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September 2006

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



 

Bath ToysWeekly Update: 09/30/06

Thursday was my postpartum appointment. My incision looks great although I have to work harder at keeping it dry. Overall I look really well recovered for just shy of four weeks. I don't have any more appointments until October of next year.

Harriet continues to grow. She is comfortably wearing clothing for three-month-olds. She seems to be constantly hungry. I'm looking forward to when she can start solids.

Harriet is also a cuddlier which makes having time to myself difficult. This afternoon I had a well needed shower while Ian was able to hold her.



Steps: 3500

Simplify you LifeSimplify your Life: 09/29/06

One of my favorite bits of BookCrossing is the passing along of books to other readers. While the site was designed for the karma of books traveling from wild releases, I usually send my books along to other known BookCrossers with help from one or two adjunct sites, BookRelay and Cliff's Wishlist.

Simplify Your Life fits nicely with BookCrossing as it covers various ways to declutter one's life. Fortunately I don't have many knickknacks but I do have a lot of books. Now with decluttering the advice is to get rid of things no longer (or never) used. With my books, I have dozens (hundreds?) of books I have gotten as library sales or gifts or through Freecycle that I haven't read. I do still want to read them and I am making an effort to get them read. Since 2003, I have significantly slowed down my acquiring of books and have put a great deal of effort in reading and releasing what books I do have. I've managed to pare things down by about 900 books.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Simplify your Life is a 100 step book to help one declutter. As with so many of these books, the author assumes a certain affluence for her readers. This assumptions make some of her tips moot for readers on a tight budget. The last thing I really need to declutter is my book collection.


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Steps: 5000

Native TongueNative Tongue: 09/28/06

I read Native Tongue not so much for the science fiction (I'm not big on complete distopian stories) but for the linguistics. As a linguistics story, the book is wonderful but the near future world of the United States as a government of the "Protestant Taliban" as one Amazon.com reviewer put it, leaves too many questions unanswered. Unanswered questions lead to weak stories and frustrated readers.

Many languages are discussed in the book. Some are real and some are made up. Among those made up is Láadan, the language of women. The women of the Barren Houses work on this language in their spare time as a way of being able to express ideas without the men who are their "care-takers" interfering. The language is also supposed to fill in the gaps that English under the oppressive patriarchal system cannot express. The language is built and maintained through a networked database. Now life is imitating art as there is a Láadan wiki where the language is being expanded. I have to admit to being weirded-out a bit by a work group for a made up language, whether it be Láadan or Klingon.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Native Tongue is the first of a trilogy but having finished the first book I'm not inspired to find the remaining two books. The bit about the linguistics and human, humanoid and non-humanoid language fascinated me, I found the overly oppressive but poorly explained near future patriarchy hard to believe.

Were these changes just to the United States? To the whole world? How many nations are there in the near future? Do women leave the country (even by underground railroad if necessary) if they don't like living in such an oppressive world? Are there any men who dislike the division of genders? Why are men so anti-children?

On the linguistic side there are some other unanswered questions. Why do babies die when introduced to non-humanoid speech? Why are women better linguists? Why have the adults lost the ability to learn new languages?

All of these unanswered questions make for an incomplete diagesis. I wish the author had fleshed out her world better.


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Steps: 10000

Sabine's NotebookSabine's Notebook: 09/27/06

I was introduced to Nick Bantock's art and writing via the BookCrossing meetings I attend in Dublin. There I was the last in the group to read Griffin and Sabine, the first in a series of "correspondence" books involving elaborately decorated postcards and envelopes.

Sabine's Notebook is the second of the series. Whereas the first book was correspondence from two fixed locations, a tropical island and a flat in London, the second follows Griffin's travels around the world, first to escape Sabine and later to find her. The artwork on the postcards reflect his travels and to a lesser degree, his fears.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

I love the tactile experience of having to open up the letters and the challenge of seeing how the images on the postcards relates to the characters and the story. This second book in the series is darker than the first. The question still lingers: who is real? Both of them? One of them? Neither of them?


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Steps: 5000

I Love You, Stinky FaceI Love You, Stinky Face: 09/26/06

Since joining BookCrossing in 2003, most of the books I've read have been BookCrossing books, either in the form of books I have gotten from other members or my books that I have registered in order to release once I've read them. I Love You, Stinky Face breaks with that tradition as it is a book Sean has borrowed from his preschool.

