Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Reports: Winter, Career of Evil, Shopaholic, and The Dog Who Knew Too Much

-First up, Winter, the fourth of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I just loved this entire series.  AlthoughI didn't actually read Fairest.  Cinder was, by FAR, my favorite character and I thought she did fantastic in all regards in this one.  They're hard to talk about unless you've read them so I'll just say: give them a go.  Cinder is the first one and it's fabulous and not too long, so if you hate it, you're not out too much time.  But honestly, you'll love it.  They're all so good.  Winter came in at 800+ pages, but I blew thru them.  

I actually found Winter's story to be sort of bland and blah and her romance almost as annoying as Cress's, but I still loved it.  

My initial goodreads review: I love it.  LOVE.  A tad too happily every after for me, but I can overlook all that bc the ride was just totally worth it.  TOTALLY WORTH IT.  These books, man!

And I stand by the 'too happily ever after' because I am a horrible person.  I'm the one who thought Harry Potter might have been a tad better if one of the main three had died.  That's not even completely true, I thought Harry should have died. Please don't hate me. 

From the back of the bookPrincess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. 

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend- the handsome palace guard, Jacin.  But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years.  Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.  

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

So yeah.  Put it on your list.

-Next Career of Evil by JK, third in the Cormoran Strike books.  Do I really need to say anything? NO.  Of course not.  It was fabulous and absolutely perfect in every way.  I spent the ENTIRE book convinced it was one bad guy after the other, in quick succession, over and over and over.  And at the end, I didn't feel cheated at all.  Perfection.

From the back of the bookWhen a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them...

-Then we've got Shopaholic to the Rescue, hundred a fifty millionth in the series by Sophie Kinsella. I loved it. And I'm not even embarrassed.  Well not TOO too embarrassed.  This was way better than the last one, but honestly, I love them all and I'll be a Becky Brandon nee' Bloomwood fanatic until the day I die.  If Kinsella keeps pumping them out, I'll get grabbing them at the library.  I don't understand the haters. 

Here's the back of the book, but if you're really looking for plotlines...surely you wouldn't be looking at a Shopaholic book? Becky’s biggest ever challenge takes her to Las Vegas and beyond in a fast-paced, fun-filled, road-trip adventure. Becky’s gone too far in the past - but now she's putting things right. She’s determined to track down her missing dad, help her best friend Suze, bond with her worst enemy Alicia Bitch Long-legs (maybe...) and work out how to play blackjack.

As she discovers quite how much her friends and family need help, she comes up with a brilliant plan. Becky is going to rescue everyone. But can she rescue herself?

-And lastly, what might be the best book out of the four.  Don't tell JK.  Career was AMAZING, of course, but that's no big surprise.  The woman can do no wrong.  This one caught me off guard- The Dog Who Knew Too Much, I think the third in the Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn.

I don't like dogs.  I don't like pets in general.  But this blogger who I really truly respect and usually agree with harps this series ALL THE TIME, and a while ago (in a totally uncharastic move for this severe introvert) left a comment asking her if they really were THAT good.  She immediatly got back to me- yes.  READ THEM. (Here's some more of her book reports if you want some inspiration.  I really look forward to these posts of hers.)

She was right!!!

Anyway, what else can I say? These books are told from a dog's point of view and they're sort of detective crime mystery stories. This is the only one my library had and I wasn't going to pay for a book that I didn't know I'd love, so I started with it.  I'll definitely be buying the rest of them.

I don't know why it was so good.  It was very well written, and a good mystery, but c'mon, a dog?!?! But it works.  I guess because the writing really is brilliant, when you think about it.  And Chet's love and adoration for Bernie was just so refreshing and perfect- easily my favorite part of the story.  He REALLY loves Bernie.  That Bernie!!

Anyway, my original review: cannot even begin to describe this book without dying from embarrassment. The dog narrates it? And he's...a detective? I don't even like dogs!! But someone I REALLY admire recommended it, and this one is the only one my library has, so I gave it a go. 

And I loved it. LOVED. All caps. I can't quite figure out why, and I certainly can't explain how absolutely brilliant it was, but man oh man- it was rad. So good. I can't even think of a reason to give it four stars instead of five- there truly wasn't a single wrong note. Oh wait, the dog getting the keys in jail. That's right, I didn't like that. But other than that? ACES.

And from the back of the bookCombining suspense and intrigue with a wonderfully humorous take on the link between man and beast, Spencer Quinn's exceptional mystery series has captured widespread praise since its New York Times bestselling debut, 'Dog on It'. 

'The Dog Who Knew Too Much' marks the duo's triumphant return in a tale that's full of surprises.

