Monday, July 11, 2011

Reading update and some other nonsense

This is going to be one of those rambling posts because I'm in kind of a bummery mood. I think the heat is getting to me. We'll start with the cuteness and move on to reading. This was so wrong of me. The cats are not allowed on the piano, lest their little claws inadvertently scratch the fine wood and my mother return to haunt me, but Isabel looked so cute that I had to snap some photos before making her get down:

My mother paid for this piano by working as an Avon rep, way back in the Seventies. I used to go along with her for her orders and deliveries, now and then, and although I was small I recall my favorite of her customers was the one with the talking parrot.

Reading update:

I woke up at 5AM on Saturday morning (not by choice -- I'd already stayed up rather a bit later than I should have) and finished reading Simon Van Booy's book, Everything Beautiful Began After. Be patient with me. It's so compelling and such a great story that even though I had the urge to mark practically every other line, I was too immersed to bother. So, I'm going to reread it -- probably next week -- before I review.

But, a few words about Everything Beautiful Began After: It seems to be a love triangle, at first, and it begins a little slowly. Apart from the beauty of his writing, you may even be tempted to think it's not going to be anything special. And, then Simon yanks the rug out from you and turns the story on its head. Suddenly, what you thought was a love triangle becomes a story of grief and hope. It's almost a tapestry -- about love and death and friendship, the fleeting nature of life and how much every single moment counts. Everything Beautiful Began After is awe-inspiring, uplifting, authentic, hopeful, beautiful. It's everything I hoped Simon's first novel would be. Prepare to have your heart broken and then put back together with sparkles and rainbows. Everything Beautiful Began After is a book you simply must read.

Onward . . .

After I closed Simon's book, I gave myself a day to ponder and then decided there was absolutely no way any book could hold a candle to EBBA, so I chose something so completely opposite and fast-paced that I wouldn't end up constantly comparing. My next read was a YA sci-fi, Gone by Michael Grant. In Gone, there are disappearing adults, a strange dome-like enclosure over town, talking coyotes and other strange animal mutations, kids with special powers. It's a little bit Stephen King, a little bit William Golding. The way the children react to the absence of adults hints at Lord of the Flies and, of course, you can't help thinking about King's Under the Dome, although I haven't yet gotten around to reading Under the Dome and, therefore, can't compare.

I finished Gone, last night, and I have a copy of the next book in the series but obligations will keep me from reading it for a while. Instead, I've moved on to a tour book, Face to Face with God by Jim Maxim, and Shadow of a Quarter Moon by Eileen Clymer Schwhab. I'll add both to my sidebar in a bit.

Just walked in the door:

Hunting Unicorns by Bella Pollen - I loved The Summer of the Bear so much that I promptly ordered another of her books. I won't get to it for a while, but that's only if I behave myself. It's very tempting.

My sidebar has just continued to become more intimidating, so I'm going to attempt to start tackling reviews in whatever manner I can, this week. Hopefully, my exercise class won't hit me quite as hard as it did last week, but I will tell you this . . . Two of the girls in my class just finished "Boot Camp," another exercise regime that's known to be quite tough. They told me the class we're attending,"The Next Level," is harder. Goodness.

Might as well end with a photo from our vacation. This picture was taken on our trip west to Exmoor:

We had the option of paying a couple pounds to take a scenic byway or taking a free road. We chose the scenic byway. At times you could see thousand-foot plummets to the sea, at other times it appeared that Robin Hood was likely to come bounding out of the forest. Definitely a detour worth taking, but not for the faint of heart.


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17 comments:

  1. Good to see a post from you. Boot camp, huh? Sounds very challenging. One of our neighbors decided to play boom-boom-boom music in the middle of the night last night and I didn't get much sleep. Could not, simply could not wake up this morning for exercise. Have gone this afternoon and I remember why I hate afternoon exercise.

    Have a good week, Nancy!

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  2. Kay,

    Worse than Boot Camp! Seriously! I told my husband what we're doing and he said, "I did that stuff in high school athletics. And, I thought it sucked." I am way too old for this stuff, but I have my reasons. I need to lose weight as quickly as possible without killing myself. :)

    Ah, I'm the opposite. I like morning exercise if I do it regularly but I'm finding I do better in the evening, with this class -- possibly because just being up and walking around helps warm you up and you need a lot of warming-upping. We do a little of both - Saturday's our early day. Not sleeping always makes everything harder, doesn't it? I have a tendency to wake frequently and today I think I'm partly grumpy because Fiona kept howling every few minutes, this morning. I'd just drift back off, start dreaming and she'd let out a piercing wail. I think she wanted a playmate. I was unwilling. LOL

    Thanks, you too, Kay!