Sometime this summer while I was giving Sean a bath, he exclaimed "I love you stinky face." I had no idea how to react. Was he insulting me? Was it a strange term of endearment? Was he quoting something out of context? At the time, thinking he might be trying more playground humor, I cautioned him not call people stinky faces. Finally Sean explained that I Love You, Stinky Face is a book they've been reading at school.

Over the weekend, Sean borrowed the book from his preschool so we could finally read it together. I wasn't expecting to like the book given the title but within a couple of pages, I was enchanted by it. It is a book about unconditional love of a mother for her child. The child at bed time asks his mother if she would still love him if he were to change into a variety of things: dinosaur, gorilla, skunk (hence the "stinky face"), and swamp monster for example. The mother responds that yes she would still love him and she lists the various ways she would accommodate his changes (like moving into a home next to the swamp).

Besides the message of love and acceptance, the book captures the typical sorts of questions kids Sean's age ask their parents. I could completely relate to the mother in the book, though I have to learn how to not get flustered at some of Sean's odder questions. I think I will get Sean a copy of this book the next time I go book shopping.

If I were to make a journal entry at BookCrossing for I Love You, Stinky Face, I would rate it a ten out of ten stars. It really is that good and the illustrations are fun too.


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Steps: 7000

LambLamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal: 09/25/06

All of Christopher Moore's books take place in the same universe so that characters can appear in very different types of stories. In this book, the cross-over character is a demon named Catch. Raziel later shows up in Pine Cove in The Stupidest Angel but I haven't read that book yet so stayed tuned for a post later this week or early next week when I have finally read the book.

Given that all of the characters exist in the same universe, one would expect to either like all of the books or none of the books. In my case, I've so far liked all of the books, though some more than others. So far my least favorite two books have been Bloodsucking Fiends because San Francisco didn't seem right (but later did in A Dirty Job) and now Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal because seventeen years of experimenting with different religions is boring.

I realize that the point of the book is what did Christ do during those years that aren't included in the New Testament but having now suffered through Biff's version, I can see why. I tried to stay interested through the bit with Balthasar but after he and Catch were sorted out things go down hill fast. At least the last hundred pages go back to the best part of the book, namely Joshua and Biff interacting with other characters from the New Testament. One saving grace of the book is the epilogue. I'm happy to see that Biff got his reunion.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

I normally love Christopher Moore's books but I found Lamb a chore to read. The story was at its best when Biff and Joshua were with the folks mentioned in the New Testament but the middle third where they go in search of the "divine spark" aka "holy ghost" in the far east, the story stops being interesting. It just seems to degrade into one bawdy joke after another. The only bright bit of this interlude is the appearance of Catch (the demon introduced in Practical Demonkeeping.


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Steps: 3500

Encyclopedia Ordinary LifeEncyclopedia of an Ordinary Life: 09/24/06

On days when I'm either ill or sleep deprived I enjoy books without a lot of prose. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is just such a book. It is an alphabetical list of thoughts and memories from the Amy Krause Rosenthal's life. Some are tied to significant events but most are just the odd-ball memories.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is an autobiography in alphabetical order and with illustrations. Amy Krause Rosenthal is six years older than I am so I found myself relating to many of her memories. My husband read some of the book too but found the entries "too ordinary" but it was exactly that ordinariness that so endeared me to the book and the author.

I rated the book a 10 out of 10. I'd like to have more to say about the book but I'm completely exhausted and at a lack of words right now due to sleep deprivation.

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Steps: 5000

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back: 09/23/06

Feeling well rested yesterday I volunteered to make dinner for the family. It took me about an hour and a half to make home made sauce, boil up some noodles and banana bread. During dinner I regretted all that effort, suddenly coming down with a stomach ache (from over doing).

It took until about one in the morning to feel well enough to go to bed without throwing up. Ian and Harriet stayed upstairs and Ian took care of her middle of the night feedings with a couple of bottles so I could get some uninterrupted sleep. At five in the morning we switched off. Harriet having missed real milk, nursed for three hours, finally stopping around eight in the morning.

Unfortunately I couldn't go back to sleep because Sean was now up for the day and Ian really needed some good sleep too. So the three of us got up and let Ian sleep. He got up around 9:30 and I went back to bed until eleven.

For the rest of today I've been physical sore and exhausted. I haven't had the energy to read at my usual pace or even to do my usual morning blog update (it's now five in the afternoon). I'm tired of this "recovery process."

