Jackie’s Family

Random 5 Friday is a weekly meme over at A Rural Journal.

Today I want to tell you five random facts about the Sommers family.

1) My parents, Tom and Ronda, are still deeply in love after 33 years of marriage.  The older I get, the more I realize how lucky/blessed I am to have had marriage modeled by two people who are best friends who are crazy about each other.


2) I am so proud of my sister Kristin and brother Kevin for the way that they love God and people.  I could not have asked for two better siblings.


3) When the five of us are together, we inevitably will end up around the table, playing cards.  Kevin will start to sing something completely random, and the rest of us will join us will join in until he changes tunes or we all start arguing or laughing or yelling at each other for holding out on that seven of clubs.

This is me, biting my brother's shoulder.  I don't know why either.

This is me, biting my brother’s shoulder. I don’t know why either.

4) I grew up on a hobby farm in Kimball, Minnesota, a town of 700.  Sometimes we had pigs, sometimes chickens, usually cows.  Plus a dog and about 40 cats, who lived in the barn.  The ones born in the summer would be tame and loving, and ones born in the winter would be wild and frightened of us.  Today, the old “hog house” is remodeled into a living space for my brother.  We like to tease that he belongs in the old pig barn.


5) My family is hilarious and loud.  The boys tease me all the time for being a “loser” since I love to read and write … but I know they’re very proud of me and very supportive.

My dad and brother are basically the same person, just 33 years apart.

My dad and brother are basically the same person, just different ages.

books books books

Just finished …

Quitter by Jon Acuff | I don’t review a lot of non-fiction on this blog, but this book was fantastic.  It’s about how to turn your day job into your dream job, and it was very wise … and funny.  Jon Acuff is the man behind the hilarious Stuff Christians Like blog!  If you’re in a funk at your day job, you should definitely pick up this book.  Acuff spoke at the university where I work this past fall and was wonderful, so when NoiseTrade gave a free audio download of Quitter, I jumped at the opportunity (even though I’m actually not in a funk at my day job … but I wish I’d read this book last summer!).

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness | I was excited to read another Patrick Ness book, since I liked A Monster Calls so much!  The Knife of Never Letting Go features protagonists a little younger than I usually like (Todd is about 13-14 … their years have 13 months, sooooo …), but I really loved it.  Todd lives on New World in a place called Prentisstown, where men can hear each others’ thoughts.  There are no women or girls; the plague that made men’s thoughts into noise killed off the females, Todd is told.  There’s a dark secret to Prentisstown, and as Todd approaches becoming a man, he finds himself on the run from a savage army.  Along with a girl, because, yup, they’re not actually all gone.  I’ve already started the second Chaos Walking book, The Ask and the Answerand I’m loving that one as well!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis | This book got rave reviews from teens, who chose it as a YALSA Teens Top Ten Book for 212.  It’s about a girl named Amy, who is cryogenically frozen with her family, who are all to be unfrozen when they reach Centuri-Earth, about 350 years later.  But Amy is unfrozen early and finds herself on spaceship run by lies.  It was interesting, for sure, and I’m intrigued to find out what happens in the rest of this trilogy, but I have to say that I wasn’t terribly impressed with the writing.  Also, it kinda features an annoying insta-love, leaving me wondering if Elder likes Amy for anything more than her amazing red hair.  Sigh.  Still, I think I’ll tarry on.  Just got the second book, A Million Suns, from the library.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker | A little different from my normal YA, this book is an adult novel about 12-year-old Julia, set in a time when the rotation of the earth began to slow.  It’s a very interesting take on the “disaster book”: instead of some calamitous event like a giant asteroid smacking into earth, what if the disaster is tiny and slow-going?  At first, the slowing of the earth only adds a couple extra minutes onto each day, but over the course of a year, daylight (and nighttime) stretch out much longer.  Great writing.  Fascinating concept.  A little slower than my usual, but that’s okay.  I still recommend it!

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris | I love David Sedaris so freakin’ much.  The only book of his I didn’t really love was his one book of fiction, but I adore all his memoir!  This book doesn’t fail to delight as readers are treated to Sedaris’s dry and incredible humor as well as stories about the hilarious Sedaris family.  I recommend!

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral | This book was fascinating because it wasn’t made of text but of photos and paraphernalia such as music programs, text messages, and postcards.  From that, I learned the love story of Glory and Frank.  I can’t wait for another friend of mine to “read” it so that we can compare stories and see if our interpretations were the same!

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi | Okay, so I read this one in 19 hours, and that included 11 of them sleeping, ha!  So, yeah, I tore through this one.  It’s about a girl named Juliette whose touch is lethal.  This has always made her a freak, an outcast, and the story starts with her locked up in an asylum.  When a corrupt new government decides to use her power as a weapon, Juliette is thrown into a new world where it’s hard to know whom to trust.  But there is Adam.  Yeah.  He’s awesome.  The book is not without its faults though.  It’s distracting to always have her use actual numbers instead of spelling them out (3 vs. three), and I don’t love how she repeats repeats repeats words quite often.  Everything is a metaphor (I didn’t know there could be too many, but yes, I guess there can!).  There’s a lot of sexual energy in the book, as you might imagine would be true for a 17-year-old girl who can’t be touched.  All said, it’s not a perfect book, but it did draw me in– and quickly!  I can’t wait to read the next book, Unravel Me.  The third book doesn’t come out till February 2014 though!

