Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Some Books

I finished out 2014 with forty six books under my belt. That's what happens when you give a gal a library card, eh? I just love libraries.  Let's say I managed to get all forty six of those books on sale at amazon for five bucks.  Even though realistically, every book I buy tends to be either ten or twelve.  But let's say five bucks per book.  That's two hundred and thirty dollars in books!! All free for the taking at your local library.  It just blows my mind.

You know you're a nerd when you include a full spread of the books you've read all year in your family album.  But whatevs.  I've been doing this for a few years, and this is BY FAR the most books I've ever had.  Libraries man!! I'm telling you!!  Although, for full disclosure, I did pay for the Interestings, Silkworm, Burn, Secret Place, and Station Eleven (which, incidentally, I got on sale for six bucks.) I bought books that I simply couldn't wait to read (the list can be long for new releases) or in the case of Station Eleven, the library just never had it.  Like, not that people kept checking it out, they didn't stock it, period.  Weirdos.  Museum of Extraordinary Things and Rise and Fall of Great Powers were free ARC I got in exchange for reviews.  Everything else came from the great and wonderful Hillingdon Libraries.  So cool.

Anyway.  I think I've reviewed most of these (or tried to) but I've got about ten left, so let's get down to business.  (And defeat....the Huns....)

The Expats, by Chris Pavone. From the back of the book: Kate Moore is an expat mum, newly transplanted from Washington D.C. In the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg, her days are filled with play dates and coffee mornings, her weekends spent in Paris or skiing in the Alps. Kate is also guarding a secret - one so momentous it could destroy her neat little expat life - and she suspects that another American couple are not who they claim to be; plus her husband is acting suspiciously. As she travels around Europe, she finds herself looking over her shoulder, terrified her past is catching up with her. 
As Kate begins to dig, to uncover the secrets of those around her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage - and her life.

I thought this book was lame.  I thought Kate sucked, her husband was almost as dumb, the plot was unrealistic and predictable- it was just lame. I can't remember why I thought it would be good, but it just wasn't.  At all. I couldn't have possibly cared less what happened to Kate or her husband or anyone really.  Ugh.  Lame lame LAME.

Patient Zero, by Jonathan Maberry.  I also don't remember why I thought this would be a good one, but unlike the supremo lameness of The Expants, Patient Zero was totally badass.  From the back of the book: 'When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there's either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world. And there's nothing wrong with my skills.'
Police officer Joe Ledger, martial arts expert, ex-army, self-confessed brutal warrior is scared. The man he's just killed is the same man he killed a week ago. He never expected to see the man again, definitely not alive, and definitely not as part of the recruitment process for the hyper-secret government agency the Department for Military Sciences. But the DMS are scared too: they have word of a terrorist plot straight from a nightmare - a bid to spread a plague through America - a plague that kills its victims and turns them into zombies.
Time is running out and Joe has shown he has the abilities they need to lead one of their field teams.
And so begins a desperate three-part mission - to contain the zombie outbreaks, to break the terrorist cell responsible and to find the man in their own team who is selling them out to the terrorists.
Patient Zero is astonishingly fast moving, incredibily violent and down-right terrifying thriller - a new breed of thriller of techo-thriller that plays on our fears of mad science.

Yes, it sounds hokey. But that's okay!! Sometimes it's fun to just read a ridiculous, fun story.  And this was actually extremely well written. It reminded me a lot of Jack Reacher, but actually better.  The troubles he was solving were more interesting (you know I have a thing for bio weapons and zombies and things like that) and I actually liked Joe a little better than Jack.  Although I still love Jack, don't get me wrong.

And I didn't know it while I was reading, but apparently this is a series!! Who knew? Not me.  As I've just said.  Um. Anyway, our library doesn't have any of the other ones, and I'm not quite ready to bite the bullet and pay for the next  one, but I will.  Because this was GOOD.

Next up, Cinder and Scarlet, the first two books of the Lunar Chronicles.  From the back of Cinder: A forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth's fate hinges on one girl . . .
CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation. 
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.
This is not the fairytale you remember. But it's one you won't forget.   

Again, sounds a little hokey.  But again, whatever.  Yes, it's YA, but no, I was not embarrassed by how much I loved it.  Cinder the character was FABULOUS, Kai was an enjoyable read, the plot was interesting, fast paced, relevant, and I absolutely LOVED how they tied in the ball and the slipper.  Like LOVE loved.  It was so rad.  I don't know WHAT exactly about this book was so good, but it was definitely a four star story for me.  Without a doubt. 

