Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Katrina, Gardening & Refereeing

Still reading Byzantium. Still praying for some rain. Yesterday was the first anniversary of Katrina. Time has flown by & yet watching the reports it seems time has stood still for people living in the Gulf region. Thinking I might look into taking the master gardener classes offered by the coop. Depends where the classes are though. Some of their 'teaching gardens' are an hour or more away. In a monastery garden, though- that might be worthwhile. I doubt it. I'm already on the road quite a bit. In the opposite direction.

Kids hoping to visit the relatives, but Mother Nature may conspire against us in the form of heavy rains over the weekend. School begins Tuesday next. HOORAY for me. Kids aren't as thrilled, but are starting to be bored at home. Bored & yet unwilling to lift a finger around the house unless sharply prodded. They are picking fights among themselves more often- a sure sign mom isn't giving them enough to do.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I managed to read four hundred pages in Byzantium yesterday. When Lawhead really picks up the pace, he means it. I preordered the new Feehan & the new Ward at 40% off thanks to Amazon. I can't wait! I'm so hopeful that Feehan has continued the positive trend. I hate to think the Carpathians have a fatal weakness for whiny, flawed, tortured women. 'Cuz honestly? I have had serious issues with several of the last heroines in the Dark series.

Anyhow. Poor Daughter has new prescription meds for her face. She doesn't have a serious acne problem, but her skin just doesn't respond to any of the available over the counter stuff. Unfortunately I'll have to call the insurance company to see which payment schedule they're on. The dr. says they're expensive. Daughter needs her meds though- every woman deserves a clear face. Including me. HAHA

I hope the weather is nice this weekend. Husband's relatives want us to go boating with them.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle, H. Miyazaki

I think I've fallen in love with a shape changing wizard who lives in a flying shack (supposedly a castle, but really? it's ugly). Yeah, he already has a GF who's been bewitched into looking like an old hag, but really? I'm a much better match for him. The age difference? It's no big deal. I'm easy. HAHAHA

Howl also lives with a little boy, an enchanted hopping scarecrow, an actual old hag who slowly dissolves into a shapeless puddle over the course of the movie & a talking, anxiety ridden flame demon who had custody of Howl's heart. Then there's the war going on between two kingdoms. A beautiful but manipulative "head sorceress" or some such governmental person- who really doesn't know when to stop meddling.

Great voices. Unique storyline. Love conquers all in the end. Who could ask for more?

Also- still reading Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead, but it's slow going. Anne Stuart is calling my name.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Aging, Parenting & other joyfulness

Getting older. Definitely feeling my age this weekend. Daughter's HS Open House for Freshies is tomorrow afternoon. Starting in Sept. I'll have two HSers. I don't feel older. Not really. Mom says it's because we had them when we ourselves were babies & I suppose that's true to an extent. If it's possible I worry about them more as they grow older- likely because they're able to start more mischief! LOL Not my angels. They're wonderful. Honest.

I guess I ought to count my lucky stars- I'm not grey haired or wrinkly (yet). I am sort of computer literate & love my little technology laden devices so I'm not a dinosaur (despite what the kids may tell you). I am finiky about my music- & that's getting worse. Then again- Fall Out Boy & Justin Timberlake aren't music at all by anyone's standards. So there. I do like Shakira & Green Day & the Peppers & the Crazy Frog Chorus & the Gorillaz though. Maybe there's hope for me yet.

I got middle age spread early due to chronic laziness & love of food. I'm trying to remedy that. I've already decided my middle age crisis/last child is in high school car will be a convertible Mini Cooper S with the performance package. Then I'll paint it pink so the males in my family won't drive it. Except Son #1 who says he'll drive it no matter what color it is. HAHAHAHAHA

Happy Weekend to All!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Inkheart; Cornelia Funke

Inkheart was terrific. Links HERE. What would you do if a character falls out of their story & wanted to go back, but couldn't? What if an evil, awful villain & his henchman fall out & your beloved gets sucked in? How do you right the wrongs & redress what you've done?

Now imagine that your daughter, Meggie, all of 12, finds out your terrible, awful secret only after you've been kidnapped by the villain. She has no idea what you did, why you were always on the run & how on earth can she get you back. For advice & safekeeping, she has a distant relation who loves books but not people & a deceptive, sly man she can't depend on.

What happens when Meggie discovers she too has your awful & scary gift?

Currently reading Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead. A thousand page tome that tells a tale of the Book of Kells & its trip from ancient Ireland to Byzantium (Istanbul) & the adventures of the group of monks trying to give the Book to the Holy Emperor.

