Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cooking with Killers

So I'm currently nursing a cold, and a severe outbreak of senioritis. And I'm getting sick of the amount of technology I own gradually breaking down and not working any more - like my phone, and, I'm beginning to fear, my laptop - and let me add that I'm also getting sick of this weather. Like many others who are similarly sick, I feel awful, I crave chocolate, and my room is a mess.
Unfortunately, this is why you see my own unique brand of cover art above. The book I recently read - The Marinara Murders, by Erik Hanberg - actually has some pretty cool cover art, which I cannot show to you, due to the simple fact that I have temporarily lost my Kindle. It lies somewhere at the bottom of the piles of messy clothes, books, and discarded school-related-angsts that are lying in various places around my room right now. I'm sure I'll find it later when I sort out my mess before the start of the week (but seeing as though I'm wearing a pretty thick coat of apathy right now, the angst may continue to lie there until Finals start on Thursday).

The book itself provided a neat respite from such a depressing atmosphere. As everyone knows, there is nothing I love as much as a good mystery.

It follows the story of Arthur Beautyman, a worn-out once-police-detective who moved from LA to Minnesota, and now lives in his mom's basement. With no real friends or connections outside of his Mom's bridge circle, his life is spent online, before his mom shanghais him into a new case, and a new crime-fighting partner: her. It is up to him to solve the mystery of a son, believed to be dead, who winds up only recently dead shortly before the opening of his Dad's restaurant. What follows is a story of murder, sort-of blackmail, parental pressures, and pasta sauce. And a pot-smoking environmental engineer, but that's the subplot.

To be perfectly honest, I was thrown off a little by the first two words in the book: the character's name, Arthur Beautyman. It's something you learn to get around once you get into the novel, but it's certainly a mouthful at the start of it.

Other than that little early speed bump, though, it was all pretty great. After reading so many mystery novels, I allow myself the vanity of being able to spot the killer from a mile away, which I was able to do with this book, too. But, like I said, vanity. And even though I could tell who the killer(s) was, the plot was interwoven with so many varied veiwpoints that my convictions were shaken in a few places. It was different from simply picking the doctor out of an Agatha Christie novel: the killer, though I guessed right, had a motive that threaded through so many different personal stories, that the whole truth of it wasn't laid out until the very end, and you weren't fully secure in your understanding until that understanding was made.

Those threaded stories - those interlocked personalities - were probably my favorite part of the book. Unlike your basic modern mystery, there were no pure stock characters involved. Each one had its own complete identity. The cop was harsh, but friendly. The lady threw a killer punch and played hockey. The wayward teen activist scrambled around Europe, but came to have a keen business mind as well. No one was just their basic title. Arthur's mom could have been the stereotypical, meddlesome and mild-mannered old lady, but instead, she struck off into the investigating business with a level head. Her relationship with her son was unique, too: while you got the distinct Burn Notice-y vibe between the two, similar to Micheal Weston and his mother, Mrs. Beautyman was a character all her own. These aspects, that made Marinara Murders so different than other modern mystery novels - like how for a has-been detective, he gets along pretty well with people, and the "verbal embellishments" are pretty limited, and not lightly used - were what I enjoyed the most about it.

In my world, filled with mystery novels, I felt like I hadn't read this one before.

#20. The Marinara Murders by Erik Hanberg.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Looking Over the Frozen World

Believe me or not, that was a tree. Now, it's a broken, fallen treecicle.

A bench in our backyard, toting more icicles than I've ever seen before.

One seriously rebellious plant, shining green through it's slick ice coating.

So that's what's going on in my backyard right now, as Washington experiences one of the worst snowstorms in decades. My mom has been stuck in Seattle since Wednesday, and we haven't had school at all this week.

Of course, the majority of teachers gave us homework schedules in advance, so it's not like I've been completely out of work, or anything.

While I have been able to do some reading within the past week, it was not to the extent I would have liked, and to be perfectly honest, I don't really know how to discuss some of the things I read (like The Help, which I'm sort of torn over). Further issues with the workings of my Kindle have also prevented me from getting anything new, which is pretty infuriating.

So, I'm just taking the opportunity to take a breather, and get some thoughts in order. This would also explain the fact that the 200+ (not even joking. I counted.) magazines that used to take up residence in my room have been reduced to the most current issues, and a pile of ink-and-paper carcasses from which I have ripped out my fave pages, which makes me feel a little less like I'm going to wind up on Hoarders when I get older.

But yes, I'm sorry I'm leaving you hanging a little longer. Just let me thaw.

PS. Just so you know, before the break, we started reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE in our APEng class! Hooray! Unfortunately, we have to do reading logs for it, which bums me out because you have to keep taking breaks from this masterpeice, to write out a page of quotes that "further the plotline, provide character insight, or have interesting information in regards to the time period in which the novel took place." Gag. Besides, I always end up forgetting which section we're reading, so I hop around among the chapter bits, and get confused on which log I'm working on. To prevent this from happening anymore, I made myself some color-coded bookmarks: green, for the start of the chapter section, and red, for it's end (like a traffic light). For decoration, I added two of my fave P&P quotes as well. Cute, and helpful. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Revolving Doors and Apologies

Do you remember your first encounter with a revolving door?
You know there's only one way out... and yet, as you try to reach the exit, the momentum builds, and you find yourself shunted back into the cycle. But you can only go forward, and the uneasiness and claustrophobia you feel drives you only faster and faster, until you have two options: continue on in this breakneck cycle until you eventually break the barriers of space and time, or lose yourself to the merciless battery of the door, refusing to care about how hard it bruises, when it punishes you for failing.

Eventually, a caring adult will stick their arm in the opening, and pull you out of your misery. Nevertheless, you are left embarrassed and frustrated, and determined to do better next time.

I'm stuck in a revolving door, guys, with a metal frame of schoolwork, and glass paning of other obligations. It's only a matter of time 'til I start getting smacked around by it all, so I have to buckle down and pay attention in my classes for the rest of the week until our four-day weekend comes Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, this busy schedule has prevented me from reading anything new... however, I do promise that the post I will write this weekend will show you something I've never done on the blog before!

So, what I'm saying is, wait me out. While I'm screaming and running in a circle inside my sideways-hamster-wheel, you can be the bemused adults waiting outside on the street, patiently observing the five-year-old's panic attack, and remembering times back when you were the same.