Friday, December 05, 2008

Best Books of ‘08

In the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, regular columnist and author Stephen King offers his picks on the top 10 books of the year. I’m not a big fan of his fiction genre (with the exceptions of Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile) but I rather enjoy his writing in the magazine. He advocates reading over going to the movies because it is a better bang for your buck. Following is his list, including his pertinent comments in quotes. I haven’t read any of these but offer up the list in case you are looking for some new mysteries to check out.

1. The novels of Robert Goddard: a British mystery/suspense novelist. He has written 15 novels full of “more twists than a box of macaroni.”

2. “The Garden of Last Days” by Andre Dubus III. “Terrifying, unputdownable, and the best novel so far about 9/11."

3. When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson. Third novel featuring private eye Jackson Brodie. “You can’t believe all the tangled threads are going to come together, but they do.”

4. The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. “If you liked Life of Pi and The Secret Life of Bees, this is for you.”

5. Nixonland by Rick Perlstein. Nonfiction… “It’s the best history of the turbulent ‘60s I’ve ever read.”

6. Heartsick/Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain. “We’ve been down Hannibal Lecter Avenue many times, and these two books shouldn’t work… but they do.”

7. Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh. Sequel to Hollywood Station. “A fine, funky read with an all too believable murder plot.”

8. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Mystery about a decades-old crime. “The good news is that Larsson delivered two more novels with this one. The bad news is that he died of a heart attack shortly after doing so.”

9. Old Flames by Jack Ketchum. “Remember Glenn Close… in Fatal Attraction? Raise that to the 10th power and you get Dora Welles, the crazy ex-girlfriend in this short chiller.”

10. The Good Guy by Dean Koontz. “This is Koontz at his Hitchcockiest: nice guy is mistaken for contract killer, mayhem ensues.”

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

An Historic Day

No matter what your preference was in the voting booth, the decision has been made about our next leader and our country now moves forward. Some are fearful and some hopeful; all feelings are valid.

I know that I cannot fully appreciate the euphoria of the African American community in the election of a black president. I was moved by the reflections of the elderly black senators and news commentators, who have gone from participation in the civil rights movement as young men to seeing a biracial man be elected president of the United States in their senior years. I’ll never be able to totally feel what they feel because I am a white person, but I want to value the reality as much as possible. I know we have just entered an unprecedented era… may I take it all in as much as I can.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Quilter 101

I took up quilting a year ago. The interest started a year before that through witnessing massive creativity at a quilt show. Then I observed artisans in action at a quilt retreat and decided I wanted to give it a whirl. I've been slowly working on a project that is taking forever, so I took a break from it and tried something different. What a trill to go from this...

... to THIS! I'm so excited. Still need a border and backing, but I'm on my way.

Back To It

My blogging goes in fits and starts. Here's another start. I've been inspired to get back to it because I have friends with such nice blogs, especiall Sarah. I want to keep sharing, so here you go!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Book Review: “Pay Dirt” by Rita Mae Brown

Mary Minor Haristeen (Harry) is the small-town postmistress of Crozet, VA. She, along with her cat, Mrs. Murphy, and corgi, Tucker, find themselves at the center of frequent mysterious activities that have been the subjects of a long series of books. Her animals, and others in the town, talk to each other outside the understanding of the humans, which gives readers access to hilarious, and often sage, dialogue.

In this story, the appearance of a black leather-clad biker in their small Southern town marks the beginning of a series of unfortunate events. He claims to be looking for his long-lost girlfriend but ends up being murdered. His untimely death added more fodder to the town’s rumor mill, already ripe with the implications of a computer virus that would reportedly target the local businesses on a future date. When a bank audit reveals missing money, and a local love triangle involves one of the bank’s officials, tongues wag about whether the events are all connected. After several more murders, the town is reeling and would never guess who is the cause of it all.

My Thoughts
This series is good light reading. Predictably entertaining but not a real mind stretcher. Probably wouldn’t be pleasing to lovers of literary classics. It falls into the category of “animal mysteries,” not unlike the books of Lillian Jackson Braun.

Favorite Lines
1. Dog to cat when seeing the male subject of the love triangle after a particularly ugly spat: “He looks like Death eating a cracker.”

2. Dog and cat discussing Harry, who is being taken out to dinner by two likable suitors:
Dog: “How do you like that?” He watched the red taillights disappear.
Cat: “I like it a lot… I want someone in mom’s life who makes her life easier. Love shouldn’t feel like a job.”

Automation Nation

I would like to know who decided that humans are completely lazy and don't need human contact. I recently returned from some traveling and am stunned at the automation that is now forced upon us everywhere we turn. As you drive to your destination, you can zoom through toll booths if you have the EZ Pass or something similar. When you arrive at the airport, you swipe your credit card to receive your boarding pass. An agent only helps if you are too dumb to know how to do this. If you have personal needs to attend to, you head for the airport bathroom. Of course, you don't have to exert any energy because you can take a moving walkway right up to the door. After you lock your stall, you can push a button and the "sani-seal" will encircle your toilet seat. If you flinch, or stand to pull up your britches, the toilet will automatically flush. (Very startling indeed if it happens while you are still seated.) When you go to wash your hands, you wave your hand under a spout for soap. Then you wave your hand under another spout for water, which is exactly the right temperature and runs for the appropriate amount of time. Then you wave your hand under a paper towel dispenser and the proper amount of absorbent material pops out. You do have to throw it away on your own. (Hotels also have these fully automated bathrooms available to the public.) If you are lucky, you won't have to open many doors on your own because the good old electronic eye anticipates you coming and wallah! The door slides open. If you need any items at a big-box store, you can go through the self-checkout aisles and avoid the bag boys. There are vending machines now for everything imaginable -- even IPods! Be careful, people, or we're going to turn into a species of idiots.
PS -- For those of you in my era, you'll recognize the picture of Rosie from the Jetsons.