Sunday, October 30, 2011

67. Shine - Lauren Myracle

Amulet Books/Abrams, 2011
HC $16.95 (Lib)
For:  YA
360 pgs.
Rating:  4

First line/s:  Patrick's house was a ghost.  Dust coated the windows, the petunias in the flower boxes bowed their heads, and spiderwebs clotted the eaves of the porch.  Once I would have marveled at the webs -- how delicate they were, how intricate --  but today I saw ghastly silk ropes.  Nooses for sawflies and katydids and anything guileless enough to be ensnared

Setting:  Contemporary Appalachia, Black Creek, NC near Asheville.
OSS:  16-year-old Cat comes back to life after pulling her head into her shell for the past three years when her gay best friend, Patrick, is brutalized and left for dead.

Cat ells her story and discovers Patrick's in bits and pieces.  Slowly events of the last three years and events of the last week are illuminated as she unrolls the mystery of Patrick's almost-killing.  It's great to see her spirit come alive again.  It's also true that not everything is ever exactly as it seems.

And big message:  meth is deadly.  And the way it can establish itself in a community - especially one in extreme poverty - is examined in this story.

Lots of good stuff to think about.  It went fast.  Good story and good storytelling.

Monday, October 24, 2011

66. Chime - Franny Billingsley

Dial Book, 2011
HC $17.99
for:  young adults
361 pgs.
Rating:  2.5

First line/sI've confessed to everything and I'd like to be hanged.
Setting:  Early 20th century in Swampsea, a swampy town on the moors in England
OSS:  Briony Larkin feels responsible for her sister Rose's mental disabilities, her stepmother's crippling and death, and has to hide the fact that she's a witch and can talk to the spirits in the swamps.

Some part of this book I very much enjoyed - the humor and wordplay between Briony and Eldric for one, but some drove me crazy - the repetition of thoughts (purposely done) and the uncertainty in my mind that Briony wasn't the sister with a mental problem.  There was too much that I couldn't understand, especially the Arm thingy that takes people hands and rips them off (this is something that arises from the swamps).  People seem to accept some things, weird and unspoken things, but totally detest the idea of a witch.  There was just too much that didn't make sense to me.  And I enjoy fantasy -- look back at all the paranormal fantasies that I've read and adored.  This one just didn't do it for me.

This is also about the growing inimacy between Briony and Eldric, the bonds between the two twins, and a town that has lived with witches and demons and swamp creatures for centuries. 

The book has been nominated for a National Book Award (or something similar), that's why I drove all over town to find it and read it.  The blurbs on the back of the book make it sound incredible.  I wish I could agree.

Friday, October 21, 2011

MOVIE - Cowboys and Aliens

There have always been aliens from or in the past....right?  Great storytelling!
Released 7-29-11
PG-13 (1:58)
RT:  cag:
Director:  Jon Favreau
Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine

65. A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

Viking, 2011
43 chapters, 580 pgs.
HC $28.95
for: adults
Rating:  5 (I really don't want to give it a 5, but it was lovely writing, a hard-to-put-down plot and storyline, characters that were so well defined I felt as if I knew them,  and a strong, smart, librarian/scholar protagonist.  Everything I love in a book.  And I loved this book.....)

First line/lines:  The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.  To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford's Bodleian Library, ancient and worn.  But I knew there was something odd about it from the moment I collected it.

Setting: Contemporary Oxford, for the first third of the book; in the countryside near Lyon, France for the second third; and upstate New York for the third third.
OSS:  Diana Bishop, a noted American historian and college professor who has always tried to ignore her roots as a witch, becomes involved with a vampire while trying to unravel the secret of an ancient book of alchemy.

As I read the last page, I was quite disappointed that I didn't know the final, "final," outcome, but decided to like the ending because of the hugely entertaining possibilities, and started to examine the fine print of the book.   A DISCOVER OF WITCHES IS PART ONE IN THE ALL SOULS TRILOGY.  LOOK FOR THE NEXT NOVEL IN 2012.  NO NO NO NO NO !!!!!

How will I ever remember every character and their part in the story between now and when a sequel comes out?

