Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pigeonholing the dove

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Waking to celebrate Pentecost today, I had a few minutes to reflect on how I view the Holy Spirit. I realized that there is only one specific time I think to pray to the Holy Spirit. I've got the Holy Spirit pigeonholed to a very particular little box. I call upon the Holy Spirit when I am in a group that has to make decisions or plans like a church committee meeting. That certainly goes right along with the picture of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the group of apostles; maybe that's why I am stuck in this rut?

Now that I have recognized this about myself, it's time to go about changing. If I am leaving one third of the Trinity off of my call list, I am limiting what I can do in life. A third of my support network is out of the loop. One of my shortcomings is lacking the confidence to witness to my faith. I always excuse myself from ever saying anything by thinking that my actions speak louder than words and my example is the best witness, yadda yadda yadda. But at the same time, neglecting the conversation may make me appear to be unapproachable and silence in some situations is viewed as agreement. If the Holy Spirit could give the apostles the gift to speak to each nation in their own tongue, surely he can give me the courage and the words needed to approach the friend who has lost their business to our economy and offer my sympathy or to speak up the next time my friend's husband cracks a joke abut Catholics worshipping statues. So the short but beautiful prayer above is going to be placed into heavy rotation and I'll see if there are other times in my life for the Holy Spirit to do it's work.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Please Stop Laughing at Me by Jodee Blanco

I feel kind of mean saying it but I really didn't like this book. I wanted to like Jodee Blanco, this is her memoir of the bullying she endured from 5th to 12th grade. I was ready to feel sorry for her and then be uplifted by her triumph at the end but it just didn't happen for me.

Jodee goes into excruciating detail about the humiliations she faced. Her part in all of them is always being the "good one". The one who helps the handicapped students, the one who tattles to the teacher, the one who excels at public speaking and writing poetry. With all those nice qualities going for you, how can you go through 7 years of school and not find a friend? To be the target of bullies at four different schools says that at some point, the problem belonged in some part to Jodee. Where were the adults in her community? Being pelted with rocks, being beaten by a mob - these things get noticed. It was all a little hard to swallow. And, of course, I have no patience for teenage poetry so she wasn't winning me over there.

Perhaps if she had journeyed a little more into her metamorphosis, it would have felt more real to me. But she goes from the torment of constant bullying for all those years to....turn the page and voila she's a successful publicist, works with movie stars, and is the belle of the ball at her high school reunion. Okay. And, with that, I was just glad it was done.

I passed it on to my teenage daughter, Bookworm, if she reads it, I'll give an update.

Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mrs. Pollifax Pursued by Dorothy Gilman

The Mrs. Pollifax series consists of gentle, G-rated mysteries along the lines of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency or the "Cat Who..." books. Mrs. Pollifax is a little old lady who through strange circumstances ends up doing missions for the CIA. In between Garden Club meetings, murders just drop into her lap.

This book is no exception, Mrs. Pollifax is happily at home when she discovers a fugitive hiding in her closet. Mrs. Pollifax takes the girl, Kadi, under her wing and their off to outsmart all the criminals. This always involves travel to an exotic locale, in this book Africa. Another part of the story takes place in a circus and I couldn't help thinking again and again, "Well, it's sure not Water for Elephants" but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. A little visit with Mrs. Pollifax is like spending time with an old friend. When I first discovered the Mrs. Pollifax books, I read them all. Then when I ran out, I was done. But Dorothy Gilman wasn't done; she wrote more, I just never picked them up. I've done that with The Ladies Detective Agency, and with Mitford, and with the Cat Who books - I'm loyal until it requires some patience on my part (waiting for the next book to come out!)and then I'm outta there. It's why I never read book six or seven in Harry Potter. I'm a serial binger.

I enjoyed my visit with Mrs. Pollifax. I'm not running out to find others but if one drops in my lap like a corpse to Mrs. Pollifax, I'll read it.

This is one of the books on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life cycle of a Sago palm

Like every other yard in coastal South Carolina my yard is full of Sago palms. They look pretty from a distance but for me the joy of the Sago palm is what's going on inside the fronds. When I walk around the yard, walking the dog, killing fire ant mounds, picking up toys - (it's just one fun thing after another here!) I always peek down inside the palms to see what's happening. I thought it was interesting yesterday that of the six palms in the yard, they were almost all at different stages of development. (They must not be female palms or their cycles would have synchronized by now - ba dum dum.)

