Sunday, May 26, 2013


I've been on a reading frenzy. Somehow, May became Reading Month with three books that I put on hold at the local library coming through at the same time, plus the 2 books I bought at Costco. Fortunately, I was ready for a break in writing but not in books. 

Here are my May Five:

For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore—and its secrets. But to Eli Landon, it’s home…

A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigations after being accused of—but never arrested for—the murder of his soon-to-be-ex wife.

He finds sanctuary at Bluff House, even though his beloved grandmother is in Boston recuperating from a nasty fall. Abra Walsh is always there, though. Whiskey Beach’s resident housekeeper, yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist, Abra is a woman of many talents—including helping Eli take control of his life and clear his name. But as they become entangled in each other, they find themselves caught in a net that stretches back for centuries—one that has ensnared a man intent on reaping the rewards of destroying Eli Landon once and for all…

My opinion: If you're a fan of Nora Roberts you will read it and love it just because its a Roberts. If you haven't ever read Roberts then this is not the book to start with. 

There is nothing wrong with anxiety.
Although we cannot control God's time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible.
Or to drive away whatever is causing our fear....
Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it-just as we have learned to live with storms.

My opinion: A book of questions and non-answers as philosophy tends to be. The book could have been written and handled a bit more interestingly. As it is, it was a bit of a drag to read. Paulo Coelho could have done much better.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

My opinion: A crafty, determined, adorably nasty piece of work that sheds (I truly think real, maybe exaggerated but defiantly real) real light on this delicious, slasher-esque, metamorphosing thing called marriage (or is it love that I'm feeling?) Nick and Amy Dunne are the protagonists, the anti-hero and heroine, the flawed hero and bitch-wife, whom I found just the right shade of psycho. I hated them, loved them, hated them, loved them, hated them, loved them...they kept me on my death-seat, clutching the book between my hands until until...until the next amazingly captivating paper couple came along to distract me. Its a book I will read again in this lifetime.

Qhuinn, son of no one, is used to being on his own. Disavowed from his bloodline, shunned by the aristocracy, he has finally found an identity as one of the most brutal fighters in the war against the Lessening Society. But his life is not complete. Even as the prospect of having a family of his own seems to be within reach, he is empty on the inside, his heart given to another....

Blay, after years of unrequited love, has moved on from his feelings for Qhuinn. And it’s about time: The male has found his perfect match in a Chosen female, and they are going to have a young—just as Qhuinn has always wanted for himself. It’s hard to see the new couple together, but building your life around a pipe dream is just a heartbreak waiting to happen. As he’s learned firsthand.

Fate seems to have taken these vampire soldiers in different directions... but as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, and new players on the scene in Caldwell create mortal danger for the Brotherhood, Qhuinn finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together... finally become one.

My opinion: Love J.R. Ward's irreverent prose. Love the BDBs. Loved this one especially because love really doesn't depend on color, texture, size or rank. It just is and this book is a celebration of that.
WARNING: The BDB's are not for the fainthearted. 

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan’s mission is to bring closure to the families whose loved ones have vanished.  She knows their anguish—her own beloved daughter, Bonnie, was taken from her when Bonnie was just seven years old.  It is only recently that this mystery was resolved and Eve could begin her journey to peace.  Now, Jim Doane wants the same kind of answers that Eve always longed for.  His twenty-five-year old son may or may not be dead and he has only burned skull fragments as possible evidence.  But he cannot go to the police for answers without risking his own secrets and dark past, so instead he chooses a bold step to find the truth—a truth that takes Eve down a twisted path of madness and evil and into the darkest heart of her own history.  Doane needs Eve Duncan’s skills and he’ll do anything to get them. 
Even if it means taking Eve. 

My Opinion: This is another author/protagonist/series that I've followed for more than a decade. I tend to like reading about well-crafted, well-appreciated characters over and over again. 
Slow to begin with, this book picks up pace after its halfway mark. I found there to be a lot of repetition in dialogue (his point, her point, their point, the dog's point of view on the same issue got tedious). The book clearly is a set-up for the coming 2 in the trilogy. Iris Johansen does suspense well, this one got there eventually and I will read the coming books.

So People, any excellent books you've read recently and recommend?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This year despite the April chills, May is full of flowers!

Pear tree in bloom

35 year old crab apple

Bleeding Heart shrub

Specially cultivated crab apple

The shocking pink azalea never fails to shock.

