Thursday, September 18, 2014

Southern Reach

Look at those beautiful covers!  Be amazed with me!  But it doesn't have to end with the visuals...  If you want to be REALLY amazed, read this trilogy.  It is hard to explain in the most glorious way that I, as an avid reader and librarian, can express to you in typed words.  My most on target praise?  My brain feels bigger, like maybe my gyri and sulci (don't be impressed, I looked it up) are even more ridged and folded.  Perhaps the influence of Area X?  Is this my brightness talking?

Anyway, the Southern Reach trilogy!  We enter the story with the 12th expedition into Area X, a mysterious area cordoned off by unknown means (a la Under the Dome) from the rest of the country for decades.  The first expedition reported an Eden-like paradise reclaimed by nature.  Every expedition after that suffered a horrific fate: suicide, mass slaughter, lethargy, cancer etc.  The 12th expedition is made up of the Psychologist (the group leader), the Biologist (our narrator), the Surveyor, and the Anthropologist.  When you sign up for an expedition, you lose your name and become your job.

Area X's pristine natural condition is immediately creepy and only becomes more so as you get additional background details from the Biologist.  By the time you come to the "topographic anomaly," shit is getting real.  Strange creatures mixed in with the mundane, hypnosis, conspiracy, unknown and unseen forces, mania, insanity, weird unfocused biblical fervor...all the good stuff.

I've read descriptions like "if J.J. Abrams, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Weisman collaborated on a novel, this would be it" and Lauren Beukes described it as "a little Kubrick, a lot Lovecraft," but I would also have to throw in some Jack Finney, the 2009 movie Moon starring Sam Rockwell, maybe something like The Mist, The Shining, The Thing (menacing things, real and imagined, at a distance and then devastatingly close).

I certainly do understand that I'm rambling not a little bit, but this trilogy is so hard to pin down.  It's dark, meandering, philosophical, haunting, ecological, horrific, conspiring, and so many of my other favorite adjectives.  There are no easy answers, not even really any answers in the traditional sense of the word.  If you like an A+B=C story, you *might* have trouble here.  If your idea of a great story is one that is so complex and nuanced (if you enjoyed playing Myst!) that it almost gives you a headache, then we need to be friends.  True story.

Anyway, congratulations to you Mr. Vandermeer!  You have created a stunning world that I would gladly vacation long as I could avoid the Biologist.  And Grace.

To bastardize a movie and sum up my feelings:

Ghosts (maybe) and aliens (maybe) and monsters (definitely), oh my!

Jeff Vandermeer




If you are in the Birmingham, Alabama area, Church Street Coffee & Books stocks them!  That's where I bought mine!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

the horror of it all

Most of my friends know I'm a fan of horror movies, books, and nearly anything else I can get my grubby little hands on.  This morning Fangoria posted on Twitter asking what your favorite NYC-set horror movie was.  I had to look up a list (shame face) and from that list I selected Rosemary's Baby, Ghostbusters, and Cloverfield.

Then I started thinking about great 1980's horror, funny and otherwise.  Ghostbusters is funny, of course, but now I'm watching High Spirits (starring Peter O'Toole, Steve Guttenberg, Bevery D'Angelo, Jennifer Tilly, Peter Gallagher, Daryl Hannah, Liam Neeson, et al) and I love it almost as much. Most people have never heard of it when I ask and that is a crying shame.  Another one on the comedic side was Beetlejuice.  I miss Michael Keaton in good roles. More of the funny, gross favorites include The Evil Dead and Army of Darkness, Gremlins, Critters, Night of the Comet, Night of the Creeps, and A Nightmare on Elm Street (am I the only one who thought Freddy was *such* a comedian?).

My scary favorites include The Changeling (starring George C. Scott).  Watch it too early in life and you'll have a lifelong fear of wheelchairs.  Along those same lines is the original BBC version of The Woman in Black. Rocking chairs may no longer be comfortable for you after this. Poltergeist was discomfort-making but not exactly scary.  Definitely creepy.  (I will whisper a secret:  I've not watched Amityville Horror (1979) yet.  Don't tell anyone. I did watch an excellent documentary about it called My Amityville Horror.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)  This may also be a dissenting opinion, but Friday the 13th got much scarier once Jason somehow grew up and donned the hockey mask.

