Saturday, April 21, 2007


You can tell it's near the end of the school year. The teachers have spring fever as bad as the kids. Hence, no blog posts for quite some time. Not even about hot men on Fridays. Yikes.

Fear not, there's something going on in the cortex. It's just not coming out. And since we took the kids to Disney's Grad Nite last night and I'm working on about 3 hours of sleep since 5:00 Friday morning, I'm amazed this is coming out relatively coherent. I hope.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Book Tag!

I was skimming for something totally different and came across this fun book list at In the Style of Lisa. Feel free to steal for your own blog...tag, you're it!

Look at the list of books below:
*Bold the ones you’ve read* Italicize the ones you want to read* Leave plain the ones that you aren’t interested in. If you are reading this (and haven't participated yet), tag, you’re it!

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) an aside, I'd better read this one, or my friend Tori will swoop down from Ontario and whack me!
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) -- according to BluePyramid's BookQuiz, this is my #2 book, so I guess I'd better read it sometime!
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’s Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Books and Cooks: The Double Bind


Cover Image


I must admit, being an English major and an English teacher and all, I was intrigued by one major premise of this book. Some action takes place in Gatsby country--West Egg, Long Island specifically. Characters from The Great Gastby like Tom and Daisy Buchanan and their daughter Pamela play pivotal roles. The central character, Laurel Eastabrook, grew up in West Egg and spent her summers at the country club which used to be Gatsby's house.

Okay, I'll bite. I willingly suspend disbelief if I suspect the story might pay off well in the end. However...


...I saw one twist coming from a mile away. Several miles, actually. I was maybe a quarter into the book when I suspected that Bobbie Crocker was not only the supposedly dead Buchanan heir, but was Jay Gatsby's kid. Yes on both counts.

What really irked me, though, was the realization about two-thirds of the way in that I'd read this book before. Interspersed through the narrative are reports from a psychiatrist at the state mental hospital about the patient's current state of mind. I began to be suspicious that these notes weren't about the obviously crazy person in the narrative, schizophrenic Bobbie Crocker, but Laurel herself. Yes on that one, too.

Shades of the late Robert Cormier's I Am the Cheese.

Frankly, Cormier did it better. Much creepier in tone, more shocking ending. The Double Bind has been described as a high-wire act, but those aren't suspenseful when you can see the safety harnesses holding the writer up. And when the safety harness is one of the best-known and most talked-about young adult novels ever, your deviation needs to be really special to stand on its own. Cormier all the way. Bohjalian not so much.


From a writer's point of view, I have to say that the prose itself disappointed. Case in point, one of the more annoying authorial choices I've encountered lately. Two characters, Laurel and her boss, Kathryn, are speaking. Laurel is a social worker, Kathryn is her mentor and the director of a homeless shelter. In the middle of the conversation, one of them gets identified as "the social worker" or "the mentor" or "the social worker's boss" instead of "Laurel" or "Kathryn" or any available pronoun. I don't know if the usage was intended as part of the overall construct of the book (spoilers above explain) or just oddball Bohjalian style, but it drove me nuts.

This was my first foray into Bohjalian land, and I can't say I'd recommend it. As they say down South, "That dog won't hunt." Can't imagine I'll be rushing to Borders for his backlist, neither.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Chomped Again!

They romped.
They stomped.
They chomped.
UF basically owns OSU now. Can't wait to see what the boys at Gators vs. Buckeyes do with this one!
Go Gators--back to back b-ball champs!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Good Reads

Today I finished a great book, Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. I read several of her Elizabeth MacPherson books years ago, but I've come late to the Ballad series that focuses on the Appalachians. This is the first, and it won't be the last.

It's always a pleasure to (re)discover a great writer. The thing that makes McCrumb novels so good is their blend of excellent research, seasoned just so with humor and intriguing plotline. Ghost Riders is a Civil War story--or one about string theory, or justice, or historical figures (North Carolina Governor Zebulon Baird Vance and guerrilla fighter Malinda Blalock, to name two), or Appalachian culture. It's wonderful for its intriguing premises and for how much I learn about why it's important to have good back teeth if you're enlisting (you have to be able to tear the top off your powder load). See what I mean? I wouldn't have been scouting Wikipedia for that bit of trivia, but now it's in the cortex, so there you go.

All in all, Ghost Riders was a huge contrast to the big book I just finished for my book club (which I will comment upon Tuesday, after the meeting). I can tell you this--lots more of the literati will know the author of my Tuesday book. But they're missing out. McCrumb is by far the better writer, and Ghost Riders the better book. Too bad she hasn't been an Oprah pick. She deserves it far more than Mr. Tuesday Night.


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