Monday, December 09, 2013

Moany Monday

Yes it is Monday, time for the work week to begin anew. After one day off.

I love my job at the library but the downside is that I work the weekend and thus only experience the briefest of breaks between jobs. Normally this is not a big deal but apparently I woke up on the whiny side of bed this morning. It is cold, dark and I am borderline sick (hence the whininess, if I was really sick I would be in martyr mode) and I just want to crawl back into my nice warm bed and hibernate until I get a better job (than my other job, not the library). But no, I will soldier on and listen to every other customer complain about this crazy weather (you know, because it's odd to have snow in December) and whinge to my poor coworkers (who will not be getting paid enough to deal with me today) about my desire to crawl back into the folds of my inviting blankey.

So a normal Monday it is.

What I want to be doing (minus the giant hand petting me)...

What I will be doing most of the day (my lucky coworkers don't know how lucky they are about to be...poor bastards)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
(I really need to find a store that stocks these, posthaste)

I am about to start making my contributions for the feast. I am making a caramel party mix, which is loosely based on this recipe from  By loosely, I mean I follow the recipe for the caramel part and just shove a whole bunch of snack/ cereal bits into the largest mixing bowl I have. No measuring necessary. Today's version has Crispix cereal along with a generic brand of corn chex cereal, bugles, small pretzels (Tom Sturgis's Little Ones), and some mixed nuts. I am also going to try making honey cornbread muffins, which will be made from this recipe found on the Food Network's page, unless I find another recipe that looks better (you would think I had this worked out by now, wouldn't you?). Before you think our contributions to the feast are looking a little meager, I would point out that we are also bring two bottles of Riesling to the buffet table. Always a family favorite.

Let me just tell you, I had to fight for those two bottles too! There was a family blocking the aisle to the Moscato (my fall back choice in case the Riesling was all gone) and just as I was working my way past them to the Riesling, the mother told her youngest to go grab two bottles of Riesling she saw in the other aisle. Good thing her child was directionally challenged because there were only three bottles left on the shelf of my preferred brand. There is not much in this life as gratifying as beating a ten year old to the good stuff around the holidays, let me tell you.

Anyhow, I want to end this holiday post by telling you all that I am grateful for this year (you know, other than directionally challenge ten year olds). I am of course thankful for The Man. He is my rock, my comfort food, and my laughter and joy all rolled up into one bearded bundle of man. I am thankful that despite our living in sin (he's Catholic) these past ten years (we started dating ten years ago on Thanksgiving), his family thinks of me as family. I am thankful for our loving pibble, Seamus. He is an eighty pound plateful of pure love (with a side dish of ornery). And I am grateful for all my friends and family, both of the flesh and of the heart who have influenced my life these past forty-two years twenty-seven years (well, okay, I am not thankful for some of my flesh and blood family but you can't pick those, you just have to hope you don't carry the same DNA mutations that created them and smile and wave at family funerals when you see them).

I hope all who celebrate the holiday have much to be thankful for and those who must travel on the most traveled day of the year do so safely and with a modicum of road rage.

P.S. Check out this humorous blog about 5 ways you can ruin Thanksgiving 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catch a Tiger by Its Tail Tuesday!

It is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things but that will wait until a later blog post. This one is an apology for those who actually follow this blog. I left off on a depressing note in September. I did not mean to do so, and I am sorry. I was just going to take a little time to grieve the loss of Gia. I spent the two weeks after her death doing the bare minimum in course work and escaped every free moment I could into the universe of Kate Daniels. It helped. I healed and I rejoined the world fully only to find out I would spend the rest of the semester playing catch up. The semester is nearly over, I have but one more major assignment to turn in by the 2nd of December and then I can coast the last week by just watching lectures and participating in discussion boards. I plan to make to find a good balance between work, school, and other nonessential but fun activities (that would include reading the books I want to read and blogging about them and any other odd thing I think of). The Kate Daniels books by the writing team known as Ilona Andrews will be the subject of my next blog.

Now it is time for me to prepare for catching a tiger by its tail (and by this phrase, I mean going to work at the bank, which is the next best place to be working near the biggest shopping holiday of the year! <- Sarcasm, just in case you missed it). I just heard it start sleeting so this should be a fun drive.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One Week Ago Today

One week ago today (9/17/2013) my world was torn apart. My heart was shredded and a significant piece of it was left in a small but tranquil room in the back of the veterinarian's office. I will miss that piece very much and and will continue to do so for as long as I draw breath. That piece's name was Gia and I am writing this blog and telling the world of her passing because I want the world to know she existed. She lived for almost thirteen years, 11 and a half of which I was lucky enough to share with her.

It was pure happenstance that I came to live with Gia. In her first year and a half of life, she had four different owners. On her second stay at the Humane League of Lancaster county, my friend's mother toldher to look at Gia's picture on the league's website. My friend immediately told me I had to see this dog. So even though I had no intention of obtaining another four legged companion (I already had a dog named Otto, who was the master of all he surveyed and a cat named Buddy), I looked. I looked and fell in love with her immediately. She looked so scared I had to go see her right away. When I went to the league to visit her and see if we were a good match, a small girl went back to get her. She was at the end of her stay there (they were a kill shelter at the time and had tried to contact a rescue for wolfhounds but no one had returned their calls yet). A young girl went back to bring her out and she came barging out of the double doors dragging the girl behind her as she windmilled her way across the linoleum floor toward me, barking her head off the entire way. My first thought upon seeing this spectacle was "yep, that's my dog."

Gia never stopped making a spectacle when in public, me and the man actually found this over the top behavior endearing because after she would bark her head off at someone, all they had to do was put their hand down toward her and she would run over and jam her head into their legs. This was how she hugged people and she loved to do this almost as much as she loved to terrorize the cat. Poor Buddy never really did forgive me for adopting Gia and after losing several futon mattresses to his anger we found a way to give him his own space above her reach. Tom built him his very own room off of the closet with ramps and  balcony access to the living room. He would lay up there and stare down at us all day long and patrol the house at his leisure at night. Gia of course would lunge at the wall just to watch him flinch but after a few bottles of spray water (which had no affect on her whatsoever), lots of drywall spackling and a little time, she grew bored of this game and life settled down into a comfortable pattern for all.

We did try to train her, I took her to a local obedience school, where my eighteen month old Irish Wolfhound mix looked like a eighteen year old in a kindergarten class. We failed. But we had fun doing it. (she did everything really well but the last command of "come" always translated for her into "run right toward me and then veer off at the last minute and run around everyone else like a total maniac." In all fairness to her, they do sound alike.)

As all patterns do eventually, this one broke down after Otto passed and Gia went through a heartbreaking depression. Then Seamus came to live with us and Gia glared at us for three months straight before she realized she could intimidate his big bully butt by turning the tables on him. Gia taught Seamus how to stand in the yard and bark at all the neighborhood dogs. With our help she also taught him to respect his elders and to stop trying to sit on her head when she was napping. Toward the end of her life, she learned from Seamus too. She learned how to turn in silly circles to illustrate how excited she was for her treat. We could tell she did not get the point of this behavior but she continued to do it long after she was tired and dizzy because she made her humans laugh. Seamus also taught her how to dig. The look on her face after she tossed her first pile of dirt behind her was priceless. I am glad I did not miss this moment. A moment that could have easily gone by without notice as I sat at my computer near the window and the man was getting ready for work.