Please welcome Jenster to the blogroll. She too is a book-aholic, mom & wife recently transplanted to PA.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Weekend Recap

The exhibit was brilliant & amazing as expected. Thank the Lord the crowds were light & there weren't any lines. The depth of color isn't conveyed in books & prints at all. Unless you see them in person, you really haven't seen how truly masterful these paintings are. I bought little postcard copies of some of the prints- totally different color tones & saturation levels. The details- embroidery stitches, individual hairs, fabric texture, fur hairs, etc. only seen in person. Totally awe inspiring. Not to mention the fact that the ladies were uh..curvy & lush & feminine. As opposed to stick like & boyish as Husband observed.

Didn't go to the history fair thingie. We walked quite a lot more than we expected Saturday. Our buddy told us the Metro stop was only 15 minutes away from the condo. WRONG. Try at least 45. Then, afterwards. Needed to stop by the grocer- it's only a couple of blocks away. Ok. Only a couple of extra blocks. No biggie. Try an extra mile in the opposite direction. OMG. My feet hurt so bad. Naturally I had taken the buddy's word for it & worn shoes that are comfortable enough to wander around in a little- but not comfy enough for say, oh- 6 miles. Easy. And that's a guesstimate.

So yeah- if you go up to town & plan to walk at all- bring your comfiest walking shoes. Do not ever take your buddy's word that things are much closer than in fact they actually are. Jeez- my feet still hurt. I can't imagine how bad I'd feel if I'd not already been exercising with the kids.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Weekend plans

The weekend is upon us. Tomorrow we're schlepping up to a buddy's condo then onward to the Renaissance exhibit at the N'tl Gallery. I discovered it travels from here to Europe, so no dilly dallying this time out. There's some kind of VA history fair going on a few miles south of us- we may attend. Then again maybe not. It's free though & that's always a plus.

Husband made me promise I'd go for a long run with him this weekend (usually he means 7+ miles). Truthfully- he jogs & I alternate between walking & whining. Last time we did one he practically pulled me the last two miles. Then again he saved the hills for last- as opposed to doing them first. Always get the yucky part over with first- that's my motto.

Daughter keeps looking at me all round eyed over the top of her vampire book- "WOW MOM!! This is really great!! You'll love this book!!" Yes, she really does speak with that many exlamation points. She says it ensures I'm awake & paying attention. LOL

Son #2 has discovered Garth Nix (the Australian children's author of Nix & Sabriel, et al.) He too insists I read his new book. Of course, I've already promised to read the Pullman His Dark Materials trilogy. I'm still behind on Daughter's list by at least two books.

Meanwhile. The romance TBR sits neglected in the corner. The new Carpathian comes out on our anniversary. I'm excited. I hope & pray they get better. I'm on the verge of giving up on Ms. Feehan. What else? I bought an older La Nora (only .25 at the library sale! for a hardcover! I like !! too, lol), the second in the Irish trilogy. It'll only be my third book by her. I read two of her alien/human from outer space gets stuck on earth books & my heart really wasn't captured at all. They were well done etc. My heart was left in the cold. So, here's hoping I like these better.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cooling off at last

Managed a 5 mile walk in the park today. Even Son #2 made it the whole way- no whining either. Miraculous. He did have a whistle which he insisted on blowing. Fortunately, he managed a rhythm which somehow made it a bit more bearable. I had to confiscate it at the end though. It was just too much. Daughter made it too (despite being a slacker at G'ma's) although the last mile she slowed down quite a lot.

The AC was replaced yesterday (FINALLY). Discovered the owners contracted to have all the ACs replaced a few years ago. Regardless of apartment size, everyone got the same size/output unit. Lovely. Now the tenants in little apartments are freezing all summer & those of us in the larger ones slowly roast to death. All in the name of a few dollars savings. How thoughtful of them.

Still reading Inkspell by Funke. Great book. Want the sequel. Found Daughter a young adult horror romance that got rave reviews from everyone (PW, Locus, Amazon hot list,etc) last year. Stupidly, I bought it for her despite the fact that she has a huge English project due first day of class. Now she's busy reading her vampires. Ok, ok. It's all my fault I know. Sue me. She's a good student. She'll do fine. Right?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Diet Coke & Fall foliage

Humid as all get out here & overcast to boot. Pray for rain. We need it. Son #1 got a note about an open house at Norwich (college in VT) in October- thus causing his mother to fantasize about fall foliage trips to New England under the guise of spending the weekend following Son around campus. Cool weather. Breezes. Pumpkins. Apple cider. Hay rides. Lack of humidity. Temperatures under 75. A girl can hope.

