random quarter: the characters edition

June 24, 2013

one. lizzie hexam. our mutual friend by charles dickens.
the brave, devoted daughter of jesse hexam (p. xxv).

two. eugene wrayburn. our mutual friend.
a briefless barrister, of a gloomy, indolent, unambitious nature (p. xxv).

eugene to his friend, mortimer, regarding lizzie: that lonely girl with the dark hair runs in my head. it was little more than a glimpse we had of her that last time, and yet i almost see her waiting by the fire to-night. do you feel like a dark combination of traitor and pickpocket when you think of that girl? (p. 162).

three. clare abshire. the time traveler's wife by audrey niffenegger.
an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course (back cover).

four. henry detamble. the time traveler's wife. 
a dashing, adventuresome librarian who involuntarily travels through time (back cover).

henry, upon meeting clare for the first time: this astoundingly beautiful amber-haired tall slim girl turns around and looks at me as though i am her personal jesus. my stomach lurches. obviously she knows me, and i don't know her. lord only knows what i have said, done or promised to this luminous creature...  i realize that a massive winning lottery ticket chunk of my future has somehow found me here in the present, and i start to laugh... i see clare running across washington square, jumping and whooping, and i am near tears and i don't know why (pp. 5-6).

five. rosie dunne. love rosie by cecelia ahern. (THEY'RE MAKING A MOVIE!!! maybe it'll be better than time traveler's wife's movie was.)

to alex, you are invited to my seventh birthday party on tuesday the eighth of april in my house. we are having a magician and you can come to my house at two o'clock. it is over  at five o'clock. i hope you will come. from your best friend, rosie (p. 3).

six. alex stewart. love rosie.
to rosie, yes i will come to your brithday party on wensday. form alex (p. 3).

seven. liza weiler. right before your eyes by ellen shanman.
outspoken playwright... too close to the spector of failure (back cover).

eight. george doren. right before your eyes.
suspiciously gallant wall street prince (back cover).

liza, upon meeting george for the first time: george, the unfortunately handsome jackass with whom we'd first make contact at dinner, had perceived in me an admirable foe and was attempting to ply me with liquor while we verbally stabbed each other (p. 1).

nine. victoria jones. the language of flowers by vanessa diffenbaugh.

ten. grant hastings. the language of flowers.

victoria, upon meeting grant for what she believes is the first time. he withdrew a single tiger lily from a bucket. 

"take one," he said, handing it to me.

"no," i said. "i don't like lilies." and i'm no queen, i thought. 

"you should," he said. "they suit you."

"how do you know what suits me?" without thinking, i snapped the head of the lily he held. six pointed petals fell, the flower's face examining the hard floor (pp. 35-36).

eleven. augustus waters. the fault in our stars.

augustus, attending a support group with his friend isaac, who is about to lose his sight to cancer. when asked about his fears, he replies: "i fear oblivion." he said without a moment's pause. "i fear it like the proverbial blind man who's afraid of the dark."

"too soon," isaac said, cracking a smile.

"was that insensitive?" august asked. "i can be blind to other people's feelings" (pp. 11-12).

twelve. remus lupin. the harry potter series by j.k. rowling.

thirteen. severus snape. the harry potter series.

fourteen. james potter. the harry potter series.

fifteen. sirius black. the harry potter series.

the marauder's map: "mr. moony presents his compliments to professor snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business."

snape froze. harry stared, dumbstruck, at the message. but the map didn't stop there. more writing was appearing beneath the first. 

"mr. prongs agrees with mr. moony, and would like to add that professor snape is an ugly git."

it would've been very funny if the situation hadn't been so serious. and there was more...

"mr. padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor" (harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban--p. 287).

sixteen. katherine powell. lovers and dreamers (nora roberts' dream trilogy--daring to dream, holding the dream, finding the dream).

seventeen. byron dewitt. lovers and dreamers.

byron, regarding kate: katherine powell was not his type. 

skinny, abrasive women with more attitude than charm didn't appeal to him. he liked them soft, and smart, and sexy. he admired them simply for being women, and delighted in the bonuses of quiet conversation, hardheaded debate, outrageous laughter, and hot, mindless sex... he wasn't remotely attracted to kate (lovers and dreamers--p. 286).

eighteen. margo sullivan. lovers and dreamers. 

nineteen. joshua templeton. lovers and dreamers.

twenty. brenna o'toole. tears of the moon by nora roberts.

shaun gallagher, on brenna: she had little hands, shawn thought. a man might think of them as delicate if he didn't know what they were capable of doing. he'd watched her swing a hammer, grip a drill, haul lumber, cinch pipes. more often than not, those little fairy hands of hers were nicked and scratched or  bruised around the knuckles...

she did, after all, have a trim and tidy little body. the sort a man could scoop up one-handed if he had a mind to. and if a man tried, shawn imagined brenna o'toole would lay him out flat. 

the idea made him grin. 

still, he'd rather look at her face any day (p. 9).

twenty-one. cameron quinn. seaswept by nora roberts.

anna spinelli talks to cameron about a young boy  named seth: "my concern is seth, mr. quinn. now we can discuss this, or i can simply move forward with the procedure for his removal from this home and into approved foster care."

