Monday, February 28, 2011

Fictional character cameos, or when Lestat makes an appearance

I was reading along in "A Discovery of Witches" when the plot took our hero into New Orleans. Yep. And in this world where vampires, witches and daemons coexist with humans, a trip to New Orleans can only mean one thing.

At the top of page 206, although not called by name, Lestat makes an appearance. I reread the paragraph more than once, just to make sure I was reading what I thought I was reading. To confirm, I logged into facebook, shot Anne Rice a note on her 'wall', and waited for a reply. She did so, and noted that she'd heard of this inclusion and wondered, as she hasn't read the book, if she and her character should be flattered. I said, yes, absolutely, as the book is well written and the story a good one.  I included a bit of the description, and although she disagreed with Lestat being described as 'foppish', she prefers to think of him as a 'dandy', she seemed humored.

Ah, the joys of the Internet age. Of course I was and am tickled pink that she wrote back on my comment. But, that is the kind of author she is.  Her fans mean a great deal to her and she interacts with them daily.

This isn't the first time I've discovered characters from different authors and novels making cameo appearances in another writer's fiction. Sara Donati had a scene where Jamie and Claire Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's series make an appearance. Loved it.  Charlaine Harris even had Lily Bard show up in a Sookie story. Very Fun.

It seems, as I communicated to Anne Rice, a delicious inside joke between the author and the reading fans. Just an added bonus to bring a smile to the reader's face, if they understand the connection.

Friday, February 25, 2011

a discovery of witches and other new things.....

While at the library for my regular Thursday morning routine, I had a lovely chat with the adult ref librarian about books. We talked about authors, novels and book marketing. Fun times for me!! I had recently put a couple of titles on hold and she let me know that one of the books was available and ready to be checked out. I was happy to learn that the book in question was "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness. This book is getting a lot of buzz and so far, it is well deserved. I'm loving it. The plot had me firmly in its clutches by page five.

In other discoveries, I have a 'real' job interview on Monday afternoon. Real. Interview. Bank.

Good grief, am I really going to return to the career I left 17 years ago?  Well, after trolling the Internet sites of all the banks in the area and making a list of possibilities and then thinking of who I knew at said institutions, I made one phone call. The lady in question is a regional manager now, who told me 7 years ago to call if I ever wanted back 'in'.  I did and she said meet me Monday at 1:00. Just like that.

Now, that is not to say that the interview will secure me the job. But it is more than I've done in a long time.  I'm very conflicted about this. The money would be most welcome. The hours are tolerable. The location is tolerable. The co-workers, according to my contact, are tenured and this is a very stable staff....which is usually a good thing in a neighborhood bank.

So, we will see. In the meantime, I need to acquire some interview clothes. My current wardrobe isn't what anyone would consider business ready, but that can be remedied, I hope, by a strategic strike at the mall. A nice outfit and a new pair of shoes should do the trick.

Lots of discoveries ahead for me as I contemplate this huge change in my life and in the lives of the four folks who mean the most to me in all the world.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Downton Abbey

I discovered Netflix has Downton Abbey on its Instant menu. Waaaahhhhooo. Nothing better for those stay at days than some lovely Masterpiece Theatre drama set in merry old England at the turn of the century. Fabulous. Brilliant.

The laundry gets done and I get to be entertained.

We are in for a very rainy, blustery day today. We had downpours off and on all afternoon yesterday as this new system moves into the area. My guess is no soccer tonight for the girlies, but things should dry out in time for a soccer filled weekend.

Off to my regular Thursday events today, slowly life is returning to normal. The girls drove off in their new vehicle this morning with me muttering prayers invoking a host of guardian angels to watch over my babies.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

soccer, soccer, soccer

The middle kid had her first league game last night. It was the late game, which means getting to bed by 10:30 is expected. It also means, during this time of year, that we will be freezing our rears off. Brrrrrr. I was bundled up like an Eskimo and I was quite frozen when that final whistle blew.  The girls ended with a 0-0 tie. We had at least 6 solid shots on goal, with Abbey actually diving into the goal on one and still no score. She swears the ball was in, but the goalie had a hand on it and managed to knock it back out, just enough, that the ref didn't count it. Ugh.

She has a scrimmage tonight and then both girls are in a tournament this weekend. That means FOUR games Saturday and two on Sunday. Let's hope Mother Nature cooperates just like the weatherman said she would during last night's 'futurecast'!!