Bernie is invited to give the keynote speech at the Great Western Private Eye Convention, but it's Chet that the bigshot P.I. in charge has secret plans for. Meanwhile Chet and Bernie are hired to find a kid who has gone missing from a wilderness camp in the high country. 

The boy's mother thinks the boy's father, her ex, has snatched the boy, but Chet makes a find that sends the case in a new and dangerous direction. 

As if that weren't enough, matters get complicated at home when a stray puppy that looks suspiciously like Chet shows up. Affairs of the heart collide with a job that's never been tougher, requiring our two intrepid sleuths to depend on each other as never before. 

'The Dog Who Knew Too Much' is classic Spencer Quinn, offering page-turning entertainment that's not just for dog-lovers.

And that last bit is obviously true: even non dog lovers can love this book.  I'm the proof.  SO GOOD.

Y'all read anything good lately?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Comfort and Joy

When I saw the prompt seven things that bring you comfort I thought NAILED IT.  I am nothing if not a seeker of comfort.  That's why I'm forty pounds overweight and wear yoga pants and a tunic every day.

1. Zoloft.  Actually, modern medicine in general, but zoloft specifically.  Not even the effects that it has on my brain chemistry, but somehow just knowing that I took the steps to get help- that brings me a MASSIVE amount of comfort.  As does knowing I'm not alone, there are others out there who struggle the same as I do, and find comfort in modern medicine as well.

2. Candles.  I've been trying the whole hipster thing of using an essential oils diffuser to scent my house and cure all our ailments and bring world peace to all, but nothing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING smells better than a Yankee candle filling my entire house with soot and chemicals and the gorgeous memories of all things past and perfect.  You wanna talk about the memories that flood my tiny little mind when I light a Macintosh? Don't even get me started!!! ULTIMATE COMFORT YA'LL.  Ultimate comfort. Right now I'm obsessed with Apple Pumpkin and my last one is down to the final inch and I swear I might DIE when it's gone.

3. Satsumas.  The best thing about winter is satsuma season.  Why do they only work in winter? I think it's some sort of magic enchantment.  Maybe they know how much we need that citrus spark in the dark depths of winter? Who cares, I love them so.

I once at an entire bag of them in one sitting.  That's eleven satsumas.  At once.  They were so good, I'm not even embarrassed.  Much.

4. Reading.  Duh.

5. My bed.  I love my bed. My king sized bed, which apparently is big enough to fit me and Nick and three quarters of our offspring.

We have two sets of sheets, one so-so and one AMAZING and the amazing set doesn't have any tags on it and I have no idea where I got them and I want desperately to order another set, but sheets are so expensive, what if I order a set and hate them? I couldn't send them back, bc really, it takes a few nights of sleeping in them, plus a few washes, to see if you really like them.  So it's a huge, expensive gamble.  The struggle is real ya'll.  The struggle is REAL.

6. Tea.  Coffee.  "Hot beverages." Doesn't that make you think of Sheldon? I can't say I really 'savor' my coffee in the mornings bc basically I'm just trying to get the caffeine into my system, but on Friday afternoons Nick and I usually have a cup together after the school run and it's just so fantastic. I know they did a study or whatever that said that drinking a hot beverage doesn't actually warm up your body, but I'm calling bullshit.  It totally does.  And if not your body, then it warms YOUR SOUL.

Anyway, I usually drink tea every afternoon during the school run (either this boring regular tea or lately this yummy Christmas black tea that's to die for) to get me thru the afternoon without keeping me up at night, then after dinner is when the magic happens...this GLORIOUS herbal baggie of heaven. I've never tasted anything so good in my entire life.  For reals.  If you don't want to follow the link, it's called Pukka Peppermint and Licorice and you will die when you taste it.

7. All these little assholes snuggled up RIGHT ON TOP of me even though our couch seats twenty people.  I hate being touched by anyone else, but I just love these kids (and their daddy) so fricking much.

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop.

Monday, November 30, 2015

What I'm Into (November 2015)

What I'm reading lately has been pretty rad.  I read Career of Evil (LOVED), Winter (more than 800 pages!!! But also LOVED!!) The Dog Who Knew Too Much (never in a MILLION years thought I'd like it, but alas- LOVED) and Shopaholic to the Rescue (spoiler alert- LOVED) and Friday we coincidentally ended up at the Nando's right by the big branch of the library so I stocked up.  My basket is OVERFLOWING.  I've got Grave Mercy, Ready Player One, The Swimmer, The Raven Boys, The Deep and The Troop, Mr Penumbra, Fingersmith, Weight of Blood, and Girl With All the Gifts.