Witches and vampires and daemons.  All hate each other and have for millenniums.  Humans factor very little in this book (if at all), all the main players are creatures - namely witches, vampires, and daemons.  They are not supposed to mix, to fraternize, and a natural animosity usually even keeps them from being friends.  Until Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont meet.  KABOOM!  Sparks fly.  Literally.

Diana has always suppressed her witch tendencies.  She wants to be ordinary.  But a subhuman amount of adrenaline keep her running, rowing, and doing yoga whenever she's not researching.  She has no close friends (oddly), and the two aunts that raised her after her parents' murder worry obsessively about her. Although she is very attractive and has had lovers before, there are no males in her life. She has kept herself aloof emotionally, which is the perfect for what is about to happen.

Diana is no wimp.  She is no Bella - thankfully.  She is more of a Hermione, with a touch more determination and spunk (though Hermione did gather those possessions as she matured.)  Diana comes from a long line of Bishops, originating, she thinks, from Bridget Bishop who was killed during the Salem witch trials in the late 15th century.

I loved the first third of the book, the part that took place in Oxford.  The French part was really interesting, the American third had so much change and new information to absorb that I didn't enjoy it quite as much.  I can't believe that I decided to read an almost 600 page novel, but I'm really glad I did!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Walking in Tucson: JDRF Walkathon

Can I do it in my Birks?  I'm gonna try!

Wednesday I signed up to walk in the 5K (that's 3.1 miles!) JDRF Walkathon here in Tucson On October 29th.  However, I am in mucho, MUCHO poor shape.  So, I'm in training for the 17 days I have left.  Scary.  But not only do I want to do this, I WILL do this!

The link to my pledge page is here.  There's a really annoying group of noises when you first sign on....the thermometer rises with a very racious sound, and then people cheer because I've already made my goal of $100.  SO, so exciting...but the accompanying cacophony is a bit irritating!  Apologies.

I'm going to estimate 2100 steps to a mile to figure my mileage.  But I must remember, every step is...well....a step! ! !  My body feels it, especially mty lungs.  And the intense heat and sunshine we're still feeling here in Tucson doesn't help.

Thursday, Oct. 13th:  Brandi Fenton Park (700 steps, .333 miles) 102 degrees outside!  A third of a mile doesn't seem like much, but it's a start!

Friday, Oct. 14th  ooooooopsssss...

Saturday, Oct. 15th: Agua Caliente Park (1175 steps, .56 miles) late afternoon, still 95 degrees, lots of shade and a surreal oasis setting.

Sunday, Oct. 16th:  Pantano River Walk & Lowes (1820 steps, .867 miles) a mere 93 degrees, mid afternoon, thank goodness half the walk was shaded by buildings and trees as the sun was in the west.

Monday, Oct. 17th:  Reid Park:  It's a flat, paved, 3 miles around the park - 'course I'm not ready for thant yet.  Parked in the Randolph Way lot. (2240 steps, 1.07 miles) 94 degrees at 4:45 pm.

Tuesday, Oct. 18th:  Part of the Rillito River Walk: Holy Cow, an unintentional 2700 steps (1.29 miles)!  I parked in the lot on Swan and walked west, first 1350 steps on the "trail," then returning on the paved bikeway (there were oodles of bikes).  Nice.

Wednesday, Oct. 19th:  Palo Verde Park, just south of Broadway a block or so east of Wilmot.  There's a sidewalk around the park, partial sun, some shade, that was 1850 steps around (.89 miles), so I added another 435 steps to ensure I walked over a mile.  I did.   (1.09 miles)

Thursday, Oct. 20th:  TWO WALKS!
First:  Tohono Chul Park.  After viewing the Day of the Dead exhibit, I hit the trails...for 2175+ brisk steps through the blazing midday sunshine!  (Just a tiny bit over a mile.)
Second:  Out my front door, north to Fifth, east to Chalet, then home.  About .8 miles

Friday, Oct. 21st:  Pantano River Park (from Michael Perry Park) 2825 steps.  Walked along the GARDENS OF THE ANCIENT SIGNS - pretty plantings, signs, and markers (and even under the Golf Links bridge!)  92 degrees on return, but it had gone down a lot since the beginning of my walk.  1.35 miles

Saturday, Oct. 22nd. Around the El Con Mall (through JC Penney, it was way too dark around the old Robinson's May end) just before going to the movies.  Added steps in the parking lot to increase the walk to over a mile.  2350 steps, 1.12 miles.

