Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No book joy or love in any of the stacks scattered at my feet

Sunrise was at 5:40, sunset is at 8:51. Its overcast, supposed to get to 71 degrees.

BIRDS EVERYWHERE! Red-headed house finches, hummingbirds, robins (juveniles all spotty), jays, bluejays, flickers, chickadees and sparrows. The big birds chase the little ones out of the fountains and flop the water out of the bowl with their bathing. A robin was sitting over the bubbler on the tall rock and looked like it was wearing pantaloons, a little fringe of white showed over its legs when it bent over to duck its head under the water. A sparrow slid off the top bubbler and almost landed in the bowl below, barely saved itself from a dunking. Must get a fountain cam.

I can't find anything I really want to read since I finished Boy21 (Matthew Quick) and All These Things I've Done (Gabrielle Zevin). No first page, first sentence joy, nothing that drags me into the story and makes me late for work or stay up all night. Lots of books that are worth the paper, just nothing that says FINISH ME, NOW! On the kitchen table alone I have books open butterfly style (Saving Yesler, Cinderella Smith) and dollar bills and pens marking differing levels of stoppage in three others: Melody Burning, Belle's Song, Dragonswood, and a stack of books for an awards committee that I HAVE to read. I think these books are fine, I just want to be swept away. I have read such truly I-Will-Even-Buy-This-One-When-It's-Available books this year that I just don't want to just read for something to do, I want to get lost. Yesterday on my work break I read a little of Cinderella Smith and then looked at LOL Cats. Sigh.

Looking forward to Cowboys and Aliens and finding something toothsome to read.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Boy 21

Sunrise was at 5:32, sunset will be at 8:59. It's cold, gray, supposed to get up into the 60's. Lushly green and muggy when the sun comes out (if the sun comes out).

I just started a book called Boy 21, by Matthew Quick, and it is so good. I am only on page 53 and it's one of those books I want to be immersed in. I should have started it last night instead of half an hour ago, but I was finishing The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler.

I love Finley, the main character, I love his girlfriend, Erin, and I think I'm really going to love Boy21, the damaged boy who comes to live and play basketball in Belltown.

Matthew Quick wrote another book about a teen in trouble called Sorta Like a Rock Star- a book that had me in tears and laughter all along. I am really looking forward to seeing more from him.

I have to go brush my teeth and go to work- I'm going to be thinking about this book all day. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eagles, Cranes, Turtles and Before I Go to Sleep

I went on my usual Friday walk around Seward Park, it was warm but the wind was cool. There was a swimmer heading into shore and a woman with her dog just ahead on the trail. I was playing the "how quickly can I catch up to her" game and just started reading Before I Go to Sleep, by S. J. Watson when I heard an odd sound and looked up and saw an eagle heading out over the lake, chased by crows. It dove down and hit the water and shook the crows off for a second or two and then headed back into the forest. We (I caught up to the woman and her dog) stood and watched for a bit and then walked on when TWO eagles made their aerial mating dance over the lake. So absolutely amazing, such an unusual event! I've never seen that before, only in pictures.

Finished the round (and spent some time watching the turtles) and found an open bench where I sat to finish the book I started at the beginning of the walk. Did you know that cranes sound like ducks when they make their cries? One kept flying away and then coming back to stand on a limb in the lake in front of me, I assume it was looking for lunch. A juvenile eagle had everyone oohing and aahing as it headed towards a boat dock.

Before I Go to Sleep was a thriller of a mystery. Every morning Christine wakes up and goes into the bathroom with no memory of the man in the bed next to her. She doesn't know who the woman in the mirror is, either. Every morning the man who says he is her husband fills her in on her past with photos stuck to the wall and a scrapbook and every next morning he does it all again. Until the day she gets a phone call from a doctor who convinces her to look in the closet for the diary she has been keeping during the days before she goes to sleep. The first words in the book are DON'T TRUST BEN!

Not a book you want to start when you have to do something else. Go to the park, start it in bed on a weekend night, take a long bath, but give yourself permission to read it from the start to the finish. And then just try to stop thinking about it and her life. (HarperCollins. $25.99. Grown-up book. It has just come out.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Liesl and Po, Lauren Oliver

Sunset was at 5:18, sunset will be at 9:09, -1.06 away from the longest day.

Today is absolutely beautiful. It's July 5, clear skies, all the mountains are out, it's supposed to get into the 80's today and the last few days have all been like this. Summer has arrived. Will it stay? The blackberry petals are falling away from the tight, green berries that will eventually make a really good pie.

I'm waiting for the smell of blackberries in the sun - just the exact scent of summer for me. Hot blackberries, warm hay and the bitter, rank scent of ragwort, the citrus scent of pine trees, the hot, wet scent of rain on concrete. Your favorite summer smells?

a lovely book Liesl and Po is.

Liesl and Po, by Lauren Oliver, is a fairytale-like story about loss and discovery, family and friendship. It's also a fun story filled with adventures and chases.

Liesl, a lonely little girl banished to an attic after her father's death, meets a child-sized shape in the corner of her room, accompanied by a pet-sized shape, two shadows from the other side, Po and Bundle. Po and Liesl become fast friends and because of Po she escapes from her attic prison to embark on a journey to say goodbye to her father.

Liesl has sat in the only attic window, drawing, night after night, while a little boy, Will, an alchemist's apprentice, watches her from the shadows on the street, hoping that some day she might see him and say his name. Will has fallen in love with Liesl during late night deliveries of magic for his horrible master, the Alchemist. One night, exhausted from work and watching Liesl, he mixes up the deliveries and has to run away from the Alchemist.

While Po, Bundle and Liesl are trying to get to her father and stay out of her step-mother's clutches, Will sees them get on a train, and follows them, eventually catching up and joining them on their journey.

This is such a good book. I love Po's character - it has been on the other side for so long it no longer remembers who or what it is, only that it is lonely, too. It is a ghost, I guess, and Liesl wants it to help her get a final chance to say the things she couldn't before to the one person in the world who still loved her.

I loved all these characters: the awful people are really awful, reminiscent of Grimm and Andersen, and the others are lonely and need families and friendship. It feels as if Ms. Oliver read the book aloud while writing it, the writing compels you to read faster or quieter, or in a sing-song like a lullaby. I am glad I waited to read the "Dear Reader" letter until after I finished the book, it probably would have changed the way it was read. I think I want to read it again, see if it holds the same secret, whispery feeling of the first time through.

Lauren Oliver is a pretty great author. She's written a couple of other books, Delirium and Before I Fall, and Liesl and Po is completely different from the others. And with only three books on her shelf, we can probably look forward to some really great, interesting stories in the future.

With its lovely language, Liesel and Po would be a wonderful read-aloud for ages 8 and up. (HarperCollins. $16.99. Available October '11.)

Here is Lauren Oliver's website.