So the first guy has nothing going on...just some dead leaves. Picture would probably look better if I had removed the dead leaves but the palm fronds are actually sharp and reaching down in there is dangerous - putting your hand in is like playing Operation but the sting isn't just mildly shocking it's incredibly painful.

The next guy has just the tiniest hint of the growing fronds. And still lots of dead leaves.

Then here you can see the frond buds (I don't really know what they're called, I'm just making this up) getting a little taller - they still just look like brown sticks though.

Now they are beginning to look like something, little green baby palm arms starting to unfurl.

But then there is this...WTH? I have lived in this house for four years. I don't remember ever having seen a giant green possibly alien blob growing inside my Sago palm. I'm going to be watching this carefully and when it hatches it better just be a baby palm - not a hybrid palm monster here to attack.

I'm going to get that question answered. Next week is the city's Tour of Gardens. Five master gardeners are opening up their gardens one a day for five days - see five gardens, five days - it's all so logical. And I am planning to tour them and peek inside all their Sago palms until I find an alien palm baby and then I'll ask aloud, "What the hell is that?" and see what the Master Gardener says probably accompanied by a little eye rolling and heavy sighing. And on the last day, the Master Gardener is in my neighborhood, just one street over. And so I am assuming their yard is going to very similar to my yard... lots of sand (did you see that bare sandy spot in the very first photo), all sorts of trees dropping tree debris constantly, totally invaded by ants and moles, ravaged nightly by deer, and just in general.. hard to work with. And if I like the Master Gardener who lives in my neighborhood, I'm going to take advantage of their "Rent a Master Gardener" program and drop $50 for a consultation. I'm VERY EXCITED! Probably by garden three or four "VERY EXCITED" will be replaced by depressed and hopeless - similar to my emotional roller coaster that is the Christmas Tour of Homes. Somehow I always resist actually leaving that tour and going home to set my house on fire so I'm sure I'll get through this too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark

From the author's website: In her new thriller, America's #1 bestselling Queen of Suspense delves into a legal battle over the guilt or innocence of a man accused of murdering his wife. Woven into her plot is an eerie, little-understood but documented medical phenomenon -- the emergence of a donor's traits and memories in the recipient of a heart transplant.

Natalie Raines, one of Broadway's brightest stars, accidentally discovers who killed her former roommate and sets in motion a series of shocking events that puts more than one life in extreme peril.

While Natalie and her roommate, Jamie Evans, were both struggling young actresses, Jamie had been involved with a mysterious married man to whom she referred only by nickname. Natalie comes face to face with him years later and inadvertently addresses him by the nickname Jamie had used. A few days later, Natalie is found in her home in Closter, New Jersey, dying from a gunshot wound.

Page 36! I figured out whodunit on page 36 of a 322 page book. Needless to say the rest of the book was not as satisfying as I had hoped when I bought the book. I love Mary Higgins Clark. I am such a Mary Higgins Clark fan that I committed a sin - I bought this book off the rack in hardcover. Why? Why? Why? I never do that. Finding a book I want for fifty cents at a used book sale is part of the adventure for me. If I really want something specific, like for book club...I go used on Amazon. I never pay full price. So I think I jinxed myself. Yes, she's kind of formulaic - the brainy heroine who doesn't realize her own beauty is a staple Higgins Clark character, but usually I am a little uncertain about the bad guy until it all plays out and so I am content with her books. Content is not exciting but it's a pleasant feeling and, really, reading is for relaxation - content is just fine. The good features of this book - 1. She really laid out the details of the case during the trial. I don't remember her using a trial as such a prominent part of a book before - very Grishamesque. 2. The creepy guys are really creepy. 3. The whole heart storyline wasn't overwhelming, in fact, I hardly thought it affected the heroine at all - but maybe there was a little skimming involved on my part! So this wasn't the best. I have a friend who suspects the daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, is slowly taking over writing under her mother's name and that is why the recent releases don't measure up. I just think when you're writing your 30th or 40th mystery novel, perhaps it gets a little old.

This book is my "J" for the A-Z Reading Challenge! Click on the logo to see my progress.

and this one too...
This is on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand? May 2009

This monthly feature is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last Tuesday of every month. Click on the logo to go and check out all the particpants.

This is my first month particpating so I'll just jump right in with what's on my nightstand. Starting from the bottom, I have.....

John Adams...I have been working on this one forever for the U.S. President's Reading Project. It was also going to be my "J" book for the A-Z Reading Challenge but that challenge only lasts for the year so I went ahead and bought...

Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark. A mystery, of course, with a beautiful, brainy heroine, of course! It's a formula but the formula works for me - I enjoy Mary Higgins Clark. I'm pretty far into this one already so should finish it up tonight.

