February 9th, 2011

_Mudflat Toy Boy_, Phoebe Matthews (kindle) (Mudflat 3)

In Book 1, Claire is on the run from Darryl Decko, hiding out with some camping buddies when she wanders off after they start doing drugs. She steps through a crack in a magic bubble concealing part of the Olympic Peninsula from us -- and us from them. She's used to magic, but not like this. And she is definitely not used to warlords fighting over grazing rights. At the end of Book 1, a teenage priestess, Nance, and warlord's son, Tarvik, followed her back to Seattle.

In Book 2, a Lifedrainer, a monster of Bubbleland legend, is tracking some or all of them and kidnapping other denizens of Mudflat while it searches. Nance, Tarvik, Claire and Claire's cousin Jimmy go to the Cascades, find and destroy the Lifedrainer, and return to Mudflat to a hero's welcome and even more questions. One of those questions was resolved when Ober showed up to find out who killed her Lifedrainer.

In Book 3, Deathwalker (who was not killed, but was buried by Lor, the helpful stable guy from Book 1) has shown up to try to find his boss Ober, or at least some magical item which will give him access to her power(s). Deathwalker enchants some people (including Tarvik) while everyone else scurries around trying to figure out where the magical item is. Turns out Deathwalker is allergic to plastic, which leads to a completely hilarious climatic battle scene at Sergei's house. The amulet is discovered later in a hilarious anticlimatic scene involving bicycles. All seems resolved, except we still don't know who cut the brake line in Claire's beater car.

Over the course of the three books, Claire's very limited magical power has been developed. She has essentially no offensive or defensive powers and there are a lot of limitations (some self-imposed) on the divinatory powers she does have. This is really kind of cool; there's not a whole lot of the Mary Sue sensation when reading these books. Tarvik, the Barbarian Warlord Son is a wildly appealing mix of hunky muscle, foodie, romantic -- and utterly boneheaded when it comes to problem solving. It's always hard to know when an author did something on purpose and when it was some combination of blind luck, projection of unconscious desires or whatever. However it happened, Claire and Tarvik together make an unbelievably effective team, limited primarily by their ability and willingness to communicate and negotiate: a very nice fantasy trope that maps well to real life relationships. While a lot of plot development relies on them (especially Claire) NOT communicating and/or being in denial, it never (at least to me) feels like that unwillingness to communicate is plot driven. I _really believe_ that Claire is just being Claire.

I'm partway into Book 4 and am already feeling just a little sad that after that, only 1 book remains (for now?). May Matthews live long and prosper and continue to produce more in this series.

If found Mudflat when I got pissy about the big publishers and the agency model and wanted to know whether e-only publications could Satisfy My Reading Desires. To that end, I found an organization giving e-publishing awards (Eppies) and shopped the list of nominees and winners. The 2nd in this series was a nominee and I'm oh-so-happy that I started with the first book.

Recent Activities: Sick

We've all been sick. Again. On Monday, T.'s croup was so bad I told R. not to wait to get a same day at the clinic but just take him down to the ER. In retrospect, I don't know what I think of this decision. We probably should have remembered that we have a nebulizer much earlier on in the process. OTOH, they did give him a steroid pill and that probably helped. Traffic down 2 really sucked so it may have been faster to drive to the clinic. OTOH, R. was thinking about calling 911. *shrug*

He was well enough today to go to school and they haven't called me to come get him so I think we got that part right. The rest of us have just had head colds.

Also on Monday, J. showed up to start installing the new master bedroom closet fittings, which we are very excited about. Next project after that is either the screened deck or the yard work to put the playset in -- or maybe both. After the snow is gone, presumably.

I've been spending a lot of time on the couch with one or more children sitting on top of me. This seems to be the primary thing A. wants to do (altho she's just as happy upstairs in bed watching TV in the master, with or without company) and the only way to keep T. off the rebounder. Nothing wrong with the rebounder, but the physical exercise definitely sets off the croup.

I am _so_ happy we have the iPads.

A Genealogical Story: My Son's Middle Name.

Once upon a time, there was a priest named Menno Simons. That name means that Menno's mom and dad named him "Menno", and his dad's name was "Simon". Anyway. Menno was born in Witmarsum and after he became a priest, he was assigned to Pingjum. These names probably don't mean anything to you. They didn't, until quite recently, mean anything to me.

Menno saw a beheading in Leeuwarden, which is a big enough town now that I've both heard of it and actually visited it. The guy was killed for being rebaptized, for having a "believer's baptism", or doopgezind. I think it's a little nutty that seeing someone be killed for something might prompt investigation and concluding that the guy was right, but to be fair, it sounds a lot like something I, or a number of people I'm related to, might do. At least he's our kind of nutty. It was his brother Pieter dying for similar reasons that pushed him over the edge. Menno died in his 60s, a pacifist to the end.

My mother is descended from a long line of Mennonites, really, really nutty ones at that. They traveled all over Europe, went to Canada, etc. I've posted a little about that story here. _MY MOTHER_ That's important.

I've been tracking back my father's ancestry in Friesland for a variety of reasons, which I will not get into here. I may have noted that I discovered some of my relations came from the same village in Wonseradeel that Menno was posted to: Pingjum. Today, however, a couple of things occurred to me. (1) My great-great grandmother's family was all from Pingjum. (2) I picked my son's middle name because it was my grandfather's first name. It was his grandmother's patronymic -- his great grandfather's name. Simon.

True, it's a common enough name anywhere, and especially in Friesland. But there's a headspinning weirdness that I gave my son a middle name to recall MY FATHER's Dutch ancestry, and it just so happens that it readily traces up our particular tree to Pingjum. Which is where my mother's side got its odd religion. Would I do it again, if I'd known the implications?

I'm not sure. Maybe he would have had the middle name Marinus, instead.