Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Fill Ins #10 & 7 (Not So) Weird Facts About Me

1. When my blog is broken, I whine and complain a little and then grab whatever book I am reading and immerse myself in the pages.
2. I saw the most amazing sight this morning! Rain! (but, boy, was it a pain to have to drive in because it was coming down fast and nonstop for several hours).
3. The Kite Runner and Atonement are the new movies I'm most looking forward to seeing.
4. Work: Necessary and rarely dull.
5. Of all the new tv shows, I enjoy Chuck the most. (I can't believe I'm admitting to this. Ugh. It is silly and dumb, but it sure is fun.)
6. If only the deputy district attorney had called me this morning to say I did not need to appear in court today so that I would not have had to get up early on my day off, dress in my finery, fight traffic to find a place to park, run between the raindrops to the courthouse, and wait and wait and wait. Now I have to go back on Monday.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to some much needed bloghopping (Anjin's finally battling in Karazhan), tomorrow my plans include taking in a movie and finishing up the laundry and Sunday, I want to get caught up on TV shows!

Dewey of The Hidden Side of a Leaf kindly tagged me for the Seven Weird Facts Meme. I expected I would end up being tagged for this one and was trying to think ahead of time for my response, but I am still at a loss. Let's see what I can scrape together.

1. I am a huge fan of musicals. I like listening to showtunes and often sing along.

2. I can sing the entire Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera from memory. I am not saying I'm any good though.

3. Les Miserables is my favorite musical. Maybe someday I will actually finish reading the book.

4. Rent is my favorite musical movie. (The stage performance is awesome too.)

5. When attending a stage performance of a musical, I always get teary-eyed at the start of the show.

6. I have performed in three musicals.

7. My husband actually likes musicals and does not mind going to see them with me.

It was not my intention to run with the musical theme. It sort of just happened. I think it may have had something to do with the music I am listening to right now. And I know most of what I listed does not count as weird, but it has been a long day, and this is the best I can manage.

If you haven't given this meme a try, please do! I would love to learn more about you! Make sure and let me know if you decide to play.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: On a Roll

Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?

I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that… Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors . . .

Like many of you, it is rare that I am not in the middle of a book. Although it is possible that much of what I read is connected by invisible strings or threads, I am not always aware of them. My motivations for picking up a particular book to read at any given moment changes from book to book and are often random (although not always as you will see).

I sometimes go through reading phases where my cravings dictate my reading choices. I may be in the mood for nothing but suspense or crime fiction or perhaps decide that I have neglected the fantasy genre too long and need to devote an entire month to reading just fantasy. This past summer, I read several books set in Africa back to back. And then there are times when I read series books one after the other until I start to feel myself growing weary of them. In those instances, I have learned my limit well and am able to stop before the enjoyment wears off.

Most often, however, I am a mixer. I like to mix up the types of books I read, vary the genre or category to avoid getting burnt out on one or another. And occasionally, I just like to follow something more serious or thought provoking with something light and funny. In that way, the book I read before has an impact on what I might chose to read next.

This is the first year I have participated in group reading challenges, and those have dictated much of my reading in the past several months. I have not made a habit of rushing through one challenge before moving onto another,instead preferring to try and space my challenge book reading out, alternating between challenge and non-challenge books. My reading this year has been more planned and less spontaneous than it once was because of the challenges. I know that many people find that off putting, however, it has worked well for me overall--just not when I have too many books on my plate to read and not enough time on my hands to fit them all in.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Book to Movie Challenge Wrap Up

After books, movies are my second favorite form of entertainment. If I know there is a movie out based on a book I have read or intend to read, you can bet I will probably want to watch the movie. Although I prefer to read the book first, it is not a hard and fast rule. I can be flexible. At least, I am learning to be.

Callista came up with the perfect challenge: the Book to Movie Challenge, which involved selecting at least three books that were later translated into movies. Participants were not required to watch the movies based on the books, thankfully. I had hoped to do that before the end of the challenge on my own but was unable to do so.

I bit off more than I could chew with my recent challenges and had to do a little manipulating in order to give myself a passing grade. My crime was in substituting one book for another that met the challenge criteria after the challenge had begun. While I may not have played exactly by the rules, on a personal level I am counting it as a success. I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to read three books that were made into films, clear space off my TBR shelves, have fun in the process, and maintain my sanity.

My Book to Movie Selections:
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Of the three books I had the opportunity to read for this challenge, I was least impressed with Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. I had seen the movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, a couple of years ago and had since been curious about the mysterious Mr. Gray. I have no regrets about reading the book and, in fact, am glad I did. Still, the novel left a lot to be desired in the end. Unfortunately, this is one of the two books for which I have yet to watch the movie of, but I hope to remedy that soon.

I am not a huge fan of children's or young adult literature, I admit, and so it was with some reluctance that I approached Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia. Quite a few voices echoed the same sentiment, however, assuring me the novel was worth reading. And it was. It was a lovely story: sad, hopeful and full of meaning. The movie is next up on my Netflix list, and if I ever manage to watch one of the DVD's sitting around here so it can be returned, I may be able to get to Bridge to Terabithia before long.

Of the three books I read for this challenge, Persuasion is perhaps my favorite. I have joined the ranks of Jane Austen fans. I love her prose and characterizations as well as her seemingly simple stories with their complexities and moral themes. I was able to see the movie version of Persuasion and enjoyed it quite a bit.

I rarely have met a movie that is as good as its book, but that is a given. I never expect a movie to be. I can enjoy both in the form they are offered, make comparisons without feeling cheated, and often come away appreciating the book more than I might have before. There are quite a few unread books on my shelves that have been translated onto film, and many more yet to come. I had better get busy.

Special thanks to Callista for hosting this wonderful challenge.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriđason
Translated by Bernard Scudder
Picador, 2004 (originally published in 2000)
Mystery; 275 pgs

Completed: 11/20/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: The words were written in pencil on a piece of paper placed on top of the body.

Reason for Reading: I have a copy of Silence of the Grave sitting on my immediate TBR shelf (as opposed to sitting in my TBR room), and I decided to start at the beginning of the series with Jar City.

Comments: I admit that it has only been in recent years that I ventured outside of American and British mysteries. It wasn’t for lack of interest, but more because I just was not aware of them.

Iceland is one of those countries that I know little about, although I do know some things. I used to write to a girl in Iceland and we traded stories about our cultures and lives. I was quite excited when I came across Indriđason’s mysteries as a result.

