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!