Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inspiration & Adventure

Inspiration and Adventure. Sometimes inspiration will lead you to do something reckless or fantastic or mundane, but more often than not inspiration leads to adventure.

The idea, the inspiration, to take a walk to the candy store to get the 99 cent grab bag is an adventure. The adventure could be what you find in the candy bag.... will you get a candy necklace? What about a giant sour soother? Or the weird marshmallowy banana? You know whatever you find in that bag is going to taste good. There's choice there. The choice to share that coveted cola bottle candy with your husband, or give your six year old child the creepy fangs that you both like to pretend are your real teeth until you can't stand it anymore and swallow it whole.
Or maybe the walk itself is the adventure. The choice of which path to take, the gravel road past the Sikh Temple, or the paved road with the sidewalk that leads you past a giant hedge with the large barking dog. Will you pass by someone you know? Will you see that your neighbours have left their garbage can out for the last 4 days in a row and you turn to your husband and you both just nod, because you both feel the same way. The garbage can is bloody empty, take it in already.
What if The Adventure leads to inspiration? The walk to the candy store turns into a 1/2 hour walk to the park where you see an old couple on the swings laughing and you wish you had a camera to capture this moment. Or you are walking along the path near the river and you are inspired to jump in clothes and all.

I find that books often give me inspiration. I've been inspired to read new kinds of books. I've been inspired to review books and blog about it. I've been inspired to almost toss a book across the room in a fit of rage (book #3). I've been inspired to research. I've been inspired to start a new hobby. I have been inspired to volunteer. I have been inspired to be a better parent. I have been inspired to try new things. I have been inspired.

I realized this weekend that sometimes the inspiration to begin an adventure will end in a way you didn't imagine.

Inspired by the book Creepers I wanted to go "urban exploring". I didn't want to break into a building or get all decked out in the middle of the night. I wanted to explore something accessible, something that wouldn't get me arrested and that I could bring my family with me.

My inspiration started with my good friend Mr. Google. I new what kind of place I wanted to explore. I didn't care if it didn't fit the exact definition of urban exploring. It was still an adventure. I decided to start my adventure with researching abandoned churches on Vancouver Island. There's something so beautiful about old churches.

I found a few listings for Butter Church in Duncan. The next day, accoutered with our cameras, Hubby, Little Miss and I set out to find Butter church. We couldn't find exact directions to the church just a vague location and a street name. Comiaken Hill, Tzouhalem Rd. Duncan, BC.

Quick Description: The original mission church for the Cowichan Indians built in 1870 but abandoned in 1880 in favour of St Ann's Church. It has remained for over 100 years a haunted structure on the hill, abandoned, deconsecrated and desecrated

Armed with our Vancouver Island map and the (half-assed) directions, we set out to find this old church. Our map didn't have a reference for Comiaken Hill. We found Tzouhalem Rd no problem as we've travelled this road before. We spent 45 minutes just driving back and forth on this road trying to find some indication of where this church may be. One of us had the brilliant idea of looking for St.Ann's Church and then scouting the area near by to see if the old church was near. Looking on the map there wasn't a listing for St.Ann's church (we don't have a laptop so we couldn't google, sigh) But there was a few roads listed nearby that sounded promising (St.Ann's drive) We made several loops in that area through nicely maintained cul-de-sacs.

I was mortified because our old clunker of a car was quite noisy and I'm sure the surrounding neighbourhoods thought we were casing the area.

Another fruitless half hour we resigned ourselves to the fact we may never find this church and "hey it's all about the adventure, right?" But my Hubby, the persevering guy that he is, took it upon himself to ask for directions. Ha! Brilliant!

Parking the car (half on the sidewalk) He approached two women walking their dogs. "hey do you guys live around here?" Not creepy at all, right? Actually it wasn't since we were all there and Little Miss was trying to pet their doggies, and I'm sure all the neighbours were watching and wondering why this piece of shit car was parked in their nice neighbourhood.

He then proceeded to ask them if they knew where the church was and how we could find it.
With some easily explained directions we were on our way again.


We drove by the stairs leading to the church about 10 times earlier that day. We had even spotted people walking up the old stone path.

The old church was so beautiful in it's simplicity, but it was also so sad to see the state of decay. It's truly baffling at the level of disregard people have for property and culture.
We found the church and in doing so found adventure and inspiration. The thrill of the search, the inspiration to capture this beauty and decay on film. The lessons we learned and the lessons we (hopefully) taught Little Miss.

Book Number 40

Only 260 more novels to read. I have to pat myself on the back because reading 40 novels in less than 2 months is pretty good I think. Yay me! Whoot!

The Novel: Shakespeare's Counselor
The Author: Charlaine Harris

This is the last book in the Lily Bard Series up to this point. I don't know if Charlaine Harris is planning to write any more Lily Bard books, but I've finally read a book in this series that actually made me want to read more about the character. Before I was just reading the books because I hate to start a series and not finish it, and the books were pretty interesting (just not as interesting as her other series'). This book was first published back in 2001 with a reprint done in I have a feeling that this was the last one in the series.
I felt so much more for Lily in this book. I had a better sense of who she was and I didn't find her as "cold" as I did in the other books. Also there was A LOT less focus on the character's work out habits (which were starting to bore me, if not make me feel damn lazy).
The conflict and mystery weren't as straight forward as usual so I had a harder time figuring out the bad guy. I enjoyed this novel and I was happy to see a deeper look into Lily's relationship with Jack.

