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The blurb from the New York Times on the back of book claims the story is "deeply moving and [a] stunning exploration of the mysterious ways in which faith and love can heal the human heart." I found it an overly earnest and schmaltzy book that left me wanting to read a Shakespearian tragedy just to balance things out.
Even the sad events in the story are treated with mirth. Everything is a life lesson. Everyone comes away from their own particular bad bit of luck (be it the death of a spouse or living in poverty) a stronger and happier person. Characters easily find love. Characters easily move on. No one has to struggle in this book. What is the point?
Here is my BookCrossing review:
Last night Sean helped me get things ready for Halloween. The first thing we did was bake brownies for his school party. I taught him about baker's chocolate and how it has to be melted and sweetened before it tastes good. He watched me mix all the ingredients and get it poured into the preheated tray.
Then it was time to carve the jackolantern. I did all the knife work but he helped with the scooping and the design creation. As we scooped out the inside we sorted the stuff into three piles: innards for the compost heap, seeds for roasting, and pumpkin flesh for boiling for pie.
Tomorrow I will slice up the pumpkin and cook the rest of it for pie. I have some of the small ones to go with the pieces to sweeten things. I'm looking forward to our first pie of the season.Comments (0)
<"103006a">Aunt Crete's Emancipation: 10/30/06
Six months ago I picked up Aunt Crete's Emancipation after seeing that it was a reprint of a 1911 book. I love old books and especially those from around 1880 to about 1930. As this reprint includes the illustrations, I had to take the book.
I was also intrigued by the title. I immediately wondered; Who is Aunt Crete? and Why does she need emancipating? I also thought of the women's suffrage movement that was reaching its peak in the early decades of the 20th century. By 1911 thirteen states had granted women the right to vote and the nineteenth amendment would be passed in 1914.
Emancipation in the title also implies slavery. Was Aunt Crete somehow enslaved? Was this in the form of a poorly paying job or elder abuse at home? Who then sets Aunt Crete free? How did she become enslaved in the first place?
As it turns out, Aunt Crete's Emancipation is a fairly light hearted book. If it were a modern book it would probably be classified as either romance or chick lit (although Aunt Crete is much older than the typical chick lit protagonist) but she does end up living the typical plot line: handsome stranger from a distant land takes interest in a poor over worked woman and whisks her away to a life of luxury and adventure. In this case the handsome stranger is her nephew and the adventure is a trip to the beach and a fancy hotel.
Here is my BookCrossing review:
The Creature in the Teacher: 10/29/06
I received Creature in the Teacher last year as a book relay. It is number thirteen in the Spooksville series. It can best be described as V for children in that the monster this time is a reptile from outer space.
As this book comes so late in a series the characters are established and no time is wasted on reintroducing them or their world. So coming to this book without having read any of the previous was like hearing the punchline without the joke.
Here is the BookCrossing review:
Happy Birthday Frankie: 10/28/06
I bought Happy Birthday Frankie for Sean's first birthday. I remember liking the illustrations and the bold use of orange. It also had special meaning to me as it's obviously meant as a Halloween birthday book. The last period before I had conceived Sean had started on Halloween and the year before I conceived Sean, I had my first miscarriage on Halloween. As an odd bit of closure on this Halloween thing, I will officially "healed" from my c-section with Harriet this Halloween.
When I first gave the book to Sean it didn't appeal to him so it went on his bookshelf and stayed there through our move to Hayward. Now that he's older, he likes it if we read to him while he's in the bath. I found Happy Birthday Frankie on Sean's shelf and decided to give it another try. This time he loved it and asked me to read it twice.
Sean enjoys the repetition of the story. On each page the scientist attempts to assemble the pieces in the box. He has many failures before he finally succeeds. The illustrations by Warren Linn really makes the book funny.
Blood Sweat and Tea: 10/27/06
I think Blood, Sweat and Tea is the first book where I've known all the previous reviewers. They are both active BookCrossers, and one of them has read the same copy of the book as I just finished as we are on the same ring.
Blood, Sweat and Tea started as a blog called Random Acts of Reality. The author of both is an EMT for the London Ambulance Service in East London. Having read some of the entries transcribed in the book I realized that I have read them in the blog, though at the time I was not a regular subscriber to the blog. I've enjoyed the book enough to subscribe to the blog so I will be a regular reader in the future.