There are four possibilties in the pile for my "D" book. Not sure yet which one I am going to read...

The Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee sounds fun and light.

Double Take by Catherine Coulter is bound to be good - I've loved all of her's that I've read thus far.

Dry by Augusten Burroughs will probably be fascinating if a little bit least that is how I would describe his other book, Running With Scissors.

and Dear Mem Fox by Mem Fox interests me because Mem Fox was a favortie author when I taught first grade.

Finlly, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is a children's book but the series was popular and it became a movie so I wanted to check it out. And, since it is a first in a series it will count towards the 1st in a Series Reading Challenge.

And he does it again...

We had a lovely Memorial Day dinner.. brats from the grill with sauerkraut, my famous potato salad (the homemade kind that takes all day to prepare!), steamed broccoli, and a red, white, and blue layered fruit trifle. Served promptly at 5;00pm; we all ate until we were stuffed. Then as we were cleaning, Ex-Marine looks at me and says, "So that was dinner , right?" Yeah, honey, that was dinner.

Is that better or worse than this?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer - is it for Tween?

A Child Called It is Dave Pelzer's memoir of growing up in a terribly abusive home. His fairy tale mother becomes an alcoholic and turns into a monster. She is violent, withholds food, and emotionally manipulative. She isolates David, fools others, and vicously tries to destroy him day after day. This is the first in a trilogy of books and covers his early years from age 4-12 until he is rescued by Child Porotective Services. (BTW Those years in CPS are the second book and not real pretty either.)

This was a reread for me wondering if I could possibly put it in the hands of my sixth grader, Tween, the subject matter is so dark. I wouldn't be handing it to him because it's well written - it isn't. But it is sensational in the way of "alligator eats man" sensational. The content just stops you cold because it is so unimaginable to anyone who has ever loved another living thing. It's the train wreck that you don't want to see but just can't seem to avert your gaze.

Tween needs a book to read; daily reading is a homework assignment with a journal entry as proof. The RoundFile house is FULL of books. Bookworm and Youngest read constantly and Bookworm hoards books so her bedroom looks like a library. However, there is not a single book that interests Tween. No book can make that required twenty minutes of reading pass without whining and complaining and stalling and just plain driving Just Mom crazy. So I thought about what I see Tween watching on TV, lots of tabloid style shows i.e. "100 most outrageous ___". If you translate that to books - I think A Child Called "It fits the bill.

The book is an easy read technically - easy sentence structure, not much difficult vocabulary. There's some foul language - even the F word. It's a difficult read emotionally but I think it will draw him in. Tween thinks I am abusive because I force him to live in a ranch style home while all the other kids live in two story houses. And he only gets a new skateboard when he earns enough money to buy one, the other kids get one practically on demand (or so he says). And I won't let him drink an energy drink chock full of sugar and caffeine half an hour before bedtime, and I demand that he do his homework before sports, or youth group, or movies's just torture. I'm pretty confident in all those parenting decisions but this one...not so sure. Maybe this will go down as one of my bad parenting decisions but I'm giving him the book. We'll file this under the heading of...I'll do anything to get him to read. We'll see how it goes.

This is one of the books on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Click here to see my progress towards completing the challenge!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When Madeline Was Young by Jane Hamilton

From Amazon's product description: Jane Hamilton, award-winning author of The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World brings us a rich and loving novel about a non-traditional family in the aftermath of a terrible accident.

When Aaron Maciver’s beautiful young wife, Madeline, suffers a head injury in a bicycle crash, she is left with the mental capabilities of a six-year-old. In the years that follow, Aaron and his second wife care for Madeline with deep tenderness and devotion as they raise two children of their own. Inspired in part by Elizabeth Spencer’s Light in the Piazza, Hamilton offers an honest and exquisite portrait of how a family tragedy forever shapes the boundaries of love.

This book is a peaceful yet strange journey. The story is told from the point of view of Madeline's younger "brother" although of course we know that really Madeline is his father's ex-wife so their relationship if Madeline wasn't disabled would be more like step-mother/step-son. Mac doesn’t tell the tale by starting at one point and moving chronologically through his memories. It just begins and then something leaps out and he tells all about a certain period. And then your back to present day and then you're off to history again. It meanders through their lives touching down here and there. Each piece is told so well that the imagery makes you feel like you are in the midst of the scene and each scene seems equally important to the whole book. The narration is excellent although the narrator pronounces some words very differently than I have heard them before and when that happens it kind of jars me from the tale and I wonder about him - is he from another country, is it a mistake that the producer didn’t catch, or maybe I have been mispronouncing this word or that word all my life? So I have to hit the rewind button and get back into the story! The story isn't funny but the author allows Mac to have such a dry wit that as you listen something unexpectedly funny will be said and all of a sudden you're laughing.