I can't stop smiling just thinking about it.  I heart eyes emoji libraries SO MUCH ya'll.  SO MUCH. I mean, look at all those books!! FOR FREE!!! Libraries, man.

I had to quit God in Ruins after only like ten pages bc someone had requested it and when it's on request, you can't renew it.  Which is a bummer, but sort of nice when I'm the one doing the requesting.  And if I'm honest, I wasn't THAT upset to let it go.  Teddy was bothering me, and I loved Life After Life so much...what if God in Ruins leaves a bad taste in my mouth?!?!

What I've been doing in my spare time (and I have so much of it now!! Six hours EVERY DAY!!!) is...drumroll please...starting an Etsy shop!!
I've only got like six things listed, but I already had a sale (THANKS P!!!) and I'm pretty excited.  So tell your friends!!! But if they order something and they hate it...don't tell them!!!

I've been watching tv like it's my job.  As usual. I've been catching up on some British shows that I've had on my DVR, so far I've done Prey, which was decent, and I'm a few episodes into Unforgotten, which is REALLY good.  I've also got Jekyll and Hyde on there, and there's a new Frankenstein show I think? I don't know.  I tape a LOT of stuff.  LOL I just looked up those four shows and they're ALL on itv.  Where's my BBC at?!?!

Anyway, most of my binge-time has been dedicated to Sleepy Hollow, which sounds SO STUPID but I just love it.
I love absolutely everything about Crane (because duh) and surprisingly, I love Abi just as much.  I think their chemistry is fantastic, and I have a soft spot for a show with a boy and a girl who AREN'T falling desperately in love and ruining everything.  They're just BEST BUDS and I love it.

I've been listening to Limetown (two episodes this month!!!) and all things Christmas.  Obviously.  Also, we went to see Imagine Dragons (good) and Monsters and Men (SO FRICKING GOOD) so I've been listening to those cds on repeat a lot too.  I just love Monsters and Men so much, and they were FABULOUS in concert.  Absolutely breathtaking.

I'm looking forward to going to see Mumford on the tenth (I caved and paid a ridiculous amount for nosebleed seats...) and heading for Germany on the 18th!! We've booked a four hour learn-to-ski class for Nick and the big kids, sledding for everyone, a horse and sleigh ride on Christmas, we're going to that castle that starts with an N that Disney uses for their original logo, plus we're spending a few days with Andrea and Bob on the way out there. Plus the heated pool and Christmas markets and all the food...I can't wait.  CAN'T WAIT!!!

What did you get into this November?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Finish it up Friday

So apparently alls I've been doing lately is making project bags.  Which isn't a bad way to spend a day, if you're asking me.

These first two are from some leftover Riley Blake Merry Little Christmas that I got last year and made a teeny tiny quilt out of.  Lol, it's so fun to look at it, now that I've figured out a thing or two about quilting.

Anyway, I do love that fabric, so I ordered some more on etsy to make a table runner since Nicholas  RUINED my gorgeous Pottery Barn table runner.  Ugh.

I used this tutorial and adjusted sizes for the drawstring bag and this tutorial (also adjusting sizes) for the zip (and I didn't do the 'wide open' part, obvs, bc I can't get the zipper to look good on those) and I used this pellon 931 for interfacing to make them each stand up on their own.

This one for some reason I can't get to stand up.  It's super floppy.  But it fits all thirteen balls for my new sweater, so I still love her. The fabric is...umm...from last summer, I think? And I bought it in person at Liberty (it's not Liberty fabric, obvs) so I can't look up what it was. I do know it was Rowan.
And this one, I made for my mom, out of a tea towel.  It is what it is. 

Knitwise, I finally finished my Barnwood Scarf and I love everything about it...except the way it feels.  It's' really itchy.  But it's so gorgeous and I just love the lacy parts.  Sigh. I used Rowan tweed if you're interested.  Maybe it's just me that thinks it's too itchy?

I also finished just one of my Blueberry Waffle socks with this TO DIE FOR yarn from knitpicks (my colorway is sadly gone), and I finally finished Warren's socks, made from this Regia with the heels and toes done in this one.

And lastly, I've finally tried my hand at garment sewing, to mixed results. It's just SO EXPENSIVE and so time consuming and I'm not very good at it, so I'm embarrassed to wear them out of the house, and I can't help but think I could order something from Old Navy for eleven dollars and call it a day...

First up was a Coco dress in this olive ponte. I made it a v neck bc I like v necks and it is SUPER comfy...but yeah.  Not very flattering and the seams are all jacked up and nasty.