Therein is the main problem with the book, it is a better blog than it is a book. Without the blog framework of date stamps and comments it is hard to see the natural flow of events from one day to the next. The book also removes most of the "off topic" entries that the blog has. These off topic posts provide a segue between the EMT posts so much of Reynold's personality doesn't come through except for when he's complaining about his job.
Here's my BookCrossing review:
V is for...: 10/27/06
Ian had his outpatient operation this morning. As Sean is home with a cold and I had to drive Ian home afterwards, all four of us went to the doctor's office together. Sean, Harriet and I waited while Ian was under the knife, or crochet hook as he described it.
Since coming home, Ian has been recovering downstairs in bed with a bag of frozen peas in his lap. He's also been napping. Meanwhile I've been wrangling the kids upstairs. I did the dishes and got Sean fed. Harriet howled while I scarfed down some food myself.
I was smart enough to ask for a half day at work. Even though I'm working from home, there is no way I could have handled work and the chaos of a sick four-year-old, a recovering husband and a newborn. He's now slowly coming upstairs to keep me company.
<"102606a">The Secret Three: 10/26/06
I picked up this book last year at the friends of the library shelf maintained by the Dublin library in Starbuck's on Regional Road. I chose it because I like Arnold Lobel's illustrations and as it's an "I Can Read" book it's perfect for Sean who is now learning how to read. At the moment it's one of a select number of books in rotation for me to read to Sean while he's taking his evening bath.
The Secret Three is one of the many books that Arnold Lobel illustrated for other authors. In this story by Mildred Myrick, two boys spending the summer at the beach find a third friend by way of a message sent in a bottle. The story has a nice introduction to how tides work and some basic cryptology as the boys send encrypted messages to each other.
Here's my BookCrossing review:
Harriet was born hungry. The parenting books always say that a new born can go up to a week before a mother's milk comes in. Harriet didn't read those books. She was nearly permanently attached to me since twenty minutes after she was born. The first two weeks with her were hellish with getting her tummy full to her satisfaction even though my milk came in early. She just always seemed hungry.
Over time things have gotten slowly easier. My supply has managed to keep up with her demands and she is now sleeping through the night giving me time to recover for the next day. This morning she did a remarkable thing; she nursed until she was full and actually pushed herself off the breast! She gave me the look of "okay, I'm done." She actually wanted some time to herself to sit in her chair and sleep.
Right around the time I was married, I saw two films that instantly rose to my short list of favorite films: Stargate and The Fifth Element (which is currently at #1 on my list). Stargate I love because it mixes ancient Egypt with science fiction. The Fifth Element would take to long for me to explain why I love it but for now let me just say, "decoupage" and leave it at that. They were also among the first DVDs I ever purchased.
So ten years after having first seen Stargate a novelization of the film comes into my possession by way of an Egyptian themed book box. Although it hadn't received that great a review from the previous reader, I immediately snatched it from the box. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for a time when I'd need a quick book to read. I finally decided to stop waiting and just toss it into the current pile of books I reading; I'm glad I did.
I am not going to claim that the book is well written; it isn't. But it is better than most novelizations that I've read in terms of content and character development. Most books like this end up being just transcripts of the film. The better ones take the film and flush it out, giving insight into characters' actions, the way their world works, and even sometimes changing scenes to improve the story: Stargate does all of these things.
Unfortunately in the rush to get the book out at the same time as the film, the book's editors dropped the ball. There are numerous spelling and grammatical errors. There are characters who change gender and others who come back to life without the aid of Ra's sarcophagus. These errors were so obvious and jarring that I actually had to correct them in the book.
Here's my BookCrossing review:
On Holiday While Sleeping: 10/24/06
Two children are about four times as demanding as one child is. Harriet and Sean compete for my attention and often times my own thoughts get drowned out by their voices. Add in Ian trying to tell me a joke or something about his day at Berkeley and my inner voice is done in.
My only escape from the noise is sleep. When I am asleep my thoughts are my own and recently they haven't included my family! Normally I dream about my family but not these last couple of nights. Instead I've wished myself across the Atlantic to Great Britain to visit my BookCrossing friends. I've never actually been there but the dreams have seemed so real. It's probably a combination of my over-active imagination and what I've learned from reading their blogs and seeing the photographs they've posted.
