The Devil & Tom Walker and Other Selected Stories, by Washington Irving

Finished 3-31-10, rating 3/5, Short Story Collection

I haven’t read short stories since I was student teaching back in college.  I’m not sure this was the place to start back in again.  I’ve owned this for a long time and I’ve always wanted to try Washington Irving, so I convinced Jason to read this one together.  There were a few hits, more misses and lots in the middle.  I think I’ll just focus on the ones we liked.

We both loved The Devil and Tom Walker, even though his disregard for women was evident in this and other stories.  It’s a ghost story where the Devil makes a deal with the ‘hen-pecked’ and poor  Tom Walker.  The wife was almost as evil as the devil and there was really no sympathy to be found.  Only the lesson that the Devil only makes deals that are bad for you.

We also both loved The Mutability of Language.  It was about a man walking into a very old and exclusive library where original manuscripts were kept and he takes up a conversation with one of the books.  It’s a discussion about the written word and authors and the mortality of  both.  Very fun story for book lovers.  Written in the 1800’s this has even more relevance today.

The Specter Bridegroom was another winner.  It had mistaken identity, love at first sight, ghosts, soldiers, and forbidden love.  This was my favorite, but then I’m a sucker for a good love story.

And we did enjoy the story of Rip Van Winkle.  It wasn’t exactly what we expected and the legend is more interesting in some ways.  It was fun to read the original and then try to figure out how it came to be such a hit.  I understand there are older similar stories, but this is the one on which our American knowledge is based.  Worth a look just for that.

We loved reading this book aloud.  Lots of big, new words to try and it was fun listening to each other try to sound them out.  If we had marked them all we’d have pages of new words.  I looked up a  few, but for many of them the context was enough.  I did like Irving’s style, although many of these ‘stories’ were really essays about life in England or the traits of Indians and the French.

My Monthly Movie Thoughts and an Open Invitation

These are the movies I’ve watched this month and I’ve given each one a grade and 5 words to describe it.  There are two ways to actively participate.  One, if you’ve seen any of the movies leave me your 1-5 words in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.  Or, if you are feeling ambitious and want to do this on your own blog leave me a link in the comments and I’ll add it to the bottom of the post.   Of course,  you can just browse and enjoy too 🙂

I’ve noted airplane movies because I’m not sure a nervous flyer like me should be completely trusted to give an accurate grade.

2008  Grade A

Endearing Robot Saves 2805 Earth.

Overrated Carol

Perhaps Pixar’s Best Yet Wordlily

Sweet, endearing, romantic, fantasy flick. (Nolatari)

Touching Love Story With Robots (Beth)

Fantastic robots and save earth message. (Heather)

A pantomime with a message.  (Tony)

(1948. Cast- Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Angela Lansbury, Van Johnson) Grade A-

Politics Sure Hasn’t Changed Much.

(2009. Cast-Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell)  Airplane Movie Grade B-

Too Sentimental.  DeNiro Awesome. Depressing.

Even grumpy dads need love.  (Tony)

(2004. Cast-Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, Sean Astin, Rob Schneider) Airplane Movie Grade C

Not As Terrible As Expected.

Disappointing. They’ve done much better. (Nolatari)

Sweet story, goofy, typical Sandler. (Debbie)

Silly, unbelievable, but semi-charming romance. (Heather)

Adam Sandler is somehow charming.  (Tony)

(2009, Robin Williams, John Travolta, Seth Green, Kelly Preston, Bernie Mac)  Airplane Movie Grade D

A Few Laughs. Wasted Talent.

The Chaos Experiment(2009.  Cast- Val Kilmer, Armand Assante)  Grade – F

Complete Waste of Time.  Really.


What Book is That? Quiz

Time for the Tuesday Quiz.  Can you identify these books by their censored titles?  Leave a comment with the number, title and author or authors.

No copying off other commenters.  Your first answer is the one accepted.  Each question worth 10 points.  Go ahead and Google if you want on this one.

Answers to last week’s quiz.  Current leaderboard after 3 weeks.

1. Eternal On  the Water by Joseph Monniger

2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Neffenegger

3. Posed for Murder by Meredith Cole

4. Vision in White by Nora Roberts

5. Drood by Dan Simmons

6. Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein

7. Caught by Harlan Coben

8. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

9. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

10. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrows

Monday Movie Meme – Sidekicks

This weeks it’s all about our favorite movie sidekicks.  Here are my fave five…

1. Wilson from Cast Away (2000).  Tom Hanks would have gone even more crazy without him.  I cried when he lost Wilson to the sea. 

2. Sam from the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001,2002,2003).  I believe that Sam defines loyalty and bravery.  Don’t we all want a friend who would follow us even knowing it could lead to death?

3. Annie from Speed (1994).  That bomb would have blown up everyone on that bus if not the for the quick thinking Annie.

4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).  So which one was the sidekick?  Who cares?

5. Duckie in Pretty in Pink (1986). Duckie had Andie’s back even though he really wanted her heart.  In the end he only wanted her to be happy. 

