Friday, July 31, 2009

lazy day

I had a whole bunch of stuff I should have/could have done today and I voted to do none of it! I've caught up with my book blogging (as you can see) and drank a bunch of water and that is damn near it! Dad did come over and soup up my front door, making it nearly impossible to be crowbarred open again by anyone except maybe Andre the Giant. I am about to make some hot chocolate because it is SO cold in Alabama in July/ really, I just have nothing sweet in the house except for diet hot chocolate powder. How hard-core nutritional is that (except for the trans fat)? There is actually nothing in this house to eat except frozen hotdogs and frozen brocolli but I have to wait til payday to buy groceries so I will feast on hotdogs and brocolli for at least a week :-)

My agenda for the afternoon? I am going to watch 3 horror movies, then attempt to slumber peacefully.

that is all. oh, the movies are The Unborn, Session 9, and Shutter. Not the best of horror according to Rotten Tomatoes but that doesn't stop my imagination from kicking into high gear while I'm trying to go to sleep :-)

The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne

I heard about The Finishing Touches on several of the blogs I read but there are so many that I’m hard pressed to tell you which ones they were. This book is everything that I wanted Confessions of a Shopaholic to be. If Rebecca Bloomwood pissed YOU off as much as she did me, give Betsy Cooper Phillimore a try!

An infant is left on the doorstep of the prestigious Phillimore Academy for Young Ladies, a posh London finishing school. Twenty-seven years later, Betsy Phillimore returns with her freshly-minted math degree to try to revamp the rundown academy for the 21st century. Betsy runs into trouble with the school’s dismal finances, the embarrassing curriculum, the frumpy headmistress, and nosy alumni teaching classes on springboard marriages but she is determined to get the school running free and clear. Funny and sentimental with great little pieces of etiquette advice heading off each chapter, this is the perfect summer read for your vacation. Another beach read for me and I laughed the entire time!

Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Old Man’s War is a re-read for me, but I talked the sci-fi book group I recently joined into reading it. I’m terrified now that they’ll hate it, but I certainly loved reading it again.

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. He visited his wife’s grave and he joined the army...well, the Colonial Defense Forces. Earth is full and the planets we’ve colonized definitely need protecting. For that, the CDF doesn’t want young, raw recruits. It wants life experience and a commitment to humankind. It isn’t easy to leave everything behind, but John is ready for whatever the CDF will bring. Or, at least he thought he was. Would you give up everything to avoid old age?

This book has it all. John Perry is an incurable smartass and definitely young at heart which holds him in good stead when the CDF has their way with the new recruits. John is now traveling the universe trying to make it safe for humanity while beginning to have doubts about his own humanity. Love it, love it, love it! Humor, sex, politics, and intergalactic battle, what could be better? This is part of a trilogy along with The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony. There is a companion book, Zoe’s Tale, which is The Last Colony told from another character’s perspective. All good!

Dillinger's Wild Ride by Elliott Gorn

I have been loving the movie trailers for Johnny Depp’s new movie, Public Enemies, so I sought out a biography of Dillinger to read before I see the movie. Dillinger’s Wild Ride SO fit the bill. As a bonus, it was all about the perception of John Dillinger during The Great Depression that last wild year before his death so this satisfied my curiosity AND fulfilled a bookgroup requirement! I like my nonfiction in a narrative style with fast movement. If it gets too bogged down in the details I’ll get bored and stop reading no matter my interest in the topic. This book fit the bill to a T and I finished on the beach in no time! The author struck just the right balance (for me) between the facts and the scintillating details. There is a nice section of archival photos in the middle that I flipped to time and time again during my readings. Dillinger’s story really seemed to touch the pulse of the country during that time and I am eager to tell my book group about this one at our meeting August 25th!

Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett

I have been looking forward to Mr. Shivers ever since I saw it a few months back on Orbit’s website! You’ll still have to wait until January for publication but I got an ARE at the American Library Association conference in Chicago earlier this month and devoured it while I was at the beach last week J

Mr. Shivers goes by a lot of names: the moonlight man, the black rider, the bum’s devil, the vagrant’s boogey man. For Connelly, he is evil incarnate and the murderer of Connelly’s little girl. Connelly has left everything he knows and hopping trains, living off the land, and passing time in the Hoovervilles of Depression era America in his quest to hunt down the man responsible for his now hellish existence. Help comes at different times from unexpected sources but during the worst social and economic time in American history, even perseverance may not be enough to exact the revenge Connelly craves.

I loved this book just as much as I knew I would, even though it wasn’t quite as scary as I thought it would be. What it didn’t have in scariness, it made up for in gratuitous violence. This is a grim, dark, brutal tale not for the faint of heart. My heart is never faint and I lurved it mightily. I look forward to its publication in January 2010!

The Orphanage by Robert Buettner

The Orphanage has a great quote in the front from a fragment of a letter recovered from Omaha Beach, Normandy June 1944. It is a few sentences long but the last sentence of the quote reads “Strip away politics and whatever or whenever, war is an orphanage.”

This quick science fiction read works on the premise that an alien race has taken up residence on one of the moons of Jupiter and is sending down projectiles (no live explosives, just VERY big rocks) that are destroying entire metropolises at a time. The world is in a race with extinction and no doing too well considering space programs kind of slacked off the R&D years ago. Eighteen year old Jason Wander has recently lost his mother to a projectile attack, had a bit of a mental breakdown and now finds himself in danger going to jail. The judge offers him a choice, prison or the army. Jason Wander chooses the army and what follows is the funniest and, at times, saddest of stories. Jason is a big of a screwup and the consequences vary from cleaning toilets with the tiniest of implements to losing good friends. What it eventually comes down to is that we have one chance and one ship to launch. As the book cover says, “Their failure is our extinction.” (I may not have that quote exactly right, but it’s close enough)

I love Jason Wander! This is a series I’m delighted to begin following. The next in line is Orphan’s Destiny and I’m going to start it as soon as I catch up on some bookgroup obligations!

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

To start with, I love Guillermo del Toro! I have all of his movies and watch them ALL THE TIME! So of course I’m going to read his book!

The Strain is a vampire book, but if you want your vampires all brooding, sexy, and seductive, this is not the book for you. Gore, violence, and every creepy image that had you screaming awake as a child are all crammed into a few hundred pages. If you’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth or The Devil’s Backbone, you know what I’m talking about. This is the first in a trilogy and I am SO EXCITED about the next one. I liked the characters and was thoroughly creeped out. While it isn’t a “creeped out” that stuck with me and caused me sleepless nights, it was certainly worth the few days of elevated heart rate and the pause I had to take before entering dark rooms and, God help me, dark stairwells.

Take a trip back in time to when you were still afraid of the dark, I dare you!

Monday, July 27, 2009


the blog from your phone option is completely useless. So was the computer access at the beach condo though I will admit to gaining some pleasure from the release of the computing leash...up until I got back to a sh!tload of email and RSS updates :-) Then the fubar modem extravaganza took up some more time and I'm sneaking to get this in, so hopefully I'll get to photos and stuff later....maybe

don't give up on me!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

health and stuff

I got a little postcard back from my doctor visit with all kinds of happy news on it. I, dear readers, am a super healthy overweight person! Just the weight to work on now since all my percentages, pressures, and levels are above average on a scale of goodness. I even got a smiley face from the lab people, how often does that happen? It's a first for me!

So, yesterday morning I came back to my office and I had a voice mail from the alarm company. Someone broke into my house via the prominent front at 9:15 on a Wednesday morning not 20 feet from a main road. I had been at work for one hour. So, I turned around and made the trip back home. Nothing was missing so apparently they bailed immediately after crowbaring the door open when the alarm went off. Yay for alarms! Dad is coming over this afternoon with a semi-homemade device to deter any future crowbarers and by all accounts, it sounds good and industrial. If it is also photogenic, I'll share!

On a more pissy note, the sherriff asked me if it was possible that I had not secured my door properly that morning. "Yes, Officer. I always set the alarm and leave the front door open. It's so festive." He also asked me if the crowbar marks were on the door previously. Like you do. But, I do want them to respond if I need them in the future so I answered all of his questions very politely and thanked him for his time. What else can you do?

