Friday, May 29, 2009

Mako sharks can swim up to 60mph, and are probably the fastest fish in the ocean.


The House at Riverton - by Kate Morton.
Everyone is talking about her other book, The Forgotten Garden, and I have that on hold at the library. But in the meantime, a librarian friend recommended this, her debut novel. What a good read, and would make a truly terrific movie. I recommend it.

The Language of Bees - Laurie R. King. King’s latest installment in the Mary Russell series. As usual, I am finding it slow, and I put it down and pick it up – Kind doesn’t write nailbiters. But it’s lovely, and I know the entire book will come together into a fulfilling reading experience, as the Russell novels do.

Twilight. The first time I read it, I whipped through it. I skimmed tons. The writing isn’t any better, but I can ignore that now since I have the movie running in my head while I am reading.

The Pure in Heart - Susan Hill. Simon Serrailler, Hill’s tall, blonde, and complicated detective, reminds me of a cross between Elizabeth George’s Thomas Lynley, and Val McDermid’s Tony Hill, with a soupcon of Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury thrown in. It verges more on the psychological side of the mystery, much like George, but is slightly more – workaday. Not a police procedural, though. I saw the newest one on the BestSellers’ shelf at the library, but tracked down the oldest one at that location; I am also interested in reading the first one.

I’ve also bought a ton of books – the church book sale is on again, and I traded a bunch of stuff in to Halfprice Books about a month ago. And my built-in bookcases are being installed Monday. So I will have another opportunity to play with, er, sort my books. But for now, I am going to bed with the Susan Hill book and some cherry cordial Hershey Kisses. I swam a little over half a mile this evening; I figure I can eat some chocolate. (See, Jess, I am still talking about books. In fact, I have a post brewing about swimming in novels. It's what i think about as I stroke up and down the pool, slow as a -- snail? Or a slow fish? Can anyone think of a slow fish? Hmmm....)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men.

Totally stole this idea from Linda over at All and Sundry.

Holiday weekend in 46 words or less:

Alphabetizing, new bikes, hamburgers on the grill, first cherries of the season, Penguins hockey, good friends and drinks on the front porch, sudden thunderstorms, sweaty runs round the reservoir, cherry tart and peanut butter cookies, freshly cut grass, flags and gratitude and memories of my dad

*Minot J. Savage

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"There's truth, but no logic." *

“The Fields of Athenry,” that festive and jolly Irish song, is a big bedtime hit round these parts.

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling:
Michael, they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyn's corn
So our young might see the morn.
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing, we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling:
Nothing matters, Mary, when you’re free,
Against the Famine and the Crown
I rebelled, they cut me down.
Now you must raise our child with dignity.

By a lonely harbor wall
She watched the last star falling
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky.
Now she'll wait and hope and pray
For her love in Botany Bay.
It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry.

Cheery, yah?

Tonight, Terzo sleepily asks, “What does a prison ship look like? Does it have smokestacks?”

Me (to myself: Please, please shut up so you don’t wake the baby so I will tell you anything you want to hear): Yes. Yes, it does have smokestacks.

T: "How many?"

Me (How the FUCK should I know? so I pluck a not-so random number out of the air (the Titanic, always a compelling topic of conversation here, had 4, but only 3 functioned; ipso facto, my random number choice): Three.

T, perking up a bit [No, no, PLEASE go to sleep]: "So it looks like the Queen Mary?"[And I have no fucking clue, so don't ask me how he knows about the Queen Mary. If it's a ship that sank or had anything to do with a ship that sank (the QM was a Cunard line ship), my guys know ALL about it. But who am I to shut down their morbid fascinations? says the Plague Queen.)

Me: Sure. (And why the hell not?)

T: "Ok, keep singing, but skip some words. I’m tired."

Thank God he didn’t bother asking about lifeboats.

*Rose, in "Titanic"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"I like pie!"

Will someone PLEASE tell me what the fuss about this little book is?
It won some serious awards (2007 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, as well as being one of Amazon's and Powell's top books of 2009), and the word of mouth is creeping slowly around the Internet. (Should the enthusiastic endorsement of Ian Sampson, author of another tiresome detective novel, have warned me off? Perhaps.)

In fact, if you are one of the bloggers I read who have mentioned this book but still haven’t read it, you might want to leave now (and please come back another day) because this post may sorely disappoint you - there’s almost nothing that disappoints me more than reading a meh review of a book I have long anticipated.

OK, in its corner:
Flavia, the 11-year-old protagonist? Charming and funny and quirky.
Um, also in its corner – I got a kick out of the way the policemen in the book cope with Flavia.
The chemistry bits are very well done, and Flavia's passion for poison is entertaining at the very least.

But I am afraid mostly I have cons:
The mystery was at times unfollowable and also wildly disjointed and unlikely.
The plot was weirdly similar – especially the denouement – to something else I have read, but I can’t put my finger on which book.
The criminals were one-dimensional.
As were most of the supporting players.
And also its main character, charming as she may be (although some of her one-dimensionality is due to the rest of the book's lack of detail).
Even the lovely intrigue of the title did not live up to its potential.

I kept waiting for this book to start. And I like quiet mysteries - they don't all have to be nail-biting psychological thrillers - Josephine Tey's old-fashioned English mysteries are some of my favorite bookks in life. But this just felt - unfinished.