I want the world to know how amazing and caring of a dog she was. A dog others discarded and wrote off as being a discipline problem (there is no discipline in this house, so no problem) turned out to be a large part of my family and an even bigger part of my heart. And most importantly, I want the world to know she was loved, adored even, and will be missed.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Misanthropic Monday

I am full of malice and spite today, which means it is time for another installment of Misanthropic Monday. I handle all my extra malevolence by tossing out random bits of venom for your to read, analyze (if you want to be bothered), compare and choose from to hate right along with me. It is very cathartic for a Monday, the most hateful day of the week.

1. I was at the bank today and I saw a kid pull up to the ATM in his car. He was wearing ear buds in both ears listening to his mp3 player. At first I got upset about the fact that there is an entire generation of young adults wondering around loose that should have been too stupid to survive childhood. After a brief rant on this topic I realize where the real blame belongs. It belongs with my generation because they failed to eat their young.

2. Silly college girls/boys who consistently chose the one road in the entire town that does not have a side walk, shoulder, or even enough extra room for a pedestrian and a car to share the same lane, for their daily run. In the college there is a brand new, expensive, and actually rather plush running track built just for the college kids (lord knows the track team won't be using it since the college disbanded the team last year). Also less than a mile in either direction of this narrow, shoulder-less road are two pleasant little parks, with tracks again created for runners, dog walkers, and just people out for a stroll. Seriously, why do they insist on jogging on this one treacherous road that I must travel to and from work? I think the blame again lies with my generation.

3. People who forget the object is to grow old gracefully. Seriously, you know who you are. Knock it off. No one says you have to act your age but please just stop making a spectacle of yourself. Its awkward for the rest of us and I hate it when someone else makes me feel embarrassed for them.

4. My dog is dying. Her name is Gia and she is a beautiful Irish Wolfhound mix (the other half is really freaking hairy) who came into my life after her found herself for the second time at the local humane league. She has terminal cancer of her urinary tract. The cancer metastasized. We found out in January, shortly after having to say goodbye to our seventeen year old cat, Buddy.  We were told then that she probably only had three months to live, possibly six if we put her through chemo. We opted not to torture her for only a few extra months. Nine months later she is still with us. I had begun to believe she would live to see her thirteenth birthday next month. 

For some stupid reason when we found out, all I could wish for was for her to live to see her next birthday. What can I say, grief is not a rational beast. This past week she has taken a turn for the worse. She still loves to be snuggled, she wants to be in the room with us when we are home but she has difficulty in standing all of a sudden. At first I thought it was because of the weight she lost once her appetite diminished and it took us some time to find a food she would eat more than one meal at a time (I have a new respect for parents of toddlers that are finicky eaters). The solution to her appetite problem was of all things a wet dog food that is very similar to stew. She seems to love the stuff. She put on some of the weight that she lost so quickly as we tried different options to entice her to eat (Arby's roast beef sandwich was a favorite for a time but we could not keep up with the demand).  However, she still cannot stand for more than a minute, her legs wobble too much when she tries to go to the bathroom, causing her to stubble when at her most vulnerable but still she turns her eyes to me and I see nothing but pure love, which breaks my heart because I know the time is soon.

You might be wondering where in those past two paragraphs is a nugget worthy of shining up a new hate on for? The answer is nowhere but I think about how much love she still holds for us and then I think about all those assholes in the world that do horrible things to dogs, animals, and other creatures who are at their mercy. Dogs who have done nothing but shine up eyes filled with love and trust for the hand that mistreats them, and then, and then I hate. I hate completely and with all the force that only a heart filled with so much love for another can hate. 

But right now what I hate the most is that I am afraid I am being selfish by keeping her around. I hate that she won't see her thirteenth birthday. I hate that for one brief moment today I thought about when it would be most convenient for my schedule to take her to the vet. And I hate that I am afraid to say goodbye and I hate that I have to be the grown up that makes the decision of when it is time to say goodbye. 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Book Review: Indelible (The Twixt 1) by Dawn Metcalf

Indelible was a book that I needed time to think about how I really felt before reviewing. This by no means is an indicator that it is a bad book or an overly flawed book, in reality it is far from either of those options. Most books become my favorite book while I am reading but lose a little luster after I finish. I think this syndrome has to do with how involved I become in the world the author has created. Indelible was one of those books that sucked me in completely and took me through the story so fast (not too fast mind you, well maybe in some spots but I will discuss those areas later) that I was so overwhelmed by its characters and the new world that I was unable to form a solid opinion about the book itself until I was able to establish a degree of separation and approach it objectively. Two thumbs up to Dawn Metcalf for creating a world that pulls you in and holds you tightly until it is ready to let you go. 

Judging by the some of the Goodreads comments, some people are not grabbed as thoroughly by the story as I was. I try not to read any other reviews of books before I right my own but once I was sure I was going to review the book today, I went in to alter my review of the book accordingly and saw a few of the comments, which led me to read a few more. It happens.

Let me tell you about Indelible...

When we enter the story, we are introduced to Joy Malone, a teenage girl who lives alone with her father. Joy only has one true friend and still seems to be wrestling with feelings of betrayal and abandonment by her mother, who after having an affair chose to leave her family to live with a much younger man in California. Joy's sense of abandonment also extends to her brother, who left for his first year of college soon after their mother moved to California.  In an effort to pull Joy out of her ever increasing shell, Monica, Joy's best and only friend, convinces her to go to the Carousel (an actual carousel that has been converting into an all age nightclub at a fair) for a night of dancing.

It is under the swirl of lights and during the twirl of the carousel that Joy first spots the boy with eyes that are completely black staring at her. Little does she know this random glance will result in an act of violence that will alter her knowledge of the world around her.

After Joy's eye is injured she begins to see strange things. Worse these strange things keep trying to give her messages to deliver to a person she does not know. Bewildered, Joy fears that she is going insane, but can insanity break your second story kitchen window from the outside while you are inside? Joy will learn very soon that the strange man who attacked her is named Indelible Ink and because he failed to to take her eye altogether, she is now permanently marked as his. And in order to save them both, she must act as if the marking was not a mistake and undertake the task of pretending to be his lehman in order to keep their secret. With the aid of Indelible, his sister, Invisible Inq, and Graus Claude, the Bailiwick, Joy learns how to navigate the weird, bizarre, and often down right horrific world that lies between myth and reality, the Twixt.

As stated earlier, I feel Metcalf did an admirable job of world building. Some people (those darn Goodreads comments) have voiced their opinion that the characters were not endearing or were in some way inaccessible to them as readers. I actually liked the aloofness of the characters when we first meet them and I appreciated that while they were drawn to each other, the relationship part of Indelible was every bit awkward and alien as a relationship between a mortal teenage girl and an immortal boy/man created in the Twixt should be. I do feel that some areas of the story were a little unbalanced such as Joy's relationships with her family members. They all seem stunted and more awkward than her beginning relationship with Indelible but this is not unusual for a teenage girl in a family that fell apart. My issues with how the family relationships were expressed lies in the abruptness of the resolutions to the relationships' tensions.

Yet despite this odd feeling of too sudden closure, I found the first book in the series enthralling. I eagerly await the second installment from Metcalf. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesdays Aren't What They Once Were

In the beginning of the month I resigned my position in the small town public library. I no longer have a mellow evening spent in the children's section of the library. Today was the first day where my other part-time job pulled me in on a Wednesday. It was tortuous. People are miserable in the middle of the week. Seriously miserable. And I am not talking about the customers.