I give "Shakespeare's Counselor" a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

Another series finished. I'm glad to have finished this series with the urge to want to read more about this character.

Book Number 39

I heart David Morrell's writing. Another book that could be made into an action packed movie.

The Novel: Scavenger
The Author: David Morrell

The second in the Frank Balenger series (first being Creepers). This book was as well written and entertaining as the first.
I was sucked in immediately. As I was reading I was seeing an action movie in my head.
I was sufficiently grossed out in parts, fascinated in others, and just enthralled with the whole book.
I enjoy how David Morrell introduces information about interesting subjects into his books (geocaching, time capsules, etc) This man knows what he writes, and does it well.
I always enjoy a novel that has me doing research about it's topics. I find that Scavenger and Creepers both had me googling like crazy.

I give "Scavenger" a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

If you enjoy David Morrell's writing then I think you'd also enjoy books written by James Rollins (Amazonia, Subterranean, etc)
Both authors have a way with words and know their outdoorsy survival techniques.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Number 38

This book motivated me to google, which is a pretty great thing.

The Novel: Creepers
The Author: David Morrell

I really enjoyed this book. It was really well written and continued to keep me interested the whole way through.
I enjoyed the premise (which inspired me to google) of urban exploring.

Main Entry: urban exploration
the study of parts of civilization that are normally unseen or off-limits, such as abandoned structures, drains, sewers, tunnels, etc.; also called
infiltration, reality hacking, urban caving, urban spelunking, urbex

The story isn't just about urban exploring, which would have been pretty good as is, but also involves murder and mayhem and all sorts of creepy going-ons.

The characters were colourful and I felt myself on the edge of my seat hoping that they would succeed in their adventure.
This book had me staying up until all hours just so I could finish it. It was engrossing and nerve wracking. I really liked this novel a lot.

I give "Creepers" a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

I discovered after finishing this book that David Morrell is the author who brought John Rambo to the world. Why didn't I know this before??? Dumb! I feel as though I've wasted a lot of time by just discovering David Morrell now. Now I've got a lot of catching up to do if I want to read his other novels. Fortunately for me I had the foresight to order the novel that follows Creepers....and I'm reading it now, so expect a review soon.....

Book Number 37

Back to the familiar with book #37.

The Novel: Shakespeare's Trollop
The Author: Charlaine Harris

This is another book of Charlaine Harris's that I knew what to expect so I wasn't surprised when I enjoyed this book.
I am still slightly put off by the character Lily Bard, she's just kinda cold...but that's the way she is....and I don't always have to love the main characters.
The book was as well written as the other 3 in the Lily Bard series. The plot was interesting enough to keep me reading (I finished it in a few hours).
The only issue I have is that it was fairly predictable. I find with some of Charlaine Harris's other series (ie: Sookie Stackhouse) she adds new elements to each book to spice it up a bit. The Lily Bard series doesn't really change much with each book. Although I still find it interesting enough to have the next book in the series sitting on my shelf waiting for me to read.

I give "Shakespeare's Trollop" a rating of 3.25 out of 5.

Pretty good, but not great.

Book Number 36

This book is not at all what I expected. The cover says "A Novel Of Suspense" it was, but not in a way that I expected at all......maybe I should spend some time actually reading the book jacket....

The Novel: The Watchers
The Author: Mark Andrew Olsen

The one thing I didn't realize about this book was it's full-on, in your face, religiousness. It was a good story based around (a lot) of belief and good vs evil, while the main character is running for her life trying to solve the mystery.
The writing was good, the character development was great, the plot was pretty good too...I just had a hard time getting around all the preaching. (I'm all about everyone following their own religious path, but I don't personally subscribe to an organized religion, so this book put me off slightly with all the "preachyness")
Aside from the religious overtones, the book was really good. I was interested in what the characters were doing and where they were going. I enjoyed the danger of their quest and I always like a story about a strong woman protagonist.

I give "The Watchers" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

There is a sequel to this book called The Warriors. I intend to read this book as well. I liked the first book enough to get past all the preaching, so I figure I'll probably enjoy the second as well.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Book Number 35

Only 15 more books to go to meet my mini goal (25 books, by Sept 8th). So essentially book a day...shit...the next few books I have are rather long.
As I often say to hubby, I'll say to myself "Suck It Up Buttercup!"
If only all books could be as easy to read as book #35 was.

The Novel: The Debutante Divorcee
The Author: Plum Sykes

Plum Sykes is an excellent Chick-Lit writer. I was easily absorbed into the superficial, exciting, rich life of the characters.
Lots of amusing socialite conflict. Perfect literary escapism. An easy read that had me laughing at some of the character's quirks, shaking my head at some of the underhanded things women do to each other, and hoping that it would all work out in the end.

I give "The Debutante Divorcee" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Sometimes it's nice to just sit back and read a book that doesn't make you have to think. This is the book for doing just that. It's the perfect lounge at the beach book.

