Sunday, December 31, 2006

Books Read in 2006

1. Idyll Banter - Chris Bohjalian
2. Getting Through the Tough Stuff - Charles Swindoll
3. The Egypt Game - Zilpha Keatly Snyder
4. Night Train to Rigel - Timothy Zahn
5. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats - Mario Acevedo
6. Dying to Call You - Elaine Viets
7. Maybe Baby - Ed. by Lri Leibovich
8. Hoot - Carl Hiassen
9. Talk to the Hand - Lynne Truss
10. Disappearing Nightly - Laura Resnick
11. Our Lives Are the Rivers - Jaime Manrique
12. Manhunt - Janet Evanovich
13. Running in the Family - Michael Ondaatje
14. The Dating Game - Shirley Jump

15. Vanishing Act - Thomas Perry
16. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
17. Abraham - Bruce Feiler
18. Brave Dames & Wimpettes - Susan Isaacs
19. The Cat Who Went to Paris - Peter Gethers
20. No Angel - Penny Vincenzi
21. Dearly Depotted - Kate Collins
22. We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
23. Driving Me Crazy - Peggy Webb
24. Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye - Victoria Laurie
25. The Gates of the Forest - Elie Wiesel
26. Killing Helen - Sarah Challis
27. The Shunning - Beverly Lewis
28. The Madonnas of Leningrad - Debra Dean

29. In My Father's House - Corrie ten Boom
30. Head Over Heels - Jill Mansell
31. Under the Bonnet - Cathy Woodman
32. Out of the Dust - Karen Hesse
33. Summer Lightning - P. G. Woodhouse
34. Queen of the Big Time - Adriana Trigiani
35. Tread Softly - Kate Pennington
36. The Incredible Shrinking Man - Richard Matheson
37. Lost Lake - Phillip Margonlin
38. A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket
39. Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck
40. Mixed Signals - Liz Curtis Higgs
41. Details of a Sunset and Other Stories - Vladimir Nabokov

42. Nursery Crimes - Ayelet Waldman
43. Olive's Ocean - Kevin Henkes
44. Eating Heaven - Jennie Shortridge
45. The Carriage House - Carla Neggers
46. With or Without You - Carole Matthews
47. Size 12 is Not Fat - Meg Cabot
48. Better Read than Dead - Victoria Laurie
49. A Quiet Knowing - Gigi Graham
50. Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned - Kinky Friedman
51. The Single Life - Liz Wood
52. Hope Lives Here - Janet Chester Bly
53. The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby
54. The Man Who Fell in Love with His Wife - Paul Burke

55. Alaska Bear Tales - Larry Kaniut
56. Cordelia Underwood or the Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League - Van Reid
57. What to do if a Bird Flies in the House - Nix & Hurchalla
58. The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult
59. Cry Havoc - Clive Egleton
60. The Runner - Peter May
61. Bed Rest - Sarah Bilston
62. Jump at the Sun - Kim McLarin
63. Luscious Lemon - Heather Swain
64. Father Joe - Tony Hendrea
65. The Gun Seller - Hugh Laurie

66. Silent Waters - Jan Coffey
67. London Transports - Maeve Binchy
68. Shopportunity! - Kate Newlin
69. Brief Encounters with Che Guevera - Ben Fountain
70. Two Old Women - Velma Wallis
71. Remember Me - Lisa T. Cullen
72. Urban Shaman - C. E. Murphy
73. Consider the Lily - Elizabeth Buchan
74. The School Run - Sophie King
75. Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
76. Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky

77. Looking for Alaska - Peter Jenkins
78. The Cruelest Miles - Gay & Laney Salisbury
79. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
80. The Sunday Tertulia - Lori Mari Carlson
81. Savannah Blues - Mary Kay Andrews
82. Turtle Moon - Alice Hoffman

83. Promise Me - Harlan Coben
84. Down Came the Rain - Brooke Shields
85. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs - Alexander McCall Smith
86. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation - Lauren Willig
87. How I Lost 5 Pounds in 6 Years - Tom Arnold
88. Letters from Yellowstone - Diane Smith
89. The Essential Lewis & Clark - Ed. by Landon Y. Jones
90. The Cardinal Rule - Cate Dermody

91. Pay it Forward - Catherine Ryan Hyde
92. Rainbow's End - John M. Floyd
93. Girlfriend in a Coma - Douglas Coupland
94. My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier
95. Haunted - Heather Graham
96. 36 Views of Mt. Fuji - Cathy N. Davidson
97. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
98. An Obsession with Butterflies - Sharman Apt Russell
99. Something Upstairs - Avi

100. Lying with Strangers - James Grippando
101. Now You See It - Richard Matheson
102. The Tale of Despereaux - Kate DiCamillo
103. My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin
104. Touched by Angels - Debbie Macomber
105. The Ghosts of Cape May - Craig McManus
106. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

107. Ties that Bind, Ties that Break - Lensey Namioka
108. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
109. Your Planet or Mine? - Susan Grant
110. The Epicure's Lament - Kate Christensen
111. Dispatches from the Edge - Anderson Cooper
112. To Play the Fool - Laurie R. King

113. Visions of Sugar Plums - Janet Evanovich
114. Lord Emsworth and Others - P. G. Wodehouse
115. The Christmas Strike - Nikki Rivers
116. Unexpected Daughter - Suzanne Cox
117. Hugs for Women on the Go - Stephanie Howard
118. Holiday Wishes - Austin, Mittman & Schramski
119. Awakening - Kate Austin
120. Holly - Jude Deveraux
121. Black Water - Joyce Carol Oates
122. The Four Feathers - A. E. W. Mason
123. Home for the Holidays - Debbie Macomber
124. Flying by the Seat of My Pants - Marsha Marks
125. Summer in Tuscany - Elizabeth Adler
126. Who Makes Up These Rules, Anyway? - Stevi Mittman
127. Financial Peace Revisited - Dave Ramsey
128. The Darwin Awards: Survival of the Fittest - Wendy Northcutt

Thursday, December 28, 2006

News Flash! I'm Probably Wrong!

I don't actually know for sure, yet, but it looks like I'm reading Stevi Mittman's Teddi Bayer series backwards. Sigh. I think What Goes With Blood Red, Anyway? may possibly be the first book. I'll let you know when I find out.

Also, I'm finding the new Blogger a pain in the a**. Not only can I not seem to get back to my own darned page in order to hop around, once I post a message somewhere (so I just keep typing in my own address after I post a comment . . . ugh), but we have found out we cannot subscribe to the only reasonably-priced high-speed internet service in our area. They've got plenty of subscribers, thank you very much, and are no longer open to new additions. Sheesh. Someone move me back to the civilized world. I hope to get back to blog-hopping at Dark Age Speed, soon. The guys have been dominating my time; you wouldn't believe how long it took to write up the post, below, on my three most recent reads.

