May 31, 2010
into the stacks: the sorceress
posted by soe 1:14 am
I’m terrible about writing book reviews. I love having written them, love being able to refer back to them later. But I tend to procrastinate on producing them, with draft posts languishing in my blog’s back end or at GoodReads and books piling up around the apartment, awaiting my having what I deem is the time to write them. So let’s see if I can stand against the tide and make a change in that regard. Let’s start with the book I finished
tonight Wednesday, shall we?
The Sorceress, by Michael Scott
From the jacket: “… Sophie and Josh Newman show every sign of being the twins of legend, and Flamel had to protect them and the pages [of the book of Abraham the Mage] from the Dark Elders. But Nicholas grows weaker with each passing day. Perenelle is still trapped on Alcatraz, and now that Scatty has gone missing, the group is without protection. … If he hopes to defeat Dee, Nicholas must find someone who can teach Josh and Sophie the third elemental magic — Water Magic. The problem? The only being who can do that is Gilgamesh, and he is quite, quite insane.”
My take: Amongst the reviews that aren’t finished are Michael Scott’s first two books in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, which I read hungrily last summer. (The Alchemyst, the first book in the series, is featured on my also unpublished Best of 2009 list.) I then picked this book up at a used bookshop shortly after it was released, started it, got interrupted in some way, and neglected to come back to it.
But Grey Kitten and I were talking about the first book and how the fourth book was due out this week, and I thought I’d better pick this up again. I’m glad I did.
Quickly, the premise of the series: Immortals Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel (who are also referred to in the first Harry Potter book) own a bookshop in modern-day San Francisco. Teenager Josh Newman works for them and his twin sister Sophie works at the coffee shop across the street. One day a limo pulls up, Elizabethan magician and political advisor John Dee steps out, and all hell breaks loose. Perenelle and a rare and valuable book are captured, and Nicholas and the two kids (and a yoga instructor) are suddenly on the run with creatures out of mythology, lore, and fairy tales hot on their trail. The first two books travel from California to Mexico and on to Paris as the twins discover they may have magical powers, a crew of “gods” want to return to earth and destroy humanity, and their existence has been foretold as the one thing that might prevent this. This third novel picks up the trio’s adventure five days later as they get off the train in London.
(This novel, as the others before it, is told in the third person, but from rotating perspectives — Josh, Sophie, Nicholas, Perenelle, John Dee, Machiavelli, and Billy the Kid. It’s an effective device that permits the story to operate in multiple spheres simultaneously.)
With the twins still reeling from battling Dee and Macchiavelli in Paris, Josh’s newly awakened powers still overwhelming all his senses, and Nicholas’ powers dwindling by the moment, what the trio needs most upon arriving in London is to avoid detection by Dee’s web of spies and get some rest before they find Gilgamesh, who Nicholas hopes will teach them how to control the element of water. Alas, the undead are waiting for them in the station and every evil magical creature in England seems to be headed their way. Luckily, they are rescued by cab driver and Saracen Knight, Palamedes, who takes them back to his junk yard fortress.
At the same time, Perenelle has escaped the Sphinx (at least temporarily) and regained some of her powers. Yet, although she has befriended a Spanish ghost and allied with the Old Spider, she is still stuck at Alcatraz, unable to reach land safely. It is only a matter of time before the Dark Elders send someone else with strong magic to deal with her on a permanent basis. She has to figure out a way to escape The Rock — and soon.
Back in London, Nicholas and the twins accidentally alert Dee, who has been sent an old and dangerous weapon to help him capture Sophie and Josh, to their whereabouts, wreaking havoc on the peaceful life Palamedes, William Shakespeare, and the Gabriel Hounds had eked out for themselves.
How the story unfolds makes for a page-turning tale with a twist at the end so clever it left my head reeling. I can’t wait to read the next installment.
This is one of the books I read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.
May 30, 2010
i’m having a grumbly day
posted by soe 12:20 am
This is the second beginning to this post. The original intro was full of grumps and sighs and would have been painful to read by everyone — including me. But I will leave in the five silver linings I found that helped cheer me up. Because I think that might be the important part…
1. Last night marked the inaugural Friday night Jazz in the Sculpture Garden for the season. Sarah, Rudi, and I all left work early, and Sarah and I secured a well apportioned spot. There was laughter (we each felt it paramount to bring a baguette) and brownies and other tasty food and a chance to catch up and look forward at the summer. And even though by the time John arrived we had eaten a sufficient amount for our dinners, we all had more. The music was nice, if a bit muted, the damp didn’t seep too much through the blankets if you laid just so, and the rain held off right until the end, when it gave us enough time to pack up before coming down in buckets. And by that point it just seemed funny. It was a slow-moving storm because Rudi and I took the yellow line with John as far as U Street and the rain hadn’t yet made it there by the time we resurfaced. Although it caught up with us again on our walk home, we had umbrellas and rain hats and nowhere to be and tea to be brewed at home, so we were just as glad as not to see it.
2. The sock I cast on this morning is too big and will need to be ripped out and restarted. This is just as well because I messed up by missing a piece of information and the sock was not looking as pretty as it ought to have. After all, I hadn’t gotten all that far … and, when I cast it back on, there will be six fewer stitches in each round.
