velvetpage: (bibliophile)
Some time ago, during a book club for which I'd read "Airborn" (which I highly recommend - an excellent YA SF read) I complained that I was getting a bit tired of the Hermione trope - the brainy female sidekick whose main role is to be the walking encyclopedia, while also being somewhat naive about certain things, who is often destined to fall in love with either the hero or his sidekick but spends a lot of time needling them before that. At the time, I could come up with only two such characters - the one in Airborn and Hermione herself.

I've found a third. I'm reading Rick Riordan's "The Lightning Thief" and there's another very similar type of character in it. I haven't figured out yet exactly how far they'll carry the trope, but she's definitely a Hermione type. She's the daughter of the goddess Athena, for heaven's sake.

I'm enjoying the book. Having figured out the Greek Gods trope, and having taught Greek Mythology to ten-year-olds (read: superficially) for six years, I'm finding it's not too hard to guess who the monsters are before it's made explicit in the book, but it's interesting nevertheless. It plays like a Champions game with some D&D magic items that are just a little too high a level for the characters - "Why does the guy with one hit die get to carry the best toys?" would be an easy complaint to level at it. But it's readable and fun and the fight scenes are well-paced. I'll probably keep reading through the series.
velvetpage: (bibliophile)
1) Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit

This book has been out for a while now. My last grade seven class studied it before I returned from my mat leave, and loved it, but I didn't get a chance to read it. Last week at the yard sale, I bought a copy for the library, and decided to read it before putting it in the library.

It was really, really good. It explored the theme of immortality, the pull of it and the fascination with it and the drawbacks to it, and explored them through the eyes of an overprotected, naive girl. She takes her destiny in her hands as a result. Bittersweet, thought-provoking, and gripping, I'm thinking I may invest in literature circle books for it.

2) Interworld, by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves

Gaiman strikes again. As usual, his world is beautifully imagined, rich in detail that nevertheless manages not to overwhelm the reader with its complexity, and peopled by intriguingly complex characters. I got my new Kobo when I got home from work this afternoon and it took two hours to fully charge, so I started reading around five. I was done by ten, with breaks. It meets my definition of couldn't-put-it-down, which is unusual these days because I'm freakin' busy. And it ended satisfyingly, so I'm off to bed happily secure in the knowledge that my new book-friends are safe for the moment.
velvetpage: (bibliophile)
A couple of weeks ago while wandering through Smithbooks, I picked this up. I didn't buy it then - but I came home and searched for an epub version, and found one. I finished reading it last night.

Does historical fiction have spoilers? Just in case, a cut. )
I had never read much about the Wars of the Roses (Lancaster Red and York White) so it was nice to fill in the gaps in my knowledge there. The wars ended when Henry Tudor, great-grandson of one of the last of the Lancastrian Plantagenets, married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodsville, and together they founded the House of Tudor. Their son was Henry VIII. Gregory's research is excellent, her portrayal of the times she writes about is neither overly romanticized nor overly harsh, and her ability to paint believable characters who do some questionable things and are yet sympathetic is unsurpassed. It was a very good read.
velvetpage: (Default)
I've been reading YA literature recently - mostly award-winning books that I bought six copies at a time from Scholastic catalogues, using bonus coupons and Free Picks, for the purpose of running literature circles with them.  The list includes:

A Corner of the Universe, by Ann M. Martin (better known for creating the Babysitter's Club)
Rules, by Cynthia Lord
Flying Solo, by Ralph Fletcher

Also recently read are the Penderwicks, recommended to me by <lj user=hannahmorgan>, and City of Ember, first in a YA SF series that I'm going to keep reading.

I'm enjoying the realistic YA genre in those first three books.  The first two both involved characters with autism, though the first never came out and said as much.  The character was written as having Asperger's, more or less, but set at a time when autism was much more narrowly defined than it is today.  Both were from the perspective of family members who needed to find ways to deal with the differing abilities in their midst.  They were engaging, quick reads, though I don't recommend A Corner of the Universe for those who don't like to cry at the end of books.

