Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blogger burns out on everything but Mt. Dew and Star Trek, goes down in ball of flaming rubble

Not really (okay, close -- I still love Mt. Dew and we enjoyed the Star Trek movie . . . just no flaming rubble), but I don't much feel like doing what I intended to do, today, which was write that "April Reads in Review" post that was on the weekend agenda. I wrote my list, but then I just stared at it and realized I'm far too tired to even come up with 25-word blurbs for books I read last month. Maybe later; it's been a really exhausting week.

The butterflies, at right, are from the Monteverde Butterfly Garden in Costa Rica. I have absolutely no reason for posting that photo apart from whimsy. It's not good enough for my Animus3 blog (where I frequently post bad photos, but I think people have had their fill of Bookfool's Bad Shots, lately). I kind of like the Dratted Blue Morpho in flight, even if he is fuzzy, so there you go. He's "dratted" because he refused to sit still and pose nicely, with those beautiful blue wings open.

I've finished two books in the past two days:

A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy by Charlotte Greig really sucked me in. It's the tale of a university student living in Brighton, England in the 1970s and studying philosophy. Susannah is living with her boyfriend Jason in his apartment. Jason is 10 years her senior, deals in antiques and is stable, but they're not as close as she'd like. When Susannah falls for a classmate, she's confused about what to do. Jason is secure; Rob is still just a boy, by comparison. When Susannah becomes pregnant and has no way of knowing who fathered the baby, her dilemma becomes even more pressing. Should she leave Jason? Tell them both the truth? Quit school and keep the baby? Tell Jason and hope he'll marry her? Abort and tell no one? In order to make her decision, she turns to the modern philosophers and tries to apply their logic to her situation.

There were a few little things about A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy that annoyed me (like the way Susannah always tilts her head forward and hides behind her hair, criticizes Christians and, of course, all that sex), but I really liked the story, the setting, the dilemma, and the way Susannah's screwed-up life slowly comes into focus. I breezed through the novel quickly and found it satisfying.

I thought it was pretty funny that Susannah looked at one girl and thought she couldn't possibly be a Christian because she was too pretty. How ridiculous is that? But, I think that comment was simply an example of how Susannah's reasoning was clouded by her own personal demons. In general, the book is hard to define. Chick lit? Not quite cheery enough, I'd say. Romance? Not really. Literature? Kind of, in that it's all about screwed-up people and is kind of gently paced and a wee bit depressing, nicely written but not brilliant. Oh, well, whatever. I enjoyed it, but I do feel like I could use a sweetness and light break.

Major Spoiler Warning!!! I'm going to say what I think and give away some of the story, so skip this little bit if you plan to read On the Run and want to be surprised.

On the Run by Bill Myers with James Riordan is an adventurous excuse to suck middle readers into a series and, in general, kind of irked me. Elijah has a special gift for healing that has kept his family on the run. When he's caught healing a dog that has been hit by a car, on film, the standard bad guys are clued in to Elijah's whereabouts. His parents quickly pack and run with a trio of bumbling pursuers with guns hot on their heels while Elijah, his brother Zach and sister Piper try to protect their little brother when the same bumblers aim their sights on the youngsters.

Helped by a boy Piper has a crush on and his genius buddy, the kids are chased and caught, escape and are chased, etc. The book is full of bang-you-on-the-head symbolism and cliché characterization. The nasty leader of the bad-guy organization is obviously symbolic of the devil and an angel in the form of an older man occasionally steps in to extract the children when things look truly hopeless. Enough information is withheld to keep the reader dangling and the story is a cliffhanger with no definitive ending. A single 250-300 page book might have worked. But, at 103 pages, On the Run simply comes off as an excuse to get folks to buy 4 books rather than 1. It's a tour book and I'll post an sneak peek chapter on Friday, so you can judge for yourself.

End spoiler warning!

Excitement of the week:

Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy (short stories) was released by Harper Perennial, yesterday! I adored the first book I read by Simon, The Secret Lives of People in Love, and this new release is every bit as exciting. I'm going to reread Love Begins in Winter and hope to post my review within the next few days. It's loaded with beautiful little gems and is eminently quotable. Of all the books I've been looking forward to reading in 2009, Love Begins in Winter was #1 on my list and it did not disappoint.