I resigned the position in order to take a part-time weekend job working in an academic library. Now it appears my Friday and Saturday evenings will be spent in the comfort of a library (a beautiful library on a very traditional style campus) but I am not sure they will be quiet and mellow. I am sure I will enjoy every minute of them. One thing for sure, I will be doing more walking.

The main library I will be working has four floors and a mezzanine. I will also sub in the other library, which is located across the campus. I am not able to wear sneakers like I was at the public library and only had the dress shoes I wear at the bank. The dress shoes are all cheap (poor college student with a mortgage) and are just comfortable enough to stand or sit all day in. Not walk a few miles. I kind of knew this before hand but I now have empirical evidence that they are not designed for much more than keeping my feet within the parameters of the bank's dress code. After being forced to wear flip flops for three days after my training at the library, I ordered shoes online. I barely buy shoes in person. I never buy shoes online. I was desperate and did not have time to go shopping.

I bought two pairs via Amazon of walking flats (aka sneakers designed to look like flats). I have worn one pair two days already and am fairly certain they will be up to the test of a shift at the library but I might have to swap out the inserts for my orthotics (I am not that old but I have weird feet and I overprotate like a mofo). The other pair arrived today. I was very worried I bought the wrong size but I went by the comments and ordered my normal size (I wore a pair of sneakers from this manufacturer years ago and they notoriously ran a bit smaller). I wore them only for a few moments but I am in love. They are as close to being barefoot as I can get and still have a bit of cushion (if need be my othotics will also fit in this pair) and they are cute and cheap!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lovely Day for a Tree Trimming

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. Perfect lazy Sunday to spend lounging outside, reading Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn, and watching the man once again climb the large dead oak tree to trim a little more off in preparation for topping it and carving his own totem pole. At least that is what he told his mother he plans to do with it. She thought he was joking, I on the other hand am not so sure that at this time next year I won't have the most interesting yard decoration in the neighborhood...or at the least the start of the most interesting yard decoration in the neighborhood.

While enjoying the cool breezes from the shelter of my shade, I also took the opportunity to play with my new camera app for my kindle.

It takes better pictures than my cheap (and very old) pay as you go cell phone but I am still not that impressed. Plus it is very clumsy to have to hold the kindle facing me and line up the shot behind myself in order to take a picture. Perhaps someday I will buy a good camera or at least a cell phone that will take better pictures. Someday. Maybe.

The man's parents showed up right after he ascended and we spent a very pleasant afternoon watching him work. All in all it was a wonderful way to spend my last Sunday before the semester starts.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink is the first book in the Paper Gods series by Amanda Sun. Along with being a paranormal tale that delves into the Japanese mythology of the Kami, the novel is also a fish out of water tale. Katie Greene is a teenage girl whose entire life was ripped out by the roots after her mother's death and replanted in Japanese soil. She must navigate daily life in a land where the only thing more foreign to her than the language and culture is her aunt, with whom she now resides. Each day she harbors the hope that her grandfather's cancer will go into remission so she can move to Canada and live on familiar soil once again. Begrudgingly, Katie attempts to learn the language and fit in at school. She finds a little solace in her friendship with Yuki and Tanaka, the only two people at school to befriend the gaijin (outsider).  However, cultural gaps still trip her up.

One such social gaffe landed her in a sticky situation when she had to run back into the classroom to exchange her slippers for her outside shoes. She is caught up in an ugly breakup between a popular girl named Myu and Yuu Tomohiro, hunk extraordinaire and the star of the school's kendo team. As Katie tries to hide from the embattled couple her hand comes in contact with some of Tomohiro's sketches and the drawing comes to life under her touch. Intrigued and scared Katie follows and challenges Tomohiro in order to unravel the air of mystery with which he surrounds himself. Determined to find out which persona is the real Yuu Tomohiro, the handsome kendo star, the heartless womanizer, the arrogant loner, the secretive artist, the all around dangerous bad boy or as Katie suspects, the boy who is just as lonely and scared as herself, Katie pries at the ink darkened corners of Tomohiro's life.

However, Katie does not realize others are just as interested at uncovering Tomohiro's secrets. Powers far more dangerous than mythology and legend hint at are hunting Yuu Tomohiro and they are not afraid to use Katie to get to him.


One of the things I really enjoyed about this particular book was the use of unfamiliar landscape, culture, and mythology (at least unfamiliar to me). Often I stick to my comfortable wheelhouse of mythology and legends born of European ancestry, and so does the paranormal YA genre in general. I liked reading about a mythology tradition for which I had no preexisting ideas to conflict with the author's  version. I also enjoyed feeling like I was expanding my vocabulary with the Japanese words and phrases peppered throughout the text. Another thing I liked about this story was the way Katie's journey through her grief at the loss of her old life is echoed in the landscape.

The cherry blossoms bloom just as Katie begins to hope that she is really making friends and a life for herself in the new land. The spring blooms give way to summer foliage as her relationship with Tomohiro deepens and Katie begins to see life beyond her loss. Sun uses weather to also illustrate the emotional landscape of her characters. The humidity of a Japanese summer highlights the difficulty Katie and Tomohiro experience coming to grips with their feelings and fears and storms seem to brew up at every turmoil filled scene. Of course the story does have more than its fair share of angst. No self respecting YA novel would be complete without angst filled scenes cluttering its landscape and Ink seems very eager to exceed its quota in this department. In all fairness, Ink does not allow its story to be swallowed by the angst, unlike other novels in this genre, but there were a few moments where I rolled my eyes and thought "didn't she outgrow this yet?"

Ink's ending left me feeling a little unfulfilled. I realize the author needs to set the readers up for the sequel and got over it quickly. Overall I was very glad to have the chance to read this novel. I feel it is worth mentioning all of the extras at the end of this book. There is a glossary of Japanese terms used in the book, a Q&A with the author, some additional artwork, and a preview of chapter one from the as yet named sequel (which really helped me come to terms with that unsatisfied feeling at the end of book one). For more information on Amanda Sun's Paper Gods series check out her colorful website.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Grave Visions Failure to Appear

I love the Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price. I read the first three books nearly back to back and had pre-ordered book four in the series, Grave Visions, as soon as I finished the third book. This was many, many moons ago. I checked the status of my pre-order at the beginning of the month and all seemed in order, with the release date of August 6th showing on Amazon's website. However, August 6th came and went and I did not get the ebook uploaded to my kindle. I checked my account to see if I was billed and just had some error that prevented it from being uploaded but no money was deducted by Amazon (at least not for this ebook). I checked the status of my order and it showed that it was still in pre-order status. I thought perhaps an odd thing occurred and Amazon flubbed the release date. I figured the error would be corrected soon or the book would be released soon, either way I was sure Amazon would let me know what was going on. No worries.

It never once occurred to me that the author failed to make her deadline. Yet, apparently, that is exactly what happened. I received an email from Amazon this evening informing me that the kindle version of the book was unexpectedly delayed and they were cancelling my order since, at this time, no estimated release date was to be found. I was shocked. I swear I blinked really fast a few times and then slowly a few more times to make sure what I was reading was in fact true. Puzzled, I sought my answers on the web like any sane but dismayed reader would do. But really there are no solid answers to be found, at least none that satisfies my desire for another Alex Craft book from Ms. Price.

What I have found instead is a cryptic blog from the author stating that personal problems, which she wants to remain private (understandably), have stepped all over her professional life this past year and the much awaited sequels to the Alex Craft series and her other successful series, Haven, will both be indefinitely put off. While the very selfish side of me is crushed by this news. The rational, adult side wishes Ms. Price a speedy recovery from whatever intrusive issues have roosted in her home. I will be disappointed if another book never materializes but I will be more disappointed if the voice of a bright, creative artist is lost to us forever.

