Thursday, July 31, 2008

some reading habits are hard to break

I've always been a book series fan. From Little House on the Prairie to The Chronicles of Narnia, give me a series of books and I'm totally happy.

However, a downside exists to the beloved series addiction. Some series go on a few books too many. I started to experience that feeling as I finished Laurell Hamilton's latest Anita Blake novel, "Blood Noir." When I first discovered this series I jumped for joy right there in the library.

Now I read the books because, well, because I've read all the other ones. I feel obligated to read them even though the joy is gone. The stories are buried under so much personal/character internal motivation examination (I'm at a loss for words here) that the conflict is out of balance. For me, the stories lost their appeal when the sex life of Anita took precedence over her life as a federal marshal solving crimes. But, I kept reading. I'm glad I didn't purchase the last two books and borrowed them instead.

Jean Claude makes cameo appearances in this book. I'm sick of Richard and his issues. I'm pretty tired of the revolving bedroom door theme. I'm intrigued by Marmee Noir and wish she would take front and center, but that story line is being smothered by all the men in Anita's life and bed.

It isn't that the writing is bad. The last couple of books do contain some interesting and fun to read plot lines. I just wish the action and mystery element in the earlier books would find their way home again.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

mid week political update

Tis the season for all things political. Yep, even on the local front the yard signs are plentiful, the hot air more so. My town is no exception and the race for mayor should prove interesting. We sort of have four candidates running at this point. Our current mayor is possibly going to run for a 3rd term, but may decide not to. That explains the sort of four candidates issue. The hubby and I have decided to back one individual and attended a catfish fry last night for this person.

Met some very nice people and heard some very interesting stories. We both knew quite a few folks already, but ever pushing our comfort zone boundaries, we ate dinner with people we didn't know.

Other than it was hotter than hell outside, we had good time and left with our checkbook a bit lighter. I'd have liked to have stayed a bit longer, but we had to scoot over to the soccer complex and pick the middle kid up from camp.

On a different front, I talked with my 87 year old grandmother yesterday and she told me that she is voting for Obama. Go granny, go. She said McCain is too old and if anyone would know, she would. I roared!

I need to go and do the whole early voting thing for our congressional race and some county level offices. I may have to declare a different party than I usually do so I can vote against our current congresswoman. Can't stand her....and she needs to be booted.

Politics aside, I've almost finished Laurell Hamilton's latest Anita Blake book, "Blood Noir." I will let my thoughts be known on this effort tomorrow.

Try and stay cool....

Monday, July 28, 2008

the big trip

My lack of a blog entry since last week isn't because I haven't been online. On the contrary, I've been living online at a variety of travel sites. Yep, after saving for over 2 years we are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. The whole fam damily is headed across the pond to Germany for the holidays. My brother and his family are stationed there and we vowed to make the trip before they returned to the states. It is now or never. Their current tour will end a year from now, so we are just sneaking in under the wire with this trip.

I booked our flights today. Of course, traveling at Christmas isn't the cheapest time to fly, but I think after doing hours and hours worth of price checking, flight checking etc, we came up with a viable plan.

Besides Germany we will also be seeing a bit of Belgium and Paris, France. We had planned a visit to Prague as well, but decided to cancel that jaunt due to the budget we'd set. I've already been checking museum times, Notre Dame's mass schedule etc. I'm relying heavily on my sister in law for guidance in the nuts and bolts of the trip. They've been in Europe for 5 years now and she is a pro at navigating the whole tourist thing.

So, the big trip is now officially underway. Passports in hand, credit card bill on the way, and a few months to figure out how to pack for 5 and still meet the airline baggage requirements!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

lady macbeth

If I'm not mistaken, I saw an advert for this book in the New Yorker a few months back. It caught my attention because I'd done some basic research on the real Lady MacBeth for the first book I wrote. That book, which is well hidden in my desk drawer to this day, was a time travel historical romance and Gruach had a nice role in it.

I spied "Lady MacBeth" on the new release shelf at the library last week and had to check it out. After paranormal/urban fantasy books, historicals are my next favorite thing to read. Susan Fraser King's book didn't disappoint. Old Billy Shakespeare didn't do the MacBeth's any favors. They were actually fairly successful rulers of Scotland and she had quite the royal claim to the throne. Time has erased many of the true details of their lives, but King manages to create a viable history for Gruach and her second husband, MacBeth.

The only aspect of the novel that caught me a bit off guard was that she chose to tell the story in first person. Although more and more historicals are being told in this POV, I'm still not quite used to it. I've grown to expect it in urban fantasy, but I've not grown accustomed to it in a historical. It worked as Gruach is a strong character and in many ways the first person pov allows the reader to see the men in her world in a more 'realistic' way. We seem them through her eyes and her experiences.

Hats off to Susan Fraser King.....she's brought a different version of this Scottish queen to life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

stop in the name of pants

Louise Rennison channels teen girls like nobodies business. Doesn't matter the girls are from across the pond, some things just 'are.' Oldest kid and I knew the latest book from Louise Rennison was due out this month. I stumbled across said book while surfing the new YA offerings on the B&N website. Needless to say, middle kid and I made a quick trip to the bookstore and purchased the latest Georgia Nicholson adventure, "Stop in the Name of Pants."