Sunday, Oct. 23rd.  Reid Park. From Randolph St. parking lot, along Broadway for a bit, and then back.  Hot sunshine.  3133 stps, 1.49 miles (I should have taken a few more steps to hit that 1.5!!!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Queen of the Falls – Chris Van Allsburg

Illustrated by the author
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011
HC $18.99
40 pgs.
Rating: 4.5
Endpapers: Silver-gray
Illustrations Brown & white, most of them squared off
Lots of text
Author’s note: full page at end of book
Title page: 3 X 5 illustrations of a barrel in foaming water

First line/s: Imagine being as small as a flea, standing on a sidewalk next to an open fire hydrant. This is how visitors to the waterfalls at Niagara feel. The water drops from a height that is as tall as a seventeen-story building, roaring like a locomotive and sending up an endless cloud of mist as it crashes onto the rocks and water below.

Setting: Niagara Falls, 1901
OSS: The true story of how Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to ride a wooden barrel over Niagara Falls and survive.

First of all, how cool to have found someone with such an interesting story that had never really been told – or heard – by most of the general public. Apparently this prim and proper senior citizen cooked up this scheme to earn herself enough money to live through her senior years. And , unfortunately, it never made her any money! So here’s the story. Very different from VanAllsburg’s usual tales of magic and wonder. Nice writing and still-magical trademark illustrations.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

64. Twelve Sharp - Janet Evanovich

Audio read by Lorelei King
Audio Renaissance, 2006
7 unabridged cds
7 hours
320 pages
Rating:  4

OSS:  Stephanie Plum helps Ranger find his kidnapped daughter.

Yup, that's right.  We learn a bit more about Ranger and his past in this book, and the antics are just great.  Laugh out-loud funny in some places.  Lula has started singing in a rock band and chooses outrageous outfits to wear (and Grandma Mazur joins the group for a bit....).  A gay male couple now runs the funeral home.  We are introduced to Melvin Pickle, a sad, shy, guy who is the most recent addition to Stephanie's conglomerations of weirdo friends.

Evanovich is so clever when it comes to some of the apprehensions that Stephanie attempts.  How does she keep coming up with such ideas?  Funny, silly, crazy...and sometimes, she really does get her man (or woman).  This time the crew is looking for a new bounty hunter and the array of applicants they get is downright hilarious.  But the kidnapping of Ranger's daughter and the daunting task of trying to find and catch the kidnapper - who is impersonating Ranger - gets pretty hairy.  It helps to know that Stephanie will always overcome.

Ranger AND Joe are shown about 50/50 in this one.  FFFFUUUUNNNNN!

63. The Dark Tide - Andrew Gross

Audio read by Melissa Leo
Harper Audio, 2008
9 unabridged cds
11.5 hours
434 pages
Rating:  5 at the beginning, 1 after about the halfway point,  so.....2.5 I guess.....
Setting:  Contemporary Old Greenwich, Connecticut
OSS:  When Karen Friedman's husband is killed in a terrorist train bombing, she meets Greenwich Investigator Ty Hauck, and together they try to unravel a mystery that ties Charlie Friendman's death and another death in the area.

First line:  As the morning sun canted sharply through the bedroom window, Charles Friedman dropped the baton.

This is a very good story, which starts out tight and clear.  But once the mystery begins full throttle and Ty and Karen begin to "like" each other, it slows down....a lot.  But the really, really irritating thing for me is the way that whenever the characters have a dialogue with one another, they say each other's same repeatedly....over.....and over....and over again. Blech.

The bad guys are very bad.  The good guys have flaws.  The rich don't know how good they have it, or want more.  High finances, hedge funds....if you're not on top of that sort of thing, you're more or less along for the ride, because the details went right over my head.  I was excited about this author when I began reading, but don't think I'll be reading another of his for awhile, unless I forget.