Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

The new year always makes me a little strange. It is the time slipping past and the wondering where the future is taking us. The holidays have come and gone, with it the small time with family and friends. It was nice and it was sad.

No, I haven't written in a while. Not much to report. Things have happened and changed but I have no complaints or enthusiastic rejoicing. Life has gone on. It is nice. That word always made me shudder as a writer. Nice. It is so blase and small, but sometimes it is the only appropriate choice. Life is nice. Work is work. Home is home. Financially, everyone in the homestead is doing alright. We are getting by. We are working hard. We are spending quiet evenings at home together or going out to small functions. Nice is the only word to describe it and I am content with that. Once upon a time in college, a friend of mine said the worst thing someone could wish upon another person was for life to be exciting. Why? Well, exciting brings drama. There might be much excitement but there is an equal amount of despair. So, in remembering this I am thankful for my "nice and boring" life. Maybe, I could do with a little more nice and a little less boring but the whole is fine for now.

Here is wishing you the brightest and best in the new year. Happy New Year 2007! May your life be boring and complete.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

When seventeen-year-old Bella leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, she meets an exquisitely handsome boy at school for whom she feels an overwhelming attraction and who she comes to realize is not wholly human.

I read this book for a few reasons. I was involved in the summer reading group - Read-a-ton. My boss, the March Hare and every female student I had this year told me I HAD to read it. At last, with the sequel a few months from publication I guess it would be good to know what we are stocking in the library. I tried 3 times unsuccessfully to read this. I couldn't get into it, and failed every time. So I tried once more time, determined to toss the book into the "lost cause" pile if I couldn't read it. Well, I read it and I was able to even enjoy myself. I don't think this book is for everyone but in the end I really did like it. It's more of a Chick-lit book than I really care for but it is a good story. It's kind of a soap opera with vampires. If you read it, forget everything you thought you knew about the blood stalkers of the night. Those old rules don't apply here. Everything is different! There is action in this book but it is primarily a love story, one of those sweet and perfect love stories.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When You Fall Off the Earth Make Sure You Have A Parachute

Oh where to start? The summer started out so nice and relaxing too. Well, isn't that always the way before reality come crashing down on you?

July 15th, 2006 - The Red King, Minotaur God, and Ralph came up to Connecticut to attend a Renaissance Festival with us. It was much smaller than the one we usually go to in Sterling Forest, NY but we had a lot of fun. Follow up ye olde dork fest with some loud karoke and you've got yourself a winner weekend. Arguments about online games ensued - Yes, Minotaur God. I agree your game is cool but I'm telling you that mine is better! If we wanted reality, to quote K, than we'd go into the park and beat people with bats. We don't, so we save the world. You can't beat us so you might as well join us! We finally found a way to get Ralph off the couch but we have a new problem. How do we get him off the porno? Then, when they finally go to leave, K wiggles her nose and breaks a car! Damn girl, I know you love the Red King but he has to go home sometime. Doesn't he?

July 17th, 2006 - Apparently the answer to my last question is NO. The Red King will NEVER go home again because, according to him, K is trying to kill him with her love. In an attempt to wake the Red King, an accomplishment Lewis Carroll was never able to succeed in, K made the Red King swallow his own teeth. That's right. I said swallow, as in consume or choke down. Now I may have had a hand in this but I am denying it as passionately as I denied biting his forehead 20 years ago. Anyway, after rushing him to the emergency room, K had to call me in as next of kin. Oh that was fun! The Red King had to stay in the hospital as they attempted to remove his dental bridge from where it had lodged in his throat. There are so many more details I could go into but let us leave it as he was released - missing his four front teeth and owing his soul to the hospital. Welcome to the wonderful world of debt little bro!

July 24th, 2006 - Back to the hospital with the Red King. Man K, you really wanna keep him huh? While going into details would be rude, let's just say there were complications from the week before that Burger King couldn't fix. Let's not talk about it.

July 25th, 2006 - Our one year anniversary of bring Holly home to live with us. What a good puppy she has been! It also means my one year anniversary of this blog has come around. One year of words and fur. . .so much fun.

July 29th, 2006 - J purchased a speed boat from my step-brother. He was cranking to get it into the water!

July 30th, 2006 - L, otherwise known as the Catapiller, had her first bridal meeting. It went very well, although parts were intense. I know her, and Bridezilla isn't really her chosen projection as a bride but I fear some people may cause her to fill that role. K wanted to give her a dead horse and a stick to beat it with! L had to repeat herself so many times that maybe the horse wouldn't be such a bad idea. She might get further with it.

August 1st, 2006 - A group of us went into NY city to Radio City Music Hall for An Evening with Harry, Carrie, and Garp. This was an awesome event any true nerd would have enjoyed! Live readings done by Stephen King, John Irving, and J.K. Rowling. These three never do readings and it was amazing. I think my favorite was Stephen King, because as much as that man scares the Hell out of me - He is an entertaining reader, hysterical. J was a little cranky but what you gonna do?

August 2nd, 2006 - J is upset his boat not working. . .Something about a water pump?

August 4th, 2006 - Boat suppose to be ready. See above for why it's not.

August 5th, 2006 - J drives all over Connecticut to get said water pump. Boat repaired and he launches her for a three hour tour. Red King plays Gilligan to J's Skipper while K and I go along for the ride.

August 6th, 2006 - J's brother, sister-in-law, and their young son, (let's call them the Walrus, the Carpenter and an oyster shall we) join J and I on a boat trip. They show us a cove called the Sand Hole located in Port Jeff, NY. It's an inlet people, come on and call it what it is. Fancy names! It's still an inlet!

Summary: Boat $5,000 - Red King's Connecticut Vacation $18,000 - Saving the world (City of Heros) $29.99 for game $15.00 per month - Water pump for afore mentioned boat $300 - An evening of watching people read $ 92.80 per person - Tickets to pretend to be a Merry Man $15.00 per person - Books to keep me occupied $150 - Cost of feeding Red King after Hospital (Pudding, Jello, and Appelsauce. Poor boy!) $130 - Cost to fuel boat's 75 gallon tank $300 - Cost to fuel a car in Connecticut $3.20 per gallon - Cost of trial of World of Warcraft that Minotaur King insisted we try FREE for 10 days $49.99 for game $15.00 per month after that. As you can see by this list I can not afford another MMORPG! - Getting Ralph off our couch PRICELESS.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Read-a-Ton - Week 3

Sorry all but I have been totally obsessed with reading and saving the world. My first week off was very relaxing and a lot of fun. K and I got another friend into saving the world, of course this was unfair of us. This friend is easily addicted.

Week three of the Read-a-ton from Bubbles in my Head: a literature and writing resource. It's time to update my summer reading list. Because of the holiday I was a little late getting last week's list posted. Again, having trouble with the image uploads from blogger. Hmm, not good. Here are last week's books:

1) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - When seventeen-year-old Bella leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, she meets an exquisitely handsome boy at school for whom she feels an overwhelming attraction and who she comes to realize is not wholly human. My boss, the March Hare and every female student I had this year tried to get me to read this. I tried 3 times unsuccessfully to read this. I couldn't get into it, and failed everytime. So I tried once more last week. I don't think this book is for everyone but in the end I really did like it. It's more of a Chick-lit book than I really care for but it is a good story. It's kind of a soap opera with vampires. If you read it, forget everything you thought you knew about the blood stalkers of the night. Those old rules don't apply here. Everything is different! There is action in this book but it is primarily a love story, one of those sweet and perfect love stories.

2) I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - A reprint of the 1948 novel recounting the story of Cassandra Mortmain, a young woman living on the edge of poverty in a crumbling castle with her somewhat eccentric family, whose prospects begin to improve when new neighbors arrive from America. This came highly recommended by the Dormouse and I have to admit she was right. It was a great book. Kind of Jane Austenish. Cassandra falls for her sister's beau but her sister really doesn't love him. Poverty, love, and high jinx - sounds like Austen or Bronte and I wasn't disappointed.

3) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father Mo, a bookbinder, can "read" fictional characters to life when an evil ruler named Capricorn, freed from the novel "Inkheart" years earlier, tries to force Mo to release an immortal monster from the story. I read this several years back when it first came out but I was having trouble with the sequel (see below) and read it again. As before, I loved it but was amazed at how much I missed. The ability to read characters out of novels is a lot of fun and Funke doesn't disappoint. The world she creates is colorful and a joy to escape to. Her translator Anthea Bell does an amazing job. The translation seems flawless. I wish all books could excite me like Inkheart!