I could see this book as the basis for a television series. There are so many layers to the story that you couldn't just make a movie and do the tale justice. And there isn't a distinct story arc - not a single problem or relationship to explore and then tie up neatly - but rather there is a web of problems and relationships that make up a family. But a television show - something like the Walton's where you can tell the tale a bit at a time would be perfect! I've finished the book - all 9 Cd's - and I still want more. I want to know where each family member goes from here. I think Hamilton did a great job developing these characters into people I want to spend time with. And, even more amazing since Hamilton is the author of two Oprah picks - the characters aren't abusing each other but are loving each other! What a treat!

I've finished up the audio book challenge but I think I'll keep adding the extras as I finish them - a little extra credit. Perhaps I can apply any extra credit to my least productive challenge.

and this one too...
This is on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Quiet American by Graham Greene: A book and a movie

From the back cover: In the middle of the death throes of French colonial ambitions in Indochina, a young American idealist, Pyle, begins to fund a dangerous "Third Force". Caught between French colonists and the Vietminh, Fowler, the narrator and seasoned foreign correspondent, observes of Pyle: "I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused." As young Pyle's policies blunder into bloodshed, the older man finds it impossible to stand aside as an observer. But Fowler's motives for intervening are suspect, both to the police and to himself, for Pyle has robbed him of his Vietnamese mistress.

Graham Greene wrote this story in 1955 and it is described as "prophetic" because it seems to foreshadow the US becoming involved in Vietnam. The three main characters - Pyle, Fowler, and Phoung embody their countries - Pyle, the American, thinking he knows best and can manipulate the situation, Fowler, the European, not wanting to engage and take sides but feeling trapped into a decision, and Phoung, the complacent Vietnamese woman who wants to please and doesn't seem to know enough about freedom to even desire autonomy. Their interactions with each other as the love triangle plays out are fascinating.

Also interesting was the mystery of the "Third Force" which Fowler unravels. The book is fairly short - less than 200 pages. The action doesn't move quickly and it was all slightly confusing to me because I didn't know there was a French-Indochina conflict as a precursor to the US-Vietnam conflict so I was learning as I read. (Nothing new there - it's amazing that I have both a bachelor's and a master's and yet such a sloppy grip on history and geography.) If the book had been longer, I may not have made It through to the end because although I enjoyed this story, it wasn't clear enough and gripping enough to carry much more.

I thought perhaps, watching the movie would bring it a little more into focus for me. Wrong! The movie was just the same. It followed very true to the book. It was not an energetic story so the movie's pace wasn't very engaging. I was delighted to discover the beauty of Vietnam. In my incredible mixed up view of the world, I picture Vietnam as just jungle - a lush overgrown jungle. But the movie showed the elegant side of the country. The towns along the waterways with busy markets, restaurants, and fancy hotels.

This book is my "Q" for the A-Z Reading Challenge! Click on the logo to see my progress.

and this one too...
This is on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Firemaster's Mistress by Christie Dickason

From the publisher's website: Francis Quoynt‚ Firemaster‚ is recently returned from Flanders and dreaming of making fireworks rather than war.

Instead‚ Quoynt is recruited by Robert Cecil‚ First Minister‚ to spy on Guido Fawkes and his fellow conspirators. Meanwhile‚ Sir Francis Bacon is scheming for high position and spying on Quoynt.

Kate Peach‚ a glove maker‚ was Quoynt′s lover before war took him away. Now living in Southwark‚ she is brought into grave danger. She is a secret Catholic. A fugitive Jesuit is concealed in her rooms. While Francis hopes to prevent the death of King James I and everyone in his parliament‚ Kate will have to save herself ...