For those who visit my photo blogs, my apologies for the lengthy delay in posting. I'm also having trouble loading photos at both, although I think it's a connection problem - not a Blogger fiasco. Although, who can say? I posted two photos from yesterday's zoo trip to my Recent Developments blog but had to reboot in between them and so far haven't succeeded in loading a third. So, I guess I'll try again, tomorrow. The flamingos were totally cool. I'll try to load a flamingo, first thing tomorrow. Andi, I'm thinking of you when I attempt to upload flamingo pics.

Off to read and pout about wasting all that time trying to load things.

Three Books: Who Makes Up These Rules, Anyway?; Financial Peace Revisited; Darwin Awards: Survival of the Fittest

I finished three books over the weekend (assuming Monday is part of the weekend, which it's not; but, it felt like the weekend so I'm renaming Monday a weekend day, for this post).

Who Makes Up These Rules, Anyway? by Stevi Mittman is (near as I can tell) the beginning of the Teddi Bayer series. I read a short story starring Teddi in Holiday Wishes and loved it. Since I am currently a subscriber to the Next series --which means three or four Next titles arrive in my mailbox each month-- I went on an archaeological dig in order to locate other books in the series, already lodged on my shelves. I found two. That deserves a "Wahoo!".

It is one of those how-did-I-get-here moments, the kind I share with any mother whose three children individually are the sweetest kids on earth, but who collectively comprise a band of escapees from Children of the Corn.

Can anyone relate? In Who Makes Up These Rules, Anyway?, Teddi is married (not so in Holiday Wishes). For many years, Teddi's been worried about potentially becoming as nutso as her mother, who first attempted suicide after Teddi's little brother, Markie, drowned in their backyard swimming pool. Since Markie's death, Teddi's mother has regularly tried to check herself out of life and ended up in South Winds Psychiatric Hospital. Now, Teddi's reached the age of 37, the age at which her mother flipped. And, she appears to be losing her mind. Gallons of milk disappear, the refrigerator unplugs itself, money appears in her billfold and she remembers making deposits but not withdrawals. Is she forgetful or is something else going on? Her husband, Rio, is certain she's losing her mind and seems determined to convince her.

It's actually pretty obvious what's happening from the beginning, but that didn't matter to me one bit. Teddi is a fun character with loads of wit, the story is silly and light but with some interesting thoughts about being a woman, wife, and mother. In short, a unique twist on the Mom Lit subgenre. I can't say too much about the story without giving it all away, but I enjoyed it immensely.


Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey is supposedly an updated version of Christian radio talk show host Ramsey's first book. Actually, I believe the book is sadly lacking in updated information. Since 2001, investment income has plummeted and the 12% average return rate Ramsey has used as the basis for most of his estimates is way off-base.

However, I chose to ignore the numbers and focus on the principles. Those who are familiar with Dave Ramsey know that he made a great deal of money in real estate in the 80's, borrowed against his own debts, spent like there was no tomorrow and lost everything. With creditors nipping at his heels, he came up with a way to get out of debt, save money for a rainy day and prepare for the future.

Complete with forms to help you budget, plan exactly where your money will go ("making your money work for you" rather than "working for your money"), get out of debt and save for the future, the book offers a complete solution to living within your means, paying for college, and saving for retirement. Does it work? Only if you're disciplined, of course. That's true of any budgeting method, but Ramsey throws in numerous testimonies and anecdotes that indicate the plan is effective if you are determined to go the long haul. It is not a quick fix, but a lifetime plan to escape from debt and work your way to financial peace. I've already put some of his principles to work for us, after an earlier reading of The Total Money Makeover and I can tell you that having an emergency fund along with no debt other than a house payment goes a long way toward helping keep the stress away. But, we need to work further on managing money and saving for the future, so hubby bought this book and a DVD describing his budgeting method. Both were excellent and I highly recommend them.

Warning #1: Ramsey has a bit of an ego and he likes the "finer things", like Jaguars. I don't agree with everything he says, but I do think his budgeting method is easily adaptable to differences of opinion.

Warning #2: Ramsey's finance-speak is directed at Americans, with specific references to funds and tax breaks that are most likely not available or pertinent to those outside the U.S.


The Darwin Awards really offended me, when my eldest got a copy of the first book, several years ago, as the stories are tales of how people tragically died. Okay, yes, they died doing stupid things . . . but, still, they died. However, if you just ignore the fact that people somewhere have had to grieve for those who "won" a Darwin, it's pretty darned funny. Depressing, but true, as my husband just poured scalding soup over his hands less than two hours ago and I can easily imagine him becoming a Darwin Award winner; lack of common sense reigns supreme. The Darwin Awards: Survival of the Fittest is the third in the series.

I had a great time reading this book. I still couldn't help thinking, "Oh, wow, that is just so, so sad," at times. Like when a bunch of college students decided to jump down a laundry shoot for a joyride and it turned out libraries don't have laundry shoots -- so the young fellow who jumped into the chute ended up being crushed in a trash compactor after a stunning drop. What a horrible way to die, not to mention how awful it must have been for his family. The only good news is that his friends opted not to follow.

Best thing about the book: the opening bit on cell phone use. Because so many people die trying to talk on cell phones while driving, simple death-while-driving-and-talking deaths are totally eliminated from eligibility. Instead, to be nominated for a Darwin Award, one must remove his or her self from the gene pool (or the ability to reproduce) by doing something else which ups the stupidity level, like covering your other ear to keep out the noise of an oncoming train while placing a call and standing on the train tracks. Yep, it really happened.

As more and more people remove themselves from the gene pool while using cell phones, the species as a whole will become better equipped to safely coexist with this new technology. As the population of cell-phone idiots is slowly depleted, one can imagine a golden day, far in the future, when cell phones are considered as safe to use as a faucet.

I particularly loved her comments about cell phone use because it's become such a problem, locally. Recently, a young driver died in Vicksburg while trying to dial her cell and drive at highway speed. She lost control, skidded into a light pole and the driver's side of her car was literally wrapped around the pole. The young woman didn't even manage to press "send" to place her call before dying a heinous death. Unfortunately, we will probably be among the last states to outlaw cell phone use while driving, as Mississippi tends to be way behind the curve.

Currently reading: Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair

Right now I'm: Blinking repeatedly and wishing I had a gas mask because the hubby is using stinky Kilz on the hallway ceiling. Progress. Think progress.

Yesterday: We went to the Jackson Zoo and saw some interesting sights. I was admiring the Sable Antelope when a zookeeper walked by the back of the exhibit and said, "Hey, Sable! How ya doin'?" Hubby was enjoying the elephants when one of the keepers started waving a carrot and shouting, "Rosie! Hey, Rosie, come 'ere!" Rosie ignored the zookeeper until he started tossing carrots in her general direction. The tiger roared repeatedly and the flamingos screamed and pecked at each other. Obviously, we chose an excellent day for visiting the zoo.