4) Inkspell by Cornelia Funke - Now thirteen, Meggie "reads" herself into Inkworld, where she, her family, and the characters in the book face chaos and danger as the original creator of the world frantically tries to redirect the story. I had such a hard time starting this. The first 100 pages or so just seem so slow. I've spoken about this book to a few people, some agree and some do not. Either way I was told to just keep reading. It is worth it. This time we get to travel into the world of Inkheart itself and meet the characters in their own place.

5) Ella enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her. This is a lot of fun if you like fairytales, which you must all realize I do. There was a movie made of this book. It was a cute movie. Book is three times better. Ella is "blessed" by moronic fairy at birth with the "gift" of obedience. Things are fine though until Ella's mother dies and her father remarriage. The stepmother comes with her own two daughters, and her in lies the problem. There are princes, giants, fairies, balls, elves but as with any truly great twisting of classic fairytales - it's all different. Great book and a fun read!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Read-a-Ton - Week 2

Last week of work and than I am FREE until the end of August. The days just don't seem to be moving fast enough.

As I stated last week, I am participating in the Read-a-ton group that is taking place over at Bubbles in my Head: a literature and writing resource. It's been a great excuse to read and so far it's been fun finding out what everyone else is reading. You can pick up some great book ideas this way.

So on to this week's list of last week's reads. (Sorry - No pictures this week. Had trouble uploading them through Blogger) :

1) Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom - A bitter eighty-three-year-old war veteran who believes his life is meaningless dies while trying to save a little girl's life and finds himself in heaven, where five people from his past--some loved ones, some strangers--explain what his years on Earth really meant, and whether or not he succeeded in saving the child. I know this was popular when it was published but I never really got around to reading it. It's been on my "TO READ" pile for a long time. I figured now was as good a time as any and it left me. . .Sad. It's an emotional book. I don't think it should be one of those books you pick up for a good time. This is definitely a thinking book - thought provoking and at times difficult to read.

2) The House of The Scorpion by Nancy Farmer - In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patron, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States. Let's just say I started the week out with a bang as this is another deeply thought provoking book. Great read and it's a multiple award winner as well. Clones have little rights in the world of this novel, then again they aren't suppose to be allowed to grow and think either. This book brings up a number of ethics questions while encasing them in a great sci-fi book.

3)Briar Rose by Jane Yolen - The tale of Sleeping Beauty and the dark tale of the Holocaust twined together in a story of darkness and redemption. Well the hit's just kept on coming! This book is a classic member of the "Fairy Tale Series" - I'll be reviewing a few of the other stories in the series in the upcoming weeks. For anyone who loves fairytales told with a twist, this is the series to read. It's been around for years and had some big named authors pen the tales. Briar Rose doesn't disappoint. Again, an emotional read. Rebecca Berlin has grown up listening to her grandmother's horrific version of Sleeping Beauty. When her grandmother dies, Rebecca uses the "story" to trace her grandmother's life and finds the Holocaust. Wonderful book and a great fantasy.

4) Beauty by Robin McKinley - Kind Beauty grows to love the Beast at whose castle she is compelled to stay and through her love releases him from the spell which had turned him from a handsome prince into an ugly beast. From one twisted fairytale to another, at least I got to end my week with a lighter book. Beauty is more of a straight forward telling of Beauty and the Beast. If you know the fairytale than you know this book. This has to be one of the best retellings I've ever read. McKinley does an amazing job of creating the fantasy world. Beauty and her Beast feel real and you get to know them. Great way to end a week of heavilyy emotional reading!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Read-a-ton - Week 1

So the kids have finished and my work year is quickly coming to an end. This, of course, makes me excited about my own summer reading list. While surfing a few other blogs the other day I can across Bubbles in my Head: a literature and writing resource. I've stopped by the site before and always enjoyed what I read. This time, however, I was blown away by the owner's cool idea. Zoe, the owner over there, has come up with a reading "contest" that I think is just really fun. It's called a Read-a-ton, so I joined up. So about once a week I will be posting about the books I read the previous week. No worries, I still intend to do full reviews as often as possible.

So let's get started:

1) Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde - his 4th, and as of now, last book in his Thursday Next Series. This was a re-read for me. Let's face it. I think it's clear I love this series. I was surprised at how much I missed the first time around. You can find a more detailed review of the series and it's first book here.

Book Description: The resourceful literary detective Thursday Next returns to Swindon from the BookWorld accompanied by her son Friday and none other than the dithering Hamlet. But returning to SpecOps is no snap - as outlaw fictioner Yorrick Kaine plots for absolute power, the return of Swindon's patron saint foretells doom, and, if that isn't bad enough, The Merry Wives of Windsor is becoming entangled with Hamlet. Can Thursday find a Shakespeare clone to stop this hostile takeover? Can she vanquish Kaine and prevent the world from plunging into war? And will she ever find reliable child care?

2) Xenocide by Orson Scott Card - 3rd book in his Ender Series. Sci-fi soap opera, really but a fairly good read. Not as involved as the first two books in the series - this deals with more abstract ideas. You can read a full review of the series first book here.

Book Description:
The war for survival of the planet Lusitania will be fought in the hearts of a child named GloriousBright. On.On Lusitania, Ender found a world where humans and pequininos and the Hive Queen could all live together; where three very different intelligent species could find common ground at last. Or so thought. Lusitaniania also harbors the descolada, a virus that kills all humans it infects, but which the pequininos require in order to become adults. TStarwaysays Congress so fears the effects of the descolada, should it escape from Lusitania, that they have ordered eh destruction of the entire planet, and all who live there. The Fleet is on its way, a second xenocide seeinevitableble

3) The Angels of Resistance by David V. Mammina - I don't know. This was written by one of my brother's best friends and I liked it but. It's a little heavy and very nontraditional for fantasy, which this book is not. It's kind of an odd mix of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. I may have to read it again to understand it better.

Book Description-Join the Resistance- When an unfathomable evil force known as the Demon Plague mysteriously invades Earth, bands of valiant warriors must unite with each other in order to survive. A unique fighting force lead by a noble sage apprentice, Michael Miuriell, fights for their lives to defeat the demons and uncover the truth behind their arrival.

So come on all - start reading because summer is here!

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I LOVE this book. What can I say? Quirky people like quirky books and based on friends' evaluations of me - this book and I are soul mates! This series and all the adventures that abound within the pages left me begging for more. I mean that, literally. Jasper Fforde is a British novelist and the Thursday Next books for a while were available in Britain several months before they were available in the US. The Dormouse is British. I would beg her every Summer to bring the newest book home to me. What is it about these odd and confusing books that had me so enraptured? The humor and action that ran through every page!

The Eyre Affair, the first book in the series, introduces us to our heroine - Thursday Next. The year is 1985 and the setting is England, but this is NOT out England in our 1985. In Thursday's world artistic renaissances turn into bloody revolutions, the Crimean War had been going on for over 130 years, and Shakespeare might as well be a religion. Thursday is a literary detective and the first novel brings her up against the third most wanted criminal, Acheron Hades. Fictional characters are going missing and it's Acheron who is kidnapping them out of their original manuscripts. Thursday must catch a mad man who can look like anyone and can rip characters out of their books. This twisted, funny, and sometimes unnerving adventure will take Thursday into the very pages of the novels' themselves.

Fun, twisted, and different in a really good way, these books should appeal to anyone who's ever liked Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, or Christopher Moore.

Book Description:
In Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Bronte's novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde's ingenious fantasy-enhanced by a Web site that re-creates the world of the novel--unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix.

