Sunday, August 19, 2007

Light books times three and sorry, sorry, sorry

First the sorry, sorry, sorry for not posting. I cannot believe the amount of driving that's required of me, this year. On Thursday, I was finally either inspired or driven mad and performed a Morning Cleaning Miracle (which, of course, was eradicated by the next day; you know how those things go). I stopped only a few times, to check email and blog hop for 5- 10-minute intervals.

At 1:30, I dashed off to sign the kids out from school, drove them around for an hour (including a stop at McDonald's for drinks) and then dropped them off at the pool. I returned home to refresh the cooler and fetch the camera, then zipped back at the pool, waited in the heat for the kiddo and drove him to band. With only 30-45 minutes of band left, I didn't have the time to return home, so I ran to the mall to entertain myself. Picked up the kiddo from band. Took him out to eat at McAllister's (again, a little too shy on time to go home and cook). Returned to the school for a swim meeting (kids and parents - effectively to tell us how much money to chuck over, what to schedule our lives around, and when to donate food and drinks). We returned home at 7:30 pm. Ugh. I mean it. I was flattened.

Friday was much the same, except I went to pick up the kiddo from the pool way too early and ended up staying out in the heat an extra 45 minutes or so to wait while the kids played water polo. This is my favorite photo:

I just love all those arms that look like they're sprouting from some sort of human octopus.

Book-wise . . . .

I am now 5 book reviews behind (2 for Estella and 3 others), so I'm going to go with the quickie review method. Frequent readers know the heat has been sucking out my brain cells, so recent reads have all been light and fluffy. In brief:

The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom tells the story of Israel Armstrong, a librarian who has left his London home to begin a new job as a librarian in Northern Ireland. Upon his arrival, however, Israel finds the library shuttered and locked, a sign on the door announcing that the library has closed. Israel finds that he has been reassigned to drive the ancient, rusted mobile library. When he enters the library building to collect the books and move them, though, he discovers that they have all disappeared.

The book is slapstick, absurd comedy and the mystery is barely a mystery at all. It's pretty obvious, early on, where the books have gone. But, it doesn't matter one whit. If what you're looking for is a light, funny, escapist read, The Case of the Missing Books is perfect. I particularly loved the difficulty Israel has communicating with the people in his new Irish village home. Having traveled to the British Isles, I know how tricky it can be to converse with those who speak the language but with a dramatically different accent and a complete set of unfamiliar expressions. I've wish-listed the next book in the series; definitely a big thumbs up for this one. I'm sending it on to my mother, who is in serious need of uppers.

Next up was Life's a Beach by Claire Cook, an unusual story in that the characters are remarkably normal people. Ginger Walsh has been through a string of jobs, boyfriends, and homes. At 41, she now lives in the Finished Room Over Garage (FROG) of her parents' home, has an artist boyfriend who can't get a grip on the concept of planning ahead, and occasionally watches her almost-50-year-old sister's children. She makes jewelry from sea glass and may soon be evicted by her parents. When her sister Geri's son is chosen to play an extra in a movie filmed locally, Ginger jumps at the chance to act as his on-set guardian. And when the gaffer takes interest in her, she questions whether or not either of the two interested men are right for her and whether she has, in fact, been feeding herself a line about being childless by choice.

Like Must Love Dogs, Life's a Beach has a quirky cast of characters and occasionally goes off on a dull tangent - a lengthy description about glass-blowing or jewelry-making induced the occasional yawn; and, Ginger's rudeness to the gaffer became very tiresome. But, I found that the story held its promise in a way that Must Love Dogs did not and I was glad I read it. It's worth reading but I wouldn't give it a top rating, due to the fact that it could have used a bit more pizazz. Still, I did really like the cast of characters and cared to know how things would turn out.

And, finally, I just finished Shopaholic & Baby! I cannot believe that such an easy, breezy book took me at least 4 days to complete.

Shopaholic & Baby continues the tale of shopping-obsessed Becky Brandon, nee Bloomwood, as she enters the next phase of her life. Pregnant and clueless, she shops with abandon for anything cute and impractical while overlooking necessities like changing tables and bottle warmers. Friend Suze tries to steer her on the right shopping path with her three little darlings in tow. Meanwhile, Becky's working at a new store that has had such a string of disasters it's practically empty; and, when she becomes a patient to a doctor known for celebrity births, she worries that Luke is having an affair as it turns out the doctor is a former university flame of his.

As usual, Becky annoyed me at the beginning of this book and then made her typical turnaround, saving the day for both Luke and her employer. Becky is just a delightful character who gets herself into all sorts of trouble, but always ends up realizing that what's really important in life is not her possessions but the joy of her loved ones. She has a huge heart and Shopaholic & Baby ended up every bit as satisfying as the other books in the series (although I really thought I was on the verge of throwing the book at the wall, for a while, there).