In the meantime, I have car stuff to finish. I have Excel to learn. I'm teaching myself via an online tutorial. I have all my regular things to do.

Plus, as a special treat, I discovered Downton Abbey is on Netflix!  What a pleasant way to spend my laundry folding time.

Yep, it is Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the big fantasy series

Our book donation pile for the library is a wonderful thing. I've found some real treasures in those bags and boxes folks bring to us for our sales and store. Several months ago I found a series by Gail Z. Martin. This is a four book series, from what I can tell, containing all the elements of the 'big' fantasy stories. I've started the first book, "The Summoner" which clocks in at 637 pages. Each subsequent book is just as long. The series is called The Chronicles of the Necromancer. The hero has the magical ability to summon ghosts, ghosts who are quite resourceful and able to help him in his quest to reclaim his father's throne.

I've read a variety of this huge fantasy series, everything from Tolkien to George RR Martin to Terry Brooks.

I used to love them, back in the day. For now, I can't say that I'm loving this current book, but it is entertaining and perhaps just what I need to read to keep my mind occupied in those moments when I'm not dealing with the current real world issues.

Monday, February 21, 2011

moving on

Hubby and I spent our weekend wandering around used car lots and looking at cars. Oh joy.  The bad news is the weekend is gone. The good news is it seems we found a vehicle practically down the street from us that will solve our problems. Now all that is left is to settle up with the insurance company and finish that paperwork.

Time to move on. Time to leave that week behind us. Time for the black cloud to disperse and sunny skies to shine again.

It is going to be a busy week and I have lots of 'ducks' to get line up and accounted for so when the kids head back to school, I'm ready to move.

Happy Monday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

used cars

Well, it appears that the wonderful little car the girls were driving will end up being totalled out. Or at least that is the first opinion we've received. The car was towed to the wrong repair shop, a satellite location instead of the main facility, so the head honcho adjuster hasn't seen it yet. But, another guy has and he thinks it is a total loss due to the damage under the vehicle, basically the back end is crunched.

Just. Lovely.

This wasn't the news we were hoping to hear.  Buying cars is probably at the top of both our 'hate this' lists. For me, it is right up there with cleaning toilets or cleaning up after kids stricken with the tummy flu.

I spent a good portion of the evening online looking at vehicles. I then got to have an entertaining and informative conversation with the used car manager of a local Acura dealership. He is a fellow 'townie' and did share some good advice and has two possible vehicles we could consider. He called me after a brief email chat with 'Steve' who 'found' me when I was on the dealer's website. I'm sure 'Steve' was probably really 'Rajeet' in Bombay, but the system works and I was called within 15 minutes of looking at the website. Pretty snazzy.

Of course we are also preparing info to argue about just how much our car was worth. Trying to replace it won't be easy and everything out there with comparable miles, features etc is pricey.

In other news, my left eye is apparently afflicted with some sort of allergic reaction to something. The doctor doesn't think it is infected, just having an issue with some sort of allergen. So, I'm on a steroid drop for a month, but if it doesn't improve in one week, I get to go back. I hope she is right. I'm tired of looking like a one eyed pink freak.

It has been just a lovely week. I will be glad to see it end since we can't hit rewind and enjoy a do-over.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

bar karma

I happened across the new show Bar Karma on our on Demand guide a couple of days ago and watched the first episode while I folded laundry. Interesting show with a lot of potential. The premise is that a software/computer mega millionaire finds himself in a 'cosmic' bar after he attempts to leave a one night stand's apartment. The bartender and the waitress walk him through what has happened to him and help him to understand why. He is at a crossroads, a point in 'reality' where if different choices are made, different outcomes will occur.

It is the land of the 'what ifs'. Or at least the watering hole for the 'what ifs'.

Yesterday afternoon I attended a meeting, a real business meeting complete with town executives, alderman, department heads etc.  I was asked to join in by the gal running the meeting, our Main Street director. She knows I've started my job search, yes, I'm returning to the work force, but that is another story, and thought this would be great exposure for me. It was and it will be.

I had left a text message on the middle kid's cell to let her know I wouldn't be home when they arrived from school as I was in a meeting. Well, of course, my cell starts to buzz towards the end of the meeting. I sneak a peek and it is her. I ignore it, not once, but two more times. The meeting ends and I sneak out to answer her fourth call.