So who did everyone else choose?  Stop by The Bumbles to find out.

This One is Mine, by Maria Semple

This One Is Mine by Maria Semple: Book CoverFinished 3-28-10, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 2008

He spotted Violet – she had said she’d be the one wearing red plastic sandals – sitting on the sidewalk in the ticket holders’ line, engrossed in the New York Times, and listening to a Walkman.  Two movie were tucked under her leg.  She wasn’t a knockout, but wasn’t fat either, and had a face you wanted to look into.  She turned the page of the business section and folded it, then folded it again.  An artsy chick who read the business section?  Who was responsible enough to have arrived early and bought tickets?  With enough Ivy League pluck to sit on a dirty sidewalk and not care who saw her?  It was done and done.  He had to have her.  As he stepped forward, she absent mindedly twisted her long hair off her neck.  That’s when he first glimpsed the tatoo behind her ear, teasing him from the edge of her hairline.  He found it wildly sexy.  But something inside him sank.  He knew then there’d be a part of her he’d never possess.

Chapter One

Violet has what most women dream of, a rich and important husband, a child, no job, and people she pays to make her life easier.  So, when Violet has a chance encounter in a bathroom with a down on his luck musician, her life takes a surprising turn.  She becomes a bit obsessed with the sex-addicted, alcoholic and life at home becomes more unbearable for her.  Teddy awakes a spark in her that had been missing.

Violet’s husband David is real jerk.  He treats her badly and is a self-proclaimed asshole, but when it becomes clear that Violet may be cheating on him he manages to show another side, one with feelings and regrets.  David’s sister Sally, is the third messed up person in this story who only cares about landing a rich husband, no matter the consequences.

 I really loved this book. For the better part of the book these people are easy to dislike.  Violet is a whiner, David is a jerk, and Sally is only concerned with herself.  But somehow as we learn their motivations and see the way they react to life you realize they are wonderfully flawed.  In most people you start with the perfect image and the more you learn the less there is to like, but it worked the opposite way in this book.   I was hoping that by the end I might grow to love or appreciate Teddy too, but that didn’t happen for me, but that didn’t take any of the enjoyment away.  The writing was superb and I look forward to more from this debut author. 

This book was sent to me by the publisher.  Come back on Friday for my interview with Maria.

War & Peace & Moscow



Max was back to reading this week in his favorite spot.  He could keep an eye on the street and read the book too.  

This was an interesting week since it was primarily about Moscow preparing for the French invasion.  Of my four characters only two them showed up this week, so I am also going to include a few quotes from the book so you can get a feel for the wonderful writing. 

The forces of two-and-ten European nations burst into Russia.  The Russian army and populace retreat, avoiding a confrontation as far as Smolensk, and from Smolensk to Borodino.  The French army, with an ever-increasing force of momentum, races on to Moscow, the goal of its movement.  The force of its momentum increases as it nears its goal, just as the velocity of a falling body increases as it nears the earth.  Behind are thousands of miles of famished, hostile country; ahead are a few dozen miles separating it from its goal.  Every soldier of Napoleon’s army feels that, and the invasion pushes on of itself, by the mere force of its momentum. (page 824) 

Prince Andrei was presumed dead AGAIN!  As the wounded are brought to Moscow we find out that he is one of them and that the doctors have little hope of him living.  As luck would have it he is evacuated from Moscow with the Rostov family and when Natasha found him the connection between the two was renewed.  The doctors still don’t believe he’ll recover and seem to be trying to help him stay ill. 

Natasha grew up a little this week.  She successfully took over the packing of their house for evacuation and she opened her heart to the wounded men by telling them they could stay in the Rostov home.  And then she begged her father to let the wounded travel with them after her mother had ordered otherwise… 

“The eggs…the eggs are teaching the hen…” the count said through happy tears.”  (Count Rostov expresses how proud he is of her) 

Before discovering Andrei in their convoy she had a chance encounter with Pierre that led him to wax poetic.  Now that Andrei is back in the picture it’s hard to see where that might lead.  I liked Natasha more this week.  She is still self-involved, but she is coming into her own and has many attractive qualities. 

So Moscow has been left to the  French but Pierre is still there.  Head on over to Molly’s to see what she has to say.  She’s covering Pierre and he was a busy boy this week.  We’re only a few weeks away from the end and I’m looking forward to seeing what becomes of everyone.

The Shining, by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King: CD Audiobook CoverFinished audio 3-24-10, rating 4/5, horror, pub. 1977

Jack and Wendy take their son to the Overlook Hotel for the winter.  They are the caretakers, and only inhabitants, of this sprawling hotel set in the Rocky Mountains and they are completely cut off from the rest of the world as the snow strands them there.  The hotel has a colorful past and present and the ‘ghosts’ in the Overlook want little Danny because he has the shine and they drive Jack insane to get to Danny.  Can the love of a mother save her son or will Danny fall victim to the evil that surrounds him? 