The Big Time Out 2009

I have to mention that I had The Best Time at "The Big Time Out 2009" Concert the other weekend (15th). We saw and listened to so many good bands, it was awesome. As you can see from the pic of Little Miss, she had a great time too.
We were all so excited to see Mother Mother play live. Little Miss asked several times to listen to their CD over and over and over.
But wouldn't you know it, she happens to fall asleep right before her favourite song. She was so upset in the car on the way home after midnight, ((talk about getting our money's worth (noon- midnight..ish)). So we listened to the CD again on the way home. I didn't complain, I was all hyped from the concert...and hubby needed some music to keep him alert for the long drive home.
I enjoyed so much of the concert, the music, the performances, the food, the outhouses (well, not really...but they didn't stink at all! yay for that!)
There was also some drama with some peeps around us. A guy almost had his car jacked by his ex wife. Other people were sleeping on the grass (or enjoying the music really stoned??dunno) and they were trampled several times...but hey it was dark and y'all were laying down...what do you expect.....AND I believe that if you're there to enjoy a concert there should be no napping (unless you're a kid).
I saw the neatest looking woman with her cool hippie style (I was ultra jealous) I covet her orange flowy hippie pants so much (not as ghastly as they sound). There were so many interesting people around, it was great. One guy with a mullet, another with a rasta hat, several people were rocking the bands t-shirts, a couple of females all dolled up (why? you're in a field, it's a concert not a runway show.....and why do you think that just because you're pretty you can just budge in line at the porta potty????????)
Anyway, it was fun and I really want to go again next year. So many bands that I now love. Is it just me or does everything sound better in an open field, sung live, and with cool people wandering around on stilts and the neat talented people rocking the hoola-hoop like I've never seen....
These performers/musicians/dancers/ marching talented.....
Okay I'm slightly ashamed to admit, I even got a chance to read some of a book while I was there. Whatevs, there was some down time between performers.
I also was really impressed at how clean the event was. There were several cans labeled recycling, compost, landfill & returns. I thought this was a brilliant idea. They even had people working there that checked the cans and made sure stuff went into the right can (although I was slightly put off when one of the workers ate his dinner, still wearing the same gloves he used to pick garbage out of the cans with...I had to look away, gag factor was high).
There was even a cool kids section with play-doh, and lego and other cool things. They even had free sunscreen.
The Big Time Out 2009 was truly a well organized family fun event. If there was any rowdiness going on at the beer gardens I didn't notice.

Book Number 34

I decided to give this author another try. I've read books by her that I've enjoyed and some that I didn't like at all.

The Novel: Sleeping Arrangements
The Author: Madeleine Wickham

Well, I went into this novel not knowing what to expect. I've enjoyed novels by Madeleine before, and I especially enjoy the novels written as her alter ego Sophie Kinsella....but I've been disappointed in the past so I was wary....
I enjoyed this novel. Sleeping Arrangements was well written and entertaining. Most characters were colourful and well described.
I was amused at the situation and I could feel the tension building amongst the characters. I was appropriately appalled at times and laughed out loud at other instances.
This novel was a nice read and I finished it rather quickly. This is the kind of novel I have come to know and love from this author and I feel she's redeemed herself since the last book of hers that I read (A Desirable Residence....DID NOT LIKE)

I give "Sleeping Arrangements" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

I'm glad I liked this novel, or I might have been put off by Madeleine Wickham / Sophie Kinsella, for awhile.

Book Number 33

Charlaine Harris again, Yay! I really love most of her writing.

The Novel: A Secret Rage
The Author: Charlaine Harris

I was really happy to read a "stand alone" book of Charlaine Harris's. As her second novel published, it's a good one.
I enjoy a good mystery with a dark subject matter. This story was written in the first person POV and deals with a harsh crime (Rape).
We see this horrific experience through the main characters eyes and watch how she deals with it, as well as how she strives to find the rapist.
I was right there along with the character trying to figure out whodunit, and was cheering her on when she had some nasty violent vigilante thoughts.
There isn't the usual humour that you find in most of Charlaine Harris's books, but that's ok because the story was well done and humour was not needed at all.
This was a strong book with a strong central character. Charlaine Harris did a wonderful job navigating this painful and delicate subject.

I give "A Secret Rage" a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

I recently read that Charlaine Harris herself is a rape survivor. I admire her strength and I hope writing this novel was cathartic for her.

Book Number 32

Another male author to make the female to male author ratio a little more fair (32:7)

The Novel: The Inhabited World
The Author: David Long

I enjoyed this novel. It was thought provoking and captivating. The character development was impressive.
There was a distinct attention to detail as the main character Evan delves into his (past) life and his observances during his time spent in his purgatorial existence.
We have a look at the families that have lived in Evan's house after he died from Evan's point of view. Each family had it's own distinct attributes and quirks, which made the little looks into their lives all the more interesting.
The story has an interesting flow as it jumps from the past to the present and back. I enjoyed the look into Evan's life this way as the author took his time with giving the reader the full picture.

I give "The Inhabited World" a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

Another good choice for a "random library pick". I will check out some other works by David Long as I found this book interesting and well written.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Book Number 31

I waited for this book for what seems like FOREVER.

The Novel: The Awakening
The Author: Kelley Armstrong

This book is the second novel in the Darkest Powers Trilogy. This book doesn't give you a back story into the first book (titled: The Summoning) Therefore, it is imperative that you read the first novel in the series to understand anything that is going on at all.
I did read the first book so I was well informed, and sucked into the story deep enough that I was waiting (not patiently) for this novel to finally get published and into my library.
This book was as well written as the first and I got an even better look into the character's lives and their motivations.
I read this book really quickly, as I needed to know what would happen next. Of course the book leaves you hanging at the end, and I will have a real hard time waiting until May 1st, 2010 for the 3rd novel (The Reckoning) to be released.
This book is well written, action packed and a pretty good tale that kept me entertained. It is a Young Adult fiction, but other than the fact that the characters are teens it is written well enough that people of any age (apart from little kids of course) will enjoy it.

