Happy National Dog Day: Uggie–My Story

Happy National Dog day to all the canine-lovers out there! Though I am not a dog owner, myself, I have been blessed to meet and love many dogs during my life.

One dog in particular who left a paw print on my heart was Uggie, the celebrity dog from The Artist, among other movies. I have yet to see him on film, but I was fortunate to meet him in person with my sister at my favorite bookstore, Anderson’s Bookshop, a few years ago. He was on a book tour with his trainer, and Jennifer and I both bought Uggie’s memoir, which he kindly “pawtographed” for us.

I loved hearing about his unlikely rise to stardom after von Muller, his trainer, rescued him from the pound. Von Muller immediately recognized Uggie had something special–that his spark could lead to amazing things. I’m still partway through the book, and I need to pick it back up again–it’s absolutely adorable, just like Uggie.

Sadly, at 13 years old, Uggie passed away earlier this month. I’m sure few other dogs lived as glamorous a life as he–and more importantly, he was loved so much by so many. I’m grateful I was able to meet him a couple of years ago.

Thanks for sharing your talents, zest for life, and love with us, Uggie. 

Have you read or seen Uggie’s work? Are there special dogs in your life? I’d love to hear your stories, dear readers. ❤️🐶

Happy Father’s Day!

I hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day! Ours was lovely–we visited extended family we don’t get to see often. We really enjoyed sharing stories and hugs.

Back at home, Jennifer, our mom, Oreo, and I gave my dad his presents and cards. He loved them all, especially the book of touching quotes about fatherhood Jennifer and I had found earlier this year in Cedarburg, WI.

Oreo also gave our dad extra snuggles today, which both of them equally enjoyed. ;)

For more on Father’s Day and what my dad means to me, please visit this post: Happy Father’s Day 2013.

I love you, Dad!

My dad and I have always enjoyed time in the car together. :) <3

Happy National Best Friends Day

I was so busy today, so just a quick post before bed–but today was National Best Friends Day, and I didn’t want the day to go by unacknowledged (you know how I am about holidays–and loved ones, at that!).

 I’m blessed my very first best friend is still my best friend. 👯💕 That hasn’t changed since this picture was taken, even if our height difference has. ;)
I’m also blessed by this amazing group of people. I’ve counted most of them as best friends for 20 years; some more recent, but no less enduring.   (Taken just a few weeks ago)

I’m beyond grateful for my besties; they’re a huge part of whom I’ve become. I love you all!

Matchmaking: Young Adult + Adult Novel Pairings

Happy Sunday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a good weekend. We’ve been having some beautiful weather here lately, except for today’s ominous skies.

I came across this article on Book Riot that I thought was a fascinating idea: matching Young Adult with Adult novel companions. The concept is familiar to me, as an English major, where subject matter, style, etc. in one book is enriched by reading another that matches it in some way. Sometimes, themes or revolutionary ideas don’t click for me until I read something else that echoes what I’ve formerly read in some way. One of the neatest parts of being an English major in college was benefiting from the insights of seasoned professors making these sometimes obscure discoveries, much like someone else finding tea cups for a solitary tea pot you bought years ago from a different store–they’re just better together (thanks, Jennifer).

Cardew Snow White tea cup–click link to buy. Jennifer bought me 4 of these and 2 of a different style. <3

The theory of such a list kind of matches the one I’ve mentioned before–that “no book is an island.” No matter how isolationist or revolutionary an author seems, every book is, in some way, a response to society. It’s really interesting to see how different viewpoints approach a similar idea or expression. Not to mention–there is such an overlap between YA literature and Adult nowadays, it’s hard to draw a line (both in content and readership).

Here is the list. What do you think, dear readers? Did they get it right? Personally, I haven’t read these, but the Abhorsen trilogy, all of Margaret Atwood’s books, and Shatter Me are all high on my to-be-read list!

Are there books you have found to be interesting counterparts of each other? Personally, I find Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera to be interesting companions (especially Andrew Lloyd Weber’s stage/movie version of the latter, versus the more horror genre of the original novel). They both explore romance, imprisonment, free will vs. control, appearance vs. soul, and other themes that I’ve been intrigued by since forever. Pride and Prejudice is another neat companion to Beauty and the Beast, but not, I’d say, to Phantom.

Enjoy the final hours before Monday! :)

Happy 115th Anniversary to L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

Today is the 115th anniversary of the publication of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Is this a special book or movie to you? What about the many spin-offs it’s inspired?