The first night I was visiting RubyBlueLady. The last thing I remember of that dream was asking her if I could use her telephone to call my friend Norm (Spike1972) in Wales. She must have said yes because last night I was at his house. We also had to visit some other BookCrossers in the area and I had time to visit a lighthouse.
I wonder who I will be visiting tonight?
A Century of America's Favorite Foods: 10/24/06
The recipes included in A Century of America's Favorite Foods are secondary to the history outlined for each decade. These recipes show how eating habits changed over time as a result of socioeconomic, political and technologic forces.
The wiring of homes for electricity brought new tools into the kitchen: the blender, electric mixer and refrigerator to name a few. Food rationing in World War One and Two gave rise to a market of substitution mixes and convenience foods. The parents of the "Baby Boomers" had grown up on cooking with convenience foods and continued to cook that way after the war even though rationing had ended.
Current food choices seem to be divided into two camps: the all convenience or the all from scratch. Both sides seem to be looking for better tasting and healthier foods than were eaten in recent decades. We fall into the from scratch crowd for a variety of reasons.
As the book went through each decade, more and more of the recipes were familiar to me. For the 1960s through the 1980s, I knew every recipe listed and all of them were fairly appalling.
Here's my BookCrossing review:
Eva Luna: 10/23/06
I have to remember that as much as I like the concept of "magical realism" I, for the most part, don't like the genre. I can think of two books I have actually enjoyed: Macunaíma by Mário de Andrade and The Yellow Sofa by Eca De Queiros. Most of the time the genre leaves me cold, confused and somewhat bored. There are often too many tangents and too much extraneous detail: Eva Luna has these problems.I wanted to read Eva Luna after having enjoyed Daughter of Fortune back in 2003 and having had a moderate enjoyment of Zorro in 2005, although I had felt the author hadn't really understood the character. While there are some beautifully written passages in Eva Luna they didn't flow together to create a feeling of a coherent story or a plot that was actually going somewhere. Nor, though, did it feel like it was written strictly as a mood piece. Poor Eva seemed to be forced to tread water in the middle of all that flowing prose, bobbing her head up whenever the story required her to be present in a scene.
Here's my BookCrossing review:
Our Trip to the Peninsula: 10/22/06
Yesterday the four of us took a trip to the peninsula. Ian had to return a library book to the Stanford library. We stopped for a snack at Tresidder and then the three of us waited while Ian went to the library. I got some photographs of Sean and he in turn got some of Harriet and me.Afterwards we headed north to Pacifica. We stopped on the way at Big 5 for something that Ian needed. I carried Harriet in her sling. A stroller wouldn't have fit in those narrow aisles and I needed to keep up with an energetic Sean.
It was four o'clock when we got to Pacifica. It was a typically hot October day so the beach (and parking lot) was full. We wouldn't be able to eat at Taco Bell by the Sea. We opted for Denny's across the highway. After dinner we walked across highway one to the beach. Harriet after nursing at dinner slept on the walk.
Sean and Ian found a sand crab while I watched the surfers. Unfortunately I left the camera in the car so I don't have any photos of the beach. We stayed until sunset and then headed home. We got home at dark.
<"art_work.html">Art Work: 10/22/06
I enjoy reading books that have real life accounts of how various folks found their vocations. Art Work had potential to be an informative and interesting read. Unfortunately all that valuable information is made impossible to read by a poor layout and ugly choice of font. The paragraphs don't use enough white space. Some are even run together, separated only by selective use of font weight. I could only read this book in small chunks to avoid eye strain and headaches. If the Pasadena College of Art and Design has put out further volumes, I hope they've rethought their design!
Here's my BookCrossing review:
Little Cloud: 10/21/06
Sean borrowed this imaginative Eric Carle book from school. Anyone who has seen shapes in clouds will enjoy this story of Little Cloud and his big imagination.
Little Cloud is one of Carle's more recent books. Carle started illustrating and writing books in the late 1960s. Of the Carle books I've read there are only two that I don't enjoy: The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Greedy Snake as both are focused so heavily on gluttony.Little Cloud instead teaches through example the importance of being an individual and being a contributing member of a group.