Eldest son has returned to his apartment and job in Oxford, MS, where he attends Ole Miss. During his Christmas visit, we gifted him and Dave-Ramsey'd him, making him sit with us to create a budget that will help him stretch his money further. We also made him watch the DVD with us. The best moment: when the DVD player had a glitch and Daniel jumped up to leave the room, bent on a sudden need to floss. If nothing else, it was good for a laugh.

Hope those of you who are still off work (like my husband, who saves his vacation time for the end of the year and then stays home to drive me nuts for a full two weeks) are having a great time.

Read on!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

I have a sneaking suspicion that very few people are online, tonight. Am I right? For any diehards who happen by on Christmas Eve, I wish you a wonderful holiday and many enjoyable reads in 2007.

I've finished one book, for which I'll skip the review: Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler. Blogging life should return to normal when the eldest son returns to his apartment in his bashed truck to, hopefully, study intensely (this time).

Currently reading: Who Makes Up These Rules, Anyway? by Stevi Mittman and Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey.

The entire family is home, the kids are playing a video game, and we're all stuffed with salmon that's been frozen since the hubby dragged it home from another state (I don't know which state, actually). 50 people are currently signed up to tackle their fat books together (yay us!) and we're having a Mississippi Snow (aka "rain" - yuck). I'm off to read and possibly con the youngest into doing a crossword with me. Hope you're all having too much fun to read this!

Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Flying by the Seat of My Pants by Marsha Marks

Just a quickie review, partly because this is a very short book . . .

Flying by the Seat of My Pants tells about the author's experiences as a flight attendant. Because the book is a mere 144 pages and immensely entertaining, I think I can safely assume that she limited herself to the best anecdotes from her many years of working in the airline industry. There were at least three stories that I enjoyed so much I felt obligated to rush to the den to share them with my husband.

A note: My husband is not easy to entertain. He's a serious, taciturn sort of a guy who seldom laughs. So, to see him tip back his head and laugh as I related one of the stories was enough to have made the book worth full price. But, I got it 80% off because our Bible Factory Outlet is running out of books - they're shutting down. I've probably told you that. Did I tell you Vicksburg has also lost its only theater? Things are getting dire, here.

Anyway, definitely a fun book and great for a lift - lots of smiles and a fast read, perfect for the busy holiday season. I'm going to hang onto this one for a reread when I need an upper.


Still reading Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler - I just picked up Flying, etc., last evening and couldn't put it down.

Latest on the blog update I kept putting off: They're out of beta? Okay, well, I've saved my templates and I'm going to wait to update my links because I'm not sure just when this update thing is going to happen, now. Sigh. Life is funny that way.

Best things that happened, today: A nice wind blew most of the oak leaves off our roof and I managed to get a lot of Stuff thrown away (very important, as we've run out of space to put things). Okay, not exciting, but you have to take joy in the little things.

Worst thing: You don't want to hear it, but I'm ventilating, okay? Today's bad news was that the eldest found out his truck's axle was damaged in the recent automobile accident his mother tries not to dwell on. So, he will not be able to drive home for Christmas. And, he was shopping when he called to tell us this tidbit. He's down to a few scrappy dollars in his savings and he was shopping instead of working. Hubby said, "I'm gonna kill him." The feeling was mutual, I can assure you.

Off to soak in a hot tub and meditate on the positives. Books. Books are good. I'll meditate on books.

Yikes, only 10 days left till 2007!!!! Gosh, where does the time go? Aren't we having fun? Yes, yes, we're definitely having fun. Positive thoughts all around.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Book and Film: The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason

I haven't managed to locate an image specifically of the cover of the copy of The Four Feathers which I acquired. That's a shame because the illustration on my copy is just beautiful. Darn. So, you'll just have to settle for a photo of gorgeous Wes Bentley, who played Jack Durrance in the most recent film adaptation. Okay, he's worth looking at.

The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason is the story of British Guardsman Harry Feversham, who stuns his friends when he resigns from his regiment just after the announcement that they're being shipped out to the Sudan. First published in 1907, the book takes place in the late nineteenth century. Harry's father is a general who served during the Crimean War and frequently has friends from his war days over to reminisce. As a young man, Harry is well aware of his family's military history and the expectation that he will follow in the footsteps of his ancestors, including his heroic father.

So, Harry's resignation is a shock to all, including father and fiancee. In the presence of his fiancee, Ethne, Harry receives a parcel containing three feathers, symbols of cowardice, with a letter from the men who sent them. When Ethne asks him to elaborate, she adds a fourth feather and ends their engagement.

Harry is ruined, branded a coward by all but his best friend, Jack Durrance. After hiding out for a time, he meets a friend of his father's, Sutch, and informs Sutch of his plans. Then, he sets off for the Sudan. The only way he can possibly redeem himself and return the feathers is to prove his bravery.

The first act of bravery in the book was actually a little bizarre and I'm not sure I understood why he went through with it. However, it really didn't matter. In the book, Harry crosses the desert alone and eventually even makes certain that he is hauled off to prison to save one of the friends who sent him a feather. As the story unfolds, you can't help but realize that Harry is not just a man who can't live with being branded a coward; he is, in fact, a brave man whose fear has been totally misunderstood. I think it would ruin the book to elaborate, but I found Harry Feversham an amazing, inspiring character. Jack Durrance is also exceptional for his loyalty. In spite of the accusations and the fact that they don't see each other for many years, Jack only wavers briefly regarding their friendship and his belief in Harry.

The Four Feathers is a wonderful, adventurous tale. By today's standards, it's a bit slow, but that's true of a lot of so-called "classics". It's beautifully written and, in fact, I deliberately read it slowly because I cared about Harry, but at the same time I didn't want the book to end. Unfortunately, I wrote down the page numbers of my favorite passages and misplaced the piece of paper, so you'll just have to trust me that the writing is lovely. I think the memory of this one will linger for a long time. We'll see.


I actually watched the movie first, as I happened across it in a cheapie bin at Walmart, last year and then found the book later on. As we all know, novels are often massacred by Hollywood, but I still enjoy comparing a novel to its film unless I hold a story so close to my heart that I can't bear to have my thoughts about it altered. Since I'd already seen the movie, it wasn't a big deal to watch it, again, and compare. I wasn't going to ruin it for myself; and, in fact, I really wanted a reminder of what Jack looked like in the film because I only recall seeing that particular actor the one time and I remembered being startled that such a handsome man was not in the lead role. Although, I have to add that I think Heath Ledger was brilliant as Harry.

