.

I was gob-smacked when I heard of the tragic shooting in Tucson, what is going on in this world we live in?

Friday, January 7, 2011


1.7.11 - Anticipation. An expectation.

I have been carrying my new book in my purse for over 3 hours now! I am nearly overcome with anticipation, there is nothing like settling in to a new story.

A: Anna and The French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins (372 pages)

So here is the first book of my project for 2011 - Books A-Z. It is a book that begins with A - I cannot promise that the books that follow will show up in alphabetical order, but I can assure you that the last book will start with a Z. Everything else will happen when it happens! I like it!

Who would have thought that such a great book would have such a silly title? Not me! But after hearing about this book from a few friends and then hearing it discussed on NPR, I was compelled to push pass my title prejudices and pick up this gem. I am more than pleased with my decision.

Anna is the teen-aged protagonist who is sent away to boarding school in France by her rather pretentious and silly father who is up and coming best-selling author of "douche-y" books. Please forgive me if you are a Nicholas Sparks fan - but the description that Anna gives of her dad fits Sparks and his genre of books to a tee. That illicits a big old BLECH from me!

This book is both serious and fun and it was a book I wanted to re-read as soon as I was finished with the last word. Following Anna in her struggle with independence, abandonment issues, language barriers and love was the perfect way for me to ring in the New Year! The students at SOAP (School of America in Paris) provided the perfect distraction from making resolutions and watching countdown shows. These characters made me want to break out of my comfort zone, try something new - go somewhere unknown, live a little! Who knows what else I may learn the rest of the year! Maybe I'll take the trip of a lifetime, as long as I have a book or two tucked in my bag - I'll be good to go.

Check this book out - there are no werewolves or vampires (not that there is anything wrong with vamps and weres), it is just a solidly written debut novel that sings from the pages. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011


1.6.11 - Character. One of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.

Me: What did you dream last night?
BG: I was a wizard and I only recognized one person, but my character seemed to have lots of friends.
Me: Are you the character?
BG: Of course mom...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


1.5.11 - Motivated. To give (someone) a reason to do something. To be a reason for (something).

Doing some research has motivated me to make a change. Excited to put the steps in place to take on something new!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011


1.4.11 - Uplifted. Exalted emotionally especially with pride. I received an email from a great friend this morning that left me uplifted and ready to take on the day! Thank you friend!!

Monday, January 3, 2011


1.3.11: Unamused. Not amused; thus often offended or put off. Today BG's 10-year-old attitude has left me unamused...

Reading from A to Z

For 2011 I will continue to have books prominently featured in my life as I read Books A-Z (that's a book title for each letter of the alphabet). So, that will be fewer books than I read last year, but a bit tougher because I will have to work a little harder to find books that meet the criteria. If I continually choose books I like (fantasy, YA, etc.), I may quickly have 8 T's and not much of anything else. So I will have to choose wisely. 

Though I would love to get all crazy-Deejah OCD with this project - I may not be reading in alphabetical order. I will start with an A book and close the project with a Z book - but the middle, well - it's up for grabs. 

So - since there are 26 letters of the alphabet, I will have to complete a book every 2 weeks and just like those months with extra paychecks - I will have an extra book to complete. I loved reading a book a week in 2010 and I feel a little like a slacker picking only 26 books this year for this project, but I know me and I am a bit of an over-achiever so don't be shocked if you see multiple books for the same letter this year! SO - let's get going!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


1.2.11: Anxious. Characterized by an extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency: worried. I am anxious about my day tomorrow - lots of things to get handled and to deal with.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


1.1.11: Hopeful. Having or expressing hope. In my case it is having hope. Looking forward to what this new year will bring. I am hopeful.

2011 Word of the Day!

In place of the photo-a-day, I will be stretching my vocabulary with a word-a-day, every day, that will describe the day I had. The trick will be to use a different word or phrase every day of the year. Crazy, right? That’s cool. 

Project Wrap-Up

The numbers are in and in 2010 I did a lot of reading...14667 pages of reading to be exact! And here is how it broke down!

I read:
  • 21 works of fiction
  • 5 memoirs (5 more than I have ever read in any given year) 
  • 3 mystery/thrillers
  • 2 short stories
  • 1 kiddie book
  • 8 young adult novels (this is fast becoming a favorite genre)
  • 3 graphic novels
  • 1 book of essays
  • 1 National Book Award winner
  • 1 Pulitzer Prize winner
  • 10 fantasy novels (vampires mostly)

My top 3 books were:
  • One Day - David Nicholls
  • This is Where I Leave You - Jonathan Tropper
  • The Solitude of Prime Numbers - Paolo Giordano

It was sometimes a tough row to hoe - but I got it done! So proud to have completed this journey!

Week 52: How Reading Changed My Life (Library of Contemporary Thought) - Anna Quindlen (96 pages)

Whew! This book is the final entrant for my 52 in 52 challenge! When my bibliophile best friend Lara suggested that we take on this challenge, I was fearful and excited at the same time. I mean - I love to read, how hard could it be? Oftentimes it was not as hard as many suspected it would be - but trust me, I suffered my trials and tribulations get some of these books completed in the time allotted! I still had to go to work, raise a child and throughout most of the project work on and maintain a relationship. The kid got raised, the job is still there, but sadly, the boyfriend did not make it. It wasn't because I was reading so much (I hope!!) but because relationships are hard. I learned that this year and so many other things while reading my way through the year.

Lara suggested that this be our last book and I was happy to take it on. I will not lie, I was excited by the very slimness of the volume. Ms. Quindlen offers that she was a young, escapist reader - much like myself. I would escape into Little Women, The Wizard of Oz, or anything else that I could check out from the library. I learned about kissing and boys and being a responsible citizen and far-off places from the volumes of books that I read. So reading changed my life the first time I cracked open Danny and The Dinosaur and read the whole thing myself. Words transported and transformed me. I love words and connected - I love the stories they tell. I passed that love of reading on to my child, who often has at least one book tucked into her backpack. I love to look over at her when she is reading - head in a cloud, completely transfixed by what is going on in the story.

This year of 2010 was a tough one, I lost some friends and some family and there were some physical setbacks as well - but the constant was the books that were to come and the ones that I completed. Those books help to buoy me through this year, they helped me to temporarily escape to some place completely different from the place I was in, it was not always a happier place - but it was certainly, always a different place. So this year - more than any other, reading absolutely changed my life. Reading reminded me that I have an active, hungry brain that needs to be fed, it reminded me that I have a capacity to learn new things, it reminded me it is often great to get lost in a good book. Thank you reading, thank you Anna Quindlen for writing a lovely final book and thank you Lara for suggesting that we take this crazy journey! It was divine.