Inspector Erlendur of Reykjavík is called to the scene of the murder of a 69 year old man who was found dead in his flat by his neighbors. A cryptic note left behind by the killer is the only clue at first, until the police stumble upon a photograph of a young girl’s grave during further search of the home. It is soon discovered that the murder victim has a dark past. The police must decide if the murder is a straight forward burglary gone wrong or his past come back to haunt him. Despite the doubts of his coworkers, Erlendur is determined to travel into the past and learn as much about the victim as he can, digging up well-hidden secrets and picking at old wounds not yet healed.

The character of Erlendur is subtle in his way. He seems simple on the surface, however, there is much more to him than how he comes across. He is quite bright, insightful, and thoughtful. I liked him immediately. He is not without his personal problems. His daughter, Eva Lind, is visiting and her own problems are spilling over into his life. Not only does he have to juggle the stresses of the murder investigation, but he also is dealing with his own personal issues. To contrast the rather old fashioned Erlendur are his more modern partner, Sigurdur Óli, and the ever questioning Elínborg. Both inspectors are professionals to the end.

The mystery itself is quite complex and goes in many different directions before finally reaching its end. Erlendur stays the course, even when going off on tangents to get more answers to questions that arise in the investigation. Author Arnaldur Indriđason does not fill the pages with frills and over the top excitement; rather he takes a more subtle approach, while at the same time tackling difficult topics and emotions. He has earned a faithful reader in me.

Favorite Parts: There was so much to like about this book. I loved that it rained constantly and that Erlendur had to be extra vigilant while driving. The moment when Erlendur and Eva Lind switched roles for a moment in each others’ lives touched my heart. I liked that no one knows the gender of Marion Briem and the author without being obvious never reveals that bit of information one way or the other (of course, a part of me also wonders what the point is in that?).

Miscellaneous: Many thanks for all the well wishes for my dog, Riley! I think he's been to the vet more times this year than any other. Poor little guy. He had a great ol' time in the waiting area at the veterinarian's office yesterday morning but was not so thrilled when he had to sit on the exam table. The doctor put him on antibiotics and nausea medication. Riley is already feeling better as evidenced by his increase in activity, and he is eating a little more. The blood test results are due back tomorrow afternoon. Thank you again!

And just because it seems like I talk more about my dog than my cat, let me put in a good word for this adorable cat who is sitting on my lap purring away as I write this. Parker has done his share of comforting his companion through the illness. If only all siblings got along so well.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Fill-Ins #9

Janet posted the Friday Fill-In's just in time!

1. I enjoy a good book more than anything else. (Well, maybe spending the day with my husband is much more preferable, but I like it when I can do both at the same time. )
2. Blogging satisfies my need for feeling like a part of a community.
3. When I look at a full moon, I feel that it's going to be one of those crazy days at work.
4. If I want a snack, I usually reach for a 100-calorie pack of toasted wheat thins.
5. The most recent movie I saw was Enchanted, and it made my Thanksgiving feel especially festive .
6. If only my dog wasn't feeling so poorly right now.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to eating a piece of that cranapple pie (which hubby is serving up right this very minute!), tomorrow my plans include taking the dog to the vet first thing in the morning, and Sunday, I want to laze around the house, read, and catch up on this past week's TV shows!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

To All of My American Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving!

I admit it. Thanksgiving is not among my favorite holidays. Growing up, it was always the most boring holidays. The adults would gather together, forcing my little brother and I to join along, and talk. Just talk. I would get looks and talked to for preferring to settle in with my book somewhere quiet while the adults mingled, snacked, and did whatever it was adults did. The food was not especially my favorite either (except the yams with marshmallows on top, the bread, the mashed potatoes and the pumpkin pie--but only my mom's pie. No one else seems to know how to make it right). I ate the turkey, but I was not a big fan. My brother got hot dogs (he was the family's hot dog king) or pizza or something different because he did not care for turkey either. If he could have whatever he wanted, why couldn't I? Because I was the oldest, that's why. I had to set an example. I was expected to act like a grown up but sit at the kids' table.

Looking back now, I appreciate those moments and time with my family and laugh at what I perceived as slights. Sure, Thanksgiving was boring for me as a child and into my teen years, but the memories those moments have left me with are some of my most treasured.

For the last few years, my husband and I have joined the crowd that eats out on Thanksgiving. Because of our work schedules and the distance from our families, we settle in together for a quiet Thanksgiving. It is our preferred way of celebrating. It is not much different from a weekend day really, other than the fact that our choice of eating locations drops considerably.

Giving thanks is something I do just about every day of my life. I have been blessed in so many ways. I have a great husband, two wonderful animals, a good job, a house over my head, and food to eat. Whenever I pass an accident or a funeral procession on the road or read about something in the news, I give a quick prayer of thanks for the health of my loved ones and myself. I offer up thanks every day at work as I hear stories that would make most hearts break. My parents were not perfect by any stretch, but they did love me and did the best they could. For that, I am grateful.

I am grateful for those who protect my country both abroad and on the home front so that I can sleep at night and go about my life during the day. I am grateful for the freedoms that I enjoy--the ability to think and voice my opinion no matter how different it may be from those in power and the ability to walk down the street whenever I want, just about however I want.

I am thankful for the beauty and nature around me and for my friends and my neighbors. I am grateful for the simple things in life that make it possible for me to live my life the way I do. And I am grateful to all those people that make it possible. Especially those who are working on Thanksgiving day!

John F. Kennedy once said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." I wholeheartedly concur. Thanksgiving is just one day out of the year. It is what we do every day that makes the difference.

There never fails to come a moment during that Thanksgiving meal, as the waitress refills my soda, when I miss being with the rest of the family. I long for the big family meal, the sound of that horrid football game in the background, the clatter in the kitchen, the smell of good food all around me, being on clean up duty, and the companionship of all those relatives. And yet, I cannot imagine wanting to be anywhere else than enjoying that quiet and decent meal with my loving husband, no stress, no hassles or bickering, no scraps to scrub off plates, no fighting the traffic or having to leave the cat behind (which always torments me). I am right where I want to be. And for that, I am grateful.

What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?
~Erma Bombeck, "No One Diets on Thanksgiving," 26 November 1981

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mew is For Murder by Clea Simon

Mew is For Murder by Clea Simon
Poisoned Pen Press, 2005
Mystery; 223 pgs

Completed: 11/15/2007
Rating: * (Good +)

First Sentence: First there was a rustling, a scraping like metal on wood.

