Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Lost Summer

of Louisa May Alcott was a wonderful book. And what did I enjoy most? The fact that this well researched novel was within the realm of reason. Unlike my last selection's author, McNees understands how to artfully integrate fact and fiction. She employs her research in a way that does not, as my friend Phyllis states "smell too much of lamp oil."
And who does not love Little Women and wonder about the life of its author? Well done Ms. McNees; I shall look forward to more from this author.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

a ton of bricks

would have been a better title for Susan Rebecca White's novel, a soft place to land.

So what's my problem with this tale? First, I cannot tolerate authors who make gratuitous use of events - especially 9/11. Setting can be established without mention of this event. Add to that the use of the US Airways Flight 1549 to bring Ruthie to appreciate/understand/love her sister? Lame.
Second, the over use of research. All authors research for their novels - it is their job. A good researcher has more notes than they will ever use. This read smacked of an overt attempt to use every stinking bit of it. We know the main character loves food. We do not need to know that the wings ordered at the bar are "meaty" when she is in the midst of an argument with her husband over her unwillingness to have a baby. Pointless.
Third, the reader needs a character with whom they can strongly identify or hate. Nope. Ruthie is a sweet child who once she becomes an "adult" is whiny and petulant. Julia, for whom we should have no sympathy, is actually the more balanced of the two.
Fourth, authors should never overtly push their political agendas in a narrative. Julia's "wanna be a Jew", Catholic bashing was just abhorrent. The coffee scene was nice; a young couple meets for hours and has a great time talking. She finds out that he is pro-life and she suddenly leaves and then refuses his phone calls. Only 9/ll and going to church brings them together? Lame.
Finally, an unnecessarily complex plot always muddies the waters. Relationships between sisters is difficult. The custody arrangements made in the will, while plausible, was not necessary. Julia could have experienced the same issues living with her sister after the death of the parents. Knocking on the door of the old homestead, being invited in with the country club drunk and being given the mom's old treasures found in a 'secret' closet? I could go on and on...
I need a really good book to flush this one out of my mind!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry

The reviewer was kind. Too kind. Seriously one of the worst books I have ever read. I only continued because I was happy to picture so many of the places in London that were mentioned. My time would have been better spent with my map.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Tried, But It Didn't Help

I tried to do good things today, but for some reason I am still in a summer funk. I get this way every August once the back to school letter arrives. My SIL thinks that is ridiculous, but all the education folks know exactly what I mean! Hey, I know several teachers who actually cry all day Labor Day! Does that clue anyone in on how this job can stress a person?

So my good deeds for the day? Taking the neighbor's dog to the vet - again. And I donated blood to the Red Cross.

Then I ate cake.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Pitfalls of Being an Adult

My children are learning that with new privileges comes great responsibility. My son, the new driver, pulled into the driveway last night to find his oil pan had cracked. The trail he left on the road, not to mention our driveway, was far more telling than anything Hansel and Gretel left behind.

The girl child has now worked over 14 consecutive days between babysitting, a desk job and an internship. The realization that you cannot call into work sick 15 minutes before your start time is a hard one.

The mother is learning it sucks to have two additional drivers who always want a car!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Crazies

Another Top 10:

  1. One of our hometown finest treating his newly adopted cat to a special bath in the trunk of his car.
  2. The 17 year old new driver thinking I should know where she is when she is lost.
  3. The other 17 year old thinking we should not ask how his first date went.
  4. Lindsay Lohan.
  5. New York State allowing people who already have a phone to use their 'free' cell phone service.
  6. The 'Real Housewives' series.
  7. End of life Medicare spending.
  8. Thinking that this tuition is realistic for this program.
  9. Me, after a full month of vacation.
  10. Planning a mother-daughter road trip.

*Not to be implied that all items are equal in value or scope.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Yes, I finished something this summer! Two somethings that are on my way to my sister's.
These are the best fitting socks I have ever made. And they are not 'normal'. Toe up, reverse heel flap and an 8 stitch gusset. Yes, apparently I have some very odd feet. But they don't gap at the ankles and they are great - and they also fit my sis like a dream so whatever the deal is, it's genetic! The pattern is generic and lord knows what the yarn is - I lost the ball bands in the bag ages ago - some kind of cotton/wool blend.
My sister has also lost 30 pounds so I thought that deserved the summer tank made of Catania (rav link) in a beautiful peachy/salmon color. I would post a photo, but it refuses to play nice on the upload. So both are in the mail and on their way to Delaware.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

That Old Cape Magic

No, I am not going. But it sure sounds like a good idea:) Richard Russo is quite good at capturing the angst of the middle aged man. And cheese whiz, you men sure are a bunch of babies. So many of the men he writes about would be so much happier if they simply dealt with their emotions and thoughts up front, but what the hell do I know...
Last night's book club offered a wide range of opinions; we were a fairly split group. About half found the book horrid. They had a hard time finishing the book and hated the ending. The rest of us found it a realistic portrayal of the crazy mess a family can be. And really some of the scenes were downright comical - Ben Stiller would kill for that rehearsal dinner incident.
So if you like messy families and revisionist history, grab it for an easy beach read.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

And the answer is...

Boarding school!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Oh Stop Whining!

It's done. And you know you are in trouble when you cannot find a decent review. It's like this: Kate Morton loves old books and brilliant authors and she has a serious problem in the amount of influence she allows them to have in her writing. Too much like The Secret Garden, too much Dickens, and many others of whom I am sure are there, but of whom I have not the knowledge.

But - I could not put the flipping thing down. Better than her last book, yet I am always shocked at what her editors allow.

So what did my first month of vacation look like? London, Paris, Barcelona, four days of curriculum writing, about 5 books, a little bit of knitting, a 50th birthday party, lots of cleaning and washing up, far too many hours on the internet, many walks with the dog, some spinning, a big family picnic, far too many hours on the telephone, Shakespeare in the Park, Dug's Dive, some ice cream, a lot of beer, a birthday tea, letter writing to a friend, and lots of time in the car with the kid who needs a license.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

I Knit?

Seriously, the needles and I are not friends at the moment. I am having a huge disconnect with the hobby that has always brought me such pleasure. Summer? Too many books to read? Spinning? Who knows...

But I gotta knit this....from the new Twist Collective Fall 2010. However, I think my sky shall be a sunset. Can't you see it with a tonal orange/pink/something?