I give "The Awakening" a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

I wish that the next novel would be released sooner, why can't these writers write faster dang it?!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book Number 30

Book #30 was another one of those "I must pick out a random book at the library, and it should be a male author...hey look at this, I didn't know Jimmy Buffett wrote novels, cool let's give it a go"

The Novel: Swine Not?
The Author: Jimmy Buffett

This novel wasn't what I expected, at all. After picking up this novel I did a bit of research into Jimmy Buffet's writing career, and I had heard good things about most of his novels. So I guess I went into this reading experience expecting a lot.
I was wrong to assume (ass-u-me?? yep)
This book is "supposed" to be a novel for adults. In reality it's a poorly disguised children's novel.
There wasn't much in the way of character description (physically) although I did have a glimpse into some of the character's (Rumpy the pig) inner workings and it was interesting.
What I found to be interesting (not necessarily in a good way) is that one of Jimmy Buffet's friends had written a manuscript with the whole concept of a pig living in an hotel. Jimmy was supposed to edit it and get it ready for it to be sent to publishers. Instead he took the idea, expanded on it (with the friends permission) and turned out a novel. He fully admits this in his book.
Overall, I didn't mind the book as a quick escape from the long day I had, but it's not "The Great American Novel" that's for sure. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it, however I think my 6 year old wouldn't mind the tale if I read it to her.

I give "Swine Not?" a rating of 2 out of 5.

I am still willing to give Jimmy Buffett another try, but this time I'll actually get a book that has several good reviews. Although it may be awhile before I get around to reading any more of his works.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Number 29

Well I had to get another Jen Lancaster book.
I had to.
She's just too funny. I'm almost all caught up now, apart from her first book that has so many dang holds on it at the library that it'll be a long long wait until I get to read it.

The Novel: Pretty in Plaid A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or The Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase.
The Author: Jen Lancaster
The hardcover debut from the New York Times bestselling author— the prequel to Bitter is the New Black.In Pretty in Plaid, Jen Lancaster reveals how she developed the hubris that perpetually gets her into trouble. Using fashion icons of her youth to tell her hilarious and insightful stories, readers will meet the girl she used to be.Think Jen Lancaster was always "like David Sedaris with pearls and a super-cute handbag?" (Jennifer Coburn) Think again. She was a badge-hungry Junior Girl Scout with a knack for extortion, an aspiring sorority girl who didn't know her Coach from her Louis Vuitton, and a budding executive who found herself bewildered by her first encounter with a fax machine. In this humorous and touching memoir, Jen Lancaster looks back on her life—and wardrobe—before bitter was the new black and shows us a young woman not so very different than the rest of us.

Well what did I think about this look into a young Jen Lancaster's life??? I loved it. Possibly not as funny as Bright Lights, Big Ass or Such a Pretty Fat....BUT it still was dang hilarious.

Because I've enjoyed everything I've read by Ms. Lancaster, and I fear that I'm due to repeat myself if I take the time to write a regular review, I'm going to go in a different direction.....
Whilst reading this book, I decided that I must write down which pages had made me laugh out loud. You'll just have to read the book to see what I'm talking about.
1) pg 16...Her reference to a Brownie craft involving a toilet paper roll turned Christmas ornament.....and her subsequent response.
2) pgs 33-35....More Brownie/ Girl Scout related anecdotes.....funny to me because I totally get what she's talking about....if you've ever been involved in guiding/ scouts as a member or leader, you'll think this is hilarious also.
3) pg 146...The footnotes had me laughing out loud.
4) pg 231...Her letter to her apartment building neighbours. Funny!

There were so many more instances in which I had my beverage come shooting out of my nose because I found something she wrote really funny.

I give "Pretty in Plaid" a rating of 4 out of 5.

I like how I can just relax and laugh while reading Jen Lancaster's books. It's nice to just chill out, not think and just laugh at someone else's life for a bit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Book Number 28

I have been making a more conscious effort to read more male authors. The last 27 books I've read have been predominantly female authors (a ratio of 23:4). Thus, I've taken the time to grab random books at the library with male authors and book covers that catch my eye. This novel was one of those choices.

The Novel: Natural Elements
The Author: Richard Mason

I liked this book. It was dense and long, but well written. Natural Elements an inventive work of fiction that has realistic historical elements.
The characters are colourful and well described. I found myself wishing and hoping that Joan's magic pedals were real and not just the signs of an elderly woman succumbing to dementia.
I could feel Eloise's stress and was hoping for a miracle on her part as well.
The historical flash backs gave me a good look into life during the time of the Anglo- Boer war of 1899- 1901.
All in all, I find that this is a book where realism and the fantastical meet to form a beautifully written engrossing tale.

I give "Natural Elements" a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

I'm glad I picked this novel. Another good choice done on the basis of cover art and the fact that it was written by a male.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Number 27

I have been slow with my reading since I jammed 5 books into 2 days awhile back. I've been working on Book #27 for a few days.

The Novel: Breakneck
The Author: Erica Spindler

Breakneck is the 2nd book in the Kitt Lundgren series. I've read the first in the series so I was happy to have the second arrive at my library for me. The one thing about Breakneck is that you don't really have to have read the first in the series (Copycat). There is enough background info that you are not lost at all. Although the first in the series was really good, so I recommend you read it regardless.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters are well developed. The book is full of emotional disquiet. Breakneck is a fast-paced action novel, that leave the reader (me) wondering what is going to happen next.
I enjoy that the novel is based around two female detectives. It's nice to see a mystery novel where the central characters are strong independent women with the skills to kick some ass, but the tenderness to be emotional during times of personal stress.
You can't help but be sucked in to the story and root for the good guys (errrr girls) and hate the bad guy with a vengeance.
The ending had an interesting twist and I couldn't have imagined who the bad guy was.