Reason for Reading: I first came across mention of this book when flipping through my Poisoned Pen Press catalog. I was curious about it then, but it was not until recently that I decided to pick it up when author Karen E. Olson mentioned enjoying Clea Simon’s upcoming release, Cries and Whiskers, and gave it a nod. Given a little time to try and catch up on the series before starting on the soon-to-be released third book in the series, I thought I would go ahead and start at the beginning.

Comments: I admit that I am partial to mysteries with an edge. However, I do enjoy a cozy or lighter mystery now and then. After reading a couple of particularly hard-hitting mysteries and rather dark family sagas, I was ready for something slightly different, something more relaxing and less intense. That’s where Mew is For Murder came in.

Theda Krakow is a freelance writer who is stepping back out into the world again after breaking up with her boyfriend and the death of her beloved cat, James. She had given up her steady job at the local newspaper for the more independent but less dependable job as a freelance writer. She is sure she has the perfect story when she follows a black and white kitten home one day and is greeted by an elderly woman whose only boarders are cats. Lots and lots of cats. When what seems like a simple story turns into possible murder, Theda finds herself drawn into a mystery that even she does not quite understand the full scope of--yet. She’s bound to find out though, the reporter in her unable to stop asking questions and digging for answers.

Author Clea Simon’s debut mystery novel has plenty of colorful characters from the cats to Violet, the cat loving musician/waitress, and the nosy and cranky neighbor, Patti Wright. The most colorful of all the characters, however, is Theda herself. She’s sassy and fun. She enjoys good music, taking in the club scene, and has a weak spot for cats.

Mew is For Murder was overflowing with cats, but the one that won my heart was, of course, Musetta. However, do not think this book is just about the cats. There is murder, of course, but Clea Simon also delves into mental illness and issues affecting someone with a mental illness in a very realistic way.

While light hearted and easy going, Mew is for Murder is a quick and compelling story. It is an entertaining novel that was perfect for my mood, while at the same time offering up some of the edge I prefer my mysteries to have. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Favorite Parts: I liked the added side stories that the author included in the book, the assignments that Theda took care of while the main mystery went on around her. It made the story more real, Theda more solid as a character, and some of the situations were quite funny.

It was nice to spend time with a character about my age. She’s facing some of the same issues—like being on that cusp of being too old but not quite old enough, which makes one question where she fits in exactly.

Not so Favorite Part: There were a couple of moments in the book where I thought Theda smarter than she behaved. It was perfectly in character and I can see why she acted the way she did given her state of mind and the circumstances, but it was still a tad annoying, I wanted to smack her upside the head and remind her she was smarter than that.

Take a peek at the author's website to learn more about Clea Simon and her books. She also has an entertaining blog with a catchy title, Cats & Crime & Rock & Roll.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Keeper by Greg Rucka

Keeper by Greg Rucka
Bantam, 1996
Suspense/Thriller; 332 pgs

Completed: 11/14/2007
Rating: 3 Stars* (Good)

First Sentence: Much as I wanted to, I didn’t break the guy’s nose.

Reason for Reading: My husband is a Greg Rucka fan and recommended I try this series. I have read the author's Queen and Country novels, which I really like, and so I figured it was worth a try.

From the Publisher: In a heartbeat, a crowded auditorium or a city street can become a kill zone, where life and death are separated by a split second. For Atticus Kodiak, professional bodyguard, the object is to keep people alive, and there is no margin for error. Now Kodiak faces his toughest challenge: to protect a woman and her daughter from a killer with a fanatic agenda of his own . . .

Comments: The above description of the novel does little to describe the plot, but it is a nice introduction. Atticus is hired by a doctor at a women’s clinic to protect her and her daughter. Dr. Felice Romero is receiving threatening letters and has serious concerns for her and her daughter’s safety preceding the Common Ground conference, where people from both sides of the abortion issue will meet to discuss a way of coexisting and exercising their right to be heard without violence. The threats have become increasingly more vicious and the violence becomes even more of a reality when it hits close to home for the doctor and Atticus’ team. A rather outspoken and more radical anti-abortion group has made a point of being visible and heard over the more peaceful, law abiding protesters, and the FBI, NYPD, and Atticus and his crew are quick to take notice.

Atticus Kodiak is only in his late twenties, but he knows his stuff. He's definitely a man's man. If ever I needed a bodyguard and I had the money to spare, I would not hesitate to call on his team. They are professional and skilled while also being personable. They take their jobs seriously and yet are not afraid to have fun while doing it.

I admit that at first I was put off by the chain-smoking doctor in the first chapter of the book. Perhaps I have gotten too used to the no smoking rules inside hospitals. A quick look at the publishing date of the book reminded me of my place in time, however it was not a good first impression of Dr. Romero.

Author Greg Rucka takes a big risk taking on the subject of abortion in his first novel in the series, but he manages to do a decent job of presenting both sides of the issue, even though it is clear which side the main character falls on from the first page. This novel is action driven—one event leads straight into the next and there’s hardly a time for rest. By the time the job was winding down, I was just as exhausted as the characters. Greg Rucka’s approach is hard hitting and comes across both in his writing and the characters' actions. There was a lot of action and very little in the way of character development in this first novel, however, by the end of the novel, I felt like I knew Atticus fairly well.

Is this a series I want to follow? I will be visiting Atticus again, although I cannot say the series would count among my favorites. Tara Chase from Queen and Country is much more up my alley.

Favorite Part: Felice’s daughter, Katie, was like a ray of sunshine amidst all that was going on in their lives. One of my favorite scenes was when Atticus and Katie first met and she told him not to swear.

A character I hope to see if I read more in the series is private investigator, Bridgett. She is persistent, strong, and intelligent. My kind of woman.

Least Favorite Part: I did not much care for Katie's mother, Felice Romero. Besides the smoking in the clinic, she came across as a rather cold person. I imagine some of that had to do with all she was and had been going through, but the glimpses into her past and her interactions with her daughter were not enough to draw me to her.

Be sure and check out the author's website for a closer look at Greg Ruck and his many works.

Miscellaneous: Ted over at Bookeywookey could use your help with his homework! He is a graduate student studying cognitive neuroscience and is conducting an online study about the experience of reading. If you love filling out questionnaires and surveys as much as I do, I recommend you take a look.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
Doubleday, 2006
Fiction; 354 pgs

Completed: 11/04/2007
Rating: * (Good)

First Sentence: It began when George was trying on a black suit in Allders the week before Bob Green’s funeral.

Reason for Reading: I enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and looked forward to reading another book by the same author. This is a Curled Up With a Good Book selection.