I read Flying Solo today.  My class couldn't line up to get their hands on a copy fast enough, and this is the first copy that's been available for weeks.  It's about a grade six class where the teacher is away and the substitute calls in sick - but nobody gets the message, and the class finds itself alone for the day.  With a premise like that, it could so easily have been an updated Lord of the Flies, or I Want to Go Home.  It was neither.  It was deep and powerful and spoke to the need to deal with things directly - not let them get buried under a mountain of meaningless words.  I'd recommend it for anyone with reluctant readers in their class, though plenty of non-reluctant readers have been unable to put it down.  The kids in my class who complain that not one of the 800 books in the class library is "good" would not put it down.  I had to remind a few of them that I'd done my fair share of reading with the book propped open in my lap, the top of the desk hiding it from the teacher's view, and knew what they were doing.  (They asked if I got in trouble for it.  I told them I was usually smart enough to do my work first, as they hadn't been, which was why I was making them put the book down even though I wished I didn't have to.)

Having now gotten two weeks ahead of my reading for the class Book Challenge (ten books in ten weeks - this was book six in four weeks) I'm going to read a grown-up book next.  I've been meaning to read Dune for ages.  Maybe now is my chance.
velvetpage: (Default)
I have a lot of very literary people on my friends list, so surely we can manage this amongst us.

I want to rewrite that meme I posted this morning.  Not edit it, but completely rewrite it.  I don't want to go with bestsellers, or any other arbitrary appeal to authority when it comes to what books should be on it and what should be left off.  I also don't want to include a certain laundry list of the "best" books by certain authors, while leaving out books by other, equally good authors.  I'd like to, for example, ask people to give themselves one point for each book they've read by Jane Austen or Charles Dickens or Mark Twain.  I'd like to develop a sub-list for young adult literature.  In the interests of brevity, I'm limiting this to novels, which means many well-read people will not see themselves in it.  That's a cultural bias I'll acknowledge and address some other time.

So, if you were to make a list like that, what books or authors would you keep from the old list, and what ones would you add?

I'll start.

Under the authors category, I'd let people give themselves points for any book written by the following authors that were left out of the first list:
Madeleine L'Engle
Arthur C. Clarke
Carl Sagan
Mark Twain
Margaret Lawrence
Michael Ontdaatje
Robertson Davies

Your thoughts?
velvetpage: (Default)
A friend of a friend by the handle of [ profile] lebo_superman updated the meme that's been making the rounds regularly the last few years, to take out some of the inconsistencies and reorganize it a bit. Here's mine, with some commentary.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
3 Jayne Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
5 Harry Potter (any - 1pt each) - JK Rowling So that's seven points, because I've read them all.
6 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
7 The Bible
8 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien  I know, I know.  Apparently I quit about ten pages before the pace picked up, and I've never gone back to it.
9 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
10 The Two Towers - JRR Tolkien
11 Return Of The King - JRR Tolkien
12 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
13 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

14 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
15 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
16 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

17 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
18 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
19 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
20 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
21 You Can Heal Your Life - Louise L. Hay
22 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
23 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
24 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
25 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
26 Middlemarch - George Eliot
27 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
28 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
29 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
30 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
31 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
32 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
33 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
34 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
35 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
36 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (1 point each)
37 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
  So, seven points there, too.  Do I get bonus points for reading them multiple times?
38 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
39 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
40 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 1984 - George Orwell  Yes, I skipped this.  I got the Coles Notes version from being married to Piet.
43 Brave new World - Aldous Huxley
44 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
45 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
46 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
47 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
48 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
49 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
50 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
51 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

52 Atonement - Ian McEwan
53 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
54 Dune - Frank Herbert
55 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
56 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
57 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
58 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
59 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
60 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
61 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
62 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
63 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
64 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
65 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
66 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
67 Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
68 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
69 Dracula - Bram Stoker
70 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
71 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
72 Ulysses - James Joyce
73 The Inferno – Dante
74 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
75 Germinal - Emile Zola
76 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
77 Possession - AS Byatt
78 Common Sense for the 21st Century - Myrddin McGill
79 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
80 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
81 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
82 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert  In French, no less.
83 Five Wishes - Gay Hendricks
84 Learning To Love Yourself - Gay Hendricks
85 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
86 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
87 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
88 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad  I think I read this.  It was in the library in my town in France, French on one side of the page, English on the facing page.  I was desperate enough for reading material that I read it all the way through.  In fact I think I read it in both languages.
89 Courageous Souls - Robert Schwartz
90 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
91 Watership Down - Richard Adams
92 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
93 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
94 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas  Again, in French.
95 The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
96 The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire - Deepak Chopra
97 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo  I've read the whole thing in English and parts of it in French.
98 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
99 Illusions - Richard Bach
100 The Essene Gospel of Peace - Edmond Bordeaux Szekely

So, thirty-nine.  There are some I still intend to read but have never gotten around to it, like Dune and Watership Down.  And there are a bunch of books that ought to be on this list, like A Wrinkle in Time, that I've read and loved.

