Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Art ForgerThe Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The premise of this book: an actual unsolved art heist being solved by a professional art copier, is pretty interesting.

Note: evidently copying art isn't illegal, nor is it illegal to sell copied art, it's just illegal to sell it claiming that it's original.

However, the story itself was a little sloppy. It feels very much like a first novel (which I think it is). The verb tenses would change mid-paragraph. Not often, but enough to be annoying. Claire (the protagonist) would say things like, I'm not a dupe, but then she'd do something where I'd just want to shake some sense into her. She and her art dealer both say they've fallen in love with each other, but it doesn't feel like love. It feels like they're just sleeping together. In the beginning of the book, you're introduced to a bunch of Claire's friends, but most of them are really just pointless characters. I think the author was trying to give Claire a believable number of friends, but had nothing for them to do. And Claire does this whole volunteer thing at a juvenile detention facility that really doesn't serve much purpose, unless it's supposed to be foreshadowing or ironic juxtapositioning or something, but it's really just something random for Claire to do. And the dialogue was stilted in places.

However, all of that being said, the premise of the book was interesting enough to carry it, and all-in-all it was an enjoyable read.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The other day, a coworker I'll call David (who is not, in fact my coworker who is actually named David), asked me if I had any upcoming 10Ks or if I was taking the summer off.

It was nice that he remembered that I'm a runner, although I really don't run 10Ks. I told him no, that my next race is the Carlsbad Marathon in January, so while I'm not actively training this summer, I'm still running.

I explained to David that last year, my running partner and I ran the Portland Marathon in October, so we did all of our long runs in August and September when it was miserably hot here in San Diego (yes, I realize San Diego is really far south and basically a desert, but it is rarely miserably hot here).

Here's what a typical Saturday looked like for me last summer:
4:30 am: Get up and eat a bowl of cereal (For those of you who are not distance runners, you CANNOT do long runs without eating first. You're going to be out there for hours.)
5:00 am: Leave my house to meet my running partner at the predetermined designated location
5:20 am: Arrive at the predetermined designated location. Debate the usefulness of putting on sunscreen BEFORE THE SUN IS UP. Decide to put it on anyway. The sun in California is out to get you. And you. And you.
5:30 am: begin 16, or 18, or 20, or 22 mile run.
sometime around 9 am, on your return trip through Torrey Pines, observe that you've burnt 1,642 calories. Have a random stranger say in astonishment, you've burned 16-hundred calories?!?! (It is only 9 am, after all). Respond, yeah, we just bench-pressed a whale. Because this somehow seems a more logical explanation than the fact that your 22-mile run started at 5:30 am when told you it was only 74 degrees out (we actually considered starting to run at 4:30 am, but told us it would be 73 degrees, and we decided one degree wasn't worth an hour of sleep) AND that you still had 5 more miles to go. And it's now 95 degrees. Let me tell you, the Torrey Pines park water was the most delicious thing I have ever consumed in my entire life.

The cool part of this was...oh wait, nothing was cool about this. The sun god was all, I hate you bitches. I'm going to turn your running playground into a sweltering death zone. It's going to be awful when you start running, and then I'm going to peak my rays up over the rest of the country and hone in on you so that all of your sunscreen has melted off well before I reach my zenith. So not only will you be hot and miserable, but you are now almost certain to die of skin cancer. BWAH-HA-HA-HA!

So what did we do this Saturday? We ran approximately 5 miles and then went and ate doughnuts and walked around the convention center, admiring the amazing people watching that is comic con. And I even got a Captain America doughnut to bring home to Captain America.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

She dreams in color

I'm trying to get real stuff done, like paying bills, but all of the sites I need to use are currently undergoing maintenance. Presumably because it's a Saturday night, but this sucks for me because when they're back up on Monday, I'll need to go back to my other real life of going to work and the gym and such. THIS is why I never get anything done!

So, in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you a dream I had the other night.

I was in heaven, with my cousin. I was my age now, but in my dream he was about 8. We were in a candy store and I was hesitating to make a selection (NB: despite my real life love of all things sweet, I actually rarely  make purchases in candy stores...even when I go in just to look around and smell that candy store smell. I'm pretty sure once I started buying things, I wouldn't stop.)

Then I turned to my cousin and said, I'm so glad you can't get cavities in heaven because now I can have all of the Bubble Yum Watermelon gum I want. 

I'm not sure what I'm more concerned about: dreaming that both my cousin and I are dead, or that my heaven is a candy store (and that Bubble Yum is the first thing I go for).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The rights of the reader

I'm currently reading a book called The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac. And it's awesome.

It might seem odd (or maybe not) that I'd read a book about what a wonderful hobby reading is, since I already love to read, but this book articulates everything I love about reading, and learning to read, and discovering books, in better language than I could dream up. When I write my official review, I'm going to pretty much quote the entire thing.

I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about how mind-numbingly dull high school was. I really wanted to skip, say second through fourth grade. Which would have gotten me to high school at point in my mental development when it probably wouldn't have been so dull. (Although, emotionally, on the other hand, it would have been a train wreck.)

