Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Salon: Highlights

 Good afternoon friends.  Late again.  Just plan on it from here on out!  Had a good, busy week.  My parents arrived from Indiana for the winter.  The kids were in their last week of school before the break (the daughter had mid-terms - drama!).  I finished the last bit of shopping and found an adorable local indie bookstore that just opened (our only one).  We had a book club meeting discussing "Eleanor & Park" by Rainbow Rowell.  So much love for that book!  We had an impromptu Christmas gathering at a friend's house last night.  My daughter got two free tickets to this Ice exhibition down at the Gaylord Palms resort, which gave us a taste of winter and froze our noses.

The kids tell me I need to get a life, but the highlight of my week really is the update on the puppies.  I know, call me lame.  They are now two weeks old, their eyes are open, they are starting to play with each other and make noises, and their pigment is starting to come in on their little noses.  

Oh, so this is a book blog I guess, except I'm not reading much. Still.  I did actually finish "Empty Mansions" on audio this week.  It was a fascinating piece of history about a lost fortune and a reclusive heiress.  I'm now about halfway through "Detroit: An American Autopsy" by Charlie LeDuff.  This is a grim, gritty sketch of a city gone to hell.  I guess I've had the need for some non-fiction lately!

Speaking of non-fiction, I'm also reading "Monster" by Steve Jackson, a true crime story about a sadistic serial killer of women.  I've been reading this one for awhile, but it IS good.  I hope to have the time to finish it soon.

I cannot believe that Thursday is Christmas.  It has totally snuck up on me!  Tonight we will have to do some hard core planning of the meals, including our traditional Polish feast called Wygilia, on Christmas Eve.  I wish all of you a wonderful week and look forward to seeing what Santa brought you all.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best of 2014: Audiobooks

I cannot express the right words for how passionate I am about my audiobooks.  There are days (weeks!) when I don't look at a single printed page of a book because I'm running around like my hair is on fire.  But audios I can the car, cleaning the house, doing yard work, cooking, walking.  A well-narrated audio can be the most incredible some cases the entire story comes to life and feels like a movie in my head.  

I can't vouch for these books in print.  But in my ears they came alive.  


Five Days at Memorial - Sheri Fink (narrated by Kirstin Potter):  This is an absolutely riveting and horrifying story about the events that transpired at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans after Katrina hit.  No electricity, a failed generator, and hundreds of critically ill and elderly patients too frail to evacuate.  In a move that was highly controversial, decisions were made to euthanize the most helpless patients with lethal doses of painkillers.  It is hard to imagine such events occurring today, and brings up some highly discussable topics.  Perfect for book clubs.  Kirstin Potter is a wonderful narrator, but the real attraction here is the facts. 

In the Kingdom of Ice - Hampton Sides (narrated by Arthur Morey):  This bit of history about an ill-fated Polar expedition in the late nineteenth century reads like a thriller.  An eccentric playboy benefactor, incorrect maps and misinformation, starvation, frostbite, a breached hull, trudging for hundreds of miles in the frozen tundra, just doesn't get any more fascinating than this.  Like "Five Days at Memorial", the narration was well-done but the facts are self-sustaining.    

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage - Ann Patchett (narrated by the author):  Before I listened to this audio, I would have sworn that I wasn't into "essays".  But Patchett's, written for magazines over the expanse of her career, are ones that will touch on something that will move you.  MOST of them moved me.  Stories about writing her first book, about her dog, about her failed first marriage and her successful second one, about relationships with family and friends, opening a bookstore, being persecuted because of the content of her is absolutely perfect in every way.  Patchett is so natural in her narration too.  This is one audio that I want to purchase in print to keep forever.


Native Son - Richard Wright (narrated by Peter Francis James):  This story knocked the wind out of me.  Set in 1930's Chicago, it tells the tale of Bigger Thomas, a young black man that makes a series of bad decisions that drags him into a downward spiral.  It is gut-wrenching, and shows the desperation and hopelessness of the black man during that time.  I suspect the novel in print would have an equal impact, but the narration is superb.    