Comments: Life for the Hall family seems rather ordinary on the surface. Katie, a divorced mother, announces her plans to marry her live-in boyfriend Ray, a man her family does not quite approve of; Jamie seems to be content with the order of things for the most part, including his love life, however, he still struggles with just how little his parents may not understand his relationship; Jean is trying to find a good balance in her life now that her husband has retired, balancing her husband and her lover; and then there is George who is adjusting to the retired life and somewhat oblivious to what is going on around him. He is a relatively simple man used to working hard and meeting the needs of his family as best he can. Katie and Jamie love their parents, but prefer to keep their distance, neither feeling completely understood. Jean and George feel that they did the best they could for their children and only want them to be happy.

George’s peace of mind is shattered when he discovers a lesion on his hip, of which he is sure is cancer. He puts off going to the doctor as long as he can, but an incident over a family dinner forces him to face his fears and off to the doctor he goes. No matter what the doctor says, no matter how comforting he may be, George’s mind is set. As his obsession with death grows, he begins to feel he is losing his mind, a secret he tries to hide from his family despite their growing concern.

Author of the well known The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon, brings to life a rather ordinary dysfunctional family, each individual focused on their own growing dramas, be it break ups, heartaches, and misunderstandings. George is in the middle of it all, his mounting fear of death and anxiety mirroring the growing tumult around him as his family struggles to find their footing and resolve their own individual problems. A Spot of Bother seems an apt title for the novel in more ways than one.

Mark Haddon’s simple prose and straightforward style of story telling carry the reader through the novel, even in the less interesting moments. His characters may not be the most likeable in the beginning for the author does nothing to hide even the biggest of blemishes, but eventually they grow on a reader, and by the end, I found myself hoping for the best for each of them. It is not a happy tale, but one fraught with characters who are average and typical and just trying to live their lives as only they know how.

Mark Haddon takes every day life and lays it bare in the pages of his novel. A Spot of Bother does not stand out as something extraordinary, and yet its very ordinariness makes it a novel that is worth reading. Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Wendy Runyon, 2007.

Favorite Part: About the only character I liked from the very beginning was Ray, Katie’s fiancé. He was a solid man who got a bum rap from the Hall family.

Visit the author's website for more information about the book.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Twofer Meme

Because I am very sleepy, but trying hard to stay up just a little longer, at least until the end of the CD I am listening to, I thought I would play along with Florinda who posted this meme on her blog, The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness.
Two names you go by:
1. Susan (At least my postman thinks so. I am always getting her mail.)
2. Tracy (I just got tired of correcting people and so Tracy it is.)

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. My PJs
2. Wet hair

Two of your favorite things to do:
1. Reading, of course. You did not see that one coming, did you?
2. Reading Playing with my animals. There is no better stress reliever--I cannot stay in a bad mood around my sweet cat and lovable dog.

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. My bed. I am oh-so tired right now. I have been up since 3:45 a.m. and am ready to crash.
2. A free shopping spree at Borders. Did you really expect any less of me? And yes, even as tired as I am. I would muster a third wind just for that.

Two favorite pets you have had/have:
1. My precious cat who is all curled up in his bed doing exactly what I should be doing right now: sleeping.
2. My ever playful dog who has decided that it is time to play. Right before bedtime, no less.

Two things you ate today:
1. A bowl of cereal. For a little while there I thought I might have chipped my tooth on the granola. It was a false alarm, thank goodness.
2. Del Taco. Terrible, I know, but it is an addiction.

Two people you last talked to:
1. My husband. He is sitting at his computer right behind me. He's really the reason I am still awake. It is not the CD like I tried to convince you. That was just a convenient excuse so he would not feel guilty about keeping me up.
2. My dog. I asked him why he always wedges his bone between my shoulder and the chair. Do you think he's trying to put the bone on my shoulder? That would be a neat trick.

Two things you're doing tomorrow:
1. Sleeping in, I hope. Realistically that probably will not happen. Animals. You know how it is.
2. Spending some much needed time reading. Otherwise I will be one grumpy Literary Feline.

Two longest car rides:
1. From California to New York/Canada.
2. And back again.

Two favorite holidays:
1. My birthday. It used to be a real holiday, but then California decided it was not good enough to be a one. Stupid state legislature.
2. Christmas. I love Christmas music, what else is there to say? It's actually the only holiday I decorate for.

Two favorite beverages:
1. Ice cold water on a hot summer day.
2. Luke warm water on a cold winter day.

I am afraid I cannot take anymore of this wakefulness. I am heading for bed.
(update: so much for sleeping in. It's 5:30 a.m. and my allergies will not play nice this morning. Ugh.)

Gift Giving Fun & Friday Fill-In # 8: Giving Thanks

Have you ever taken part in a Secret Santa or Secret Pal Gift Exchange? Litblogger Nymeth is organizing a Blogger Christmas Exchange this holiday season. Be sure and stop by her blog for details!

1. The things I give thanks for this Thanksgiving are my family (animals included), my job, and the cool evening breeze.
2. My Thanksgiving traditions include taking in a movie and spending the day at home with my husband and the animals.
3. The best part about Thanksgiving is having an extra day off from work.
4. My favorite Thanksgiving food is hot yams with melted marshmallows on top (which, unfortunately, I haven't had in years).
5. I cannot think of a single moment that was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me on Thanksgiving.
6. After the meal, I check my e-mail (we dine out for Thanksgiving dinner, and so there's no clean up to worry about--just a big tip).
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a leisurely walk under the stars, tomorrow my plans include a visit to the movie theater, lunch out and perhaps a stop at the bookstore, and Sunday, I want to forget that the day after is Monday when I have to return to work!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Perservatives

Today’s question comes from
Conspiracy-Girl: How many of us write notes in our books? Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?

I love the image the label Footprint Leaver leaves in my mind. What a great concept! Or is it? I occasionally come across a used book that has a hand written dedication inside and those types of footprints I never mind. Those kind warm my heart. I am less than thrilled, however, when I come across a book that is littered with margin notes, underlining and highlighting. It would be too easy for my attention to stray to those comments and absorb them into my view or interpretation of the book. I would rather approach what I read with a clear mind, able to form my own opinion and without distraction. And yet, if the book had belonged to someone like my mother or grandfather for instance, someone I am or was connected to, I take a different view. In a case like this, it would be a part of my history, my own life. I would love to travel with my grandfather into a literary world he had visited before. There's a something almost magical about an experience like that, being able to share in his thoughts and perhaps pick out what stood out most for him at the time he read the book. He died when I was a teenager and there is so much I wish I knew about him today. Or, how exciting it would be to see what my mother thought of a book when she was a teenager, a book that has faded from her memory all these years later! As you can see, I am of two minds on this topic.

