Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28: More Books!

Raising Steam (Discworld, #40)Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Stephen Briggs could read the phone book and I'd listen. . . His skills shine in this, the third (?) Moist Von Lipwig book by Pratchett. The plot of RS is the weakest of the three, with a long, slow decline to the end--even one of the characters asks, essentially, "Is that all there is?"--but Pratchett still made me laugh out loud in various places. I recommend it, but it's not his best, so don't start with it!

What to Keep: A NovelWhat to Keep: A Novel by Rachel Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What to Keep was not a surefire hit: I skimmed a good deal of the first two sections before the story and characters got interesting enough to slow me down. Cline's a skilled writer, but her characters were prickly enough that it took some time for them to win me over.

Belong to MeBelong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love her two books: they are good "peopley" stories even tho many people would say they're too positive, presenting a sense that the world is a good place. She reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver.

Ha! Reread it. . . May 24ish, 2014. Still enjoyed it! VERY readable.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

May 24: Happy Birthday to ME!

        Well, it's been a lovely b'day! Not only did our recalcitrant May weather come through with a quite lovely day, but Nate set out to spoil me, making me the delicious cake shown above (Cold Fudge Sundae Cake from the Rosie's Cookbook) and delicious crabmeat rolls for dinner. Camilla is off for a long weekend at the Cyrs' camp way up in Maine, but she had a package and a lovely card waiting in my bedroom when I woke up at 9:15 (!!) and the rest of the day we just did some errands, went to the Library, got food stuff, prepped, and generally hung out. Nice day. Dinner was delicious. All is well. 

And: I realized I need to catch up on a few books, so I will enter them on Goodreads and go from there! Tomorrow I will skip church and since the pool is closed, I think I'll go for a long bike ride, and then there's the parade and the Memorial Day Mile race on Monday--good stuff! 

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book: the voice is wonderful, and the story is moving and thought-provoking. It's about an active man who is wheelchair-bound after an accident and his new "carer," Lou. She begins to try to convince him that life can still be valuable, and their relationship becomes complicated and important, but Moyes never lets it get trite or predictable. The questions the book raised were almost as interesting as the story itself.

It brought me to tears, but I loved it. Highly recommended. It's a good story about what makes a life worth living, on many levels. Wow.

True to Form (Katie Nash, #3)True to Form by Elizabeth Berg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stumbled upon a reference to this book "The third in the series," and I immediately put it on reserve at the Library. I loved the first two about Katie (Durable Goods and Joy School), finding Berg's depiction of a young girl's maturation delicate and thoughtful, and loving the fact that she created a world where an old priest could be a strong, kind friend, and where a girl's crush on a 20 something mechanic could turn into a warm, loving lesson.

True to Form is another winner, and I loved it. Katie's struggles continue, but she's growing stronger, still finding support from her stepmother, her priest, and her collection of friends and employers. I highly recommend these books to young women and those who love them. Their picture of the world around us is honest--bad things do happen: people die, we make mistakes and hurt others--but Berg's stories of how to cope with those facts are reassuring and hopeful.

Some quotes:

"One thing I know: Anything we have, we are only borrowing. Anything. Any time." 72

"Outside, the rain sometimes comes down so hard, we have to talk louder, and it feels like a miracle that the roof holds. It makes for a coziness, and for a gratefulness, too, that you have the choice to not be out in it. You can sit at the table and look out the window and not have to feel what you see. It seems so pure and timeless, the need for shelter, and the connection we have to cave people looking out at the weather from the entrance to their caves. Here we are, still doing it. Wearing way different things but probably feeling just the same." 133

Loved this novel!

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Off to year 51. Onwards!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17: Whoosh!

May is flying! Last weekend was the EHS prom, with its excitement, tasks, and fun--but there wasn't much time left to post. . .or read! This weekend  is the MDIHS prom for Nate and the Winthrop High prom (and final AFS weekend meeting) for Camilla, so I am less involved in general, and can therefore hang out and get caught up.

So: some pics:

Camilla looking lovely in her bright yellow:

Nate and Lucy: 

And Camilla and Nate gave me flowers for Mother's Day!

And--now--a finished book! 

Wives and DaughtersWives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Audio book, read by my beloved Nadia May. Loooooooong and yet somehow exciting as well. . . for days I set off to school or home, announcing, "I might finish my novel today!" and yet, Gaskell continued the story of Molly and her terrible stepmother and her family and friends. Finally, en route home, the editor broke in. . . "Unfortunately, Gaskell died before finishing this novel." !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No joke. 25 hours of listening and caring about these folks, and then: she didn't finish the last chapter.

It was so horrible that it was funny. I still love the book, I still think Gaskell is an impressive writer in the mould of Jane Austen, BUT the next one of hers that I read/listen to I will be sure is finished!

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4: The one that almost got away!

A nice weekend, featuring some good room cleaning on Friday afternoon, a nice people filled visit to N's track meet (where, two hours after I'd left, he PR'd by 10 feet in discuss and matched his PR in shot), and then an evening filled with tidying type errands like returning clothes and packing up stuff for Lyle. Saturday featured breakfast out (I got a $7 off coupon for b'fast for my b'day month at Governor's!), and then a day of cooking, cleaning, and baking in prep for dinner with the Keblinskys; today I facetimed with Lyle (a rare treat), swam 2000 yards hard, then skipped church to do necessary but time-consuming stuff around the house. We'd expected rain, but instead had a mix of rain and then, increasingly, sunshine, though we did have enough thunder that Zeus was reduced to a blithering mess. I talked to Ann and Mom, wrote Julie, did banking, and listened to a lot of my audiobook: the absorbing but slow moving (35 hours?) Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. And now. . . Sunday night!

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce, #6)The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I generally enjoy Flavia a great deal, and I was looking forward to this outing, but IT DRAGGED. It was predictable (in terms of the pattern of the story and F's character) and boring: painstaking details of three days dragged unrealistically out (could Flavia actually slide out for a plane ride and have no one notice her absence? Really?) but generally being dull. Once again, the mystery was indistinct and unrealistic, but this time the rest of the story lacked zip as well.

I think we all need to move past Harriet's death and on into a life of adventures!

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