Mathlete.

Our 6-year-old will do anything to avoid going to bed at night. Michael gave her a book on addition and subtraction yesterday, so she was working on that instead of sleeping tonight.

We heard a lot of racket for someone just doing math, so we went to check it out. The instructions had a frog sitting on a number line. He had a word balloon that said “Jump 3 times.” So she would stand up and jump up and down while she counted the numbers on the line.

Well, at least she’s getting some exercise?

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

Then We Came to the End: A Novel The most unusual thing about this book is that it’s written in the first person plural. “We gathered at Jim’s desk.” That sort of thing. It made you wonder all the time, which one of the people mentioned in the book is the narrator? Well the ending is really neat.

My favorite character in the book reminded me of our across-the-street neighbor. You’d have to know him to know what I mean. He was my favorite character because he was such a nice, honest, hard-working guy.

I also like the chick that was me. Seriously. This sentence occurred in the book: She listened to Motley Crue. I kid you not.

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan

Last Night at the Lobster This short book is about the last day of business of a Red Lobster Restaurant. It’s told from the point of view of the manager who will be moved to an Olive Garden next week. He as to deal with the various employees who don’t show up on the last day and rude patrons and personal problems between the kitchen employees. He also has to decide what to get his pregnant girlfriend for Christmas in 4 days, and he has to deal with his feelings for his former girlfriend who is also a waitress at the Lobster.

I love these little slice of life type books. I raged through this one in about 3 hours.

Purity of Blood by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Purity of Blood This being the second in the Captain Alatriste series.

I think I liked this one better, actually. It had a real ending. I felt like the first one just sort of trailed off. But it had the usual sword-fighting and hair-raising, last minute rescues.

I was surprised that it included the Spanish Inquisition, but (say it with me)

NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List

The Complete Idiot\'s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List (Complete Idiot\'s Guide to) I know, I know. It’s an Idiot’s Guide. Who would get reading suggestions from an Idiot’s Guide? Well, I decided to give it a shot. And I got a lot of book ideas from it!

It’s divided into categories and genres. There are classics in each section and then suggestions all the way up to books released last year. Each book has a little synopsis.

My only complaint is that they continuously refer to Jan Karon’s Mitford series and the “Medford” series. Well, at least they’re consistent.

Soldier’s Heart by Elizabeth Samet

Soldier\'s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point Samet is a civilian instructor of English at West Point Military Academy. In this book, she defends the need for literature for future officers during war time.

I thought there would be more discussion about the cadets’ responses to particular books. There was some of that, but mostly it was about how the officers use the thinking skills they learned in literature class while stationed in combat zones. She also posits that literature provides a modicum of escape for the soldiers in hazardous conditions.

I have never really been interested in war literature or soldiers or the military (I’m embarrassed to admit), but I enjoyed this book.

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Winter\'s TaleSo, OK. I thought this was going to be about a guy who breaks into a big expensive house and accidentally falls in love with the consumptive living there. Well, she dies on page 200 so I was really confused. Then I kept reading and got even more confused.

Here’s what I gathered. The rest of the book takes place right before the new millennium (which was way in the future when the book was written). There are some time traveler type folks who are trying to build some kind of bridge of light, but I never really figured out what it was supposed to accomplish. There’s this really great horse that can fly. At the turn of the millennium, the bridge is set to try again. The city is burning to the ground. One of the main couples’ daughter has died of an unidentified infection. Crazy zombie-like bad guys from the turn of the 20th century are running around trying to get the horse.

OK. That’s just a really bad description, but the book is beautiful. Even when I didn’t quite understand everything that was going on, the language was wonderful. And the book is 750 pages. How am I going to describe it succinctly?

total love.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I volunteer at my church as choreographer and director of a liturgical dance group made of high school girls. This year I have 18 teenage daughters. We dance in service about 4 or 5 times a year. We meet every week to practice the dances and I become very close to the girls and very involved in their lives. When people find out I don’t get paid, they think I’m a glutton for punishment.

Tonight, three of my girls pulled me aside, held my hands and sang to me. “I was born to tell you I love you.” In three part harmony. It was amazing.

That’s my payment right there.

Line that made me laugh.

