February 28, 2011
into the stacks: the magnificent 12: the call
posted by soe 7:10 pm
The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant
From the jacket: “Twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy suffers from a serious case of mediumness. Medium looks. Medium grades. Medium parents who barely notice him. With a list of phobias that could make anyone crazy, Mack never would have guessed that he is destined for a more-than-medium life.
“And then, one day, something incredibly strange happens to Mack. A three-thousand-year-old man named Grimluk appears in the boys’ bathroom to deliver some startling news: Mack is one of the Magnificent Twelve, called the Magnifica in ancient times, whatever that means.”
My take: An action series in a similar vein to Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid or Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, this book crosses time and space, ranging from ancient days to modern times, and from Arizona to Australia. Our protagonist, Mack, comes into our story by standing up to some bullies picking on another kid. While this act nearly gets him beaten up, events quickly transpire that have him saving the life of the main bully of Richard Gere Middle School, Stefan, who announces he will protect him from all threats.
This is good, because he also comes to the attention of two mysterious and somewhat supernatural ancient beings: Grimluk, who announces that Mack is the heir to the Magnifica, the Magnificent 12, and must battle the Pale Queen (who is about to be freed after her eternal imprisonment of 3,000 years) to save the world from evil, and Paddy “Nine Iron” Trout, a wheezing leprechaun who heads up the Nafia, those malevolent creatures in the service of said queen and her equally dangerous daughter, Princess Ereskigal.
With an uneducated golem standing in for him at home and at school, Mack and Stefan board a plane that will take them to Australia where he has to convince another 12-year old to join the Magnifica. But with supernatural bad guys hot on their trail and Mack’s fear of flying, it’s not going to be as simple as just stumbling across her. Or will it?
The novel is cute and will definitely appeal to modern kids with its grasp of current technology and its irreverent tone. I’d be willing to read the second book when it comes out in the fall, but I won’t be rushing out to buy them, as I do with some series aimed at a slightly older audience.
My favorite quote of the book? “Of course [your golem] can text. He’s a golem … not an adult.”
This book, which I read way back in January, counts as my fourth and final book in the National Just Read More Novels Month Challenge, as well as my number category in the What’s in a Name 4 Challenge.
February 24, 2011
softest socks ever, bulb bits, and fancy glass
posted by soe 1:54 pm
1. I wear a brand new pair of polka-dotted socks that have arrived from Grey Kitten via SockDreams. Because they have cashmere and angora in them, even at the end of the day, my feet still feel like they’re being gently hugged.
2. The greens of spring bulbs have pushed their way through the earth to say that warm weather is just around the corner. I’ve seen signs of daffodils, croci, hyacinths, and tulips just in my neighborhood.
3. Rudi and I celebrate my finally getting a weekend on Monday by heading to Georgetown. After buying some spices at a new shop, we head to our favorite bakery, Baked & Wired, where my hot chocolate comes in a parfait glass.
February 23, 2011
random ten for the last wednesday of february
posted by soe 7:47 pm
You know you want to play along. The rules: Press random play/shuffle on your iPod/cd changer/computer and then ‘fess up to the first ten songs your player spits out.
These are from my work computer:
- “Fenario” — Richard Shindell
- “Back to Me” — Rita Hosking
- “Raglan Road” — Tommy Sands
- “The Whole World in His Hands” — Laurie London
- “Kitchen Table and Chairs” — Rita Hosking
- “The Cuckoo” — Peter, Bethany, and Rufus
- “The Boxer” — Simon & Garfunkel
- “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” — Peter, Paul, and Mary
- “Groupie” — Kelli Ali
- “Grey and Green” — Richard Shindell
Huh. We have a particularly low-key mix here, with “Groupie” being the only song that remotely leaves the quiet folk realm and even then it’s hardly loud or really up-tempo.
Feel free to link to your blog or to share in the comments.
February 22, 2011
posted by soe 3:10 am
The little scarf/shawlette I’m knitting on has only nine rows left before I can bind it off.
Unfortunately, that amounts to a smidge shy of 5,000 stitches and several hours of work.
Progress is slow at this point. I hope to be done by the end of the month, but there’s no guarantee.
But it is soft and purple, so there is that.
February 21, 2011
posted by soe 12:06 am
Posey and I have had a tough couple of days. I had to spend the weekend working, standing on concrete for hours at a time, interacting with small children. Posey had to … move out of the closet temporarily when Rudi wanted the box she was lying on.
Clearly we’re both exhausted.
February 17, 2011
campaign, chimes, and calm
posted by soe 11:41 pm
In a week that’s been filled with visits, emails, phone calls, cards, and packages, it was hard to narrow it down to a mere three beautiful things. But I did:
1. Macy’s has new window displays up advertising its wedding registries. When I saw the 12th Street window proclaiming its registries were open to all couples, I was pleased. But when I saw their 13th Street window had two female mannequins together against a backdrop of all permutations of betrothed couples, I was really impressed. Go Macy’s!
2. In at least three of the trees in the park next to the Historical Society, wind chimes dangle in the warm breeze.
3. Sitting in Pete’s Apizza, surrounded by the people here in D.C. I like the best, I feel one of those rare moments of peace. It does not feel dissimilar from slipping into a perfectly warm bath or being embraced by a loved one after a long absence.
Those are just three of my beautiful things during this birthday week. How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?
posted by soe 1:54 am
I get why it is that we have to hide all the carbs in the microwave to prevent you from stealing croissants and cookies and bread.
And I get why it is that I have had to learn to put my knitting away, no matter how short a period it is that I’m going to be away from the couch.
But, for the love of all that is feline, can you please explain to me why it is that you insist on devouring our shoelaces?!? They are not good for you, and dealing with that fact is definitely not good for us.