She and her sister had been in a car accident on the major thoroughfare in town. They were the second car in a three car chain reaction. Another young driver hit them from behind and pushed them into the car ahead of them.  All drivers are fine.  Two cars aren't and had to be towed, ours being one of them. Luckily the final car in the chain was just tapped by our car as the oldest kid was at a complete stop when this happened and had left a good amount of space between her and the car ahead of her.

It was quite the scene, ambulances, fire trucks, police cars etc. Even though I knew driving over there that everyone was okay, seeing those ambulances and the fire truck made my stomach do a major flip.

Now, the tie in to the Bar Karma.....if only she hadn't had to take that route. If only she had stopped for an ice cream, if only she hadn't...and on and on. The 'what ifs' take over and they can haunt you. She was dealing with that a bit last night. But life isn't a TV show and we don't get a chance to choose a different path and hope for a very different result.  Accidents happen. Cars can be fixed. And sometimes, even when you do things right, bad things can happen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

mumford & sons

We all sat down and watched the Grammy awards this year. Not sure why, but we were all home, it was on the TV and it was something that interested all of us enough to tune in. The program opened well with the five 'divas' singing an Aretha Franklin montage; those ladies can belt it out. From then on it was a standard show complete with bizarre dresses and hair-dos, odd musical arrangements and flubbed lines.  The show dragged until a group we'd never heard of took the stage and made all of us sit up a bit straighter.

Less than 30 seconds into their song, the oldest and I looked at each other and exclaimed, "They have to be Brits." The music, the melody, the lyrics, the passion. I could feel the smoky London pub with every note they played.

Of course we were spot on correct. Mumford & Sons.  The computers were turned on and in short order iTunes was accessed so we could listen to tidbits of their songs and learn more about the band.  Offers of money were made if I'd make a trip to Target and get the CD.

So, I did just that yesterday and as soon as the CD was purchased and I was back in the minivan, I loaded it into the disc player and listened all the way home. Then I pulled out the lyrics sheet and read the words to every song.

Love it. Love them.

I can't even tell you how long it had been since I bought a CD before yesterday. A very long time, a very, very long time. I parted with $9.99 plus tax yesterday and consider it money well spent.

PS. While in Target I also saw "Madame Tussaud" prominently featured on an end cap book display!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

madame tussaud releases today

It is a special thing when a book releases. With the advent of facebook and other internet tools, avid readers can experience a bit of the joy an author has when their latest 'baby' is unpacked and put on store shelves for purchase. Publication is a unique joy. I've only been published nationally once, but the joy I felt when I got the phone call that my essay was going to appear in a Mary Englebreit mini magazine about blew my mind. I still have the coat I purchased with my $75 pay check and I had the essay framed.

One author, actually it was Karen Marie Moning, the author I blogged about yesterday, told me in an email she licked her first published book, just to make sure it was real! I loved it!! And when my essay was published, I understood.

Today Michelle Moran's latest historical fiction novel is released. "Madame Tussaud" is about the very famous French lady who survived the Revolution. I love the cover of the book, and I often ignore the old adage that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Yes, I do judge books by their covers and this cover rocks. Finally, a heroine facing the reader head on (no pun intended).

Cheers to Michelle Moran on her latest novel. I can't wait to read it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

shadowfever by karen marie moning

A long time ago, back when my big kids were little kids, I picked up a debut romance novel from a gal whose bio listed she went to Purdue University. Being an IU grad, I didn't hold that against her and bought and read the book anyway. Loved it. I then read her next book, and her next, and her next. I've just read her twelfth novel, "Shadowfever." 

Along the way, about ten years ago, I actually sent the author an email. She responded and we corresponded a few times as I read her third and fourth novels. She was generous and answered fledgling novelist questions about the craft with insight and lots of humor. She wrote wonderful books, full of Scottish highlanders, a bit of magic and resourceful heroines. She had a penchant for putting her heroines in purple, a color she wasn't encouraged to wear because as a red head, she was told it looked bad.

Then she switched gears. When she launched the Fever series, it was a departure for her from what she had written over the previous seven novels. That book and the four that followed have grown her fanbase to the point where "Shadowfever", the fifth and final Fever title, debuted as number one on the NYT list. Woohoo!