All three books were great Brain-Fog Summer Slump reading material.

Tomorrow is Back-to-School night and darned if the husband isn't dashing out of town so I have to do the whole darned chauffeuring drink with a Back-to-School chaser. I've given him laser eyes, all weekend. Why is he not begging to stay home to stop the pain? I don't get it.

Hope to be back to normal posting, anyway. To heck with the house. It was clean for 24 hours and I'm happy.

Bookfool, ready to skip Monday and coast on into the next weekend

28 comments:

  1. Ugh..as if the heat isn't bad enough, you have to be out and about and busy in it! Thank God for A/C in the car, eh? Good to hear from you again! Stay hydrated!

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  2. That is a fun arms picture!

    It looks like you were in the same boat I'm in now. All kinds of books to review but not much blogging time to fit them in. Maybe I'll do the short hand version, too.

    You'll get some rest soon, school is starting.

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  3. Today is my day for attempting a Morning Cleaning Miracle! I'm almost ready to get started.

    The Case of the Missing Books sounds like so much fun. Adding it to my list!

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  4. Chris,

    I really think it was the heat that wrecked me. I spent most of the weekend sleeping. Using the A/C knocked the number of miles on a tank of gas from the usual 400 to 310, as well. I very seldom crank the car while sitting, but last week it was a necessity! At least we're cooling off to the 90's. :)

    Nikki,

    Thanks. Yes, same boat. Now that I'm down to just the 2 reviews for Estella, I feel like a bit of the weight has been lifted. It doesn't hurt to keep the blog reviews short, now and then, especially if you need to catch up.

    School began 11 days ago, on the 8th. All that running around from school to pool to band hall is required. No rides are provided to the pool, so everyone carpools but I'm overprotective and won't let my son ride with a full car driven by a teenager. That means I'm stuck chauffeuring. I'm used to it; what I'm not accustomed to is having to spend extra time in the heat because I have another rider who has to be entertained for an hour. I'll need to find a solution for that, pronto!

    Jenclair,

    I think I'm going to attempt to throw myself back into the cleaning, this morning, but I'm going to read, first. I'm not feeling very motivated. :)

    The Case of the Missing Books is great fun. Israel is kind of a negative character, but the goofball humor makes it a very quick, enjoyable read - great for summer. Hope you like it.

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  5. 'human octopus' hee hee! Great pic!
    'The Case of the Missing Books' sounds great. I'm fully in mystery mood what with reading them for the Summer Mystery Challenge. Adding it to my wishlist.
    I have to be out and about midday for the next couple of days! So not looking forward to it. This weather is killing me!

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  6. I'm just darned impressed that you can do all that you do and still read as many books as you do! When life gets nutty my reading takes a distinctive nose dive! (right now)

    :D

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  7. Definitely sounds like some good, light reading to help take your mind off of the rush!

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  8. Nat,

    I feel your pain. I've got to get up my courage to either call A.'s mother about the athletic pass she needs to get (so I don't have to sign her out and then sit in the heat to wait for the two kids) or just tell her to get her grandmother to pick her up till she has one. The heat is wrecking me. Hope everything you need to do goes smoothly, so that you don't have to be out for too long.

    The Case of the Missing Books isn't very mysterious, but it's a nice, light summer read. I definitely recommend it. :)

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  9. Andi,

    Well, thank you, but no need to be impressed. It's only been within the last few years that I discovered what typically works best to keep me reading during a slump - in my case, really light books like chick lit and YA novels. If not for the fact that I now know that, I'd be whining about not reading a thing, right now. :)

    Heather,

    I don't know what I'd do without my brain break reads to escape to, I really don't. Don't you wonder how non-readers survive stressful times? Books are *it* for me - my escape.

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  10. I know what you mean about the Cleaning Miracle......I had one last week as well and it was undone just as soon as everyone came home. I feel the same about those Shopaholic books, annoyed, and that Becky always redeems herself in the end (not unlike Curious George come to think of it..). I just cannot resist them thought (the shopaholic books).

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  11. Tara,

    I actually performed a second Cleaning Miracle, today. Astounding! I can't recall the last time this room had so much visible walking space. It won't last, but it's really exciting to actually see the floor. :)

    I'm glad you feel the same about Becky - yep, she's very much like Curious George. I would never have thought of him, but he's really similar in many ways, isn't he? Funny. I always end up loving the stories so much that I don't want to part with them. The Shopaholic books are among just a few series' that I keep lined up on a special shelf, in order of publication.

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  12. I've been thinking about Life's a Beach because I'm always up for a good, frothy distraction. So thanks for the write-up. Sophie Kinsella's writing drives me insane for the very reason you listed. Not sure I can last the entirety of a Shopaholic book.