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Steps: 3500

Harriet NapsFamily Update: 09/22/06

Since I haven't finished reading Lamb, I think it is time for another update on all of us. As can be expected, we're still rather sleep deprived although the nights are slowly getting easier to handle as Harriet gets older. Ian has Harriet's cold now and I've been toying with coming down with it but haven't yet. Harriet meanwhile is nearly over the cold and is starting to sleep better (longer) at night, though still in her bouncy chair.

I am officially done with my perinatal hypertension monitoring. DHL stopped by yesterday afternoon to pick up the blood pressure cuff that I had been borrowing since April. My blood pressure this time never really stayed high with Harriet although it wouldn't sometimes spike in a range close to my outer limits. Now my pressures are staying down low, around 100 / 50.

I am recovering. The incision feels like it is healed up and this time around I am suffering more from typical postpartum complaints than C-section specific ones. I'm sore from everything settling back to where it belongs. I'm swollen in my feet and legs although this problem is finally correcting itself by way of night sweats and frequent trips to the toilet. At least my sciatica is gone!

Sean throughout all of this stress has been wonderful. He hasn't wanted to hold Harriet (and I didn't want to hold my baby brother either) and we haven't made him try. He does though look out for her. When she's cold, he'll tuck another blanket around her feet. If she's crying, he'll turn on her music for her or get one of us if her cries sound more urgent.

On Sunday we're having a birthday breakfast with Judy (it's her birthday), Charlie, Glenn and Krys. Afterwards they'll stop by briefly before Glenn and Krys have to return to the airport.

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Steps: 3500

I, FattyI, Fatty: 09/21/06

I majored in film studies and while I was doing my studies, the silent era was one of my favorite subjects. When, I, Fatty, a novelization of Roscoe Arbuckle's life was offered at a recent BookCrossing meeting I had to snatch up this book. I wasn't sure if I'd like the book, feeling that the teens and twenties might not be depicted in a believable fashion or that the story would be too bogged down with facts and dates to be interesting. The book doesn't suffer from either problem.

The facts are certainly simplified and there are some errors and omissions (like Arbuckle's nephew who was also an actor isn't mentioned). Another noticeable error is the mistyping of "Keystone Kops" as they were known then as "Keystone cops." The spelling with a K is a more recent thing. As this book is a work of fiction, I forgive it these errors as they in no way take away from the enjoyment of the story.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

I, Fatty is a fictionalized "autobiography" of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, the silent film star best known now for being accused of the rape and murder of Virginia Rappe. This novel brings together the events of Arubckle's life and career as supposition to how he might have come to finding himself going overnight from being loved by fans to being seen as an over sexed and violent ogre. The events have been simplified and some completely fabricated so take this book is a grain of salt. There are enough facts to point interested readers in the right direction for finding some non-fiction accounts. For those just interested in a well written story, I, Fatty delivers.


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Steps: 3500

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4: 09/20/06

Every so often, I'll mention a book that I haven't read or I will start reading a book and my husband will do a double-take. Then he'll exclaim, "What, you haven't read that book before?" The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole is one of those books. He read it the year it came out as he was living in England at the time and it's a British book. Until 2004, I hadn't even heard of the book (which despite my reading 300 books a year is still fairly typical of me). Another BookCrosser kindly sent me a copy of the book so I could cross it off my list of "books Ian has read and can't believe I haven't read."

Ian says he had two different reactions to the book depending on how old he was at the time. He first read the book when he was ten. At this first reading he sympathized completely with Adrian and was just as surprised by the mother's affair as Adrian was. When he read the book again at thirteen (and three-quarters?) he couldn't believe how naive and arrogant Adrian was.

Having read this book for the first time as a parent of two children, I'm not so concerned with how much Adrian knew or didn't know about his mother's behavior. Instead, I am outraged at how irresponsible his parents are. Over the course of the book Adrian has to fend for himself when his parents are fighting, drunk or out having affairs. He has to live in a home where more money is spent on a dog than on basic staples like food and clothing or bills like electricity and telephone. I've read reviews that see humor in these circumstances because Adrian is more mature than his parents but I found the plot more grim than funny.

I didn't completely hate the book. There were three elements I did like: Adrian's friendship with Bert (the 80-something pensioner), his relationship with Pandora, and his reading list over the course of the book, especially when his reviews of the books are completely off-base due to his misunderstanding of them.

Here's my BookCrossing Review:

Poor Adrian Mole. He has lousy parents. Why do these fictional diaries of teens so often deal with divorce? While the book was an interesting glimpse at life 23 years ago, I much prefer the more recent Georgia Nicholson "confessions."