We Are Water - Wally Lamb (narrated by Wally Lamb, George Guidall, Maggi-Meg Reed, Tavia Gilbert, Richard Ferrone, Edoardo Ballerini, Cynthia Darlow,  Therese Plummer):  If you asked me to list my top 10 audios EVER, this one would be one of them.  Lamb is a hell of a storyteller, in this case covering everything from a modern family and their individual struggles, gay marriage, pedophilia, racial prejudice...oh yeah you get it all here, as is Lamb's way.  But the narrators?  That is a loaded cast of voices, and they made this audio completely unputdownable.  It unfolded like a movie right before me, truly some of the best narration I've heard.  We read this in my book club, and some of the members refused to read it because of the pedophilia.  It's too bad because while that was very hard to listen to, I believe it to be one of the best books written this year.

Someone Else's Love Story - Joshilyn Jackson (narrated by the author):  Most of you know this, but I refuse to read a JJ book in print.  All of her books but one are narrated by the author herself, and she is marvelous.  Her stories are marvelous too...quirky, usually dysfunctional, Southern, and all center on very strong women.  In this novel, she also throws in autism and a love triangle of sorts.  And a girl who got pregnant without having sex.  You have to read it to believe it.  It is classic Joshilyn Jackson.  

Every Day - David Levithan (narrated by Alex McKenna):  While this book officially fell under the YA genre, it gets serious credit for tickling my brain and presenting a very unique premise (something you don't get often in ANY genre).  Every day "A" (a spirit? a soul? a male?  a female?) wakes up in a different body.  A is at peace with its existence, and lives by the rules of not interfering or causing attention in its subject's life.  Then A meets and falls in love with a girl.  Suddenly every day is a mission to get close to her, which is difficult when each day A is a radically different person.  It sounds a little wacky, but it works.  It is beautiful.  And very beautifully narrated.     

The Martian - Andy Weir (narrated by R.C. Bray):  If you've been anywhere near a book review this year, you will recognize this one.   This book was all the rage!  This won't be the only list you will see it on, particular in audio form.  About a wise-ass brainiac that get accidentally left on Mars during an exploration mission, it makes science fiction accessible and LIKABLE by one and all.  The narration of Bray provides the perfect snarky voice of a guy who is basically screwed but uses his last wit to stay alive.  Oh and by the way, it's going to be a movie starring Matt Damon.  Yep.

The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith (narrated by Robert Glenister):  If you thought J.K. Rowling shot her wad on Harry Potter, you were wrong.  This series started with "The Cuckoo's Calling" and set the groundwork with a protagonist who is a rumpled but genius private investigator, and his cute ambitious assistant.  I felt that Cuckoo's mystery was a tad pedestrian and one-dimensional, but she let out all the stops on this one.  The cherry on top was that the mystery occurs butt-deep in the publishing industry.  Robert Glenister's narration is simply as good as it gets.  He is amazing.   

World of Trouble - Ben H. Winters (narrated by Peter Berkrot):  This book is the third installment in The Last Policeman Trilogy, and yes, it is extremely unusual that the final book would be the mind-blower but it was.  The premise of the trilogy is that a very large asteroid is going to hit the earth and end civilization as we know it.  As time ticks down, people hunker down, pursue their bucket lists, kill themselves, get stoned on drugs.  But Detective Hank Palace (a little on the spectrum I think) continues to solve murders, chase down missing persons, and try to save his little sister.  The first two novels are good, but this one is remarkable.  Not too many people can pull off the end of the world quite like this.  The narrator isn't the best in the business, but his voice became Hank Palace and I was glad they kept him through the series.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Best of 2014: Graphic Novels

So Graphic Novels!  This has been a more recent love that I acquired as a result of blogging.  I didn't read that many this year, but the ones I read for the most part were outstanding.  Here are my favorites...I'm quite pleased at how different each of them are from another.  

Watchmen - Alan Moore:  I read this at the behest of my son, and I thanked him afterward.  This is so much more than a comic.  It is a mystery, it is layered and complex, it folds in history and politics and made my brain tingle!  This is what all "comics" and superhero lore should strive to be.   

Blankets - Craig Johnson:  I'm a little late to the party on this one.  I'd heard so much about it over the years, so I finally ordered it from the library.  It is a whole different type of GN than Watchmen.  It is a autobiography about Johnson's life, starting with some traumatic incidents in his childhood, a first love he meets at camp as a teen, and his life as a young adult.  He struggles with love, loss and religion and is heartfelt.  