I should take some time sometime soon to write about some of the books I bought my students for literature circles this year.  I'm bringing myself up-to-date on current YA literature, and there's some really good stuff being written. 
velvetpage: (Default)
First, there's Good books? It's a humanist seeking to find books to enrich his child's life and give him skepticism in the face of his mother's deep beliefs.

Then there's this, where the author argues that children need a basis in faith before they are able to accept uncertainty.

I have a rebuttal forming for the second, but I don't have time for it now so I'll come back later. I suspect my rebuttal will involve concept from this video, first seen on Piet's journal and since spreading rapidly on my friends list:

Good book

Jul. 5th, 2009 01:31 pm
velvetpage: (bibliophile)
I just finished reading "The Alchemyst," by Michael Scott, first in the series called "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel."

It was excellent. Scott wove history and mythology from around the world into a cohesive the-world-is-not-as-it-seems fantasy. The characters include, not just Flamel and his wife (who is more powerful than he is) but also Dr. John Dee, Elizabethan magician and astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I, Hekate, the Witch of Endor, Bastet, the Morrigan, and the Warrior Maid. Also a set of twins, Josh and Sophie, who in true high-fantasy fashion, are just normal teens working summer jobs when they're pulled into the story and discover they're actually the keys to saving or destroying the world.

The next time I buy books (a few weeks away at least, seeing as how I bought four on Friday and haven't finished Skybreaker yet from before that) I'm buying the rest of this series. The cliches - and there are plenty - are made up for by the quality of the writing and the fast pace of the story.
velvetpage: (bibliophile)
I'm reading "Airborn," by Kenneth Oppel. It's excellent. I'm fairly sure that if I let myself pick it up again tonight, I won't actually sleep much. It's exactly the kind of SF I like the best - an alternate parallel universe, with differing technology that nevertheless holds together and makes sense.

And yet, the feminist in me can't help but notice that this excellent author, writing for the youth market and winning awards doing it, STILL isn't writing female protagonists. The story is told in the first person, from the POV of the cabin boy, and the female in the story is a wilful, bookish rich girl on a quest who pulls him in.

In other words, she's a smart, capable princess, in a secondary role. Her main job seems to be to get the protagonist in trouble that he can then get them all out of - or at least, the secondary plot is about him getting them out of that trouble.

There aren't a lot of young adult books written in the last thirty years with a female protagonist. (The His Dark Materials trilogy is one, though a boy comes into prominence in the second book; the Kate Pearson books are others. And the author of Ella Enchanted is another, but her protagonists are based on fairy tales and are either princesses, or destined to become princesses. I'm not sure if it counts.) Most of the others - The Thief Lord, Cornelia Funke's books, Harry Potter, etc, etc - all male protagonists, even when the author was female. There are strong girls there - but they're always bookish supporting characters like Hermione. She's just as much a literary trope as the princess - in fact the bookish princess is not limited to Belle in the fairy tale world.

Maybe I should start writing for teens after all. Mind you, I'd be likely to simply cast a Hermione type in the starring role, because my favourite female characters are always like her. Annarisse was, Velvet less so, Eklaa in the new book is a lot like that. I understand that character type very well.

It's depressing. We've come so far on the road to equity, but our literature still has a glass ceiling hiding behind its historical genre roots.
velvetpage: (Default)
Ysabel was a fabulous book. I finished it in less than twenty-four hours.

Now I'm going to dig up one of his other books and read that cover-to-cover, simply because there are some authors for whom one book at a time just isn't enough.


Apr. 7th, 2008 07:51 pm
velvetpage: (bibliophile)
That was a very satisfying read, such as I haven't had in a long time.

The book was Pompeii, by Robert Harris, and I'm sure that if I hadn't been at work today, I would have read through the night and finished around one or two. As it was, I just finished now.

Though it was somewhat annoying that so few characters survived, I wasn't really surprised by this - after all, I've studied a bit about Pliny the Elder and Younger, and I knew something of their fates, and I knew that Pompeii and Herculaneum both ended up so deeply buried as to be a treasure trove for archaeologists in the relatively recent past. I kept having that urge of foreknowledge to scream at the characters what was about to happen - "Don't go back to Pompeii! It's about to be buried under white-hot ash!" or "Actually, the Aquaduct won't be flowing by noon, or if it is, it won't be giving water to anyone in that town." One way of keeping suspense is not to know what happens next. Another is to have characters move through a somewhat familiar scene in a way that is alternately novel and fated, and Harris used this technique to great effect.

