Sunday, March 13, 2011

Three months later....

1. I apologize to John Ruskin for my last post. I'm now in a pre-Raphaelite class, and he's actually pretty cool.

2. Important book news: Jim Butcher's Ghost Story has been pushed back to July. Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth. However, what's this? Chapter one? My husband has some interesting theories about who the captain is.

3. In school related reading, I've recently read Tennyson: An Unquiet Heart. Very interesting, very informative. It's neat to look at Tennyson as a real person, rather than the poet laureate who was the be all end all of Victorian poetry. He was cranky, often slovenly, painfully shy, and a chronic, clinical depressive who had little ability to manage his money and who worked on his poems until, some claimed, he'd polished all the shine off them. This might explain why "The Charge of the Light Brigade" is one of my favorites--it was written in one sitting and published approximately ten days later after the Light Brigade was delivered a resounding defeat during the Crimean War.

Of course, the fact that it was quoted in an episode of Deep Space 9 ("Sacrifice of Angels") doesn't hurt either:

O'BRIEN: Cannon to left of them, cannon to the right of them, cannon in front of them, volley'd and thunder'd

BASHIR: Storm'd at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well into the jaws of death. Into the mouth of hell rode the six hundred.

NOG: Whatever it is the two of you are reciting, I wish you'd stop.

4. While on vacation, I picked up Nora Roberts' Happy Ever After and Elizabeth Lowell's newest, Death Echo. I read Happy Ever After first, since I was really looking forward to Death Echo more. It's good enough, and I suppose a good enough end to the quartet, but I can't help but feel that Nora Roberts needs to perhaps focus on quality, not quantity. The woman has published more than 190 books. The used bookstore where I picked it up had one entire (big) shelf devoted to just her books.

In any case, it certainly wasn't worth sixteen dollars, which was the retail price on the cover. Part of this is the fact that the book itself is larger, dimensionally speaking, I feel sure. The other is that I'm sure Nora Roberts can command sixteen dollars for one of her books, rather than the eight most other romance novelists can get for their (longer) novels. It's still a bit frustrating, and why I don't buy her books new anymore.

I will say that the first Yahoo! game based on the quartet, Vision in White, is pretty fun (though I've only played through the free trial), and it seems to follow the book pretty closely.

I'm halfway through Death Echo, and I hope to have time to read it this weekend, after I take a midterm in my pre-Raphaelite class and in French (which I hope to have done before this weekend), and after I grade papers and put together midterm grades for my students. It's a bit implausible (okay, a LOT implausible, and I would have thought that before my husband, the international security expert, had begun schooling me on what does and does not actually happen in that field), but it's entertaining, and it's fairly fast-paced, though not enough that I couldn't put it down (which we can see happened).

Still, if you're looking for an Elizabeth Lowell book to read, you can't go wrong with Amber Beach, Jade Island, Pearl Cove, and Midnight in Ruby Bayou. The Rarities Unlimited books are also good, but Death Echo is probably the weakest of the St. Kilda Consulting books.

5. I did manage to pick up two books on the to-read list at Barnes and Noble, on sale, even! Sherrilyn Kenyon's No Mercy and Catherine Coulter's Whiplash. Of course, I still need to read Coulter's Knockout, which I haven't gotten to either, but is around here somewhere.

6. I'm also halfway through a weird little book called Einstein's Dreams. It's quite curious, going back and forth through different conceptions of time in the same 1905 Swiss towns. Very definitely postmodern, and very definitely weird, but I understand why it was titled the way it is. The interludes, a fictionalization of Einstein's conversations with a friend while he contemplated the theories of relativity, give it a frame that makes all the odds and ends fit together.

7. In other news, I am so glad that my brother doesn't live in Japan anymore, even though the prefecture where he studied abroad was okay. Episcopal Relief and Development is taking donations to their disaster relief fund to help over there. In the meantime, I will leave you with the prayer for Japan, added to the Daily Office for the foreseeable future.

Prayer for Japan after the Earthquake
from the Church of England

O loving Creator, bring healing and hope to those who, at this time, grieve, suffer pain, or who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We remember those who have died and we pray for those who mourn for them. We pray for those who may be affected as the tsunami spread across the Pacific. May we all be aware of your compassion, O God, which calms our troubled hearts and shelters our anxious souls. May we pray with humility with our troubled and struggling brothers and sisters on earth. May we dare to hope that through the generosity of the privileged, the destitute might glimpse hope, warmth and life again. Through our Savior Christ who lives with us, comforts us and soothes us. Amen.

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