Monday, June 12, 2006


So on Friday evening, Tiny moved into the middle school. It had been raining for days and Tiny was so cold and wet. The middle school was warm and dry. He liked it very much. Tiny spent the weekend exploring his new home. It was huge, and there was plenty to see. He explored the metal lockers that were left opened and found food! He explored the classrooms and the recycling bins, more food. Tiny was in heaven. By Sunday evening, Tiny located the library and his joy knew no bounds. All the books were a haven of rare treats - the paper, ink, and glue! Tiny could read as he chewed in this fun filled open space, so much better than the gym with it's slick wooden floors. Monday found tiny scurrying around his new home looking for something light for breakfast. Was the history section to heavy a snack? He was just pondering the nutritional value between geography and poetry when he sensed them. He felt their heavy footsteps long before he heard them, but he felt fear strike. He couldn't move. What would he do? This was his home and he should defend it, but they were heavy and their voices boomed. They had just walked into his library when his little paws were able to move. He ran through the stacks, darting through biography and diving under fiction. He stayed there as the light came on. After a little while he thought it might be safe but a small red headed woman and three tall children came and found him. Tiny darted out and around them running for the music section. Blocked. There was only one chance and he took it. He turned and ran as fast as he could for the circulation desk. It was then that he realized his mistake. Behind his safe and cozy wooden desk sat the most hideous creature. She sat on a chair with her feet perched under her. Her eyes were shut tight and her claw like hand raked at her ears. The red headed woman called something out to the sitting creature and it was then that Tiny knew true fear. The sitting creature bolted up and leapt off the chair. She flew up and landed hard just a few inches from Tiny's small body, the whole time a wailing shriek ripping from the creature's throat. Tiny didn't wait for the creature turn on him, he scurried under the small hole in the desk and took off for the reference section. The piercing cries of the creature followed him as he moved behind the dictionaries. He curled his small body up and trembled in a corner of the room. The creature was still out there. He could sense her. She would kill him and devour his little body. Tiny began to cry. Oh horrible ending. It was like that story he had read Sunday about the children and the house of treats! He should have stayed in the woods. It was damp, cold, and muddy but it wasn't this terrible place. The fields had owls and hawks but they were preferable to this land of giants and demons. Tiny trembled so hard he didn't realize that a particularly tall giant was leaning over him. The small red headed one was there as well. He thought this was the end. Oh, be merciful and let the end be quick! The giant among giants pushed him into some type of plastic container, the kind he had seen in the lunch room. Oh, monsters, they would eat him. No, the took Tiny away from the middle school. They carried Tiny out into the woods and let him go. He was alive but banished from the middle school. Tiny ran the first chance he got, away from the school and it's monsters. He had to find the others. They had to decide what to do. Should they strike back in force or run away further. They would need to have a council. They would have to plan to deal with the invaders.

I walked in the library this morning to find we had a mouse in the library. Was he trying to brush up on his history or look into higher education? I do not know the answer to this and I don't really care. Our mouse was very small and dark brown. He was more scared of me than I was of him. I don't really care about this either. Mickey and Minnie not withstanding, there is no love between mice and me. I freak out so completely that all rational thought is gone. I know I must have given the poor mouse a heart attack as I leapt from the chair when the Mad Hatter called out to me. She was warning me that he was running my way. I could not deal with that thought and so I became that shrieking insane creature, leaping and running into the computer lab. The kids were very amused. The Mad Hatter and the Spanish teacher were the heroes. They took the mouse outside and let him go, humanely caring that he be safe. If it were up to me the mouse would have been supper for the school snake, Maize.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Open Letter to Traffic Junkies.

Dear Fellow Prisoners,

People are insane! This is the only logical conclusion I can come up with. Don't worry. I know that I am just as insane as the rest of the population. I must be, because I choose to join these rejects of the DMV in their accordion dance of travel. That is if we can call what we do in traffic, travel. We can't. Not really.

We snake along the highway at speeds any three year old on a tri-cycle could exceed. We do this every day. We do this all over the country and the world. We spend most of our lives in these steel mobile prisons trying to get from point A to point B. Then, of course, we do it all over again returning to B. Okay, sometimes there might be a C or D involved but these are irrelevant. If you happen to be heading to C or D, please stay the hell off the road when I'm trying to get to A or B. I mean really, what else do you have to do with your life if you are going to C or D during rush hour? Your life is obviously more flexible than mine if you can go to C at that hour of the morning - so stay home!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Oh, right. Money. We have to get to work in order to earn money so we can live. Does anyone else feel scammed? Right now gas prices are so high. I feel that I'm battling my way to work simply to earn money to pay gas prices.

It's all for nothing. It's all so I can creep along the black ribbon of highway. Why did I have to pass a driving test as a teen? It's not like I'm really driving. I'm simply inching my car behind another car which is behind another car, and so on. It's like some sort of perverse parade! We should all put on our clown costumes before climbing in behind the wheel.

Some days the highest speed I hit is traveling down my own driveway! You may have a Hemi in your hood but it's wasted at 5 miles an hour. Break. Gas. Break. Sit. Gas. Break. Sit. Gas? No, sit. Oh gods, kill me now!

Once, growing up on Long Island, I saw a bumper sticker that read, "Pray for me. I drive 495." I'll pray for all of you, if you'll pray for me. It's got to be one for all and all for one because we are a community of drivers. This "road rage" crap has got to stop. I know it's hard. I am just as guilty of it. We need to stop it though. The guy in front of you can't go anywhere either. We are all trapped in a long line of vehicles. We are all hot. We are all tired. We are all late. I'm not advocating the erasing of our anger though. See, I know who we need to aim it at. The assholes.

You know who you are and I know who you are too. We all know who you are:

  • Truckers in the fast lane - In my area, you don't belong there. Get out.
  • Slow Drivers - those who push the capabilities of there car by speeding along at an unimaginable 40 miles an hour. YOU DO NOT BELONG IN THE LEFT HAND LANE. Go slow down someone else's commute. If your that relaxed than you probably could have stayed home.
  • Accident Watchers - You want to see a dead body go take a field trip to the morgue. Really people are gruesome. Leave those involved in an accident some dignity. Keep your eyes on the road so you don't cause another accident and make things worse. Your like the cockroaches of the driving community.
  • Junk Cars - Fix your cars with more than duct tape next time, buddy. Your breaking down in the center lane does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
  • Emergency Lane Racers - the people who drive down the emergency lane because they are too good to wait in line with the rest of us. Where are the police when they do this? I pray sometimes that they will catch them. I've yet to see it.
  • Cutters - those drivers that insist on forcing there way into my lane, never mind that they almost killed me by cutting me off with 3 inches to spare. Almost only counts in horseshoes and grenades, right? These people are bullies. They should be pulled over and made to walk. Torture is too good for them!
  • Road Work - I do not blame the construction crew for doing their jobs but they're always late finishing when I need to be somewhere. The construction never seems to stop. Do they ever really finish any project? Is it all a weird government experiment to help create traffic and see if we will all snap?

Of course, I'm not seeing the whole picture. These people that cut me off and drive where they don't belong, these are holy people. We can never possibly hope to understand is their motives for breaking these laws. These people are so much more important than us mere mortals. They must have the cure for Cancer and are rushing their way to tell the world. Maybe Armageddon is upon us and they are the only ones who can save us. Popeye needs his spinach and they are his only suppliers? No? Then get the hell back on the road and act like a civil human being. That's the problem though, we are not civil humans when we get into our vehicles. It become a competition. First one there is the winner. People, we are not going to the same destinations. You will always beat me to the Wal-mart because I am not going there!

Everyday I get into my car and put myself through this modern ritual. I'm willing to bet many of you do as well. Why don't we take the train with it's own list of problems? Car pooling or going it solo, many of us are traffic addicts. We can't help getting behind the wheel. I always say I am going to leave a little earlier and help myself avoid the whole fiasco. I never seem to make it. I will spend most of my life in traffic, and it will only get worse. Pleasant thought. Perhaps it's time to purchase a bicycle.

See you all on the road tomorrow. I'll be the one waving a finger!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Heat Stroke?

Three weeks ago the Dormouse, spent hours covering each keyboard in the lab with an expensive cover. Condoms for keyboards, the ultimate in protective gear! Within a few days we began to realize that the students were ripping of the covers and tossing them aside. When we confronted the students, we received an interesting answer. "I didn't like it," a student said, "so I took it off." No remorse. No concern. Not even an expression of guilt upon being caught in the act. No, we got a bored expression and the attitude that the destruction was our faulty for annoying the kids with the covers in the first place. Now, without the covers, children have started turning keys up side down and stealing keys from neighboring keyboards. Why do they do this? Why to spell out such side splitting phrases as "TAKE IT UP THE REAR" or "MY MONKEYS LIKE TESTIES". Wow, such elegance and wisdom from our future! Tomorrow's world leaders can use keyboard keys to make out pornographic haikus. I'm just delighted at how bright our future appears from this side of the calendar! Attitudes are flying, learning is being scorned, and teens are sucking face behind the library stacks. Many of the teachers have already flown to Bermuda, at least in their own imaginations. Hell, the kids may be lying on the beach next to them for all I know.

There are many ideas as to why the kids behave this way:
  • "It's spring and children go a little nutty in the spring."

Ok. So it's a hormone thing? Sex, drugs, vandalism, and synapses firing away.

  • "It's the hot weather."

Ah, a form of heat stroke? Global warming getting revenge on us by regressing our youth into dung flinging orangutangs.

