30 June 2005

Reads & Listens, June 2005

Reads:

Extremes: A Retrieval Artist Novel by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Second book in the series. A runner is found murdered during a race across the Moon's surface. Who is she? Why was she killed? Is she the cause of a terrible virus?

Garden of Dreams by Valerie King
She loves him, but doesn't think he feels a thing. He wants to kiss her all the time, but knows his brother wants to marry her. They can't be in the same room without quarreling. Blahdy, blahdy, blah.

Ten Little Elvi by Laura J. Henson & Duffy Grooms (illus. by Dean Gorissen)
Count down with ten little Elvis impersonators. Funny rhymes and vibrant colors make this great for story hour (I don't even like Elvis, but I thought this book was adorable).

King & King by Linda de Haan & Stern Nijland
Very simple tale of a Prince who cannot find love amongst the choices his mother gives him. Illustrative style is rather amusing and the whole treatment of same sex love seems pretty innocuous to me.

Hanuman by Erik Jendresen & Joshua M. Greene (illus. by Li Ming)
"There is no such thing as large or small when it comes to acts of love."

Marriage Most Scandalous by Joanna Lindsey
Bringing characters back from the dead for quickie happy endings is not a good idea.

How to Be a (Bad) Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes
Seems as if it should be rather charming and smart, but comes off a bit ... flat. Dunno. The Guardian digests it best.

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
I'm conflicted. I felt emotionally distant from our nameless heroine through much of the story, but then cried my way through the end. Yet, possibly, this is what Hoffman intended -- the Ice Queen keeps everyone distant until her heart begins to thaw? While the language was ravishing, the story seemed contrived, and the characters functioned more as symbols than people. Yet, isn't that the way with fairy tales?

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
I liked this book best when Vowell stuck to historical events and didn't try to link them with contemporary politics.

27 June 2005

Bye, Bye Baby Buntings

I scared the bejeesus out of some poor birds, yesterday. I walked into the bedroom and it sounded as if something was being mauled in the rhododendrons, so I peeked out the window and there was an enormous blue jay flapping it's wings and carrying on. It flew off when it saw me, but some of the noise continued. I then realized that part of the interior shrub wasn't shrub at all but two or three fuzzy looking blue birds. Of course, before I could get a good look at them, they also flew off.

At the time, I presumed I had seen a blue jay with it's fledglings, and that's what I've been telling people, but I think I was wrong. I looked blue jays up at work and the fledglings look just like the adults. They do not resemble the round blue balls of fluffy feathers I saw. Indeed, the birds I saw inside the rhododendron resemble male Indigo Buntings more than anything else.

According to my Birds of Connecticut field guide, jays will eat other birds' eggs or young offspring so I carefully checked the shrub for a nest -- in case what I had seen was a little neighborly raid -- but could find no nest. So why the jay? And why three male buntings (if buntings they be) in the same shrub?

It is all a great mystery to me.