3. Despite three stations sending out their fire trucks (including two hook and ladders), there was no fire at the restaurant across the street from us.
4. I was concerned a friend was upset with me, but she called this afternoon and it seems like everything is okay.
5. My book, which I bought from a second-hand shop, is missing a chapter. But it’s a middle one and the action that occurs in it can be surmised. It was much, much worse that time I bought a book only to find the end was gone.
May 29, 2010
where will you be september 25th?
posted by soe 8:57 am
There is still plenty of time to book your tickets to come to D.C., where we’ll be hosting the 10th annual National Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Authors are still being added, but include Martha Grimes, Jane Smiley, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Jules Feiffer, and Katherine Paterson.
I can’t wait!
May 28, 2010
look what arrived at my door…
posted by soe 11:13 pm
As you probably know, periodically I like to take part in an online swap. Usually these swaps have to do with knitting in some way, but often there is a secondary focus. This spring’s swap is tea-themed.
Kelle sent me a box. A big box. An exciting box. It arrived as I was on my way out the door for work, so I had all day to think about what might be included in such a box. Anticipation is a good emotion. I’m really good at anticipation.
What could be contained in the depths of such styrofoam peanuts? Hints of blue and green peeked through to offer teasers.
I unpacked. A blue gift bag emerged tied with a stripey ribbon. Green tissue paper filled that. And underneath it all was this bounty:
Isn’t that an awesome package?
And the best part? It’s themed. Kelle incorporated many things from her home state of Michigan to give me a truly unique present.
There are two skeins of Michigan yarn. One is a wool-nylon blend that I suspect will wear like iron and show great stitch definition and that matches the sky. The other is a squishy merino-cashmere-nylon blend in a blue-green colorway called River’s Edge. And there’s a cabled sock pattern from a Michigan designer.
Kelle included three teas. One comes in a travel tin so I don’t ever have to be further from a cuppa than a pot of boiling water. One is a summer Darjeeling blend in a cool canister. I’m looking to kicking off the summer season by brewing some up this weekend. The last one is from a famed Michigan foodie and is my favorite blend of tea — Keemun. Plus there are cookies and chocolate bars. Yum!
Kelle didn’t stop there. She made sure my garden wasn’t forgotten by including gardening gloves and nasturtium seeds and added a little metallic-encased notepad, which will live in my knitting bag. And this great and true card:
Thank you, Kelle! This is fantastic and has really made the receiving end of the Spring Fling Tea Swap a ton of fun! I hope you enjoy your end of the swap, too.
May 27, 2010
remembering, family time, and a mini mob
posted by soe 10:46 pm
As I sit down to write tonight, the skies open up and rain pours down. The streetlight silhouettes the deluge and the scent of fresh, earthy mud wafts in from our open window. Thunder rumbles in the distance and closer to us, the rain bounces off the window well railing and the tree leaves. Cars sploosh past. Our Burrow feels nice and cozy and the time seems perfect to think back on three beautiful things from the past week:
1. Mac’s memorial lunch is the sort of event everyone hopes for at such an occasion. 70 or so people turned out to remember a woman with a big smile and a bigger heart. Whether they called her mother, grandmother, neighbor, friend, or whatnot, it was clear that Mac had touched each and every one of us in a deep way. As loved ones got up to eulogize her, I found myself, eyes wet, nodding along with many of their comments. A people person, Mac would have had a ball — and would have loved the afternoon’s festivities. No one wants to lose a loved one, but I hope Sam and his family’s pain was tempered by seeing what a profound effect Mac had on everyone she came in contact with.
2. Memorializing a friend’s grandmother hammers home how fragile one’s family is. I spend the rest of the weekend hanging out on my parents’ deck and in Gramma’s bedroom. Sunday and Monday were quiet and uneventful — and perfect.
3. Amani and I had dinner tonight and followed it up with ice cream, which we took down to the Circle. While sitting next to the fountain and chatting, we suddenly realize that five dancers are suddenly standing up and doing a routine. It wasn’t quite a flash mob — more like five friends suddenly got up to perform their dance at the urging of their larger party — but it was so quintessentially part of city life that Amani and I both felt pleased to be part of it, even if only tangentially.
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?
booking through thursday: bedside
posted by soe 2:39 am
At last! A post!
This week’s Booking through Thursday asks:
What books do you have next to your bed right now? How about other places in the house? What are you reading?
I just finished The Sorceress tonight, so I am shockingly without any book in progress at the moment. I have no idea what I’ll read next — possibly another fantasy story for the Once upon a Time challenge or maybe something nonfiction for the Nonfiction 5 Summer Challenge. Or one of those top kids’ books I’ve missed out on.
Next to my bed are a rather dusty pile of books:
- L. Frank Baum’s Queen Nixi of Ix (a fairy tale finished last week and awaiting a review)
- The Hobbit (read)
- Love, Rosie (put down part-way through over the winter)
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (re-read at Christmas)
- Revisions Of (unread)
- Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three (read)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard (unread)
- The Olive Farm (unread non-fiction)
- A Moveable Feast (unread)
Elsewhere in the house are similar commingled piles of read and unread tomes, waiting for me to sort them out.
How about you? What are you reading?