Novel recommendations

I have discovered that I have magical powers. For example, today, I blinked and summer was gone. Ta-da! Good magic trick, huh?

This Book
School starts for me this week and I'm preparing to get back into the regular groove. But if you're lucky to have another week or two of summer vacation, maybe you want to relax with a good summer read. Here are a few of the books I enjoyed over the last few months (in addition to all seven of the Harry Potter books--whew!).

Buried Prey by John Sandford = The latest Lucas Davenport novel uses flashbacks to fill in Davenport's backstory of his law enforcement career beginnings. It's a great police thriller crafted with Sandford's usual crisp dialogue. (I can't wait for the new Virgil Flowers novel on Oct. 4, either.)

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett = Patchett released a book this summer called The State of Wonder. I decided to read her bestseller from 2008 instead. After the first chapter, I was hooked. Patchett took a premise that would generally be associated with a suspense genre--a hostage situation--and crafted it into a beautiful literary masterpiece with strong characters. The words were a pleasure to read and almost made the outcome of the story superfluous. Almost.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson = A futuristic thriller that I literally could not put down, this book's premise is chilling, when we realize how much we rely on technology and robots. Can machines revolt and destroy humankind? Fine sci-fi escapism.

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy = This is a thought-provoking book for young adults, telling the story of Zulaikha, a young girl in Afghanistan born with a cleft palate. Reedy deals with several complex themes, including women's rights, cultural differences and the presence of American military in the Middle East. The best part? The questions that the novel raises in the reader's mind could make an excellent springboard for an engaging discussion about world affairs.


Katie's mission

Today is my niece Katherine's 12th birthday. She's the beauty on the left in the picture below. The other two cuties are my nieces Emma (who turns 12 in two days) and Abigail (who turned 12 last month).

Kate has blossomed from a smiling, willful toddler into a thoughtful and caring young lady. Even if she weren't my niece, I would be impressed by her initiative and willingness to help others. Her recent project, For The Orphans, is nothing short of a labor of love. She is hand-crocheting dishcloths and dolls and donating all of the proceeds to an orphanage in Africa. I don't know too many 12 year olds who would have the resourcefulness and dedication to undertake such an ambitious enterprise. (When I was 12, I think I was trying to hide from my mother so she wouldn't make me weed the garden or snip the ends off green beans!) Visit her blog to learn more about her mission or to place an order.

Happy birthday, dear girl! I'm so proud of you!



There's no denying that I am a child of the 80s.
Leg warmers and rolling my jeans? Check.
Cabbage Patch Kid? Check.
Bad perms and hair crimping? Check.

It would logically follow that I'd watch classic 80s movies: E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and of course, Star Wars. Yup, seen 'em. However, during a recent movie discussion with a friend, I said that I'd never seen Gremlins. It seems this admission revealed a serious weakness in my cultural education. We decided to remedy the situation and as the DVD was pushed into the player, I was cautiously optimistic.

But holy bad movie, It. Was. Awful. I couldn't wait for it to be over. I didn't think Gizmo was cute. It couldn't have been more predictable. The acting was incredibly cheesy. In fact, I think I offended my friend with how vehemently I hated it.

I have two questions. First, is there a "tipping point" for a movie like Gremlins? Maybe I would have liked it when I was 12 and now I have irrevocably passed that point when it could be enjoyable. Secondly, have you seen Gremlins? Am I the only person who couldn't stand it?

P.S. Here's hoping the new Muppets movie lives up to my expectations!