I loved me some Child's Play back in the day.  This also caused me to avoid my friends' Teddy Ruxpin obsessions like the plague. I can neither confirm nor deny that I made them put such toys away when I spent the night at their houses.   In the spirit of sharing, enjoy this:

Fun, but not particularly scary: It's hard to believe that Aliens is an 80's flick.  That movie has aged SO well. No list would be complete without The Shining though I found the book much much scarier than the film. The original Fright Night wanted to be scary and kinda failed but still did a better job than the remake though Colin Farrell definitely hit my radar as seductive vampire more effectively than Chris Sarandon.

And speaking of hot vampires, Kiefer Sutherland's David in The Lost Boys was responsible for both my very first crush and my very first naughty dreams at the tender age of 10!  It was love at first bite.  I'll let you work out the morality and ethics of that.  I'm a mostly well-adjusted usually law-abiding citizen now so no harm, no foul.

There's no telling what I've forgotten and/or left out.  These are just what popped in to my head.  If you stumble upon this and have any input, comment and share it!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

the trying-to-be incredible shrinking woman

I'm working really, REALLY hard on the new me, which also entails trying to reach into my own gray matter for what ails me.  As anyone who has read my once yearly update (shameful!) here knows, I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) September 7, 2012.  Here's what that looks like:
Late 2011 through May 2012, I was dealing with some hellascious knee problems that resulted in me, at the ripe old age of 35, using a walker to get around because my knees would not support me.  Here I am in May 2012, 5 days out from having my right knee scoped (5 days before THAT, my doctor took 29cc of fluid off my knee so I would quit contemplating blowing my own brains out):

So, about 3.5 months after this photo was taken, I went under the knife again, driven finally by desperation and pain, the desperate measures so often found at the end of desperate times.  I lost 100 lbs in about 10 months and have lost another 20 in the time since then.  What I didn't know until just here recently, when I joined a VSG support group on Facebook, is that there is a "honeymoon" period that lasts anywhere from 8-12 months after surgery and that is when you will get the majority of your weightloss accomplished.  After that, your appetite, hormones, and body catch up to you and you feel relatively normal again. 

I pissed that away.  I made no attempt to exercise (like I was told to by my surgeon, my nurse, my nutritionist, Marvin the Martian, my cat, my brain, and everyone else on the planet who knew more than I did),  I was weak and got tired easily because I could only eat about 1/2 cup of food at a time, didn't deal extremely well with the cold in my newly (somewhat) de-blubberized body, and just generally felt like I was losing weight so quickly that it couldn't possibly matter that I wasn't exercising.  And my knees.  Oh yes, my beautiful, didn't-know-they-were-even-there-anymore, painfree knees!  I was pain-free for the first time in several years and it was like a narcotic, that absence of pain.  Here I am this past March, at the Public Library Association conference in Indianapolis:

I always take the stairs when they are available. I can run up the stairs from the basement to the 2nd floor at work and barely even breathe hard.  I can walk anywhere I want to go.  I'm developing biceps for the first time in recent memory.  I have collar bones!
I weigh myself every Monday morning and record that weight here and on  At my 1 year surgersary I noticed I hadn't really lost any weight, looking back over my entries.  I'd steadily been buying smaller clothes, month after month, so the numbers just didn't really set in until I was consolidating my Weight Loss Journey sidebar section here on Blogger for 2013 from every week down to one entry per month, getting ready for 2014.  It was an eye opener.  All that to reiterate, I pissed away my honeymoon period. I've been stuck in the mid 200's for over a year now and there's no one to blame but myself.  

But as I began with, for about the past (almost) 2 months I've been exercising 45-90 minutes per day, different exercises everyday and doing pilates (or as I like to call it, rolling around on the floor and grunting) my rest days or when my knees just don't feel up to doing anything.  I threw/gave away all the non-complex carbohydrates in my house.  If I want to snack, it has to be something I make.  Very little processed foods.  In my fridge right now are protein shakes, eggs, and fresh fruit and veggies.  The freezer has fish, chicken, soy products, veggies, fruit, and ( not sorry) vodka.  I do make popcorn for snacks but it's the plain kernels, with a teeny bit of coconut oil, thrown in a brown paper sack, and microwaved, sprinkled with a little bit of salt, not Orville's sodiumfest.  