There were some distinctive differences between movie and film; but, I think that the most recent film version (there have been quite a few, apparently) is an excellent adaptation. The reason for Harry's fear and resignation from the army isn't explained quite as well, but the book is actually quite internally-driven. It's a novel of emotions and senses; that's very hard to portray on-screen and the changes that were made were, for the most part, necessary in order to translate emotion to action. In other words, I really like the movie - even after reading the novel.

Also finished: Home for the Holidays by Debbie Macomber - 2 stories, quick reading, enjoyed them both but I think I'll skip reviewing them.

Now reading: Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler, thanks to a recommendation by Les

I'm planning to go ahead and save my templates tonight or tomorrow (I'm wearing out - tomorrow looks more likely) then make the switch to beta. So, if things get hinky in here, you know why. Near Christmas seems like a good time to do the big switch, since it's a busy family time for most. After that, I'll update my links. We've been unable to switch to high-speed internet service, just yet (our server of choice is giving us a "no service in your area" message, although we know that isn't accurate) but I can finally post on other blogs, so I hope to get back to hopping around again, soon. Sorry for my absence.

Happy Holidays to all and wishes for a safe and happy 2007!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Two Books: Holly by Deveraux; Black Water by Oates

Quick reviews because I've been down with a migraine, for a few days, and they're going to fade from my memory if I don't hurry up and post.

Holly by Jude Deveraux is the story of a wealthy architect whose passion is historic preservation. Heiress Holly Latham has persuaded her now-retired diplomat father to purchase Spring Hill, the home in which her family stayed, one summer. Spring Hill is just down the river from the pre-Revolutionary estate where she spent her time, that summer, helping a young and handsome Laurence Beaumont paint and restore the home. Her ulterior motive: to work her way into owner Lorrie Beaumont's heart and get her hands on the crumbling Belle Chere estate so that she can preserve it.

Unfortunately, there's a really good-looking guy she can't keep her hands off of. And, as far as Holly knows Nick Taggert has no money. I'll steal from the cover blurb, here: "One man can seduce her with fortune and privilege; the other can promise her the simple gift of love. And on a frost-covered Christmas night, Holly's choice will unmask astonishing truths and hidden dangers--revelations that will forever change her charmed life and her vulnerable heart." I kind of hate vague cover blurbs, like that, but it does give you an impression of what's to come without giving away the details.

As abruptly as he'd clutched her, Lorrie released her and stepped away. He looked into the back of the car at her father. "Sorry, sir. Moonlight. Old friend who's grown into a beautiful woman." He shrugged in a way that was very appealing.

"Perfectly all right," James said, taking his wife's hand in his. "I've experienced a little moonlight in my lifetime."

It's that kind of light, fun dialogue that kept me turning the pages. I thought the way Holly jumped into a passionate relationship with Nick was a little unbelievable and found myself muttering, "Good grief," at first. But like several other books I've read this month, I liked the characters enough to care what would happen and continued reading. It became more and more difficult to put the book down; and, I really did enjoy the story. Plenty of action, clever dialogue, interesting characters, but not entirely believable - however, I usually have a little trouble with suspension of disbelief when I read books that are classified as "romance," so that may just be me.


Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates is quite a contrast to the light-hearted fluff I've read the rest of the month. A fictional retelling of the Chappaquiddick incident, in which Ted Kennedy drove a car into the water, killing the young woman who was his passenger, Black Water is told from the perspective of the woman and, as such, is uniquely horrifying. The writing is simply bizarre, jumping back and forth in time. One moment, Kelly Kelleher is sinking into the black water of the canal with her leg trapped so that she's unable to even attempt to swim away from the wreckage, and the next minute she's back at the party or packing for the trip. In any given moment she's pondering times with her old boyfriend or feeling her life ebb away. It's probably deliberately disjointed, but I found the storytelling rather awkward. Run-on sentences, repetition, and the inevitable return to the feeling of drowning are the methods Oates uses to evoke time and place. And, yet, it was oddly mesmerizing and I couldn't put the book down.

As an introduction to Joyce Carol Oates, I'm guessing this book is not the best. My curiosity about the Chappaquiddick incident was renewed a bit, so I looked it up online and read a play-by-play of what's known to have happened at the party Kennedy attended. Probably the two biggest similarities between the fictionalized account and the actual incident were a large consumption of alcohol and a wrong turn. Nobody knows whether Kennedy and his passenger were actually on their way to the ferry landing, but the real victim left her purse behind and didn't say "goodbye" to anyone. Very suspicious, if you ask me. But, nobody asked as I was a mere 7 years old in 1969.

Since I couldn't put the book down, but felt oddly "used" by the author, I'm going to give the book an average rating. I found it, in general, rather annoying. But, I would read more by the author, at least for the sake of seeing what else she has to offer. Assuming the author's goal was to depict the innocence of a victim of drunk driving and the horror of a drowning death, I'd say she succeeded on both counts. I just don't know that I like the way she chose to do so.


Still reading: The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason - loving it, but things have been hectic and that nasty migraine has gotten in the way of my reading.

Up next: A list of those who are currently signed up for the Chunkster Challenge.

Continuing daily: Blogging headaches. I am still totally unable to post on many blogs. Nat, I owe you thanks for Black Water and attempted to post several times over two days to tell you thanks for the book and for doing the "Six Weird Things" meme. No luck. Even though I'm signed on, Blogger isn't recognizing me at certain sites. I'm wondering if that's a new-beta snafu.

Thoughts, anyone?
Are those of you who have recently changed to Beta having any difficulty with losing content? I may have to consider switching over, if this continues, just for the sake of being able to communicate with friends, again. Any thoughts would be appreciated!!!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Awakening by Kate Austin

I love the cover of this book and I'm not quite sure why. There are more than enough headless-female book covers around, these days. But, perhaps the combination of motion and flowing layers appeals to my eye. Regardless, I got this book in the mail very recently, but I read it when I did because the cover kept grabbing my eye.

Awakening, as it turned out, sucked me right in. Francesca Bond is exhausted, living in a rough neighborhood and barely surviving on the income from two jobs. She's heard rumors about a house that only appears on Midsummer's Eve, where people disappear for a year and come back healed. But it's not till she must run from three dangerous men on her frightening nightly walk home that she's faced with the welcoming lights at the end of a dark alley.

The beginning of Awakening had a wonderful other-worldly feel, with Francesca running through fog in a panic. However, about halfway through the novel, the setting began to feel a little trite and the plot dragged. Still, I loved the characters and cared enough to hang in there and find out what would happen to Francesca. While I don't think the house's setting and its relationship to Francesca's other home was fully thought-out and explained, there was never a point at which I felt like I was wasting my time. And, I wasn't disappointed. The ending returned to that mystical, almost paranormal swirl of sensations and concluded in a satisfying way. I had a terrible time putting it down, sneaked in some reading time at the swim meet (between my son's events) and in the car (while my camera battery recharged), then finished the book as soon as we returned from Louisiana.