Until the end, each page has a different shape that Little Cloud has created on his own. There's an airplane, a hat, and a variety of other shapes that children will easily recognize. In the end, his hat joins up with the other clouds who have together formed a clown.Comments (0)
Touch and Feel Baby Animals: 10/20/06
It's time to review one of Harriet's books! She was given this book back in July when the Dublin / Pleasanton BookCrossers threw me a baby shower. I've shown her the pictures but so far she isn't up to trying to pet any of the pictures. I know that she will want to when she gets older. In the meantime, the photographs of the baby animals are very cute.
Sean had another book in the series as a baby: Touch and Feel on the Farm. Both books have the same two problems: the textures don't make much of a match to what the animal depicted actually feels like and there isn't enough variety to the textures in the book. Baby Animals is worse on the variety issue. The same pseudo hair texture is used for more than half the animals pictured. I suppose the idea is to make the touching sensation as pleasurable as possible for babies reading the book but it certainly won't make it very tactily interesting.
Recently Sean borrowed Numbers from school. It is designed for up to 18 months old and only teaches the numbers 1 through 5. Sean can count up to 100 by now and probably higher if he sets his mind to it. With Ian working towards a PhD in math, numbers have been a very important topic in our family Sean's entire life.
I think he picked this book more for the pictures and for the reading than for the numbers. Ian has been teaching Sean how to read and he started with the small numbers (one, two, three, etc.). Sean has also been reading these DK Baby Genius books to Harriet. She seems to enjoy his attention and will often fall asleep after he's read her a story or sung her a song from preschool. Being able to read a book to his baby sister is a big ego boost. It's also a huge help to me for a few moments of Harriet free time.
A Simple Monk: 10/18/06
Over the summer I joined this very short book ray A Simple Monk. It is a collection of essays and interviews that together paint a picture of the life and works of the 14th Dalai Lama. This coffee table book was published as a means of raising funds for Tibet House in New York. The pieces are interesting but sometimes the glowing and over written text contrasts against His Holiness's humility and moniker of "a simple monk."
As it is a coffee table book, every page has at least one full color photograph. They are colorful and beautiful but often times unrelated to the text on the page. They also seem to come out of order. A greater coherence between the text and the illustrations would have helped to paint a richer portrait of the Dalai Lama.
Here is my BookCrossing Review
It seems that the bulk of the young adult fantasy I've read has either taken place in one of three places: the British Isles, New York state, or a fantasy land reachable via magic (usually with the starting point being somewhere on the British Isles). There is one notable exception which is L. Frank Baum who had Oz accessible from Kansas and California.
The Walking Stones falls into the British Isles category with veiled references to an Otherworld, though this other dimension or whatnot is not traveled to, just viewed briefly from afar. It apparently draws on Celtic lore (as many British fantasy books do) but I'm not familiar enough with to say how well the story does. Anyway, it's a classic tale of the passage of knowledge and tradition from one generation to the next. Here the knowledge includes Second Site along with some other magical traditions.
I enjoyed the story for what it was but the characters seemed too one dimensional and their motivations weren't always clear. In real life people tend to react like the Bodach did when their homes are taken via Imminent Domain. I was surprised at how quickly Donald and his parents warmed to the idea of being forced to move out of the glen and into the city to make room for a dam. I suppose their quick submission was in order to keep the story short.
Here is my BookCrossing review:
It's one of those rare moments when I'm awake and the rest of the family is asleep. It's just me and the cat right now. So in this moment of blissful quiet, let me post an update on all of us.
Harriet continues to be a bottomless pit when it comes to eating. I'd hate to think how much formula we would be buying if she ate that exclusively. On a typical day she will cluster nurse from the time she wakes up in the morning until the time she goes to bed. Yesterday she nursed on and off from seven in the morning until one in the morning. By the end of these long days is when we start adding a formula bottle to the mix just so I can give myself time to recover as I'll often end up feeling physically ill from all that feeding. Thankfully it doesn't take long to recover from it!
Anyway, last night Ian noticed that Harriet seems to be out growing her #1 sized diapers. I had noticed the same thing but we switched brands and the generic brand seems to fit better (as they did with Sean too). Anyway, even the generic brand now seems a little tight around her waist. So I weighed Harriet and myself as I know how much I weigh. To our surprise, she's up to 15 pounds; Sean still weighed around 11 pounds up through 4 months old.
Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!
Theodor S. Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, wrote Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo with Michael Frith and together they published under the name "Rosetta Stone." I was pretty sure it was a Seuss book by the meter of the text and the illustrations but I double checked at the Library of Congress just to be sure. I just don't know why Geisel started making up new pen names for his children's books, since he'd successfully been using the Dr. Seuss name for so many years.
Anyway, Sean borrowed the Little Bug book from school on Friday and we read it a number of times this weekend. It is a classic Seuss story with a plot that starts simple and rapidly gets out of hand. It also serves as a child's introduction to chaos theory. Think of the film The Butterfly Effect but do it with a seussian bug and have it end with a traveling circus pandemonium unleashed on an unsuspecting nearby city.
Sean likes the book for how things quickly escalate. He can follow the logic of a bug's sneeze upsetting a worm and delights as things get crazy (around the time Farmer Brown gets a bucket on his head). He usually likes to stop and ask a question on each page to understand the cause and effect of each action and to discuss alternative reactions. Reading books to him is never as simple of starting with the first page and going to the last page. Book reading with him is more of a discourse.
Gorky Park: 10/15/06
Although I love thrillers and "man books" as I often heard them called, I usually avoid the Soviet Union based stories. For whatever reason, the KGB bores me. There are a few exceptions to the rule like From Russia with Love and The Red Fox. Gorky Park isn't exactly a KGB thriller but they are there as foils to Moscow detective, Arkady Renko. In fact it is their role across so many books as foils and cardboard cutout villains that contributes to so much of my boredom in the sub-genre of the KGB thriller.
The bulk of Gorky Park's mystery could have happened anywhere. It is a triple murder where the bodies have had most identifying features removed and the bodies left to freeze out in the middle of a park. Those working on the case must: identify the bodies, determine cause of death, find and interview potential "persons of interest" and hopefully track down a suspect with enough evidence to warrant an arrest. These tasks require time, skill, a degree of luck, and resources. By choosing Moscow at the nadir of the Soviet Union, Smith forces a number of restraints on his mystery: corruption, a meddling police state, and no financial support for a large case.
Over all I liked the change of scenery from the usual cities the mysteries I read take place: London, San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York, but Smith seemed to take much too long building his world and commenting on the bleak life style of the typical detective in Moscow. After a while, all this commentary from various characters on what life in the city was like seemed artificial and a hindrance to the story.
Here is my BookCrossing review:
I know of many parents who don't like the DK board books. They complain that these board books are just scrap books of photographs with no plot and no educational value. True, the board books for babies are just nice looking photograph collections with each page having a different theme, but Sean and I both like these books. Sean likes to categorize things and I am a very visual person so I like to look at the pretty pictures while helping Sean learn about them and now, read the words describing them.
In the case of Shapes, each page illustrates a different shape. The shapes illustrated this time are square, circle, triangle, heart, star, oval, rectangle and diamond. Square and circle are probably the best pages as they have the most examples and the pictures used are of things Sean has had direct experience with. The heart page is probably the weakest as the things shown don't have to be heart shaped and I don't think Sean has ever seen any of those things heart shaped outside of the book.Comments (0)
A Mother for Choco: 10/13/06
Sean continues to borrow books from school, including A Mother for Choco. I really enjoyed reading this story to Sean and it gave us the opportunity to talk about something we've never discussed before: adoption. Choco, the adorable little bird on the cover doesn't have a mother an decides to go find one. He asks a variety of animal mothers and they all turn him down for one reason or another until he meets a mother bear. She welcomes him into her life with open arms (in the form of a bear hug, of course).
When Sean saw the mother bear's family which includes a variety of animals (a pig, an alligator and something else), he started asking lots of important questions. He wanted to know why the bear mother would want all these animals when they weren't like her. He wanted to know why she wanted Choco. It gave me the chance to explain adoption and other types of families.Comments (0)
The Memory Keeper's Daughter: 10/12/06
I signed up for a book ring of The Memory Keeper's Daughter last November as the story of a father keeping a huge family secret until his death was something I was using in that year's Nanowrimo novel. Now nearly a year later the book has reached me and it was well worth the wait.