I've lost about 7 pounds in that time, but my measurements haven't changed all that much.  I'm going to be patient though, because I know how my body has always been.  Pre-surgery, it usually took 8-10 weeks of supreme effort before I saw any real results, so now that I'm back to pre-surgery hormones and whathaveyou, I anticipate it will be the same.  I'm eating between 80-100 grams of protein and 800-1100 calories per day and burning (according to an app, soooo grain of salt and all) 3800-4100 calories per day, so those numbers are fine.  I'm not starving myself, just eating high protein, low calorie meals, so no one (as if anyone is reading) panic.

Okay, I've said it and said it and said it and said it, but this time, I MEAN it.  I'm going to start writing here again.  Pre-Facebook, I used to love it and tried to sneak it into my day whenever possible.  I miss that.  A lot.  And it was good for me to get all the daily effluvia out of my head and give it you (possibly nonexistent) guys. I need it and it's good for me so as I've rededicated myself to my weightloss journey, I'm rededicating myself to Blogger.  As if that isn't enough, I also recently joined Twitter because, you know, I'm impulsive like that.  And I'm SO addicted to it so feel free to find me there @HolleysHouse. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

lemme tell you some sad stories

Well, sad to me, at any rate.  It should be sad to the world, like other sad things, but really it's a symptom of many wrong things.

1) A young man (junior high or high school, I am now decrepit enough that it is becoming hard to tell) came up to the desk and said he was writing a paper on Mary Shelley and had to have an autobiography.  I told him that outside of a book of her collected letters, I didn't think she'd written one.  He looked sheepish and said something along the lines of well, I just need information about her.  After a quick clarification of whether he did, indeed, need biographical info or criticism of her work, we set off for the biography section.  No luck, so I took him over to the literary criticism section.  There were several about Frankenstein, of course, but there were also 2 very cool looking books about Shelley and her life in relation to Frankenstein.  I handed him one, took the other for myself, and instructed him to check the index for information specifically about Shelley.  He turned to the table of contents, flipped a couple of pages, then declared it, this book about Mary Shelley, contained "nothing" about Shelley. I looked at mine, showed him all the entries just about her, then he flipped to the back of his book and hemmed and hawed a little more.  I took his book from him, turned to the index entry (which took up nearly an entire page on its own, beautifully indexed under her name by topic even), and showed it to him.  He decided to take that book.  I am continually AmAzEd by the people, teen and adult, who don't know how to use an index.  Or a dictionary for that matter.  Hell, most of these kids can't even use the copy machine because they are used to just clicking an icon for the printer.  We had one middle school aged kid trying to use the phone at the front desk.  She picked up the receiver and put it down several times, never dialing.  Finally, when asked what was wrong, she said it was making a funny noise.  That's not a funny noise, sweetie, that's the dial tone.

2)  Let's have a lesson in the use of an automatic flushing toilet.  You sit down, or you hover.  You do your business and tidy up.  You get up, refasten your clothing, CHECK TO SEE THAT THE TOILET FLUSHED COMPLETELY, FLUSH THE FUCKING TOILET IF NOT, then depart to continue your day.  I have to be here 9 or 10 hours a day and do not appreciate having to wipe up and flush your piss and, thank god only occasionally, your shit.  Every automatic toilet has a manual flush button.  Shocker, I know.  Look for it.  Use it.  I mean, I get it.  There's one toilet in our bathroom that flushes if you bat your eyelashes too hard.  It's out of sync with stall use.  I understand.  But still, look back over your shoulder, notice if you've pissed all over the toilet seat.  Wipe it up.  Did everything go down?  If not, use the button please and make my working life just a tiny bit better.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Fortunately, I haven't been too adversely affected by our frosty weather here in Birmingham, Alabama.  The first time, I was already at home when everyone else got stuck.  My mother was stuck in her car on the interstate for over 24 hours.  It made me a nervous wreck, but I was a wreck sitting nice and warm in my pjs in a comfy recliner in a house holding at a stead 70 degree temp.  The next time was kind of a dud, as is this one, sort of.  Plenty of snow (for us!) but the temps never really dipped below freezing and the sun has come up on what should be a nearly 50 degree day.