"it'd be a mistake to try that, miz spinelli. seth isn't going anywhere."

her back went up at the way he drawled out her name. "seth delauter is a minor. the private adoption your father was implementing wasn't finalized, and there is some question about its validity. at this point, mr. quinn, you have no legal connection to him."

"you don't want me to tell you what you can do with your legal connection, do you, miz spinelli?" with some satisfaction he watched those big, dark eyes flash. "i didn't think so. i can resist. seth's my brother." the saying of it left him shaken. with a jerk of his shoulder, he turned. "i need a beer."

twenty-two. brianna concannon. born in ice by nora roberts.

twenty-three. grayson thane. born in ice.

when brianna meets grayson: he'd been expecting a nice homey woman with graying hair tucked in a bun. "i woke you," he said foolishly.

"we usually sleep here in the middle of the night. come in by the fire." she walked to the parlor, switching on the lights. after setting the candle aside, blowing it out, she turned to take his wet coat. "it's a terrible night for traveling."

he wasn't shapeless under the mac. though he wasn't as tall as brianna's uneasy imagination had made him, he was lean and wiry. like a boxer, she thought, then smiled at herself. poet, pirate, boxer. the man was a writer and a guest (p. 15).

twenty-four. maggie concannon. born in fire by nora roberts.

twenty-five. rogan sweeney. born in fire.

when maggie meets rogan: he knocked and, though he received no answer, shoved the door open. he had a moment to register the blast of heat, the sharp smells and the small woman seated in a big wooden chair, a long pipe in her hands.

he thought of faeries and magic spells.

"close the door, damn you, there's a draft."

he obeyed automatically, bristling under the sharp fury of the order. "your windows are open."

"ventilation. draft. idiot" (p. 41).


June 17, 2013

why i wanted to read it: because i loved the author's other book, eleanor and park.

what i liked: two journalists, beth and jennifer, are using their office computers to send personal emails to each other, which goes against company policy. lincoln is supposed to warn them when they're in violation. but he kind of likes reading what they write. and he kind of likes beth.

jennifer to beth: have you heard her sigh? it's like a balloon dying (p. 64).

so i hung up on her, and mitch--who had wandered into the room, but didn't know what we were fighting about--said, "i wish you wouldn't talk to her like that. she's your mother."

and i couldn't tell him, "but she thinks you're going to leave me, and she's already taking your side in the divorce" (p. 65).

beth to jennifer: he always sat in the corner. and i always sat one row across from him, three seats down... he never looked at me--or anyone else, to my relief--and he never took off his headphones... the week before finals, i showed up at the union at my usual time and found chris sitting in my seat. his headphones were around his neck, and he watched me walk toward him... he said, "hey."

and i said, "hi."

and he said, "look..." his eyes were green. he kind of squinted when he talked. "i've got a ten-thirty class next semester, so... we should probably make other arrangements."

i was struck numb.

i said, "are you mocking me?"

"no," he said. "i'm asking you out."

"then i'm saying yes."

"good... we could have dinner. you could still sit across from me. it would be just like a tuesday morning. but with breadsticks."

"now you're mocking me."

"yes." he was still smiling. "now i am."

the first year was strange. i felt like a butterfly had landed on me. if i moved or even breathed, i thought he would float away... i never knew when i would see him or when he would call. a week might go by and i wouldn't talk to him. then i'd find a note slid under my door. or a leaf. or song lyrics written in a matchbook (pp. 67-70).

jennifer: so, what's tomorrow's indian hills story about?

beth: there isn't one.

there better be. you're on the morning budget for fifteen inches (p. 94).

beth: i don't know if i even believe in that anymore. the right guy. the perfect guy. the one. i've lost faith in "the."

jennifer: how do you feel about "a" and "an"?


so you're considering a life without articles?

and true love (p. 157).

jennifer: he just asked danielle if she blacks out all the dirty words in her harlequin romances (p. 247).

jennifer: remember when my midwife told me to talk to the baby, that it could feel my emotions and intent? ... the baby could feel what i wanted... and for the first six or seven weeks, the message i was sending was, "go away." go away, go away, go away. and it did (p. 261).

what sucked: it's good. but it didn't draw me in quite so well as her other story. and lincoln's character never really felt realistic to me. (notice there're no quotes from him).

having said all that: i liked the girls. they made the story fun. it was cute. fairly quick to read.