There's a bit of romance thrown into the latter third of the book and my opinion of that was kind of neutral. I didn't like the couple's conclusion about how to handle their relationship - it just felt too contrived - and yet, I think the added character helped revive the story a tad, just as it was losing steam.

For the fact that it was so hard to put down, 4/5. And, I will definitely seek out future novels by this author.

Coming up next, a review of Holly by Jude Deveraux.

And, a quick anecdote. We still own the car in which I commuted to Oklahoma State University to finish my degree, over 21 years ago, after my husband graduated with his master's degree and moved us to Tulsa. When the elderly Nissan finally ground to a halt, hubby couldn't figure out how to repair the worst of its problems and it sits, unused, with tires that have lost their air and a coating of mold, ivy growing up and over the tires, on our driveway. While returning from errands, last night, we were discussing how we could possibly get rid of the car. I said, "Maybe we could dismantle it, piece by piece, and haul the pieces away. It doesn't function, and it's just sitting there taking up space, totally useless."

Son #2 jumped in, at this point. "It's not totally useless," he said. "It's home to many life forms." Oh my gosh. Never say anything that funny when I'm driving.

Hubby didn't think this was nearly as riotous as I did, because he once climbed into the car after we'd let it sit for a time (kept, for a while, as an extra car for when the eldest son began to drive) and as he pulled out of the driveway the interior of the car was suddenly filled with wasps. Not a great moment for him.

Okay, off I go to do my chores and possibly sneak in a few pages. I'm currently reading The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason and loving it. My stomach just made this huge, grinding noise. Oh, yeah. I forgot to eat breakfast! I guess I'll do that, first.

Review catch-up #3, coming up soon. At least, that's the plan.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holiday Wishes - Austin, Mittman and Schramski

I'm falling so far behind on reviews, it's ridiculous. However, that also means I've managed to read a tidy number of books, so far this month. I'm happy about that. I'll try to keep my reviews short (if that's possible) in order to catch up.

Holiday Wishes by Kate Austin, Stevi Mittman, and Mary Schramski

Unlike a lot of readers, I do enjoy the occasional short or novella-length story; but, in general, I like to stick with known authors for shorter fare. My friend John Floyd, for example (whom I owe an apology for having to miss his signing - sorry, John!!!!), never lets me down because he's one of those rare writers who can tell a good story using a minimum of words. I don't seek out short stories, in general, apart from a few favorite authors. However, this one was sent to me as part of a mail-order subscription program that I keep forgetting to cancel because the "fool" part of "Bookfool" is sadly more accurate than I'd like to admit.

I honestly just wanted to read Holiday Wishes and get rid of it. Or, so the thought went. But, I was unexpectedly swept into the first story, "If I Make It Through December," by Kate Austin, in which accountant Heather James inherits a restaurant during the holidays and has no choice but to jump into managing the business. I'm not experienced with the restaurant business, but it seemed very authentic as far as the everyday problems that James had to deal with. The romance aspect was not entirely believable and a bit too neatly tied up, but I didn't care. I loved the characters and the story was nicely written.

The second story, "Who Needs June in December, Anyway?", by Stevi Mittman, was my hands-down favorite. The heroine is a single mom of two whose mother appears to have been kidnapped. But, Teddi Bayer knows better. Her mom is a nut case and Teddi is certain the "kidnapping" is a ruse to get her brother to come home for Christmas. Teddi comes from a riotous, dysfunctional family and the search for her mother is both touching and funny. I am dying to read more novels by Stevi Mittman and thrilled to find that Teddy Bayer is a recurring character.

The final story, "The Perfect Christmas" by Mary Schramski . . . was a quick read. That's about the only thing I can say I liked about it, as I found it predictable and flat. Having backed out of writing for an anthology, once, I can understand the difficulty of writing specifically for a book with a theme and a specific word count, so I'm going to just say, "Let's give this chick a break and hope her novels are better."

Coming up next: A review of Awakening by Kate Austin. Assuming my husband doesn't go through with making me shut down for the night. He's home and he looks really, really tired. I don't suppose he's going to like the fact that I've used the bed as a folding table. Okay, maybe I'll write a review of Awakening, tomorrow. We'll see how fast I can clean off the bed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Challenges, Challenges!

Holy Toledo! I am soooo behind. I've had this poem running around in my head for a couple of weeks, now, probably because it's about how I feel. I thought it was by Ogden Nash, but it turns out I'm wrong. Still, I've always loved this one:

The Ostrich is a Silly Bird

The ostrich is a silly bird,
With scarcely any mind.
He often runs so very fast,
He leaves himself behind.

And when he gets there has to stand
And hang about till night,
Without a blessed thing to do
Until he comes in sight.

Author © Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

I love that.

Okay, Challenges I plan to attempt:

Winter Classics Challenge:

Hosted by Booklogged at
A Reader's Journal. The five classic books I plan to read during January-February:

1. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
2. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitgerald
3. Summer of My German Soldier - Bette Greene
4. Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie
5. The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling

OR whatever floats my boat, strikes my fancy, crumbles my cookies, etc.

There's going to be some cross-over, here. Great Expectations, for example, has been sitting on the good shelf since I was working in a bookstore. The bookstore moved away about 5 years ago. Sheesh. So, here we go . . .

TBR Challenge:

Hosted by Miz Books at Literary Cache.

I think the requirement is to read one per month and they must have spent a year on your TBRs. Ha. No problemo.

12 books that have been sitting around forever in my TBRs (believe me, there are plenty more) and which I plan to finish, by golly, in 2007:

1. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
2. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell (this one has followed me everywhere, for about 25 years and I've failed to get beyond the first 50 pages, twice)
4. Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie
5. Maybe Baby - Lani Diane Rich
6. Whole Lotta Trouble - Stephanie Bond
7. An Italian Education - Tim Parks (if that's okay - it's nonfiction)
8. The Hunt for Red October - Tom Clancy
9. Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field - Melissa Nathan
10. Baggage - Emily Barr
11. A Girl's Best Friend - Elizabeth Young
12. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbbeck

Again, subject to change based on my whims. When it comes to the TBRs, I could go on all day. But, it's a little difficult to get to the oldest books because our so-called "reading room" is sort of buried due to the alleged painting/tiling job we're "going to do this weekend". How many "this weekends" will pass before I can get to my bookshelves, again, is something I'm afraid to lay odds on.

And, of course, the Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Yours Truly.