I had better luck with this Agnes top, mostly (I think) bc I signed up for the class and watched the videos as I was doing it. I used this cheapo jersey I found on amazon but I actually LOVE it, I love the way it feels and it sewed up FANTASTICALLY.  Definitely gonna order a few more yards of that stuff.  Excuse me, meters.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I made the Tova tunic...but I am so fat and such a bad sewist  that I can't get it over my  head.  Well, I can get it over my head, but I can't get my arms into it, and I can't get it to shimmy down past my waist.  So there's that.

And that's what I've been up to in the crafty department!! What have ya'll been making lately?

Linking up with Sew Can She for Show Off Saturday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Five Things

~Five things you don't know about me? That's hard, I'm not very mysterious...but I'll give it a go.

1. I have to count the steps whenever I go up or down a set of stairs.  No idea why, it doesn't ever change.  In our house, it's thirteen bc I count when you step onto the floor.  In case you're curious ;)

2. I had my first kiss at fourteen and it was absolutely perfect. I always feel like you're supposed to cringe whenever you think about your first kiss and be like 'it was so awful!!' but honestly, I wouldn't change a single thing about mine and I still remember every detail.  Is that weird? PS I did not attack my kiss like River.  I was the kissee, not the kisser.  Just so you know. 

3. I am addicted to reading horrible, tacky, Snape-centric Harry Potter fanfiction.  Apparently, the cheesier the better.  This is my most shameful secret.  I don't even know why I do it, but man do I love it.

4. I once dropped my phone and shattered the screen and needed to tell Angela how bad it was (bc I need to tell her every mundane detail of my day-to-day) so I took a screen shot.

Let that sink in.

5. I can't think of anything else that you don't know about me.  Starting to think I maybe overshare on this blog...

~Five things I'm knowledgeable about?  Or five things I pretend to be knowledgable about... Let's do this.

1. Smallpox.  I wrote my term paper in AP English about smallpox.  I was mildly obsessed before, but every since that paper in the eleventh grade, I have been OBSESSED.  Did you know, for example, that the word vaccination itself comes from smallpox? Because vacca means cow or some such and that's how the smallpox vaccine (the FIRST vaccine) got started, from cows who had cowpox.  And to show that it was safe and get everyone on board (bc apparently even in the 1700s there were stupid hipsters who didn't want to vaccinate) a Princess of Wales inoculated her kiddos.  Fun fact- that was a question on final jeopardy once.  Fifty points to me!

2. Twins.  Real twins, clones.  They fascinate me.  And terrify me.  Clones!! They're clones!!! They have the same DNA!! Isn't that like, the opposite of the point? Two organisms with the same DNA?!?! They have different fingerprints!! They can be mirror images of each other!! They're clones!! "There goes my identical twin sister! Just walking along, looking like me!!" I don't really know much about fraternal twins except that they're not any closer (genetically) than regular siblings but I have read a LOT of internet articles about real twins.  And if it's on the internet, you know it's true.  So I'm an expert.  Obvi.

3. Friends.  The show, not the people.  I'm fairly confident that I know every line of every episode until Monica and Chandler got married and it started to suck.

4. I am literally sitting here trying to think of ANYTHING that I know something about.  I'm coming up with big fat NADA.

~Five things I know nothing about.  Um, I know nothing about just about everything.  That sentence got away from me.

1. Geography.  I don't know anything about any sort of geography.  I can pick out maybe ten states on a map of America.  California Hawaii and Alaska.  Florida.  Michigan.  Texas.  Nevada. Maine. North and South Dakota (I think) and the Gulf coast.  That's about it.  Europe? Forget it.  I know Great Britain and France.  Russia.  Italy.

2. Math.  Math is stupid and hard and my brain doesn't work that way.  I can do basics with a pencil and paper, but nothing in my head.

3. Computers. Electronics in general. If something goes wrong and turning it off and back on doesn't fix it, I'm done.  Better order another one.  We're getting an Xbox for Christmas and God help us all.  It took me almost a week to find the power button my my MacMac in Guam.

4. Parenting.  Obviously.

5. History.  Megan's husband knows all about history and wars and things that used to happen and I'm very interested and wish I knew.  But there's so MUCH, I wouldn't even know where to start.  So I'll just study the back stories of Lost instead.  Sorted.

~Five things I believe.

1. I believe God sent his son to pay the price for my sins and that Jesus is the only thing keeping me from hell.

2. I believe that when it's over and all is said and done, Walking Dead will go down in history as the greatest show ever written.  Although Season Six is maybe going to make me rethink that.  Here's hoping Season Seven is the final season.