Good luck Ms. Price, and godspeed for whatever journey you are on.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is That a Puffin in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

I have off today. I am just now drinking my morning coffee. It is gorgeous outside; cool, sunny, with a delicious breeze blowing. I am going to keep this post brief, partly because I need to make a list so I do not squander the day (and I feel a good squander coming on) and partly because you have no idea how many typos I have already corrected. Seriously, my fingers do not seem to want to connect with the keyboard this morning.

One item on the list will be to finish a book review for Ink by Amanda Sun but I have a few more pressing items to check off before I will get to that one. In the meantime, I wanted to share this adorable clip from Animal Planet. It is about how Icelandic children go out of their way to capture and release confused baby puffins after they are lured into the seedy side of town by the bright city lights. It made me smile. I hope it does the same for you.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Looking for Motivation in All the Wrong Places

Nope, don't see any motivation here either.

I have looked in the laundry room (also known as our basement), my kindle, Facebook, the stack of papers and books strewn across my desk, my unmade bed, and my Netflix queue, my yarn stash, and even sifted threw the community of dust bunnies under my bed (I was looking for my other flip flop) but all to no avail because it is after 2:30 pm and I have found no motivation whatsoever today. Motivation has been missing from my house for nearly a full week. I haven't seen it since last Monday evening when I went on a cleaning spree and nearly poisoned myself with bleach fumes. Fun times.

So coincidentally, it has been nearly a week since my summer semester has ended. The lack of motivation means I still have not crossed much off of my downtime to do list. I have started to knit several projects. I had purchased a hat kit more than two years ago (seriously, I just realized it has been that long). I had made several attempts to begin the hat but it was my first foray into the world of knitting in the round and I had difficulty casting on the first row just right so I kept putting it off for when I had more time. I am nearly done with the hat but as of yet it is still unfinished (surprisingly, it looks very hat like already). I have purchased all the right tools to start a baby blanket for a friend who is due in October (but most likely will give birth in September). I am planning to knit Ewe Ewe's Serenity baby blanket with a slight variation around the edge so that I can weave a thick red satin ribbon around the outside of the blanket (they are Philly fans and have done the baby's room in a sports theme, heavy on the Philly's memorabilia). I am just waiting for my circular needles to arrive via mail and then I can cast the blanket on.

I have also finally purchased the monster size 35 US (19mm) needles required for the throw blanket I have intended to make out of the stash of yarn my mother gave me several years ago. It was Lion's Brand Homespun yarn in the Tudor colorway (lot 99441.01). I am not a fan of acrylic yarns but it was free, I lkie the muted colors and it feels soft and plush. The pattern was also free. It was printed on the back of a skein wrapper. It is called Homespun Knit Waterfall Afghan (I hate that word "afghan." It is a very unattractive word and conjures up all kinds of hideous orange, mustard yellow, and brown geometric crocheted and scratchy nightmares from the seventies *shudder*). When I am done, hopefully, I will have a soft and cuddly throw that looks something like this picture below and is easy to wash (i.e. dog friendly). If I fail, or more likely if the acrylic yarn does not stay as plush and soft in texture as it feels now, then Seamus gets another dog blanket for his crate. A win-win in my book.

Look at that it is several hundred words later and still, I have not found any motivation. I think I have to call out the big guns and make a list. But first, I have to get a shower and run to Auto Parts with the man so he can purchase brakes for his truck. Perhaps his motivation to get things done will jump start my stalled weekend.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Mournful Monday

So it is another bright sunny Monday Morning here in the heart of Lancaster County. It is Mother Nature's cruel way of mocking her children as we toddle off to our prison cells cubicles. She is showing us how beautiful life can be while reminding us of all we will be missing while toiling away, trying to earn the money that will let us enjoy the time we do have off (you know, when it is raining and the only things fun to do are inside and cost money). If the knowledge that Mother Nature enjoys your Monday Morning suffering is not enough to make you cry, then I am sure this video of a disabled Boston Terrier puppy taking his first steps will do the trick.

His name is Mick and some wonderful people with big hearts and tons of patience helped rehabilitate the little guy. I had tears in my eyes by the time he even took his first steps. I read so much about the horrible things we do to each other on a daily basis, that I think this week needs to kick off with tears of joy brought about by a touching tale of good deeds done for those with tails (or at least little nubbies that wiggle to and fro). Since Monday mornings demand some tears be shed, let them be ones of hope and happiness rather than mourning for our lost weekend (that'll tweak Mother Nature's nose real good. Ha, take that you ol' biddy!)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Book Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin, #1)Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken
*I am sharing another of my Goodreads reviews here*
Why do I ever think a paranormal romance will ever be anything but awkward sex scenes tethered together by a thin line of plot? This book started out as interesting as the blurb of a summary suggested it would be but quickly degenerated once the romantic pairing was consummated.

View all my reviews

Allow me to provide a little context for my brief but vehement rant. I personally prefer a good book set in a well crafted world with quirky characters and a plot that has enough action to keep it interesting during the moments of character development and world building and spiced with a small element of romance. I usually read urban fantasy series for fun. I also love to read a good epic fiction series too but lately it seems my mind has been choosing simpler reads for its down time (I blame all the dry reading I am doing for school). I have been reading YA paranormal for a few years now too because I find that too many books with a romantic element in the adult version dips too heavily from the Laurel K. Hamilton pond (in case you don't get this reference, Hamilton's Anita Blake series started out very strong but after book 4 or 5 the sex scenes ate the plot).

I used to read full out romance novels when I was in my early teens. I was fond of the historical romance genre (I read Robert Jordan's historical romance written under the pen name of Regan O'Neal before I read the Wheel of Time series). The novelty of reading something I was not allowed to read glossed over the formulaic plots and all the cheesy "heaving breasts and throbbing manhood" lines. As with most things new and forbidden, the novelty wore off and I moved onto different genres.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a prude. I don't mind a really steamy sex scene or two in a book but only if they are written well. Most are not. Let's face it, most sexual encounters are awkward to begin with once you put them into words, so it is not surprising that few writers master describing the deed with any sort of skill. Now these statements are very obviously my own personal opinion on the romance genre. I understand that I am not the norm for which all must be measured against and my opinion does not represent what mainstream female readers like and desire. Proof of this lies in the sales for books like Dragon Actually (Laurel K. Hamilton is a very rich woman from her Anita Blake series and has many loyal and rabid fans who will drop what they are doing to defend their favorite author in a heartbeat). Take a look at the statistics on the RWA's (Romance Writers of America) website to see what I mean about mainstream opinion. Clearly romance novels are the norm.

So with this background information in place, let me tell you one more thing. Every now and again I see a summary for a romance novel (usually paranormal) that catches my attention. The plot sounds complex enough to be the main focus of the book and the characters sound down right interesting. Interest piqued, I pick up the book and think that this might be one of those few romances that are balanced and well written. I am usually proven wrong. I loathe that I was suckered in against my better judgement and end up frustrated with the book because it turns out to be everything I did not want it to be (formulaic, shallow plot, shallow characters that do mirror time as a Mary Jane, and every other page filled with awkward sex scenes with trite cliches peppering the text). This was the case with Dragon Actually.

There are some exceptions, even for the ones that lack the balance of plot and sex scenes. I have enjoyed a few romances series that had characters that were well developed enough that I cared to follow their story even through the multitude of awkward sex scenes. Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series is one example of this type. There are also the few books that embrace their cheesy nature and temper the tone with lots of humor. In fact, I recently read one of this type of exception and will review it here soon.

