Tag Archives: reading

Stealth Photography Nears End

The kid looked so cute during yesterday’s nap.

The kid looked so cute during yesterday’s nap. Why the hat? Why not!

One thing I’ll especially miss when my younger son starts college at the end of next month is snapping photos of him while he sleeps. He’s the type of person who naps at the drop of a (preferably Cookie Monster) hat, usually on the couch in open view of my Nikon D700 and nifty Nikon 50mm lens.

Ten years ago, his hair was more reddish, and he wore mittens to stop him from scratching his eczema.

Ten years ago, he wore mittens to stop him from scratching his eczema.

I’ve loved taking pics of my now not-so-little guy cranking out zzzzz’s his entire life.

Sawing logs in 2007

Sawing logs in 2007

The kid always has looked so sweet and innocent while asleep . . . often in direct contrast with the mayhem he’s wreaked on the house in his quest for the title of messiest boy ever.

A book made a less-than-comfy pillow in 2009.

A book made a less-than-comfy pillow in 2009.

I usually can count on him falling asleep while reading, which he dislikes.

Another book, another nap in 2011

Another book, another nap in 2011

Words on a page almost immediately induce drowsiness. He’ll never need to take a sleeping pill, as long as he has assigned reading.

Sleeping in on Thanksgiving 2012

Sleeping in on Thanksgiving 2012

The kid is an all-star sleeper, book or not. His idea of the perfect day is hours and hours of slumber, whether in his bed or on the couch.

I don’t expect that to stop once he’s at Sam Houston State. But I won’t be around to document it anymore, except when he’s home on breaks. It’s sad to think that my days of sneaking pics of him are dwindling. Guess I’ll just have to find a new subject for my stealth photography.

Does anyone feel sorry for the Mister?

Books and Movies

Just see the movie.

I started reading “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (a title that I never can remember, by the way; I always have to look it up) before the movie came out. I was only about halfway through the novel when the Mister and I saw the film, finishing the book soon after. That gave me an interesting perspective of both media.

For the first time ever, I thought the movie actually was better than the book! Eric Roth, the screenwriter, did a masterful job separating the wheat from the considerable, overwrought chaff penned by Jonathan Safran Foer. I know there are plenty of people who loved the novel, but I thought it needed better editing. Or it just could be that I didn’t like Foer’s writing style.

The narrator is different in the book.

On the heels (or should that be “hooves”) of seeing and finishing “Extremely Loud,” I next experienced “War Horse,” first by movie and then by book on my Kindle. The Mister and I loved the flick, so I couldn’t wait to read the novel it was based on.

Talk about your quick reads! Of course, it helps that it’s geared towards children, which also meant that those graphic war scenes on the big screen were added to the already-rich story. The biggest surprise for me? The book is narrated by Joey, the horse. What a novel (hee hee!) idea!

I wouldn’t say I was too caught up with the story’s sentimentality and sweetness, but I’ll admit that I felt a little embarrassed when I was finishing the book while eating lunch at Chipotle. I sat hunched over my Kindle trying not to let any of the other patrons see me cry at the ending.

I did discover, though, that tears give guacamole an unusual flavor!

So far, so good!

Right now I’m speeding through “The Hunger Games” (free on my Kindle through Amazon.com’s Prime lending library). It’s so compelling that it’s tempting to just read all day and let the laundry pile up. I love books like that!

I sure hope the movie, set to debut next month, does the novel justice. I can’t wait to finish the book, go to the theater, and judge for myself.

Stay tuned for the review!

E-Bookin’ It in Cheap Style

This was the original Kindle.

About four years ago, a new tech toy winked at me, beckoning me to buy it. I almost gave in to the temptation of that clunky-looking e-reader, the Amazon Kindle. But I held off because the price tag was a whopping $399. And you still had to buy e-books!

As Amazon refined the Kindle and kept lowering the price, I continued to resist its siren song, because it still cost too much. Plus I figured that Apple was going to bring out a product I’d probably prefer.

Sure enough, Apple debuted its iPad in the spring of 2010, featuring its own e-book app, iBooks, and the iBookstore. UPS delivered mine that April, and I’ve used it virtually every day since for everything from browsing the web to checking and replying to e-mail to, of course, reading books. I’ve been a very happy camper.