3. I believe that The Stand is the best book Stephen King ever wrote.

4. I believe that 'love is all you need' is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.  How about 'hard work and dedication is all you need.'  Or 'compromise and good listening skills is all you need.' Idiots.

5. And lastly, I just can't resist ;)
 "I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work. 

I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully. 

I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men. 

I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities. 

I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all. 

I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all. 

I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by "doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God." 

And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it."
-George Petrie (1945)

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with prompt #4: Five Things- List 5 things we don’t know about you, 5 things you’re knowledgeable about, 5 things you know nothing about, and 5 things you believe.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Taking Stock

Planning our Christmas trip to Germany.  We've resisted the military ski resort type place they have up there for the three years we've been here bc c'mon- we're in Europe and we're going to Tiny America? Nothankyou.  But it makes sense for us at this time, so here we go.  Less exciting than our Great European Driving Adventure of Two Thousand and Fourteen, but also vastly cheaper and much MUCH easier to plan.  My plans thus far include sledding, drinking  coffee by a fire in the lobby, drinking tea by a fire in the lobby, reading, knitting, avoiding snow at all costs, and hoping Nick makes sure all four kids are present and accounted for and maybe gets some pics of them in the snow while I am- you guessed it- by a fire in the lobby.
Should be fun.

Feeling frustrated at how stupid White Winter Hymnal appears to be.  I first heard it on my PTX playlist (more about them at a later date bc oh my WOW) then I looked up the proper version and was semi-surprised that it's not an old song.

Then I sort of noticed the lyrics.  What?!?! Why do they have to keep their heads from falling off? (Our pets heads are falling off!!) And wait a second, did he just say Micheal fell down and his head...popped off? And there was so much blood that it turned the snow as red as strawberries?

What the fuck is going on?!?!

So I, of course, googled it.  And the band says it doesn't mean anything.

Nothing makes me more stabby than songs that don't mean anything.  Remember when I watched that documentary on The Who and they said Tommy doesn't mean anything? They just thought it would be fun if he played pinball? LIES.

I choose to believe these songwriters are all lying and they just don't want us to know what it means.  It's a secret.

Also, this is why I'm too terrified to watch that Eagles documentary that I want to watch SO BAD.  If I find out Last Resort doesn't mean anything, I will just DIE.

Regardless, I like both versions, but the PTX version is slightly better, in my opinion.  That seems to happen a lot with them.

Loving that even though she's almost five (yes, you read that correctly) she still loves to hike up her shirt and ask me to tickle her back.  She's been doing this since she could lift up her shirt.  Although now she's finally realized that it's easier to just take the whole thing off.

Toying with the idea of opening an etsy shop.  Not because I want to make a million dollars (honestly, I don't.  I mean, I would like a million dollars.  But I want it as a gift, I don't want to work for it) but because I want to make things, and I need other people to pay for the supplies to make the things.  While I love being home with all the kids at school and wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China and I will NOT be having another baby, I do occasionally get a tad bored during my six hour stretches with no one else to talk to. So I want to go upstairs and work on my machine and watch Supernatural.  But I'm pretty much out of fabric and I already have more project bags than I could ever use and we have so many quilts that if another ice age hits and we don't have heat, we're good to go.  So...etsy shop?  The main problem, of course, is that I'm not entirely sure how etsy works.  Plus I'm not sure how to get people to give me money for stuff.  So, it's probably never gonna happen, but it is something I've been thinking about lately.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Picture Day

Remember when I wanted to be a photographer but I didn't want to learn how to take my camera off auto and the idea of interacting with customers gave me a tummy ache?

Past Jenn was so ridiculous.

Anyway, thank God I got over that idea and decided to leave it to the professionals.  We had our pics done a few weeks ago at Eastcote House by Clare Metcalfe and I couldn't be more satisfied with the results.  So much better than my standard blurry phone shot ;)

 Look at this one- she got us ALL looking at the camera!!! All six!!!

I, of course, prefer the slightly less fancy sort of 'improv' shots.  Candid shots? Is that a word? Spoiler alert, that one where we're all apparently attacking Nick is the front runner in The Great Christmas Card Extravaganza of Two Thousand and Fifteen.

I think she did a FANTASTIC job with Scott.  Ya'll know Scott.  It's a total crapshoot- is he gonna love and adore you and be a perfect angel or is he going to cut your head off with a chain saw.  And he was perfect for her.

And here's what might be my favorite shot.  Ava and I butt heads a LOT.  Who knows why ;) But despite what she seems to think, I love her more than life itself and while I felt cheesey when she told us to sit on the bench, I really do adore her and I think this shot catches it.