All that being said, I'll finally cry winter uncle.  I want to go outside without a coat.  If I wanted cold temps on a regular basis, I would move to an area where I could enjoy such a thing.  Like many of my friends, I'm ready for spring.  I want to take a walk in the sun, unencumbered by a coat or sweater.  I want my power bill to be less expensive.  The usual.  Of course, in the interests of full disclosure, I'll be able to do that (probably wearing flipflops) next week.  Our bipolar weather is legendary.  It makes me VERY happy that I don't have sensitive sinuses.  I have plenty of friends really suffering as we pinball between warm and humid, cold and humid, warm and dry, and cold and dry.

Also, I believe I'd have an easier time getting myself motivated to get more exercise.  Nothing has been holding me back previously  It's not even an excuse.  I was doing fantastically for a while, then it just got uncomfortably cold for me, my knees and hips ached, the works.

I've got plans for myself this year, though.  Big plans that require a not-so-big person.  So it's time to stop moping with myself and remake some, great habits.  I've had them in the past so I know I can have them again, maybe even on a more permanent basis this time around!

Here's hoping anyway!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Stellar Year

I didn't watch as many movies, but I read WAY more books and I lost a shitload of weight.


166. Just a Taste by Deirdre Martin
165. The Cult of Celebrity: What Our Fascination with the Stars Reveals About Us by Cooper Lawrence
164. Christmas Curiosities: Odd, Dark, and Forgotten Christmas by John Grossman
163. The Medic's Homecoming by Lynne Marshall
162. Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross
161. Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning
160. Hit Hard by Amy J. Fetzer
159. Chasing Stanley by Deirdre Martin
158. Hot Ticket by Deirdre Martin, Julia London, Annette Blair, and Geri Buckley
157. The Penalty Box by Deirdre Martin
156. Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
155. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
154. Total Rush by Deirdre Martin
153. Fair Play by Deirdre Martin
152. Body Check by Deirdre Martin
151. The Firefighter by Susan Lyons, P.J. Mellor, and Alyssa Brooks
150. By Design by Jayne Denker
149. Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster
148. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
147. Spice & Wolf: Vol. 1 by Isuna Hasekura
146. The Joy of Pain: Schadendreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature by Richard H. Smith
145. Ken & Thelma: The Story of A Confederacy of Dunces by Joel L. Fletcher
144. Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
143. Sexy Devil by Sasha White
142. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
141. How to Tame a Wild Fireman by Jennifer Bernard
140. Empty Net by Toni Aleo
139. Trying to Score by Toni Aleo
138. Taking Shots by Toni Aleo
137. Hunter's Heart by J.D. Tyler
136. Bare It All by Lori Foster
135. Wool by Hugh Howey
134. Run the Risk by Lori Foster
133. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
132. Stealing Home by Jennifer Seasons
131. Black Moon by J.D. Tyler
130. Savage Awakening by J.D. Tyler
129. Black Magic by J.D. Tyler
128. Primal Law by J.D. Tyler
127. One Sweet Ride by Jaci Burton
126. Thrown By a Curve by Jaci Burton
125. Playing to Win by Jaci Burton
124. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
123. Last Call: Hurricane by Moira Rogers
122. Last Call: Kamikaze by Moira Rogers
121. The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston
120. Lover At Last by J.R. Ward
119. Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward
118. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
117. Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward
116. Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
115. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
114. Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward
113. Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward
112. Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward
111. Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
110. Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
109. Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
108. Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
107. Taking a Shot by Jaci Burton
106: Zara's Tales: Perilous Escapades in Equatorial Africa by Peter Beard
105. The Shining by Stephen King
104. Changing the Game by Jaci Burton
103. Wear Your Dreams: My Life in Tattoos by Ed Hardy with Joel Selvin
102. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
101. How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks
100. The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell
99. Hollywood Scandals by Gemma Halliday
98. Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley
97. Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
96. Sex, Drugs, and Gefilte Fish: The HEEB Storytelling Collection edited by Shana Liebman
95. Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