Meet my new tech baby!

And then last week Amazon decided to get serious with the Kindle. They introduced new models and lower price points. One of those newbies instantly caught my eye. Dubbed the “Kindle” (how clever!), it’s a mere six inches wide and weighs less than six ounces.

But the best part? The cost: Only $79! This version does include ads, but they don’t show up while you’re reading. Plus they can be worthwhile. I took advantage of the first one I saw, which was for $5 off almost anything priced $10 or more. Now my cute Kindle’s new cover is even cheaper!

An impetus to buy a Kindle was my experience with the Mister’s keyboard model, which his buddy Eddie Wayne bought for him. It’s so easy to use . . . even for the tech-challenged Mister.

So far, I really like reading on my Kindle. I will admit that when I turned it on, my first impulse was to increase the brightness control . . . which it doesn’t have. It looks nothing like an iBook on my backlit iPad. The E-ink technology and having to use side buttons to turn pages takes getting used to (I’m a swiper).

Then again, e-books are so different from the real thing, which I miss sometimes. You can’t easily figure out how close you are to end of the chapter, for one. And I always like when the left side of the book becomes bigger than the right, as you close in on the end.

But e-books don’t collect dust and clutter up bookshelves. Plus you can have them at your fingertips on any e-reader, whether it’s a Kindle, iPhone, or iPad. They’re definitely part of my future.

Chapter one is ready for me!

Especially the book that I’m eager to start once I finish the autobiography I’m currently reading—Harlan Coben’s new young-adult novel, “Shelter.” I can’t wait for Harlan to grab me by the neck and pull me through yet another well-written thriller.

This time on my new, little Kindle.

Getting Hooked By a Mystery Series

Harlan Coben’s first two Myron Bolitar novels.

Like my #1 son, I love to read. I’ve been flipping fascinatingly through pages since the age of four when my older sister Fran taught me how letters formed words, which begat sentences and then books.

But unlike #1, who beat me in learning to read by a year, I don’t have time to sit with a book glued to my face whenever possible (where “whenever possible” = not on the computer). Instead, I usually limit my reading of novels to when I go out to eat lunch solo. Which is why it can take me a long time to finish a book.

Books three and four

For the last year, my favorite choice of lunchtime reading material has been Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series. If you’re a fan of the mystery genre, you need to check out Coben’s novels. There are nine Bolitar books so far; the first one debuted in 1995, just like my #2 son!

As I noted in a previous blog post, my friend Diane, my nice neighborhood crack book dealer, got me hooked on the Coben books, just like she did with the Janet Evanovich series. I waited about a year before reading “Deal Breaker” and then wondered why I had put off becoming part of Bolitar’s world.

Coben is a master at writing thrillers: His plots are intriguing, his characters are compelling, his writing is tight and humorous. I’ll be reading one of his books several chapters at a time, depending on how slowly I’m eating lunch. Until all of a sudden I’m nearing the end of the book, and Coben has me hooked! I just can’t wait to find out the who, what, when, where, why, and how Bolitar, who is part sports agent and part detective, solves the mystery.

Books five and six (the one I'm currently reading)

I’ve steadily made my way through Coben’s first five Bolitar novels. I’m currently reading number six, “Darkest Fear.” It’s so good and so compelling that I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to bring it inside from its temporary home in my Honda Pilot and become comatose with it on the couch as I gobble up and enjoy every sentence.

But I won’t (well, until I near the end), because there still are three more Bolitar books to read. Plus, Coben has written eight stand-alone (non-Myron) mysteries as well. I’m set for my lunchtime reading for a long time!

Reading: It’s Great for Insomnia!


For the past two weeks, the #2 son has had one big homework assignment: Read “Kiss the Dust” for honors world geography.

kiss the dust

Sidebar: I have two confessions to make about this book. First, I keep thinking it refers to Oklahoma (as in the dust bowl), not Iraq. You would think the fact that the novel is for “world” geography would be a tip off that it’s not necessarily about the United States. I’m afraid I’ve been losing too many brain cells in my ongoing ant war. Second, I so want to call it “Bite the Dust.” Which is what I wish those ants would do!

To say that the #2 son hates to read is a little like saying the Alamo is old. Or the Statue of Liberty is historical. Or that I really, truly detest ants that invade my beloved Blow Pops. #2 says he only likes books with short chapters; the subject matter isn’t really important. Needless to say, the boy never will read a Harry Potter book.