I commented to my friend that during the summers, I would easily read seven or eight books at the same time. (Now that I have work and grown-up responsibilities, my max is about 3 before it gets stressful.) What would happen is, my mother would go to the library a couple days a week (it was across the street, and she a librarian) and bring home some books. They'd be on the coffee table, the kitchen table, the dining room table, the porch. Some would make it upstairs into the (accurately, but somehow inaccurately named) TV room. Some would end up on my sister's bedside table, some on mine, some on the floor next to my mother's bed (see, Captain America, I inherited this trait!).

And as we mosied around the house, my sister or I would pick up one book, ask whoever was reading it how it was. We'd sit at the old-fashioned telephone table, waiting for a friend to pick us up to take us somewhere, and start a book that had been placed there as someone ran inside to answer the (land-line) phone (which was, ironically, located not on the telephone table, but in the kitchen, where everyone used to keep their phone). We'd start a book in one room, leave it to get a snack, and begin another as we stood at the kitchen counter (on one leg) eating a bowl of cereal.

We'd tear out strips of the Ladies' Home Journal that my grandmother would bring over as impromptu bookmarks. Sometimes there would be multiple bookmarks in any one book; part of the challenge was remembering which bookmark was yours.

Is anybody still reading this? my mother would yell as she readied herself for a new trip to the library. Sometimes we'd have requests...the second or third or fourth in a series...another book by the same author...a chapter book the kids we babysat were reading so we could catch up and understand what they were talking about when they called us muggles (was this really an insult or are kids just ridiculous?). Yes, even in high school, my mother picked out my books (she was, after all, a librarian).

Who does this belong to? I'd holler down the stairs. My sister would answer her friend, or my grandmother would claim it, or I'd have picked it up babysitting. Books littered my youth the way the shoes accumulated by the front door when we had friends over. (My father had more fits over the shoes than the books...I'm not sure if this was a pick-your-battles scenario or if books just stack better than shoes do.)

Books still litter my house. Instead of getting rid of some of them, we buy more bookshelves. Put the story aside, we're about to have dinner, my husband tells me. Could you put some of these on a shelf, he admonishes, Josafina is cleaning today.

My sister uses rule #2, the right to skip, and rule #3, the right not to finish a book (I can't bring myself to do this). I've mastered rules #4, the right to read it again (somehow Dobby dies EVERY TIME. It's still tragic); #6, the right to mistake a book for real life (um, hello, I have second breakfast EVERY DAY; if second breakfast is real, then by the transitive (or some such) property, Hobbits are real); and #7, the right to read anywhere (most recent bizarre reading location: in a bar during an MMA fight). My whole family uses #5, the right to read anything (I would add the emphasis ANYTHING!!), and #9, the right to read out loud (my sister and I were first introduced to Harry Potter when I read it out loud to her as she was recovering from surgery).

But my favorite rule is rule #1, the right not to read. I've never used it, but it would be a sad day if I had to read rather than got to read.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Zero Day

Zero Day (John Puller, #1)Zero Day by David Baldacci
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an entertaining, easy read. It's traditional Baldacci. I did notice a couple of editorial errors, and one plot inconsistency that left me thinking, wait, what?, that doesn't make sense, it really wasn't critical to the story line.

If you like Baldacci, you'll like this book, and if you don't, you won't.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Secret Keeper

The Secret KeeperThe Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So you know when you read a book, and people keep talking to you, and you want to turn to them with your best eight-year-old-older-sister-I'm-right-because-I-said-so-voice and say "But I'm READING" because clearly there is nothing more important than reading THIS PARTICULAR BOOK, RIGHT NOW, EVER? That's how the last third of this book is. And people kept interrupting me.

About halfway through the book, when I figured out what Dolly's plan was, I thought, this is stupid. This isn't going to work. It's petty and childish and it isn't going to turn out how she thinks it will. Well, I was both right, and so far from being right I can't believe I was disappointed to figure it out with 200 pages to go.

Kate Morton has an enviable use of language. She describes things in ways I wouldn't have dreamed up, but that are still crystal clear. She does change character voice a lot (which is something I have been noticing more and more after a friend pointed it out to me), but even within chapters, I didn't find it distracting.

The book is broken into a couple of sections that seem rather arbitrary to me, as the sections neither fully focus on, nor are fully described by, the character they're named after.

All-in-all, this is a really good book.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Forgotten

The Forgotten (Puller, #2)The Forgotten by David Baldacci
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Somehow, when I got this book from the library, I didn't know it was the second in a series. The protagonist, John Puller, kept referring to something that had happened to him in West Virginia. I knew after the second reference that either I had missed the first book in the series, or that this was one of those plot devices that makes the reader curious about how the past is going to affect the current situation (I should have realized it was the former, as the latter isn't something Baldacci tends to do. Not having read the first book first doesn't ruin this book, it's just a silly order to go about things.

Anyway, I read this book while traveling, which is what Baldacci is perfect for. Just enough plot to keep it interesting, but not so much that you can't put it down and enjoy your travels (and/or read it while you're supposed to be sleeping on a plane).

If you enjoy David Baldacci, you'll enjoy this book, too, but I suggest starting with the first one in the series.

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