Tuesday, April 26, 2011

24. School Days - Robert B. Parker

Spenser series #33
audio read by Joe Mantegna
Random House Audio, 2005
5 unabridged cds
6 hrs.
304 pgs.
rating:  4.5

Classic Spenser.  He said.  She said.  a little philosophical thinking, a little gourmet "throwing together" of a meal, a lot of Pearl and very little of Susan in this one.

17 year-old Jared Clark and a friend have gone into their private high school in Dowling, Massachusetts on a killing spree.  Jared's wealthy socialite grandmother hires Spenser to prove his innocence.  So Spenser charges in, in his usual style, to entertain us and to make us think.  I love the way that Parker could always piece together a story!

Spenser is in and out of the prison, speaking to the two boys, back and forth to Dowlling to probe the head of school, the school psychologist, some of the townies and some of the private school peers of the boys. Included are local and Boston gangs that run drugs and guns and an assortment of the usual interesting characters that Spenser either scorns or likes a lot.

Good stuff.  Went fast. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

23. Last Witness - Jilliane Hoffman

audio read by Kathe Mazur
Penguin Audio and Books On Tape, Inc, 2005
9 unabriged cds
11 hours
Rating:  4

The second intense serial killer book in a row, Last Witness is about C. J. Townsend, a Miami assistant state attorney and her boyfriend/fiance, Dominic Falconetti, who is the head of a task force for Maimi's newest serial killer - this time, one that kills cops in a particularly grizzly, bloody manner. However, it becomes more intricate for C.J. when she discovers that these killings are all related to her biggest - and most notorious - case, that of  "Cupid.."  That madman is on death row, but C.J. has some secrets about that case, relating to her own rape many years before, that is threatening to send her off the deep end.

I've never been too fond of Miami settings (although Dexter has begun to grow on me a bit), and this Miami depiction wasn't to enticing, either.  But the story was interesting, intricate, somewhat predictable, and went very quickly.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Please Write: Don't Phone" - Robert Watson

I spent a lot of time yesterday - hours, actually - browsing through the selection of "crafty" books at Barnes and Noble.  Some were really cool!  I love one called Good Mail Day (Hinchcliff/Wheeler) that included this poem, which I really like a lot.

Please Write:  Don't Phone

While there is mail there is hope.
After we have hung up I can't recall
Your words, and  your voice sounds strange
Whether from distance, a bad cold, deceit
I don't know.  When you call I'm asleep
Or bathing or my mouth is full of toast.
I can't think of what to say.
"We have rain"? "We have snow"?
Let us write instead: surely our fingers spread out
With pen on paper touch more of the mind's flesh
Than the sound waves moving from throat to lips.
To phone, to wire, to one ear.
I can touch the paper you touch.
I can see  you undressed in your calligraphy.
I can read you over and over.
I can read you day after day.
I can wait at the mailbox with my hair combed,
In my best suit.
I hang up.  What did you say?
What did you say?  Your phone call is gone.
I hold the envelope you addressed in my hand.
I hold the skin that covers  you.

                             Robert Watson
                             from Good Mail Day (Hinchcliff/Wheeler)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Favorite Words: Parched

Here's another word that delights me.  My oldest grandchild started talking early and has had an incredible vocabulary ever since she started.  But when a three year old tells you that she's parched, it stays with you.  It's been one of my very favorite words ever since.  Just found it again today in a poem from Room Enough for Love, by Ralph Fletcher:


We lay once beneath the clouds
but now I've lost the sky.

Youn handed me an ice-cold drink
and now my throat stays parched.

I ran my fingers through your hair
which cost mey sense of touch.

With you I watched my first sunrise --
that's how I lost the sun.

From one of the Cinder books (didn't record which one, unfortunately) by Marissa Meyer
Disc 2, Track 8
"She wet her parched lips...."

From Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Audio disc 6, chapter 11
"I was interested in the weather forecast.  We hadn't had a drop of rain since that double rainbow hailstorm back in January, and the whole world was looking parched.  When you walked  by a tree or a bush it just looked like it ached somehow."
From Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Page 179
"I try to say Who's there? but it catches in my throat, which is parched, and I make a little croak instead." 
From Alliance: The Paladin Prophecy #2 by Mark Frost
Page 313
"Her lips were chapped and she sounded parched."

From Sepulchre by Kate Mosse Disc 2, near the beginning
"His cheeks grew hollow and his skin transparent; his brown eyes were dulled, permanently blood-shot; his lips withered and parched." 

From The Janus Stone by Griffiths
pg. 93
"But then the moment passes and Hennessey says briskly, "I'm parched.  Do you fancy a cup of coffee?" 

From Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock:
"Kathy took in the sight of Michael like a parched desert traveler." 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who Stole Mona Lisa? - Ruthie Knapp

Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Bloomsbury, 2010
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Rating:  4, cool book
Endpapers:  Blue, red, green folksy "yoyos" (not sure of their significance...)

This story is told by the famous painting, the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo daVinci.  She begins in the Louvre, where she's hung for many years...but then she goes back to her beginnings.  She tells of daVinci painting her and tells about about Lisa Gheradini, who was the model for the painting.  She tells of the different palaces where she hung and how Napoleon, the last French ruler to "own" her gave her to the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Then the story changes.  She tells of the man who stole her from the wall, and what happened to her in the two years (1911 on) that she was lost to the world. 

So interesting!  I'd  love to do a one or two day lesson about daVinci, his inventions, the Mona Lisa, and various other cool things that are attributed to his genius.

There's an Author's Note that gives more information.  The illustrations are wonderful, folky, with a number of great borders.