I give "Breakneck" a rating of 4 out of 5.

I really hope Erica Spindler continues to write about these two wonderful female detectives. She has a good thing going here and I am looking forward to seeing what other dangerous situations the women find themselves in.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tired & Excited

Tired and still in my PJ's. I hope we don't have any visitors today because I am seriously thinking about not getting dressed.

There is a reason people go to sleep at a reasonable time.
I decided last night that my 4 am bedtimes are not acceptable, and could be the leading cause of me being a giant crankenstein in the morning (who am I kidding, the afternoon is more like it).

So I went to bed at a reasonable time last night (11pm). I got all settled in and decided, well since I'm here I'll just read a bit.
Finally I look at the clock, it can't be too late right? 12:30am, dang it! Turn out the lights, and surprisingly I am asleep right away.
1:30am Hubby comes to bed, lights a blarin', doors a crashin', toothbrushes a vibratin'.....
me: "what the Hell!!??!!" look at clock, scowl at hubby, put a pillow over my head.
hubby looks at me sheepishly "sooooorrrrryyyyy"
me: "yeah you are!"
me again, standing up this time " Slave! Feet rubbing now! please"
Hubby, shrugs shoulders "ok"

And do you think I could get back to sleep after that? Nope.
Hubby is all settled in asleep snoring away, while I lay there with nice smooth moisturized feet and legs, but a really big snarl just on the cusp of being released from my mouth.
Oh, brilliant idea, I'll just listen to my ipod and instead of cool rocking music that's sure to keep me awake, I'll just listen to the score from the Lord of The Rings....
4 am, still flippin awake.

Tonight I'm wearing earplugs and will forgo the feet rubbing if it means I can get to sleep at a regular time.

**Oh, I am super excited! Only 3 more sleeps until I make the trek to Cumberland and get to see some of my favorite bands (Mother Mother) in concert.

Little Miss is excited too. It should be a really great Saturday and I don't even have to leave the Island. Now I have to think about what to pack for the day. Thank goodness I am really great at making lists, I shouldn't forget too many important things (like the tickets).

Maybe I'll make a list now while I'm awake and alert. Too many sleepless nights are probably killing brain cells, at this rate I won't have the mental capacity for making lists if I don't get some proper sleep soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Off Topic, Juvenile Behaviour

Random thoughts, Juvenile behaviour...This is not how I am all the time. Normally I am a rational, intellectual person.
but once in awhile.......

Sometimes I get it in my head to do weird things, or I try and convince people to encourage me to do weird things.
Not weird as in perverted or illegal. Just regular weird. Weird as in people might say "what the heck were you thinking? that's just dumb"

A few years back when the movie "Super Troopers" came out, I was fascinated by it's wackiness and I seemed compelled to do dumb shit a la super trooper style.

Do you know how hard it is to convince people to have a syrup chugging contest? It's impossible. Maybe because the people I am friends with have a higher maturity level than I do...I dunno. I was only 22 at the time, and it really seemed like a good idea (alcohol may have been involved).

This is the reason I should probably not watch Super Troopers 2 when it is released...ahhh who am I kidding, I'm going to watch it and I'll probably find something in the movie that makes me want to do dumb shit. sigh.

Anyway, I've got the urge to do something weird again.
I've been thinking a lot about crazy diets lately. Remember the grapefruit and bacon diet of the past? It's been proven that a diet restricting a person to 1 or 2 foods is generally not a good idea....common sense right?
Well it's been so freakin hot out, and I've been slamming 7-11 slurpee's like they're going out of style, and noshing on Mr.Freeze freezies like you wouldn't believe.....all sugar, all the time, baby.

I have been eating regular foods as well.....but the crazy diet fad has got me thinking....

How long could a person survive on freezies alone, and how much weight could a person lose???
Would a person (me) be hungry 24-7 and have to eat my body's weight in frozen deliciousness just to not go into some kind of hunger coma?

yep, this is the crap I think about ..... and try to convince my hubby that me doing it would be a good idea and/or have hilarious/possibly dangerous results.

Don't worry I won't be starting a freezie diet anytime soon (or a slurpee diet either)...but sometimes I just wonder, hmmm what would it be like?

Like I said, dumb weird shit.......

"the snozzberries taste like snozzberries"

Book Number 26

This book I discovered by reading Jen Lancaster. She was trying to get this book out of her library in "Bright Lights, Big Ass"...and well I thought, hey if she likes the book I might as well give it a go. I enjoy chick lit so reading this book wasn't a stretch for me.

The Novel: Bergdorf Blondes
The Author: Plum Sykes

I liked this book. It was a nice escape into a life I will never experience. A life of glamour, fashion, jet setting, and one night stands.
I found this novel to be very descriptive, obviously this author knows a thing or two about living the high life and enjoying such finery as Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, and the like.
Although some of the character's were quite shallow, they were still interesting with each of their own little idiosyncrasies.
The novel is very much escapism literature, However, there are some serious parts (an attempted suicide) which gives the novel more depth and makes it even more interesting.
This book is an example of how I like my chick lit to be, nice, light and humorous with a happy ending.