I don’t do this very often, but I read a line in Winters Tale by Mark Helprin that I wanted to share because it made me laugh.

“As you might be able to tell from his name, Antoine Bonticue weighed less than a hundred pounds.”

That is all.

W.A.R. the Unauthorized Biography of W. Axl Rose by Mick Wall

W.A.R.: The Unauthorized Biography of William Axl Rose This was kind of fun. Especially as it made me want to drag out all my old Guns n Roses cds. Now, you have to remember that the author was a friend of the subject for a few years, before he was moved to the “enemies” list. Which all means you have to take what he says with a grain of salt. Except that all the statements he makes about things Axl did (like not show up for huge shows) and things Axl said in the press are verifiable. Which all makes Axl Rose look like a fruitcake. I mean, he says his former band mates did not have the best interest of the band at heart like he always has. But how does he reconcile not showing up for concerts with that statement of himself.

Mostly he just comes across as selfish, deluded, and mentally ill.

But you know what? Sometimes that’s really fun to read about.

Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb

Strangers in Death (In Death) In the interest of full disclosure, I will say straight off that I received this as a review copy. I’d never finished one of the books in this series, so I decided to see what all the hoopla was about. I had tried to read the first in series before, but it was pretty depressing, and I didn’t get very far.

This one totally blew me away. I don’t know if a lot has changed in the 25 installments since that first one, or if I just didn’t give it enough of a chance, but I’m seriously thinking about trying it again. The main character, Eve Dallas, is a tough-talking, totally-can-back-it-up, murder detective in the year 2060. She definitely takes all those girly stereotypes and beats them down with the butt of her gun. She’s smart and has a very dry sense of humor. Her partner is funny and also a smart ass. Her (of course) sizzling hot husband is hilarious and has a shady past.

So now for the plot. A millionaire sporting goods king is murdered in what looks like a kinky sex meet gone wrong. Only, some things don’t fit. Like the fact that he was so loaded up on barbiturates that he probably wasn’t even conscious when he died. Hmmm.

The mystery isn’t so much who did it, as how and how Dallas is going to prove it.

February Recap.

I don’t think I managed to blog about all of these because I have suddenly lost all ability to organize. I hope this is a temporary malady. Anyway…

Books read in February:
Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe
Cassandra’s Sister by Veronica Bennett
Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
The Heroines by Eileen Favorite
Away by Amy Bloom
The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Mom, Have You Seen My Leather Pants by Craig A. Williams
The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
The Joy of Books by Eric Burns
Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Favorites: The Heroines, The Winter Rose, Strangers in Death, Mom Have You Seen…

Oops.

My dear sister, Edis, pointed out that I hadn’t blogged in 2 weeks. Ouch. So, I will now do a quick recap of the books I should have been blogging about.

Suite Francaise Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

This is actually 2 books that were meant to be part of a series written by a prominent French author during World War II. She only got these 2 written before she was killed at Auschwitz. This particular edition has notes she made about plans for the entire series as well as letters written around the time of her arrest and death.

Mom, Have You Seen My Leather Pants?: The Tale of a Teen Rock Wannabe Who Almost Was Mom, Have You Seen My Leather Pants by Craig A Williams.

This book took me way back down memory lane. The author is almost exactly one month younger than me, but he grew up outside LA. In 8th grade he and his friends started a glam band and by 10th grade they were playing clubs on the strip in LA. The really fun part for me was reading the name of the other bands that were playing on the strip at the same time, and realizing I still have cassettes by those bands. Wow.

The City of Falling Angels City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil last year and really liked it, so I decided to check out his next one, even though the reviews I read said it wasn’t as good. I thought that, with the exception of one chapter which delves a bit too deeply into the history of a philanthropy that helps restore historic parts of Venice, it was just as good as the first one. In this one, the author shows up in Venice 3 days after the burning of the Fenice theater. He stays to research this book until it’s rebuilding is complete almost 9 years later.

The Joy of Books: Confessions of a Lifelong Reader The Joy of Books by Eric Burns

This is sort of a history of books and reading. Greatly condensed. The best part is the subtle injections of humor he tosses in. It sounds like a really boring subject, but it was written so well I really enjoyed it. More than I expected.