  • "There are only 14 days of school left."

As plausible as the other ideas are I really think it comes down to this one. School is almost over and everyone has stopped caring. 14 days of school left, with the last two not really counting anyway because of graduation and tests. It doesn't matter really. The kids will be done in 14 days and they are excited. They are also rude and prone to practical joking in there joyousness. Growing up isn't easy when your an adult, it's harder when your a kid. We put so much pressure on them to get into good colleges and get rewarding careers, but they are only kids. So maybe their not so insane for acting out. Maybe that's the real reason or maybe there isn't one - psychological, biological, or otherwise. I have no answer. I have no winner. I can not collect my $200. Do not pass go, but please get the hell out of the way as the bell is about to ring!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel is a wonderful fantasy, a little dark but well written with a fairly unique story. The title character is the daughter of a powerful charter mage known only as Abhorsen. He is a type of guardian between the realms of life and death. Sabriel has spent most of her life attending a boarding school, outside of the walls that separate the modern lands from the Old Kingdom. She has been sheltered and kept safe from the magic and the creatures that roam in the lands of her birth. Now, however, something is terribly wrong. Dark creatures are crossing over the wall, and Sabriel's father has gone missing.

It was my very first year in the library when I discovered Sabriel by Garth Nix. The dark hardcover book was nestled into it's shelf waiting for our winter inventory. I picked it up and asked the March Hare and the Mad Hatter if they had ever read it. Neither had, but they had heard good things about it. You see, there are so many books within a library's walls that it is near impossible for a librarian to read them all. Sometimes we must relay on other peoples' opinions. That was why the March Hare suggested I read it, at least someone in the library would have knowledge of the book.

So I read it over Christmas break, over the course of a 16 our love affair. I barely stopped to eat a sandwich. I was engrossed in every line. I stayed up all night not wanting to put it down, but not wanting it to end either. I cried. It had been so long since a book had this much of an impact on me. When I closed the cover it was like saying farewell to a good friend. As soon as school started up again, I started to read the sequel. When I was transferred to the elementary school a few months later, the Tea Party Trio purchased the entire trilogy for me as a present. This book and it's series had changed my life. I began to read other children's authors. I've added many YA novels to my home library since. I try and read all those the kids recommend to me. Sabriel is popular enough. Many of the kids try and like it. For me though, Sabriel is a passion because it started it all.

Book Description
Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life'and comes face to face with her own hidden destiny. . . Garth Nix's first young adult novel, Sabriel was recently nominated for the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Science Fiction in Australia.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What Party DId I Attend?

So our big family Memorial day blast was a great success. So much in fact that blogs throughout the Tri-State area have been composed in it's praise. K went on and on about the wild rave that ran rampant through my suburban backyard. Wow! L wrote about the friendly neighborhood picnic, with good friends and good drinks. Both sound like great parties. Now, I don't know what parties they attended but I don't remember the events they describe. That's not true. I remember karaoke. I was there for that. The couches were alive with the sound of music, off key and slightly abused music but it was still music. I remember the food - J did an excellent job on that. I remember staying up until 5 in the morning. Yet, the party I remember consisted of family and friends having a good time. I remember playing with our puppy and our 5 year old nephew. I had not a drop to drink. I did not know there was a separate party going on behind the scenes. I did not know there was puke in the bushes! What party did I attend?

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo

Love and forgiveness. Dark and light. Opposites coming together for balance. These seem to be the thoughts at the center of The Tale of Despereaux : Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate Dicamillo. I read Despereaux to a third grade class when it was chosen as the Newbery Medal Book of 2004. Most of the children seemed enchanted by it. I wasn't completely sure why. It was a charming story but nothing about it made me overly excited. I originally chalked it up to age. Perhaps I was too old to grasp the true charm of Despereaux.

A few weeks ago I listened to the audio version as read by Graeme Malcolm. I had heard mixed reviews concerning the audio version. I LOVED it and I think I now understand my students reaction. While Despereaux is a good story, there is something it gains in the reading of it aloud. It is a book to be shared! Despereaux is one of those books that should be read aloud and explored by parent and child together. Suddenly, upon this realization, Despereaux became a very different book in my eyes.

Despereaux is a type of fairytale and contains three separate but intertwining story lines:

  • The story of Despereaux, a small mouse born with his ears too big and his eyes open. He breaks all mouse laws, loves all things beautiful, and is condemned for speaking to a human princess.
  • The story of Roscuro, a rat who delights in the torment of others. He is born into the dark world of the dungeon but longs for the light of the upper world and the wonderful soup contained within that world.
  • The story of Miggery Sow, a farm girl who longs to be a princess. She is sold by her father, abused by the man who purchases her, and used as a pawn by Roscuro.

My only area of dislike was the story of Miggery. There is no escape for poor Miggery in the tale of her world. She is abused. She is neglected. She receives no love. Later she is depicted as slow-witted, which seems to be how she is duped by Roscuro. I don't think that is true though. I think Miggery falls for the rat's plans because he shows her a kind of twisted kindness and seems to respect her. Miggery gets very little respect or kindness anywhere else in her world. Now, the abuse and reactions given to Miggery by other characters is probably very appropriate to the Middle Ages. Miggery's plight does reflect the truth that not all lives are happy. It's all true. It's all real. It's all appropriate to the story. Still, it bothered me.

All in all, Desperaux is a wonderful story. The story was charming, challenging, and fun to read - better if shared aloud.

Card catalog description:
The adventures of Desperaux Tilling, a small mouse of unusual talents, the princess that he loves, the servant girl who longs to be a princess, and a devious rat determined to bring them all to ruin.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Two "Birds" Killing Me With One Stone

A nest of birds have taken up residence outside my bedroom window in the last few weeks. They sing beautiful arias to welcome the sun each and every morning, at 4 am. They do not cease for weekends. They do not notice that I have to be up by 5 am to get ready and drive 33 miles to work in a school of 700 preteen students. They seem to have very little understanding of what my snooze button means to me. Fifteen more minutes, please. Just fifteen more minutes of sleep might help me stay sane!

J loves me! I rejoice in this fact, as I to love him. J likes his nightly television - CSI, ER, Law & Order, Crossing Jordan. He has to watch. WE have to watch, staying up late almost every night to do so. Never mind that we are now in reruns. Never mind that CSI and Law & Order are on ALL the time. Seriously, do you realize that at any given moment of any day, one of these shows is on somewhere in the world? Right now, while you read this, one of them is starting. Some crime must be investigated and J is determined to solve them! The survival of the world rests on his shoulders. Civilizations will end if he doesn't see just who's fingerprint was on the gun recovered from the aging model's mansion. Doesn't he realize yet that it's always the same? Miss Scarlet committed the murder. In the study. With the revolver. However, this late night obsession with crime dramas gets worse. When they are over, J wants to spend time together in all those ways married people are suppose to spend time together - Talking about the truck's oil change. Asking me to do laundry. Wanting to know why I spent so much at the bookstore last week. You know, all that adult stuff. What was that about handcuffs? Never mind. I am so tired. 4 hours of sleep don't cut it for me anymore.

It has all started to blur together. Day. Night. Birds' gentle morning greetings. Husband's sweet whispered good-nights. Get into bed. Get out of bed. Alarm clock buzzing relentlessly. Hungry birds chirping and demanding my soul for breakfast. Husband needing just a trace of human contact. Nature and nurture playing havoc with my sleep cycle. Love and life demanding my sanity. It all screams at me to enjoy my life and sleep when I'm dead.

All I can think at 4 am is this:
  • Me.
  • The candlestick.
  • In the Bedroom.
  • Birds or J.
  • Fifteen more minutes of sleep.

There's a CSI episode for you!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I think in many areas of the book world many genres get a bum rap. Romances are trashy, Fantasy is childish, Science Fiction is for teen boys, and mysteries are for bored accountants who want more excitement. As a librarian I think I've heard almost all the stereotypes there are about books, I think I have also heard all the librarian stereotypes. Yes, some of the stereotypes may appear to be true but they are generalizations. Remember, there are four of us who work in our school's library and I think I am the only one who EVER sported a real bun. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is one of those books that make me glad that I have never paid attention to the stereotypes. It's also one of those books that make me love the genre of Science Fiction.

I've heard it referred to as a cult classic, and as it's now been around for over 20 I guess I can see why some call it that. I can't say if it is or it isn't. Lots of great books seem to get this label when they become wide read. I should rephrase that statement, lots of great genre books seem to get that label when they get a wide readership. You hardly ever hear about a "mainstream" or "literary" book getting a cult following, but genre fiction seems to be full of them. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Tanith Lee, and so many other authors of different genres get lumped into this category. Wouldn't it be better to say their books are just fantastic reads? Ah well, off my soap box.

