Friday, September 30, 2005

Nightable reading pile

I never finished Redwall by Brian Jacques or A Daughter's Destiny by Jo Ann Ferguson. Redwall simply wasn't able to hold my attention, even though I really wanted to like it. Similarly, the Ferguson book dragged in the middle. Badly enough that I simply skipped to the last few pages & declared myself finished. The other Ferguson book (about the second daughter) I read during the summer suffered from similar issues although not to this extent. I have the third book (about the brother) but & am undecided as to if I shall actually read it.

Yesterday I read Lady Leprechaun by Melinda McRae. Another tradtional Regency, this one featured a widow & widower (the Duke of Hartford & Emily, Vicountess Darrow) chasing after their runaway sons & subsequently falling in love over the two week cross country chase. The boys were adorable although I found it hard to believe that a pair of ten year olds could survive two weeks traveling cross England on foot. Lady Leprechaun was well enough done, but the hero & heroine simply didn't catch fire with me.

This weekend is scheduled out to the nth degree & I hope to keep you abreast of the action, but if I'm unable to post, don't be surprised.

Oh BTW- I just bought Shana Abe's Smoke Thief yesterday & hope to squeeze in time to start it this weekend. I've looked forward to this one for a long time!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Review:The Bedeviled Duke, by Judith Lansdown

This is a traditional Regency originally published in 1996. The widowed Rudolph Denbeigh, Duke of Abbercombe (minor problem: I spent the entire book calling him Abercrombie in my head!), has returned to England with his children to present his oldest identical twin girls in society so that they may begin their husband hunt. The enormous stumbling block being that he was transported over twenty years earlier for murdering a peer &, 'Cash' as his friends know him, realizes that his daughters will pay the price. Meantime Miss Olivia Willburton-Smythe is bosom-bow of Cash's sister in law. Miss Olivia is drawn into Cash's life by his chidren & his sister in law although she remains suspicious of his actions & motives because of his past. Add a spy for Napoleon, a family member determined to get revenge, a missing brother & four sets of identical twins & you have yourself one amazing, complicated plot.

To her vast credit, Ms. Lansdown handles it all with aplomb. Cash & Olivia discuss their misunderstandings. Cash himself is a loving, even indulgent father, especially when you consider the traditional child rearing methods of that time & class. While he is long widowed (six years) he appears ready to find another companion,, if one could be found who loves his children. Olivia decides that perhaps society was wrong & unneccessarily cruel & that she wishes to assist the girls' entree into Polite Society to honor her friendship with Cash's sister in law, Jessica. Olivia, at thirty one, has resigned herself to being the maiden aunt. Her feelings for Cash & his family take her by surprise, but after several adventures together she admits he's the man for her.

Naturally, there is quite a bit more to the story than I have said here. The children (four sets of identical twins!) play a major role in the plot. The espionage element is prominently featured as well. Cash & Olivia are thoughtful adults who discuss their differences & the past & who acknowlege their responsibilities in the present. Their love story, set amid the chaos of an eight child home & the espionage war between England & France, is touching & will make you smile.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Review: Elizabeth's Rake & Cupid's Mistake

Elizabeth's Rake by Emily Hendrickson and Cupid's Mistake by Karen Harbaugh are a 'double header' so to speak published by Signet in February 2005. Each title was peviously published in 1993 & 1997 respectively.

"Elizabeth's Rake" stars, naturally, Elizabeth Dancy a nineteen year old accomplished amateur spy & engraver. Her love interest, David, Viscount Leighton, returned to his family estate to tend his ailing father. Miss Dancy lives with her aunt & two cousins nearby. On the eve of her aunt's annual St. Vaentine's ball, David climbs the wisteria outside Elizabeth's room & Elizabeth, fearing an intruder, shoots him. She is forced to nurse him, first at her aunt's home & then at Leighton's estate nearby after they become engaged (he having compromised her, naturally). Once at David's estate, things take an ominous turn. Suspicious activities abound & Elizabeth feels obligated to help David protect his father.

