Friday, September 25, 2009

Art imitates life

After the premiere of Castle the other night, I went to the ABC website, because I thought EW had mentioned different authors than Connelly and the ubiquitous Cannell that showed up at the poker table. I was right and wrong, I think I had remembered a mention of Patterson from the first season. However, imagine my surprise when I learned you can read chapters of the new Nikki Heat novel, Heat Wave for free at They have 7 chapters ready to go!
Being the inquisitive sort, I followed the information about purchasing said book and discovered it will be released next week! (Amazon was cheaper than the ABC link, of course!) What a great marketing crossover tool for the folks at ABC and Castle.
Now, if I could just figure out if NF will be going out doing author signings as Richard Castle. Maybe he'd sign J's Dr. Horrible DVD too...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pumpkin Harvest

I should've mentioned that we (that is, Eric) harvested our pumpkins a couple of weeks ago. He grew them in our "other garden" - we have a plot at a community garden where there's more sun than in our yard, but the soil is worse and there are no deer fences. They wound around the tomatoes and along the sides of the plot and did pretty well, but then the vines were dying off and some of the pumpkins looked like they might rot, so he harvested the lot of them and put them in the garage. A few were pretty greenish but turned more orange in the cool of the garage, and I cut up and cooked the ones that looked soft. There were a dozen; I've been trying to cook and puree them a few at a time so I don't go crazy on pumpkin production. I've found that cutting them into chunks and steaming is the easiest, though I need to strain out some of the liquid.

Besides having pumpkin puree in the freezer, I baked several batches of pumpkin-chip muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin-chip loaves, and the long-awaited pumpkin pie...but I forgot the sugar in the pie. Aaauggghhh! I've never done that before. Luckily it tastes fine if you sprinkle A LOT of sugar on top.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ridiculously overqualified

I'm really enjoying The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, with its combination of Darwin and coming-of-age story. I was curious about the author, so I flipped to the back flap. We've discussed the tendency to list entertaining or sometimes cutesy jobs that authors have held before being published, but this is a whole different category:

"Jacqueline Kelly was born in New Zealand and raised in western Canada. She now makes her home with her husband and various cats and dogs in Austin and Fentress, Texas. She is a practicing physician and lawyer. This is her first novel."

And I thought that *I* was busy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dan Brown

Just heard some incredible numbers about Brown's new book, The Lost Symbol. It had an initial print run of over 5 million books and on Tuesday, the release day, over one million were sold. Wow. I just thought it was interesting.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Borrowing Posts

The Hobbled Runner has been snapping pictures of my garden for me. I think I'll just send you all over there to see the pictures...

Rain garden: I'm still obsessed with my rain garden - and had to extend it this year. (See photo) I had bigger plans, but there are too many tree roots in the area. So, it's just a small addition. Planted more Northern Blue Flag Iris, Culver's Root, Blue Lobelia and Goat's Beard.

Anuals: Other post is of the annual section of the garden. Some of my favorite plants are "volunteers" - things I didn't plant, or planted years ago that keep self-seeding - sometimes quite far from the original plant! Guess I better not enter the contest to identify the plants, but happy to let you know what any of them are.

Fun part is wondering what will come back next year!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Did we read the same book?

I was reading my latest Entertainment Weekly the other day and I was excited to see that the lead review in the book section was for Catching Fire, Suzanne Collin's sequel to The Hunger Games. However, I barely got a paragraph into Jennifer Reese's review when I found myself muttering, "WTF!" Here's the opening paragraph of the review:

Last year, Suzanne Collins published The Hunger Games, the first in a projected young-adult trilogy about Katniss Everdeen, a heroic adolescent girl who crushed on a sexy hunter. In between romantic daydreams, Katniss shot strange beasts, dodged force fields, and battled murderous zombie werewolves — usually while wearing fabulous glitzy outfits.

Huh? Did Jennifer Reese read the same book that I did last fall? I remember The Hunger Games as a young adult novel about a dystopian future where every year young people are choosen at random to fight to the death. One of the opening scenes involves the heroine, Katniss, stealing into a forbidden area to hunt food for her family. The reason Katniss ends up in the games in the first place is because her 12-year-old sister is initially chosen and Kat knows there is no way she will survive. I don't remember a lot of romantic daydreams and though I vaguely remember that they tarted up the contestants before the battle began--all for the television ratings--I don't think any of those contestants wore those clothes onto the battlefield. Yeah . . . battlefield . . . fight to the death . . . not exactly the stuff of adolescent yearning . . .

In critiquing the second book, Reese notes that Collin's novel lacks the "erotic energy" of the Twilight series. Double huh? I think Twilight captures the adolecent yearning for all-consuming love (in all its scary passiveness) like no other series but it's so chaste that most folks (okay, maybe just me) kind of lost interest by book 2 and started rooting for the werewolf, Jacob, because he seemed so vibrant, alive, and well . . . real.

And I guess that's what makes me the most annoyed at Reese's review . . . the fact that she misses the essential "realness" of The Hunger Games-so real that I stayed up until 3:00 am reading it the day I bought it (and had to grumpily face a long day of work on three hours of sleep). It felt real like The Handmaiden's Tale felt real . . . like World War Z felt real . . . a scary future that has just enough of the present in it to stop your breath.

The fact that Reese misses this aspect of the novel suggests that she didn't read The Hunger Games very carefully. Actually, the general "comment" consensus after her review online is that she didn't actually read the first novel at all. Either way, it casts a lot of doubt on her review of the sequel. Also, my thought is if you wear your Twilght sunglasses to every young adult novel, you might miss a lot as many a librarian and middle school teacher hastened to point out.

For a good time, read the review and chuckle and then read the comments. With only one exception that I saw this morning, almost every single responder felt like I did. Did you read the first book? Do all young adult novels have to follow the Twilight formula (big yawn!)? My favorite response was from a sixteen-year-old, who used craptastic as an adjective and reminded Reese that Twilight was really a rip-off of a vampire series in the 90's. Go girl!

So, I look forward to reading Catching Fire soon and entering a fictional world that is far more vivid and real than Jennifer Reese's review.