For a fascinating look into the inspiration behind the classic work, check out the Smithsonian’s online gallery and videos here.

I really need to read the original book–it’s been on my list for years. I’ve seen the movie many times, of course, especially as a child, when my sister couldn’t get enough of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. (Did you know they were silver in the original book–changed to ruby to show off the movie’s technicolor?) P.S. My sister is still on the hunt for a pair of ruby slippers of her own–the marketing team just didn’t cater to tall young girls like us at Dorothy’s age. ;)

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, is a very important book and musical to me. I read and watched it at a very important time of my life–a little over a month after my traumatic brain injury. It was very inspiring to me to see a young woman change the world for the better, even if she looked and thought differently than everyone else. I couldn’t believe my luck when the author, Gregory Maguire, visited my college campus and I got to thank him in person for the impact he’d had on my life. (Thanks to fellow blogger, Chris, for discovering the opportunity!)

Fangirling and getting many books signed by my author hero and inspiration, Gregory Maguire.

Though the book and the musical are very different, I love them both. “Defying Gravity” is still the song I try to live my life by. ;)

So, happy anniversary to a book that has inspired the imagination–and heart, brains, and courage–of people around the world for 115 years.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mother figures out there–biological and adoptive moms; teachers/counselors; fur-baby-moms (me!); and anyone who’s ever loved someone in a nurturing way.

I’d like to wish a special Mother’s Day to my own mom. I’m blessed to have such a strong, loving, kind role model in my life, let alone to call her my mother. She’s always taught my sister and me that we should reach for our dreams and determine our own lives, never letting someone or something else hold us back. More than anyone else, she’s taught me how to treat others with kindness, even if it’s difficult. (Please read this poem for one of my defining memories with my mother from childhood.) Over the years, my mom has never stopped being my mother, but now I’m lucky to call her my friend, too.

Here are a couple of pictures from about a month ago, when my mom and I went to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show together. Gardening is something we’ve dabbled with (her, much more than me!) together since I was little. We had so much fun learning about pollination and edible gardens, but what was most fun was the time we spent together. :) <3

I am also blessed to be a mom to this precious baby:

Cuddle time with Oreo <3

and this one in Heaven:

Smooches with Chad <3

Our Mother’s Day this year was pretty laid-back. My mom is an AMAZING cook, but today, she got a break from the kitchen, as the rest of us pitched in for meals. :) We enjoyed spending time together; giving cards and gifts; and watching some Game of Thrones. Jennifer and I have a pedicure booked for our mom next week, when salons will be a bit less crazy, hopefully. ;)

Also, something I’ve been aware of this year especially is that this can be a hard holiday for some people. A radio station posted this on Facebook, and I think it expresses sympathy and comfort perfectly:

And finally, to end this on an upbeat note…Buzzfeed posted this excellent list of “19 Badass Literary Mothers Who Need to be Celebrated.” Well, the title pretty much sums it up–and I must say, I agree with as much of the list as I’m familiar with–and like yesterday’s list, it’s added more to my ever-growing “To Be Read” list. :) Molly Weasley of Harry Potter and Catelyn Stark of Game of Thrones top the list–check it out!

Happy Birthday J. M. Barrie! Peter Pan’s Importance to Adults + Adaptations

Happy birthday to J. M. Barrie, author of many wonderful works, and most famously, Peter Pan. In honor of his birthday, Book Riot posted this list of books inspired by Peter Pan, some of which are a retelling of the story, and some of which act as prequels/sequels to the original content.

This book holds a special place in my heart and imagination. My exposure to it as a child was mostly through the Disney Peter Pan movie, followed by Hook. Then, as a teenager, the little-known, fantastical, romantic live-action version came out, and it became my favorite of all. I also loved the recent Johnny Depp movie about the author’s life.

However, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally read the original book–which I absolutely LOVED. At the end, I cried–truly feeling the loss of innocence that must come with “growing up,” even as we try to remain optimistic and imaginative. It describes a truth that’s well-known, but in such a lovely way that it feels you’ve never heard it before. It may be labeled as a children’s book, but, as with many with the label, you can’t understand all its layers until you look at childhood in retrospect.

That’s why I’m excited to see this list. Tiger Lily is already on my “To Be Read” list, but I think I need to add many of these others, too!

How about you, readers? Is this a special story for you? What versions are you familiar with?

P.S. I am planning to post a Mother’s Day tribute tomorrow, but in case I get too busy with festivities–I’m wishing all mother figures out there a happy day! <3