Palestine - Joe Sacco:  This GN was recommended by a whole list of other GN authors as being one of the best.  It is different from the other books listed here in that it is gritty, investigative journalism put into illustration.  We always hear stories from the Israeli point of view in our is a chance to see things from the other side of the street, from the perspective of the common Palestinian.  This book is used in university classrooms, and with good reason.  I'll be rereading this one.

Saga - Brian K. Vaughan:  I had to give this series special mention.  None of the three installments have received more than 4 stars from me, but as a whole, they are a wondrous diversion into fantasy.  It is hard to describe the bizarre setup, but Wikipedia states it is a cross between Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and Romeo & Juliet.  So there you go, I'm sure that cleared things up!  It is a classic story of revenge, warring ethnicities, and forbidden love.  The imagery alone is worth your time.  Even if none of this sounds the least bit interesting, give it a shot.  You may find yourself getting sucked in just like me.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Best of 2014: Fiction and Non-Fiction

I'm still not sure what to think of 2014.  I definitely read less books than I have in awhile (90 total, 52 of them audio).  I always tend to blame myself...I say that I was moody and distracted, which was true.  But I think that if the books in general had been more compelling, I would have pulled out of those funks.  As a result, the lists are much shorter!

Here is how I'm going to break down my genres.  Today I'll talk about Fiction and my one lonely Non-Fiction book, all of them scored at 5 stars.  Tomorrow I'll talk about a few Graphic Novels that impressed me.  And finally I will go over my favorite Audiobooks, which are both Fiction and Non-fiction.  Just FYI, these books were not necessarily published in 2014, I just read them this year.


Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel:  This girl has hit her stride.  Don't let the phrases "traveling performers" or "post-apocalypse" scare you off.  This is a story of humanity rising above the need to just survive after an epidemic wipes out 99% of the population.  It has gorgeous writing, the random human connections like little Easter eggs hidden within the story.  She didn't win the National Book Award this year, but give her time.  

Wool - Hugh Howey:  I'll be the first to admit that I don't like Science Fiction, so that should tell you how absolutely mind-blowing this book is.  Again, post-apocalyptic, and a world-building that is phenomenal...unique and fully-developed. I've just read nothing like it.  (Even more amazing, this guy started out as self-published until someone discovered him.)  And there are two more books in the series that I'm dying to read!  

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty:  I've been a fan of this author for several years, and she just keeps getting better and better.  I love her for several reasons.  First, she just GET'S IT.  Being a woman, a mother, and wife.  And while she may come across as fluffy chicky lit, she digs into some serious territory.  In her latest book, she nails the whole parent/student dynamic at a small elementary school.  I feel like I've lived this.   Her setup and pacing is perfect, and is the fastest long book you'll ever read. 

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart:  This is another very fast read with a twisty plot and an unreliable narrator.  It is officially deemed a Young Adult book but it is suitable for anyone.  Not only is it twisty but so accurately captures magical summers and coming of age.  I laugh every time I think of one girl in my exercise class that was exercising and reading this at the same time because it is unputdownable.

Wolf - Mo Hayder:  I am completely addicted to this murder mystery series starring Detective Inspector Jack Caffrey, a guy who is damaged (of course, they all are).  The series is incredible dark and disturbing, and has been stringing us along on a few things.  Our protagonist gets some answers here, as well as a horrendous case.  It is the stuff of nightmares and I love it! 

The Wicked Girls - Alex Marwood:  This was a recommendation from Uncle Stevie, and I trust his sense of the macabre.  It was a well-told story, very fast-paced, very dark, but at this point, I don't remember a whole lot of the details.  So I'm not sure it belongs in the five star category but that is what I gave it at the time.


Devil's Knot - Mara Leveritt:  I've always been a little creepster about true crime.  I love analyzing the crazies, I love how you can Google the details, and it is terrifying because it is real.  This story?  As good as it gets.  Small town, a brutal murder of three little boys.  The local police go on a witch hunt and arrest three teens based on little more than rumor, prejudice and the coerced confession of one of the teens who is mentally handicapped.  The corruption goes all the way to the judge and the jurors, and these boys are convicted and serve FOR 17 YEARS before released.  This case is appalling, and if you need more, there are several HBO documentaries that allow you to see it all in it's full glory.  Doesn't matter if you are a fan of true crime or not, this is one you have to read.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Salon: All About That Dog


Yes, I'm late again today.  That will probably be the way it will be forever.  Gone are the days of organization.  Oh well.