Not alot else happening around Bookwomom Central. Had an appointment this morning way up the road. Dragged everyone out of bed & braved a.m. rush traffic to get there. Only to find out the person I was to meet was ill & couldn't make it. Did anyone bother to call me & cancel? NO. GRRRRRRRR

What else? Suddenly not liking diet Coke anymore. Tastes yucky. I think someone transplanted my taste buds in the middle of the night. I've been a dedicated DC fan for many years now. I guess it's for the better in the long run. I'll be healthier. Maybe. Less artificial sweetener is always a good thing. Better hydrated definitely. More book $$? A girl can never have too many books.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Inkheart; C. Funke

I started reading Inkheart by German author Cornelia Funke (Thief Lord). Her young adult titles are apparently quite well known in Europe, this is her second novel available here. Son #2 loved Thief Lord so much I need to replace it- he's worn the glue off of the binding & lost the dustjacket. Anyhow, this is book one in a planned trilogy. Inkspell is the second. The third is being written as I type this (faster, Cornelia- FASTER!) as yet untitled. Tentative publishing date is 2008. Ms. Funke's next title available here is When Santa Fell to Earth, October 2006.

This one is pretty thick, page wise. Not a doorstopper, but big enough by children's literature standards. Mortimer Folchart & his daughter Meggie are itinerant book binders & antique book restorers/collectors. Mo, as Meggie calls him, receives a mysterious visitor in the night & immediately sends her off to bed. Next morning Mo packs Meggie & his work tools up into their dilapidated camper van & tries to drive off with her. Unfortunatley the mysterious visitor from the night before awaits them at the gate & blackmails Mo into bringing him along too. They drive all day across the countryside (Europe I presume, as Ms. Funke is German) to a relative's house. Said relative is singularly cold, unwelcoming & rude, but does allow them into the mansion- which is lined floor to ceiling with huge bookcases full of her collection. Meggie is warned that she may read only items out of the cases near the downstars front door as long as she doesn't crease or stain them & puts them away ASAP. Lovely woman, this relative.

That's as far as I've gotten. Chapter 5. Excellently done thus far. If This title holds up to Thief Lord, there will be twists & turns right up until the end.

Happy Reading, kiddos!!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Life Happens

So. Kinda busy around here. Posting may be intermittent, but I'll post as often as posssible. Lots of things to rant about: AC, landlord-teneant relations (or lack thereof), weather, weight. Just generally grouchy. Not feeling well.

I've spent the last two days sewing. I'm making a padded headboard & footboard for my bed. Finished a scrub top & surgery cap for Husband (Beetle Bailey). I tend to clean when frustrated- I've vaccuumed under all of the beds & started scrubbing walls. What else have we been up to?

Want to go see the Venetian Renaissance exhibit soon. It's in the National Gallery, but leaves Labor Day weekend. Want to go to the Zoo. Daughter says to mention she has returned from two & a half weeks at the Grandparents' place. Next ten days or so are for Son #2.

Nephew #2 is scooching along pretty handily now. Nephew #1 is getting ready for his first year of school & is growing like a a weed. Grandma & Sister have lost weight since I saw them last (last month I think). BIL had great advice for keeping our new aquariums healthy.

Anyhow, as I said, posting is likely to be intermittent but I'll be here as much as possible. Hope you're all reading!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Peep; S. Westerfeld

ETA: Corrected spelling of author's last name.

This is a young adult horror pubbed in 2005 by an imprint of Penguin. Set in modern day NYC & features Cal Thompson & Lacey...can't remember her last name, sorry. Plus assorted parasites, rats & giant mutant worms living under the subway in the city. And here you thought they were only in movies!

Cal has this disease see. He has to track down everyone he mistakenly gave it to, plus the person who infected him. Then he has to get them treatment. Unfortunately, this disease makes them violent & paranoid, thus making his job twice as difficult.

In the course of tracing the person who infected him, Cal meets Lacey. Since he's a college age young adult his hormones are in overdrive & even though he knows he'll infect her he allows her to help him. Lacey, fortunately, isn't stupid (a combo journalism & law student) & figures out the lowdown before Cal actually tells her what the deal is. Did that make sense?