I enjoyed this traditional Regency despite figuring out the who the bad guy was before I had read halfway through. Elizabeth & David slowly draw you deeper & deeper into their intrigues. I didn't feel as though they were fully fleshed people, although I am under the impression they might have been in Hendrickson's earlier books (possibly featuring Elizabeth's sisters). Hendrickson includes many little details about superstitious beliefs during the period that I found fascinating & which helped me along to the end. Elizabeth's Rake was well worth reading, although I recommend looking for the previous titles involving the Dancy family since they might flesh out Elizabeth & David more fully.

Cupid's Mistake by Karen Harbaugh follows Miss Cassandra Hathaway & Paul Templeton, Marquess of Blytheland. Paul's first wife died in childbed attempting to birth another man's child. Paul meets Cassandra at a musicale, where she intrigues him by giving him an honest assessment of the violin divertimento he played. Paul has fallen head over heels in love with Cassandra & struggles to put aside the bitterness & pain of his previous marriage. Cassandra meanwhile must learn polite society's dictates regarding decorum & proper conversation. Being an honest & plainspoken woman of twenty three, Cassandra struggles with the idea that society functions best when one is willing to fabricate the occasional white lie & that brutal honesty does not always win one friends.

A serious misunderstanding nearly derails their relationship permanently, but with the help of Cassandra's sister, Psyche & Psyche's best 'imaginary' friend Harry, things are patched up between Paul & Cassandra. Laden with references to classic Greek mythology, the best part of this novel is Cassandra's parents' loving relationship with each other & their daughters. A facet too often missing in romances I find. Paul & Cassandra are fully rounded people who worked through several real problems to finally achieve their HEA. Harry & Psyche add just the right touch to leaven this novel with a touch of humour & whimsy.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Due to track repairs on the blue & yellow lines, daughter & I spent forty five minutes to make it two stops closer to DC. We had only a three hour window to rush up there & return to Alexandria so daughter could babysit. What ordinarily ought to have been a twenty minute trip turned into a forty five minute lesson in how to surf the internet on my cell phone.

Still, daughter & I managed a nice lunch at a delicious deli in Old Town Alexandria, a quick trip in to the Lancome counter & a copy of The Master by Melanie Jackson. Daughter is thrilled as she scored some lipgloss & lavendar eyeshadows (Lancome is having a 'gift with purchase' event).

I really hoped to see the protests in front of the White House & the book festival & maybe even see the Segway (sp?) in action. It was a perfect day for sightseeing- overcast & cool (finally!!).

I'm disappointed we missed the main event, but daughter & I had a nice afternoon together anyway. I bought her the Teen Vogue with Orlando Bloom on the cover & she was in heaven. Apologies to those who were hoping for a Diana Gabaldon sighting, but I tried!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Praying for TX & LA

I hope hurricane Rita weakens more & the battered Gulf coast pulls through ok. Hubby has kin between San Antonio & Corpus Christi & he has been concerned about them. Texans appear to have learned quite a lot from the complete fiasco that was Katrina. Despite the gas shortages & horrendous traffic (which by the way, resembled regular Friday traffic jams here in DC) Texans seem to be doing whatever they can to take care of people & property.

Speaking of horrendous traffic jams, I am absolutley positive that our region would be a paralyzed, gelatinous stew should anything serious happen here again. Traffic stoppages are a routine feature of life in the DC metro area. I am unconvinced our regional political leaders have thoroughly vetted, coordinated disaster plans. We are on our own. If you live in a major metro area in the US, you'd better be prepared to hang tight alone & not count on the local or federal government to help you.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

History Project

I worked on 'the photo album project' today. For several years I have attempted to organize & prune what had been likely eight or nine years of photographs. Some envelopes were neatly labeled & photos annotated, but most were blank. Slowly (at a glacial pace, I must admit) I've been sorting the photos into four piles: one pile per child & one pile for hubby & me plus a discard pile. I'm now down to five envelopes of developed photos all from last year! Each pile is in a labeled box awaiting album placement. I'm so proud of myself. HAHAHA.

These poor photos have been through an average of two military moves, plus storage. All because I've procrastinated & procrastinated. Now I'm halfway finished. Soon all I'll have left are years of unmarked school photos, LOL. Meantime, the cabinet will not bury you in an avalanche of processing envelopes, photos & empty albums.