Procrastination, Thy Name is...Well, We'll Think of One Later

In case you have been wondering why the blog has gone all but silent, I am in the last weeks of summer semester. I have several large projects (which I have thought extensively about but have yet to really start doing. You know, par for the course) due this week. I also have some big news that I was waiting to share until it was confirmed and I made sure all parties who needed to know of the changes brought about by this news were informed (not that any of them read my blog, or know it exists but you  know, it is the internet. Things do get shared whether you want them to be or not). I cut back on the blog posts in an effort not to blab my big mouth. Because straight up, I would have. I have been dying to tell everyone, which also includes putting it in writing and posting it to the web (so much cheaper than hiring an airplane to drag a banner all around the world). So without further ado, I will tell you as much as I possibly can without actually divulging the actual names of my employers.

Two weeks ago I had an interview for a part-time position with an institution of higher education that has a stellar reputation and has been around since the late 1700s. I not only had an interview (which went very well, thank you) but I was offered the job for which I applied. Officially starting the end of August, I will be a part-time weekend circulation assistant in an academic library. I know for many of you this news does not sound like much but for me it is huge. My goal upon completing my MLIS is to be employed in an academic library. This is nearly an impossible feat without having experience working in an academic library.

Most people gain this type of experience in their college or university's library performing some type of work study. I did not have the financial freedom to work for the lower wages often offered for work study and the hours offered for these types of positions made it difficult for me to hold another job in addition to the work study and my course work.  I live in an area where there are several reputable institutions of higher learning but even with the number of colleges and universities in the area than in most areas in Pensylvania there still is a remarkable lack of postings for library jobs at these places. I have religiously followed blogs like inalj and checked ALA job list, PaLA's job postings, and a few other places where job postings are either hosted or aggregated. In addition to checking these type of pages, I have been stalking checking frequently the websites of two major institutions in the area. One posting that I was almost tailored made for was posted on the number one spot of my A list of choice employers and I jumped on it with my full girth.

This new position will mean several things for me.
  1.  I will be spending every Friday and Saturday evening working hard in the school's library.
  2. I have to give up one of my two current part-time jobs (this choice has been made already, for financial reasons, I have to give up the public library postion in the northern part of the county. I am sad but still overwhelmingly excited about the new position that the emotions are cancelling each other out...mostly).
  3. I no longer have to commute from one end of the county to the other. Both jobs I am retaining will be within a ten minute drive. True I now have to figure in a small amount of city driving (which means I must master the urges to wing j-walking pedestrians that stroll slowly across the street while they talk on their cell phones after suddenly pushing their baby stroller out from between two park cars in the middle of the street and to drive my car tank style over double parked cars...partially because getting arrested will ruin my day and my dream job but mostly because it is a small sedan and won't crush them Bigfoot style, and if you can't do it in Bigfoot style, why do it at all?

...and finally, most important of all,  it will mean I have my foot firmly planted in the door where I desire to work full-time one day. I have been bumbling around all week to a soundtrack of Katrina and the Waves "I'm Walking on Sunshine..."

That should be enough eighties references for one evening. Book reviews will resume shortly...after I finish those last few big (but as of yet, not started) final projects, which are due throughout the course of the weekend and next week.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: Charming by Elliot James

Due to a lack of customers and an odd plethora of employees (nearly unheard of where I work), I was able to come home early from the bank today. I plan on actually being productive at home and finishing up some coursework and what not but you know me, plans are made to be put off until midnight.

Instead of listening to my three hour lecture on the wonders of metadata, I find myself taking care of other unfinished business, such as a book review of Charming by Elliot James.

Meet the protagonist: John Charming. He is but one Charming from the family line of Charmings whose fantastical feats were long translated into fairytale. The Charmings have fought dragons, witches, vampires, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night since before the fall of Rome. Like many of the descendants of his fabled line, John was a Knight Templar, only he fought with kevlar and shotguns rather than chain mail and crossbows.  He swore a sacred oath to the brotherhood to protect and uphold the Pax Arcana, a spell cast by the Elves before they journeyed to the West for good. John was very good at his job too until the brotherhood turned on him because of something that happened while he was but a babe in his mother's womb.

As the time went by, John learned to survive in the mundane world while still upholding his duty as a Knight in a manner that almost never draws the attention of the Templars' themselves. All that changed the night a blonde and a vampire walked into his bar...

Meet my opinion: I liked the story and its main character right from the beginning. My affection waned a little towards the end and there are a few glitches that need to be worked out in stories that will follow but overall, I still really liked the book.

The storyline was interesting. The character was a good mixture of tragic hero meets smart ass. And the lore! Oh gosh golly, the lore! This world James crafted is filled to the gills with mythology, legend, and lore. Furthermore, James gives the mythology a good spin and fits pieces of legend together with such skill it seems only logical they always fit together in that fashion. If the book slows a bit in the middle it is due only to the weight of the mythology laden world being so craftily explained to the reader. There are a lot of info dumps but this is a very lore rich world so there is a lot of information to impart in order to give the reader a fair view of the landscape. I think Elliot James does a grand job of world building in this debut novel.

The other characters were very interesting also and will easily win their spots in the reader's heart. I like the ensemble cast of quirky monster hunters James introduces to us in this book. My only real caveat with the story lies with the romantic aspect of the plot (I am not a fan of the cover either but this has no bearing on the story's quality so I will just mention it here, in passing...just this once). Quite simply it was too soon, almost so fast as to appear superficial and forced. The sexual tension in the storyline was not tangible for me as a reader. I only knew it existed because of the words written to indicate that the two people involved and all those around them felt it. I did not bond with the intended main couple as a romantic pair but rather as individuals (who are well developed characters in their own right) and visualizing them together as a full fledged couple still seems awkward and ill timed. Luckily this is an action packed urban fantasy and not a paranormal romance.

Charming is Elliot James's debut novel and if I remember correctly, there will be some short stories that lead up to the release of the main novel. I look forward to reading them all and any future novels Mr. James writes. I think it is entirely possible the Pax Arcana will become one of my favorite series soon.

*I normally include a cover of the book but I really am not fond of it so I won't share it here. I know I said I would only mention this dislike of mine once but I find the cover to be really cheesy, and in this genre that is saying much. Worse than its Kraft worthy status, it does not match my own visual image of what John Charming looks like and that throws me whenever I look at it. Silly and superficial. yes, I agree. Thankfully I know to not judge a book by its cover or I would have missed out on a good story.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Yep, It's July All Right

I broke a sweat cleaning my kitchen floor. You know what the means, right? Well, yes, it means I need to clean my kitchen floor more often but the sweat is not from scrubbing hard but from just having the audacity to move in this hot, humid July air. It is only 87° F here in Millersville, PA. The humidity is only 59% (it gets higher than that here). The two things coupled together with a blazing midday sun makes it feel like it is a 110° F (Accue Weather says the real feel temp is only 96°, but what do they know, silly weather channel). 

The man is outside, up high in a tree. His father came over to watch him while he cuts more of the dying Pin Oak tree down. I was out with them briefly and I think I got a little sunburn on my forearms. Unfortunately I am serious. I failed to put sunscreen on before I went out because a. I was not going to be out more than five minutes (I was out a wee bit longer but still not more than thirty minutes), b. I was standing in the shade as much as I could (we have a lot of trees so there is plenty of shade...or so I thought), and finally c. I was wearing clothes that only left a little bit of skin showing.  Apparently one little spot on the upper part of my left forearm must have failed to get the memo to stay in the shade. I scurried back inside as soon as I felt the sizzle trying to root itself deeper into my skin. 