Sometimes you read a book summary on a publisher's page or off the back cover and think, "Well, that's the whole story, nothing left to read." Not with this one. Reading the above summary from the publisher's webpage doesn't make this book sound like much but there really was a lot more to it. The complexity - so many characters with so many intertwined relationships was both good and bad. It was good because it certainly was interesting but it was bad in that it was kind of confusing. Just when you had things figured out, there'd be a new twist added and you were back to wondering who was tricking who and who knew what when. (See? Confusing!) Adding to my confusion, the book assumed a little more knowledge of that period of history than I possess. I am new to historical fiction (and loving it by the way thanks to the great selections Jennifer of the Literate Housewife makes for our Facebook Historical Fiction Book Club!) so names that are dropped within the story without a whole lot of explanation - Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth, James - probably conjure up more meaning for others than just the vague familiarity they have for me. Even in my state of faintly cloudy befuddlement, I enjoyed the book. The relationships between the characters were interesting enough to carry the story without my full understanding of all the surrounding events. I could gather enough to sense danger, to get a feel for this time period of history, and to figure out who was on which side - even though I still am not certain which side was the "good guys" and which was the "bad guys". But the fuzziness didn't bother me too much and I don't know that I would have attended to a history lesson if the author had inserted it into the story. I probably would have skimmed over it to get back to the people and all their doings. The ending was not completely satisfying for me - a few loose ends that I would have preferred to have wrapped up! And, although I had suspected how the romance would resolve, I was still surprised when it actually happened!

I went to the author's website, and there is a second book with some of the same characters. That might be fun to read. I briefly considered whether being the first of two would make this title count for the 1st in a Series Challenge and decided that was stretching the truth a bit - which may look more appealing as the deadline for completion draws closer! But for now, this will count towards the Spring Reading Thing 2009.

Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thinking positive, reinforcement

1. Sat in traffic waiting to inch up to the broken line so I could scoot past the other cars up to the empty left turn lane. Debated with self whether or not I should just ignore solid line and go. Car about five back from me decides to go for it. The state trooper in front of both of us, turns out of the line and promptly tickets him. An actual example of reinforcing good behavior by avoiding a negative stimulus. Those examples are hard to come by - I know because explaining the principles of reinforcement comes into play often when you are working with families of toddlers!

2. Went to the "nice" grocery store, the expensive one, but you go there because you don't want to deal with the riff-raff at the discount store. There was a drunk outside who at the moment of my approaching him decided it was time to turn and urinate against the side of the building and then look aggrievedly at me as if my presence was interrupting him. He was extinguishing my bad behavior (wasting money at the pricey store) with his introduction of a negative stimulus. Very negative. Very, very negative.

3. And there's positive reinforcement happening all over the place. You know how you just sometimes get on a good roll? That's where I am. I'm hitting my stride with some things at work, I've made some nice progress with Spring projects at home, it's just feeling like I have my act together (for the moment)! And the positive reinforcement would be... get your travel claim turned in to the get paid! get your closet organized and your laundry can find your clothes in the morning! plan the menu and shop....dinner is on the table! It's all the little things that add up to one happy mama! Ain't nothing gonna break my stride...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

If all you want for Mother's Day is for your husband to take your three children far, far away for at least an hour maybe two or three so you can be alone - truly, absolutely, completely A-L-O-N-E, does that make you a bad mother?

And if you would spend the first part of that hour running through the house in a cleaning frenzy so that your alone time could be spent in a quiet AND clean house, does that make it better or worse?

And if by the end of the two hours, you're missing the children and wondering where they are and why they aren't home yet, does that just make you pathetic?

Don't you love holidays? Let's go cook and then clean-up a really big meal with lots of cream cheese.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Undead and Unreturnable by MaryJanice Davidson

From the author's website: Even the undead celebrate Christmas, and Betsy is in heaven shopping for gifts.

But all is not merry in the mansion. It’s become infested with ghosts—really needy ones who have no qualms asking Betsy to run errands for them to rectify their pasts. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose, and, being tall and blonde, Betsy perfectly fits his type.

They say Christmas is a time for friends and family. But with a half-sister who’s the devil’s daughter, an evil stepmother, a fiend living in her basement, and assorted spirits and killers running amok, Betsy is not sure she’ll survive the holidays. Oh, right. She’s already dead…

Blech! I think I need a shower - I feel dirty just for having listened to this. I hated it. I saw it on the shelf at Barnes and Noble and thought it sounded cute and fun but it was awful. I feel somewhat guilty being so mean about someone's work but this is the fourth in a series of EIGHT so I assume MaryJanice Davidson is rolling in money and could not care less what a housewife from the sticks thinks about her book.

The closest I can come to describing it is that it was like someone decided to turn Twilight into a sitcom comedy. It was a series of single episode jokes/situations just strung together without much of an overarching plot. There was a little bit of a mystery but nothing really happened on that front until disk 4 of the 5 and then it had no depth. There was the romance between the two main characters, Betsy the vampire queen and Eric Sinclair, her king. But Eric, the male lead, had zero personality, he was flat, dull and just the anti-thesis of the leading man.