I talked with the oldest kid after she got on the bus to head home from Ohio. When I informed her I had the coveted book here at home, she issued strict orders to finish the book before she arrived. Her plan upon getting home is to shower, crawl into bed and read about Gee and the ace gang's latest adventures in the land of luuurve...

Now, to back track a bit, I fully credit Louise Rennison and her books for turning my oldest from a reluctant reader to an avid reader. She can do no wrong in my eyes. What years of badgering from me didn't accomplish, Rennison delivered in her first Georgia book.

"Pants" isn't the best of the series, but it is solid. It delivers what the reader wants. Georgia's crazy teen world is served up with plenty of thwarted romance, jammie dodgers, dithering spazzes and such. Yep, these books are pure fluff...and I love them.

Monday, July 21, 2008

for what it is worth

Took the middle kid to see The Dark Knight yesterday. What a treat for us, a true summer blockbuster movie with a brain. We both loved it and talked about it all the way home. From the cool gadgets to the neat special effects to the amazing dialogue, it was just really good. Worth the price of admission and must be seen on the big screen.

Ledger's Joker is incredible. I can see why the studio is whipping up some Oscar buzz. He has a few speeches that crawl under your skin and take up residence. Of course, I always enjoy seeing Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine on the screen. Too bad they couldn't have a scene together...such wonderful actors. Christian Bale channels a stoic Batman so well that when his buttons are finally pushed the emotion he unleashes blows you away.

When the kid and I were at the mall earlier in the week I picked up Lilith Saintcrow's latest book. I'd read a few reviews and figured with my B&N discount and an additional coupon, I'd treat myself. Our library, sad to say, has a crappy paranormal or urban fantasy collection and we rarely get those types of books donated for the book store. So, if I want them I have to buy them and I've become a bit more judicious in purchasing books of late. Only so much money to go around.

"Night Shift" is the tale of Jill Kismet, a hunter here to protect humans from the things that go bump in the night...demons and such. I really wanted to love this book. Can't say that it reached that level for me. Lots of world creating going in the story and in many places I felt that the elements weren't explored deeply enough. I also didn't feel like I totally tuned into Jill. That was disappointing. I stopped and started the book several times, did other things, came back and read some more to only stop again. I could put the book down. Not a good sign.

It is not that the book is bad, because it isn't. Saintcrow is a talented writer with an big and vivid imagination. But, and that is a big but, this book just didn't grab me like her other books have.

Bottom line, I will buy the next one because I have a huge respect for Saintcrow and will hope that the next story fills in some of the gaps I felt were missing in this story.

Hubby and son arrive home tonight and the soccer girl arrives home tomorrow. The quick slide towards the first day of school is underway.

Friday, July 18, 2008

freaky friday

I'm not even going to try and attempt the weekly recap today. I just don't remember what I did Monday-Thursday except juggle all the bits and pieces of my life. Let's just say it was busy and leave it at that.

Today I'm off to shop with the middle kid and possibly one of her friends. We will do lunch as well. Tomorrow she has soccer practice in the morning and after that, well, the house does need to be cleaned. We have a canine guest with us this week and while he is a delightful dog, between him and our mutt, the hair balls are taking over.

Sunday will bring church, a quick stop at the donut shop and I think a trip to the movies. We had debated on seeing Wanted, but now that The Dark Knight is out, I don't think we can resist seeing Heath Ledger as the Joker. Christian Bale isn't rough on the eyes either. We've already bought candy to smuggle in the theater!

I finished two Lee Child books this week. Both "Running Blind" and "Without Fail" were excellent. I just love Jack Reacher. The plan is to return them to the bookstore and see if I can find any others. Right now I'm reading a debut novel from a British author. "Brethren" was written by Robyn Young and is about the Knights Templar. She juxtaposes a young knight's story with that of a Muslim far so good.

On a totally decadent front, the middle kid and I watched a marathon session of Project Runway this week. It was a rerun of season 4. How totally fun is that show?! Loved it. Quirky personalities, people with some serious talent, fabu clothes and cool looking hair styles. I think I've found my new guilty pleasure.

Monday, July 14, 2008

the big question

I spent a portion of my Saturday morning reading last week's blog entries on a variety of writing and book review sites. Themes tend to be cyclical in nature and last week brought discussions on why writers write and how they do it. Once you move past the pontificating, most reasonable folks admit that there is no correct way to get the story out on 'paper' and that people write because they have a story to tell. Now, the tricky part comes when the discussion turns to what a writer wants to get out of the finished product. Publication? Money? Fame? What motivates a person to write is a whole different thing.

Within the last five years my reason for writing has changed. I started to write novel length fiction nine years ago after my third child was born. I needed a creative outlet and something in my life that was just mine. After we moved to our current location, I found a writer's group and started to toy with the idea of publication. I'd had a magazine article/essay published and loved getting that check in the mail. It was a whole $75.00. I loved more seeing my words and my name in print.