I've realized the older children's Jefferson cups engaved with their initials are missing. Hubby's & my love letters were in a goodly sized box & I don't know where they are either. Hubby thinks they're all in the attic somewhere. It's too hot still to go hunting up there. My mom knitted outfits for the kids & they're missing as well. Darn it, I thought I was making progress.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

National Book Festival- Sat. 24th

I think we're going to take the kids unless the temperature is over 90 or it's going to rain. All you Diana Gabaldon fans take note- according to the brochure I have she'll be signing Saturday sometime. The list of authors is long & distinguished- check the link above to see who'll be there. A few names off of the list: Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Nevada Barr, Sandra Brown, Karin Slaughter, David McCullough & quite a few well known children's authors.

A Daughter's Destiny by Jo Ann Ferguson. First in a three book series called Shadows of the Bastille. I'm about two thirds of the way through. It's a Regency set historical adventure involving a 'hidden' daughter of the French aristocracy, an antiques dealer hired to find a missing vase, a traveling Italian theater troupe & a hired thug. I read the last one in the series this summer & it was much of the same. Competently done. Not spectacular. Just the right touch for periods in your life when you're insanely busy & want something to lower the stress level & yet not demand too much. Make sense to you? It isn't deep or complicated & the heroine is slightly irritating, but at least I'm reading! Right?

Monday, September 19, 2005

My newest title: Chauffeur

Somehow, despite my best efforts slowing down my life & our children's lives hasn't worked. No matter how much I consolidated & rearranged I'll be on the road at least three nights a week. I was careful to back out of actually participating in two of these & use those two hours to read instead! I thought I was so clever, rearranging & sorting. HA. SNORT.

Currently listening to Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales. You remember him. The 'Bubbletoes' song from a couple of years ago. Very relaxing. Even when you can barely hear it over your children's bickering over whose homework is harder & what is the correct plural of hypothesis (hypotheses).

Currently not reading anything, but carrying Redwall by Brian Jacques & Silver's Edge by Anne Kelleher around everywhere in the forlorn hope that soon I will be able to finish them. The result? They are impressively traveled for books, but remain unread.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Autumn cleaning

Still 'nesting', as hubby says. Typically I spend the month of September rummaging through the entire house sorting, scrubbing, etc. It's spring cleaning except it's autumn. My grandmother did heavy cleaning twice annually, but I don't have six daughters to help me.

I spent a day realphabetizing, rearranging & pruning down my (our?) books. Poor things, they were haphazardly piled sideways, atop each other, shelved three layers deep. Then there were the romances buried in the bottom of hubby's wardrobe...

So the bookcases are ship shape now. No more books buried in hubby's wardrobe. All are shelved single row, except the romances. Keepers are triple row, but that's ok since I've memorized what they are. The TBRs are double shelved & have horizontal stacks atop this, but they're all in one case now (as opposed to three locations). Genre fiction is broken out by type (mystery, fantasy, romance & horror).

I did take over two shelves of hubby's bookcase though. His books are zipped into a giant duffel bag & hubby says they can stay there as most are medical & business reference anyway. I feel guilty. I think they deserve shelf space of their own, but hubby wants a shelf for his infamous 'paperwork towers' which by law must be in our room instead of the livingroom.

I discovered I had a grocery sack of medieval mysteries which belong to our church. Tonight they were returned to their rightful location after lounging here for heaven only knows how long. I have a goodly sized carton plus two Christmas size shopping bags of books in the trunk of my car destined for the thrift shop.

I went through a three inch stack of cooking magazines & tore out my favorite recipies. Now I have a stack of paper to put away. It opened up quite a lot of room on my bookshelves. More room for my precious books! I did discover that I've mislaid an excellent recipie for maple syrup cake though.

Is anyone else out there having a good sort through?

Monday, September 12, 2005


Miscellaneous thoughts jamming the brain today. Don't expect any logical thought patterns.

Did you see Melissa Etheridge's performance during the Katrina concert on MTV Saturday night? First of all, I thought she looked & sounded wonderful. Hers was the only performance that brought tears to my eyes. She said she wrote a new song just for the concert &, honestly, the 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' ending just grabbed my heart & wouldn't let go. Completely aside from that, the Rolling Stones, Green Day & U2 were totally hot.