However, I'm currently totally unable to read. Everything I've picked up has just blurred and I've drifted off, which I'm blaming on fatigue. We've had some late nights, this week. Plus, I managed to finish 8 books in 12 days and I'm not a fast reader, so I do think I'm vaguely burned out. Naturally, this also means my reader is starting to sag heavily with unread posts. On that note, I'm off to attempt to get a good night's sleep. Happy reading to all!


  1. Not a fast reader?! You read a hell of a lot faster than me, lol. I got Love Begins in Winter in the mail today!!!!! I was so excited...yep, I had preordered it. Can't wait to dig into it...his writing is just exquisite...and I peeked at the back of the book and found you in the acknowledgements :) With a "Mr. Howard" right next to you, lol...I'll pretend that's me ;)

    I'm in love with your butterfly photo!! How can you say that's a bad photo....I think it's just perfect!

  2. Okay, so I beg to differ. Eight books in twelve days? I don't know what you'd call that but I called that a speedy reader!

    Love the picture, as always!


  3. Chris,

    That just means I'm pushing myself to read more than I usually do, which does tend to make me eventually hit the proverbial wall. You preordered!! So excited! Now I'll have someone to talk to about the stories. They're the kind you need to talk about, reread, mull, etc. :)

    I'm in the acknowledgments? I didn't see that. Maybe they're not in the ARC. My butterfly thanks you. It's a bad photo if enlarged. When shown in smaller form, as I've added it here, the sins of the photographer are minimized, you see. LOL


    8 in 12 days is a lot for me. I just meant I probably pushed myself through too many too fast. I do burn out and get to the point that everything becomes meaningless for a few days, if I read that way. I'm meant to be a slow reader.

    Thank you!

  4. I saw a stack of Love Begins in Winter on the new release table at work yesterday. I really need to read his books! And, wow, another acknowledgment, eh? You're quite popular with those author-types, aren't you? ;)

    I'm on a bit of a burnout myself. Even whined about it in my post yesterday. BTW, your photos on Aminus3 are fantastic, as is this cool shot of the butterfly in-flight! You should see all the shots that wind up in my recycle bin. I've deleted over half of what I shot in St. Louis. Thank goodness for digital. :)

  5. Poor little Bookfool. Please dear, get some rest!

    And seriously? 8 books in 12 days? I'd be beyond burned out; I'd be exhausted!!!

    And I rather like your butterfly picture. I love the bokeh and I think the blurriness adds to the motion of the photograph. It adds to the majesty of his Sir Dratted Blue Morpho. :)

  6. Eight books in twelve days is impressive. Take a break!

    And the Star Trek movie was great! Opened up the door for a whole new generation of fans.

    L. Diane Wolfe

  7. It sounds like you need some rest. I don't drink caffeine, so no Mt. Dew for me. I do love Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale, but I don't know if you can buy that in Mississippi.

  8. Les,

    You absolutely must. I reread the first story in Love Begins in Winter, last night (great writing trumps exhaustion, apparently). It's about two people who have carried grief with them throughout their lives and find a magnetic attraction when they literally bump into each other. There are so many cool lines, like "Grief is a country where it rains and rains but nothing grows."

    As to the acknowledgment thing . . . most of those have to do with having friends who write, but yes. I think if I'm in Simon's, that will make my 10th acknowledgment. I love writers. :)

    I haven't seen your burnout post because I was failing to read blog posts, yesterday. They all blurred together and I ended up either saving or hitting "clear all" without actually reading anything. I'll have to go look. Believe me, I have to throw out tons of bad pictures, too. It just goes with the territory, I guess. Thanks for the compliment. :)


    LOL Yes, poor little me. I ended up staying up reading the first story in Love Begins in Winter, but I think I shall spend most of my day befriending the pillows. :)

    Thank you! I guess I could define the photograph as a "blurred motion" photo, right? Good point. Sir Dratted Blue Morpho was such a pain!!! He simply refused to cooperate (as did his brothers and sisters).

  9. L. Diane,

    Yes, ma'am. I'll just tell the family I have to curl up and rest because Diane said so. :)

    I absolutely agree with you about the Star Trek movie. I thought the farther they got into the movie, the more the actors took on the mannerisms of the original cast (except Uhura -- I didn't care for her). My son and I left the theater wishing for more. We'd be perfectly thrilled with a series, but a few more movies will do, if that's all we can get!