And then shots like this that remind me- man.  I have four kids.  FOUR KIDS.  I can't believe it!!
So yeah.  Any locals looking for a photographer, Clare Metcalfe has my complete devotion.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Book Reports: Fourth of July Creek, Finders Keepers, Death on Demand and Among Others

I was in sort of a reading rut.  I went and got allthebooks from the library and then I felt compelled to just plow my way thru them.  None of these were bad per se (well the first one sort of was) but none of them blew my socks off either.

Let's start with Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson.  No idea how this got on my list, but the back of the book  makes it sound mildly interesting, right? After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face-to-face with the boy's profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times.

But as Pete's own family spins out of control, Pearl's activities spark the full-blown interest of the FBI, putting Pete at the center of a massive manhunt from which no one will emerge unscathed.

In this shattering and iconic American novel, Smith Henderson explores the complexities of freedom, community, grace, suspicion, and anarchy, brilliantly depicting our nation's disquieting and violent contradictions. Fourth of July Creek is an unforgettable, unflinching debut that marks the arrival of a major literary talent.

I do enjoy a survivilist tale, especially when you add in the religious nutter element.  Remember that made for TV movie about Ruby Ridge with Kirstin Dunst? Loved that. I mean, a menstrual shed?!?! Come on!!

Anyway, this book did not deliver, for me personally.  Here's my initial review: "I don't know what to think about this book. Other than 'what the fuck did I just read?' It was bad. It had the potential to be great. It was well written, but I didn't enjoy the way it was written at all, the stream of conscience type? It didn't work for me. And I want my social workers to be super heroes, not flawed alcoholics. Although his heart was obviously in the right place and mine broke for him. So much heartbreak. I have a hard time believing Rachel would make the choices she made, picking the streets over what seemed (to me) to not be that bad a situation. Why not go to Pete? And what exactly was this book about? No clue. I kept wanting to quit and now I wish I had. I'm sure a ton of people will love this. But not me. Sorry."

And I still think all those things.  It was well written, but it just wasn't for me.  

Next was Finder's Keepers by the great and powerful SK. It's a sequel to Mr. Mercedes, which I loved, and I loved this one too.  He's obviously going for JK's Cormoran Strike vibes, and she seems to be going for a Jack Reacher (but waaaaaay better) vibe and I love Jack Reacher and Cormoran Strike and Bill Hodges and SK and JK and Lee Child, so I'm good to go.  I didn't write a review at goodreads, but I did mark it four stars and I really did enjoy it.  Morris didn't creep me out like Brady did, and actually I found myself feeling sort of sorry for him, which was NOT the point at all.  You know how some books you're supposed to feel bad for the psycho? Not this one. 

But I don't know, the idea of getting my hands on the sequel to my all time favorite book, being THISCLOSE to finding out what happens next and then having it all snatched away? That would hurt.  That would SUCK.  I was panicked that SK would die from being hit by that van and never finish the Dark Tower.  Let's not discuss what we think about the way it ended, but imagine it just HADN'T ended?!?! That would be the worst. 
I think it's worth noting that Angela didn't like this one, and it got mixed reviews on goodreads.  I got it from the library, but I would have been completely satisfied to have spent fifteen bucks on it. And from me, that's a ringing endorsement ;)

Oh, here's the back of the book.  Almost forgot: “Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

Not since Misery has King played with the notion of a reader whose obsession with a writer gets dangerous. Finders Keepers is spectacular, heart-pounding suspense, but it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life—for good, for bad, forever.

And here's a screenshot of a scene that just basically sort of explains why this book got me so good

If you can't read it, I'll copy it out: For reader's, one of life's most electrifying discoveries is that the ARE readers- not just capable of doing it (which Morris already knew), but in love with it.  Hopelessly.  Head over heels.  The first book that does that is never forgotten, and each page seems to bring a fresh revelation, one that burns and exalts: Yes! That's how it is! Yes! I saw that too! And, of course, That's what I think! That's what I FEEL!

For me, the first book was The Giver, and it will TRULY never be forgotten.  And SK, man, he GETS IT.  He's just amazing.

Also, side note- this is how I do things now? I screen shot it? That's how I take notes? What is happening to me?!?!

Then there was Death on Demand by Paul Thomas, which I don't have much to say about.  The back of the book: Maori cop Tito Ihaka, “unkempt, overweight, intemperate, unruly, unorthodox and profane “, is a stubborn investigator with an uncanny instinct for the truth. He hunts a shadowy hit-man who could have several notches on his belt, including that of an undercover cop. To complicate matters Ihaka becomes involved with a female suspect who could hold the key to everything.