Kim Edwards chose a very cliched set up for her story but the narration is told well enough to make the book a page turner. In the first chapter she uses:
From this formulaic beginning, Edwards sets up two parallel but ordinary (mundane even) except that one mother has depression now to face and the distancing of her once close husband while the adoptive mother must learn how to raise a child with Down's syndrome and fight for her daughter's rights. It is the emotional evolution of these characters that makes the book interesting.
Here is my BookCrossing review:
Owl at Home: 10/11/06
For Sean's third birthday we gave him a bunch of books about owls, including Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel. This book is in Sean's current rotation of favorite books. Although I remember reading it last year when I gave him the book, I don't have any record of having read it, therefore I am counting it towards this year's list of books read.
As with Lobel's Frog and Toad books, Owl at Home consists of five chapters, each one a different short story about Owl and some sort of adventure he's had at (or near) home. The stories are: "The Guest," "The Bumps", "Tear-Water Tea", "Upstairs and Downstairs" and "The Moon." I think Sean's favorite of them is "The Bumps" in which Owl mistakes his feet under his blankets for a bumpy creature waiting to attack him when he falls asleep in bed. My favorite is either "The Guest" in which Owl makes the mistake of leaving the door open during a winter snow storm and "The Moon" in which Owl thinks the moon is following him home and worries that his new friend won't fit inside his home.
While the stories are simplistic and lacking the dynamic humor of the dysfunctional friendship between Frog and Toad, the illustrations still carry the warmth and charm of Lobel at his best. Though Owl is a loner, he's a good natured sort and the illustrations bring life to him. If you read this book, stop to enjoy each of the illustrations.
Read the review at Book of Books.Comments (0)
Last night on our way to the monthly BookCrossing meeting, Sean and I had a chance to finally talk about the new school without interruption. Listening to him enthusiastically describe his day brought back memories of my own year or so at preschool thirty years ago.
Sean is learning all the classic play-songs that kids seem to learn at this age. I remember how we would be taken out to the grassy part of the play ground each day to play a new game. I especially remember learning how to play "Ring Around the Rosy" and "London Bridge" as both were fun but sounded dangerous. I remember thinking things like: "What if we can't get up after we all fall down?" and "Which girl was locked up and what if they want to lock me up and throw away the key next time?" In Sean's case, they are learning "The Hokey Pokey" and another one I'm having trouble recognizing from Sean's description.
Then during free play, I remember my friends and I (whose names I have forgotten) would wander off the blacktop to a patch of sandstone hillside, heavily eroded by years of rain. It had a wonderful view of the canyon and Genessee Road far below. We had decided that there were dinosaur bones buried there and if we just stuck with it, we'd discover them and become famous. Now Sean is doing the same thing with his friends in patch of dirt near the goat pen. Sean and I had never discussed my old dinosaur hunting days and yet here he and I are sharing this moment of play!Comments (0)
Rainbow Fish to the Rescue: 10/10/06
I haven't read the original Rainbow Fish as the reviews have put me off it. Sean, I think, has had the story read to him and he recently borrowed this sequel from his preschool. I do enjoy Pfister's illustrations but I find the mob mentality of the book disturbing.
The story is trying for a story about wanting to belong and the importance of befriending people who are different. Essentially is it a classic story of the Other. This time Rainbow Fish sees what it is like to be one of the group and he has to decide whether to or not to risk his membership by welcoming a new fish into the school.
I think Sean is relating to this story so strongly because of his recent experience with starting a new school. While his teachers are the same and all his friends are still at the new school, his school has merged with another school. Essentially Sean's school purchased the old school and kept the students. There has been a lot of culture clash between both sets of children and they have been reluctant to play with each other. In this case, I can see the value of Rainbow Fish to the Rescue but outside of this special context, I still find the story disturbing.Comments (0)
Minnie is a Dutch children's story about cross-species friendship. It is another of a number of children's books I received from another BookCrosser at a spring meeting. I took the book because I liked the cover art.
While I did enjoy the story there were many interesting concepts introduced that were never explained or even explored. In fact the entire story seemed too simplified. I realize it is written for a young audience but even as a child I would have been unsatisfied. I'm not asking for pages and pages of back story or sub plot but a sentence or two in most cases would suffice.