Sweetness reminded me of the first Maisie Dobbbs – I got through it because it was pleasant enough, (and fortunately for Maisie, it did build up to some other fine books) but it read like a YA novel. It was very – surface. Everything in the book – plot, characterization, back story – all very superficially expository. I suppose the author (is some of the fuss because he's a first-time author at age 70?) will reveal more as the series goes along, but I am pretty sure I don't care.

I was so disappointed.

*Primo's latest catchphrase

Friday, May 08, 2009

" are utterly absurd."*

I swore I was not doing this meme.
But Eleanor is a rock star in my world.
And she tagged me.
So here we go:

What are your current obsessions?
Jodi Picoult novels, Twilight/Flat Edward, Penguins hockey, cherry cordial Hershey Kisses

Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often?
My Old Navy sweetheart-cut jeans – comfy, cute, and perfectly faded.

What's for dinner?
God only knows.

What's your greatest fear at the moment?
That we are out of rum. And that H won’t get home till 7pm, as is his wont lately.

What are you listening to?
Seg drumming in the basement, Primo smacking a hockey ball around the yard, and some neighbor playing a lovely concerto

If you were a goddess what would you be?
A goddess? Me? Surely you jest.
I’d be one of the Vestal Virgins and I’d be sacrificed.

What are your favourite holiday spots?
The Jersey shore (Stone Harbor)
New Orleans

What are you reading right now?
The third Traveling Pants book, Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Reading and eating chocolate in bed after everyone else is asleep
Watching Twilight 14 times.

Who or what makes you laugh?
Tina Fey.
My friend A who is sarcastic and funny and does great impressions.
Mimi Smartypants

What is your favourite spring thing to do?
Going to the park after school, with snacks, juice boxes, the soccer ball, and the boys. I optimistically bring my knitting AND a book. And everybody is up there, and I get to hang out with all my mom friends.

Where are you planning to travel next?
Oh, sweet Jesus. Who cares as long as it’s not with my children?

What is the best thing you ate or drank lately?
Ate: Panera’s grilled chicken Caesar salad
Drank: That cold Penn Pilsner last Monday night tasted awesome

When was the last time you were tipsy?
I truly can’t remember, which either means it’s such a standard state of affairs that it doesn’t register, OR I have remarkable self-control. (I will bet on A.)

What is your favourite ever film?

What is the biggest lesson you've learned from your children?
That I was not cut out to be a mother.

What song can't you get out of your head?
“We Are the Champions”

What book do you know you should read but refuse to?
There is no book I SHOULD read but refuse to. The books I refuse to read most decidedly do not deserve to be read.

What is your physical abnormality/abnormal physical ability?
All of my fat lives on my stomach so I still look six months pregnant?
I like my feet?
My teeth are naturally so yellow it’s embarrassing?

What is your favourite colour?
Green or grey


Edward Cullen, Twilight, Ch. 4, p.82

Monday, May 04, 2009

“The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.”

So, I read Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper.

If it had been my first, I still might not have felt about it the way I did about Handle with Care, mostly because the mother in this one was so despicable. Utterly awful, not just clueless like Charlotte. I hated her, I thought she was immature and manipulative and a BAD mother; I even had issues with her morality. (I am beginning to suspect that Ms. Picoult has issues with her mother.) However – it was still a great read that I had a tough time putting down. I enjoyed the auxiliary characters (Jesse, Julia, even Campbell), or at least was completely engrossed by them; I enjoyed the secondary plots; I liked the dad very much. I actually liked Kate (the sister with cancer) even more than I liked Anna, but it’s possible I didn’t much like her because of a deliberate choice on the author’s part to make her seem weak and waffly, which fed into the plot and may have helped the author develop the issues and conflicts inherent in the plot.

I have Nineteen Minutes and Vanishing Act on request from the library; meanwhile, I am halfway through the third Traveling Pants books and am still completely enchanted with them. They are sweet and charming, and as Gina says, they make me want to hug the book. I used some of my birthday gift certificate to buy the 3rd and 4th ones (I got the first 2 at the thrift store).

I was asked to take Primo to the bookstore also, so he could buy a “totally awesome and cool” book his friend R had, For Boys Only: The Biggest, Baddest Book Ever. He has had his nose buried in it since we bought it, except for a brief moment when our backyard neighbor came over to visit and asked if she could see it. That’s right – SHE. He was horrified: “It’s for BOYS!” and he ran away into his room like a 16-year-old in a fit of pique.

I was also forced – forced, I tell you! – to purchase this and this, and this, because my children know I can say No to many things, but almost never to books, especially ones on clearance for three dollars apiece and with a gift card burning a hole in my pocket. Of course, I was forced to take in return the B&N gift cards their grandmother had given them for Easter, since I’d just spent all MY birthday Borders card on THEM.

But that’s only fair, right? Because I still need this and this and this.

*Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, May 01, 2009

"Chicks love that romantic crap."

We were watching "Shrek" tonight.
As usual, when it is over, we have the conversation about who gets to be which character.
I, of course, being the only female, am Fiona.

Me: "Do I have to be Fiona fat and ugly and green?"
Seg: "Ma, you're not really fat."

*Donkey, "Shrek"

"I hope you haven't been showing off - it's rude."

Shamelessly pimping out my new blog:
Flat Edward.

Flat Edward was a birthday gift from my loony but loving friend P. He's very cool, but he gives me a freaking heart attack every time I walk into whatever room I have moved him to, in futile attempts to prevent said heart attacks.

Yah, I need a life. Get over it. I have.

*Esme Cullen, Twilight