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An Homage to Vacation, While I’m on Vacation…

I originally posted this a while ago – like five years, a while… It’s a piece I wrote about my Happy Place (i.e., “my” hammock on “my” private island at “my” hotel in Aruba).  This is my attempt to describe it.  At the end, you will see a picture of it – let me know if you think I did it justice… I’m on vacation with The Husband this week (no kids, teehee, we barely know what to do with ourselves… oh wait, yes we do, sleep and eat hot food and go to the bathroom alone, hooray!) Anyway, I thought it was a good thing to think about while I’m gone – lord knows we can ALL use a little happy place in our lives every now and again… So enjoy reading about mine!

The Happiest Place on Earth hides in Aruba.  Its only residents are free-range flamingoes, a gaggle of hermit crabs, and the occasional wandering lizard or flyaway flip-flop blown to sea.  And the hammock, of course.

On a private island, at the end of a rocky promontory jutting off of the edge of a quiet beach, there is a hammock.  It is weathered and worn – the ropes practically smooth, fibers softened by years of salt spray and the sunscreen from sun-warmed bodies.  The wood frame is bleached the bone gray white that only blazing Caribbean sun and furious Caribbean storms produce.  The netting sags just right, dipping gently in the middle from the combined weight of child-pirates in ships tossing on the winds, solitary souls losing themselves in a thousand written words, and dreamers drowning in the promises of the crazy-blue sea.
Continue reading An Homage to Vacation, While I’m on Vacation…

Jill Elizabeth

So I’m Off on a Bit of Travel and REALLY Hope it Doesn’t Look like The Travelers by Chris Pavone… :)

Have you read this one? Do you know him? He’s author of The Expats and The Accident – GREAT books, full of interestingly flawed characters who are all too human in both foibles and redemptive qualities. There are believably unbelievable elements of drama and intrigue and great, complex plots full of twists and turns… But they don’t exactly endear one to the concept of travel, teehee, especially this latest one.

Amazon will give you a summary of the plot, you know I don’t do those. What I do is tell you why it’s good. This one boils down to the characters, completely. It had a great beginning, then got a little draggy for a bit, but I persevered because I loved Ex-Pats so much – and am I ever glad I did… By the end I was literally ignoring husband and children, pretending I didn’t hear alarms and tromping toddler feet, just so I could finish the last bits and see how it was all going to end (perfectly, by the way). There are a ton of fun things to read about that would NOT be fun to live – as with most really enjoyable books, in my opinion – and there’s just enough paranoia to keep you watching over your shoulder both while reading and after (and yes, I am speaking from experience, since I’ve been thinking about it ever since finishing yesterday). It feels like good old fashioned Nelson DeMille or John le Carre or Graham Greene – intrigue around every corner, no clue who you can trust, no idea what is going on until the author leads you to connect all the dots. Excellent story development that tracks character development – an instant recipe for success in my book…
Continue reading So I’m Off on a Bit of Travel and REALLY Hope it Doesn’t Look like The Travelers by Chris Pavone… 🙂

Jill Elizabeth

I GIVE UP! (Literally)

Ok, this may seem like an exceedingly random post, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m VERY curious to hear what other people think, so definitely hope someone, somewhere comments on this one…

If you read a lot, like me, you know that you will inevitably run into books that just don’t cut it for you. For some strange reason, this seems to happen to me in stretches – I will all of a sudden realize I’ve picked up and then put down a slew of books in a row, without realizing it until some critical mass (five or more books) is reached in a relatively short time. I get really depressed then (well, depressed for me, which doesn’t last very long and is never so bad that a toddler hug won’t yank me out of it, thankfully), and worry that my reading mojo is broken or there are no good books left in the world… (Yes, a tendency toward the dramatic is rather a Jill-Elizabeth thing.) Then, just as suddenly as the bad books hit, I will find myself on a good books streak, where it seems like everything I pick up is A-MA-ZING. It’s rather inexplicable, but keeps things interesting (especially for The Husband who has to listen to me bitch about the bad ones and gush about the good).
Continue reading I GIVE UP! (Literally)

Jill Elizabeth

I LOVE Books about Books…

This one will be quick – I just finished reading a most delightful book, Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley, and felt compelled to say something about it… What – you’ve never heard of Christopher Morley, you say? I hadn’t either – stumbled upon him in one of those “you might like…” tags on Amazon. Shameless bit of promotion here: I LOVE AMAZON. I know that’s not fashionable, in many circles, but I don’t care. They make reading easier for me, they make shopping easier for me, and thanks to Alexa they make organizing my life easier for me – what’s not to love?? Anyway, that was a totally detour – back to books and Christopher Morley. You may not have heard of him because he wrote in the early 1900s. And he didn’t write thrillers or blockbusters – he wrote beautifully crafted stories about lovely people and the things they cared about. And in this particular book – Parnassus on Wheels – that thing is books. (I’m usually emphatically not a wikipedia fan, unless I want a very quick-and-dirty explanation of pop culture, but I actually liked their description of the book – particularly since Amazon was unusually short on description in the link I pulled originally… Thank goodness for the free sample option, or I would have missed this one altogether!)

You know I love books. I also love books about books – I like the self-reinforcing nature of reading what other people like reading. There are a surprising number of people who must feel the same way, since there are a surprising number of books about books and reading. The topic deserves a top ten at a minimum, but I will have to save that for another day – I’m about due for some reading myself tonight… 🙂
Continue reading I LOVE Books about Books…

Jill Elizabeth

Book Review: The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese

One of my favorite bits about running a blog and doing book reviews is finding clever new stories/authors that I would not necessarily have stumbled upon on my own, since despite my dedicated omnivore reading tastes, I am still constrained by the laws of time and space (mostly time), which necessarily limit my ability to learn about every intriguing new book out there… Truth be told, I don’t really find them – they find me, which is a delight for many reasons, not the least of which is the books themselves (also numbered significantly in the reasons is the ability to then engage – frequently on an ongoing basis – with said authors about said books). Today’s book is one such example. I was contacted by the author, Robert Kroese, and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his latest, The Big Sheep. He graciously provided me with a complimentary review copy. The book will be available June 28 – but pre-order information is available here.

If you want a plot summary, you can check his website or Amazon, both are aptly descriptive (Amazon is longer) so there’s no need for me to rehash them. I’d rather talk about the book itself. What a fun find, and I’m delighted to report that the fun won’t end here, as there’s a sequel in the works…

The story starts out quite clever, which anyone who knows anything about me knows is the way to hook me in. I’m a fanatic for great first sentences and engaging first paragraphs. (I also dig unusual cover art, so how could I not want to see what the electric sheep signified??) This one starts out wry as a good martini and continues to intrigue from there. I enjoy futuristic tales that dare to dabble in the art of speculation about what the world will look like – it’s a bold move, given how it can date a book, but it works here. The concept of an LA ravaged by societal collapse, resulting in a split between the “regular” and warlord-ruled portions of the city, is not so far afield that it’s unimaginable, nor is it so fearfully likely that it’s scary. It’s just an interesting backdrop, and allows the author to play with concepts of freedom and control in ways that resonate nicely with the underlying concepts of the novel (which I can’t really get into without major spoilers, but trust me…).

The characters offer more than passing nods to the Holmes/Watson dynamic (especially, and weirdly for me, I think, the TV version currently running on CBS with Jonny Lee Miller, who is fantastic in the lead role), with Keane offering Holmesian deductive logic while still deploying enough quirk to keep this side of stereotype… Fowler is a great foil for him, the consummate straight man with some hidden talents of his own. Supporting characters are well developed and the plot knots up and smoothes out a couple of times, just to keep you guessing. There are some fun spins on hot scientific topics (again, I can’t really get into this without a spoiler, but again, trust me), and there’s a dishy bit of his own brand of Hollywood/celebrity baiting that makes for some very funny (and eye-rolling in a good way) moments.

This was a clever construct with great set-up, and I am definitely looking forward to the next installment – due out this Fall, I understand. And definitely check out Robert’s website and other books – how can you not want to read things written by someone who calls their own website badnovelist.com?? 🙂

Jill Elizabeth

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