I give "Bergdorf Blondes" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

As a debut novel, Plum Sykes did a bang up job. I guess it does pay to write what you know.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book Number 25

Well I did it! I read 25 books in a month. I am right on schedule, I might just make my 300 books in a year goal, if I can keep this up.....and I can proudly say that I didn't neglect my family too much.......
Pats myself on the back

The Novel: A Desirable Residence
The Author: Madeleine Wickham

I was disappointed. I've read other stuff by Madeleine Wickham and her alter ego Sophie Kinsella...this book did not measure up to her other works, at all.
I found I disliked almost every character apart from Jonathan and Alice (who seem to be the only "real" characters). I wasn't immediately sucked in to the story and it took a lot of patience on my part to get through it.
The plot was ok, but it could have been done a lot better.
I finally became slightly more interested at the end, but it was too little too late.
There is too much going on in this novel, too many side stories that just make it more "cluttery" and took away from the main story.

I give "A Desirable Residence" a rating of 2.5 out of 5.

I have another Madeleine Wickham book on my shelf, I just hope it is better than this one. A Desirable Residence is not a desirable read.

Book Number 24

The last Charlaine Harris novel I've read recently, but don't despair....I've got another Charlaine Harris book sitting on my book shelf just waiting for me (but I've got about 4 or so more books to read before it, so there should be a nice gap)

The Novel: Shakespeare's Christmas
The Author: Charlaine Harris

I liked this Lily Bard book a lot better than the first, and it was even better than the second in the series. I find I am liking Lily a lot more than I did to start. Each book I read in the series I develop a better understanding of Lily and I get more emotionally involved.
This book takes us even further into Lily's past life. We "meet" her family and find out their little quirks.
I like how this book was set in a different town with different characters.
The plot was really entertaining. I couldn't put this book down until I knew who the bad guy was, and when I found out who it was I was looking forward to the ass-kicking he was sure to get.
I liked it. I am glad I stuck with the series.

I give "Shakespeare's Christmas" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

I've got the next 2 books in the series on hold, and I am looking forward to them arriving at my library.

Book Number 23

I'm sitting here trying to think of what to say, how to start this blog post...I can't think of anything, so I guess I'll just get right to it then.

The Novel: Shakespeare's Champion
The Author: Charlaine Harris

Well this book was a lot better than the first in the Lily Bard series. It was still a little hard to get into, but it improved a lot after a bit (about 1/3 into it).
I found myself understanding Lily's motivation for her attitude and I was a lot more understanding. The Character is still kinda dry, but I can see why she's like this now and I can empathize.
Other than some continuity issues with this book (the name of Lily's sister is different than in the first book) I enjoyed it.
It was suspenseful. Well written. I enjoyed the fight scenes, the were descriptive and I could picture it in my head no problem.
The plot in the novel can be a bit touchy (racism) But Charlaine Harris navigates this subject well and it's easy to be rooting for the good guys and actively hating the bad guys.

I give "Shakespeare's Champion" a rating of 3.25 out of 5.

I'm glad I stuck with this series. I feel redeemed.

Book Number 22

Another Charlaine Harris, you can't say I didn't warn you.....

The Novel: An Ice Cold Grave
The Author: Charlaine Harris

Book 3 in the Harper Connelly series. I enjoyed this book. The first book in the series I was like "meh, it's okay" But now I'm really getting into these novels. I know more about Harper and her "brother" and I am fascinated by their relationship. I find myself being more empathetic towards Harper and her talents and the repercussions of such.
The story itself was interesting. I find myself wondering "why does this stuff always happen to them (the main characters), I know they go to these places doing what they have to do, but why do they always seem to have more bad shit happen to them"
I enjoyed the quirks of the minor characters.
I know I like a book when I want to peek at the end and see whodunit.

I give "An Ice Cold Grave" a rating of 4 out of 5.

I am glad that the Harper Connelly series has improved from the first book. I'm glad I decided to stick with the series and see what happens I'm just impatiently waiting for Grave Secret to come out October 27th. Hurry up already.

Book Number 21

I'll admit I have read A LOT of Charlaine Harris in the last while (you'll see the next 3 book reviews after this one are all Charlaine Harris) Sorry 'bout that. It just seemed like I could get through these books faster, and as you know I'm on a deadline.....

The Novel: Shakespeare's Landlord
The Author: Charlaine Harris

This novel is the first in the Lily Bard series. I started this series all excited thinking it's going to be as entertaining as the Sookie Stackhouse series or even the Aurora Teagarden series.....
Yeah, it's not.
This novel starts out really dry. Lily Bard is a character I don't really like. I'm not emotionally invested in this book or the characters until 2/3's of the way through.
The book does get a bit better, but I can't help but compare this novel to other books that Charlaine Harris has written.
I did enjoy the plot and the suspense, Charlaine Harris didn't go wrong there.
The scene description is pretty well done as well.....I guess I find that a novel is only as good as the characters involved??? I don't know....
This book was ok, not great, just ok. Will I read the rest in the series? Yes, because I feel compelled to see if it improves.

I give "Shakespeare's Landlord" a rating of 2.75 out of 5.

Now I feel bad that I've given a bad review to a pretty good writer.....ah well it's not as if she's going to ever see this blog.

By George! I've Done it!

I did it! I read 3 books last night so that I could complete my mini goal of reading 25 books in a month. It's all part of the bigger picture, man.
I've read 5 books in 2 days, I am a super I just have to blog about them all...

It's going to take forever

I haven't even had breakfast yet, so hold yer horses, sheesh.....