I'm going to choose from a stack and hope to read as many as possible, but hope to read a minimum of 3 from January to June, 2007 from the following pile:

1. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (duh)
2. God is an Englishman - R. F. Delderfield
3. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
4. The Memoirs of Cleopatra - Margaret George
5. Just Between Us - Cathy Kelly
6. The Way the Crow Flies - Anne-Marie McDonald
7. Little Women (unabridged) - Louisa May Alcott
8. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
9. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
10. An Instance of the Fingerpost

There are more, but there's no way I'll get through all of my fatties, so I shall cease and desist.

And, I'll try to get those ding-dang buttons figured out, ASAP.

Finished another book, last night, so I'm now three reviews behind: Holly by Jude Deveraux

Currently reading: Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates


Monday, December 11, 2006

Six Weird Things About Me

I've been tagged by Bellezza. Thanks, Bellezza, I love being tagged!

The Rules: Each player of this game starts with the “6 weird things about you”. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

There are a heck of a lot more than six weird things about me, I'm sure. But, here goes . . .

Six Weird Things About Me

1. I can spend hours just looking up a silly image to go with one of these memes and then I end up with something that looks like a kindergartener designed it. What a waste. So weird, too, right? But, I really like the two I found for this particular meme.

2. I used to hate change and now I can't stand the lack of it. When I was young and my parents sold a chair, I told them they could NOT take it away and held on to the wooden slats at the back until I ran out of strength. Now, sheesh, you could have just about anything but my books. It's just stuff. I'd love to go back to moving every 18 months for the fresh start.

3. When my husband is away on business, if he doesn't call me within a certain amount of time, I am always, always frantic. I visualize him lying in a ditch or inside twisted wreckage and I'm just sure he's been carjacked or mugged or something until he calls. One time, I called the credit card companies to see if he'd managed to at least get to the airport to rent a car (yes, and nobody carjacked him, even though he was in Florida).

4. I have a couple of strange fears in public - that I'll smell bad or make an unpleasant, um, noise (you know, like pass gas - that qualifies for both). I told a friend about those fears, once, and she laughed so hard I thought she was going to give herself an aneurysm.

5. I married young because my then-boyfriend gave me an ultimatum - marry me or we break up - and I was afraid nobody else would ask. I was 19 when I walked down the aisle. A little young to be worrying about potentially becoming an old maid, I must admit. Amazingly, we're still together after 24 years and sometimes like each other.

6. Probably the weirdest thing about me is that I have the occasional experience that I'd call "psychic". The best example is probably the recurring vision that I had before 9/11. We were scheduled to leave for a trip to England and Scotland on Sept. 21 of 2001. From the moment my husband bought the tickets, I had this strange feeling that we weren't going to be there; I couldn't visualize myself in England even though I'd been there twice. As we got closer to the date of our departure, whenever I thought about our trip I would "see" a large passenger plane flying over green, green country and hear the word "Lockerbie". I thought I was seriously losing it, but it got so intense that I finally told my husband on Sunday, Sept. 9. He's known me since I was 17, so he's familiar with my "feelings" and knows they can be frighteningly accurate, but he absolutely did not know what to do about it. On Tuesday morning, I called him at work and said, "Okay, now I understand that vision - Lockerbie was a terrorist attack involving a passenger plane, so it was just a warning of what was coming." I didn't think it really had anything to do with us, apart from the fact that we wouldn't be going to England. Hubby said he realized the meaning of my "vision" as soon as he saw what was happening. It was soooo weird.

Freaked out, anyone? And, what do you think of that statue? Weird enough for ya?

And, as I said, I could come up with a lot more. I'm definitely a beat or two off from the rest of humanity, but I'm used to it.

I'm having a terrible time getting to other blogs, sometimes, so I'll hope the people I tag have not already done this one. So . . . I nominate Angela (aka SciFiChick), Nat, Lotus, Sassymonkey, Marg, and Bookgirl. If you've already done this one, just ignore m
e. I can cope, really. And, I don't mind if it takes you a month to get to it; I know this is busy time for everyone.

Bookwise . . . I finished two books, this weekend: Holiday Wishes by Kate Austin, Stevi Mittman and Mary Schramski and Awakening by Kate Austin. Hope to get the reviews for those and some challenge buttons and lists up, soon. Pardon my sluggishness.

Currently reading: Holly by Jude Deveraux

Yours in weirdness, Bookfool

Sunday, December 10, 2006

You asked for it! Chunkster Challenge Guidelines

Because I need a break from wrapping up presents to pop in the mail, tomorrow, here are your (ta-da!)

Chunkster Challenge Guidelines

1. Time period: The Chunkster Challenge will run from Jan1, 2007 - June 30, 2007.

2. How fat must a "chunkster" be? Anything that makes you say, "Whoa! That's freakin' intimidating!" But, my personal opinion of what constitutes a chunkster is anything over 400 pages.

3. How many books do I have to read? Here, again, I'm going to be extremely flexible because some of you have busier lives, read slower, or are just too terrified to shoot too high and I think that's fine. If you only want to challenge yourself to read one, so be it. So, the official answer is however many you choose.

4. Do I have to choose specific titles? You can either choose specific titles that you want to read during the 6-month challenge OR you may list a pile from which you hope to read a specific number. Please include what you intend to read in a post at your blog site, when you sign up. You know, just to make it look official. You can link back to this post to be kind to other people, but it's not a requirement.

5. Why are you making this so ridiculously flexible, you foolish woman? Because I'm not very good at choosing titles and sticking to them. Let's face it, people, Bookfool is one flighty chick. So, I'm going to have a pile from which I plan to attempt a certain number, myself.

6. Will there be prizes? Glory? Little angels making joyful noises when I finish? Whoa! Angels? Okay, yes, there will be some prizes because I like giving things away. I'm probably not as good at choosing prizes as Santa, but I'll do my darnedest and I plan to hold two drawings - the first will be for a tote bag to carry your chunksters around, on January 8, and the final drawing at completion of the challenge will probably be really cool but I'm not sure what's in it, yet. Glory? Well, you'll get your name on a list if you succeed. Little angels singing? 'Fraid not. Unless I'm missing something. Prizes will be random. Randomness is the way life goes, after all. Guess I need to locate a hat to draw names from.

7. How do I sign up? Post a comment to this little guideline post--be sure to include your name and blog site-- by January 7. Please do me the kindness of writing out the URL to your blog site, as I'm still having a great deal of difficulty loading pages since setting up a new computer (I have a lousy connection, anyway). You can call yourself by your iconic name - like Bookcrazy or Booknut or whatever, rather than a real name. I don't mind that a bit. But, if you win a prize I'll kind of need to know who you really are and where, because the postman doesn't like me to address things thusly: "Booknut, Somewhere in North America or on one of those other continents". For some reason, that just doesn't work. I will leave you a no-stalking promise, which means I won't share your personal info with anyone.