The reason I prefer the Georgia Nicholson diaries (written by Louise Rennison) is that they are clearly parodies of the fictional diary genre. Georgia stresses over non-issues with the angst that I remember feeling about most everything as a teen. While so many things may seem like a crisis for her she is actually part of a functioning and stable family. She is well loved, well cared for and although her parents do separate from time to time, the separation if due to lengthy business trips, not infidelity.

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Steps: 3500

The Maltese FalconThe Maltese Falcon: 09/19/06

Whenever noir (the darker, seedier and urban side of the mystery genre) is mentioned, as specifically when film noir is mentioned, the city that comes to mind first is Los Angeles. At the time when the genre was in its infancy and was lumped together with all detective mysteries as "detective fiction" San Francisco was the setting for quite a few mysteries. The best known of them is probably The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and later immortalized by the Warner Bros.'s 1941 film starring Humphry Bogart.

Here's my BookCrossing Review:

I've seen the 1941 film starring Humphry Bogart more times than I can count, though it has been a number of years since my last viewing. Somehow in all those times watching I never picked up (or at least, failed to remember) that the story takes place in San Francisco! Dashiell Hammett's descriptions, though, of the city and its neighborhoods made the city come alive more than it did for me in the film. It was also interesting to me that the story was published in 1929 which gives an insightful view of a city right on the edge of economic hardship at the dawn of the Great Depression.

Sam Spade did not remind me at all of Bogart in his depiction and his dialogue. He's actually far more elegant a speaker in the book than he is in the film (or at least than I remember him being in the film). In fact the dialogue throughout the book contains phrases that have fallen out of use in States but are still in use in Britain and a few times I even double checked the book's publication location to see if it were an import; it isn't. With his careful way of speaking and his desire to avoid trouble whenever possible, Spade ended up reminding me a great deal of a 1920s Dirk Pitt!

The one main flaw with both the book and the film is Brigid. She is portrayed as such a poor actress than I'm always amazed that Spade falls for her tricks for so long. All the way through the book I wanted to slap him on the back of the head and scream "pay attention!" because her ploys are so obvious. Oh well, what can one expect from a proto-femme-fatale?

Read the review at Musings of a Bookish Kitty.

Steps: 7000

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Far from the TreeFar from the Tree: 09/18/06

A common theme in the "women's fiction" genre is the multi-generational story, usually focused on the women of those generations. Far from the Tree is no exception to this rule and the men in the book have maybe five percent of dialogue (if that). The bulk of the story is centered around Della, her daughters Celeste and Ronnie, and her grand-daughter Nikki.

The authors set out at first to show how vastly different each woman is and how they all crave independence from the family. Over the course of the book, of course, the women come to realize that they aren't so different after all. That's one main flaw with the book; the characters are more interesting when they are striving to be individuals. When they start to finally communicate and realize that they're all like Della or had experiences (good and bad) nearly identical to Della's, they become less believable as cookie-cutter clones of each other. Why does this genre seem to dictate that all daughters are like their mothers and all sisters are ultimately seeking the same sort of life? It would be far more interesting and rewarding to read a story where the women were actually different even if they did share the same family.

Here's my BookCrossing Review:

As the German saying goes, Der Apffel fellt nicht weit vom Baum (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree), and DeBerry and Grant's novel of four generations of women take this idea and try to create a heartwarming but cautionary tale about the dangers of keeping secrets. Years of secret keeping starts to unravel after the death of the patriarch, Will. His death brings to light an old house Della, the wife and mother to Celeste and Ronnie and grandmother to Nikki, had long since put from her memory, fleeing it 41 years earlier. As so much of the present conflict hinges on these past secrets, the early part of the book is bogged down with often times confusing flashbacks that start and end without much warning or segue. It took me until about chapter six or seven to be able to tell the characters apart as the timelines are so jumbled before proper character development is completed.

Once though the house is mentioned, the story gains the needed focus and the characters have a chance to grow and interact in a coherent manner. It is the house that kept me interested in the book more than any other element in the novel. Were it not for the house I would have abandoned the book before even hitting page 100.

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HarrietAn Update on My Recovery: 09/18/06

You've probably noticed that I've been mostly posting book reviews. The reason is mostly one of a lack of time and exhaustion. While I'm nursing Harriet I have about an hour of uninterrupted sitting where I have to find time to do things one-handed. The easiest thing to do is read a book. I sometimes also iChat with family and if you see me posting to iChat two word replies, I'm probably in the middle of feeding Harriet. The book reviews I usually write at night while waiting for Harriet to wake for her last feeding before we head downstairs for bed.