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  3. Love that your cats listen as well as mine do :-) Izzy looks quite comfy on the piano!!

    ~Melissa

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  4. Awesome! I told you Simon's book would trip you up on the VERY BIG EVENT. Ha! Brilliant stuff. Just brilliant.

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  5. Melissa,

    Haha, yeah. They're smart but not good listeners. But, I forgot to tell you about the day Izzy was getting into something that I thought was dangerous - can't even remember what it was, but I said, "Grab the kitty!" She immediately dashed away and I thought, "Wait. Did she understand that?" Sure enough, she came back and tried to get into it, again . . . maybe the styrofoam from a new toy of David's . . . and when I said, "Grab the kitty!" that was her cue to duck and run. She's no dummy.

    Andi,

    Yeah, and unfortunately I did know something big was coming so I felt like I was holding my breath that first part of the book. But, then . . . oh, my. Really, how did he do that? He totally tears you apart and then miraculously convinces you there's always hope in a world where there are no guarantees we'll last a single day. Genius. And, I am so very, very proud of him!!!!

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  6. I just got Everything Beautiful Began After and now I want to sink my teeth into it.

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  7. Kathy,

    Wahoo! I can't wait to hear what you think!

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  8. The scenic picture is beautiful, it makes me sigh. Izzy looks incredibly comfortable. Maybe she thinks if she looks confident enough you won't push her off???

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  9. Jenny,

    Isn't that scenery gorgeous? It was well worth the cost to take that little scenic byway.

    As to Izzy . . . you hit the nail on the head. She is a very strong-willed girl and I think she just assumes that if she looks at home, she will be allowed to stay. She probably gets away with a lot more than she should because of a combination of cuteness and determination.

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  10. That is a cute picture! My mother is the same way, the only time I ever hear her yell at her cats is when they are on the piano. :)

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  11. Kelly,

    Thanks! Haha, neat your mother and I have that in common. I get really freaked when the cats climb on the piano -- usually, just Isabel, actually. She's relaxed on the bench, before, and I let that go. But, there's a lot to knock over and potentially damage the wood, if she climbs to the top. So, I usually give her a pretty good tongue-lashing and I did gently remove her after I took her picture. She was none too pleased!

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  12. I loved Van Booy's short story collection, and now I am a little sad that I didn't choose the novel. He is such an amazing author and he really has a knack for getting to the crux of his characters emotions and just writing around them, you know? Anyhow, the kitty on the piano is just adorable, and I hope that you find some great reading material very soon!

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  13. Isabel looks like a French chanteuse waiting for the pianist to begin.

    :) I'm planning to get Hunting Unicorns, too. Hopefully, on my Kindle for when my daughters and I head to Edinburgh in August.

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  14. Zibilee,

    I don't think the novel was out, yet, when you were reading his short story collection, was it? No worries, though. It'll be around for a long time, I'm sure. It seems to be a big hit, so far (and so is Simon - near as I can tell, his tour has been very successful, so far). Oh, yes, I know exactly what you mean about how he mines the emotions of his characters. I particularly love how real his characters are. They can be quirky but they're always grounded in reality and so very, very believable that sometimes I find myself thinking about them as if they're real people, wondering what may have become of them, since.

    Thanks! I'm almost done with my tour book. Not loving the other one in my sidebar, so I'll give it about 30 more pages and if it doesn't grab me I'll move on. I've read so many wonderful books, lately, that I'm afraid I'm a bit more impatient than usual.

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  15. Jenclair,

    Well . . . she may have been a French chanteuse in a former lifetime. ;)

    I have my copy of Hunting Unicorns sitting beside me and I cannot tell you how strong the temptation is!! It's miserable! I'm going to have to go put it on a shelf to keep myself from reading it right away. I'm sure it'll be a perfect traveling book. I usually can't focus on planes but The Summer of the Bear was so marvelous that I managed to read 200 pages of it after finishing up Casper the Commuting Cat on the flight home from London. Maybe I'll save Hunting Unicorns for my next journey.

    Husband might be going to Edinburgh, this fall. He says I can't come along. Boo, hiss to him. I love Edinburgh. August is probably a great month to go. We were there in November and froze our patooties but had a blast.

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  16. I really want to read Gone as I've heard some really good things about that series. I've had a slow few weeks of reading and need something to break me out of my slump..maybe this would work!

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  17. Samantha,

    Gone is a fun read. It kind of scared the peawaddin' out of me, at times, but it was much more creative and unique than I expected. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. Oh, yes, I think it would be a good slump breaker. It's nice, quick reading. YA is my currently my slump-breaking genre of choice! :)

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