This was a pretty normal week.  Holiday hair cut (after the parties LOL), one doctor appointment, and a Polish feast to celebrate the end of my Polish class.  I will be re-enrolling again in January though since I'm still useless.  A little more shopping, wrapping, and getting my mom's house ready for their arrival tomorrow.

But the real focus has been the puppy.  It's all about the puppy.  The breeder contacted me mid-week and told me there was a National Dog Show here in Orlando that we could attend, meet the puppies' "nanny", as well as some of the other dogs and breeders.  We went Friday and today, and it was a blast.  If any of you have ever seen the movie "Best of Show", well, there you have it.  We also got our weekly e-mail with pictures.  Resign yourself to these updates.  We are like new parents.      

On the reading front, I finished nothing!  Ha!  I made progress with "Monster" by Steve Jackson, a true crime novel about a serial murderer.  (I know, I am such a creeper.)  On audio I continue to listen to "Empty Mansions" by Bill Dedman, which is fascinating non-fiction about a reclusive heiress.

Starting tomorrow, I will start posting my favorites lists for 2014, starting with print Fiction and Non-Fiction on Monday, Graphic Novels on Tuesday, and audios on Wednesday. It's more work than I've done on this blog in ages!  It has definitely been a slower year than most on all fronts.

Not much left of this Sunday, but it still may include a nap and some reading.  Just have to get my comfies on...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Salon: We're Expecting!

Expecting a dog, that is.  (You didn't think it was that kind of expecting did you?  May the good Lord have mercy on my soul.) If you have been around long, you know about my love affair with animals.  We have six cats, but haven't had a dog for 10 years.  I've been begging for one, my the husband was the holdout.  I'd always said that God would bring us a dog when the right time came, and I guess now was the time.  Hubby seemed only amenable to one particular breed, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog (called PONs which stands for Polski Owczarek Nizinny), because it is a breed from his Motherland and is not widely bred in the US.  I reached out to a couple of breeders...only a couple dozen in the country...and one in North Carolina called me and told me her female was in the process of having puppies.  And that was all she wrote.

Once they get a little older and their temperaments established, we will decide which one we will get, but will most likely be a male.  We will pick him up around the end of January.  They are very smart dogs, they don't shed (although require a lot of brushing), and only get between 30 and 50 pounds.  We are besides ourselves, and feel like we are having a baby.

Anyway!  That was the excitement and the distraction this week!  I had my last Polish class (although a new class starts back up again in January), had two doctor appointments, did A LOT of Christmas shopping, did yard work, had a book club meeting, and had two Christmas parties.  Whew!  Oh!  AND OUR WALL GOT FIXED!  This is the wall that was crashed into by a car last April.  We still have to do the landscaping, but this is progress.  I think things should be easier from here on out.  Maybe.

My reading has been shite as usual.  I did finally finish Uncle Stevie's "Revival" and it just didn't meet my expectations.  He's always good at telling a story, but it was slow.  Then I picked up "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy but I just couldn't get into it.  It was strange.  So I put it down and waffled about what to read.  I finally started a true crime novel called "Monster".  True crime always works for me when I'm in a fug.

My only audio this week was Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher installment "Personal".  Maybe it was my mood or maybe I'm just tired of the same old thing, but the book bored me to death.  Jack needs to change things up, find a girlfriend or something.  I've now started "Empty Mansions" by Bill Dedman for book club, and it is fascinating and very well-narrated.

With all the focus on year-end lists this week (and authors who have a rage when they don't end up on them), I've been contemplating whether I should do mine.  I think I will, they are fun to do.  I just feel like this year might be slim pickings.  We will see.  Look for them soon.