My review:  "Didn't love it, didn't hate it. There are certainly better 'foul mouthed detective' books out there, and there are definitely worse. I'm truly indifferent to this one." The only thing I would add is that there were way too many coincidences. 

And lastly, Among Others, by Jo Walton, which I wanted SO SO MUCH to love and adore.  And I did, to a point. The back of the book: Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

'It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.'

Fifteen-year-old Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother who spins dark magic for ill. One day, Mori and her mother fight a powerful, magical battle that kills her sister and leaves Mori crippled. Devastated, Mori flees to her long-lost father in England. Adrift, outcast at boarding school, Mori retreats into the worlds she knows best: her magic and her books. She works a spell to meet kindred souls and continues to devour every fantasy and science fiction novel she can lay her hands on. But danger lurks... She knows her mother is looking for her and that when she finds her, there will be no escape.

For my review, I used a quote from Mor herself: To begin with, I thought I really liked it, but now I'm not sure at all.'

I don't really understand how it won the Hugo.  It was nice, a good read, but I certainly don't think it was scifi.  I mean, she reads a lot of scifi.  But I got the distinct impression that the 'magic' was supposed to be all in her head?

But she LOVES the library.  And man, so do I.  At one point, she contemplates suicide (sort of...) and thinks something along the lines of well I need to finish this book I'm reading, plus a world with interlibrary loans can't be all that bad, can it?
She also talks (Mor talks, not the author herself, if that makes sense) about how nice it is when authors she loves recommends other authors she loves.  WHICH I ALSO LOVE.  Half the shit I read, it's bc SK said he likes it.  For reals. 

Anyway.  Maybe if I read more scifi it would have been more tender for me? I've barely read anything at all that she talks about, and she talks A LOT about it.  But as far as books in general, how magical and wonderful they are, she nails it.  And at the end of the day, that's good enough for me.  

I suppose. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


I love Christmas.  Duh, everyone loves Christmas.  I especially love twinkle lights.  And I love being a grownup.  And Christmas combines all the best parts of everything.

Halloween isn't big here (plus it's a stupid holiday) and I've always ALWAYS wanted to just have a Christmas tree up for like six months.  In fact, I'd like one in every room please. One day.

Anyway, since I'm a grownup and I can do whatever I want (isn't being a grownup the best sometimes? All those people who would give an arm and a leg to go back to high school are smoking crack- I love being in charge) anyway, since I can do whatever I want, we set up the tree on Halloween.

Not like 'this year we set up the tree on Halloween.' Like, always.

We haven't always.  We used to be traditional conformists.  I used to think it was  rebellious to set it up the weekend after Thanksgiving.


Even the weekend after Thanksgiving (which is early for some people!!) only gives you like three or four weeks of twinkle lights!!! That's just crazy talk.

It mostly started out of necessity- we moved two years in a row over Christmas so it made sense to set up the tree early bc our holidays were being severely cut short.

Now, though, I just like it.

I like the ambiance of twinkle lights.  How pretentious do I sound? I like the way they look, and I like the way they make me feel.

Plus, I'm a grown ass lady and I do what I want.

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with the prompt: write a post inspired by the word light. I sort of let it get away from me, but whatever.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Over Coffee

You know how like normal girls meet each other for coffee to gossip?  Yeah, I'm not doing that.  The only people I could comfortably sit in my jammies and drink coffee and bitch left me here all alone, and the idea of going to a public place to have coffee that you have to pay for with other people makes my skin crawl.

But let's pretend I'm not the most neurotic person you've met.  What would we gossip about? We'd probably discuss whether Glenn (or is it just Glen?) is really dead (he is TOTALLY not) and whether I meant it when I said if I was forced to chose between Daryl dying or Glen dying, I'd chose Daryl.  I did mean it, but I said it before Glenn "died" so now it's really easy for me to say oh of course I meant it. But I really think I do.  If Daryl would climb out of his asshole and make out with Carol JUST ONCE, he'd be back in first place.  But until then...that hug when they reunited after Terminus was great, and it held me over for a while...but no more. It hurts my heart to betray my beloved in this way, but it is what it is.

Then since I'm pretty self absorbed, I would just continue to talk about myself.

I've had a head cold since the middle of September.  Just a stuffy nose and itchy eyes and a terribly sore throat.  Do grownups get strep? I've never had it, but surely a sore throat that lasts six weeks can't be normal.  I understand in my brain that it's because of post nasal drip and that this is all most likely allergies, but I don't understand how post nasal drip makes your throat hurt.  It baffles me.

I also don't understand how tea is so soothing to a sore throat, but coffee doesn't really do anything at all.  That's WEIRD.