I didn't love Scarlet quite as much, but I still thought it was really REALLY good. From the back of this one: SCARLET BENOIT'S grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.
Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive - when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.
As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner . . .   
Scarlet the character wasn't as cool to me as Cinder, but she was all right.  Completely bearable.  Wolf didn't do much for me, but the guy with Cinder (I cannot for the life of me think of his name!!!) I loved.  I loved him so much that I can't even remember his name? No, but seriously, I did like him.  He reminded me (more than a little bit) of Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who.  I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that the author is a fan of the show. 

You can't tell from that pic, but Captain Jack is super cocky and full of sass and snark and himself.  Just like the poor captain of Cinder's who's name I cannot for the life of me remember.  I feel so bad!! Just not bad enough to look it up.

So to recap: Expats sucked, Patient Zero was awesome if you're into that sort of thing, Cinder knocked my socks off and Scarlet was a decent follow up.  The library isn't stocking the third Lunar book, Cress, which I think is about Rapunzal, so I might have to buy that too.  Apparently the fourth one comes out this year.  Also coming out in just a few weeks is Mime Order, the follow up the Bone Season, which I loved. The third and final Passage book is supposed to come out this year, but I'm not holding my breath.  
There you go.  I'll be back soon with four more, and that should pretty much take care of my 2014 books.  That's sort of sad.  Sniffle.
Have you read anything lately that I should check out? I won't hate you if it sucks, I didn't even call out whoever told me to read Expats!! All books are worth a glance.  Well, most.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Do the Work

Most people would have NO IDEA that I've been a 'planner' almost my entire life.

I love to make a list. I love to have a plan. I spend HOURS writing out to-do lists, working out schedules and routines. Step by step action sequences. Stacks and stacks, notebooks full- all these grand schemes and aspirations.

No one would ever guess this about me, because I never get anything done.  Anything. Ever.

My to-do lists? Never glance at them after I write them out. I make these elaborate weekly cleaning routines, but never do the cleaning.  I've spent hours using Excel to map out the perfect workout plan, but I don't work out. I put every single thing in my calander on my phone, but I'm always missing appointments and activities for the kids.

I don't have any follow thru. I don't do the work.

This year, for my One Little Word project (yes, the one I had all the aspirations for last year, but never did anything about it...) I went with a phrase.  A mantra. A motto.

Do. The. Work.

Don't just make a plan.  DO IT.  Do the work.

While a lot (most) of this is (duh) doing the work, some of it is going to have to be deciding what not to do. Deciding that DONE is better than PERFECT.

For the past...lets say twenty years? Give or take? For the past twenty years, I've wanted to be Gwyneth Paltrow. Gorgeous, thin, well dressed, gorgeous long hair, perfect house, perfect everything.

Except you wanna know what? That's not actually what I want. I want to have a healthy body, but I certainly don't want long hair (shudder) and I don't want to have to eat weird food and not have candy.  I don't want  my house to be full of stuffy white furniture that my kids aren't allowed on, a la Pinterest, but I do want a clean house that I won't be embarrassed by if friends stop over unexpectedly. I don't want to wear severely tailored skirt suits and three inch heels, but I would like some comfy well made clothes that fit me properly.

Priorities? I think that's it. I need to somehow work the idea of priorities into this project. And honesty.  With myself.


The first prompt is all about exploring your word, why you picked it, what it means, blah blah blah. Naturally, I had to buy some new scrapbook supplies for this because my mantra isn't "quit spending money on things you don't need."

I spent some serious time on the definitions.  Any idea how many definitions there are for DO and WORK? A lot. Words are so cool. I decided to keep it simple and steer it towards what I want out of this project in the first place.  Put forth the exertion and effort to accomplish something. In short- produce. In other words- DO THE WORK.

My quote, of course, comes from the great Macklemore, right in the middle of one of my favorite songs (okay, they're all my favorite) Ten Thousand Hours.  "The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they'd paint a lot." They were great because they practiced. Yes, of course, they had natural talent. But that wasn't enough. They had to...wait for it... DO THE WORK.

(As a side note, the entire song is amazing, the lyrics are SPOT ON. "Put those hours in and look at what you get- nothing you can hold, but everything that it is." "I could be who I wanted if I could see my potential.")

Then for let go (let it goooooo.....) I went with another quote- done is better than perfect. The internet seems to attribute this to both Mark Zuckerburg and Sheryl Sandberg, with credit leaning slightly more towards Sheryl.  I'm pretty lucky in that I'm not one of those perfectionist types, but still.  Get it done, don't worry about it being perfect. Sure, I'll never be as thin as Gwyneth, but I should probably still get that workout done, right?

So there you go. I don't have a job, I'm not trying to start a business or remodel a house. I'm not going to train for a marathon. I don't even actually have any goals yet.  I just want to DO something, anything, everything. I want to look at my lists after I write them out.  I want to follow the schedules I plan out for myself. I want to stop pretending that I want things that I don't actually want, and spend more time working for the things I really do.