Here is my BookCrossing review:
It's been a tough month for Sean with Harriet's arrival and all the attention we have to give her means less one on one time with him. While he's been handling the situation better than we hoped, he's still been a little down in the dumps. Ian and I are both older siblings ourselves, though Ian has forgotten what it was like to be an only child as he was three when Glenn was born, so we can relate to what Sean is feeling. With the recovery from the C-section and choosing to breastfeed, my time with Sean was greatly diminished in September. Now that the incision is nearly healed and Harriet is starting to put herself on a manageable feeding schedule, I'm finally able to spend more time with Sean without Harriet constantly needing me.
Recently I've spent a lot more time with Sean, reading to him, giving him baths, and just talking. On Thursday Ian was invited to a math dinner so I took the children out to dinner at Baker's Square. We had a lovely time, although I ended up having to nurse Harriet through the entire meal which mean doing everything else one-handed. While we were at dinner we decided it would be fun to get an ice cream sundae on Sunday (the day Ian traditionally goes out to study).
When Sunday rolled around we all got a late start due in part to sleeping in and going out to breakfast (no milk in the fridge). I wasn't sure if we'd have time to follow our original plan but around three-thirty we were finally able to go. I had hoped to try a local ice creamery but Sean wanted to go to the Dublin Carrow's as they make mini M&M sundaes. So that's where we went and the sundaes were wonderful! Harriet stayed quiet through the entire thing though she did end up chewing on my fingers so I was once again doing everything one-handed.
I have really mixed feelings about Arthur & George by which Julian Barnes was short listed for the 2005 Man Booker Price. It makes a wonderful audio book. I was first introduced to it as an audio book read on Radio 4. Intrigued by what I had heard, I joined a book ring. It arrived last month and I've since then been struggling to read it even though I've already experienced the story in a different medium.
The problem I'm having with the book is that it lacks chapters in the conventional sense and the plot rapidly fluctuates between the characters Arthur and George. For the first two hundred pages the two characters are completely separate. Without knowing how these people line up at first and as a foreigner not being familiar with the places mentioned, I find myself not able to keep track of what is happening. I hate books that make me feel like I'm reading at the event horizon of a black hole, hoping to snatch up a few words as the text flies into oblivion.
As this book is based on actual events and is historical fiction, I have the feeling that the author was trying to put as much of each person's life in the book as possible. A lot of the early details could have been left out. The ultimate story of Arthur's aid in George's legal case is undermined by a whole bunch of padding.
When I wrote my initial review I had decided to give up on the book. The night after I wrote it, I had an epiphany on how to read the book. I would have to read it from one character's point of view and then go back and read the other character's story. That is what I've done the last few days. The original review is posted below:
Viva Las Buffy: 10/07/06
Graphic novels aren't something I read often but a few of them have come my way via BookCrossing and the Bookrelay site. Viva Las Buffy is one such book. Over all it is well drawn and well lettered, although Giles doesn't look much like Anthony Stewart Head but in this story he's a minor character so it really doesn't matter what he looks like.
Although I don't have many graphic novels (or comic books) under my belt I know that they often branch off each other creating alternate versions of events, worlds and characters. Just look at the numerous incarnations of Batman and Superman over the years! This Buffy story has some points of diversion from both the film and the television show (which by themselves don't quite match up) and I'm not sure if these are specific decisions to make a different Buffy or are errors on the part of the authors who came to the story late in the course of the series.
The most obvious difference between the film and the series is the inclusion of Dawn, aka the annoying key from season five. I don't like Dawn!
Here is my BookCrossing review:
Alice in La-La Land: 10/06/06
I bought Alice in La-La Land from the Daly City library three years ago because I liked the title and the bold cover art. I then sent it around the world on a book ring. It came home after we moved and I've now finally read it. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no.
The book is a sequel and it is set in the seedier parts of Los Angeles (Hollywood and Vine, aka "La-La Land" and Venice Beach) and it revels sometimes in its crassness. It often times takes too long to explain all the different ways of being a hooker and all the different forms of sexual identity but more for shock value and less for plot or character development.
The setting , language and characters did not bother me but repetition of "shocking" things did bore me. After a while I just wanted the story to get on its way.
Here is my BookCrossing review:
A Color Clown Comes to Town: 10/05/06
Sean borrowed A Color Clown Comes to Town from school. It's another of the "Word Window" books. What bloody idiot decided children are too stupid to know what a book is? Why does everyone of these books have to start with a definition of a book as a "word window"?
