Monday, September 27, 2010

BookLook Review "Supreme Justice"

“Supreme Justice”
Today my computer spam menu includes offers for an oil deal in Iraq, a free iPhone, a palm reading, and apparently I have inherited money! Unbelievable – just like this book.
“Supreme Justice” by Phillip Margolin is a fairly enjoyable murder mystery requiring the reader to suspend reality and just take that offer for a free ride. It would be a good idea to read “Executive Privilege” first to understand why the characters do what they do, although I read that book and I was still confused. Maybe fewer characters and time-line jumps and state skipping would have helped my disorientation. When I read a book I want the free gift offered; I just don’t want to work too hard for it.

A mysterious freighter carrying drugs is docked in Oregon. Captain John Finley narrowly escapes being murdered with the rest of his crew by one of the sailors and steals a duffle bag filled with cash from the ship. It doesn’t turn out to be a good idea. The ship soon disappears with the dead crew and illegal drugs and everyone who knows about it is silenced. A powerful drug cartel and mysterious government agents are involved in the cover-up.

Next we travel across time zones and calendars to Washington D.C. to the Supreme Court which appears to have a criminal sitting on their court. The justices are deciding whether to hear an appeal from Sarah Woodruff on death row in Oregon who has been convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend John Finley (that boat captain who stole the drug money).One Supreme Court judge resigns and another is nearly murdered. There appears to be some connection to the Sarah Woodruff appeal.

One of the clerks of the court, Brad Miller teams up with three other characters from “Executive Privilege” to secretly investigate and they once again turn over a rock to find government agencies hiding underneath. Dana Cutler, Keith Evans and even Miller’s girlfriend Ginny return to find out who is hiding what and bring them to justice.

“Supreme Justice” picks up where “Executive Privilege” left off and Margolin has once again convinced me that there are shady politicians and crooked agents everywhere. Since the government is still running those corrupt black ops, I wonder if I could get a little help from a rogue agent to track down the guys who keep offering to find me a date on Singles Net. I’m pretty sure that’s a black op too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finn's House

Finn behind bars - one of three baby gates to keep the boy on the inside. When Finn arrived the entire house became his. Every room is now filled with his stuff and all adults must adapt. Including to going through gates to exit the livingroom.

His very own recliner. Some people call it a jumperoo or whatever, but Finn just lays back and relaxes when he needs a bit of a rest. This is only one of many pieces of personal baby furniture in his house. A new highchair is in the background.

This sweet baby boy has a very cute bed in his very own bedroom. His nursery is actually the larger of the 2 bedrooms since he has a lot of stuff to put in there.Evidence that he does sleep sometimes.

Finn has his very own counter space reserved full-time in his kitchen. Bottle warmer (which I love!)His own clean dishes,binkies,etc.wash and dry area and the cereal measuring station take up almost half the available space.

In theory Finn is supposed to stay on his king size blanket which covers the living room floor and is filled with wonderful toys. In reality he immediately army crawls off to investigate dangerous items like the back of a chair or an electrical chord.

Finn likes to use his personal keyboard which his parents provided to keep him busy while they are working on the one that is actually hooked up to the computer.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sometimes Less is just...less

Serving on the museum board is wonderful. One of my assignments is to "advise" the volunteer guild. They held their first-ever Princess Tea in the sculpture garden this week and a shocking number of people bought tickets - 150 princesses and escorts would be arriving Saturday morning. The food was perfect, the entertainment wonderful, activities, and a professional photo to take home included. But as the guild discussed their decorations I realized they were going for the Less is More approach. On the way home I thought about all those pretty princesses and decided to take matters into my own hands! I loaded up the wedding decorations which included tulle, netting, bows, silver lanterns,garlands, flowers etc. and accompanied by my Knight in Shining Armor (Mark of course) arrived an hour earlier and decorated the gate, the entrance, and the loggia where the girls would be doing their fashion show.It was beautiful. Instead of dressing up as a princess, I dressed as a serving wench.

The Disney princesses were well represented.

