H.R.H. by Danielle Steel

First, let me preface this by saying I haven't read Danielle Steel since I was probably 17 years old.

Steel was sort of the "transition author" for me - the bridge between SVH and Babysitter's Club to "grown up" books. I remember thinking her stories were sweeping and lovely, had a bit of sex and lots of exotic locales.

Since I hadn't read Steel in so long, and because she's still as popular as ever, I wanted to give her another try, and this title seemed pretty innocuous - I mean, who doesn't like princess stories?

(Shout out to Meg Cabot!)

Christianna is the princess of Liechtenstein, and is a poor little lamb trapped in a gilded cage who wants nothing more than to go to war-torn Africa to work for the Red Cross, where she inevitably will fall in love and change the course of her life drastically.

And yes, the plot follows the script in your head exactly. A hundred pages of her whinging on about her poor me life and how AWFUL it is to be a princess of a nation with only 33,000 subjects, her fairytale romance with her new man who is of course beyond perfect, and naturally, a couple of tragedies that change her life forever (oh, sob!).


The writing is TOTALLY pedestrian, the plot telegraphed a million pages before it happens, the characters trite, and the action moved at a snail's pace. I didn't care if Christianna got the man, got malaria, or got her tiara shined - I.didn't.care.

And yet, Steel is still one of the most popular authors ever.

How does that happen?

Well, I've satiated my curiosity and rest assured, I won't waste my time on any more Steel novels...


Candy Girl by Diablo Cody

I know I've said this about books before, but this really is like a train wreck that you can't look away from.

Diablo, most famous for penning the screenplay for Juno, in 2006 wrote this memoir of her experiences in the...well, in the world of stripping. Diablo was raised in a nice family, has a good education, no history of sexual abuse, she just...wanted to try stripping. In Minnesota. For fun.

This memoir is at times horrifying, but definitely hilarious. Diablo's candid observations and participation in the world of semi-nude and nude dancing will draw the reader in and won't let go for 200 pages. Clearly, this memoir is NOT for the faint of heart, nor for those offended by language, off colour remarks, and very frank descriptions of sex and stripping.

This is a voyeuristic treat for those who always wanted to see "behind the curtain" at the clubs...

Funny and fascinating!


And Sometimes Why by Rebecca Johnson

This is one of those titles you begin in the morning, vowing to read a few pages before moving on to other things, and yet, throughout the day, chores get neglected and you seem to make a permanent dent in your patio furniture as you read page after page, eager to see where the story is going.

I don't quite know how to summarize this well-written, at times funny story in the middle of a tragedy. Miranda and Helen are the daughters of Sophia and Darius, a typical middle American couple until the day one daughter meets a boy and the other meets with a terrible accident.

Johnson has woven an engrossing story about a tragic accident, filled with characters both integral and accidental, but all compelling. Though I had a feeling I knew how it would end, I was surprised by the turns it took to get there.

Johnson is a contributing editor for Vogue, and her writing strength truly shines with this character-driven novel. Highly recommended!


Dark Summit by Nick Heil

I seem to be developing a thing for stories from Mount Everest: first I read Into Thin Air by Krakauer, then I read Bear Grylls' story from Everest, and I just put "Everest" into my Netflix queue, the miniseries that Discovery aired this year.

Little did I know when I added it that that mini-series is an account of the same disastrous year on Everest that this nonfiction work covers. Though Heil was not a part of the ascent teams in 2006, he has done a great job of weaving together the stories of several teams who took to Everest in 2006 in hopes of reaching the summit - only to have the second highest fatality rate of any climbing year but 1996 (the year Krakauer climbed Everest).

This climbing year was like no other, mostly for the controversy that surrounded it: David Sharp, a lone climber with no team, little oxygen and no support, died on the mountain after more than 40 climbers passed him by, either unwilling or unable to help him. Though Heil details Sharp's story, he also talks of the death of German Thomas Weber, and other fatalities from the climb, as well as profiling many of the climbers involved in Everest in 2006.

Heil had to composite a lot of opinions and differing points of view for this story, and has done a good job of assimilating them into a cohesive tale. In addition, he spends a lot of his pages detailing the history of the mountain and her climbers, as well as some of the technicalities of climbing. Pictures from the 2006 season also round out this biography of a year on Everest. While not as "it's like you're right there!" as Krakauer's story, this is still a great read about a harrowing season on Everest - at turns grim and triumphant.

If you enjoyed Into Thin Air or are a fan of extreme adventure, check this one out!


Gratuitous Nine Inch Nails picture in honor of having a new (free) (super rad) song to download from NIN - with maybe hopefully pleasepleaseplease a new NIN album in the near future - with lyrics!