The narrator was Nancy Wu and she did an alright job with some of the females but her male voices - oh my, bad, bad, bad. And there was so much foul language and vulgar sex. Hearing Nancy Wu use the bad words and read the sex scenes - ewww!

The bright spot was some good one-liners - I got the occasional laugh. And, Davidson must churn these out pretty quickly because despite the fact that this was book four and she's on number eight now, some of the cultural references and slang were still fresh.

I'm really curious who is buying and reading these books. They must sell or she wouldn't have had so many of them published. I may nose around the blogs of people doing the Vampire Challenge and see what I can find out!

This is one of my books for the 2009 Audio book Challenge. 12/12 completed on that one - my first challenge completed in 2009! Click on the button to see what else I listened too!

This book is my "U" for the A-Z Reading Challenge! Click on the logo to see my progress.

and this one too...
This is on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" This is the ad that catches the eye of many children who then go to take a series of test to determine if they are the right child for the "special oportunity". When the final children are selected they band together and form the Mysterious Benedict Society. The Society is called upon to complete a dangerous mission and they are off for a great adventure.

Youngest devoured the book (485 pages!), then I read the book, then Bookworm read it too. It had mass appeal in the RoundFile family. Although Bookworm did sort of sniff and say, "It was OK." I thought it was much better than OK. It reminded me of Harriet the Spy mixed with Roald Dahl. The idea of the independent adventure as a child is so intoxicating. I can remember daydreaming that the president would recognise what an outstanding girl I was and grant me special permission to drive even though I was only 10 or 11 years old. I would lay in my bed and imagine how I could put a door to the outside in my room and redecorate it like an apartment and pretty much just visit my family as needed since I would be off - out the new door, driving the special car - to do exciting things. So you can see why this book appealed to me!

I liked that the children who "passed" the tests weren't all just smart, brainy types. One of our greatest blessings in life is that each of has gifts to share with the world. But some gifts are more easily recognized and rewarded than others so if your child's gift isn't in acaddemics or sports but is more ethereal like faith or kindness or creativity, this book show them how the differnet children each used their own strength for the group to succeed.

This book counts for two challenges...

This is one of the books on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

Click here to see my progress towards completing the challenge!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lifeguard by James Patterson

From the author's website: The danger isn't in the water.

Working as a lifeguard at a Florida resort, Ned Kelly meets a woman he is wild about, the woman of his dreams. It feels perfect in every way - except that she is used to caviar and Manolo Blahniks, and he is used to burgers and flip-flops. She is a guest at the luxurious hotel - he lives above a garage.

So when Ned's cousin offers to cut him in on a rich deal he's been commissioned to execute, Ned can't turn him down. The plan is simple, just a fast break-and-enter. The risk is high, and the reward is even greater - $5 million. But on the night of the heist, something goes devastatingly wrong. Who will save the lifeguard?

Ned walks away from his job, his town, and the woman he's fallen in love with. Runs away, actually, knowing that only velocity and secrecy can save his life. But who is pursuing him? The FBI? Whoever sabotaged the heist? Or is it all somehow tied into his new love - and his oldest enemies?

This is my third James Patterson and least favorite so far. It was still good but it wasn't great like the others. It wasn't the narration - the narrator had a great voice and the whole man talking like a woman thing wasn't as annoying as it sometimes can be. It wasn't the plot - the plot was interesting. I didn't figure all of it out until the end. (There was one major clue that kept getting overlooked that grated on my nerves. Because it was so obvious that I noticed it, all of the characters should have spied it as well.) So it's hard to put my finger on what made this book less appealing than the others. There was a little more sex - when I read a novel with a sex scene, I can just skim through and kind of ignore it. I'm not exactly a prude, but it's not for me. When you are listening to an audio book, you're kind of stuck in the moment. You can't skip ahead or you may miss some piece of dialogue that's crucial, you can't close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ear and sing "la-la-la, I'm not hearing this!" because you're driving. So the sex is there to stay. And then the main character who narrates much of the books (if not all - memory is not always good) sometimes used flowery language that didn't really seem to suit his character. Yes, he was the lifeguard with the degree, slumming it on the beach, but it still seemed strange. These two things were enough to take this book down a notch for me. I still think James Patterson is a great read and I will be excited when another of his audio books comes my way but this was not a home run.

This is one of my books for the 2009 Audio book Challenge. 11/12 completed on that one - click on the button to see how it's going!

and this one too...
This is on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.