More Urban Fantasy than Romance, the Fever series stars MacKayla Lane, a Southern belle who goes to Ireland in hopes of solving her sister's murder case. The plot that ensues features ancient relics, magical creatures, fae and plenty of adventure.

Karen Marie Moning's status has grown and grown and it is very well deserved. She is a terrific writer who can plot an incredible story and develop unforgettable characters. Just ask any of the Moning Maniacs who follow her books and follow her to fan conferences and gatherings.

Big cheers for my fellow Indiana girl, even if she is a Boilermaker and not a Hoosier!

Friday, February 11, 2011

storytime on the square

As the sun came out yesterday in full force, shining bright in a clear blue sky, and the temperature rose higher than expected, the icy roads melted away and everyone is off to school today. Which means that I am the reader for our local Story time on the Square event this morning. I was signed up to read twice, but my first date was a snow day and story time was cancelled.

Today I will be reading "I Like to be Little" by Charlotte Zolotow. One of the girls received this book as a gift from my best friend one year for Christmas. It is a lovely story about the joys of being little. I read it aloud a few times yesterday to practice and I think I am ready to go.

In other news, our school consolidation mess grows more messy by the hour. The state has passed a law that is waiting for the governor's signature as they have horses in this race since they fund the schools. The city council is telling the state to back off and has accepted the city school board surrender, officially, last night in an unanimous vote. So, I suspect it will now go to the courts and the lawyers. More money wasted.

Of course, this still continues to be about money, ego and power and not about education. It is about saving face. The dialogue has deteriorated to name calling, racial invectives and tired old stereotypes. Sickening. No one is going to be a winner in any of this; not the politicians, local or state, not the children, county or city.

But, I do have some children to tend to today. And I'm excited to share one of my favorite books with them.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

watching the snow fall

When it finally began to snow yesterday, it continued on falling well into the night. The temps dropped even more and this morning we woke to a glistening white and icy world. My bird feeder is doing a hopping business this morning as my feathered friends swoop in for some food. I threw on some clothes and managed to haul the trash and recycling bins to the curb, just in case the crews make it out today.

It seems we received about 3.5 inches of snow here, which isn't a lot, but the problem is we have ice underneath all that white stuff.  Folks are reporting the side streets are quite icy and difficult to navigate. The sun is blazing in a clear blue sky, but the high today won't reach the freezing mark and if Mother Nature does manage to melt some of this white stuff, tonight it will all refreeze. I wouldn't be surprised if the kids get tomorrow off from school as well.

I have no need to drive anywhere today and as the kids are out of school, we may just enjoy a few movies and some snacks.

Happy Thursday. Happy Snow Day. COME ON SPRING!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

snowy anticipation

The weather folk are in a dither about the winter storm warning we are under at the moment. The first flake has yet to fall. The kids are off to school. The temps are quite cold. The snow is expected to arrive around noon and last until 8:00 this evening. Projections for snowfall amounts range from 2 inches to 6 inches.  They just don't know how much is going to fall and for how long.

And all of this has them very excited. Nothing like a winter weather event, in the south, to justify their paychecks!

I think I will enjoy my morning, alone, as I fully expect that when the first flake is spotted on our side of Old Man River, schools will dismiss early and send the kiddoes home.  Several schools have already closed and several more have already announced they are closing at noon.  It would have been nice if our system announced early dismissal so parents could plan ahead, but they didn't.  So, off they go with lunches and band instruments, just like any other day.

I finished the Hannah Reed book and look forward to reading more from her.  Enjoyable cozy mystery. Up for today is my umpteenth attempt to read 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'....I've been 'draggin' my feet, or eyeballs, on this one.  I feel obligated to read it as I actually bought it at Target and paid full price.

Happy Snowy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

queen bee mysteries by hannah reed

Several months ago I pulled a cozy mystery title out of the donations and brought it home with me. It has sat on the night stand ever since. I finally began to read it yesterday and have enjoyed every page. I'm about half way through and have to say that Hannah Reed does a marvelous job in her debut  novel , "Buzz Off."

'Story' Fisher is a recently divorced lady who owns a small grocery store and is learning to be a bee keeper. Set in a quaint Wisconsin town, the plot takes off quickly and never looks back. From the typical quirky small town characters to the simmering possibility of a romance between Story and a K9 officer from the neighboring town, several elements are a bit predictable, but Reed has a lovely writing voice and a deft hand in rolling out a well paced plot.