And heck, don't get mad that all but one book was written by Charlaine Harris, I had to do it. The books were here, some were paperback and they just looked like I could read them faster.

My brain hurts. too much info, too fast.
I'm a glutton for punishment though.....I started another book last night before I went to sleep.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What Have I Been Doing???

Reading, reading, reading.

I've set a goal for myself to read a certain amount of books, and dang it bobby, I'm going to do it!

I have to read 25 books a month to achieve my "300 books in a year" goal, which means I have to have read 25 books by today. I've blogged about 20 books thus far, I've actually read 22, but I can't stop to blog about them now as I have to read 3 more books before I go to sleep tonight.

I can do it.

Hubby took Little Miss out for the day (awesome) so I can have the whole day to read. Of course half of the day is already over and I've yet to crack open a new book
....but I've got ambition......
....I've got snacks........
what else do I need???? a about that.....What?! no one is here to smell me, so whatevs......

Off to read, no more interruptions, no more procrastinating.
Do it.
Do it.
Git R Dun!
All right, all ready sheesh!

Book Number 20

Another good book. I've had a good run of books lately, some previously ordered from the library, others picked at random....either way I've had a bunch of interesting reading material to get me through this super hot summer.

The Novel: Dream When You're Feeling Blue
The Author: Elizabeth Berg

Another book set during a time when I wasn't born yet. Normally I avoid these types of books, because I like to be somewhat familiar with the ways of life and customs during the time a novel is set in (aside from sci-fi, which I expect to be somewhat or radically different than my current decade)......That being said, I am glad I got this novel. I found this novel, taking place during WWII, to be so well written and descriptive. I felt as though I was there and I didn't need to have lived during that time to get a real view into what it was like back then.
Elizabeth Berg fills her novel with such minute and realistic details about the era, I can immerse myself into the story and not feel lost at all. She takes her time to get the reader thoroughly engaged and acclimated to the setting that the story, it's characters and it's plot just fall into place nicely.
I enjoy how each of her characters are lovable yet flawed, which makes them much more real and gives the reader a chance to become emotionally invested.
The ending.....what can I say.....interesting twist.....not sure how I feel about it. I was so involved with the main character Kitty, that I had a certain expectation for her and her life, and the ending changed all that. The ending was interesting for sure, but, just like real life, doesn't follow what everyone would necessarily want... regardless, it was still well written......

I give "Dream When You're Feeling Blue" a rating of 4 out of 5.

I really enjoy Elizabeth Berg's writing. She is near the top of my fave author's list, which is why she'll often be featured during this 300 book challenge. I'm going to continue to read books written by her until I've read them all.

Book Number 19

I just grabbed book #19 randomly at the library....truth be told, I was looking for a male author because I've been reading a lot of female authors lately....

also I wanted a book with a nice cover

don't try and tell me "don't judge a book by it's cover" that's BS, I am way more likely to pick a book I've never heard of if the cover looks nice.

.....I can't be the only one......

The Novel: One Mississippi
The Author: Mark Childress

After I spent a few minutes saying m-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i over and over in my head (and out loud once or twice), I decided hunker down and read this novel.
I liked it.
The novel was very descriptive and interesting. Set in the 70's and during the time of court-ordered integration, there is a lot that Mark Childress works with. Conflict is slow to build up, but ends in a bang. This is a humorous coming of age novel that takes a dark twist.
I enjoyed the character details, as well as the scene descriptions. Myself, being born in 1979 I never experienced much of (at all) 70's culture. I found myself being easily sucked into the story and seeing everything as though I had lived through it back then.
I found the novel to flow nicely and build up with conflict for the most part, however, I found the end to be almost too much. I was expecting some sort of conflict or controversy, but the novel ended in a way I had not expected. I felt as though the build up of the story didn't quite warrant such an explosive ending. It was a good twist, which would seem, due to the nature of the novel, expected....but for me it really wasn't.
There was a lot of adumbration as to what might happen at the end, so I shouldn't have been surprised, but I really was. Maybe it is a continuity issue for me (the novel goes along la-la-minor conflict-la-la-la-conflict- la-la-la-conflict-conflict-la-la-la-BANG) Just my personal opinion, I'm sure a lot of people didn't have a problem with the novel or how it ended, but for some reason the ending just didn't sit well with me (not because of the level of violence, but because of the way it was written, I guess)
All in all I still enjoyed the novel. It was a nice choice for a "pick at random" book.

I give "One Mississippi" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

I might give Mark Childress a second go around, I enjoyed the look into the past that I hadn't been alive to experience.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Number 18

So I started book #18 last night, I almost finished it but it was 4:30am and I really needed to sleep. I'm glad I waited until today to finish the book so that I was alert and able to fully appreciate the ending.

The Novel: Talk Before Sleep
The Author: Elizabeth Berg

Wow, this book was amazing. It's plot is so simple really, a story of friends and one is battling cancer and close to death. It seems like a pretty straight forward story, but it is so rich and profound, the characters love for one another (friend love), the emotions, all of it....sigh...
I found Talk Before Sleep so beautifully descriptive. You learn about the characters, not just by how they're described, but also how they talk and relate to one another and the events that are happening to them.
There is no rushing with this book. Everything is described in such detail, the colours, smells, textures.... The images are so vivid in my mind, it's as if I'm there experiencing everything with the characters.
So beautiful, so poignant. I am in awe at Elizabeth Berg's talent for taking such an emotional subject and making it so beautiful and heart-wrenching.
I give "Talk Before Sleep" a rating of 4.75 out of 5.