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  13. Cupcake,

    There were moments I skimmed in Life's a Beach - she just went off on these long, boring descriptions about sea glass or her boyfriend's glass-blowing - but otherwise it was a decent book. I particularly like her father. I can definitely understand if you've had trouble reading the Shopaholic books. Becky always redeems herself in the end, but first you have to wade through all the descriptions of brand name this and leather that. Those bits are a little hard to get through, but once the story gets going, it improves dramatically.

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  14. Tonight is the "Kindergarten Roundup". I have to take Ana in to meet her teacher and the rest of the kids in her class. She is a little on the shy side, but I think she is looking forward to it. Tomorrow, school starts for all. I can't believe summer vacation is over so soon!! Especially since it's still hot as blazes around here!

    I love light summer reading! They all sound good !

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  15. I think August should be declared the month for light reading! I just finished Shopaholic and Sister last week...liked it the least of all of them, but I've heard Shopaholic and Baby is a better one.

    I'm jealous of your cleaning miracles!!! I wish I could produce one of my own. :)

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  16. Stephanie,

    I know; it doesn't feel like school should start when it's so hot. I'm just counting my blessings that we have some cloud cover, today. Anything helps. :) Good luck to your daughter in kindergarten. I was shy at that age, too.

    Nyssaneala,

    It's been a very long time since I read Shopaholic & Sister. I always end up liking them all, in the end.

    I'll need to do a few more cleaning miracles before my house is quite the way I want it to be, but anything helps. One step at a time. :)

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  17. I think light books are best right now! Sounds hideous. (school and chores and all that.)

    The Shopaholic series is cute but as the series goes on, I need to be in the right frame of mind to read them.

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  18. Carrie,

    "Light" books are all I can handle. I keep hoping things will either ease up or I'll get into a routine, but when it's soooo hot and you have no choice but to run back and forth or sit in the heat, it kind of puts a kink in getting other things done!

    I save the Shopaholic books for the right moment, also. There are times I don't think I could tolerate Becky at all - I was close to giving up, at first; the whole concept of buying expensive things because of a designer's name or because everyone else is wearing or carrying a particular item is something that escapes me.

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  19. You lead such a busy life, Nancy! One of these days you'll jump right in the pool after waiting in the heat, I bet! Haha

    I read The Case of the Missing Books awhile ago and really enjoyed it. It was a fun light book. I am glad to read that you enjoyed it too!

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  20. Wendy,

    I wish they'd let us jump in the pool!! Parents aren't allowed because the pool isn't open to the public when the swim teams are practicing. Darn.

    Glad you enjoyed TCoTMB, too. I thought it was fluffy but intelligently written, if that makes sense. Great escapist reading.

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  21. 1637463OOhh...thank you for the review of The Case of the Missing Books. I hadn't heard about that book, and it does sound good. It's now on my list of books to get!

    Your Thursday does sound crazy...I feel almost guilty of my schedule these days. Freelancing can be fun but it's a chore waiting around for projects.

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  22. Indigo,

    It's very fluffy, but I think it's a terribly fun read.

    I'm pretty much always short on time. There's just too much to get done in a day - add driving kids back and forth and it takes a huge chunk out of the day. I may really enjoy my empty nest years, when they get here. :)

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  23. So glad you're back! I love the sound of The Case of the Missing Books. I'm going to check that one out.

    Good luck on all the driving.

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  24. Colleen,

    Thanks. I hope you enjoy the book; I thought it was a really terrific, escapist read.

    The driving is a killer, but it's better than chucking the kiddo into a car full of teenagers, as most do. I'd spend the whole time worrying if I did that, so I might as well just do the driving. :)

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  25. Hi there! Was just blog-hopping and I found yours!

    I've read Shopaholic Sister & Abroad, and yeah, at times, I get so annoyed with Becky! She's, like, a very over-confident person and expects rainbows and roses every time. Erm, she's pretty naive, is that the right word to describe her?

    Anyway, the Shopaholic books are really easy to read! It does not require a lot of thinking. That's why I quite like chick-lit books although the plot can be trivial sometimes.

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  26. Josette,

    Yes, I think "naive" is a good work to describe Becky.

    They're definitely easy, light reading. I'm a fan of chick lit, too - especially during slumpy times!

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  27. I tried reading that librarian book and hated it! But I kind-of enjoyed Must love dogs so I'll check out her new one. I do like the Shopaholic series, they make me cry, every time.

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  28. LC,

    The Case of the Missing Books is kind of over the top on its humor; I can see how some readers would find that annoying. It was just perfect for my mood and needs, last week.

    Must Love Dogs isn't quite as good as Life's a Beach, IMHO. I'm really glad I gave Claire Cook a second chance.

    Yeah, the Shopaholic endings are always sweet and touching. I hate it when Becky's going nutty over brand-name clothing and such, but I always love it when she reaches that point that she shows what a huge heart she has and realizes how little "things" mean.

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