8. What if I don't know how to copy that button thing and put it on my blog site? Then, you and I probably have something in common. I'm working on how to put the button in my side column and link to my own post. The button isn't crucial, but it's really cute, isn't it? Carrie at Overdue Books created the button. You have my permission to call her nice names and shower her with gifts for being a kind soul.

9. Should I tell you every time I finish a book on my challenge list? No. Please wait till June to inform me of your success and at that time I'll compile a list of those who finished and the titles they read.

If I've forgotten anything, please feel free to say so. If the comment list gets overwhelming, I'll wave and tell you I'm drowning. This will require at least one of you to send me an alpha male to rescue me. Hahaha.

Happy Reading!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Unexpected Daughter by Suzanne Cox

Ten years ago, Brijitte Dupre was alone and pregnant, rejected by the wealthy father of her child but with a fistful of money his mother gave her for an abortion. Brijitte was a country girl who simply could not fit into their lives.

Or so it seemed . . .

Now a Dallas-based physician, Cade Wheeler has returned to Cypress Landing to help out in his uncle's clinic, temporarily - and Brijitte is one of Doc Wheeler's nurses. Both are uncomfortable working in close quarters together, considering their past relationship. But, time hasn't dimmed the attraction between the two.

Should Brijette tell Cade about the daughter she was unwilling to abort? Or does he still think he's too good for her? Is it too late to tell him the truth, when she discovers that both Brijette and Cade were lied to by his mother? And, what the heck is going on with the missing prescription pads that make Brijette look guilty of dealing drugs?

Oh, the dilemmas. But, as obvious as the plot line may seem, Unexpected Daughter really was surprising in many ways. Just when I thought I had things figured out and nothing great was going to happen, along came a new twist. The number of twists were particularly surprising to me because I know Suzanne and recognized the plot from a meeting of the romance writers' group I used to attend (and still plan to return to). The fact that Suzanne still managed to surprise me was, I though, pretty impressive.

Unexpected Daughter is the second in a series of books set in fictional Cypress Landing, Louisiana. I liked the first in the series, A Different Kind of Man. While I'm not a romance addict like most of my romance-writing friends, I do enjoy the occasional romance for a change of pace. However, I didn't find the first book quite as gripping. I could barely put Unexpected Daughter down. It slowed down just a tad in the middle, but not much. So, I'm giving it a very high rating for enjoyment level (all you frequent readers of my blog know how I qualify ratings across genres, right?). And, I can happily do so without prejudice to my friendship with Suzanne. Go Suzanne!


Still reading a Harlequin Next book: Holiday Wishes. I'm enjoying the second story, by Stevi Mittman, so thoroughly that I went running to Walmart to look for Mittman's current full-length novel, which was on the stands just two days ago. And, wouldn't you know, there was not a single next book left. Not one! Shucks.

Just walked into my house: Just Between Us by Cathy Kelly - thanks to Susan in Houston, who hates Chick Lit; I volunteered to take it off her hands. Oh, mama, it's a chunkster! Onto the fat book pile that one goes.

Speaking of the Chunkster Challenge, Carrie at Overdue Books has created a Chunkster Challenge button. Apparently, I dragged my feet for too long. I love it! Isn't it perfect? Thanks, Carrie!!

23 days till the Chunkster Challenge begins! Rules - or, rather, guidelines - forthcoming. But, right now, I think I'm going to have a nice soak and read a little as we've got an early morning and a long day ahead of us.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hugh Laurie! Oopsie!

"Bertie, it is young men like you who make a person with the future of the race at heart despair." - Aunt Agatha

I can't believe I did that!!! In my three-book review post, I said Hugh Laurie played Jeeves in Jeeves and Wooster. Well, obviously, either my fingers were not connected to my brain or I was subconsciously seeking yet another excuse to post a photo of Hugh Laurie, who played Bertie Wooster, not Jeeves. I've corrected that post. Here's the apology photo for that mistake. How many of you are hoping I'll make a lot more errors in the future?

Just finished: Unexpected Daughter by Suzanne Cox and Hugs for Women on the Go by Stephanie Howard. Review of Suzanne's book forthcoming - the other one is just little stories of encouragement and there's little to say about it.

Now reading: Holiday Wishes by Kate Austin, Stevi Mittman and Mary Schramski (I think - I'm reading the names upside-down).

Hope for the day: I'm just hoping all my meals will settle in and digest. Yesterday was not a good day.

Today in History: Oh, yes, of course we know about Pearl Harbor. But, even more important, my youngest child was born 15 years ago, on December 7, 1991. I didn't even get to wish him a Happy Birthday before dropping him off at school, however, because we overslept. That's two Oopsies in one day, so far. Anyone for three?

I think I'll climb under the covers and read, now.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Frustration, Apology, and a Wet Colin Firth

An apology to those who visit my blog. Since we've finally managed to get my new computer set up in the office and the files restored, our internet connection has gotten even more sluggish. Of course, the computer is faster so we expected the opposite. Therefore, we're operating on the assumption that there is some setting allowing constant downloading of updates to various programs in the computer. With our pitiful connection, we simply cannot load updates - they have to be loaded elsewhere and physically carried to our computer. It makes sense that things would go haywire if there's some updating process going on in the background while the poor Bookfool is trying to view pages. Now, if I could just get the Household Tech Expert to stay in the house 2 days in a row . . .

Anyway, I just wanted to let y'all know. I am particularly having trouble getting to any site that has pop-up comment windows. They're just not loading. So, I'm visiting blogs but I can't say anything, in most cases. I can upload to my own blogs, as long as I don't do anything else and I'll continue to do so (although it's painfully boring). Hopefully, we'll have this all straightened out in time for the Chunkster Challenge.

In the meantime, please forgive me if you don't see me in your neighborhood for a few more days!! To show you how much I love you guys and how sorry I am, I'll leave you with Wet Colin Firth. See, now you know I really care.

The Christmas Strike by Nikki Rivers

Abby Blake was widowed unexpectedly while living in her hometown, the one place she least expected to end up living out her days. With two young children to care for, she remained in her parents' house after their deaths, rearing her two daughters and slowly letting go of her dreams.

Now, at 52 years of age, daughter Natalie has moved home with her husband and two kids to make things meet after layoffs set them back. And, Abby's other daughter, Gwen, has decided to leave her husband.

Having the entire family back home would be tolerable if they'd act responsible. Instead, Abby is expected to cook and clean for everyone. Tired of their demands, Abby decides to go on strike and takes advantage of the chance to hitch a ride to Chicago on the private jet of Gwen's father-in-law, Cole Hudson.

But, Cole doesn't bother to tell Abby that Chicago is not his destination. Before she knows it, they're in Paris and she is having the time of her life. When sparks fly between Cole and Abby, she has an important decision to make. Who comes first? Should Abby fly back home to the family and her bookkeeping job and be satisfied that she managed to get away? Or is it time for Abby to think about herself for more than just a holiday?