Today I start back to work (thanks to the magic of telecommuting). I'm certainly not up to making a physical appearance at work but at least my mental facilities are in gear enough to work from home.

Most of my remaining complaints are physical, though none of them are directly related to the incision even though that's the first thing that pops into anyone's mind if I complain of being uncomfortable. The incision is actually so well healed I can't actually see the scar!

My main complaints are my feet and legs. I'm horribly bloated from having an IV in my arm for two days. I still have at least another week or two before the swelling will disappear.

Next on the list are the internal aches and pains any new mother has to endure regardless of delivery method. It hurts as things settle and contract. Along with the cramping comes some painful gas and an upset stomach. The stomach ache could be nerves from starting back to work or fatigue. Either way, it's another reason I'm glad my "commute" to work is just a trip upstairs.

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Steps: 3500

SignspottingSignspotting: 09/17/06

Signspotting is the best of the images submitted to the website of the same name that is run by the publishers of the Lonely Planet books. Anyone who frequents the website will recognize many (if not all) the photographs presented in the book. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book and the captions as a stand-alone work of art and social commentary.

Here's my BookCrossing Review:

It's a cute book and a quick read. Some of these signs make sense in the appropriate context (the headlight and clouds sign from Maui, for example, is on a volcano that is more than a mile high and usually cloud covered). Some of them are common language mistakes (the "flesh" for "fresh" given the Japanese phoneme blending of 'l' and 'r'). Nonetheless, it was a nice diversion on a weekend.

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Whizz Kids: Painting & DrawingWhizz Kids: Painting & Drawing: 09/16/06

This introduction to drawing and painting from 1980 was slipped in with another book I received off the Book Relay site. While the book is twenty-six years old it is still a well written introduction to artist technique and is aimed at elementary school aged readers.

Whizz Kids: Painting and Drawing's examples are beautifully illustrated by Moira Chesmur. When reading the book, take time to enjoy the illustrations. They are as valuable a tool as the included text.

Here's my BookCrossing Review:

Painting & Drawing is a nice introduction to fine art and I would have loved this book twenty-three ago when I first started painting. The book takes the approach that art is everywhere (which it is) and that anyone can do something artistic. It then lays out a selection of styles to try and the equipment needed to work in different media. There are no formal art lessons in this book save for a brief introduction to one and two point perspective and the color wheel. The book instead focuses on learning the tools of the trade rather than practicing specific skills. I really like the openendedness of the book.


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Steps: 3500

200% of Nothing200% of Nothing: 09/15/06

I normally enjoy books like 200% of Nothing. The book claims to show the importance of being numerate but the examples used are simplistic, obvious and humorless. At least the book is a short and quick read, coming in shy of 200 pages.

There isn't much in terms of new examples with in 200% of Nothing. Anyone with even the minimum of interest will have heard of these examples and their solutions. A perfect example is the "Monty Hall" puzzle. Another chapter languishes over tossing coins. Coin toss odds are about the most basic of examples, twenty pages really don't need to be spent on the subject!

Here's my BookCrossing Review:

The book might be more interesting for less numerate readers. My husband and I have both read 200% of Nothing and agree that the examples are basic and the author's attitude towards his audience is rather condescending. A better book on the subject is How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff.


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Steps: 7000

Tales from MargaritavilleTales from Margaritaville: 09/14/06

I grew up on Buffett's music. He was one of a small number of singers my parents would play when we'd go camping. His songs would be played in the car (or R.V.) and at the campsite as we ate our meals or read books before bedtime. So when BookCrossing (thanks Deb, aka countedx58) introduced me to A Salty Piece of Land, I had to try the book. I loved it and was hooked. Every book so far of Buffett's that I've read, I've enjoyed.

Tales from Margaritaville is my most recent Buffett read. This book is a collection of stories, some factual and some fictional. All of them share his love of fishing, the Keys, New Orleans, music and sailing. My favorite bit of the book was the first third which is comprised of a series of short stories all connected to Where is Joe Merchant? and all sharing characters and locations, although they take place in different years.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

I loved this book! The first third is made up of a series of short stories that are linked together by characters and locations. They are also tied to Where is Joe Merchant?, a novel by Buffett that I highly recommend. The second third are stories that are probably somewhere between fiction and fact. The main character is clearly Buffett but the events don't add up or are presented as dream sequences. The final third are clearly non-fiction memories of Buffett. All of these stories are entertaining and fun to read.