I highly recommend the book, especially to lovers of historical fiction, but really to anyone. While the details may not have been 100%, they were certainly good enough to evoke vivid images for me, and I love learning about real events or places through the eyes of a well-drawn character.
velvetpage: (bibliophile)
I finished Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, and I liked it a lot. I thought the story held together quite well, and the characters were very real.

Some of the literary influences I detected in his work, though they weren't listed in the credits by name:

Les Jeux sont faits, Jean-Paul Sartre
Not Wanted on the Voyage, Timothy Findley
Intimations of Immortality, William Wordsworth (though his conclusions were very different, the theme is there)
Various Robert Heinlein and possibly Ursula LeGuin, for the fantasy worlds - the likelihood that he's well-read in terms of alternate-world literature is quite good, considering that's what he was creating, and those two are near/at the top of that particular sub-genre.

It was a gripping read and well worth my time. I'm glad I had the chance to read it.
velvetpage: (snow angel)
I read romance novels.

There, I've said it. *turns in literary geek card*

Seriously, though. Some of it is total tripe; I rarely read those. Some of it is less awful; I got my fill of those a few years ago, and rarely read them now. Some romance authors get into plot and/or character ruts, like a role-player who only ever plays clerics, and I've gotten quite sick of some of those. (Nora Roberts is the worst offender - if she writes one more trilogy with the tough-as-nails sister, the abused sister, and the feminine mystique sister, all of whom find their ideal matches while solving whatever mystery or killing whatever bad guy she presents for them, I think I'll vomit. I certainly won't buy it.)

No, when I read romance novels, I try to pick the good ones. These are the ones with characters who are distinguished from each other by more than just their titles; the ones with good historical research to back them up; the ones that explore the darker sides of human nature, and the ability of humanity to overcome them; in short, the ones with substance.

My favourite authors are Mary Jo Putney and Joan Wolf. When these two write Regency romances (every romance author has to put in their time writing Regencies; Britain was at war, so there are dashing military heroes, titles, and skimpy dresses without big bustles, all in the same era) they set them in the midst of the Battle of Waterloo, or as spies during the Congress of Vienna or the Treaty of Paris the following year, or in small principalities that are rebuilding after Napoleon's occupation. When they write about India, they do their research and go in-depth about the Silk Road, the Hindu and Muslim principalities that dotted India at the time, the customs of which they would run afoul, the plots that could, and in some cases did, lead to continent-wide conflagrations - the depth of historical research makes them intriguing even without the steamy sex scenes. (I like the one with the forty yards of sheer sari silk, myself. . .) Did you know that the reason for the revolts in India in the middle of the nineteenth century, that led to huge massacres of anyone British, were caused because of a rumour that their cartridges of ammunition contained both beef and pork tallow, making them unclean to Hindu and Muslim alike? After reading that in Putney's books about India, I checked it. Some history books state it as fact, some as rumour, but it's there and it was indeed a factor.

What Joan Wolf doesn't know about horses and classical riding techniques probably isn't worth knowing. At least three of her books have that as a central theme, and two more have it as an aside. Little details, like the British refusing to train women in the classical riding style, while European females were engaging in real training and becoming experts in those styles, are very intriguing to me.

And then of course, there's the steamy sex scenes. They're like a granola bar. Plenty of healthy cereal, fruit filling, and other good-for-you stuff - but you know you really eat them for the chocolate chips.

To make a good author even better, Putney has recently started doing historical fantasy - the kind where magic is overlaid into an actual historical setting. One of these was about the return of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the way a weather mage could have played a role in his march down into England - and back up into Scotland. I've just picked up the next of this series, and I'm about to start it.

Which means this particular confession is now over. I'm about to read about a young lord who happens to be a mage, who meets a young lady while trying to escape from some hunters. He happens to be wearing the form of a unicorn at the time.

Brain candy? Definitely. But if you're going to read brain candy, you might as well go for the Godiva.

EDIT: American sword-and-sorcery fantasy authors shouldn't try to set books in Great Britain. They might do all right for an all-American audience, but the rest of us are going to catch the mistakes. For example - Mrs. Lackey, you write very good fantasy, but your history needs a refresher course. Queen Victoria's father never sat on the throne; he died before she was born, and she took the throne from one of her uncles, William, I believe. He's the one who sired a dozen kids on his French mistress, but when married to his nice little German princess, couldn't get an heir. Anyhow. Good book - not enough research.
velvetpage: (Default)
Last week in Lakefield, I picked up a book of Canadian history by Michael Bliss. He is he author of such venerable works of medical history as The Discovery of Insulin and a biography of Dr. Banting. This particular book is called Plague: A Story of Smallpox in Montreal.