That is all. Have a nice day. :-)


Afternoon SmilesFor the last five years, I've been beyond proud to be a part of the TinyTown Relay for Life effort. Below is the letter I just sent to my nearest and dearest...if you are so inclined, I would absolutely love to have your support (and your dollars) for this cause...

Hi all!

You know, it's been kind of a whirlwind year for me.

I was promoted to director of the library (what were they thinking?!), I bought my very first house (what was *I* thinking?!), I went to places like Seattle, Chicago, Washington, DC, Philadelphia and North Carolina and even a demolition derby, Hoosier style. I dressed like a pirate, I rode a bike slow and a motorcycle fast, I saw 300 in IMAX, I dyed my hair red, went tubing on the lake, wrote a novel and cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

One thing was a constant throughout the year, though.

My mother's continual battle with cancer.

Chemotherapy is again a daily part of our lives, a litany of pills and instructions, and the pride that Mum is the first patient at the hospital to try THIS particular cocktail - kind of like being a bartender's guinea pig, but with less dancing on tables at 2am.

Mum just got a month off (for good behavior, we joke) from chemo before she has to jump back in again...just in time for this year's Relay for Life.

I know she is going to struggle to walk that track and to take on the heat of the day, feeling how she feels, but I know she's going to do it.

And so will I.

Each year, TinyTown comes together in this huge cacophony of tents, events, Relay walkers, luminarias, food, fun and, yes, the occasional sunburn or two, in a 24-hour fight to raise money for cancer research. If you haven't witnessed firsthand an entire town circling a track all day to benefit others, I really can't do the sight justice. This year, the track will be a riot of color, celebrating our theme of "Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back".

I am once again proud to be heading up the library team - gathering walkers, soliciting donations, putting together a raffle basket, digging out our team tent from the recesses of storage, and stocking up the drinks cooler with plenty o' water.

As in past years, I'm going to be spending all day, all evening, all night at the track on the weekend of June 7th - 8th, but there's only one way that can happen.

With your help.

Without your pledges, I'll never be able to walk around the track in the heat and humidity of a June day and night for 24 hours, while cheering on my team as they do the same.

This is where you come in. :-)

With your contributions, we can raise money for a great cause, help me and my team meet our goal, and give me motivation to stay awake, walk in circles for long amounts of time, and generally annoy my co-workers. I do that now, but this won't be on library time. ;-)

Here's the best part - you can donate online!

What? Online? Tell me more!

You can make a secure online contribution right from my Personal Donation Page:


If you prefer to snail mail your contribution to me, that's fine too. I just want to raise oodles of money and impress everyone in TinyTown with my flush friends. ;-) Donate early! Donate often!

If you are unable to contribute...I totally understand. Send me an email instead, saying hello. It's enough that your thoughts are with us as we walk to beat this disease that touches so many lives.

Thank you for your support (and your dollars) in an event that is so close to my heart.

You are my stars.




Princess Mia by Meg Cabot

This is the ninth book in the Princess Diaries series from writing whirlwind Cabot. After CRUELLY leaving us with a cliffhanger in #8, Cabot picks right up where she left off - post break-up, pre-wallowing of Mia.

As always, this title is packed with pop culture references, a fun tone, and continues to edge the story of Mia forward as she explores new relationships and her growing responsibilities with Genovia. I don't want to say anything more, for fear of being spoiler-y!

This is another fun addition to the series - but now I REALLY want the next one to come out!!!


The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

I admit it...it was the huge pouffy dress on the front of this YA novel that drew me to it before the positive reviews did.

But, I mean, look at it! Pouffy and pink!

Anyhoo, this YA novel is basically Gossip Girls as imagined in 1899 New York high society. As the review in Publisher's Weekly perfectly summarized:

"This tangled web includes not one but two sets of star-crossed lovers; an upstairs/downstairs romance; a scheming social climber; a bitter servant girl; and oodles of money, all set in a Edith Wharton via Hollywood vision of Old New York."

I really enjoyed this YA novel, especially as it represents something other than standard high school drama. Though the plot twist is easy to see from page one, I enjoyed the story that got the reader there - the fashion, the friendships, and the fact that only 100 years ago, marriages were still arranged to benefit class and cash - in this case, forever changing the life of angelic Elizabeth Holland, beloved daughter of a high society family.

The author leaves the novel wide open for a sequel, which is due out in early June (entitled Rumors, and featured a huge RED dress on the cover). Overall, I really enjoyed this YA novel from a different era...


Winter Study by Nevada Barr

I just finished the latest Anna Pigeon novel - a series I totally adore from author Barr. Wanna read my full review? Check out my newest column at Crucial Pop!


The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman

I have read many of Hoffman's novels, and find that she has a kind of written magic, not unlike the magic she often interweaves into her stories. Her words lull you and pull you, always elegant and delicate, yet evocative and readable.