We are off today to watch a pro golf tournament.  After the weekend we've had I really just need a nap.  Hope everyone is starting to feel the Christmas spirit and is enjoying their Sunday!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Salon: Turkey and football and cars

Hey, it's the afternoon!  How about that.  But I'm here.  The entire week has been one of low-key sluggishness.  No Polish classes, no doctor appointments, kids were home most of the week.  I did move a little.  I got the tree up, got my Christmas cards done and sent (despite the fact that my kids refused to take a formal picture), and cooked a small Thanksgiving dinner for the four of us.  We went over to friends' house for dessert.  It was a good day.  I was dragged out early on Black Friday by my daughter, which was not optimal.  Massive crowds, rude people, listening to "All I want for Christmas is you" at least two dozen times.  I did a good deal of online shopping, my preferred method of spending money.  I'm slowly getting my ass in gear.

My daughter's high school played football Friday night and won by one point in a triple overtime to become the Regional 5A champs.  If they win next week they will go to the Citrus Bowl to become state champs.  Very exciting stuff!  They haven't had a season like this since 1970.

My husband is slowly coming around on the idea of a dog.  I'm not sure if it is because my kids are older and aren't very lovable, or maybe the hormones, but I really NEED a dog.  We will see if he talks himself out of it.  I'm holding my breath.  I need to mother something.

My husband and I maintained a long-standing tradition and went to the International Car Show yesterday to scope out my next car.  Realistically, I may never get another new one, with all the musical cars we are playing with our driving age children, but it is fun to look.

Mid-season finale of The Walking Dead tonight!  OMG!  I can barely think of anything else.

Oh yeah, I guess this is a BOOK BLOG!  Huh, you'd never know it.  I did finish "Wildlife" by Fiona Wood on audio this week.  I have yet to write it up on Goodreads, but what a wonderful YA book.  It really captured the essence of friendship, grief, and dealing with sexual pressure from the perspective of the 16-17 year old.  It is refreshing when an author takes this topic seriously and is responsible with the messages.  I have yet to start another audio yet...I needed to listen to music for awhile. I'm thinking I'll start the latest Jack Reacher today when I'm finishing the decorating.

In print, I'm so freaking pathetic.  I'm still reading Stephen King's "Revival" and while it isn't horror like I thought it would be, his storytelling is good.  I just am disengaged in general with the idea of sitting down quietly and finishing it.  I'm close though.

I also have to say this about "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters, which I talked about last week.  While it didn't blow me away like some other of her books, I am STILL thinking about it.  The characters and the plot keep bouncing around in my head.  So you all really should read it.  That is the magic of her writing.

I'm not totally looking forward to this week, but it must be done.  Back to the doctor appointments, Polish classes, a book club, and two Christmas parties.  In my heart, I am a homebody.  Too much running around makes me irritable even if individually these events are fun.  But I'm just going to put my head down and plod through it, and I'm sure I will have a good time.   

As for the rest of the day, I'll finish decorating, maybe wrap some gifts.  Finish Revival?  Nap?  Yes all around.  Hope everyone has an awesome Sunday and upcoming week.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Salon: Regroup

 Good morning friends!  Things are looking up...I'm writing my post before noon!  We'll see if I finish before we leave for church.  I doubt it, but at least I'm getting started.

I'm not really going to say much about the past week.  It wasn't good, so I'm just going to block it out and regroup.  If we want to count blessings, I will mention that the uber-trainer Andre just had a new baby, and after taking a handful of days off, was back in action this week.  His workouts are good for the body, but are also nearly like therapy and I missed them!

I also forgot to mention last week that we went to see "Interstellar", which we enjoyed.  I wouldn't say that there will be acting Oscars coming out of that movie, but the visuals were amazing!  We're really starting to get into the season of good movies and serious Oscar contenders, and we've got our sights set on a few over the next few weeks.  If we can motivate the kids to leave their rooms!

On the reading front, I've made some good progress on "Revival", and hope to finish that very soon.  (Maybe today depending on whether it rains all day.)  I'm still not totally sure where Uncle Stevie is going with his story, but I love the journey.  I'm thinking of picking up "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy next, after reading that it was one of Uncle Stevie's favorite books ever.