Myself? I tend to be a preservationist at heart. I prefer to leave the margins of the books I am reading clean and empty. I do like to sometimes take notes or mark a particular passage, however, and in desperate times when no paper is to be found, no post its or page markers handy, I will pull out my pencil and lightly mark an arrow in the margin pointing to the beginning of the passage I want to remember. Tiny brackets will denote the beginning and the end. That is as far as I go. The idea is that I can go back and carefully erase my markings as if I was never there. If I remember. Sometimes I forget.

I do occasionally write in a book to mark when and where I received it, almost always in pencil, but this too is rare and only when I cannot get to my computer to log the book in. I also have been known to write a dedication in a book now and then. My parents are partial to this practice, while my husband detests it. A lot depends on who I am giving the book to and the reasons behind my gift.

I am not the kind of person who gasps in horror at the thought of someone writing in his or her books. We each have our own style, our own preferences. I think that if a person is planning to trade, give away or re-sell a book, the less writing, the better. If the book is a loaner of any kind, there should be a law against marking in a book unless it is agreed upon by the borrower and the owner that it is okay. If it is a book in your own collection, then by all means, write away if that is what you need to do to get the most out of your reading experience.

(Exemption: College text books were an entirely different matter for me all those years ago. Highlighting and margin notes were used freely as necessary).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Harper Entertainment, 1977
Fiction (Children's); 191 pgs

Completed: 11/12/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity, baripity—Good.

Reason for Reading: Kris' and Booklogged's reviews of this book spurred me on to finally pick this one up. My husband’s assurance that I would like it was the added encouragement I needed. This is my final selection for the Book to Movie Challenge, my second for the 2nds Challenge, and my fourth for the Saturday Review of Books Challenge.

Comments: It has been many years since I last cracked open a book by Katherine Paterson. Jacob, Have I Loved was one of my favorites growing up (I still have my copy sitting on the shelf today). I had heard of Bridge to Terabithia later in my life but never realized it was by the same author as that childhood favorite until recently.

Ten-year-old Jesse Aarons spent the summer before his 5th grade year practicing running. He is determined to be the fastest runner, not only in his class but of the entire lower grades. He wants to be known as more than just the boy who likes to draw, something most of the people in his life, including many of the grown ups do not take seriously. He comes from a somewhat poor family, one that struggles and survives as best they can. He is the only boy among many sisters and often feels that he carries the brunt of the household responsibilities as a result.

One day while he is out running, he meets the new girl in town, Leslie Burke. Her family moved to the country from the suburbs, seeking out a more simple life. The fact that Leslie’s family has money as well as Leslie’s manner and dress mark her as an instant outsider. The two inevitably become friends, each finding in the other something that they had been longing for. One fall day, the two friends venture into the woods and invent a magical kingdom they call Terabithia, letting their imaginations soar. It is a place where they can escape the real world and do just about anything they set their imaginations to.

When tragedy strikes, I could not stop the tears from falling. The story, while sad, still remains hopeful. It is a simple story, uncomplicated, and very much one for children. I can see why so many, young and old, love this book. It is a story of friendship and love, of imagination and stepping outside of oneself and taking risks. The magic of this book can be found in the hearts of the characters.

Favorite Parts: My favorite part was when Jess stood up to Gary the first day of the races. Although his intentions may not have been pure, his inclusion of Leslie was a shining moment, and the beginning of a friendship.

I was also very proud of Jess and the way he worked out his gift giving priorities that year for the Christmas holiday. He only had a dollar to spend, but his gift choices were perfect and he made two deserving girls very happy.

Swing by the author's website for more information about her and her books.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
Little-Brown, 2007
Fiction; 291 pgs

Completed: 11/12/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.

Reason for Reading: Although I had always planned to read this book, having enjoyed the author’s first novel, The Lovely Bones, I admit that I was in no hurry after reading some rather scathing reviews of The Almost Moon. My boss made me promise not to buy the book for myself a couple of months ago, saying that she would buy it and loan it to me after she read it.

About a month before the book’s release, she told me about a review she read that made her change her mind. This was not a book she wanted to read, she told me. And yet she did just that. She thrust the book in my hands the beginning of this past week and told me to hurry up and read it and then pass it on to another colleague of ours she is insisting read the book. She refused to give me a hint as to whether or not she liked the book. I imagine I will find out soon enough.

This is my first selection for the Just4thehelluvit Challenge.

Comments: A book—a story—can have several different purposes. It can affect each individual reader in a different way. Much of the criticism I have heard in regard to Alice Sebold’s latest book centers around the characters and just how difficult they are to like or relate to. I imagine that has a lot to do with the decisions that they make, especially the protagonist of the novel, Helen Knightly.

Helen drops everything and attends to her mother, whose health is failing, when called by the kindly neighbor who checks in now and then. It appears that Helen’s mother, who suffers from dementia, is worse off than before, and Helen comes to the realization that her mother can no longer go on like she has been. As she is preparing to bath her mother before calling an ambulance, Helen finds herself standing over the woman who she has loved and hated all her life and takes the life out of her, stifling her with a towel. Helen now must decide what to do next and the journey she takes, both in memory and in struggling with what she has just done, carries the reader through the rest of the novel. It is a dark, tragic and compelling story.

What struck me most about Helen is that she comes across at times as unfeeling and yet that is far from the truth. To outsiders and even her own family and friends, she may appear cold and judgmental. However, on the inside, Helen is a wounded soul. She keeps herself at a distance from people and even from herself, in part a result of her upbringing and by means of a coping mechanism she has never overcome. Her childhood had been full of secrets, that big white elephant in the living room that no one ever talked about, and parents who never quite gave her the attention she so craved. Helen carried some of this with her into her adulthood, and it had an impact on her own family, her children and her marriage.

Helen’s mother is the character I found myself feeling most sorry for. She suffered from a mental illness and was the least understood. She lashed out at those around her to exert some control over her life, often causing pain and suffering to those closest to her. She is not an easy woman to sympathize with as a result. The father seemed more together and even more likeable than his daughter and his wife, however, he too carried a heavy weight on his shoulders and struggled with his own mental health issues.

This is not the first difficult subject Alice Sebold has taken on. Her books Lucky and The Lovely Bones have both earned praise and criticism over the years. They deal with subject matters that are not easy to digest. The Almost Moon is no different. Her latest novel is beautifully written and yet a very disturbing and uncomfortable book to read. If the reader can first get past that, it makes for an interesting case study.