I hope to finish "Buzz Off" today as tomorrow the promise of another snow fall has me thinking that school might be called off even before the first flake hits the county.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, February 7, 2011

rainy days and mondays

It is raining. It is Monday. The Steelers lost. The printer is offline. The list could go on and on. I can't do a darn thing about the first three issues, but I've managed to fix the fourth and I've resolved to not list any more problems today is presenting to me.

I could use a ray of sunshine, but Mother Nature is ignoring my plea. Guess I will have to create my own ray. With a smile plastered on my face, I'm going to dodge the raindrops and head out into the day.

Happy, smile, smile.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

I finally finished this book. It took me a long time, which is unusual for me. But, it seems to be a trend in my reading life. I still haven't finished the Dragon Tattoo book...I have high hopes for the months ahead though.

"Flesh and Spirit" is the first in a two book series about a rebellious mage who has bucked the system since childhood and is on the run from the authorities. He becomes embroiled in the political upheaval in his country. The book is a decent enough read, but it never grabbed my full attention. It was very easy to set aside and not pick up again for days. I have the second book and have skimmed a few pages in it. I'm undecided as to whether or not I will invest any more of time reading time.

I'm still waiting to hear from the library that the book I have on hold is available. I'd really love to sink my head into Karen Marie Moning's latest, "Shadowfever." This delay is making me regret deciding against plunking my $20 on the B&N counter and walking out of the store with my own copy.

It is Friday. Snowy weather is predicted for our region, but whether or not it gets to us is yet to be seen. I'd rather it stayed away. I'm soooo ready for Spring.

Happy Weekend. Happy Super Bowl. Go Steelers!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

step away from the books

I'm not going to the Library today. I'm going to step away from the books, at least for the day. I have plenty of Friends business to do here at home, including putting together the rest of the PR packet for the book club in a bag project.

We had a good executive board meeting yesterday followed by an informative general membership meeting. We learned the library is going to begin the process of getting e-books. Wow. They are going together with one of the other consortium libraries to start this service. I will be interested to see how it goes, who will use it and whether or not they decide to charge for the service.

Of course this new service will impact the funds available to purchase regular books. The money issue was stated over and over. I can see it coming. The big request for more funding from the Friends to supplement the $10,000 we already give them for materials.

As the average age in our group is well over 50, most of our members do not have e-readers and have no intention of having an e-reader. They will not be happy if the number of available titles for new releases drops because two e-books were purchased.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next several months as the targeted launch date is in July.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

veronica mars

A while back, October to be exact, the middle kid and I indulged in an afternoon of Netflix and became hooked on Veronica Mars. We watched the first five episodes that afternoon, but then fall break ended and we got busy doing other things. I happened to revisit the show one day when I had mountains of laundry to do and didn't feel like reading in between doing loads of wash.

I got hooked.  I've now watched all of season one and all of season two. I'm going to force myself to stop and let the girls catch up. They are on episode 18 of season one.

Veronica Mars only lasted three seasons, but a quick google search revealed the star of the show, Kristen Bell, who has moved on to other small and big screen roles, would finance a movie based on the show. Woohoo! The show has a cult like following and I can understand why.

This was a well written and well acted teen drama. Maybe it was too smart for its own good. I want to watch the last 20 episodes with the girls and savor each and every one.

Today is meeting day....executive board and then general membership. Ugh. Not looking forward to it at all. I have a new soup recipe to try for supper tonight. Our weather has turned substantially colder, a 30 degree drop, but we don't have the snow or ice the rest of the country is dealing with today.

All in all, it is a Wednesday. And that about sums it up.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

brain cramp

I woke up this morning with a brain cramp. It might be one of those days when coherent thought takes a back seat to mindless routine.

It happens. Good thing I made the grocery list yesterday when I was motivated, sharp and ready to roll.  Up first is a trip to fill up the van with gas. Yep. Just how high are gas prices here in town? Hmmm. I usually fill up every two weeks or so. I wonder what prices will do as the governments in the middle east seem to be on the edge of teetering over. Watching what is going on in Egypt does make you think about lots of things....things much more important than the price of crude oil.

But, back to my brain cramp. I'm hoping the list I made yesterday is complete enough. I don't really need to come home with a bunch of things we don't need. I do need to come home with the things required to cook the next two weeks worth of meals.

Happy Tuesday.