Please keep this in mind in the future.
soe and Rudi
February 16, 2011
into the stacks: crunch
posted by soe 2:09 am
I’m behind again on my book reviews. Expect more coming this week. First, though, is this young adult book I read back in mid-January:
Crunch by Leslie Connor
From the jacket: “Dewey Marriss is stuck in the middle of a crunch. He never guessed that the gas pumps would run dry the same week he promised to manage the family’s bicycle-repair business. Suddenly everyone needs a bike. And nobody wants to wait. Meanwhile, the crunch has stranded Dewey’s parents far up north with an empty fuel tank and no way home. It’s up to Dewey and his older sister, Lil, to look after their younger siblings and run the bike shop all on their own.”
My take: I first learned of this book when I overheard a children’s room employee at my favorite local bookstore recommend it to a customer back before Christmas. When it was shortlisted for a Cybil, I quickly checked it out of the library.
I’m glad I did.
Written as an answer to what might have happened if the gasoline rationing of the ’70s had gone further, if gasoline had just suddenly become unavailable, this story is considers how a family of five kids might have dealt with the surprise extended absence of their parents. Mr. and Mrs. Marriss headed out for a week-long 20th anniversary road trip, leaving their four younger children in the capable hands of their 18-year-old daughter. Their eldest son, 14-year-old Dewey, is entrusted with the running of their backwoods bike repair shop. Gas has been rationed all summer, but it is a shock to the entire country when the pumps suddenly go dry, stranding motorists, including the Marriss parents, far from home and forcing local commuters to become more creative.
Suddenly, the highway that runs along the Connecticut coast is no longer filled with rush hour traffic and tractor trailers. Instead, its three lanes have been taken over by pedestrians and cyclists.
Although their parents check in nightly from their location near the Canadian border, the family dynamics start to fray. Five-year-old twins, Eva and Angus, have their bikes stolen while they’re at day camp. Lil’s art class in Elm City is cancelled. And the community’s new-found reliance on two wheels instead of four means that there is suddenly an uptick in business for Dewey and his brother Vince. And while at first this just means one or two more bikes each day, as the lack of gas seems to stretch out interminably in front of everyone, a corresponding and exponential growth in customers means the two teenagers are working non-stop, trying to keep a handle on the family business until their parents can eventually make it home.
This is a gentle book, with gentle characters. The kids have spats with each other, but it’s obvious they care about each other. Lil takes seriously her role as de facto head of household and tries to keep well-intentioned adults from infringing on her turf. Vince, who is perfectly happy with either a fishing rod or a socket wrench in his hand, hates talking to customers and gets grumpy whenever his brother has to leave the shop in his care. Dewey is old enough to feel that he shouldn’t have to listen to Lil without some input of his own. And the twins just want to know when Mom and Dad will be back. Some bad things happen, as they are wont to do during times of economic hardship, but they aren’t terrible and there are caring people around to help deal with the fallout. And through it all the Marriss parents are calling each day from hundreds of miles away, trying to provide a sense of normalcy during an abnormal time and the reassurance that if they all just stick together, they’ll make it through okay.
It’s been a long time since I wept with joy at the end of a book. I recommend this unabashedly for the 4th-6th graders in your life — and for you, too.
February 14, 2011
posted by soe 11:14 pm
I think the secret of contentment must be in managing expectations. You see it often in self-help programs — for instance, in those abuse cessation programs that instruct you to live one day at a time and in yoga classes that remind you not to let your mind wander to tasks other than your breathing and your position.
Today was my birthday. I like birthdays in general and mine in particular, and I a big fuss. But I also recognize that not every year can be filled with fireworks and am perfectly content to settle for a little fuss and some out-of-the-ordinary activities. So for the last few days, I had been thinking up plans of how to fill the time before people had time to hang out with me in the evening. I had the day off and was going to start out early (for me) and pack the day full of exciting things like buying tulips and seeing lion cubs at the zoo and attending high tea or maybe a yoga class.
However, I’m not really an early (even for me) kind of girl and, when left to my own devices, find it really hard to get out of the Burrow before three in the afternoon. (My boss always finds it comforting to hear that it’s not just workdays when I have difficulty getting out the door in a timely fashion.)
And today was no different. I didn’t move quickly. Della wasn’t being overly cooperative about eating. I had put laundry on before going to bed that still needed to be hung up. I couldn’t find the jam I wanted and then when I picked a substitute, I couldn’t get the lid open. I had to address some envelopes I wanted to send out in today’s mail. So, I didn’t leave home until nearly three and when I walked out the door, I couldn’t decide which direction to go in, knowing there definitely was no longer enough time to fit everything in.
February 10, 2011
winter color, office decor, and old favorite
posted by soe 11:52 pm
Three beautiful things from my past week:
1. I buy three reasonably priced bouquets of flowers at Trader Joe’s — purpley blue irises, pink tulips, and little yellow roses — and squeeze them all into a vase to brighten up our kitchen.
2. The next day, I also buy a pot of hyacinths at the farmers’ market. Still furled up tight, the buds have only a hint of color. I can either buy one that will be pale or one that will be dark. I choose the darker hued and watch the plant grow each day. Tuesday morning, it’s obvious the plants will be fuchsia. Wednesday morning, the first flowers are out. That afternoon, I moved the plant from my windowsill to my desk where I could inhale its gorgeous scent. By this morning, the second bulb’s first floret had popped open.
3. The dvd of The Bishop’s Wife that I requested from another branch of the library back during the holidays finally shows up. I spend a pleasant Friday evening with my knitting and David Niven, Cary Grant, and Loretta Young.
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?