On audio, I'm nearly done with the amazing Sarah Waters "The Paying Guests".  I've actually gone back and forth between reading and listening on this one and am probably a couple of hours from finishing.  She is wicked with the mind screw, and I'm just waiting for the poop to hit the fan on this one.  I will concur that the book could have used some serious editing, and there is a huge amount of drama going on, but I'm still enjoying it.  Up next is the highly-recommended "Wildlife" by Fiona Wood, which I just downloaded on audio from the library.

So the holidays.  I've got Thanksgiving sort of figured out.  But Xmas is not within reach right now.  I've got some work to do on that front.  I'm going to be looking for some motivation this week.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday, whether you are in rain or snow (what seems to be the theme all over the country).  And yay!  Got it done before church!  Hee hee

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Salon: ...and the crud stayeth

 Better late than never I always say.  And late has been the theme of the week.  Not only did my son and I continue on with the crud (sore throat that morphs into congestion that morphs into cough that morphs into gastro), but my daughter had it too.  I don't like this.  I can't recuperate in peace, they are demanding and whiny, and also there is stress because of so much missed homework.  Pray that next week improves in this category.

I did crawl out to Polish class and book club on Wednesday night, despite my hacking and spewing.  I wanted to force some kind of normalcy.  For this meeting we read "5 People You Meet in Heaven", and most did not likey which made me feel a bit better about my negativity.  Such hokey, manipulative crap.  Next month we'll be discussing "Eleanor & Park" which should go much better.

I cannot believe how the holidays have snuck up on me.  Normally, my routine is to mail those Christmas cards out the day after Thanksgiving.  Not sure that will happen this year...don't even have a picture!  (My kids have an extreme aversion to pictures it seems.)  I've done nothing!  I guess there has to be a first year to blow my record. I get overwhelmed with all the you guys?  I have to figure out how to manage it.  Downsize, simplify, find peace.

So Tuesday I strategically scheduled an eye appointment at Costco with the release of Stephen King's new release "Revival".  Very similar to the last time I stormed the store for his latest book, there were none to be seen.  The book-stocking girl SWORE there were none, but I didn't take that for an answer.  I got the Manager to check inventories, and sure enough, they were there in receiving, hidden in the corner.  SCORE!  Sadly, I've made very little progress.  Not much reading done this week.

Audios, as usual, is where it's at more than anywhere else.  I finished "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" for my other book club, and while it was a sweet, sentimental book, it may have been a little TOO sweet for my cynical heart.  The story takes place in Burma which is interesting, and is a generational love story (narrated by Cassandra Campbell who excels at stories like this).  It just seemed like the author was trying too hard to make me cry, and also threw some pretty obvious twists in there that I think were supposed to be shocking but just made me slap my forehead.  I'm now launching into what will probably be a part print/part audio experience of "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters.  Love her, but I am feeling hesitant because the reviews on this one haven't been stellar.  It's a long book, so this will take me awhile.

So today (or what is left of it) will probably be spent trying to read "Revival" and doing some child management in the area of overwhelming homework catch-up.  I'll be having a cocktail by 5:00 I predict.

So tell me...are you ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Are you excited about the idea of shopping and decorating or not?  How do you cope with the crazy schedule?  I need tips. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Salon: The Crud Cometh

 Well, the weather is changing so it was bound to happen.  Both my son and I got the crud.  I tend to ignore it and try to sweat it out, but being a 15 year old and of the male species, the boy milked it.  I'm hoping all of this goes away soon, but odds are the other two members of the family will get it too, and will start that never-ending rotation.

Anyway, besides all that, it was a decent week.  I'm still enjoying my Polish class, and with the upcoming holidays we are going to be having food parties!  Because we must do as the Polish do.

I returned to my second book club after a couple of years on hiatus.  With the exception of one personality, I really missed these people.  They take their reading seriously, and come with notes and insight.  This month we read "In the Kingdom of Ice" by Hampton Sides, and was loved by everyone.  Here are my thoughts on Goodreads, but Jill's husband did a wonderful review as well.  I listened to it on audio, and Arthur Morey narrated.  He isn't exactly dynamic, but he's solid and is the perfect voice for non-fiction like this.

I also listened to "Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom, against my better judgement.  It was chosen by my other book club, and I really had no desire to subject myself to this schmaltz, but I hate going to meetings not having read the assignment.  After all, I have no right to bitch if I haven't.  The audio made a bad situation even worse, with dramatic music that felt like a soap opera.  Ugh.  That meeting is next week.