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Steps: 3500

The Cats of Moon CottageThe Cats of Moon Cottage: 09/13/06

Memoirs about cats seem to be very popular in Great Britain. With the exception of Cats are Not Peas, I think all the feline biographies I've read have been British. The Cats of Moon Cottage is another one of these books and like so many of them very personal in nature and beautifully illustrated (in this case by line drawings versus color photographs).

As with so many of these memoirs, the cats' owner seems to have written this after the loss of a favorite feline as a way to grieve for the mistakes she made in keeping her cat. Her little cottage is on the corner of a busy road. Cats (especially young ones) and roads don't mix. By the end of the book Edwards seems to have learned this lesson and lets hope that future cats of hers can live longer lives like that of Septi.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Marilyn Edwards has a mastery of the language and writes about her cats with humor and reverence. Peter Warner's illustrations help to bring the story to life. Unfortunately I was saddened by Marilyn and Susan's irresponsible handling of their cats and the untimely death and multiple litters of kittens that resulted.


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Steps: 3500

TypeeTypee: 09/12/06

Typee is the fictionalized account of Melville's time living on Nuku Hiva in the village of Taipivai (or Typee Valley).

I have to admit that I came close to putting the book aside a few times. There isn't much plot and Melville uses a full and advanced vocabulary. With my brain a little rattled from the demands of a new born, I found the narrative very challenging. Since I had so enjoyed Moby Dick many years ago I stuck with Typee and I finally fell into its rhythms around page 80 or so.

Here is my BookCrossing Review

Typee was a difficult book to read but worth the effort. There isn't much plot beyond "Tommo's" rehabilitation at the hands of the Typee and his fears that they might be cannibals. Is he being nursed back to health or fattened for a future supper? As with Moby Dick, the bulk of the text is in the form of essay and commentary. There are lengthy discussions on the language, the architecture, the music (or lack thereof), taboos and tattoos, and diet of the Typee. These extra chapters though don't have the humor that is present in Moby Dick. They are still an interesting observation on one subset of Polynesian culture.

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Harriet nappingSettling in as a Family of Four: 09/12/06

The three of us are adjusting to Harriet's arrival and she in turn is learning our routines. Sean has been a marvelous big brother so far. He's very good at telling us when she needs something and has tried entertaining her. Caligula cat is madly in love with Harriet, having realized she must have been the creature who was petting her from within my belly.

Yesterday was Harriet's follow up appointment after her phototherapy treatment for jaundice. Though she is still a little jaundiced, her bilirubin levels are now average with other breast fed babies. Especially important is her weight gain. In two days she gained seven ounces, bringing her with in two ounces of her birth weight. She has until next Tuesday to regain those last two ounces but she will most likely be well beyond that goal as she's such a good eater.

Ian has also found a way to get Harriet to sleep at night; she likes to sleep in her bouncy seat. We've made a spot for it next to our bed so that she can be within arm's reach while she sleeps in this unconventional way. It also gives Sean a little longer to have his room to himself while she is so restless Last night I managed to get 4.5 hours of sleep and Ian got 5.5 hours. We got up at six-thirty and shared a pot of coffee while Harriet fell back a sleep and snoozed on my lap upstairs.

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Inca GoldInca Gold: 09/11/06

I've mentioned before how much I enjoy the Dirk Pitt series by Clive Cussler. I had read a few as a kid during family camping trips and then I lost track of the series as I went away to college, got married and got on with my adult life. BookCrossing reintroduced me to the series and I've been trying to read my way through it as I come across the books and find time to read them.

The series is a nice combination of high seas adventure, treasure hunting and espionage. Inca Gold focuses more on the treasure hunting aspect than the others I've recently read (Mediterranean Caper, Cyclops and Sahara) and that made the book all the more enjoyable. It is sometimes hard to believe the some of situations that NUMA participates in. This story though was entertaining enough I didn't mind suspending belief to see Pitt, Gunn, et al get into and out of trouble.

Here is my BookCrossing Review

I read this book while in the hospital for the birth of my daughter. It was the perfect escape from the pain and sleepless nights and later for a long night of sitting by her isolet while she received treatment for jaundice.