for father's day

June 16, 2013

when i was a kid, i really only saw my father on the weekends. usually sundays. i would sometimes hear him talking in the morning with my mother before he left for work, before she'd come in to get us up for school. maybe, maybe he was home for dinner at night. maybe i saw him on saturday. if he was here, he was in his office, usually with the door closed. on sundays, he'd get my brothers and i out in the yard under the guise of quality father-children time. he'd get us started raking and sweeping and then he'd go inside, situate himself on his maroon leather recliner with his bag of popcorn or his half gallon of blue bell or his mixing bowl filled with cereal and his diet coke and watch television. and if it were fall, it was football, but only if the cowboys were playing. otherwise he'd flip through the channels until he found a film that was just starting.

and we'd bitch and moan about how he said he was gonna do yardwork with us, and then left us there to do it ourselves.

it never occurred to me, then, how taxing my father's job was. how that one day was his respite from all the bullshit with which he had to deal.

he wouldn't like that i called it bullshit.

partly because he wouldn't see it that way, but more because he hates it when i cuss.

i used to hate being the daughter of a school superintendent. probably as much as he hates my foul mouth. maybe more.

"hey jenny! tell your dad that we shouldn't have school tomorrow!"

twelve years of public school. roughly one hundred eighty school days in the year. six periods in a day. i heard that crap in almost every class. my teachers looked to me to be some stellar student because my father was their boss.

i tried to skip class. once. one time i wanted to be that girl who said screw this shit. i'm not sitting through boring driver's education. (i was that anomaly that didn't want to drive a car.)

so i didn't go.

and my teacher called my father wanting to know where i was.

my father had driven me to school that day.

i had driver's ed first period. so he'd practically just dropped me off.

i got spanked for that. for ditching. for lying about it.

when i left my books in my locker because i didn't care to complete an assignment and i was failing the class (which my father knew because my teachers would tell him so), he'd haul my butt to school, unlock the doors, shut off the alarm and make me get my shit. and then my mother would practically stand over my shoulder to make sure that i got it done.

i got caught shoplifting. the manager gave me two choices: she could call the cops or she could call my mom. and headlines flashed before my eyes: superintendent's daughter caught stealing. uh, you can call my mom. thanks.

i think i got spanked for that, too. for being stupid.

it sucked having a super for a dad.

or so i thought.

there's another superman film in theaters again. another reboot. with another actor trying to prove his worth. i don't need to see that. i live with superman.

love and other perishable items

June 11, 2013

why i wanted to read it: my first gig was at a grocery store as a cashier. i was twenty or so. i wore a gray and navy apron over a short-sleeved, white button down and navy slacks. and a maroon tie. one of those scarfy things that tries to look like a bow tie but fails because it's got too much material. it didn't even tie. it was on a strap that fastened at the back of your neck, beneath your collar.

my coworkers and i commented quite frequently on the fineness of our clientele: the three-hundred-pound women donned in halter tops and skimpy knit shorts debating whether to purchase the lays or the ruffles potato chips, torn between coke and pepsi products, uncertain of how many of each to buy; the young mothers with their two carts crammed full of food for feeding their eight children, all of whom seemed to be under the age of five, hardened women who paid for their purchases with stacks of w.i.c. cards, and yet they had cash for cigarettes; the good ole boys coming in on sunday mornings who magically appeared at the cash registers two minutes before noon with their twelve packs of coors or bud light, eager to load up their coolers and get on the lake; tired, handsome men in white shirts and black slacks who just wanted to get home from their work day but whose wives added one more thing to their honey-do lists.

they're all the same in the line. they watch the screen to make sure they're charged ninety-seven cents for that can of green beans instead of ninety-eight.

we'd go out to our cars on our lunch breaks and smoke our cigarettes and drink our colas and complain about you. sometimes we did this at the taco cabana across the lot. for an hour. every day.

one the off-chance we got tired of talking about you, we talked about each other.

the first sentence of this story, which is about fifteen year-old amelia and twenty-one year-old chris, goes like this: "i'm writing a play," says chris, leaning over the counter of my cash register. "it's called death of a customer. needless to say, it's set here" (p. 2)

what i liked: it looked as though he was going to walk out without saying goodbye or merry christmas or anything.

at the last moment he paused at my checkout, threw the flowers down on the counter and muttered, "those are you for you, youngster. merry christmas."

...they had a coles staff purchases seal on them and a sticker that said reduced for quick sale.

after work i walked home hugging my flowers with a queer fluttery excitement in my chest (pp. 12-13).

"fishing off the company pier," as i have overheard chris refer to it, is a common practice among the part-time staff at coles. bianca, for example, is twenty-three and has been going out with andy from canned goods, age eighteen, for some months... i imagine he just does what he is told. they must both get something of the relationship--i just have no idea what it is.