Meanwhile, the #1 son, who has been reading since age 3, considers a 288-page book like “Kiss the Dust” almost not worth his time. A Harry Potter fan, he loves long novels and nonfiction baseball tomes. He almost always has a book in his hands, while #2 almost always has a football in his. Different strokes for different sons.

The other evening #2 was in the family room supposedly reading his book. He had to be done with it by today for his quiz, plus he has a project due Monday (and has he started it yet? Need you ask?!?). #1 also was reading near him. In my office, I drank in the quiet of the evening and thought, “This is good!”

But after 10 or 15 minutes, I listened to that same silence and thought, “Oh, oh!”

Me: #1 son, is your brother asleep?

#1: Of course he is.

Sigh! #2 almost always falls asleep when he reads. Which is okay right before bed with any old book but not one he’s going to be quizzed about and have to do a project on. And this happens if he reads right after dinner or right before bed. He doesn’t discriminate—almost all books read at any time of the day cause him to nod off. And sometimes even use the book for his pillow!


As long as the #2 son has a book, he’ll never have to worry about insomnia!

Movie review: Not Enough Half-Blood Prince

The sixth Harry Potter book

The sixth Harry Potter book

Potterphiles like myself know two basic truths: First, the seven books penned by the brilliant J.K. Rowling are a tremendous read. And, second, the movies are a sad, sad substitute for the books.

The latest case in point? The recently released “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which our family saw Wednesday afternoon.

Sidebar: Normally, we only go to the theater before noon on weekends, the better to take advantage of the $5 pricing. However, the Mister and the #2 son were going to be at a disc golf tournament all weekend, so we made an exception for Harry. We were too anxious to wait!

Severus Snape and Narcissa Malfoy utter the Unbreakable Vow in front of the horribly sadistic Bellatrix Lestrange.

Severus Snape and Narcissa Malfoy utter the Unbreakable Vow in front of the horribly sadistic Bellatrix Lestrange.

We all liked the movie, especially all the humor, but for the #1 son and I, we couldn’t help but lament what was left out from the book. The filmmakers concentrated too much on the romantic relationships in the movie at the expense of action and important events. I understand that the movie has to appeal to the millions who haven’t read the book, especially teenagers, but it was so ridiculous that there was hardly any information about the half-blood prince. Snape admitted to Harry that he, in fact, was the prince, but it was almost a throwaway line. There was no storyline about how Snape got to be called the HBP.

The young Tom Riddle and Dumbledore

The young Tom Riddle and Dumbledore

We did find out a bit about Voldemort’s past as Tom Riddle, who was creepily played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin.

Sidebar: Does that “Fiennes” sound familiar? Young Hero is the nephew of Ralph Fiennes, who plays the adult Voldermort!

Ginny, Harry, Hermoine, and Ron before a quidditch match

Ginny, Harry, Hermoine, and Ron before a quidditch match

The filmmakers really grabbed the Golden Snitch when they originally cast Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), and Emma Watson (Hermoine). The three have grown into their roles and have become fine actors. In fact, everyone in the cast makes this movie so watchable and enjoyable.

There's still no love lost between Harry and Draco.

There's still no love lost between Harry and Draco.

The one actor who was especially sensational in “HP and the HBP” was Tom Felton, who plays Draco. Even though I have a hard time believing that Voldemort would trust a student to kill a gifted wizard like Dumbledore, Draco’s inner turmoil about having to complete such an onerous task was palpable. You could just tell his heart wasn’t in it.

Despite not being at Draco’s hand, Dumbledore’s death was just heartbreaking. Although I knew it was going to happen, it still made me cry. Such a sad moment for Harry in a short lifetime filled with sad moments.

As disappointing as it was for the movie not to include Dumbledore’s funeral, I did really like the wand tribute by the Hogwarts’ students and staff that erased the dark mark from the sky. Tons of emotion during that scene. The end of the movie set up the final films very nicely. Look for me to be intrigued by movies #7 and #8 but also to be disappointed. I have no doubt that Potterphile truth #2 will hold true: Those movies will be a sad, sad substitute for the book version of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

But I already can’t wait to see them!