The overwhelming feeling I felt throughout the novel was one of great sadness for all of the characters. Certain of life’s events could not be helped or controlled, others could—as humans we all make choices, and not always the best ones. What Helen did, killing her mother, was horrific. Not a moment, not a word, went by when I hoped she would get away with it. The cumulating of events and leading up to her mother’s death, offer a glimpse into the motivation and why of it all. It is not an excuse but a possible reason to her actions.

I have a feeling I will be in the minority of readers who actually liked this book. It is not an easy book to read, and it will not leave the reader feeling uplifted in any way. It is not a book of hope, but one of tragedy and pain. This is not a book for everyone.

Listen to a NPR interview with the author. Be forewarned; it is full of spoilers.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Book Through Thursday On Friday, Friday Fill-In #7 & Acknowledgements

Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less? Why?

Reading has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. It is impossible to recall a time in my life when I was not reading. Whether I am stealing a moment here and there or settling in for a reading marathon, I rarely am without a book. I think that a lot depends on what is going on in my life at any given moment and what it is I am reading.

I only started keeping a reading journal about four years ago, and never really kept count before then. During my school years, I more often read for pleasure during holidays and summer vacations, dedicating the school year to my studies and reading class assignments, be it text books, journal articles, nonfiction or fiction books. Whether I read more or less during that time in my life, I could not tell you, but I do know I was reading.

In general, the amount I read fluctuates. Even just taking the last four years into account, my final count at the end of each year varies with no real discernible pattern. Last year I somehow managed to read over 100 books, which is far more than I ever could have thought possible. That will not be happening this year. Of course, it isn't really about the numbers, is it? It is about the quality of our reading and that we are getting out of it what we most would like to.

(I can tell you without question that my TBR collection has increased considerably in recent years. Embarrassingly so. Let's not talk about that though.)

1. Plans and schedules must be flexible and are subject to change .

2. I'm happy when things come together.

3. The last thing I drank was a bottle of water.

4. One of the most valuable things in my life is my husband.

5. I like chicken and BBQ sauce on my pizza.

6. Dear November, please take your time as you pass right on by.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to an evening out on the town, tomorrow my plans include starting the Christmas shopping, and Sunday, I want to spend the day as I almost always do: reading!

Melody and Alice have awarded me the Amazing Blogger Award and I must say, I am thrilled that they think so much of me. Melody and Alice are quite amazing themselves!

There are so many amazing blogs out there. Sometimes I may not take the time to comment, but you can be sure I visit. I wish I could give you all this award. You certainly deserve it. Just the same, I have decided to give a special shout out to two amazing bloggers who I cannot help but want to share the spotlight.

Ladytink at The Movieholic & Bibliophile's Blog - I love her book and movie reviews. She also has a blog about animated and family-friendly movies called Ladytink's Happy Place.

Florinda at The 3R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness - She tackles quite a few subjects and never fails to entertain and give me pause for thought.

And if that wasn't enough, Happy Reader from the Book Closet (who I agree has earned this one) nominated me for the Schmooze Award!

This award is for the bloggers who “effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogsphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.”

So many of you are deserving of this award as well. I really do appreciate the support and friendship you have given me since I began blogging. At this time, I would like to offer this award to Melody of Melody's Reading Corner. Melody never fails to bring cheer wherever she goes, and I truly do appreciate all she has to offer on her own blog as well as on her many stops to visit others.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dead of the Day by Karen E. Olson

Dead of the Day by Karen E. Olson
Obsidian Mystery; 2007 (ARE)
Mystery; 320 pgs

Completed: 10/30/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: For a dead guy, Warren Black had a lot to say.

Reason for Reading: Karen E. Olson has slipped her way onto my favorite author list. The author was kind enough to offer me an ARE of her book, although I actually had planned on buying a copy the week of release. I still plan to just because.

Comments: I seem to be on some sort of good crime fiction train these days with back to back winners. I do not mind at all. I just hope it keeps up. Karen E. Olson turned up the heat with her latest novel, Dead of the Day. I liked it even more than her last book. There was nonstop action and enough twists and turns to keep me on my toes. Right from the start, it was very hard to put the book down, something I did only because my boss would not take too kindly to my reading into my workday.

Crime reporter Annie Seymour needs a distraction from her current assignment, profiling the new police chief for the New Haven Herald. It comes in the form of a body found in the harbor. What is even more curious is that the unidentified man suffered from multiple bee stings. To complicate matters, when the police chief is murdered on the steps of a local theater, her profile suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. As if that was not enough, someone breaks into her mother’s house. Annie has a lot on her plate, and the more questions she asks, the more complicated the puzzle becomes.

Her investigation leads her to take a closer look at the city’s illegal immigration population, and Annie is determined to uncover whatever truth she can find. Her loved ones do not make it easy for her, however. Her mother seems to know more than she’s revealing, her police friend is being tight lipped, and Vinny, the private detective, and his crime writer brother Rocco are playing dumb. The more Annie searches for the truth, the more someone is determined to stop her.

Karen E. Olson takes readers on a roller coaster of a ride, one where I did not want to let go of the edge of my seat. I like how different each of her books are from one another. While the characters are the same and familiar, not one of the books is like the other. Annie continues to make me laugh, her sarcasm and dry humor striking just the right chord. There’s a little steam for romance lovers and plenty of action for adrenalin junkies. November 2008, the scheduled month for the 4th installment in the series, Shot Girl, seems so far away . . .

Favorite Parts: I love how much Annie eats. In my mind’s eye, she’s a rather fit woman who probably doesn’t gain as much weight as I would eating even half as much as she does, but she eats out even more than I do, and that’s something.

Being in the heart of the newspaper building, back where the printing presses are, brought back fond memories of a summer between college semesters when I worked for my father-in-law at a small newspaper in Central California. I was a receptionist, printing labels, processing fees for advertisements and subscriptions, and answering phones mostly. I remember one day taking a tour of the printing plant with all the big presses, watching the paper go round and round at quite a clip. The paper looks so different at that phase than in its final product.

If you haven't already, hop on over to On Tour: Karen E. Olson for her guest appearance on this blog.

Miscellaneous: Do you read teasers at the end of books? You know the ones. Sometimes publishers include the first chapter or so of an author’s next book at the end of the book you are reading. Excerpts, I think they are called. I call them teasers. I read just about everything else in a book from the acknowledgments, dedications, references, author’s notes, etc. But I do not read the teasers. I understand their purpose, but I hate to be teased and then have to wait and wait and wait to see what happens next. It’s pure torture. I did peek at the excerpt for Shot Girl. Just a little peek. Next November is only a year away . . .