The year is 1885. Louis Pasteur is about to postulate the existence of bacteria as disease-causing agents. The cholera bacteria has just been identified. Variolation - the practice of deliberately infecting oneself with a mild case of smallpox in order to produce immunity - has been in practice for well over a century, with between a one and five percent chance of catching the disease and dying of it. Vaccination - the practice of taking cowpox virus (from the latin word for cow, we get our word "vaccine") has been in practice for about fifty years. Its biggest risks are from bacterial infection of the site. It has about a one percent death rate, and it has been recently discovered that revaccination every few years is required for lifetime immunity.

My interest in the book was primarily in the use of vaccination, and the opposition to it and to other measures designed to contain the spread of the disease. Some, we have done away with now; bacterial infection of vaccination sites is far less likely than it was then, thanks to modern standards of cleanliness that include sewage and garbage disposal and hand-washing, not to mention antibiotics. Others, like ignorance of science and a belief that diseases are a punishment from God that cannot be avoided, are still a problem.

The arguments against vaccination in 1885 have modern parallels in the anti-vaccination debate. The argument that vaccination is actually spreading the disease, and causes outbreaks, still exists. Ditto that injecting oneself with poison in order to prevent a disease is a fundamentally stupid idea. These arguments stem from a lack of understanding of the vaccination process, an area of medicine where our knowledge has been steadily increasing for well over a hundred years. Anti-vaccinators in 1885 claimed, then as now, that the vaccine was more dangerous than the disease it prevented. Since they didn't understand about bacterial infection or have a good grasp of proper sanitation, this analysis was a lot closer to the truth then, though still exaggerated: 1% died from the vaccine, while 25-30% died from smallpox. If there was no outbreak, vaccination was probably more risky; the problem was that no-one knew how to prevent transmission, since people could carry the virus on their clothing, in their hair, in blankets, in bodily fluids that came from an infected person, and infection could happen within the two-week timespan it took for the vaccination to "take." This argument carries a lot less weight now, since the risk of death from vaccines is almost nil. The new version of this point is the damage argument: the ingredients in vaccines cause X horrible condition, usually developmental (autism and ADHD have both been blamed on vaccinations.) Even the one that sounds the silliest to modern ears has a modern counterpart. Some anti-vaccinators believed that injecting oneself with cowpox would make humans take on some of the traits of a cow. The modern version is the urban myth that aborted fetuses are used as ingredients in vaccines.

I'm now at the part of the book where it has been admitted that the disease is out of control. I'm seeing parallels between SARS in Toronto in 2003 and the Montreal epidemic. People went to work while infected because they couldn't afford the lost wages. They snuck in where they shouldn't have been to visit the sick. They went out before the were fully recovered. Businesses suffered the loss of tourist trade - or trade of any sort, since no one wanted to purchase contaminated dry goods from Montreal. Vacationers from Montreal had to claim to be from somewhere else, or risk being denied lodgings. Economically, the city was a disaster.

I will get back to you with more observations when I've finished the book. It's a fascinating read, and well-told. I recommend it.


Apr. 25th, 2006 09:10 am
velvetpage: (Default)
Apparently, there is a release date for the seventh Harry Potter book. It's coming out on my birthday next year - that is, 07/07/07.

The birthday celebration plans for my thirty-second birthday have officially begun, folks.

First of all, my wonderful husband knows exactly what to get me for my birthday, but may need some reminders about how to get it. Forget mail-order - the mail in Canada doesn't come on Saturdays. No, I want it ordered from the bookstore in the mall, so that he can slip out fairly early that morning (don't worry, I won't make you hang out there at midnight, Piet) and pick it up that very day.

Second, there will be no big birthday parties that day. I will give a couple of hours to my kids, but not to the rest of my family. They can have a party for me the night before, and one on Sunday night - I should have had time to read the whole book by then.

Third - I'm thinking we should have a party the week before. Canada day will be the previous Sunday, which makes the stat holiday the Monday. I'm declaring a barbeque or some other entertainment that weekend, for everyone within driving distance. Don't worry, you don't have to RSVP for nearly fourteen months. :)

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