I don’t know how I made it to age 38 without reading this or seeing the movie.  As a matter of fact I knew next to nothing about it except for the clip of crazy Jack Nicholson that most of us have seen at one time or another.  I have to admit that even with that picture in my head that is not how I saw the dad in this book.  Guess I’ll have to watch the movie now.

I liked this one.  It was suspenseful and I was even surprised at the end.  Stephen King knows how to tell a good story and this one was very good.

I checked this audio book out from the library and it was skillfully read by actor Campbell Scott.

Quiz with the Stars

This week’s quiz topic is or may become obvious,  but I won’t spoil the fun.

No Googling and no copying off other commenters.  Your first answer is the one accepted.  Each question worth 10.25 points.

Last week’s Irish Actor’s resultsLeaderboard after 2 weeks.  Don’t forget that you don’t have to be the leader to win a prize.  And the prizes will be coming all the way from France in May 🙂

1. Buzz Aldrin wrote the book Magnificent Desolation.  What’s Aldrin’s claim to fame?  2nd man to walk on the moon

2. This colorful Cincinnati Bengals star wrote a book about what football has meant to his life.  Chad Ochocinco

3. This sexy beach gal and pop culture personality has penned a couple of novels.  Pamela Anderson

4. Shannen Doherty has a book out this year called Badass.  What 5 numbers made her famous?  90210

5. It’s hard being a single mom of 8.  This mom already has three books under her belt.  Kate Gosselin

6. This host with the most has written a book about staying sane in Hollywood.  Tom Bergeron

7. This judge is a stickler and doesn’t mind telling it how it is.  Oh, and he’s written a book about his life subtitled, From Barrow Boy to BallroomLen Goodman

8. So what do all these authors have in common?  Currently on Dancing With the Stars

Deadly Kisses, by Brenda Joyce

Deadly Kisses by Brenda Joyce: Book CoverFinished 3-20-10, rating 4.5/5, romance, pub. 2006

Book 8 of the Deadly series (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4) (Book 5) (Book 6) (Book 7)

Her grip on the paperweight tightened.  She debated turning to flee, but in a moment whoever was beyond her would appear and see her.  Instead, she pressed against the wall, waiting.  The shadowy form of a man appeared, carrying a candle.  He saw her against the wall, halted in midstride and lifted the candle higher.

Francesca was illuminated-but so was he.

Chapter 2

If you have been following along as I have been reading this series, you know that Francesca is a modern gal caught in 1902 New York City.  She is headstrong reformer and a brave sleuth in a time that a lady, especially one as well-to-do as she, is not looked upon favorably by most.  Even her family is against he working with the police to solve crimes that put her in the direct path of dangerous criminals.  She does seem to get injured in every book so I understand their concern.

Francesca begins this story being called to the home of her fiance’s ex-mistress and finding her stabbed to death.  Calder is the main suspect, but not the only one and Francesca takes it upon herself to find the real killer.  When Calder is  arrested he breaks off their engagement to save her from scandal and Francesca is devastated.

This is also the continuation of Rick and Leann’s reconciliation and Evan’s downward spiral into gambling debt and ill-chosen mistresses. 

I have now re-read the series that I have always thought to be a favorite and was not disappointed.  The romance could sometimes get a little melodramatic, but the mystery was always spot on and not always easy to figure out.  I love Calder and Francesca and look forward to next year when the next in the series comes out after five long years.

This was from my personal library.

March Madness Awards

I’ve been busy watching the NCAA tournament the past few days so I am too busy to read or do anything productive.  Both Ohio State and Michigan State won their first round games last night and will play tomorrow to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

I have received a few awards over the past few months and thought this would be a perfect time to share the love.  And I thought there was no one better to share them with than fellow Buckeye and Spartan fans 🙂

from Amanda at Life & Times of a New Yorker.  Gerber daisies are my favorite flowers, so I am very happy to receive this beautiful award.  I would like to pass this on to a fellow Ohio State book blogger who I met yesterday for coffee 🙂  If you haven’t visited Bonnie at Redlady’s Reading Room you should stop by.

from Alice at Hello, My Name is Alice.  I’m passing this along to loyal commenter and Spartan fan Staci from Life in the Thumb

from Alice at Hello, My Name is Alice.  This is going out to Em at The Many Thoughts of a Reader, who loves both the Buckeyes and the Spartans!

from Natalie at The Book Inn and JoAnn at Lakeside Musing.

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

Although not a Buckeye Kathy at Bermuda Onion is always very supportive of my Bucks and there is no one more productive than she is 🙂

from Alice at Hello, My Name is Alice. 
This one goes out to the ladies who passed these awards on to me.  I love all of your blogs and hope people take the time to visit.

Amanda at Life & Times of a New Yorker

Natalie at The Book Inn

Jo Ann at Lakeside Musing

and I’ll pass it back along to Alice at Hello, My Name is Alice because she deserves it at least twice 🙂