I am supposed to be inside finishing up another can see, I am making much progress. :)

I am going to go do something productive now, like my assignment or maybe learn a new language

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Time Flies When You Are...Well, Busy

So the first week of July has flown by with nairy a blog post. I am sorry for that dear reader, I really am. I have just been very busy with course work. Last week I played around with oXygen XML editor, creating metadata records in OAI DC and MODS. I also learned my way around Omeka, which is an open source web-publishing platform for library and archive display. This week I will be mucking about Koha, which is an open source Integrated Library System.

I have finished reading a urban fantasy novel titled Charming, written by Elliot James, I will be reviewing this soon. I really liked James' debut novel. The Pax Arcana series holds a lot of promise, as does the author. I also finished reading Charmed, which was a light, fluffy and very endearing adult romance novel. But I have no time to review them right now, I will get to them soon though. I also read the first two books of a fun, fluffy and a little zany mystery series called Mad for Mod by Diane Vallere.

That is all I have time for this morning, I hope everyone has an excellent Wednesday (you all know how I like my Wednesdays, though this one will be more action packed than most but more on that subject later). I leave you with this image from I Can Has Cheezeburger

Thursday, June 27, 2013

This is a Test.

Coveted (Coveted, #1) Coveted by Shawntelle Madison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is flawed but it still provides a very entertaining read. I started reading the book while I was looking for something light, cute, fluffy even and what is more cute and fluffy than a werewolf who suffers from OCD and hordes Christmas ornaments?

While the storyline has some issues with continuity, really temporal issues rather than inconsistency with the world building or the characters. In fact the character development is something Shawntelle Madison gets right immediately. She manages to humanize her supernatural characters in such a way that it is hard not to keep reading, despite the awkward beginning and any blips in the storyline, just so you get to find out more about them. In my opinion, this book and its sequel is a perfect beach read.

View all my reviews Kept (Coveted, #2)Kept by Shawntelle Madison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very satisfying sequel to Coveted. The second book in the trilogy has less flaws, less awkward moments in the storyline than the first and Ms. Madison improves on her already excellent character development. The story had just the right amount of suspense to keep a reader interested but did not try to be more of a complex plot than the story called for. I look forward to the third book in the series.

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I was testing to see if I could simply embed My reviews from Goodreads on my blog. Goodreads provides the code to do just this but I have never bothered to play with such things before and I was curious.  I do not usually summarize the books when I review straight to Goodreads because the synopsis is always posted at the top of the page, it is just redundant, so sorry there is not much info about the books themselves but the titles are linked to the Goodread synopsis. I am pleased with the effect but I don't know if I continue to repost my Goodread reviews here or not. I often provide a cut down version on Goodreads of my blog review and quite frankly, I prefer to continue the practice but it was nice not to have to do any work for the book images and links ('cause you know it is sooo hard to do a Google search then cut and paste the links).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring, the Old Man is Snoring...

So it is a little after 7 PM here and a huge thunderstorm has moved into the northern part of the county. The book return is filled with wet books (my first clue) and I can hear the wind and the thunder (my second and third clues) even in the children's library, which is in the basement. I know if the storm hits the southern end my poor "wittle pibble" (all 85 lbs of him) will be shaking in his crate until either the man or I get home to snuggle him. Seamus is such a big wuss. It is adorable in a way but I worry about him being home scared. My other dogs took to their crates, in fact they considered them sanctuary, not Seamus. He hates his and does not find comfort in the multitude of blankets we place in there to cushion his daily stay. Unfortunately, despite his size, he still has too much puppy in him to be allowed out of the crate when no one is home, especially since this time gives Gia a few moments to herself throughout the day.

In other news, I am currently reading an excellent book from Elliot James titled Charming. I think Mr. James has been added to my favored authors list.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tying Up a Loose End: A Review of The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson

A while back, I believe it was in May, I started to talk a little about the Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson. The book was leaving me feeling a little flat while I was reading it, however, I really loved the originality of the idea behind the book's story.
I love the idea of finding out your seventy eight year old mother, the woman who barely knows who you are much less who she is, was a super hero. (see rest of first review here)
To sum up the story: We meet Martin Talbot in his mundane world, dealing with a multitude of mundane issues. Judy Talbots, his mother, is a is a seventy-two year old Alzheimer patient in a nursing home. Martin is her only child and thereby the only person who can take care of her and her affairs. Martin also has a teenage daughter with whom he does not have a close relationship. Martin biggest problem, however, is the fact that he does not command any respect. His ex-wife always sides with their daughter, especially about her decision to major in theater and not something practical like business or accounting like her father did. His daughter thinks he does not understand her, therefore does not deserve to be included in her life plans. His boss feels Martin's time away from work to take care of family matters shows he is not a team player and does not feel Martin's track record and his years of seniority are enough to warrant respect when the rumors of layoffs comes to fruition.

To top everything else off, Martin finds out his mother is not who he thought she was. His mother's lawyer and only close friend gives Martin a box upon the instructions of his mother. Inside this box are a letter and instructions on how to find a hidden room in Judy's home. Inside this room, he finds several articles of clothing and diary's that inform him of his mother's secret identity as a super hero from the late fifties and early sixties.As Martin reds the first diary he learns mother's past and how she became the Black Stiletto. While Martin is coming to grips with this revelation, someone from his mother's past is trying to find her in order to avenge their brother's death.

I had issues with this book early on but I have since finished reading it. While it was not my cup o'tea, I would recommend it to people who like the super hero genre. As I said before, I really love the idea that a super hero's secret identity is discovered by her son after she is placed in a nursing home for Alzheimer patients. The originality more than makes up for my lack of connection with the characters and what I perceived as a general lack of suspense in the plot. I think Mr. Benson did a good job of placing the super hero solidly in the mundane world.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Can Today be Over Already?

"I am in denial and I refuse to come out. I am not up this early. I do not have to be at work in an hour for another lovely morning meeting. I will not be at work until 8 pm tonight and I most certainly do not still need to finish and edit the paper due by 11:59 this evening."
This is my Facebook status today. I think it explains my whole week and why there has not been a review once this week. I did finish some flawed by entertaining books last week that I want to tell you about but that will have to be another day. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Out of Gas

I am once again completely done in for, there is nothing left to burn, no gas in the furnace, no fumes to coast on. Stick a big ol' fork in me, 'cause I am done. Summer in the children's portion of a public library is a very active season. Even in a very small town. Perhaps, especially in a small town. Either way, I find myself after a regular shift at the library absolutely exhausted. I tried to unsuccessfully connect with the professor and the rest of my Information Technology class via Google Hangouts (I refuse to take this lack of being able to successfully use technology children are able to navigate daily as a sign of what my grade for this course might be). I was then going to work on catching up with the reading for my metadata class but I have read the same paragraph over and over and still cannot tell you what I just read. This is a clear sign I should just give up the chase, curl up with the dogs, and shut my eyes even though it is only a little after ten at night.

I feel old. Grandma old. I am so tired I'm okay with that.

G'night bitches

Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Okay, I finally have a few moments to tell you about Splintered! First let me tell you again that I really loved this book. I honestly think it is my favorite new read of the year. I am writing my review while watching (more like listening) to the forth lecture from my course on I apologize now because there will be typos.