I finished reading "A Right to be Hostile, the Boondocks Treasury" by Aaron McGruder. The comic can be found here. Aaron McGruder's webpage is here. The foreward by Michael Moore will tell you which way the strip leans politically. The guys are so funny- I love them. I want a bumpersticker that says, 'Huey Freeman for President' but I'm afraid that a) no one would understand it & b) I'd be driven out of VA entirely for being a radical white chick.

Younger son & I have been reading Polly Horvath's 'Everything on a Waffle'. In rural British Columbia, Primrose Squarp's parents disappear in heavy storm while at sea. Eventually, Primrose's Uncle Jack arrives to take care of her. Meantime, the school guidance counselor, Miss Honeycutt, has set her cap for Uncle Jack & has no scruples about pushing Primrose aside to get to him. Miss Perfidy, the mothball obsessed old lady who took Primrose in until Uncle Jack arrived, is beginning to act a tad strangely. Primrose & Uncle Jack muddle along relatively well. At least so far. The serious storyline is treated with a humerous, deft hand, although I find Primrose's word choices to be too adult once in a while. An odd peeve of mine, but children ought to sound age appropriate. My sister would laugh uproarously at that last comment- all of my children are verbose.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I'm becoming addicted to ringtones. I bought a new cellphone a while ago & the ringtones loaded into the phone bug the kids & I just spent nearly two hours browsing through a catalog of songs. The selection of comedy snippets available is impressive too. I have to say though, that it became instantly clear that many of the comedy snippets are- how do I say this without sounding stiff?- not appropriate for all situations. So I settled on a couple of upbeat cheerful ringtones, which will (hopefully) successfully compete with my car radio for my attention as I rush up & down I 95.

What surprised me was that the kids loved listening to the ringtones. I played more songs for them than I would've played for myself. They are busily planning what songs they want when mom buys them phones. HA! NOT. The older boy has a phone, but he has to keep its account full on his own & isn't planning to spend his precious cash on music & games since it would cut into his texting his buddies.

Maybe I need to add a new game to my phone. I bought Connect Four a few weeks ago. It's weird though. The program is either too easy or impossible. There's no in between. Any suggestions for fun phone games?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Still here after all

No, I didn't float off into outer space or drown in Katrina's well of pain. Our harddrive (1 word or 2?) crashed for good & we had to wait for the new one to arrive. It was here in boxes at 7:30 last night & was up & running by 9 pm. Unfortunately we had modem problems after all & I had to go & get a new modem & then install..yadda, yadda, yadda. Here I am.

We visited my sister all of last week. I have to say- except for cleaning up the kitchen for her, we didn't do a blessed thing. It was absolutely wonderful, let me tell you. No errands. No lists of places to go or touristy things to do. We just visited. It was so refreshing! We used to have regular dinners when she lived around the corner a piece, but she's moved not quite two hours away & I miss her.

Daughter, older son & I took advantage of our comptuer free time to paint my room a beautiful shade of Necco wafer pink. Remember those? I loved them as a child. I can't stand them now, but nostalgia is a powerful thing. I know you'll disbelieve me, but hubby chose it. Really. I had probably 10 shades of peach/pink/light coral on the wall. After a few days he grabbed one & said 'this one'. I'd had a terrible time waffling around & took his advice. It's actually very soothing. The room faces north & the color wavers between peach & pink depending on the time of day & the weather.

The children are all in school finally & I'm done with filling out all of those blasted forms. My days are my own. Yesterday I scrubbed the walls in the dining area (it's far, far too small to be anything else)& the hall & vaccuumed under all of the living room furniture. My back is killing me, let me tell you.Today I sorted & rearranged the 'pharmacy' closet. It took some doing, I'll have you know. I also flipped through two of hubby's bookshelves worth of paperwork piles. Didn't put any away for him, but straightened it out & discovered just what he'd been busily squirreling away. Sorted through our 'blue box'- our little strong box of our most important papers. Discovered that daughter's immunization record is missing.

Still not reading a blessed thing, but I thought I'd start posting just as soon as possible. I've missed being on the 'net & talking to you guys.