So Lacey helps Cal figure out the deal & decides to become his sidekick. Hint- it involves cross species transmission. They also manage to fall in love/lust. Turns out to be a horror with a dash of romance to it. Not alot of romance- but I was frantically turning pages trying to figure out where things were headed.

The book alternates between narrative & parasitology & biology lessons. Those are hints to the upcoming plot developments. If you are paying attention & read between the lines that is. There are even notes at the end listing the author's sources- if you dare.

This is Daughter's keeper. She only had to wait six months for me to read it. Poor girl.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Faerie Wars; H. Brennan

Faerie Wars, written by Herbie Brennan & published by Bloomsbury in 2003, is a young adult alternate reality fantasy. Boy that's a mouthful. Protagonists: Henry Atherton, fourteen year old teenage boy living in the UK; Pyrgus Malvae, fourteen year old Heir to the throne of Light in the Fairy Kingdom & Holly Blue, Pyrgus' sister & third in line to the throne. Also assorted good & bad fairies, a demon or two & a few humans.

Pyrgus & his dad the Emperor don't get along well, so Pyrgus moves out into the city to "live as a commoner" as Holly puts it. Fortunately for Pyrgus, his dad keeps tabs on him as Pyrgus is prone to causing trouble. Henry works for an old man named Alan Fogarty doing odd jobs around Fogarty's property. Through a convoluted series of events involving kitten based glue, demon summoning & political problems Pyrgus ends up as a miniature fairy in Fogarty's yard, where Henry finds him.

Problem- Pyrgus wasn't supposed to end up there. His family doesn't know where he is. Old man Fogarty is deeper than he appears & manages to construct a combination Tesla coil/Hieronymous machine to send Pyrgus back home. Pyrgus manages to get himself lost again. Henry & Holly, each from their respective worlds, set out to rescue/find/return Pyrgus.

There are plenty of red herrings to go around, although at one point I rolled my eyes & said to myself, "I should've seen that one coming." The beauty of it all? I didn't see it coming at all. There is a subplot happening with Henry's family, which I find fascinating. There are nods to famous authors. The fairies' names are those of butterflies; a pun on the fact that they are butterfly size in our world but 'regular' size in their own.

An engrossing, quick read- highly recommended. The sequel, The Purple Emperor is out in paperback this month.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

One Good Knight; M. Lackey

What an adventure! Very similar in tone & structure to the first 500 Kingdoms book, Fairy Godmother (which I really liked), ie: a sweet adventure romance featuring a strong central female character. This one is St. George & the Dragon & the legend of Andromeda carefully taken apart & restitched into a totally unique, new garment.

The vast majority of the book deals with Andromeda's life in her mother's (Cassiopeia) court & Cassiopeia's scheming. Andromeda has adventures with George (her Champion), the dragons Periapt & Adamant & the virgins. Andromeda, has, oddly enough, succumbed to the nickname Andie- which I found irritating.

Cassiopeia & her favorite advisor schemed & plotted to remove Andromeda. Why? Well for a start Andromeda is too nosey & she isn't nearly manipulable (yes, that really is a word- I looked it up) as they had hoped. Fortunately, as is often the case with evil villains, Cassiopeia & the advisor underestimate Andromeda, the Tradition & the Champion- George. Too, there are the dragons- bookwyrms to be exact. I love it- dragons who hoard books.

As mentioned in my summary of The Fairy Godmother (click link above) Lackey's books for Luna tend more toward fantasy than romance. Strong development of the female lead & strong overall adventure/quest plotting, lighter on the romance side.

Anyhow- because the Tradition likes the entire situation, everything works out in the end. What is the Tradition, you ask? It is a magical entity- much like "The Force" in Star Wars. The Tradition manipulates situations to the appropriate fairy tale end. If you remember, not all fairy tales end well. The Tradition can be thwarted or otherwise manipulated to achieve your goals.

According to the last page, Lackey's next book for Luna will be Fortune's Fool, released next year. I couldn't find a more exact date though. Like the first 500 Kingdom book, this one is a keeper.
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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Poems for cooler weather

A wishful ode to the turning of the season & cooler, wetter weather.

The morns are meeker than they were by Emily Dickinson

The morns are meeker than they were --
The nuts are getting brown --
The berry's cheek is plumper --
The Rose is out of town.

The Maple wears a gayer scarf --
The field a scarlet gown --
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

A Night-Rain in Summer by James Henry Leigh Hunt

Open the window, and let the air
Freshly blow upon face and hair,
And fill the room, as it fills the night,
With the breath of the rain's sweet might.
Hark! the burthen, swift and prone!
And how the odorous limes are blown!
Stormy Love's abroad, and keeps
Hopeful coil for gentle sleeps.

