Sunday, December 31, 2006

Flu! - or something. The bathroom and I have spent the past 15 hours becoming better acquainted. I would take the aches and chills of flu over any kind of stomach problem. And today I seem to have both.
What have I read lately? It's hard to concentrate when you don't feel good. But BEFORE I got sick, I read the latest installment in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series AND the latest Charles Todd Ian Rutledge mystery. Of course, I can't remember the titles so just a minute - Okay, Winspear's book is "A Messenger of Truth". Todd's book is "A Long Shadow."

Winspear - when a graduate from Maisie's old school asks her to clear up any confusion over an artist's "accidental" death, Maisie is introduced to the Bohemian side of Britain's landed gentry. The aftermath of World War I has changed the economic status of many wealthy families and has made the lot of the working poor even more desperate. Maisie is suffering from the aftermath of a "breakdown" and her relationship with a young doctor further complicates things. This is a measured mystery and a satisfying entry to the series.

Charles Todd, actually a collaboration between a mother and a son, writes a creepy post WWI series of mysteries, starring the barely recuperated shell shocked Inspector Ian Rutledge, and the ghost that haunts him, his murdered sergeant, Hamish. (Sorry, Hamish, I forget your last name.) Rutledge's superior has sent him out to investigate the bow-and-arrow attack on a local constable, once a London police officer. The village has been reeling from the disappearance of a young girl just a few years earlier and the wounded officer is a suspect. There is a haunted wood involved and someone is stalking Rutledge and leaving shell casings in his car and on his bed. And what of the woman who leads seances? Just exactly what does she suspect of Rutledge's precarious mental state? Pretty creepy stuff.

And then there's Nina Bawden and her book, "Granny the Pag". Nina writes for adults and children and her books have been turned into BBC features. The most recent BBC movie is "Carrie's War", a story of a girl's adjustment to being relocated during WW II.
"Granny the Pag" takes place in present day Britain. Cat lives with her grandmother, since her actor parents are too busy pursuing their careers to look after her. Her grandmother is not a typical grandmother. She's a well-known doctor, a therapist, who chain smokes, wears old, tattered or outlandish clothing and drives a Harley. (Her Black Vincent has been put in a museum.)
Cat and her grandmother are happy with the arrangement but two things converge to shake up their world. Cat draws the attention of the school bully, Willy Green. All the teachers at school think Willy is an angel and the head master accuses Cat of bullying him. Willy's father is a powerful man, as well. And Cat's parents have arrived, acting-wise, bought a house and want their daughter to live with them. Granny is stuck between her daughter and her grand daughter and it is up to Cat to start the ball rolling on a solution.
I liked the book because the bully's character is not black and white. By the end of the book, the reader sees him as a victim. (Granny takes him for a ride on her motorcycle.) And the psychological warfare that Cat's parents wage is impressive if finally ineffective.

I'm not sure what has happened to Bawden. She hasn't published any new kid's books for several years. I hope she's still around.
This is my last post for 2006. Tomorrow starts a New Year! Whoo hoo! Happy New Year everyone. Let me know what you are reading.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holidays are coming, ho ho ho! My attention span is....hey what's that?
Anyway, where was I? Snowflakes. It's raining cats and I want to share something. I can't concentrate. Help! Help! The snacks in the staff lounge are stalking meeeee!

Ok, ok, I think I'm better. Yesterday, I found two cool sites. Snowdays by let's you make snowflakes and someone contributes money to the Salvation Army for every snowflake. You can print your snowflakes out or email them to friends and you can comment on other people's snowflakes. It's a whole lot of fun and you get to do good, too.
The other cool site was Make-a-Flake This site is harder to negotiate. Those virtual scissors are wicked but it is easier to figure out how to print your snowflake out. Take a look at both.

As for reading, well, ahem, ahem...I've been reading the same blasted book for a whole week. It's "The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart and I'm reading the ARP. It's pretty darn exciting - if you like orphans-sent-off-to-fight-evil- mind-control-freaks kind of books. I hope to finish it soon. BTW, it's not due to be published until March. It's just that it's the holidays (whine, whine,) and I have so much to doooooo. So I can't read all the time like I like to.

HOWEVER, I did get the coolest book for the library - Danny Seo's Simply Green Giving" (I linked you to Danny's blog and not to If you're that interested you can go to Amazon yourself.) Danny is a young environmentalist/decorator type person and he has great ideas for last minute gift wrapping and gifts that use stuff people normally throw away.

Talking about last minute holiday preparations, check out this next website as well. Thrifty Fun has recipes for cool gifty things, mostly food, that you can make and hand out to your friends and family. (You'll have to scroll down to get to the GOOD ones.) I'm interested in the chocolate dipped stuff. The danger there is that my friends and family may never see the results.

And Family Fun's site has some cool last-minute make 'em gifts, too. These ideas are for kids as well as grown-ups so if you have some of those (kids) at home, get them started on the gifts and when they get bored with that set them up to make snowflakes.

Lastly, if you live in the Lehigh Valley, then get yourself over to Godfrey Daniels on Sunday, December 17th at 2 p.m. I intend to perform my very first accordion wrestling act and tell a story simultaneously - or not. (I WILL tell a story and I WILL wrestle with an accordion but I may not actually do them simultaneously. I'm practicing but accordion wrestling is HARD!) John Callahan (not the mayor of Bethlehem) and Kathy Long will also tell stories. So, the whole afternoon will be tons of fun. Be there. It's a pretty cheap outing ($4.50 per) and I would appreciate it soooo much.