Inca Gold is one of the more recent Dirk Pitt novels and has the humor of these later ones. In this one there is more emphasis on treasure hunting than on espionage which makes for a ripping yarn. While rescuing some divers, Pitt and his colleagues come face to face with an international ring of art thieves and a clue to a massive Inca treasure. While the methods described in finding the treasure, and the treasure itself, are sometimes preposterous, everything somehow works together to make an entertaining adventure story.


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Steps: 7000

Harriet and IanLiving on Two Hours of Sleep: 09/10/06

The last couple of weeks before Harriet was born I was getting only four or so hours of sleep. Now that she's here, Ian and I are both living on very little sleep, somewhere between two and maybe four hours of sleep divided into small chunks. Neither one of us is exactly in our right minds but I think I'm doing slightly better than Ian with the lack of sleep.

Harriet is so far a night owl. She likes to do most of her eating from midnight until goodness knows when. It makes nursing her very tiring. We're going to try supplementing that night time feed with some formula to get her to sleep. The rest of the time she'll just get breast milk.

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Steps: 3500

HarrietHarriet: 09/05/06-09/09/09

Monday night I could not get comfortable. My sciatica had gotten to the point where moving was nearly impossible and I couldn't find any good position to sleep. At two in the morning I gave up, took a hot shower, got dressed and curled up in the chair next to our bed where I eventually did get to sleep.

The alarm went off at a quarter past six and we scurried to get Sean up and dressed. Mom came to take Sean to school and Ian and I were off to the hospital for the C-section. Mom arrived at the hospital before Harriet was born.

This time I was awake for the whole event. While I loved hearing Harriet's first cry, the spinal was the freakiest and most horrible thing I've ever experienced. Fortunately Dan, the person who administered the spinal was there by my side and talked me down from a complete panic attack. Ian was brought in for the actual birth bit and he got to see her lifted out of the incision (after the surgeon temporarily removed my bladder to get access to her head). I wasn't brave enough after all to ask for a mirror. He says the view behind the curtain was remarkable.

We spent most of our time recovering in a too dark and too warm room with no where comfortable to sit. My last night I was in tears from homesickness and exhaustion.

On Thursday we were released but we had to take Harriet in on Friday to check her bilirubin levels. Jaundice had started to show up on Wednesday night. Friday's labs showed an elevated bilirubin count so she had to be admitted to the hospital for some phototheraphy. I had to spend Friday night and Saturday morning with her, sleeping and reading in a reclining chair. At least the chair was comfortable! When I was scolded for nursing her too long I burst into tears for my second time at the hospital.

Fortunately after thirteen hours of treatment, Harriet's numbers had dropped and she was released by 11 in the morning. We're now home again. My milk has come in and Harriet is much happier for a good supply of warm milk and with her jaundice under control. She is a happier and calmer baby. Hopefully she can stay home with us. We have another appointment on Monday to check on her jaundice and on her weight.

So, that's been our busy week and the reason why this site hasn't been updated.

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Cap'n Warren's WardsTomorrow! 09/04/06

This is weekend is our last as a family of three. This post will also probably be my last one until the end of the week. Tomorrow I go into the hospital for my scheduled C-section. Yesterday we did our last errands as a family of three including a trip to the lab for one last blood draw; they wanted to check my blood type (A+) and iron count.

Afterwards we headed to the bank and then to Carrow's for a late breakfast. With the new Target nearly finished and a new parking lot, the restaurant is doing business like they haven't done in more than a year. Only the diehards kept coming through the worst of the construction but now that things are nearly done there was a line out the door after we were seated!

Before the construction began the area around Carrow's consisted of an abandoned movie theater and a motel that was clearly a place for drug sales and prostitution. It was normal to see the cops raiding the place or there to break up fights. Since the motel has been taken down and new buildings put up I've seen many more families with young children coming to eat. The whole place feels safer and friendlier.

Tonight my mother will arrive. She's taking out to dinner at Chevy's. It's a family joke because she went into labor with me shortly after eating a huge Mexican meal. It will be my last big meal before I have to fast for tomorrow's C-section.

We have to be at the hospital by eight in the morning which means there won't be time to make a post tomorrow and I doubt I'll be posting from the hospital.

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Steps: 7000


Cap'n Warren's WardsCap'n Warren's Wards: 09/03/06

Back in 2003 I picked up four vegetable boxes of old books from a man who was moving and didn't want to schlep them to his new home. Many of the books were in poor condition but there were enough good finds to make the trip worth it. Among the books were a bunch by an author whom I had already enjoyed, Joseph C. Lincoln.