David Small and Sarah Stewart were keynote speakers at a Children’s and YA Writing Conference I recently attended, and so sparked an interest in me for picture books.  I was quite pleased and impressed with Extra Yarn (written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen), One Cool Friend (written by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by David Small), and The Friend (written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small).  And it was a joy to re-read Imogen’s Antlers, written and illustrated by David Small, so many years after I’d originally read it.  I have a new appreciation for picture books and all the steps it takes to pull text and illustrations together into a beautiful, cohesive unit!

I also just finished reading through The Chronicles of Narnia.  Mmm, always Narnia.

Currently reading:

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Power & Poetry

When the stars fall, then do they fall to you?
Do you collect them in your room, in your fists?

And is your blood red like ours,
or a string of lyrics, if you opened your vein?
The scar, the recipe for spring.

Your hesitations reinvent color.
Your choices taste like fireworks.

Your whispers, the ghosts of philosophers,
the ones who spoke truth as best they knew how.


Best Kisses in Literature!

lipsTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at The Broke and the Bookish.  Today’s topic is a FREEBIE!

So, in light of my recent 7 Favorite YA Romances post, I decided to blog about my


*Blogger reserves the right to include more than ten.  Also, she may change up the format a little.

“Our tongues have fallen madly in love and gotten married and moved to Paris.”
Jandy Nelson, The Sky is Everywhere

“He bent down, his lips against her cheek, brushing it lightly—and still that light touch sent shivers through her nerves, shivers that made her whole body tremble. ‘If you want me to stop, tell me now,’ he whispered. When she still said nothing, he brushed his mouth against the hollow of her temple. ‘Or now.’ He traced the line of her cheekbone. ‘Or now.’ His lips were against hers.


But she had reached up and pulled him down to her, and the rest of his words were lost against her mouth. He kissed her gently, carefully, but it wasn’t gentleness she wanted, not now, not after all this time, and she knotted her fists in his shirt, pulling him harder against her. He groaned softly, low in his throat, and then his arms circled her, gathering her against him, and they rolled over on the grass, tangled together, still kissing.”
Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

“Lightning. Once it has forked, hot-white, from sky to earth, there is no going back. It’s time. I feel it, I know it. My eyes on him, his on me, and both of us breathing, watching, tired of of waiting. Ky closes his eyes, but mine are still open. What will it feel like, his lips on mine? Like a secret told, a promise kept? Like that line in the poem– a shower of all my days– silvery rain falling all around me, where the lighting meets the earth?”
Ally Condie, Matched

“He just watched the way Finnikin’s hands rested on Evanjalin’s neck and he rubbed his thumb along her jaw and the way his tongue seemed to disappear inside her mouth as if he needed a part of her to breathe himself.”
Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock

BEST LEAD-UP TO THE KISS: Froi and Quintana
“Our bodies aren’t strangers,’ he said, his voice ragged. ‘Our spirits aren’t strangers’. He held her face in his hands. ‘Tell me what part of me is stranger to you and I’ll destroy that part of me.’
Melina Marchetta, Quintana of Charyn

“What do you think would happen if we kissed right here, right now?” he asks, digging his hands into the pockets of his khaki pants, grinning right back at me.
“I think it would cause a riot.”
“Well, you know me,” he says, lowering his head towards me. “Causing a riot is what I do best.”
Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road

“Will Trombal sees me from the other side of the room and he grins and he makes a beeline for me and my mind is buzzing with the best opening. Hi. Hey. How’s it going? Great party. Love your shirt. Great music. Crap music. And he’s coming closer and closer and the way he’s looking at me makes me think that I’m going to have the most romantic night in the history of my life. I open my mouth to say something and he sticks his tongue down my throat. We’re in a corner, pashing, and I don’t even know what’s got me to this point. A look in a corridor? A flirt outside my nonna’s house? All I know is that no one exists around us. I don’t know whether we’re kissing for five minutes or five hours and my mouth feels bruised, but I can’t let go. Because it feels so good to be held…Will’s arms tremble as they hold me and his heart beats hard against me and I know that whatever I’m feeling is mutual. For a moment I taste the alcohol on his breath, and it brings me back to reality. ‘Do that sober and I’ll be impressed,’ I say before walking away.”
Melina Marchetta, Saving Francesca

SADDEST KISS: tie between Liesel and Rudy and Lir and Amalthea
“She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Leisel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist’s suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers…She did not say goodbye.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

“The unicorn bowed her head, and her horn glanced across Lir’s chin as clumsily as a first kiss.”
Peter Beagle, The Last Unicorn

“As he kisses her, the bonfire glows brighter. The acrobats catch the light perfectly as they spin. The entire circus sparkles, dazzling every patron.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“He kissed her slowly. Everything went slowly so he could follow her temper, and search into her eyes. When they joined, her scent was brave and strong and certain. Perry took it into himself, breathing her breath, feeling what she felt. He’d never known anything as right.”
Veronica Rossi, Under the Never Sky

SWEETEST KISS: Eleanor and Park
She didn’t move, so he thought it was probably okay to touch her face. Her skin was as soft as it looked, white and smooth as freckled porcelain.
“I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this rabbit hole…'”
He laid his thumb on her lips to see if she’d pull away. She didn’t. He leaned closer. He wanted to close his eyes, but he didn’t trust her not to leave him standing there.” 
Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor and Park


Do I have OCD?