In this, her latest, Hoffman deftly weaves together three disparate stories of three disparate young women, but with a common thread through them that tugs and tugs until it unravels for the reader at the end. There are many themes in this novel - herons, lovers, commitments, and the three angels: the Angel of Death, the Angel of Life, and the Third Angel, who walks among us and makes mistakes.

This is another great addition to Hoffman's canon - you can't go wrong with a writer that Jodi Picoult often names as her favorite.



Earthquake Rocks the Tri-State.

Nothing like being woken up at 4:30 in the morning to a 5.4 EARTHQUAKE only 50 miles away.

That was HUGE.

Everything was shaking and it was LOUD, and it seemed to last forever, plus waiting for aftershocks to hit. They say the quake lasted 10 seconds, but everyone in my county and next door in the big city are reporting shaking that lasted much, much longer than that.

That was my first big one, ever.

It was felt as far away as Chicago, Memphis, and Kansas City, but right here in TinyTown we got the force of it.

Everything is Sunnymeade appears to be normal, but for a few things that fell over on tables and countertops.



HaydenI blame my brother-in-law.

From the first motorcycle ride he took me on when I was just a kid to going to Putnam Park (despite disastrous results at times) for track day, I've become increasingly interested in motorcycle racing.

And his devotion to MotoGP has totally rubbed off on me.

For a combination of factors (which most other faithful fans seem to be echoing of late), NASCAR has failed to hold my attention for the last season or two (but that's a different rant), whereas MotoGP has slowly been taking over my Sunday afternoon racing attention.

These guys, seriously, are nuts.

Whipping around tracks and going through chicanes at 45 degree angles with only a bit of leather and a hockey puck on their knee? Nuts.

(See what Nicky Hayden is doing in that picture? Yeah. That. All the time. Every race. With like an inch of tire rubber on the ground every time. Yeah.)

But man, fun to watch.

I've got my guys that I'm cheering for (Nicky Hayden - from just south of TinyTown in Kentucky, Randy de Puniet - for looking damn hot with no shirt on, and James Toseland - like me this year, he's a rookie to MotoGP and is from the UK), and I'm watching each race with growing interest as I learn the teams, the riders and the ins and outs of the sport.

Needless to say, I'm superstoked about going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this September for the first inaugural MotoGP race at the track - that's going to be a helluva weekend.

Stay tuned... ;-)

My one other fave part of MotoGP? The commentators. They get SO EXCITED about everything, and they are all foreigners. Awesome.

"Casey Stoner is absolutely flying!"

Hee. ;-)

Best MotoGP vid I've seen...possibly ever.

Of course, if you wanna see some truly hellacious wrecks, just search YouTube for MotoGP and wreck...you'll be horrified...and then amazed that these guys just get up and walk away...

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Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

I simply couldn't contain my review for Jennifer Weiner's new book into the space I usually use here, so instead, I made it my feature review for Crucial Pop this week. I hope you'll stop by and read - and check out my previous reviews (links at the bottom of the article)...


She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel

My friend Becca has been nagging me for ages to listen to this memoir, the follow-up to Kimmel's successful first memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana, and now that I've listened to it, I don't know how I've gone so long without it in my orbit.

Like Zippy, this is another compilation of stories from Zippy's childhood, focusing more on her home life, and the years that her mother Delonda got up off the couch, bought a VW van, lost 150 pounds, and went to college, later becoming a master's student and taking a job of her own, thus breaking away from her role as mother and child bride.

Zippy's stories are laugh out loud funny, poignant, charming, witty, inspiring, and local. I know the places she mentioned, the weather she describes, the characters she spotlights - she has truly written a love letter to growing up in Indiana.

This memoir doesn't feel as lighthearted as Zippy, and puts a shadow across what could be easily dismissed as an idyllic childhood - an ever more distant father, neglect at times at the hands of her mother's education, and the feeling that Zippy's imagination had to be truly borne out of the need to entertain herself, as no one else would do so.

I simply, absolutely adored this memoir. My day feels lonely without these stories to come home to.

Note: I listened to this audiobook, narrated by the author. Simply said, NO ONE ELSE could narrate this but Kimmel - her voice, her inflection, her warmth made this such a pleasure to read. I don't think I would have enjoyed this memoir nearly as much without her voice guiding me through it. This is definitely a "listen only" for me.

(link to Crucial Pop review)


The Ex-Debutante by Linda Francis Lee

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this follow up to Devil in the Junior League, and this is one of those dishy books where I got to glimpse into a culture so different from my strict British upbringing in the Hoosier Heartland.