Anyway, this book is supposed to teach children about colors. This annoying clown comes to town with open paint buckets on his head and starts pestering a girl to paint with him. She agrees but only for certain things. Later he teaches her how to mix secondary colors and she makes a rainbow.
Since this book purports to be "educational" I would expect it to get the order of the rainbow correct. Once red is placed in the middle (between yellow and green) and twice purple is put after red at the top of the rainbow. Argh!
Unfortunately Sean currently adores this book and I suspect he'll be bringing it home a few more times. Since I love him and don't believe in censorship, I will read it to him again if he asks.
When I was in my teens I discovered Agatha Christie's mysteries. The first one I ever read was Postern of Fate, a mystery published the year I was born. It struck me as the most frightening mystery I had ever read and I was hooked. The second Christie book I read, And Then There Were None (aka Ten Little Indians) also gave me chills.
After having such success with Christie's books, I started collecting them to read as many as I could. When I started I hadn't appreciated just how many she had written! Joining BookCrossing made the process easier (too easy!) and I was soon awash in Chrstie mysteries, including some duplicates (in part to the U.S. editions often times having a different title).
In the last few years I've been making an effort to read and release my collection of Christie books and The Seven Dials Mystery. As with many of her books that I've recently read I found the plot rather obvious and the characters annoying.hile there are gems among her many books, I haven't enjoyed most of the ones I've read.
Here is my BookCrossing review:
Sean started at his new school (same teachers, new location) and was so excited by events that he forgot to take a nap a school. While he can sometimes get away without napping, yesterday was not one of those days. Shortly after getting home, he ended up taking an impromptu nap in his bed for three hours. We normally would have just tucked him in and let him sleep but his bed had needed changing and we hadn't put new sheets on it after stripping it in the morning. Sean had just done a quick tuck in under one of his comforters as if he were a cowboy wrapped up in his horse blanket.
Sean finally woke around ten but wasn't up for a real dinner. He's never much of a dinner eater and a heavy meal of brisket just didn't sound good. He opted for some yogurt and a glass of milk instead. He watched half an episode of Remington Steele before heading back to bed.
The new school has a pair of goats and they were part of the excitement. They are both females but I don't know their names yet. I have photographs of them but my camera ran out of batteries and I have to wait until the batteries recharge before I can post the photographs. I hope to do the posting later today or tomorrow depending on the batteries and my available time.
A Full Night's Sleep: 10/02/06
I didn't think we would get to sleep last night. Harriet had been cluster nursing since about two in the afternoon. By half past midnight I was feeling physically ill from all that nursing. Ian came to the rescue and got Harriet tucked into her bouncy seat. He then bounced the seat lightly until she dropped off.
I collapsed into bed hoping for maybe an hour of sleep. At four I woke up for her usual just before dawn feeding and she was snoring! So I got up for a run to the bathroom and then went back to bed. Next thing I knew, the alarm was going off and she was still snoring. It's now well past my morning round of work and she's still sleeping and snoring.
In the time she's slept I've managed to sleep soundly myself (although I am still physically tired from yesterday), do my morning publish for work, eat breakfast at a reasonable time and update my blog between assignments for work.
The Stupidest Angel: 10/01/06
After my lukewarm enjoyment of Lamb, I was a reluctant to read The Stupidest Angel but I've owed to another BookCrosser since July and was way overdue for reading it. I'm glad I finally did; it was one of the funniest Moore books yet and were it not for having to tend to Harriet, I could have finished it in one sitting.
The Stupidest Angel returns to Pine Cove a few years after The Lust Lizard and unites characters from that book along with those from The Island of the Sequined Love Nun and Lamb. As with the other Pine Cove books, the small California town has to cope with supernatural events after being visited by a very unusual traveler; in this case, it's Raziel come to grant the Christmas wish of Josh Baker. Truth be told, God should have sent someone else to do the grant wishing!
The book is full of wonderful lines that had me laughing and carrying the book with me from room to room so I could read it any time I had at least one hand free. One of my favorite lines is: "Santa was dead. Christmas was ruined. Josh was hosed." (page 37)
Here is my short but enthusiastic BookCrossing review: