Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last weekend's doings, bookish and otherwise

Todd and I saw Les Miserables live for the first time last Friday. It was wonderful performance, amazing singing, staging, etc. It would have been a magical night, except for our seats. We were high up on the extreme right and the conductor had a light that turned upward. I think the purpose of the light was to make his arms visible on the TV monitor that the actors use. But where we were, it glared in our eyes for the entire performance, flashing as the conductor waved his arms, resulting in a disco-ball effect. We finally figured out how to hunker down in our seats enough to reduce the blinding glare (which was harder for Todd because he's tall), but then of course we had to bob and weave our heads around the heads of the people in front of us in order to see what was going on. Can I just say, Javert's suicide scene Blew.Me.Away. That scene was so amazingly clever. And now I really want to read the book.

Todd's mom came from Nashville to watch the girls for our night on the town. She came bearing the gift of books for the girls: the most coveted 7th Ivy and Bean book, and some Magic Treehouse books that my girls have just started getting in to. The girls had a blast with their Gammy. She also brought bubbles and a huge plethora of bubble wands. And even 8 year old Olivia, who is starting to express scorn for "baby" activities (as she calls them), cheerfully abandoned her jaded attitude for the magic of bubble play.

On Saturday we got up planning to go to the Airshow in Millington, TN. But after inching along three tenths of a mile in one hour (I'm not kidding) toward the exit, with another 3 miles to go to the airbase, we abandoned the idea and went to lunch followed by book store browsing at Hastings (where they sell new and new-to-you books), which resulted in the following very inexpensive and thrilling purchases:

  • A Coal Miner's Bride: The Diary of Anetka Kaminska by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. I borrowed this from the library the first time I read it. I really liked this fictional account of the life of an immigrant Polish girl who becomes a coal miner's wife in 1896. I love Bartoletti's work. She writes very compelling, thoroughly researched non-fiction and historical fiction (and some picture books, too). It's hard to believe I only discovered her books this year.
  • Mistwood by Leah Cypess. I read this book for the first time last September and really liked it. (See here for my brief synopsis.) I'm sending this copy to my mom.
  • Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet. This one sounds fascinating to me. I was just introduced to his work through Cloud Tea Monkeys, so I'm eager to read this YA novel about a WWII Resistance fighter in Holland.
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I read this book before it won the John Newbery Medal, and was very happy when I heard it won. So well-written, gripping, and mind-spinning, and features a protagonist who LOVES one of my favorite-ist books ever: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. (One might say that the entire concept of the book is a loving homage to A Wrinkle in Time.)
  • Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers. The first book in the Theodosia series. I've been wanting to read this series for a while. I like books that feature clever girls solving problems. One of the things I lamented while I was growing up was the lack of adventure stories featuring girls. I'm glad to see that there are authors rectifying that now. I'm hoping Olivia will get interested in this book.
  • The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer. Another fascinating sounding series featuring a clever girl, the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes. This book is actually number 4 in the series. No, I don't have any of the others. But I couldn't pass up such a good price. I'll have to get the others from the library.
  • A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. A new-to-me author. But I've heard good things around the web about this book.
Sunday morning, we got up early and drove to the Airshow, with no traffic problems. We spent the day walking through the aircraft static displays, before hunkering down to watch the aerial displays and eat lunch. The girls did amazingly well. I was sure the day would be full of groans and complaining, but they were troopers. We found a great spot on the grass to watch the airshow. Whenever they got tired of sitting, either Todd or I would go walking with them for about 10 minutes, and then they'd happily settle down to an hour more of watching the flying stunts. The highlight of the day came at 1530 (3:30 pm), when the Blue Angels flew. Then home, supper, playing and bedtime.
After that full day, bedtime was a cinch. In fact, they asked to go to bed. Glory, glory halleluiah!


  1. I've always wanted to see Les Mes live. :( That's awesome that you got to see it even if your seats weren't great. Nice list of books. I liked Mistwood and When You Reach Me.

  2. Definitely see it when you get the chance.
    My husband's experience with it was not as positive. As we were walking back to our car, he said, "Okay, forgive my ignorance, but what the heck was that about?" He couldn't understand the songs, which of course completely ruined his understanding of the play. It loses its emotional impact when you don't know what they're singing about.

  3. Sounds like you guys are having way too much fun!

    Ah Les Mis. You know I'm crazy in love with this show. And Javert, isn't he the best villain ever? LOVE him. The scene you talk about gives me chills every single time. Actually I get chills through the whole show. Sorry your seats weren't the best. Go again another time, you will love it even more. And the book, yes, do read it.

  4. Suey, does the play follow the book very well?

  5. Yes, it does... from what I can remember anyway. It's been a long time since I read it. (And I read the abridged... gasp... but the full version has tons of political stuff and I hear that you don't lose much by reading the other. I don't know.)

  6. We were supposed to see Les Mis last year, but it was cancelled. :-(

    Can't wait to read your review of the Mal Peet book--we loved Cloud Tea Monkeys!