Ender's Game is another one of those books people seem to either love or hate. Taking place in a war torn future for Earth, Ender is a child genius. He is Earth's last chance in an upcoming future battle to save the human race from total extinction. The book deals with guilt, family, politics, friendship, loss of innocence, and so much more to it than that. It is a coming of age novel. It is an action book. It is a science fiction mantra. It is NOT for everyone, but perhaps everyone should at least try it. Card's writing is not overly detailed, but for me that's a plus. I had difficulty with another good book, Eragon by Christopher Paolini, because I felt overwhelmed by description.

Remember what I said about some stereotypes appearing true? Well Ender's Game is labeled as Science Fiction. I work in a middle school library. Ender's Game is very high on the "I Loved this book" list with many teen boys. So that stereotype fits this book, teen boys do read Ender's Game. However, so do our girl students and teachers of both sexes. Hmm. The reviews are mixed among all the readers. Some like it and some do not. Just like all the "literary" books on our shelves. This brings me back to a point I've made a few times in my reviews. You never really know what a reader will truly love. Book publishers can guess by what sells best. I cringe at this because I believe it leads to formula fiction, some good and some bad. Librarians can guess based on what circulates in a library and by what a reader has enjoyed previously, but still you can't always win. Who hasn't had a friend declare the virtues of a book, only to read it and think their friend is crazy? All I can do is tell you how great this book it. The rest is up to you. Try it. If you don't, you may be missing one of the greatest books I have ever read. If you do read it and hate it, then you can call me nuts. Go ahead, I don't mind if you think I am.

Book Description:
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut -young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Not Even Bread and Water!

HELP! Call in the national guard, the marines, the FBI, Spiderman! Just send someone, for I have been taken prisoner by the care and love of the Dormouse, March Hare, and the Mad Hatter! I was chained to a circulation desk, surrounded by books and students by the best intentions of my coworkers. Even prisoners get at least 10 minutes in the yard! I should explain. It was partially my own fault.
Sometime over the last day or so, I sprained my ankle pretty bad. It's too the point where even elevating my foot hurts. Last night I got little sleep because of the pain. It hurts to walk. It hurts to sit. I can't get comfortable. Obviously I went to work, or there would be little mention of the tea party trio in this post. What can I say? I had my reasons for going.

  • Bookfair started yesterday and I knew we would be busy in the library. All hands on deck! All able bodies to your battle stations, so to speak. Books on sale, mobs of students with money, and the big 8th grade project going on at the same time - chaos can ensue. The days after bookfair always look like the ruins of a glorious battle. The days of bookfair are the battle! I needed and wanted to be there.
  • Bookfair! Yes, I am listing it again. By now most of you realize I am an admitted book fiend. Weekend was coming. I needed books. No, I could not have found something to read in my 800 volume home library. If you have any doubt in that statement than you either do not read this blog enough or you are not a book fiend.
  • Staying home I would have been with Holly. Yes I love my puppy, but she is only content to sleep all day and control her bathroom needs when we are at work. If Holly has any idea that someone is home with her than she suddenly get the energy level of a 2 year old doped up on 24 pots of black coffee. If she hears someone sniff on the other side of the house, Holly's bladder of steel becomes the size of a pea. I couldn't see ignoring her. Staying home would not have been restful.
  • My sick time is limited, too many migraines and not enough aspirin.
  • I am stubborn and can't stand being bored. I am after all a princess.

So, I went to work and had to tell my bosses and coworkers why it was that I was limping. I was ordered to plant my butt in my chair and elevate my foot. I wanted to retrieve some of our equipment from a concert last night. I thought if I had the use of two students that I could retrieve it myself. I thought wrong! The Mad Hatter took the students and went to get it herself. I wanted to go down to the office. Nope. "SIT DOWN!", said the March Hare. Gods, I wonder if this is how Holly feels when we command her to sit? I usually go out and get us all lunch. The Dormouse insisted this would not happen today. Part of the problem was that all three of them had a meeting, which left me alone for an hour or so. With all the confusion and chaos, lunch really never happened. Bathroom breaks never really happened. It got to the point where all I wanted was a cigarette and even that never happened. As for my partners in books and their drill sergeant concerns? They were so good at it that after a few hours even the students started commanding me to get into my chair and stay there.

I spoke to J on the phone, he told me to go get construction paper and follow his directions. I did. The tea party trio came back from their meeting to find me still sitting behind the circulation desk. I sat where they had left me, only now I was behind a set of construction paper bars and a sign that said, "Don't feed the prisoners!"

I may sometimes be overwhelmed and wish I hadn't transferred back to the middle school. I may sometimes be concerned about the changes that are coming closer every day. I often reflect on how I am not paid enough for all the work I do. I do worry. I do get angry. Yet there are days, like today, where I am reminded why I enjoy working with these people. These are the days I remember that I always voluntarily join in the insane tea parties. I love these three characters. They are my family bonded by books and madness. They are my friends.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Memories of a Ghost Hunter

"Begin at the beginning,"
the King said, very gravely,
"and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
-Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
It is the silliest thing in the world that I find myself troubled by today. With all that is going on in my life, and all the projects I try to juggle, I find myself mourning the loss of a yahoo group.
In 2001, my best friend, L started a yahoo group dedicated to all things ghostly and paranormal. The time was ripe for it. The other groups dedicated to our area of the US were not filling the needs L had. I had joined these other groups with her, only to agree about there lack of appropriateness for us. She wanted an open forum, a type of salon in which ideas could be exchanged and taught with others. She told me her idea and then asked me to start it with her. It was a natural progression for us, we'd been doing it for years in the collecting of paranormal stories associated with our college. We had almost always been partners in our friendship, everything from writing to alluded crime. Why not ghost hunting?
We ran the group for almost 5 years, with almost 250 members - about 50 of which were steadily active. During that time we ran a website, a online newsletter, and bi-yearly meetings. We made a small name for our group, were interviewed for news articles, quoted in a few books, I had an article published in one book, and L was interviewed on a radio talk show. Through it all we were partners and I loved most moments of it. I think L did too. We had our 15 minutes of fame, and it lasted 4 1/2 years.
What no one tells you with fame, any type of fame - local or global, is how hard it gets to keep people happy. What had been a project we loved, got to be a cross to carry. Group members started fights with each other and screamed that we didn't have enough meetings or hunts. Never mind the fact that this was an online group, and they were lucky we even bothered to have the in person meetings we did, hardly any other group did. They didn't care about the events we did plan and never came to chats or programs. They screamed and made nasty comments at L, each other, or myself. Worse part about it were that at least the screamers made noise. So many other members were like sheep, only mumbling in agreement or quiet all together.
A year ago, L brought it all to an end. She quit the group she had started and turned it over to another member, one many of the screamers seemed to support. We had talked about her leaving. I, myself, was not too happy with the way the group had gone and had thought to leave. L was done, she'd had enough abuse and childish behavior. I don't blame her, but I was a bit hurt. I felt betrayed that she "gave" all our work to someone else. Now I know she didn't really give them anything but at the time I was hurt. I did stay on to help the transition but any use I had was taken away from me one after another. No need for chats. No need for me to moderate anything. So I stayed on silently, just to watch.
Today, the owner L had chosen, locked down the site. She removed me as moderator and set the controls so no one could access the posts - it's completely shut down. She did send me a little email explaining why. She said she hoped the close wouldn't upset me. Why should it? I haven't been allowed to do much in a year.
However, thinking about it, I am a little hurt. The founded date on the group is September. 2, 2001. Our start date, not hers and her group. It doesn't belong to the group that abused L and drove me to quiet watching. They started April 2005. They took it all, they shouldn't get our start date. They shouldn't be allowed to claim they existed for 6 years, only one. They shouldn't have sole access to L and my earlier posts - 5 years of work and discussions.
It doesn't seem fair, and I am hurt. I'm sad. I am, at last, forced to let go of a project I loved. I wish L had deleted the whole damn thing instead of be honorable and passing it on.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

The fabulous powers of the Red King were passed down through his descendants, after turning up quite unexpectedly, in someone who had no idea where they came from. This is what happened to Charlie Bone, and to some of the children he met behind the grim, gray walls of Bloor's Academy. Charlie Bone has discovered an unusual gift-he can hear people in photographs talking! His scheming aunts decide to send him to Bloor Academy, a school for genius's where he uses his gifts to discover the truth despite all the dangers that lie ahead.