94. Gunpowder and Cinnamon by Eli Brown
93. Quiet: The Power if Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
92. The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton
91. Freefall by Jill Sorenson
90. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
89. Thrown by a Curve by Jaci Burton
88. Dare to be Dirty by Savannah Fox
87. How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
86. Diamonds in the Rough by Portia Da Costa
85. The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell
84. I Dream of Danger by Lisa Marie Rice
83. The Dirty Girls' Book Club by Savannah Fox
82. Smokin' Hot Firemen by Delilah Devlin et al.
81. Playing the Part by Robin Covington
80. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
79. Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
78. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
77. Frank's Independence Day by M.L. Buchman
76. Daniel's Christmas by M.L. Buchman
75. One Fine Fireman by Jennifer Bernard
74. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
73. Styx's Storm by Lora Leigh
72. Beyond the Dark by Angela Knight, Emma Holly, Lora Leigh, and Diane Whiteside
71. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
70. Game On by Tracy Solheim
69. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
68. Lawe's Justice by Lora Leigh
67. Lion's Heat by Lora Leigh
66. Defending Jacob by William Landay
65. Bengal's Heart by Lora Leigh
64. Shifter by Angela Knight, Lora Leigh, Alyssa Day, and Virginia Kantra
63. Mercury's War by Lora Leigh
62. Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
61. Hot Spell by Emma Holly, Lora Leigh, Shiloh Walker, and Meljean Brook
60. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
59. Dawn's Awakening by Lora Leigh
58. Tanner's Scheme by Lora Leigh
57. Harmony's Way by Lora Leigh
56. Megan's Mark by Lora Leigh
55. Kiss of Heat by Lora Leigh
54. The Man Within by Lora Leigh
53. Tempting the Beast by Lora Leigh
52. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard
51. Stories From Jonestown by Leigh Fondakowski
50. A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde
49. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
48. Wait Until Dark by M.L. Buchman
47. I Own the Dawn by M.L. Buchman
46. Thrill Ride by Julie Ann Walker
45. Code Name Verity by Eizabeth Wein
44. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
43. Gateway by Frederik Pohl
42. The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns
41. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
40. Why Can't I Be You by Allie Larkin
39. The Engagement by Chloe Hooper
38. Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays by Steve Martin
37. Savage Hunger by Terry Spear
36. The Cowboy and the Princess by Lori Wilde
35. Bellwether by Connie Willis
34. Cowboy Crazy by Joanne Kennedy
33. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
32. Luscious by Amanda Usen
31. Rev It Up by Julie Ann Walker
30. Sex and the Single Fireman by Jennifer Bernard
29. I Own the Night by M.L. Buchman
28. What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss
27. Hot for Fireman by Jennifer Bernard
26. The Fireman Who Loved Me by Jennifer Bernard
25. In Rides Trouble by Julie Ann Walker
24. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
23. Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker
22. Death's Heretic by James L. Sutter
21: Betty Page presents The Librarian by Logan Belle
20. The Captive by Scott O'Dell
19. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
18. The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers
17. Bossypants by Tina Fey
16. Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
15. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
14. Wanton West: Madams, Money, Murder, and the Wild Women of Montana's Frontier by Lael Morgan
13. Aftershock by Jill Sorenson
12. Long Black Cadillac by B.A. Tortuga
11. The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis
10. River Road by Suzanne Johnson
9. The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant
8. Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
7. Tallie's Hero by Sara Luck
6. Brides of the West by Victoria Bylin, Janet Dean, and Pamela Nissen
5. Saving the Rifleman by Julie Rowe
4. Danger Zone by Dee J. Adams
3. Among Others by Jo Walton
2. Naughty or Nice? by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Patricia Ryan, Kathryn Smith, and Carly Phillips
1. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

25. Desolation of Smaug
24. Catching Fire
23. Thor
22. Ender's Game
21. Gravity
 20. The Conjuring (9/23)
19. Riddick (9/8)
18. We're the Millers (8/18)
17. The Conjuring (7/21)
16. Pacific Rim IMAX 3D (7/12)
15. The Lone Ranger (7/5)
14. Man of Steel (6/23)
13. Star Trek: Into Darkness (6/16)
12. Evil Dead (6/9)
11. The Great and Powerful Oz (6/1)
10. Epic 3D (5/28)
9. Star Trek: Into Darkness 3D IMAX (5/22)
8. Iron Man 3 3D IMAX (5/7)
7. Scary Movie 5 (4/27)
6. Evil Dead (4/7)
5. The Host (3/29)
 4. Dark Skies (3/17)
3. Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2/28)
2. Identity Thief (2/9)
1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2/3)