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

On Tour: Author Karen E. Olson

Greetings, and welcome to my first ever blog hosting experience. First let me extend a warm welcome to my regular visitors and to any new visitors who may be stopping by for the first time. Our guest blogger today is Karen E. Olson, author of the Annie Seymour mystery series. As I am a crime fiction reader who enjoys reading about strong female protagonists, there is little wonder that I took to this series from the start. Karen is here today to tell us what inspired her to develop such a heroine and offer us a glimpse of her creative process.

Karen E. Olson has teamed up with several authors at the First Offenders blog, maintains her own blog at Amazon as well as her own website, and has somehow found the time to author three novels: Sacred Cows, Secondhand Smoke, and Dead of the Day.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Karen E. Olson.

I didn’t start out wanting to be a crime writer. In fact, until my early 30s, the only mysteries I read were Nancy Drew books when I was in fourth grade. I always associated “mystery” with Agatha Christie, and I tried one of her books when I was in high school and promptly decided it wasn’t for me. I am not one of those crime writers who read Hammett or Chandler, aspiring to their noir tradition. I wanted to write the Great American Novel — it says so right in my high school yearbook —so in what I thought was preparation for that, I read the classics through college and, during the ‘80s, all those Oprah books.

The first Oprah books were weighty tomes about women who were victimized and managed to pull themselves up out of deep holes. They were about abused women, both mentally and physically, who didn’t know a Glock from a .22 and rarely used a four-letter word. By the end of these books, I was so depressed and emotionally spent that it would take days to get up the energy to move onto the next one, worried about my gender and what its future held.

The last Oprah book I read was Wally Lamb’s “She’s Come Undone.” It undid me. That poor girl in that book; if one more horrible thing happened to her, I was going to have to commit myself. While I was wallowing in her misery, a friend gave me two paperbacks to take with me on vacation in the Caribbean, two mysteries. One by Sara Paretsky. The other by Marcia Muller.

I told my friend I didn’t read mysteries, but he urged me to try. I packed them in my suitcase and they went to the beach with me. I read both of them twice in one week. I couldn’t get enough of them, their sassy, kick-ass women private eyes, VI Warshawski and Sharon McCone. These women didn’t take any crap from anyone, and they were in charge. They took a beating, too, but they gave it back even more than they got. They solved the crimes, caught the bad guys. I felt empowered by these books that gave women such power and didn’t make excuses.

I began reading every woman crime novelist I could find: Sue Grafton, Lillian O’Donnell, Patricia Cornwell, Jan Burke, Karen Kijewski were just some of them. Fortunately, they all wrote series books, so I had more than just one book to savor. After about a year, it dawned on me: This was the type of book I wanted to write. I wanted to write about a woman this strong.

It took a couple of tries, but then Annie Seymour was born. She’s a tough-talking (yes, that means she uses four-letter words) crime reporter. She has a healthy appetite for food and sex and is someone I could definitely see hanging out with. She’s got strong ethics but doesn’t take herself too seriously. She can kick some serious ass.

And she most definitely never comes undone.

Thank you Karen and thank you all for coming to the site. Be sure to come back tomorrow for my review of Karen E. Olson's new book, Dead of the Day. You can also find my reviews of her prior books on this blog, Sacred Cows and Secondhand Smoke.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Secondhand Smoke by Karen E. Olson

Secondhand Smoke by Karen E. Olson
Mysterious Press, 2006
Mystery; 259 pgs

Completed: 10/21/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: I smelled smoke.

Reason for Reading: I enjoyed the first book the series and was in the mood to revisit Annie and her friends. This is my second selection for the 2nds Challenge.

Comments: It was with that first hint of smoke in the air that I finished reading Secondhand Smoke, the Santa Ana winds provoking and spreading a brush fire a few miles away. My husband opened the back door to let the dog out and the smell of smoke wafted in through the door. It somehow seemed fitting, especially given the opening sentence of the novel.

Annie Seymour, veteran crime reporter, could not have anticipated that she would be covering a story so close to home in Karen E. Olson’s latest novel. She is awakened by the smell of smoke and soon discovers that a popular Italian restaurant, Prego, was on fire. She immediately steps into her role as reporter and heads outside to get the story.

As the firefighters struggle to put out the fire and the police begin to look into the matter, a body is discovered in burnt out restaurant. Could it be the body of Sal, the restaurant’s owner? What would he be doing at the restaurant on Thanksgiving Day, when the restaurant should be closed? As Annie begins to unravel the clues, she finds much more than she anticipated. This time things are getting personal. Her father’s return to New Haven raises new questions, and Sal’s wife hiring Vinny DeLucia could prove to be a double edged sword of the personal variety. As the body count rises, the mystery of the chickens continues, the FBI and mob in town, and as threats for Annie to back off intensify, Annie is determined to get to the truth. Her own life could depend on it.

All of the old favorite characters are back: the sultry private investigator, the sexy police detective, Annie’s eccentric neighbors, and the cub reporter who will not take no for an answer. Readers get to see a softer side to Annie in Secondhand Smoke, although she is still one tough cookie. I love her dry sense of humor. She has a way of finding trouble—or trouble finds her—but she knows how to handle herself in a tough spot.

New Haven is the perfect setting for the series, a city with a small town feel to it. It has personality and, in a way, is very much a character in and of itself. I felt like I was right there on the streets, whether she was unlocking the door to her building, crossing through the park, snooping around, or picking up something to eat.

Karen E. Olson does it again. The mystery is entertaining and the characters quite intriguing. She has written a witty and compelling novel that leaves me eager for more.

Favorite Parts: Besides the very end of the book (which of course I can’t tell you about)? I enjoyed getting to know Annie’s father. He’s an interesting character who has that great mysterious vibe going for him.

I think my second favorite scene is Annie and Vinny’s visit to Dominic Gaudio. Like Annie, I found myself liking Dom quite a bit. He’s an intriguing character I wouldn’t mind running into again someday.

As my first favorite scene, it’s hard to describe without reading it in context, I’m afraid. It’s the second paragraph of the book. It struck me as quite funny and I earned a stare from a coworker who was in the break room when I laughed out loud. From then on, I had no doubt Secondhand Smoke would be fun reading.

Miscellaneous: Be sure and swing by tomorrow for Karen E. Olson's guest appearance!