Let me start off by say, yes - I did read Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo. It came highly recommended by several students and one of the library's Media Specialists, the March Hare to be precise. I enjoyed it. The book is quick and interesting. As the first book in the Children of the Red King series, it sets the pace nicely for the following books. There are about 4 or 5 of them now in total. There will inevitably be comparisons between Charlie Bone and the Harry Potter Series, so let's get that out of the way.

I relied heavily on Charlie Bone when I worked in an elementary school library. The kids loved it, and while I may have simply thought it a nice book, it never mattered to them. I had 2nd graders who wanted so badly to read Harry Potter, their older siblings and the movies only made this desire deepen. However, the Harry Potter books can be very advanced reading and many of my younger students were upset that they couldn't read the books on their own. Behold the beauty of the Charlie Bone books. They are NOT dumb down versions of the Harry Potter books. While there is similarities in a magical boy going off to a school for "gifted"children both series have their own stories.

I highly recommend Charlie Bone for readers between 6-11 years of age. It may also interest some older readers who can't wait for another Harry Potter book!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dead Muses?

"What is the use of a book,'" thought Alice,
"without pictures or conversation?"
-Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Ever since the loss of my database of writing, I have felt like a ship set adrift without sails. I'm not sure if it's because so much was lost and I am hesitant to try to rebuild, or if I have truly come to the end of my creativity. Now I am sure part of this lack of interest rests solely on the boredom I have been feeling, "ennui" according to my best friend L.
In her own blog entry, L reminds me that there is always the seed of creativity if we bother to just put pen to paper. This may be true for some writers, it may be true of all writers. At this time I can not say for sure. I hearken back to the conversation I had with my brother JT, there are only so many ideas. I also look back on my own displeasure with the new books soon to be published. I am suffering from a set disinterest as both a writer and a reader. It may seem as if I'm just whining but the truth is I have never felt this large a disinterest in all my years.
Books have always been important to me, which does not surprise many considering my choice of careers as a middle school librarian. Books were my long time friends, my secret worlds of escape, and my greatest addiction. Writing gave me inky children of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Within the realm of my own imagination, whole worlds blossomed and it was people with the many characters that whispered their lives to me while I dreamed. Now the people have grown quiet and the worlds are dark.
What do we do as writers when the inspiration leaves us? Where do we find it again? It may be that my own disinterest and fears may be what is killing off my muse, then again it seems to be rampant in the writers I've spoken to. L seems to have found her slippery muse, and I wish her all the luck in the world. Her talent in writing is obvious. Her creativity is fluid. Yet, she seems to suffer from the blocks and boredom that strike so many writers - just as it has stuck down myself. She may overcome it. Then again, it may never return to torment her. This is always something that amazes me. Yes, the books coming out may hold little interest for me but these books authors' have finished their works. They have overcome what seems to affect so many writers. How do they do it? How do you hold on to the story?

Monday, May 15, 2006

For Edgar by Sheldon Rusch

The crime scene was a work of art: a blanched human skull impaled to a tree in a public park and trailing a brightly colored ribbon. The brilliant twist was the delicate scarab, hand-painted a lustrous gold. State Police Special Agent Elizabeth Taylor Hewitt recognizes the grim tableau - only the first in a series of slayings that pay tribute to the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, committed by a madman known only as The Raven." Trying to anticipate the murderer's next move, Hewitt seeks the help of Professor Scott Gregory, her former lover and an expert on Poe. Struggling to understand the ghoulish motives of the killer - by delving into the twisted imagination of literature's macabre genius - they are quickly caught up in a race against time, as Hewitt herself becomes a pawn in The Raven's triumphant endgame.

Hmmm. What to say about For Edgar by Sheldon Rusch? I liked it. It kept my attention. I will probably never read it again. For Edgar is well written and deals with an interesting plot - a killer is using Edgar Allan Poe's works as the muse for multiple murders. The main character is Special Agent Elizabeth Taylor Hewitt and, besides her fictional parents rather absurd baby name choices, is well rounded and mostly fleshed out. The story is a bit formulaic, there's really nothing new here for dedicated mystery fans, but the casual mystery reader or Poe buff should find a good weekend read within the 320 pages.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Heart to Heart with the Red King.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass

So my younger brother, JT, is visiting again. This evening we conducted another one of our deep conversations. I was lamenting the lost storylines and missing plots that I have been suffering through. JT was as always. . .Well, um, helpful. . .At the very least he was philosophical.

He said that maybe I can't write anything and am plagued by boredom because there are no more stories to write. He said maybe they were all used up. Then he started saying what if we were all just characters in someone else's unfinished novel. This would explain our boredom, after all - if the writer just stopped and left us halfway through the action, what would we be left to do? We wouldn't know what to do because the writer has to tell us what to do. We would be left to some tortuous form of life where we would only be able to perform the last action we were written to do. Not such a bad analogy for most of our daily lives, the tedium and repetitive cycles of modern times. Not even a bad analogy for God, for a writer is sort of a god to the small fictional world they created.

Of course all this enlightened thinking drove me to almost roll my eyes but some of what he said may have a valid point. There do seem to be only so many plots and I, myself, have complained about the lack of exciting new books coming out in the next few months.

So what do other writers think? Are we running out of fresh ideas? Where do we get our ideas from, if they are all gone?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire seems to be one of those books readers either love or hate. Why? I think it's do to a mixture of life experiences, expectations, and beliefs. Does this review begin to sound like a psychology article? I'll explain.

Wicked is a book full of heavy morals, political views, religion, and the role of destiny. There is also highly descriptive events that deal with sex and sexual perversions, making this a rough book for children as a group - although it may be alright for some teens. I bring this up because of the musical. (Which I love and will be talking about in greater detail in a future post.)

For those who have been living under a rock, Wicked was made into a highly successful musical. The plot with in the book, which consists of many stories and topics, was simplified for the musical. It had to be, of course, it's a three hour musical based on a 450 page book! The musical has some of the political and moralistic flow that oozes out of most of the book, but it is truly the story of the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba, the witches of North and West respectively. The best way to put it is this: Wicked the Musical is the Disney version of Wicked the book. Just as the Grimms' fairytales were dark and disturbing, so is Wicked the book. I've seen lots of reviews for this book, some fawning and some damning. It seems that many of those unhappy with the book where disappointed because they expected something more like the musical.

Beyond the musical's influence, some people are put off by the way Maguire writes. He does not tie up all the loose ends and he doesn't finish his endings with finality. Wicked has some ends tied very nicely - if you can wade through the difficult prose and strange plot you will find out the origins of the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, the ruby slippers, and the winged monkeys. Other story lines just float out into the ether without resolution. It is not a book for enjoyment alone, there are deeply disturbing questions raised and imagery that is hard to push aside. I read this back in 1995, when it was first published. I read it again every few years. I love this book and yet I really don't know why. It doesn't make me happy. I know how the book ends, we all do. There is only one way for it to end, Elphaba has to die.

Book Description:
Years before Dorothy and her dog crash-land, another little girl makes her presence known in Oz. This girl, Elphaba, is born with emerald-green skin -- no easy burden in a land as mean and poor as Oz, where superstition and magic are not strong enough to explain or to overcome the natural disasters of flood and famine. But Elphaba is smart, and by the time she enters the university in Shiz, she becomes a member of a charmed circle of Oz' most promising young citizens.

Elphaba's Oz is no utopia. The Wizard's secret police are everywhere. Animals -- those creatures with voices, souls and minds -- are threatened with exile. Young Elphaba, green and wild and misunderstood, is determined to protect the Animals -- even it means combating the mysterious Wizard, even if it means risking her single chance at romance. Even wiser in guilt and sorrow, she can find herself grateful when the world declares her a witch. And she can even make herself glad for that young girl from Kansas.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Depression or Saving the World?

Seemly, at least to the online community, I fell off the face of the earth. My days, have been swallowed up by work, puppy, online gaming, and a type of bored depression that seems to linger every spring. So it's to the point where I am unsure of the exact reason for my blase feelings. So I thought I should quickly write up an excuse and see if it flys.