I had a total blast when Yvonne was here last week and now I wish she lived here and that we had infinite funds to shop and explore and travel all day every day.

I did NOT have a total blast with my children on term this year.  I don't know if they're becoming even bigger assholes or if my patience is just GONE, but they got on my very last nerve last week!!! All they do is whine and cry and make noise and messes.  I almost wept with joy when I dropped them off today.

Yes.  WEPT WITH JOY. It was that dramatic.

I am still hating Apple Music and need help.  We have amazon prime uk but I can't get it to play music because I am a moron.  Why does apple music suck? Why can't I figure out how to have a Christmas music radio station? Why don't they have better Christmas playlists? Is there a trick?

I'm actually asking, what is the trick to apple music? Can someone help me?

Lastly, I just found the infographic at the top and now I feel like a tool.  When I use a mug (I typically use a travel mug, which isn't even on that sheet) it's one of my various 'earthenware' ones that I always grab at pottery studios when we go on vacay.  AND I do in fact own some patchouli essential oil, although I don't actually love the way it smells.  Am I a total tool? Ugh.  Just what I need.

Friday, October 30, 2015

What I'm Into (October 2015)

Well quite honestly, I haven't been into much this month bc we've had my friend from Guam here for two weeks and we've been living it up and having an amazing time, which doesn't leave much time leftover for mindless telly and nonstop reading.  #worthit

I have been reading a little bit though.  This month I finished Finder's Keepers, Nothing to Lose (a Jack Reacher), Death on Demand, and Among Others and I'm about ten pages in on God in Ruins.  Invasion of the Tearling was FINALLY two bucks at amazon (!!!!!) so I snatched it up bc there's STILL not a copy of it in my library systems.

Can I go off track and talk about how amazing amazon is right quick? I preordered Career of Evil forever ago, without a second thought, bc I've always preordered all her work.  #jkisagod But I've got so many library books in my basket and more waiting at the library so I haven't even downloaded it.  Then, I was playing around on the computer to avoid doing housework the other day and I noticed that our library system actually got three copies of Career, which surprised me but it shouldn't have since she is a British author.  Weird.

ANYWAY, I hopped on amazon just to try my luck and see if I could talk someone into letting me return my kindle copy of the book so I could read it (FOR FREE!!) from the library.  Yall.  I didn't even have to talk to anyone.  I didn't even have to fill in a 'reason' for my return.  I requested the return, ten minutes later I got an email saying they'd put the fifteen bucks back on my card.  I got on the waitlist and the library (number three in queue, gross) and that was that.

How amazing is amazon? How amazing are libraries? How amazing is life? To quote Mor from Among Others: Interlibrary loans are a wonder of the world and a glory of civilization.  Libraries really are wonderful.  They're better than bookshops even.  I mean, bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts. 
Then I turned around and preordered Winter.  The library still doesn't even have Cress so I'm pretty confident I won't have to return this one.

All right.  What have I been watching?  Lemme think.  I went and saw the Martian (loved, even though they left out quite a few of my favorite quotes) and Hamlet (LOVED, it's going to be hard to keep up my shunning of Benedict Cumberbatch bc he was absolutely breathtaking in this) and Crimson Peak (meh) and at home one morning I watched This is Me, which I sort of loved.  It was weird, but for some reason I was sort of completely riveted.

Nick and I have been watching Bloodline on netflix with Coach Taylor and it's all right, but it's nothing we get too excited about.  We gave You Me and the Apocalypse a try, but I think it's safe to say that one is going to be deleted shortly. We've been watching Walking Dead (don't wanna talk about it but man that show is amazing) and season two of the Leftovers, which I sort of think is a tad better than season one.

I am extremely proud of myself for not taping the second season of the Affair.  I hated the way season one wrapped up, but usually I would plow thru the second season just bc everyone else thought it was so amazing.  But I thought it sucked and I'm sticking to it.  I will google it when it's over though bc I'm curious how it turns out.

I also watched season three of Orphan Black while I was getting thru those baby quilts.  That is just the best show ever.  Helena is my soul mate.

Listening to the Limetown podcasts again bc I can't get enough.  So weird!! So cheesey!!! SO GOOD!!! I've also been listening to all the back episodes of the Bakery Bears podcasts.  I just love those two.  Also (along with the rest of the entire world) I love LOVE the new Adele song.  Oh, and I've already started the Christmas music.

Looking forward to decorating the tree this weekend, the kids go back to school Monday, concerts this week and at the end of November, planning our Christmas in Germany, and I'm really REALLY looking forward to scrapping my two weeks with Yvonne.

What have ya'll been into this month?