I've now just started "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" by Jan-Philipp Sendker, the selection for next month's book club.  It is narrated by Cassandra Campbell, who does a great job with these types of books.  It looks like it is going to be a winner.

Not much progress on print.  I AM halfway through the graphic novel "Watchmen" and it is really a fine example of smart comics.  Very well-done.  I need to get it finished by next Tuesday, because that is the day Stephen King's "Revival" comes out, and I'll be joining Ti in her readathon.  I very cleverly scheduled an eye appointment at Costco that day, so I could pick up the book at the same time.  Very excited!

Not sure what we'll be doing today.  It is rainy and chilly, the kids have homework, and I'm feeling crappy.  We do want to see "Interstellar" but not sure we'll get there.  What is everyone up to today?   

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Salon: MIA

 I am pleased to announce that I am not dead!  Isn't that great?  I never post this late, but I figured the theme of the week was "MIA" so I might as well stay in character.  I fell completely off the grid this week.  I didn't read blogs.  I didn't read anything in print.  I only went to Andre's ONCE!  There is a myriad of explanations for my behavior.

Yard improvement project.  A team of workers spreading 20 tons (yes you heard that right) of Seminole rock in my front and back yard, planting plants and installing a new fountain.  Fun stuff but these guys require supervision.

The Killing.  I continue to obsess.  SO GOOD, OMG.  I am three episodes away from the end.  Nothing will continue to be done until I've finished.

Cold weather has lured me outside.  By "cold" I mean 60's during the day and 40's at night.  I don't sweat much in these temps.  It is wonderful.

And also sick kids, the usual hellish doctor appointments, a broken security system, and a flat tire that occupied a solid afternoon.  Also had a fundraiser breakfast and a book club meeting.  My son turned 15.  Halloween.  You get my point.  It was one of those weeks.

I did listen to audio, praise the Lord.  I finished "The Girl with all the Gifts", but I haven't reviewed it yet.  I really liked it.  It sort of reminded me of "The Passage", and one of the better apocalyptic stories I've read in awhile.  I have started "In the Kingdom of Ice" by Hampton Sides, a book club assignment.  The audio is 14 discs long and the meeting is Wednesday so I doubt I will finish it by then, but what the heck.  I haven't been to this book club in awhile because of some personality conflicts, but I'm going to give it another shot.

Today my son and I went to see "Nightcrawler" with Jake Gyllenhaal and it was absolutely amazing.  It made my heart pound, it made me flinch, it made me laugh.  Going to write that one up too, at some point.

Hope everyone had an awesome Sunday, and why would it not be the best when we gain an hour of time???  I always feel like I don't appreciate it enough, especially when we LOSE that hour in the spring.  Did everyone sleep in this morning?


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Salon: Killing Time

 Good morning all of you who are left out there!  Lately I've been pondering the state of blogging.  I love the friends I've made here, lifelong friends that I confide in and have laughs with.  But I can't really call myself a blogger I don't think, if I'm only on here once a week.  I guess that's OK.  I'm not totally sure how many people are left out there who are reading this but I'll take the few I have.  However we are now in a world where rock solid book bloggers with a history are being turned down for review copies, when newbies who gush over everything like crazed 16 year olds are getting the marketing dollars of the publishers.  I don't get it.  But I think my decision to take a back seat was probably well-timed.

Last week I mentioned that my daughter had done something to her back.  That continued this week.  She missed three more days of school before the chiropractor got her back up and moving.  My son did not have school Thursday or Friday, so what that means is that I had a kid home with me all week.  The three of us had a total of four doctors appointments, so bottom line?  NOTHING GOT DONE!  Ack!  I have got to figure out how to get these doctors out of my life!  It is a circle of hell, this sitting in waiting rooms.

My son and I went to see "Dear White People" at the movies, which won some awards at the Sundance Film Festival.  It was a satire of race relations taking place on a college campus...very smart, hilarious but with some good messages.

My daughter convinced me to start watching one of her (many) favorite TV shows "The Killing" which is a Netflix original.  My mom was obsessed with it this past summer, but I tuned it out because I don't need another TV obsession!  But I guess I should have listened because it is amazing.  Thus, nothing is going to get done until I finish it.  I hate it when this happens.