Once I started my library job, I saw my words and name in print every week as I was responsible for all the public relations work in addition to my YA duties. Now that I'm a volunteer with the Friends, I still get that printed pat on the head every so often.

Enough recognition that in many ways the need to write fiction has waned. I still have ideas. I still toy with the WIPs on occasion, but the 'fire in the belly' isn't burning too hot right now. Family dynamics also play into this as we are in a big transitional year with the kids. I don't do well trying to balance my needs with the need to be the family cruise director. Something always gives and it is the writing.

The beautiful thing is that the writing will be there for me when I'm ready to return to it. I don't sweat it too much anymore. Things are cyclical and I guess I've lived long enough to know that everything comes back around.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

stick a fork in it

I'm done with all of the Stephanie Plum number books. Finished number 14 a couple of days ago, and because I've read the entire series in a two week span, I can say the last one wasn't her best. It was okay. No belly laughs, an okay mystery and no visit to Stiva's.

Yesterday I started another Lee Child book. It is one of the older Reacher stories and as usual it grabs you by the throat on page one.

I've morphed into a chauffeur over the last few days with no end in sight for my new vocation. Dwight, you are correct, the gas gauge on the mini van is heading towards empty at an alarming rate.

No writing or editing as I've become consumed with high school soccer and all the laundry it generates.

That is it, I'm done.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


She made the team.....oh boy...we are all in shock and contemplating what the next few months will bring.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I just dropped off my oldest to her first high school event: soccer tryouts. What a bittersweet moment that was. Maybe I'm just being too emotional today, but driving home after signing her in was an odd experience. It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. One of the strings that ties her to me has been snipped. Not that strings haven't been snipped over the past 14 years, but starting high school begins the major string cutting. Wow.

I just can't dwell on it for too long. The really weird urge to applaud, fist pump and sob all at the same time keeps rolling through me.

Hubby and I watched 10,000 BC last night. Pretty lame in some spots and pretty fun in others. What is not to love about seeing mammoths building a pyramid or stampeding?? On the agenda for today is a quick stop in at the bookstore to pick up #14 of the Plum books for my personal reading pleasure. The weekend went by in a flash, but it turned out rather well. Ate way too much, as I usually do on holidays. I'll have to be a good girl for the rest of the week.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

4th of july eve

I can really hate holidays. Is it just me or is there an undercurrent of pressure to produce a wonderful holiday experience for everyone around you? The hubby has been traveling all week and informed me yesterday during a brief moment when he could get cell service, (he's in rural Mississippi) he may be in Oklahoma next week. Yep, he goes to all the fun places. Our town holds their big fireworks event tonight. He won't be home until after 8:00 and most likely won't feel like hauling all of us out to the park at that point. I really don't want to do the whole extravaganza without him. The kids are peeved that we may not go. We could have fireworks here in the family room with the way things are going.

Geez. I have three childhood memories about the 4th of July. I remember one when I was a little kid in Illinois and we drove to the park to see the fireworks, it started to pour rain and we dashed for the car and watched them from inside a steaming vehicle. We couldn't open the windows it was raining that hard. I remember burning my finger on a sparkler one year. I remember we took a picnic to Potato Creek and got rained out. We came home and the sun then magically appeared.

That's it. Not much. I do have to pick up a Boston Butt from the boy scouts at church. Our main dish for the 4th. Guess we will have all the side dishes to go along with it, maybe do some swimming, laze around. Happy 4th.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

reading lists

Our library is experiencing the normal summer run on the reading list books for the local high schools. I'm always intrigued by what the current crop of teachers assign as required reading. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised by their picks and other times I just shake my head.

Speaking of reading lists, over at Dwight's blog he posted a list/meme from a fellow blogger. I've read 34 of the 100 books listed. One of the comments had a link to the Random House list which is below. I haven't tallied up my score on those lists yet, but was pleased to see Harper Lee and Carson McCullers included.

I like the Random House lists much better. None of the lists, however, have any of the titles that are required reading for honors classes in our county schools. Hmmm. The oldest kid is taking honors English in the fall and so far she has read "Cold Sassy Tree" by Olive Ann Burns and is now reading "Mythology" by Edith Hamilton. Two essays are due on the first day of school. One is a character analysis essay and the other examines the treatment of forgiveness in one of the books.

The other two titles she could have chosen are "The Ditch Digger's Daughters" and "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch."

On another note, like last summer I'm regquiring the middle daughter to read a book and write a short paper on it. This year's choice is "The Book Thief." Excellent book and she is enjoying it as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I'm still on a Stephanie Plum reading spree. Yesterday afternoon I cracked open Eleven on Top. Chances are good I will finish it today. A library friend told me these books are like crack for the brain. I totally agree, understand and support that notion. I'm already working on a plan to obtain numbers 13 and 14 from our stocking closet. The last few books I've borrowed from our library have come complete with broken bindings, a weird perfume smell and assorted dried food remnants and stains. Yes, the books are well read and because Stephanie eats her way through the plot, the reader is ensnared in the need to eat tastykakes, pizza, subs and a variety of baked goods. I think I've gained 5 pounds since I started reading these just from the power of suggestion and my lack of will power. Good thing I walked my version of Bob the dog this morning.