Not a blink shall burn to-night
In my chamber, of sordid light;
Nought will I have, not a window-pane,
'Twixt me and the air and the great good rain,
Which ever shall sing me sharp lullabies;
And God's own darkness shall close mine eyes;
And I will sleep, with all things blest,
In the pure earth-shadow of natural rest.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Queen Mab; Shakespeare

Taken from William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet:

Queen Mab

She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep:
Her waggon-spokes made of long spinners' legs;
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars, of the moonshine's watery beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film;
Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut,
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o' mind the fairies' coach-makers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;
O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on curtsies straight;
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees;
O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream;
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometimes she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig's tail,
Tickling a parson's nose as a' lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice;
Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes;
And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,
And sleeps again.
"Romeo and Juliet" (1.4.60-95)

Images of Queen Mab from collections around the world:

1. James ChristensenQueen Mab in the Ruins

2. Arthur Rackham Queen Mab

3. Amy Brown Queen Mab

Friday, August 04, 2006

Black Ice; Anne Stuart

What can I say? YUMMMY. Sebastien is one of my favorite hero types: emotionally wounded, cynical & jaded. Chloe- not so much, although I appreciated her willingness to leave her family rather than bow to their pressure & I loved how they came through for her when she needed them. I also loved how Sebastien had them come rescue her, even if it wasn't necessarily for the right reasons.

Ms. Stuart also comes theough with one of my favorite poems of all time, The Highwayman by Englishman Alfred Noyes. I have tremendous respect for Ms. Stuart's work already, quoting a poem (p. 266, I believe) only increases my respect.

Er. One problem though. Early on in the story Sebastien refers to himself in the third person- implying that this is an assumed identity (he is an agent in a supersecret spy organization) he will have to give up. By the end of the book, he & Chloe are sucessfully united & defeat the bad guys. However, no mention of his 'real' identity or if, indeed, Sebastien Toussaint is his actual identity. Minor detail, but a crucial one. Even more importantly- Chloe doesn't ask about his identity, despite knowing he's an agent.

Perhaps I'm a bit too jaded & cynical & devoted to a drop of reality. Chloe meets him in a circumstance where she's extremely wary of Sebastien & doesn't trust him. Once she realizes he's an agent, she wonders where he's really from but never pursues his background. I guess I'm simply too nosey- I ask too many questions & I'm probably too persistant in wanting answers.

Still, even with that issue- loved this book. Plan to go find the others in this group. Stuart's heroes have always been at the top of my list & Toussaint is no exception. BTW, links are in Tuesday's post.
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday 13 #18- Heat busting DVDs

- Clink link above to see other participants. Leave a link in the comments & I'll link back to you.

Favorite DVDs to watch while hiding from the heat indoors:

1. Corpse Bride

2. Love Actually

3. Classic Cartoons (Popeye, Mighty Mouse, Tweety, etc)

4. Big Fat Greek Wedding

5. Bruce Almighty

6. Flowers of Shanghai

7. Amelie

8. An Affair to Remember

9. l'Auberge Espagnole- NOT child friendly

10. Schoolhouse Rock

11. Casablanca

12. LOTR series

13. Star Wars series, esp. the older ones

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Spiders' Lunch

Hiked yesterday in Spiderland. It was the lunchtime too- struggling flies & bees frantic to escape. Poor unsuspecting hikers who can't see you until its too late. Strands of spidersilk in your mouth, your hair, across your fingers. Crawly stripy penny sized little buggers crawling up & down my legs. Have I mentioned how much I hate spiders? Especially when they're on my person? My heart rate soared for ages after that walk, let me tell you!

Quite toasty here at Bookwormom Central. The weatherguys are constantly whining about the - temperature & humidity combined. To be honest with you, it doesn't seem hotter than your average summer. Then again, I have been hiking & running outside in the park for the last two months. Perhaps I have acclimated to the temperatures. Supposedly the will last until Friday, at least locally. Who knows? How hot has it been where you live?

Started Anne Stuart's Black Ice last night. A little late for AngieW's Challenge, I know. Black Ice is one of the very, very few novels I've read. So far, Ms. Stuart manages to captivate me in a subgenre I often toss into my DNF pile. It's quite good although I find the heroine a little ..I don't know. Something about her niggles. I'm hopeful it'll jolt me out of the reading doldrums. Cross your fingers for me.