  • Work: Stress and Anxiety seem to be permanent fixtures in our library. People laugh at this idea thinking a school library should be stress-free. This is SO not so, especially on a middle school level. Pre-teens, hormones, budgets, books, and teachers make for an interesting atmosphere.
  • Puppy: As good as she is, the warmer weather and longer hours of daylight lead to one hyper puppy. Her 1st birthday arrived and the boyfriend has been out in the park more. Holly is dying for attention and the great outdoors.
  • Online Gaming: The roommate, K, and I have been playing online with the game City of Heroes - a MMORPG that allows you to create a super hero and save the fictional world. We have been addicted to it and have spent every spare moment playing it, both together and alone.
  • Depression: Every spring I am crushed under feelings of anxiety, anger, boredom, and sadness. I can never seem to shake these feelings. Every year seems to be the same.

So these are my excuses and I'm sticking to them! We will see if one of these pan out as a sole reason for my lack of interest in my usual outlets. Books, scrapbooking, movies, all games besides those mentioned above, and blogging - these things hold no allure for me.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 3/30/06

The husband went away for work. The roommate has surpassed me in saving the world, a whole level! My mother, the Queen of Hearts, arrived for visit with her little entourage named Beanie. Holly couldn't be more pleased with this four legged aunt. The March Hare, Mad Hatter, and Dormouse moved the tea party to a restaurant to celebrate the birthdays and the unbirthdays - the alcohol flowed like rivers and the laughter rose with the moon. The library is strangely quiet as Egypt comes to a close.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 3/24/06

Saw a musical and turned a year older. The insanity continues.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Update on The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

I normally reply to comments I receive via comment back. However, this time I choose to reply back through a post because I think most of my readers would appreciate the information. After my last book review, The Last Unicorn, I got a very nice comment from Connor Cochran, Business Manager for Peter S. Beagle.

Here was the comment:

connorfc said...

Dear Fable:

I'm glad you love THE LAST UNICORN, and I agree that it is a classic.

Given your comments about sequels, though, I hope you can forgive Peter for finally writing a sequel/coda story, "Two Hearts," and starting work on a whole sequel novel (as yet untitled). He's only doing it because after 37 years he found a tale in his head and heart he really wanted to share, I promise! For more information, just Google "Two Hearts" and "Peter S. Beagle."
-- Connor Cochran
Business Manager for Peter S. Beagle

I am thrilled to know that there is a sequel in the works. Contrary to how it may have come out - I do NOT dislike sequels. As of late, though, that is all there appears to be excited about within the publishing world. As readers, we must wade through much hype and junk to find the jewels of great literature. This is disappointing. So much of what is on the publishing horizon falls into the earlier category of junk. Sequels add to this. The trends that I have witnessed of late is this - if a book sold well then it must have sequel, or be part of a trilogy or even a series. There is no reason to stretch a good book into an average series. I hope Mr. Beagle proves me wrong. He is a talented writer, whose prose I've always appreciated. This is one work I would LOVE an advanced copy of, instead of all the junk I've had to wade through in the library recently. We will have to be patient. The book comes out in July, according to's website. Book is called The Line Between and is a story collection. I look forward to reviewing it come this summer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle



The unicorn had lived since before memory in a forest where death could touch nothing. Maidens who caught a glimpse of her glory were blessed by enchantment they would never forget. But outside her wondrous realm, dark whispers and rumors carries a message she could not ignore: "Unicorns are gone from the world."
Aided by a bumbling magician and an indominable spinster, she set out to learn the truth. But she geared even her immortal wisdom meant nothing in a world where a mad king's curse and terror incarnate lived only to stalk the last unicorn to her doom. . .

This is one of my all time favorite books, a book that is worthy of multiple readings. It's a classic as far as I am concerned, and no self-respecting fantasy genre addict would skip it! Read it, just go out and get it. Working in a library, I am well informed about the new books coming out. I am sad to say I think we have hit a rut in the book world. There is nothing I am extremely excited about on the horizon. Everything seems to be a sequel - because apparently every book needs a sequel, even those that suck! Now there are some non-series books coming out but they all seem to be clones of books that already exist. Time to read what came before and jump into the classics. This book is a great place to start.

Haunted House Dressing

Writing, comics, and an odd in a neat little way - Welcome our new tenant Haunted House Dressing: the official site of writer Jeremy C. Shipp. Click on our link and check it out, there is something for everyone.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Birthday and a Good-bye in Wonderland.

My best friend had her birthday this weekend, with a party on Saturday in her New York apartment. The party was very nice and it was just amazing to see her and all the people I know. I can't believe we've been friends almost 12 years. Happy Birthday L! She has been my best friend, editor, book club, and ghost hunting partner. I would not be who I am if not for her. Sometimes I am jealous of her life - she is living the dream I had when we were in college. I am happy with the choices I made but I am happy to see her live that dream regardless.

Also this weekend, my father and his wife moved on to Florida - I didn't expect this to hit me as hard as it did. I mean, my parents have been divorced since I was little and I never lived in my father's house. Surprising as it was, his move hit me hard. A few years back, my grandmother sold the house I grew up in. She moved to Florida and my mom moved out to the eastern end of the Island. Not long before, my other grandmother passed away after years of bitter fighting in the family. Now, with my father's move, the chapter has ended on my childhood.

All the places and people that contain my childhood memories are removed from me. I know it's not the places that are important. I know "home" is now the place I live with my husband. I know "home" is now in Connecticut. Yet, just sometimes, I am homesick for Long Island and my childhood. The Island is different then it was when I left 6 years ago. I don't belong there anymore. This became perfectly clear as we drove away from my dad's on the day he left. Everything has changed and grown away from me. I am slowly losing my reasons to return to the Island. My mom and her sisters are all that remain. My friends, father and his family - all have moved on to different venues. Places and people have moved on. I no longer belong to the Island but I really don't fit quite right with New England. I am a woman trapped between both, which I guess puts me right in the middle of the Long Island Sound!

L's party was great and my father's move is going to do wonders for him, but both have made me a little nostalgic and sad. The ups and downs of living in Wonderland!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 2/24/06

Winter Recess. No children. No teachers. No one at all. Just me and the copy machine with a death wish. Still saving the world with the roommate, husband and puppy still want attention. Shock and loss ensue at the tea party. The brother remains among the missing. So much going on while so little happens.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Synopsis: Alyss, born in Wonderland, is destined to be a warrior queen. After a bloody coup topples the Heart regime, Alyss is exiled to another world entirely, where she is adopted into a new family, renamed Alice and befriended by Lewis Carroll. At age 20 she returns to Wonderland to fight her wicked Aunt Redd.

Such an interesting idea - such a disappointing book. As many people know I am enamored with all things Wonderland. When the dormouse came back from England, this past summer, she brought back a selection of books for the school library. This was one of them. I was instantly obsessed with reading it. Of course, reading for me works this way. I meet a book and fall in love before I even turn to the first page. It's not always a sweet love affair. More often than not, the romance goes sour as the book turns on me. Looking Glass Wars was a huge betrayer. The premise of "fracturing" a fairytale is nothing new. So a new spin on an old favorite can be a great thing. Gregory Maguire does this very well with many of his books - Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister and Wicked come to mind. The story is decent but the writing just doesn't live up to it. There are moments where a better story can almost be felt - it's in there but I just can't tell where. A better version of a twisted Wonderland can be found in American McGee's computer game Alice, where the plot and characters are more developed. It's a sad world for a bookaholic like me when a video game is more alluring than a book, but in this case it's true. Now headed for publication in the US - I won't be planning on adding this title to my library.

Friday, February 17, 2006


I have been hooked on the sarcasm and wit of Coffeestoned since finding it renting on the Rubbernecker. So I was thrilled to find out they wished to rent with me! Click over and read. Go ahead - I'll wait. As for BE tourists, just stopping by for the required 30 second -click on this week's renter but make sure you open it in a new window so you don't stop the surf! :)

Curiouser and Curiouser 2/17/06

During the week of hearts, we were hit by piles of snow. The dormouse left the tea party to go off on vacation. . .Lucky! The library was quite. The husband suffers for attention; so does the puppy. The roommate and I teamed up to save the world. Finally, there is a copy machine in a Connecticut school that is going to find itself hacked into little pieces if it doesn't learn to fly right.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 2/10/06

Everything that could break down at work - did. Also, the Duchess came for an overnight visit. I was shocked. She did call and ask but she's done that before. She's always cancelled. Not this time. She showed up and it was really pleasant. Still, it was a shock.