(Read my review of the first book in the series, Sacred Cows.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday Fill-In #6 & The About Us Meme

1. Settling on the couch with a good book is my favorite form of therapy.

2. If you get my voice mail you'll hear a very bored sounding husband .

3. My favorite product EVER is a book, of course!

4. I see something cute and furry that steals my heart every time I see them (my dog and cat).

5. When I'm grumpy everyone is a brainless twit. Maybe not everyone, but close.

6. Making up and singing silly songs that come out of nowhere is my strangest habit.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hiding under the covers, tomorrow my plans include catching a movie at the local theater and Sunday, I want to chase the animals around the house!

Melody tagged me for The Little About Us Meme. All my secrets laid bare. Okay, so maybe that's an overstatement. If you feel so inclined, feel free to participate!

The basic facts:
Who is your significant other? Anjin
How long have you been together? 16 years (Married 9 years)
Dating/Engaged/Married? Married
How old is your Significant Other? He is three months older than I am.

Which one?
Who eats more? I do.
Who says "I love you" first? He did.
Who sings better? I think he does, but he says I do. I definitely sing more!
Who's older? He is, but only slightly.
Who's smarter? It depends on the subject matter really. In general, I think we are about equal in that category.
Whose temper is worse? He is quicker to anger than I am, but I hold onto it longer.
Who does the laundry? We both do.
Who does the dishes? Besides the dishwasher? We both do, but mostly him.
Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? He does.
Whose feet are bigger? He has bigger feet.
Whose hair is longer? Mine.
Who's better with the computer? Definitely he is.
Who mows the lawn? Neither of us. Steve does.
Who pays the bills? My husband writes the checks. We both earn the money to pay them.
Who cooks dinner? When we aren't eating out or bringing food in, my husband does.
Who drives when you are together? Usually my husband.
Who pays when you go out to dinner? My husband most often does.
Who's the most stubborn? I think I am, but he can be pretty stubborn at times too.
Who is the first one to admit when they're wrong? It varies. Sometimes saying one way or the other isn't necessary.
Whose parents do you see more? We see his parents more often. They live closer.
Who named your dog/cat? Our dog was named by both of us. I think I originally came up with the name, but we both agreed it was the right one. We ran through so many options . . . It was not an easy process. As for the cat, the vet's assistant recommended his name to us and it stuck.
Who kisses who first? We take turns initiating kisses and hugs.
Who asked who out? He asked me.
Who's more sensitive? It used to be that I would tell you that I was and in some ways it's still true, but my husband can be very sensitive as well.
Who's taller? He definitely is. By almost a foot.
Who has more friends? I do.
Who has more siblings? I suppose I do. We were both raised in two child homes, however.
Who wears the pants in the relationship? We share the pants in our relationship. I tend to always get the left pant leg since I'm left handed, and he the right because he's right handed. It works out perfectfully.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Book Through Thursday: Oh, Horror!

What with yesterday being Halloween, and all . . . do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?

Anjin and I ventured out to a local restaurant last night at the nearby plaza. A stage had been set up in the quad area, and there were children in various costumes running about. My favorite was the little girl of about four in a kimono who had to stop every few steps to do the twist. Maybe not really the twist, but what looked like her version of it. A miniature Winnie the Pooh made several passes by our table, usually not on his own two feet. There was also a little Strawberry Shortcake who brought back memories of days gone by.

As we were leaving the restaurant and crossing through the quad, the winners of the costume contest were being announced. Everyone was a winner. That brought to mind the costume contest I once entered when I was a child. There had been winners and runner ups back then. Those were the days when everyone was not a winner. Hey! I'm actually of an age now where I can annoy young 'uns by saying "Back in my day . . . !" Is that really a good thing?

Where was I? Oh, Halloween, yes. Being as it is just my husband and I and our sometimes rambunctious animals who will not tolerate costumes, Halloween is pretty much just another day for us. Wake up with the alarm, groan and moan and remind the cat what the meaning of nine minutes of snoozing really is supposed to be about, and finally to wake up and drag myself through the steps of getting ready for work. Of course, I completely forgot the Halloween candy sitting in the chair by the kitchen door. The candy I was supposed to bring for the afternoon potluck. Oh well. I managed to remember to take it today. Just what everyone needs too. They all are bringing their leftover candy to work so they will not be tempted to scarf it all during a moment of weakness. I am not sure bringing the candy to the office where we all spend the entire day really helps. What if Susie over there brings something rather tasty? Cee sure was going after those whoppers I brought in. Too many bowls of candy lying around does not help one's diet.

Halloween was not completely an average day. There was the office potluck and the pumpkin carving contest. Other than that, it was business as usual. I started singing Christmas carols towards the end of the day to drive my coworkers mad. It could have been worse. I could have danced down the aisles.

I suppose I should answer the question, shouldn't I? Do I read horror? Yes, actually I do. I am not a huge fan of the slasher, gory type horror, but I do love a good psychological thriller.

I decided a couple of years ago that I needed to read some of Stephen King's books and a few by Dean Koontz just to see what the fuss was about. While I doubt I will read all of King's books, I do plan to read a few more than just the two I have read so far.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's books have been labeled as horror by some (I tend to think of them more as thrillers), and the three I have read by them, I really enjoyed. Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series was a favorite of mine for a while there. Does that count as horror? The Witching Hour by Anne Rice is one of my favorite horror novels. I know not everyone likes Anne Rice's writing style, but I am really drawn to her books. I have only read a handful, but I would like to read more of her books eventually (if I had a quarter for everytime I said that, eh?).

I enjoy subtle creepiness like the kind in Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian and Bram Stoker's Dracula. John Harwood's The Ghost Writer is probably one of my favorite ghost stories. A gasp, sitting on the edge of my seat or pacing the room, are all reactions I welcome when I read a book that offers up a taste of fear or suspense.

Horror novels themselves do not keep me from sleeping at night. I have no compunction about reading them before bedtime. It is not unusual for whatever book I have been reading, regardless of type, to seep into my dreams at night, however. Perhaps if I lived alone I might be more affected by a horror novel. Fortunately, that is not the case and so I can read to my heart's content.

I thought about asking you about whether you were participating in NaNoWriMo, but I asked that last year. Although . . . if you want to answer that one, too, please feel free to go ahead and do both, or either, your choice!

I told my husband over dinner last night that I had started writing a book. When I say that, I mean it very loosely. I am not really writing a book. Well, maybe eventually it will turn into one, but probably not. That is not my goal at this point in time anyway. He told me that I was not supposed to start until the next day, the start of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). While I may not be participating in NaNoWriMo, Anjin surprised me by saying he is giving it a try. Unofficially. I have not grilled him yet on what he has in mind, but I sure want to!