Lincoln was a sailor before he took to novel writing. All of his books involve a nautical theme and most books take place on or near one of a small number of fictional towns on Cape Cod.

Cap'n Warren's Wards starts on the Cape but moves quickly to Manhattan. It also introduces the character of seaman turned reporter who is now freelancing and trying to break into publishing with a first novel, based of course on his time at sea. I had to wonder if Jim Pearson was based on Lincoln's own experiences as a young writer.

The book also covers themes that his other books avoid. The other books I've read so far focus on character development, usually a coming of age of a young character or the redemption of an older character. In this book there is also social commentary on the disparity between classes and the extent some people will go to in order to fulfill their greed. All of this gives the book a slightly darker feel than his more straight-forward books like Partners in the Tide.

Here is my BookCrossing Review

Cap'n Warren's Wards is the first book by Joseph C. Lincoln that moves off the fictional towns of Cape Cod (in this case South Denboro) and into the big city hustle of Manhattan. Elijah Warren finds himself the guardian of his brother's children who are rapidly reaching adulthood but haven't had to face the harsh realities of self responsibility due to their father's wealth. Unfortunately now there are a few snags with A. Rodgers Warren's estate and Cap'n Warren decides its best to toughen his wards up and maybe teach them some humility in the process.

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Steps: 7000


Terminal VelocityTerminal Velocity: 09/02/06

Terminal Velocity began as a short story called "Dark Icarus" published in Science Fiction Monthly. From there Shaw expanded it into a short but delightful novel of an ex-cop trying to escape his demons who manages to recover his humanity.

As the short story title implies, the Icarus myth plays a part. Affordable antigravity technology has made personal flying as popular as cell phones are today. Everyone except the infirm seems to have one. Teens take to the skies and terrorize day to day commuters, often times to deadly results. Can a father prevent his son from falling in with the wrong crowd? What price is he willing to pay?

In the longer novel, the focus is not on the father-son relationship but on their house guest, Robert Hasson. He comes to them grounded by a physical injury and some psychological scarring too. His grounding from the antigravity packs makes him an outsider in modern society. He is also a foreigner visiting Canada from Britain.

Here is my BookCrossing Review

Robert Hanson, ex cop and ex patriot finds himself in a once booming Canadian city to recover from his injuries. What he wants most is to be left alone with reruns of his favorite British comedies where he doesn't have to interact with anyone or answer any questions. Unfortunately his hosts and the other folks in town won't let him. He quickly, albeit, reluctantly finds himself a welcome member of the community. To his surprise he starts to like his adopted home. With these new-found feelings comes a sense of responsibility that ultimately forces him to become a hero again.

It's a refreshing but short read (of only 160 pages). I liked the comparisons of British, Canadian and to a lesser degree, American cultures. So often science fiction authors assume one culture for an entire planet, even if that planet is Earth. In this case, although the technologies were advanced, the countries mentioned still felt real and recognizable.

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F is for Farmers' Market: 09/02/06

This morning Sean and Ian got up early and let me sleep. While I slept they went to the farmers' market and to the grocery store. Sean was apparently the darling of the market this morning and a big help to Ian. They came back with huge bags of vegetables and a little bear of locally grown blackberry blossom honey. We now have so many sweet smelling onions that Ian plans to make French onion soup. I can't wait to try it!

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Steps: 3500


The Devil on HorsebackThe Devil on Horseback: 09/01/06

The Devil on Horseback is a prime example of Evans was trying to avoid in The Locket. The protagonist, Minelle, stupidly follows a lecherous comte from England to France and of course falls in love with him. Yuck! He's not much better than a child molester when he first meets her. I only kept reading it for the B plot involving the comte's daughter and her growth to adulthood. She was a more interesting character in that she actually acted on her impulses and tried to take control of her life rather than waffling over big decisions.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

The Devil on Horseback is so full of clichés, I'm not sure where to begin. It has the "strong" somehow well educated peasant woman who is stubborn. Though she follows the equally stubborn. and hot headed nobleman around Europe she vows never to fall for him, until of course, she does even though he gives her no reason for her to fall in love! Blah. I only put up with that crap with Emerson and Peabody because Peters's mystery series is a parody. To read it in such an earnest presentation here is frustrating.

Besides her hate suddenly turning to love problem, the so-called smart protagonist is completely blind to the traitors around her. She doesn't even come close to solving the mysterious pre revolutionary plots happening around the chateau. I had it all figured out a good hundred pages before other characters had to spell it out to her in small words.

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Steps: 10000