Sadness, humour, has it all. Beautiful.

Book Number 17

Book #17......means I only have 8 more books to read by August 8th if I want to get close to achieving my goal of 300 books in a year. Guess I better get reading....and blogging...

The Novel: Faces of Fear
The Author: John Saul

Faces of Fear is, like most John Saul novels, well written. This novel is a psychological thriller. I was sufficiently creeped out, yet intrigued.
I enjoyed the character details, however I found it took awhile to see how they would all become intertwined. The novel started out somewhat slow, but about a third of the way into it, the novel picks up pace and we see more of the plot and the creep-out factors.
There are some interesting twists, and I had a hard time figuring out the ending (the bad guy).
I found the characters believable, some irritatingly so.
This novel is not as scary as some other John Saul novels, but I was kept interested the whole time.
The book jacket has the line "Saul proves that there's a fine line between perfection and madness" ....Indeed he does, and that's why it creeped me out.

I give "Faces of Fear" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

A captivating serial killer type novel. Kept me wondering and raised the hair on the back of my neck.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Number 16

Again with a Charlaine Harris novel....who knew.....
Could it be that I had a bunch on hold at the library??? yep.

The Novel: Grave Surprise
The Author: Charlaine Harris

Grave surprise is the 2nd novel in the Harper Connelly series. I found this novel to be slightly more enjoyable than the first in the series. I found myself becoming more invested in the characters now that I know them better.
The plot is interesting and well written. Some parts of the novel were predictable, but still entertaining. Again a novel were I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who the bad guy was, I was right again! yay, me!
There were parts of this novel where I was asking the characters(in my head, obviously) "what the heck are you doing? don't do that, idiots, you'll just get into trouble, arrrggggg....okay go ahead, but just wait and see...." and sure enough I was right. But not all characters can be as smart as me, and if they followed common sense then it wouldn't be as interesting to read.
There's an undercurrent of sexual tension between the main characters that I hope will be explored in the next novel (on hold at the library, yay!)

I give "Grave Surprise" a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

I'm invested now, there's just enough character tension that I have to read the next novel......and that's how she sucks you in.......good on ya Ms. Harris, well done.

Book Number 15

I've read a lot of Charlaine Harris lately. I almost feel guilt for not having a more diverse selection of books to review.....but too farkin bad, I enjoy these novels and Charlaine Harris's writing so I'll continue to read her stuff until I've read it all.

The Novel: Grave Sight
The Author: Charlaine Harris

Grave Sight is the 1st novel in the Harper Connelly series. I've just started this series, and like other novels by Charlaine Harris, I like it.
I was quickly sucked in by the story. I like the concept a lot. I don't like the main character Harper as much as I like the main characters in other novels by Ms.Harris. I found Harper to be a bit dry, but otherwise interesting.
This novel didn't have the humour to accompany the dark theme, that Charlaine's novels usually have. That being said I still really liked this novel. It may be lacking in some elements that I am used to with Harris's writing, but Grave Sight still made a good story. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out whodunit, and was pleased to find that I was somewhat right. I don't think the "bad guy" was predictable, however, I am just really good at figuring out the antagonist in novels (or making many guesses and then being so pleased with myself that I was right)

I give "Grave Sight" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Although this novel lacked some of the elements that I come to know and love from Charlaine Harris, I still really enjoyed this novel and I'll read the rest of the series because I have to know what will happen next. Maybe I'd like it even better if I quit comparing this novel to other novels by the same author. I am really bad for that.

Book Number 14

Have you ever read a book and weren't sure how you felt about it? And it took you several days, or longer to form an opinion?
That's me with book #14.

The Novel: Brown Girl In The Ring
The Author: Nalo Hopkinson

I'm still not sure how I feel about this novel. It's been several days since I've read it and I can't form an honest, stick to my guns, opinion.
The novel was written well. It was an excellent first novel by Nalo Hopkinson. I found the characters interesting and well developed. The story was wildly rich and colourful.
I found the dialect very interesting, at first a little hard to follow, but as I continued to read I found myself understanding and following the characters and their story without a problem.
The main character's rise into a powerful young woman seemed almost too sudden, although I didn't mind the ending and it's outcome.

I give "Brown Girl In The Ring" a rating of 3.5 out of 5.

I don't know why I can't make an definite opinion about this book. It was good, but at the same time I'm not sure if I really truly liked it. Weird, I know. Maybe because I'm used to science fiction being different (not better, just different).
If and when I come to a final absolute opinion I'll be sure to mention it.

What's up?

Where have I been?
Reading of course.
I figured out that I'm so far behind that if I don't read at least 25 books a month I'll not meet my goal. This sucks because I thought I was doing so well.
I've read 3 more books since my last blog entry and I've almost finished another, but even still, 17 books and a month has almost passed....not good...falling far behind already.....sigh.
I can do it though, I just have to make up for lost time with some quick easy reading (aka: chick lit)
I don't want to spend all my reading time enjoying the latest chick lit novels, however. I think there should be a nice balance between all the genres (well almost all, you won't catch me reading a western any time soon)
I'm going to make a conscious effort to read a more diverse selection of books. Each time I go to the library to pick out novels (apart from when the one's I've put on hold arrive) I am going to try and grab a novel from several different areas. This way I can broaden my reading experiences and possibly find new authors that I enjoy.

I am also willing to take any novel suggestions. If I haven't read the suggested novel before, I'll make a good effort to add it to my reading list (as long as it doesn't sound totally lame in my opinion)