I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed this book. While the writing is not in any way impressive and I didn't mark a single quote, I couldn't put the book down. Why? I can't quite figure that out. The storyline is almost bizarrely far-fetched and comes off as: "Small town widow has Pretty Woman fairytale experience in Paris." It's a little too tidy, possibly a lot too tidy and certainly a fantasy in many ways. And, yet, I cared about Abby and even though I was consciously aware that goofy things were happening and it was way too easy for this woman to find a way to zip over to Paris and maybe even go back to remain for a year (!!!), I couldn't put the darned book down. I even dragged it to a barbeque restaurant, where it was at risk of getting slimed (don't worry; it's still pristine) and read while the guys glared at me.

So, okay . . . not the best writing in the world, but it's definitely pure escapism and requires only light brainpower. Those are both positives for a seasonal book, in my humble opinion. I'd call it an average book, but given the fact that I gobbled it up in one day, I'm going to rate this book high for entertainment value.


Currently reading: Unexpected Daughter by Suzanne Cox - I haven't seen Suzanne for a year, darn it, but she's a sweetheart and I remember the group talking through this particular storyline with her at one of the Magnolia State Romance Writers meetings, before I abandoned all my writing groups. Yea, Suzanne! So far, I am loving this book!

Set aside: Earth in the Balance by Al Gore and Once Upon a Time by Gloria Vanderbilt. I'm in a seasonal mood, so I've set aside the heavier reads for later.

Just arrived: Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair. Thanks to Angela for sending this one!!! I used to correspond with Linnea and met her at a conference or two, but haven't spoken to her in many years. I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

Things our cats still have not learned, as of yesterday: You really can't catch that darned tail. And, the human truly does not want you to walk across the table to share the people food.

Bookfool who believes "My tuna is mine and mine alone." But, apparently not very convincingly.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Three Books: To Play the Fool, Visions of Sugar Plums, and Lord Emsworth and Others

I've finished three books in the past four days and don't feel like posting lengthy reviews about any of them. So, I'm going to shoot for three quickie reviews.

1. To Play the Fool by Laurie R. King - When the body of a dog is cremated by the homeless residents of Golden Gate Park, police fill out a report and let it go. Then, a second cremation is attempted, this time the body of a homeless man. Investigators Kate Martinelli and Al Hawkin are called in to determine who was responsible for the man's death and why the homeless group attempted to cremate him.

After locating a suspect, Martinelli is baffled by his odd mode of speech. Instead of answering her questions directly, the man known only as "Brother Erasmus" speaks in quotes from books. A perplexed Kate Martinelli attempts to translate the meaning of his words, uncover his mysterious past life, and discover the reason for the homeless man's murder.

I'm not a big fan of mysteries, these days, but I enjoyed this particular story because I thought it was unique and often surprising, although at times a bit slow. Erasmus was an interesting character. I wasn't all that intrigued with Kate Martinelli, but I would read another mystery by this author as I thought it was well written.


2. Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich - Stephanie Plum is not in the mood for Christmas. She hasn't even managed to buy a tree for her apartment, much less decorate for the holidays and buy presents. So, she certainly isn't in the mood to have a strange man materialize in her apartment and then follow her around everywhere. Who is this man, Diesel, and why does he insist on accompanying Stephanie as she tries to locate fugitive toymaker Sandy Claws? What's with Diesel's ability to unlock doors with the wave of a hand? And, will her family ever get off her case about the fact that she doesn't have a tree?

At a mere 149 pages, this particular Stephanie Plum is typically action-packed and an even faster read than her regular novels from the numbered series. The usual romp with fun dialogue, the expected car disaster and a special new hunk. I just love reading about Stephanie's adventures.


3. Lord Emsworth and Others by P. G. Wodehouse - A collection of nine short stories by the author of the Jeeves & Wooster stories, including some of his golf stories and at least one starring the Earl of Emsworth, a man who lives in a castle and has a passion for pigs.

I've been hacking away at this one for quite a while. Wodehouse stories are always an upper and so utterly timeless that I was caught a little off-guard by the conversation about whether or not "talkies" (aka films with soundtracks rather than silent films) were worth all the fuss.

I also love Wodehouse's wording: "We all expired with mirth," sounds so much better than, "We all died laughing." Plus, saying "Wodehouse" and "Jeeves" in the same sentence gives me an excuse to post a photo of Hugh Laurie, the delightful actor who played Bertie Wooster in "Jeeves and Wooster" and who now stars as Gregory House, M.D. There he is, stunning as always. Yeah. That's an upper, all right.


Trying to get all caught up since this week's computer mess and phone tag with the eldest son after he was in an automobile accident (he's fine; the truck's apparently a mess). We also had a very sobering close call ourselves, last night, when a truck drifted into our lane on a twisty back road with gullies on each side and not even a foot or two of shoulder. Scary. I made the executive decision to stay at home and hide, today.

My new computer is finally set up, the email files were recovered from the dying computer but are separate from newer files to allow for a fresh start, and the doctor neglected to call my insurance company to approve the latest refill of Ambien . . . so I'm a bit of a sleepless wreck, but a happy one. Hubby and I have agreed to move up to a higher speed connection, within the next couple of weeks. That should help me get around to other blogs with a little more ease (actually, I'm hoping for a lot more ease; we have a pitiful 26.4 Kbps dial-up speed).

I'm still reading Earth in the Balance by Al Gore and Once Upon a Time by Gloria Vanderbilt, when the mood strikes (pretty much every free moment I can squeeze in, in other words), and have added The Christmas Strike by Nikki Rivers and Big Girls Don't Whine by Jan Silvious. It's true that big girls are not supposed to whine. However, I really did some major wailing upon discovering that our Bible Factory Outlet is closing. We'll soon be reduced to exactly one bookstore (a very small one) in a half-abandoned mall, no used bookstores, no book outlets or even outlets that contain books as part of the inventory. To wander through a decent book selection, we'll have to drive 50 miles. I think that's worth a good whine and a bar of chocolate, myself.

Best moment of the day: The neighborhood hawk swooped into our back yard, again. He made the very distinctive call we've learned to identify even from inside ("kreee"), landed in one of our gigantic old oak trees for a minute, and then moved on. Regardless of how frequently we may spot them, hawks always leave us awestruck. I particularly enjoy seeing the look of amazement on my husband's face.

Not sure, but . . . I think I might dismantle my positive thoughts blog and go back to writing about my good moments in here, as I've let it drop during the past week or so. I've found that I prefer sharing upbeat experiences on my book blog and that trying to come up with three good things every single day sometimes gets on my nerves. What say thee? Any thoughts?

Hope everyone is having a good, book-filled weekend.