    I wish I didn't drink caffeine, but it's a lifelong habit. When I was diagnosed with migraines (at the age of 9), the only drug known to have any effect at all on migraines was caffeine. My pediatrician said she could give me a prescription to caffergot, a caffeine pill, or I could just drink Coke when I got a migraine (I chose Coke). I had a migraine, yesterday, so I was slurping down the Dew. I've given it up a few times, but I always come back because soda pop helps settle my stomach.

  10. Tenth acknowledgment in a book? Sweet! I'll have to get Simon's book but if my local indie doesn't have it, I'm going to make them order it for me.

    Sleeeeeep. If you can.

  11. Carrie,

    That's a guess. I've lost track of all those acknowledgments. They're mostly good friends from my writing days. :)

    Simon is going to be in California, later this month: Madera and Sacramento. You probably know how intimately I know the map of California (fail!). If you can go see him, do!!! And, if we're talking thousands of miles, remind me to go ahead and buy that atlas I keep considering.

    I plan on doing a lot of sleeping, this weekend. :)

  12. Those all sound like pretty interesting books to me.

    BTW, don't forget to send me your mailing info for the book - my e-mail address is thekittyknitterATverizonDOTnet.

    (I have no idea what happened to the link on my sidebar ...)

  13. No caffeine for me either. It makes me bounce off the walls like a crazy person. Everybody at work knows to watch out when I eat chocolate. lol

    I am so impressed too. I do most of my big reading on the weekends because I actually sit down and read for longer periods of time than during the week with TV distracting me some. I hope to read more this summer when most of my favorite shows will not be on. Tonight I will be watching the Grey's Anatomy finale. :)

  14. Bridget,

    Simon's book is the best, but all three have positive attributes. I enjoyed the action in On the Run, even if the cliffhanger and cliche bit bugged me.

    Will do on the address, thanks! My sidebar links are a mess. I should probably remove the whole blog roll or at least write a note saying it's outdated, till I can do a fix.


    That's so funny! I'm totally unaffected by caffeine, these days. I just drink cokes because I like them and Mt. Dew does settle my stomach when I have a migraine.

    Don't be impressed. I probably managed to read so much by being a total bum. I only watch TV when I'm exercising, so that never gets in the way of my reading! I'd read while working out, but I always end up with exercise equipment that shakes too much.

  15. I used to be a fast reader but this pregnancy is slowing me down a lot. I am 4.5 months along and still not reading much. lol

    I'll watch bones finale tomorrow online cause supper is going to be late and well I need some family time. :)

  16. Krista,

    Yep, I think we've switched. I'm reading much more than I normally do. I'm never a fast reader, though. You'll probably get back to normal, soon . . and then the baby will complicate matters. They do that. :)

  17. 8 books in 12 days? No wonder you are tired!

    I'm looking forward to the Girls Guide book. I have hopes that it'll be a bit more substantial than typical chick lit but still a good, fun read. And, I still need to read Secret Lives of People in Love. Oh so behind.

  18. Iliana,

    Yes, and now I'm balancing 3 . . . wait, 4 books. Ridiculous, but I guess it's just who I am.

    Girl's Guide is not goofy chick-lit. It's really just a good story with a messed-up heroine who has put too many rocks in her proverbial boat and has to figure out how to keep from sinking. So to speak. Obviously, it's getting late.

    Coincidentally, I'm up at nearly midnight because I got sucked into Simon's new book, for the second time. I think his books have earned the "Most Abused" award in this household. I read them and read them until they are fiercely battered. Don't put off reading Secret Lives. You will love it, I promise.

  19. I hope you have gotten some much needed rest over the past few days. I think a lot of us are suffering from burnout for various reasons--I know I've been struggling to get out any time of bookish review the past three weeks. Mountain Dew really is the best. Maybe I'll go crack one open. Mmmm! :) Nothing like a high dose of caffeine before heading to bed.

  20. Trish,

    I got tons of rest, today -- slept late (oops, so much for the marathon training) and woke with a migraine, so I doped myself to the gills (legally) and slept it off. I feel so much better. Also, I finished my second reading of Love Begins in Winter, last night, and it was such a breath of fresh air. A really terrific read is very helpful for burnout recovery. All the same, I'm not going to push so hard to read all the tour books I've got scheduled for this week. I think I'll just post the sneak peeks and get to them when I can.

    Mt. Dew is practically a cure-all. You should definitely pop open a can. :)


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