Monday, September 23, 2013

The Last Thing I Read...

Yes, I'm back. And I have to comment on the book I just finished reading...
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (recently revealed as J.K. Rowling).

I must admit I have read all the Harry Potter books (more than once) but did not consider reading Rowling's first fiction title following the end of her fantasy series - not because I had heard bad comments on it; not because it was purported to be completely different than the HP series; but because it wasn't a genre I read very often. I read mostly mystery, sci fi, fantasy and biography - not straight fiction. I'm always on the watch for books from my favorite authors or intriguing new authors but as I said, I chose not to read the next offering by Rowling because The Casual Vacancy seemed too much straight fiction for my taste.

Truthfully, I had not considered reading The Cuckoo's Calling when I first ran across it (only one library in our county library system owned it when it first came out and one of our patron's had requested the book) because I was not impressed by its cover. Yes, yes. I know. Never judge a book by its cover. But when I am training new volunteers at our library, I tell each one the importance of displaying new books with their covers face out BECAUSE most people DO judge a book by its cover. Face it, publishers employ whole graphics departments to create eye-catching cover art. The cover should make you stop and want to pick up the book, open the cover to read the fly leaf or maybe even the first paragraph. When our patron returned this book, I just checked it back in and sent it on home to the one library in our county that owned it.

Then this summer, it was revealed that Rowling had penned this book under the pseudonym of Galbraith in order to have the book stand on its own merit. That, plus the information that the publisher helped keep the secret of the true name of the author even from some of its employees and the pre-pub reviewers, let alone the media, intrigued me. I went online to Amazon to see what the early consumer reviews had to say and was impressed. I decided I needed to read the book.

I'm glad I did.

This book not only had a good plot-line and well-developed, captivating characters, but it was very well written. Entirely up to, if not exceeding, the standards set by the writing in her HP novels. Because of my love of mystery novels (from childhood) and my enjoyment of detective stories (written and on television) I found myself identifying with the female character, Robin, who worked as a temp secretary for the main character, Cormoran Strike. The character (Robin) also admitted to a dream of wanting to solve mysteries, wanting to try her hand at being a detective. I liked how involved she became and how much her natural curiosity and intelligence assisted Cormoran in solving the case. It was also interesting to see the point of view shift back and forth from Robin to Cormoran, keeping the plot moving forward without bogging down in narrative. And last but not least, I sure thought I had the killer figured out but was pleasantly surprised  by the denouement.

I can't wait for the next one in the series.
And there will be a next.
J.K. Rowling says there will be!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Photo a Day Challenge (week 1)

My friend from Down Under (Briali) invited me to participate in a photo project, one she had done last year and planned to do again this year. I have accepted the challenge and have been posting daily on the Photo A Day Facebook group. 

The photos of the hundreds and hundreds of people participating have been quite a variety - many absolutely fantastic and beautiful, some very professional although the persons posting some of these professional-looking shots have said they are playing with new apps on their cell phone or their new camera. Some have obviously taken quick snapshots, such as myself. I have tried my hand at composing some of the photos, but I have found the idea of the challenge - which is to take a photo centered on a theme or prompt that changes for each day - to lend itself to the impulsive snapshot rather than a composed photo. Some of my best pictures are momentary captures that I was lucky enough to have my camera along to take. 

This Photo a Day Challenge has encouraged me to have my camera in easy reach, all the time - to constantly be on the lookout for that unusual or interesting image just asking to be captured and shared.

Here are the first week of January prompts and photos I took (along with a caption for the photos).

Day 1. (today)  
Today is the first day of the new year and I wanted to do something traditional to start the year off, so I made  Æbleskiver - a Danish delight (which some people would equate to pancake balls but are really much better) generally made for Lille Juleaften (Little Christas Eve). 
I was unable to make this for Little Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, or even Christmas Day but January 1st is still during the 12 days of Christmas so all was well.

Æbleskiver is made with beaten egg whites folded into the buttermilk batter and cooked in a special pan. My two skillets were given to me as bridal shower gifts. One is wrought iron, the other is a teflon coated modern pan. They cook quickly and are served hot with butter and a choice of toppings from plain white granulated sugar, to applesauce or syrup or even jam. Æbleskiver means apple fritter but no one ever puts apples in the batter. But if there are leftovers, they are sprinkled with sugar and stored in a cold place and eaten cold like a donut.
I like to serve my Danish food on my dinnerware that is also from Denmark. Need I say that all eight of my great grandparents came from Denmark?

Day 2. (new)
I work at a library and here are some of the books we just got in on this day -                      
  New releases and 
        New to our collection.

Day 3. (Heart) 
Five years ago next month, my husband ended up having quintuple bypass surgery. He spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and came home with this pillow which he was supposed to hold against his chest if he had to cough. The pillow shows all the blood vessels the doctors replaced with pieces of a vein they took from his leg. I am so glad he came out of the hospital as good as new and remains healthy as we approach this anniversary. He has been MY heart and my best friend for over 35 years.

Day 4 (The View From Here) two photos:  
#1 I took this one early this morning        #2 is My view from the sofa of my dog,
just after sunrise through our front            Franklin looking over my cat Peabody's head...
window of my dormant Hydrangea          if Peabody views something interesting outside
and fronds from its neighboring               Franklin MUST have a chance to see whatever
Holger Juniper.                                          "it" is (I call this photo "Whatchalookin at?").

Day 5. (movement) 
I had a hard time choosing 
photos of movement.
I had some from a while ago
that I really liked as well as
the ones I took on Day 5...

#1 Driving through a fast moving 
very bad thunderstorm just
outside of Wheeling, WV
at twilight. 

And #2 - I play flute in an
Alumni Marching Band
and each year we also
perform concerts.
Our band front performs
with us on stage for a 
couple songs. Here is a
flag squad member
during practice for
our most recent concert.

Day 5. (movement) Continued:
I took many photos today 
but none really conveyed 
the theme very well. 
So I am resorting to a couple 
photos taken previously, 
at Christmas in fact. 

#1 Peabody playing with 
his brand new mouse toy. 
And #2 Franklin playing 
Tug-of-War with his Wubba toy. 
(Franklin's pic yet to come)