So again, no print reading.  None!  It is crazy!  I finally chucked "Purge", figured that was my problem.  I picked up "House of Leaves" and started picking my way through it but this is a PROJECT people.  It's going to take some time.  For a short bit of entertainment, I then picked up the graphic novel "Watchmen", my son assuring me it was genius.  I'm sure it is.  I just need to walk away from these TV shows.

On audio, I finished "World of Trouble" by Ben Winters.  And WOW.  I cannot remember the last time I finished a trilogy/series that rocked my world this way (maybe Harry Potter?).  I'm still thinking about it.  You know how a scene just sticks in there, and you keep returning to it.  I enjoyed all three books, but the final one is a doozy.  I'm now about halfway through "The Girl With All the Gifts" by M.R. Carey.  Good stuff.  Kinda reminds me of "The Passage" by Justin Cronin.  Apocalyptic, spooky, touching.

My son had another detail with the Orlando Police Department this morning, but he is on his way home from that.  The weather is gorgeous, so I predict we will head outside to do something today.  Maybe a long walk, or a round of golf.  And we've got The Walking Dead tonight, which is something that makes Sundays the best day of the week.  What is everyone up to?  Any fall festivals?  Happy Sunday!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Salon: The best day

 Happy Sunday everyone!  If you participated in the readathon yesterday, you probably are sleeping off your book buzz.  I'm almost never able to block off an entire day in the fall, but my thoughts are always with you guys.  One of these years I swear I'm going to run away to the beach for one of these events.

The weather has cooled off again...low to mid 80's in the day and low 60's at night.  Major cold front!!!  It is a pleasure to go on our walks, or sit out at night with a cocktail.  Here is a picture I took on a long walk yesterday, just around the corner from a neighborhood.  I love that about Florida.  There is nature everywhere. 

It was a typical week for me this week.  My son's first homecoming activities occurred daily (themed dress days, the parade and football game Friday, and the dance last night).  My daughter threw out her back somehow, so she has been down for the count for a couple of days.  I feel like I am the downtrodden servant!  I took a treadmill stress test because I'd been having heart palpitations, and I passed with flying colors.  It is nice to know I haven't lost my mojo!  So my conclusion is heart palpitations = teenagers + menopause.  Something for you young 'uns to look forward to.

The best day of the entire week seems to be, without a doubt, SUNDAY!  Granted, it is a day full of the kids scrambling to get chores and homework done, but it also includes THE WALKING DEAD.  The season opener last week was epic.  My daughter and I have rewatched it three times.  I have looked forward to today all week.  I know, I'm obsessed.  So sue me.

My reading, at least in print, has been dismal.  I can't manage to propel my way through "Purge" by Sofi Oksanen.  I have progressed a little but can't get interested.  I'll keep trying for a little bit longer, but I'm really dying to read "House of Leaves" and "The Paying Guests", so I'm close to losing my patience.  I did take a break yesterday and read "Relish" by Lucy Knisley, which is a short graphic novel.  (I read "French Milk" a few years ago, a graphic memoir of her time in France.)  Adorable.

Audio is the only way I get anything done these days.  I finished "The Innocent Sleep" by Karen Perry.  It is a domestic drama and mystery about a missing child, but has twists in it that made it a surprisingly intriguing listen.  Plus the Irish-accented narrators were incredible.  I also quickly got through "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica which I rated four stars but easily could have been swayed to five.  I'm still thinking about it even now...a kidnapping gone wrong, with much more emotion and character bonding than your normal read.  Then I FINALLY got "World of Trouble" on audio from the library. I loaded it in about 30 minutes and plunged into the third and final installment of a story about the final days on earth before an asteroid takes it out, from the perspective an earnest police officer.  Great stuff!

I'm not sure what is on the agenda today.  Usually I don't have a whole lot of say in the matter.  My son is putting in some community service hours with the Orlando Police Department, which is part of his Criminal Justice magnet program at school.  Maybe a walk.  Maybe some reading.  Maybe a little Walking Dead!!  Hope everyone has a nice relaxing day to rest up for another week!