About to bloom rhododendron

One of my favorite trees: a Japanese Maple


Weeping Cherry.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Mother's Prayer by Tina Fey

Mother's Day was celebrated this past Sunday but I think Mother's Day is a daily event. Certainly, a Mother's Prayer is a moment to moment thing and definitely goes like this:

“First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


-Tina Fey

Monday, May 6, 2013


Punchdrunk's larger-than-life theatrical, SLEEP NO MORE, takes being a fly on the wall to another level. 

Last night, a friend (an appreciator of the arts and an artist in her own right) and I escaped from the drudgery of suburbia and "checked" into the McKittrick Hotel in NYC. Or rather, we quietly, a bit nervously, lined up behind other "hotel guests" on the sidewalk of 27th street, waiting to be let in at our purchased check-in time. We were ID'd and stamped in approval and exactly at 7:30 a pair of industrial sized, ancient-looking doors opened and we were ushered into the dark. Literally into the dark. Dark as in, I could not see my own hand as I scratched my nose. I had to coat-check my tiny sling - we had been informed (before) that only what can be held in pockets will be allowed inside the "hotel" but smart-aleck that I am, I thought a tiny cross-body sling shouldn't be a problem. Well, it was. So I checked it in, stuffed the essentials in my pockets and proceeded to the "lobby" where our "hotel reservation" was validated and we were given "cards" (think keys) and guided one floor up into a lounge/bar/waiting area (think speakeasies or Greta Garbo.) 

Once there, my friend and I were confused. Um. What should we do now, was what we and the 100 or so other "guests" were all thinking. Do we just disperse and explore the hotel? Where are the actors? When's the drama beginning? Is there a program? Is there a freaking map? Patience is a virtue was proved. A shared shot of absinthe, ginger and something else helped our anxiety. We took a table, were greeted by this glittering, film noir kind of woman holding a champagne glass who told us...okay, I'm not sure what she told us but I figured we were exactly where we were supposed to be. 

With me still? LOL. It's an experience, this performance (for want of a better word) of SLEEP NO MORE. 3D movies have nothing on this total immersion type of theatre where we are not just watching a play from our seats but are ghosts walking through the sets of the play, seeing the actors act from all directions, touching what they touch, sitting where they sit. I drew the line at submerging myself in the bloody bathwater where Lady Macbeth washes the blood off Macbeth's hands. But, the water was warm, I can vouch for that. But I'm getting ahead in the sequence of events.

So, the film noir woman eases our apprehensions and floats off to do the same to the other "guests." Then a tuxedoed man comes up on stage and announces (thank God!) that we're about to begin. He asks all the guests who held Aces (the cards we were given at check-in finally make sense) to please gather on one side. We do. We're led into a tiny room where Ms. Film Noire explains whats about to unfold a bit more and makes us put on masks. Yes! The whole audience is masked like the phantoms of an opera. The Ace card holders are then stuffed (okay not stuffed but ushered again) into an elevator and small batches of us are let out on different floors. My friend was let out on the 5th and when I tried to follow her out, I was barred by the elevator man. He said the whole thing was an individual experience and that friends might meet or not  during our "experience" depending on the paths we take. Obviously, we'd meet at the end when they threw us out.

So, the 4th floor it was for me (I just knew it would happen to me) as I followed the few others who'd been let out with me, we walked into a freaking graveyard - piles of earth beneath my feet, headstones brushing my thighs, eerie grave-digging music filling my ears, dry-ice in my nostrils and a mask on my face. Full sensory experience? Sure, and then some.

I'm not going to give anymore details and spoil it for the people who'll have the good fortune to experience this...this...I won't call it simply a play. It's so much more than that. It's an engagement of yourself with the arts. Where you are the artist, the playwright, the director, the curtain boy, the candy thief and the Peeping Tom. You direct your experience. You discover the plot. You become the play. You are the player.

I loved it. The running up and down 5 flights of stairs, following various actors embarking on murder and mayhem for 3 whole hours was a blast. And did I mention, there is no dialogue at all.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


My Playlist this month. Will add and reshuffle songs as the "write" mood strikes. Sometimes the music inspires the scene, other times the character demands the song...

Just Give Me a Reason-Pink
Daylight-Maroon 5
Don't You Worry Child-Swedish House Mafia

Pretty Woman-Roy Orbison
It must've been Love-Roxette

What's on your iPod this month?