Before my diagnosis and, hence, before I’d done a lot of personal research on obsessive compulsive disorder, I thought of OCD as “that disorder where you wash your hands a lot” or “the one where people tap the doorknobs” or “when you’re a really big neat freak.”  In some ways, my diagnosis was a surprise to me because I didn’t do any of those things.  But on the other hand, just the term obsessive sounded so much like my situation that I was willing to listen.

Maybe a year or so into my original search for medication (I ended up taking a year-long hiatus from the search after Luvox stole all my energy), I suddenly started worrying (or maybe even obsessing) that what I had wasn’t really OCD.  I seem to talk to a fair amount of obsessive-compulsives who also reach this point, worrying that maybe someone has plastered a name on them that is incorrect.  The interesting thing about this is that the OC usually feels guilty about it– as if they are receiving compassion and medical advice and help from friends and family for nothing, or what they are worried is nothing.

Interestingly, such a huge worry and incredible guilt only point to OCD all the more.

The more I have learned about OCD, the easier it is for me to see it in others.  Though I am by no means a doctor, I now believe that OCD is pretty easy to diagnose.



It’s all in the name.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder.


1) Do you have obsessions?  Basically, do you have intrusive thoughts that you find ugly or disturbing but that you can’t seem to stop thinking about?  Common themes center around questioning your sexual orientation or if you really love your significant other, thoughts about harming yourself or others (even children), blasphemous or sinful thoughts, worries that you or people you love are going to die, sexual obsessions, intense fears about contracting a disease.  Ask yourself, do I have intrusive thoughts that cause me serious anxiety?

2) Do you have compulsions? The answer to this question might not come as easily, but what it is really asking is this: when I have those intrusive, anxiety-causing thoughts, what do I do to attempt to relieve that anxiety?  Maybe your fears about germs cause you to wash your hands, making you temporarily feel a bit of relief about that possibility.  Maybe your fear about harming a child means that you won’t allow yourself to hold your baby girl.  Maybe it even means that you avoid driving down the street where a lot of children play.  If you have blasphemous thoughts, perhaps you repeatedly ask God for forgiveness or you’ll ask other people if you think that means you are now going to hell.  Sometimes compulsions seem a little “magical” too– for example, you relieve the anxiety caused by your intrusive thought by tapping your foot a certain number of times or by avoiding stepping on cracks.  Even if it doesn’t logically make sense, it’s still something providing you some temporary relief.  Seeking reassurance is a huge compulsion for a lot of different kinds of obsessions: we glimpse relief when friends reassure us, No, you’re not gay.  No, you’re not going to get sick.  No, you would never hurt a child.  No, you’re not going to hell for that.

There is a third question to ask too, although this one may or may not be reached immediately, which is
3) Have your compulsions gotten out of control?
Most obsessive-compulsives reach a stage where the compulsions (that began as an anxiety-reliever) become too much and begin to add to the anxiety: you can’t stop washing your hands, you ask for reassurance so constantly that your friends are annoyed, you are driving a long way out of your way to avoid the street with children, you are tapping doorknobs and counting and repeating phrases in your head to the point that you’re starting to look a little silly.

Like I said, I’m no doctor, but when I talk to someone who wonders if they have OCD, these are the three simple questions I ask.  If you can answer yes to the first two, then you have OCD.  

So, what next?
1. Get an official diagnosis from someone who went to school for it. 🙂
2. Skip the talk therapy and go right for cognitive-behavioral therapy.  This is treatable.



Words I Love

pick upHe paused, then said, “Gahhh, I love the word crux.  How could anyone not love that word?”

I giggled.

He continued, “The word even looks like what it is, like this important little block, this core.”

“Mmm,” I said in agreement.  “How about cavalier?  Rolls right off your tongue.”

Applause,” he said.



Valor,” I said.  “Doesn’t it just make you want to storm a castle?”  I pushed up my sleeve.  “Look, I have goosebumps!”


Other favorites:





What are yours?


I don’t understand people who don’t re-read.*

rereadingTo me, re-reading my favorite books is like spending time with my best friends.

I’d never be satisfied to limit myself to just one experience each with my favorite people.

* Please note that I’m not judging these people.  I just quite literally do not understand.


Timing, a poem


In Prague,
Tuesday takes his hand,
dragging him into the
streets of orange-tiled roofs.

In Minneapolis,
Monday bars my way.

What new secrets
have stubbed his toe?

When I wake,
the sunlight on my face
is already ancient.

Let's Get Lost by bluecoloursofnature

Let’s Get Lost by bluecoloursofnature