The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

I just finished reading The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks, while at work yesterday. Apparently there was a lot of hype built up around this book when it came out this summer. The reviews have been mixed. Many people have named it as the greatest book they have ever read. Just as many say it doesn't come close to the hype created around it. I never even knew this book existed until I found it on a shelf in my local bookstore. I never heard the hype. I didn't know the catch phrases. I loved this book! It's not the greatest book I ever read. I'm not sure it can be called a modern classic, as I've seen it billed on one website. I thought the characters were fairly well developed, especially Maya - our reluctant heroine. I thought the plot was interesting, if not a little disturbing with all the modern technological paranoia running rampant inside the book's pages. It kept my interest. I wanted to read it. I didn't want it to end. Which I guess is a good thing since this is the first book in a proposed trilogy. Stories like this have been done before, both in books and on the silver screen, but it's a fast pace novel that does well with what it has.

Read below for a more detailed description:

Annotation - Gabriel and Michael Corrigan have been shaped by stories that their father was a Traveler –one of an elite group of prophets able to attain pure enlightenment. They have always lived "off the grid"—that is, invisible to the intricate surveillance networks that monitor people in our world.

Maya is attempting to lead a normal life in London. She wants to ignore the fact that she comes from a long lineage of Harlequins –a band of warriors pledged to protect the Travelers at all costs. When Maya is summoned to Prague by her ailing father, she learns that the Corrigans have just been located in California and they may represent the last surviving Travelers. They are in need of protection from the Tabula –ruthless men who are determined to inflict order on the world by invisibly controlling its population. Maya must fly to California to find the brothers before the Tabula do. She must become involved in the looming battle that will reveal a secret history of our time.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 2/3/06

Ahhhhhhhhh! That's all I have to say about it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Book Summary: Joanne Walker has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers and save the world from the unleashed Wild Hunt. No worries. No pressure. Never mind the lack of sleep, the perplexing new talent for healing herself from fatal wounds, or the cryptic, talking coyote who appears in her dreams. And if all that's not bad enough, in the three years Joanne's been a cop, she's never seen a dead body--but she's just come across her second in three days. It's been a bitch of a week. And it isn't over yet.

I don't know. I couldn't even finish the book. I really couldn't get into it, which is sad because I wanted to. I was looking for something like the Anita Blake novels when they first came out. Back then I had enjoyed reading about Anita and her adventures. Not far into the series, these novels became little more than porn in a dust jacket. I stopped reading and started looking for something else, something similar but with a great story. Urban Shaman just wasn't it for me. I couldn't get into it. It's been done, and done better. Disappointed? You can say that. I may try to read it again someday but at this point and time I'll just say to skip it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

One of Holly's Favorite Blogs: Casper D Dog

You have got to check out this great blog about an American Eskimo Dog - this is Holly's breed so she gets excited. Holly and I have been visiting since back in the "Tao of Puppy" days. She loves coming up to the monitor to take a look at Casper and his friends.

One of Holly's Favorite Blogs: Casper D Dog.

Also - Our week is coming to an end so don't forget to check out this week's tenant, Paper Shell!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 1/27/06

The March Hare has come close to a nervous break-down. She's been under so much stress lately that I'm very concerned about her. My own week hasn't been much better, let's just say -Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole and is still falling. Will we ever reach the bottom?

Remember to click on this week's tenant, Paper Shell, to get insight into some great weekend reads!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Curse the Writer, She Bleeds.

To misquote Dickens - I am getting over the unfortunate habit of breathing - or rather I'm dying! I got the most crushing news today and am absolutely devastated.

My personal laptop went in for service to a local electronics store. Purchased there only a year ago, I was having trouble with the charger. My husband, J, and I took it in two weeks ago and they said it would have to be sent out. They also recommended that we back up the hard drive. J and I talked about it. We could take the laptop home and ghost the hard drive or hand it over to the store and allow them to back up the hard drive. The back up was expensive, $99 dollars, but we decided it was worth it as J really didn't feel like having to ghost the whole hard drive. Doing this, I understood that I would have to reinstall the programs if anything happened that made the back up necessary. Since it was a power problem, no one really felt the backup was necessary but I am anxious when it comes to my stuff.

Any way, I went to pick it up today and found the most horrific heart break I'd ever received. They replaced the motherboard and reformatted the hard drive. It should have been okay but it wasn't. They only backup my documents folder. They said I never told them there was anything special that needed to be backed up. Of course, they never told me I had to specify what to back up. I thought that was clear. I wanted my hard drive backed up. So, where does this leave me? For 4 years now I have used a program called Book to manage my large home library, over 800 books worth of information. I had everything from where it was purchased to who had a particular book checked out. It's taken me years to get everything into the program and it's all gone. Yet, as bad as this lose it there is worse. All my writing was in a folder on the desk top. I mean ALL my writing, including a novel I had almost finished. I have been working on this novel for years While I do have some printed backups, I do not have the full piece and am out 15 chapters.

Lesson to writer's everywhere - do your own backups. Don't trust anyone with your most prized possessions. I did get the store to refund me the backup fee and J is going to try and restore what I've lost. I can be hopeful but the damage is done and I am hurting. Losing my writing is a grief I can't describe. It feels as if I've lost a part of me. I tell the kids every day to save often. I follow my own advice all the time. I should have backed up my own work. I should have insisted the tech right out my directions. I should have done much but can only start all over now.

Once upon a time. . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Paper Shell

Hey all! Thank you all for the advice and kind words concerning Monday's hurtful events. Wanting to get on with a brighter note, I'm asking everyone to check out this week's new tenant - Paper Shell. With everyone knowing how much I love books, is it any surprise that I should be excited for this blog of book reviews? Click over and take a look, so many different types of books and so little time to read them all.

Monday, January 23, 2006

You're a Mean One, Mrs. Grinch!

I'm not sure why I care. . .

Today the Dormouse came over to me and told me that some of our coworkers were afraid to approach me or ask me for anything. Apparently I am MEAN. I can't for the life of me figure out where this came from. I always try to smile and say nice things. I try to be pleasant, even when the day is going to crap.

Seriously! How easy do you think it is:
  • Getting up at 5 am each morning.
  • Driving 33 miles to work.
  • Being cheerful and helpful every single morning to a school of over 700 kids and 50 teachers.
  • Dealing with all the crap jobs that no one else wants to do.
  • Fixing things that break because of user error.
  • Having to explain the same computer program over and over and over.
  • Doing all this and more without ever slowing down, always smiling.

I'm not sure how I ended up being the bitch, as I bend over backwards trying to get each person whatever it is they need. I can't believe how much this is bothering me. I just wanted to put this crappy day out into the void and let the nothingness take it away. While I send it out there, "Void? What the F*&%?!"

Friday, January 20, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 1/20/06

The Dormouse and the Mad Hatter are heading for blows, I can feel it. The whole work environment seems strained and uncomfortable. I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done about this but the results are not going to be pretty. Someone is going to lose their head!

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

It all started with a book, but doesn't it always start that way for book people? In 1972, Amsterdam, a teenage girl discovers a book in father's library. The book is void of all writing, containing only a woodcut of a dragon and a group of aging letter addressed to: "My dear and unfortunate successor." So begins the journey to discover the reality about a series of ghastly events and to truth about Dracula.

An interesting plot weaves three stories together; our narrator, her father, and her father's teacher. The characters are vivid and well developed. The story brimming with suspense and mystery. The Historian is an intense read, an amazing debut novel when you look at it for what it is. This book is an interesting historical mystery and a vivid suspense. The problem is the hype that has surrounded this novel. All the critics, publishers, and reviewers were billing it as one of the greatest novels ever written; a must read for everyone. These statements are simply not true. This book is good, yet I don't believe I will read it again and I do not believe it is right for everyone.

If you can get past the hype, read it. If you like suspense and historical mysteries, read it. If you are looking for a straightforward horror or vampire book, this may not be for you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Taste Test Nazi

So I was in the supermarket today when a woman asks me to take a quick taste test. Ironically enough it's for Coke and Pepsi. The woman is a student at a local college and is running a taste test to prove a theory. I have no idea what the theory is as she wouldn't tell me. She said it was all very scientific and most people wouldn't understand. Okay, so I already am not liking her but that must be cause I'm dumb! Anyway. She shows me a series of ads for the sodas. I noticed all the coke comercials were old, I mean like my early childhood old. The Pepsi commercials are all new with young and beautiful people. So I am guessing her theory has to do with displayed images affecting the stupid masses. I taste each soda and point to the one I like. It's Coke. No surprise there. I am a self proclaimed Coke fiend. Would you believe this scientific chicky starts to yell at me? I mean, SCREAM! She starts shouting how I must be doing this on purpose to ruin her results and someone must have sent me to screw with her. I'm sorry. Did I miss something? I guess taste preference no longer has anything to do with taste.