Have you ever wondered what happened after Alice went down the rabbit hole? Alyssa Gardner knows. She knows that she, just like her mother, and her grandmother, and her great grandmother, and her grandmother before her, will go insane. Just like every female descendant of Alice Liddell has since she returned from Wonderland all those years ago. In fact, Alyssa fears she is already inheriting the family curse because she can hear insects and flowers speak to her. She had held the madness at bay for a few years with her beautifully morbid works of art but Alyssa is unsure how much longer she will keep her secret hidden. She fears she will end up in the same asylum as her mother before she even graduates from high school, before she even has a chance to be kissed for the first time.

Alyssa would do anything to have a chance at a normal life. To have a chance at love with her handsome and talented next door neighbor, Jeb. To have a chance at a life out of the shadow of the asylum.

But Alyssa is losing hope that this will ever be a possibility for her. As she notices stranger things occurring around her, she begins to question her family's past. Just as her curiosity hits its peak, her mother's mental health takes a drastic turn for the worse and Alyssa must get to the bottom of the family curse before it is too late to save her mother. In order to save her mother, Alyssa must do the one thing she fears the most. She must find the rabbit hole and journey to Wonderland to undo the mistakes Alice made and to lift the curse from her family's bloodline. With the unexpected aid of her crush Jeb and her mysterious and seductive Wonderland guide, Morpheus, Alyssa plans to do just that. However, once through the rabbit hole, Alyssa learns that not all is as it seems, including who she always thought she was.


In A.G. Howard's deft hands Wonderland takes on a darker, more twisted, and by far more seductive role than the world originally created by Lewis Carroll. I always worry when a favorite book, legend, or myth is taken up by another artist. It is understandable why writers and artist attempt to add on and recreate the works of those who came before them. After all, the potential for greatness is very palpable and tantalizing but way too many grab the low hanging fruit and only manage to make a pale shadow rather than a transformative creation of their own. Howard's work is not one of those who grabs hold of the overly ripe fruit and pass it off as a tasty, yet stale, pie. Rather she manages to be one of the few who borrow, tweak and reform the classic work into something new, tasty, and delicious. I for one cannot wait for a second slice.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Not the Normal Wednesday Evening, but Still Wonderful.

Not sure how this post will turn out. I am exhausted and can go no further. I abandoned my metadata assignment because I was started to get really sloppy and just highlighting the areas I knew I would need to rework even as I typed them. My memory has quit on me and the effort to look up the proper format for even the date seems like too much work right now. The book is all the way in the kitchen, nestled inside my book tote. I would have to walk up three whole steps, cross my narrow living room, take two steps to clear the foyer and five more to reach the chair on which my tote is dangling. I am exhausted just thinking about its retrieval.  Why so tired you ask?

My dumb self stayed up till two in the morning working on said assignment, thinking it needed turned in tonight when in reality it is due tomorrow night. I did this to myself knowing I had to be up by six thirty so I could be ready in time to pull and open to close shift at the library. I swear my right side of my brain lives to set up my left side.

My normal quiet Wednesday evening at the library was not so quiet tonight. It was still very satisfying, if not serene day at work. Today was the second day registration was open for the Summer Reading program. All winter long they kept telling me, "you know nothing Andy ----. Summer is coming." I scoffed but they were right, the happy little book ravenous animals descended in droves with their siblings in tow (the northern part of the county likes to breed large families). All were very eager to sign up to read and perform tasks for prizes. It put a smile on my face, even as I walked down the aisles and righted the same rows of books five or six times throughout the day and picked up the same stuffed animals from various points throughout the library, all day long.

With the exception of the poo that was like cement in the one toilet (seriously, what are they feeding that kid?!), my day was nearly perfect. It was busy and filled with happy patrons (all right, there were a few miserable souls but they did not linger) and good conversations. But I am a waste of space at home right now. Time to put this lady to bed. I will set my alarm early so I can redo what I filled in tonight on my assignment. I will have four and a half hours to finish it before it is due tomorrow. More than enough time. 

Monday, June 03, 2013

Let Me Tell You About My Sunday...

It was wonderful. I did not get a few things accomplished on my list but I am okay with that fact. One of those things was t review Splintered by A.G. Howard, and for that I am sorry. I will get to it later this week, I promise. I really loved this book, so I am excited to tell you all about it.

What I did get done was help The Man rearrange the living room. This is something that has needed done for a while but we put it off until the need to install a window unit air conditioner made it absolutely necessary. This rearrangement of furnishings prompted a flurry of cleaning (by flurry, I mean a few moments of sweeping, dusting and rubbing the wood down with lemon oil. No other room was infected by this brief moment of productivity). The result of the switched around layout is very nice, cozy, and very ascetically pleasing. It also maximizes the rug to floor ratio, which means more protected areas of hardwood from giant dog claws. We love Seamus dearly but he is a force of destructive nature wrapped in a cute reddish brown package that has proven hazardous to our newly laid hardwood floor.

I also finished two small projects just in the nick of time for school. Caught up, well, almost caught up, on my reading for both classes. And otherwise enjoyed a nice relaxing night watching back to back episodes of Supernatural with the man (thank you Netflix). I enjoyed a few lagers, I knitted a little (I am making some really cute Christmas presents...shhhh, they're a secret) and topped the evening off by going to bed with a good book. How perfect of a day was that, I ask? For me they do not get much better.
In fact, this Monday morning is proving the opposite of yesterday, and I have only been awake for forty minutes. It is not a horrible day but some things are not as they should be, speaking of which, my coffee is finally done. A nice big cup of coffee should smooth some of the nasty out of this Monday morning.

Time to go look at some cute animal pictures.

P.S. My Monday just got better. After a few sips of the magic juice, I realized I had not set my alarm clock for the wrong time and The Man did not forget to program in the right time for the delayed brewing on the coffeemaker...I just woke up two hours early! I don't start work at 9 AM, I start at 11 AM. Bonus hours!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday...I Got Nothing After That...

Not much going on right now. I am still having focus issues (squirrel!). I have loaded so many new programs onto my wee little notebook that I feel it is about to explode. I have had to reload some of those new programs (the blame lies squarely with the idiot at the keyboard, per usual).

I am learning to navigate fun things like Filezilla, Dreamweaver CS6, Putty, and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 (For the record, I know how to navigate the Office suite but apparently I had issues deleting 2007 and installing the newer versions). There was an Office Professional Plus 2013 version, but the idiot (that would be me, just in case you were confused) squandered her one time only key code by initiating a go back on her laptop because she thought she messed something else up that turned out was not messed up in the first place. But boy did she mess other things up really good while trying to fix that which was not messed up in the first place (I feel like this type of screw up deserves a medal or something, seriously, it was that pure of a moment of utter stupidity that was almost like art).

Anyhow, back to the focus issues. I am still plugging away at The Black Stiletto. I put it down for a day or two in order to do class readings and ended up picking up and finishing Splinter by A.G. Howard. It was that good, I could not put it down until I finished it in one go. I think this is my favorite book of the year, it was that good. I will review it this weekend. I promise.

Tonight I am back to my course readings on metadata and the joys of Linux. (I am! Can't you tell by this blog update that I am very busy reading Metadata for Digital Collections? Squirrel!). Did I mention my professor for the metadata course is a first time instructor? He is awesome actually. He is bending over backwards to make sure everything is understood by all and making sure is available to students if we have questions. He does all of this while still performing his umpteen other responsibilities as the Metadata librarian for the digital library for the school. He is also in a death metal band with another librarian. How hardcore is that, I ask?