Gotta run, it's lunch time!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I am in an American Girl store, in the middle of a mildly Hannah Montana-ish atmosphere. Give me strength.
Lisa scottline ROCKS! Funny, sharp, aserbic (sp?), and spot on!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Okay KT, I admit it. Neil Gaiman IS kinda cute...and this banquet is kinda loooong...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cool! I set up my phone to make blog posts! I will do my best to not turn this into a bastard version of Twitter ;-)
I'm off to Chicago in the morning!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster

Pretty in Plaid is Jen Lancaster’s memoir of family, frivolity, and fraternity little sisters in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. She shares her early girlhood, high school years, way too much college information, and early career.

Pretty in Plaid indeed. I wanted to love this and I did for quite a ways until the huge chunk on college/sorority life. If you are a sorority girl, good for you. I never saw the attraction and this book made me retrospectively sad that I didn’t do more to make fun of the few friends I had in college who chose a similar path for themselves.

I loved the smart ass little girl and young adult, laughed at the clueless early 20’s Jen, and cringed with Jen during her 30’s. She seems like someone I could hang out with as long as she doesn’t ask me which house I pledged. I will definitely pick up her other books: Bitter Is the New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; and Such a Pretty Fat. You’ll laugh, you’ll groan, you might even sniffle a time or two.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

The World Without Us is apparently going to be a wild and crazy place. Seriously, I’m not on a fatalistic streak or anything (since I don’t consider this type of book to be fatalistic anyway) but the genre book group I lead at work discussed dystopian fiction last month and I thought this would be a great companion piece. I was right!

Things I took away from this book:

New York City is apparently only a few broken pumps with no repairs in sight and 30 minutes from beginning to sink back into the swamp it arose from. Keep working guys!

Our pets won’t last much longer than we do, except for the cats, which are in turn wiping out the songbird population. (Binky doesn’t count as she is an indoor kitty.)

Chernobyl is home to wildlife again.

Empty swimming pools can really stink.

The world’s oceans are full of tiny specks of plastic. FULL.

There is a group advocating for voluntary human extinction, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

So, if you don’t want to hear about waste disposal, global warming, climatic cycles, food shortages, forest/wildlife habitat destruction, general woe, don’t bother with the book. If you do, don’t complain to me. I like to read and be aware of all possibilities. So should we all.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew It is written in diary form by 15 year old Miranda. Her life seems average with friends, sports, class frustrations, and college worries. She briefly mentions a news report about an asteroid hitting the moon, but it’s nothing serious. In fact, there are viewing parties planned and her teachers have taken ALL the fun out of it with tons of moon-themed assignments. The night arrives and it’s actually kind of exciting until the screaming starts. It turns out that the astronomers vastly underestimated the density of the asteroid and after impact the moon begins to grow larger in the sky until collision seems a distinct possibility. Almost immediately the consequences of the moon’s nearness begin to manifest themselves and Miranda rightly fears that her life will never be the same.

I love dystopian fiction. There, I’ve said it. Even though Miranda’s near constant mantra of “How can things get any worse?” got on my nerves a bit (Really. I thought everyone knows never to ask that question…) I have to imagine that many in her position would say the same. The dialog was great and I thought the sequence of events flowed naturally and realistically. This is the first in a trilogy and I’m eagerly looking forward to the second, The Dead and the Gone, when I finish this crazy month of July!

I am a Big Loser!

yay! I won the 12-week contest, losing 10% of my body weight! As if that were not enough, I also got $75 :-)

Now to just keep going! I saw my doctor for the first time in about 18 months and to say he was pleased is a vast understatement. I believe I could very nearly have seen a cheer routine with only a little encouragement but I chose to let him keep his dignity intact :-) I weigh over 60 pounds less than the last time I saw him and my blood pressure was 123/80. I am a calm individual :-)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Independence Day!

In short order I will be liberating myself from the library for 3 whole days! I have lots of plans with lots of friends and I hope you do too! Have fun, be safe, and if you can't be good, be good at it!