Carlisle Wainwright Cushing has been called home to Texas after working as a successful Boston attorney for years - to serve as counsel for her mother's latest divorce, and to preside over the 100th annual Willow Creek Symphony Association Debutante Ball, though not necessarily in that order, all the while stalling on setting a date to marry her fiance back in Boston...

I know nothing about debutante balls, big Texas hair, the Texas Dip, a mother with divorces nearing the double digits or sexy opposing counsel lawyers who used to be boyfriends, but I surely enjoyed reading about it! This novel doesn't take itself too seriously, though has moments of true poignancy, and is just a fun look into debs, family, romance and finding out why you are who you are and how we are shaped by those who love us.

If you enjoyed Linda's previous novel, you'll enjoy this!


Project Runway is moving from BravoTV to Lifetime, Television for Women.

Oh dear.

This saddens me.

As long as Tim and Heidi stay on board, though....

At least Bravo has PR through season five...


Did I mention my shiny new computer?


Well, I got a shiny new Dell.

It’s fast. It’s slick. It’s…shiny. :-)

March 30

Like a raccoon, I love the shiny things. :-)

I also love being able to have more than one program open at a time, and for the computer not to CRAWL with every move I make. THAT is good stuff, people!

I also like the little widget that lets me switch between windows by shooting my open windows like a dance into the center for me to choose from (see above). It doesn't take much to make me happy, really. :-)


I'm Speechless.

My parents came down to TinyTown on a whim this weekend.

(They also delivered dirt, but that's a different story.)

In addition to traditional Priddis weekend activities (eating, cooking, talking about food, cleaning up after a meal, buying food for a meal, shopping, watching bull riding and giving Dad chores), we also had several errands to run in the big city.

Several weeks ago, I turned over the last few years of my crafting life to the Michael's framing department. Two 18-count counted crosstitches (that would be them up there), a matched set, that took me years to sew, and have hundreds of memories of where I was when I stitched them.

Finally, FINALLY, they were done!

Actual conversation between my mother and I at 9:04am on Sunday morning:

Me: I looked on the internet. Michael's is open ten to seven.

Mum: Ten to seven?

Me: Yeah, ten to seven.

Mum: So we missed the opening then.

Me: No, it's only nine now.

Mum: I know. We missed the opening.

Me: No, they're open ten to seven.

Mum: I know. Ten to seven.


Me: Wait. What the hell did you think I meant? 6:50am?!

*my mum dissolving into giggles*

Mum: I thought that was rather an odd time to open!

*me, hysterical by this point*

In any case, the framing turned out absolutely STUNNING, no? The black lacquer frames, the pops of colour on the mats? I just keep staring at them, thinking how I didn't think they could look any better when I finished them, and yet...they do. :-)

And now y'all know Michael's is open from ten to seven on Sundays. ;-)

(Crosstitch detail of Mr. Samurai, and of The Geisha Ladies)

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Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter

I thought this sounded like a fun, chick lit mix with the traditional P&P story. On a whim, Emily travels to England to take part in a "Jane Austen tour" of the English countryside, and while there, encounters...well, super hottie dream hunk crush, Mr. Darcy.

As well as a disagreeable journalist, a few ladies of "advanced years", a fairy godmother and a bus driver with a past.

This is a light, engaging read, if you are well versed in P&P you'll immediately see parallels in the stories and characters, and even right down to some of the language used. I know the market has been positively FLOODED with Austen knockoff, continuations, homages, and takeoffs, so I would worry that this one will get lost in the shuffle.

Still, I enjoyed the scenery, the characterization of Darcy, and the chick lit-ness of it. Fun and frothy - an easy read!


The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

I received this as an ARC, but it was actually released just a few days ago.

This was kind of a slow burn of a novel...it seems to take me ages to make a dent in the pages to really get into the "meat" of the story, but not in an unpleasant way, more in a "slowly unfolding" way.

Wolitzer follows the trials and tribulations of several New York wives and mothers, the "ten year nap" referring to the decade since they each gave up work to care for their young children. The novel focuses on their struggles to find their own identities within the confines of their families, the friendships with each other, their relationships with their children, and also with their husbands.

Wolitzer's switch from woman to woman is subtle and nuanced, but I most enjoyed the "mini chapters" that featured a woman only casually mentioned in the chapter before being fleshed out and made a part of the book. It makes more sense when you read it, but was a really interesting device in the novel.

The book doesn't feel very optimistic, but you root for these intelligent, albeit bored, women to find themselves within the larger orbit of their lives. Wolitzer's writing, though, is engaging, with occasional turns of phrase that you just have to read two or three times - something I love to find in books.


Yeah, we had ourselves a BIG OLE giggle at the reference desk over this one.

It wouldn't be half as funny if it weren't true.

Have you hugged your reference librarian today? ;-)

(Thanks, Maire! You made my day!)