A few of the royal guests arriving - there were about 150.

The serving wench closing the garden gate at the end of the party

Friday, September 17, 2010

BookLook Review "Cranberry" I mean "Cranford"

This charming Victorian novel begins: “In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses, above a certain rent, are women.” And as we read a little further we begin to see that these are remarkable women: “Their dress is very independent of fashion; as they observe, ‘What does it signify how we dress here at Cranford, where everybody knows us?’ And if they go from home, their reason is equally cogent: ‘What does it signify how we dress here, where nobody knows us...” I had to give you a taste of the delicious writing of Elizabeth Gaskell. She wraps you up in lace and carries you off to dine on tea and crumpets in her little fictional English town of Cranford. It is an escape to an earlier time and place where gentle ladies strolled along arm in arm wearing their latest bonnets.

Gaskell’s close friends included Florence Nightingale and Charlotte Bronte and she was a respected contemporary of Charles Dickens. She published “Cranford” in serial form for a literary paper where Dickens was the editor in 1851. Serials were popular reading as an economical way to read a book and sell newspapers and magazines. Maybe we should try it again to revive our declining national newspaper readership?

The ladies of Cranford are the local monarchy of their little parish. Their superstitions and social rulings are absolute law. As if Victorian society wasn’t already as rigid as a corset, Miss Matty, Miss Jenkyns, Mrs. Jamieson, and Miss Pole tighten things up to the point of painful breathlessness. The ladies manage to rise above their modest financial means to create a social order as impressive as royal court. Yet when one of their friends needs help their kind and generous hearts endear them to the reader.

Although I own “Cranford” as a part of my beautifully bound British classics, I listened to some of this book on CD to enjoy the English accent of the reader. Lasting just over 7 hours it is the perfect length for a week of daily exercising – and you can imagine you are strolling under a parasol down a dusty lane instead of toiling on a treadmill.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Christy and Dalanina's baby shower

Shower guests included sisters, moms, aunties and one pretender. Dalan snuck in the door although he knows that men are not allowed at baby showers we let him stay after Tyfani announced he was actually Dalanina. It wasn't much of a disguise.

The Balzotti girls' gift was buckets of clothes including lots of customized jig wear by Alyssa of course but we all baby girl shopped since we finally had an excuse!

All the Gleave girls are here posed around the diaper cake.

The beautiful food, and beautiful baristas serving our Italian sodas

Thursday, September 9, 2010

“True Blue”
Continuing on my quest to provide the male readers with good book recommendations, I read another best-man-seller this week. “True Blue” by David Baldacci is about an ex-cop who is an ex-con who hooks up with an ex-athlete lawyer to solve the murder of a lady stuffed in his fridge at work. Oh, and they both know karate and beat up gang members named Psycho and they roar around D.C. on a Ducati motorcycle- you cannot get manlier than that! This book is no “Steel Magnolias” but it’s an entertaining read for both women and men.

Mace Perry gets out of prison after serving a two year sentence for a crime she didn’t commit. She was set up and decides the only way to be a “blue” again is to solve a big murder case on her own and get her record expunged. The only problem is she isn’t a cop anymore and the killers are part of a dark and dirty government op.

The ex-athlete lawyer Roy decides he likes the type of law-lessness Mace practices and shuns his big paycheck to ride behind her on her Ducati. They play basketball a lot too. Roy and Mace are solving the crime one clue at a time and just ahead of the police. Of course if you can break and enter and lie you can usually beat those law abiding cops any time. Mace is book ended by two strong opposing characters. Her sister is the chief of police and her arch enemy has been appointed the temporary U.S. attorney and neither is happy about her involvement in the murder investigation.

It’s a formula plot which works well for Baldacci, Grisham, Scottoline, Margolin and other ex-lawyers who now make a lot money writing fiction. Some may argue they always wrote fiction. The heroes go around the cops and solve a crime that involves a big political financial conspiracy. You don’t have to worry about complicated relationships or emotional involvement because the authors don’t.