"sex," says chris when i ask him. "they both get sex" (p. 16).

he refers to his long-standing crush as the kathy virus, as it seems to take a relapsing-remitting course... kathy is dark, pretty, small--elfin even--and completely uninterested in chris. except, strangely, when the kathy virus is in remission. then she bombards him with a campaign of arm-touching... bow-tie adjusting... and leaning over his register giving him her undivided, head-cocked-to-one-side attention. an immediate relapse of the kathy virus invariably follows.

that kathy needs a can of reduced-for-quick-sale spam pegged at the back of her head (p. 17).

i imagine him at university... talking to girls. grown up girls at university. girls who can go drinking with him after class. girls his own age who he could confidently introduce to his family and friends. girls who know how to dress and wear make-up. girls who have had sex. girls who study the same texts as him. girls who stand a chance in hell (p. 20).

"do you think, youngster, do you think that's anyway to behave when you are a guest at someone else's house? ...didn't your parents teach you any manners? ...i should call them and tell them how out of control their daughter is. drunk and disorderly at fifteen! ...look out, world, here she is, ready to polish all your dining room tables with her back... he wears baseball caps backward! and you let him put his tongue in you!" (p. 70)

and to add insult to serious narcisstic injury, young amelia went and hooked up with that mid-teen power tool jeremy horan. i had her billed as the antidote to daisy from the great gatsby. i thought she represented the ultimate triumph of good over evil... all he had to do was pour her a few generous glasses of wine and put in an hour of conversation... if someone like amelia goes for someone like jeremy horan, we may as well all pack up and go home... amelia is going to rue the day she let that boy's tongue anywhere near her (pp. 117-118).

what sucked: ultimately, it lacked. i liked amelia well enough. i liked chris... in the beginning. toward the end, i was kind of tired of'm both.

but then, i should probably be reading big girl books as opposed to those written for adolescents. i wanted something fast, which it was. i wanted something cool, which it wasn't. not completely.

having said all that: the parts that were entertaining did so well enough. it wasn't awful. but i wanted it to be so much better than it was.

eleanor and park

June 5, 2013

why i wanted to read it:  funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy, and tear-jerking (kirkus reviews). sounds like my kind of book. seriously. who wouldn't want to read that?

if that wasn't enough to pique my interest, there's the first page...

what i liked: he'd stopped trying to bring her back.

she only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down deja-vu.

like, he'd be driving to work, and he'd see a girl with red hair standing on the corner--and he'd swear, for half a choking moment, that it was her.

then he'd see that the girl's hair was more blond than red.

and that she was holding a cigarette... and wearing a sex pistols t-shirt.

eleanor hated the sex pistols.


standing beside him until he turned his head. lying next to him just before he woke up. making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough.

eleanor ruined everything (p. 1).

when eleanor was a little girl, she'd thought her mom looked like a queen... all her bones seemed more purposeful than other people's. like they weren't just there to hold her up; they were there to make a point...

eleanor looked a lot like her.

but not enough.

eleanor looked like her mother through a fish tank. rounder and softer. slurred. where her mother was statuesque, eleanor was heavy. where her mother was finely drawn, eleanor was smudged (p. 18)

that must be eleanor's mom, park thought, she looked just like her. but sharper and with more shadows. like eleanor, but taller. like eleanor, but tired. like eleanor, after the fall (p. 188).

holding eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly (p. 71).

"well, she is kind of weird, isn't she?"

park didn't have the energy to be angry. he sighed and let his head fall back on the chair.

his dad kept talking. "isn't that why you like her?" (p. 144)

"why do you even like me?"

"i don't like you," he said. "i need you... i think it's got as much to do with your hair being red and your hands being soft... and the fact that you smell like homemade birthday cake" (pp. 109-110).

"i don't like you. park," she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. "i... think i live for you."

he closed his eyes and pressed his head back into the pillow.

"i don't think i even breathe when we're not together," she whispered. "which means, when i see you on monday morning, it's been like sixty hours since i've taken a breath. that's probably why i'm so crabby, and why i snap at you. all i do when we're apart is think about you, and all i do when we're together is panic. because every second feels so important. and because i'm so out of control, i can't help myself. i'm not even mine anymore. i'm yours, and what if you decide that you don't want me? how could you want me like i want you?"

he was quiet. he wanted everything she'd just said to be the last thing he heard. he wanted to fall asleep with i want you in his ears (p. 111).

"nothing, really. i just want to be alone with you for a minute."

he pulled her to the back of the driveway, where they were almost completely hidden by a line of trees and the rv and the garage.

"seriously?" she said. "that was so lame."

"i know," he said, turning to her. "next time, i'll just say, 'eleanor, follow me down this dark alley, i want to kiss you" (p. 166).

what sucked: that it ended. i wasn't ready to leave them yet.

having said all that: best book i've read this year. hands down. solid storytelling through and through.