I have also been busy scanning in some old family photos lent to me by a great aunt or is it an aunt once removed? I don't know but she was very nice and spent time telling me some stories about relatives who died too young for me to ever know, including my maternal grandmother (guess which side of the family I genetically take after? Oh joy).

Now where was I...oh yeah, have a goodnight. :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

It Has Been a Long Week

I am writing this post late on a Friday never use to be late for me on a Friday night but now that I am apparently old and decrepit, it is. It has been one hell of a week. I have focus issues with my newest courses and have veered slightly off course (ha, get course on my courses. I amuse me) and will have to spend my Memorial Day weekend playing catch up. I did not know what to do with two full days off back to back, so it is just as well.

The man plans to be swinging from the trees with his new arborist gear. I will be out there watching him work. We will also try and squeeze in a family outing with the in-laws this weekend too.

In other news, I am currently reading The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson. I had issues with the text early on but am warming up to the tale a bit as I continue reading. The book is about a man who after placing his aging mother in a home for Alzheimer patients, discovers a secret room in their old home. In this room are several objects, some specialized clothing and a set of diaries which reveal a secret about his mother he never knew before...she was a super hero! As the man struggles between disbelief and wonder, an old enemy of his mother resurfaces looking for revenge, and the whole family may be in danger.

I love the idea of finding out your seventy eight year old mother, the woman who barely knows who you are much less who she is, was a super hero. The problem I am having with the book is the swinging between the present day and the diary, mostly because the diary dialog does not sound like a young woman from the fifties is narrating. The diary sections are a little contrived early on but like I said, I am warming up to the whole story as I go because the diary does help flesh out the past of this once proud, ass-kicking woman. Another issue I am having is that after the first few diary sets (this is as far as I have read so far), we still do not get the son's perspective on what he is reading about his mother's history. I think a little interaction between the diary reveal and the son, as a reader, would have been a nice touch. I am intrigued enough to cut The Black Stiletto some slack though and promise to reserve judgement until I have finished the book (I can't say I am not making snide remarks on the notes in my Kindle, I am not that big of a person).

Anyhow, that is enough rambling for one evening. I hope everyone in the states enjoys their Memorial Day weekend. And for some readers who are not living in the states, I hope you have an awesome weekend too.

P.S. Don't forget to hug a veteran (only after asking them nicely if you may do so that is :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goodbye Sookie Stackhouse, I Will Miss You.

It is a bittersweet place where I find myself right now, the minute after I finished  reading  Dead Ever After, the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. On the one hand, I am very happy with it ending the way it did, the way I knew it would, the way I knew it had to since I read the very first book. On the other hand, Sookie and crew have been my friends for nearly a decade. I have waited with baited breathe every spring for the next book in the series to arrive on my doorstep so I could catch up and visit with old friends. But all good things must come to an end. This is especially true for book series.

It has been proving a few too many times that a good book series turns bad when the author and publishing house tries to drag the cash cow out one time too many. Thank you Ms. Harris for being the true professional you are and knowing when to call time. Thank you for sharing your characters and their stories with us. Thank you for providing me with years of entertainment and fantasy. I know some readers are not happy with you right now, and that is unfortunate but I am definitely not one of them.  I have enjoyed your humor and style these past ten years and I hope there is good fortune enough in this world to allow me to enjoy your wonderful writing again. And thank you, especially, for bringing this series back to the place I thought it was going in the very beginning.

Some of you may notice I am not really reviewing the book. It feels too personal to me right now to provide a critical analysis (even the shallow type of review I usually do seems too intimate to share right now, after all I just said goodbye to some friends). I am experiencing that emotional cliff that follows on the heels of completing a book that draws you so completely into its world. The Sookie Stackhouse books may not be classic literature material but they will always have a place in my personal library. Over the years these books crafted by Ms. Harris have have made me laugh. They have been the reason I have stayed up late into the night trying to read one more chapter (which ends up always to be twenty or thirty more). They have even made me shout out in frustration a time or two and tear up for a brief moment here or there but they always left me with a warm and fuzzy place that I could revisit time and time again. A place that feels like I imagine Bon Temps feels like to Sookie; a place like home. 

I hope in time I will be able to reread these books and recapture the enthrallment of life in Bon Temps.  I guess there is but one more thing to say tonight: Goodbye Sookie Stackhouse, I will miss you dearly.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Morning Struggle

I have been up since nine this morning. I have accomplished little. Actually other than letting the dogs out, making coffee, unloading and reloading the dishwasher, I have done nothing. I have logged onto Facebook. I have cruised around I Can Has Cheezburger and Cute Overload websites (my morning coffee ritual). I have not rounded up the laundry that must be done today. I have not begun to clean my dusty little hovel yet. I have not cracked open a textbook and read the required chapters. I have also not logged onto my Courseweb to watch the class lecture from this week's classes.

When Sunday is my only day off (which it often is), I sometimes struggle to make it the productive day that it needs to be. What I do not struggle with is ways to procrastinate. Apparently I can do that on autopilot.

Meh, it's only 11:30 AM, I still have time to get stuff know, later on today.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: Embrace by Jessica Shirvington


Violet Eden is the main character in Embrace by Jessica Shirvinton. I had difficulty with the names of some characters at first (a little too saccharine for my taste) but Ms. Shirvington explains the main character's name genesis later in the book and I was cool with it, eventually. Embrace is the first book in What Shirvington calls the Violet Eden Chapters...I call it a series but the author does have some authority here.

Anyhow...Violet Eden is about to turn seventeen. She has a crush on her mentor and good friend, Lincoln but she is afraid to make the first move. Her best friend Steph convinces Violet to finally let the cat out of the bag or move on. Violet hates celebrating her birthday since it just reminds her that on this day x amount of years ago her mother gave her life so that Violet could live hers. She feels wrong celebrating her mother's death. However, this year she hopes an intimate party with just her father, her best friend, and Lincoln might be a good place to see if Lincoln wants to move their relationship out of the friend zone. Unfortunately, the birthday is a bigger deal than Violet knows and its significance will irrevocably change her life and her relationships.   

As her plans for the big night crash around her, Violet will have to deal with the aftermath of being betrayed by the man she desires, the realization that she is different and has some major choices to make. Choices that will either bring her into the center of a battle between light and dark forces that has been going on for eons or leave her a walking, talking target for those who wish to use her...or worse. On top of everything else, Violet has to choose between her friendship with Lincoln (and possible romantic relationship, if she can ever bring herself to forgive him, that is) and developing a romance with the enigmatic Phoenix, who has the eerie talent of being around when Violet needs him the most.

Violet has only two rules she lives her life by, don't run and don't quit. Will she be able to live by those rules?

I really liked the darkness of Embrace's storyline. You get a very real feeling that happy endings are not guaranteed in this world. Violet is a teenage girl who has had more than her fair share of brushes with the darker side of life. She is not the bubbly naive character you encounter in most YA books. She is not without flaw either, Violet is definitely not a Mary Jane though she does have powers that no one else has been granted. Unlike most YA paranormal I read, this series deals with more Judeo-Christian religious supernatural elements but it does not get preachy. I liked the not getting preachy part, since bible thumping of any sort tends to strike the wrong cord with me. I also liked the different perspective on Angel mythology. I don't want to ruin too much of the story but how many books do you read where Guardian Angels are not only real but they are bad ass? I thought this book was an excellent start to a series. I will be reading the other chapters to Violet Edens tale soon. Very soon.