I seriously doubt “True Blue” will be on Oprah’s book club list. It is dependable Baldacci crime drama with plenty of action and as usual it’s absolutely un-be-lieve-able. I laughed in parts where I’m pretty sure the author wasn’t trying to be funny. I still recommend it for PG13 action movie style entertainment. But don’t worry - next week I am reading a Victorian Novel by Elizabeth Gaskell while eating chocolates to restore some balance to my universe.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Review "The Rembrandt Affair"

“The Rembrandt Affair”
We all seek balance in our lives - our Ying and Yang, our chocolate and vanilla, and our fiction and non-fiction. According to my brother-in-law my lit. list has been out of balance lately and is heavily leaning tower-of-Pisaish toward chick books. Within the pages of “The Rembrandt Affair” by Daniel Silva there are enough car chases, manly spies, and beautiful women to restore balance to the BookLook column.

I am a big fan of Silva’s series starring Gabriel Allon the reluctant Israeli spy/ art restorer. I could not put this latest one down! It has a little less violence and bloodshed than the past books (less parts for me to skip over), but the plot tension and fascinating characters remain extraordinary. He is one of the best spy fiction writers out there and this latest novel debuted at #1 on the NY Times Best Seller list. You don’t need to read the others in the series but as always if you read the first one “The Kill Artist” you will understand the back references.

Gabriel has once again retired as a Mossad assassin. He and his beautiful Italian wife Chiara have returned to the isolated coast of Cornwall. When a friend desperately needs his help to recover a stolen Rembrandt, Gabriel is compelled to take the case. The worlds of Nazi art theft and Iranian nuclear armament collide when a true villain is revealed and a trap is set. There is a good dose of history combined with current political themes to keep the international intrigue believable.

Although falsely accused by Peter of favoring the feminine reader lately, it’s true I have been reading more books about relationships than conquering evil empires. “The Rembrandt Affair” should set things right. It is so loaded with progesterone I won’t have to worry about PMS this month at all.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sisters give siblings better mental health article

I put the entire article from Newsweek here. Hopefully my brothers can appreciate me more now than when this picture was taken in 1959, and to encourage granddaughters to join our family if they read my blog in heaven.

Sisters give siblings better mental health, study shows
New research also shows loving siblings promote good deeds more than loving parents

Something about having a sister – even a little sister – makes 10- to 14-year-olds a bit less likely to feel down in the dumps.

That’s one of several intriguing findings from a new study on the impact siblings have on one another. Brigham Young University professor Laura Padilla-Walker is the lead author on the research, which also sorts out the influence of siblings and the influence of parents within families.

“Even after you account for parents’ influence, siblings do matter in unique ways,” said Padilla-Walker, who teaches in BYU’s School of Family Life. “They give kids something that parents don’t.”

Padilla-Walker’s research stems from BYU’s Flourishing Families Project and will appear in the August issue of the Journal of Family Psychology. The study included 395 families with more than one child, at least one of whom was an adolescent between 10 and 14 years old. The researchers gathered a wealth of information about each family’s dynamic, then followed up one year later. Statistical analyses showed that having a sister protected adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful. It didn’t matter whether the sister was younger or older, or how far apart the siblings were agewise.

Brothers mattered, too. The study found that having a loving sibling of either gender promoted good deeds, such as helping a neighbor or watching out for other kids at school. In fact, loving siblings fostered charitable attitudes more than loving parents did. The relationship between sibling affection and good deeds was twice as strong as that between parenting and good deeds.

“For parents of younger kids, the message is to encourage sibling affection,” said Padilla-Walker. “Once they get to adolescence, it’s going to be a big protective factor.”

Many parents justifiably worry about the seemingly endless fighting between siblings. The study found hostility was indeed associated with greater risk of delinquency. Yet Padilla-Walker also sees a silver lining in the data: The fights give children a chance to learn how to make up and to regain control of their emotions, skills that come in handy down the road.

“An absence of affection seems to be a bigger problem than high levels of conflict,” Padilla-Walker said.