Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Slumpity Slump Slump

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, a slump hits and nothing you read really sticks. I've been dealing with that lately, and it's soooooo frustrating. Here I am, surrounded by a cajillion books (and that's an exact count!) and very little of it is appealing to me right now. I really wanted to read World Without End by Ken Follett (and will, I promise, later on) but the storyline, while interesting, just wasn't grabbing me. In fact, very little is grabbing me outside of YA paranormal. I think it's just the weather, or maybe my work situaiton, or the Olympics, or my shoe size, or whatever, but I refuse to force myself to read anything other than what's grabbing me. Reading shouldn't be a chore. So for now, WWE is put on the backburner, and I'm reading Heather Brewer's Eleventh Grade Burns. Which seems to be sticking... review to come soo(hopefully).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Secret Crush Revealed...

I confess. I've had a secret crush on Rick Springfield since...oh, 1981 or so. Actually, it must not have been such a secret since dh surprised me with tickets to his concert at Nashville's Wildhorse Saloon last night (can we say now that my husband is the best? And that he's racked up some major points that should hold him in good stead for the next 6 weeks or so?). So off we went to the Wildhorse (a venue I'd never visited until last night) to stand in line for 30 minutes in the freezing cold in order to get a good table for our general admission tickets. Not knowing what to expect, we quickly chose a table near the edge of the second floor balcony and settled in to wait for Dr. Noah Drake to show up onstage. A young couple from Cincinnati sat down at our table with us and we enjoyed chatting with them a good deal. Turns out he's in themilitary and shared a few stories about his time in Iraq a couple of years ago. They had a delightful sense of humor and we enjoyed crowd watching (where I was deeply tempted to take several photos for Glamour magazine's "Don't" section!).
Around 9 p.m., Rick bounced onstage (literally bounced, people) and began a show that lasted around an hour and a half. From where we were I could look directly down and watch the now 60 year old as he rocked liked a 20 year old. Seriously, he jumped, spun, threw his guitar, smashed roses, and rocked out as though it was wonder the guy is super skinny and still in good form! Jeff and I wondered what he thinks when he looks out and sees all the middle aged women out there, still throwing underwear his he pleased that we've stuck with him all these years or is his appalled at how time has passed (and not so pleasantly for some of us)? Anyway, he ran through several of his early hits (teasing the audience especially by starting the riff for "Jessie's Girl" a couple of times and stopping) and threw in some newer music (which I didn't know but liked a lot), and even played "Jet" by Paul McCartney (Loved it!) and "Mustang Sally" (for which he had his former drummer, whose name has of course left the building now, come out and sing lead). My favorite moment was when he pulled two little girls onstage, pointing out how from his vantage point he could see 3 bars and yet here were two little girls out for the party (ages 7 and 8 as they informed us). He had them bouncing around with him, singing lines from "Don't Talk to Strangers", laughing, and dancing with them as though he was seven himself (the wild, throwing your arms about, Charlie Brown style of dance). He ordered Cokes for them and ended by giving them hugs and kisses, making me think he'd truly enjoyed his time with them. Next he jumped down onto the tables and made his way around the room, rocking and singing, hugging and being pinched, dancing and seeming to enjoy his music and his show as though he'd never done it before. Much fun was had by all.
Yep, I've definitely got a keeper of a husband. My crush is reinforced and my love is true and happy. Can't ask for more than that.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Read This Book. Really. I Mean It.

When seventeen year old Emily Benedict's mother dies, she finds herself going to live with Vance, the grandfather she's never known, in a small town called Mullaby. She's expecting change and struggles to fit in, but what she gets far exceeds her wildest dreams. First off, her kindly grandfather is a literal giant of a man, measuring eight feet tall. Then there are the mysterious lights which linger outside her house after dark. And then there is Win, son of the local town's leading family, whose interest runs hot and cold and oh so frustrating. But most odd of all is the legacy of her mother Dulcie, who apparently left Mullaby behind after causing mayhem and meanness, none of which translates into the caring mother Emily knew. It's gonna be a long transition.
Meanwhile, while Emily is facing her own problems, her next door neighbor Julia is still exorcising her own from her high school years. Though twenty years have passed, Julia's heart still belongs to the handsome Sawyer, but their history is so complicated that Julia keeps running from his advances. Her plan is to pay off the mortgage on the restaurant she inherited from her father and get back to her "real" life in Baltimore. But Sawyer's determined to find out her secrets and regain her trust; Julia's just as determined not to let him.
This fabulous, wonderful, engaging book stole my heart from the opening pages. The characters are so real, so alive, that I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction. I loved Mullaby and its small town atmosphere; I loved the characters and their faults; I loved the magical realism that Ms. Allen so easily imbues into her novels. Building steadily toward its climax, the tension in this story kept me up late looking for a stopping point which never came. I'm enchanted, I'm transfixed, I'm delighted. Ms. Allen's works have become auto-buys for me. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

My Soul To Save

Biggest problem with this book for me? I picked it up before I read the first in the series. Arrgh. Hate it when that happens. Anyway, here's the review from Amazon:
Things seem to be working out okay in Kaylee's world lately: she's learning to work with her new life as a bean sidhe with the help of her wonderful boyfriend Nash and his mother, who is also a bean sidhe (more usually known as a banshee in everyday language). Oh, and I forgot to mention Nash's brother Tod,who happens to be a reaper and is...uh, dead. So, things aren't exactly normal for Kaylee, but at least she's learning to cope and to keep her wail (a loud scream a bean sidhe emits when a soul leaves a body) under control. But when she and Nash attend a pop concert and the singer drops dead, and Kaylee can't wail as she watches, she knows something odd is going on. The only explanation? The singer has no soul. Definitely odd, and definitely scary. My Soul to Save is the second book by Rachel Vincent to feature Kaylee and her emerging skills as a female bean sidhe.
There's a lot to like in this story: There is a lot of action, a lot of ethical choices, and even a poke at a certain franchise that spawns tons of young tween stars. Kaylee is no shrinking violet, and she forges ahead strongly, even when she's unsure of how to proceed. There are creepy characters galore, and Tod provides a good deal of sarcastic wit (and also a bit of angst with his relationship with the doomed Addison, another pop singer). The relationship between Kaylee and Nash is well written, with the physical attraction strong and Kaylee's worries very realistic. The most irritating part of the tale came with the wishy-washiness of the pop stars, though I suppose that was also realistic in some ways. But in fact, this story is a welcome entry into the paranormal young adult genre, not tied up in neat little bows but gritty and fun. I'll be looking for the next entry in the series later this year.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Eva's Journey by Hava Ben Zvi

Eva's Journey is a spare tale that follows a young Jewish girl living in Poland during World War 2. When her mother and older brother leave Eva and her father to go to Israel, both of their lives quickly come into peril when Nazi Germany invades. Eva's father forms a plan to place her in a convent for safekeeping but he is unfortunately killed, leaving Eva alone and dependent upon herself for own survival. What she endures in the ensuing years is often horrific, yet Eva somehow perseveres, living through the Holocaust and even finding love as a survivor.

There is much to like in this short story written many years after the fact by Eva herself (now called Hava). The horrors endured are often unimaginable, and while Eva doesn't shy away from them, she does gloss over some of the worst details. What becomes most apparent while reading, however, is Eva's indomitable spirit that led her to continue to live, even when she felt herself incredibly alone and forced to live with cold, harsh people and conditions. My biggest complaint is how quickly the story moves; I felt that while I got a sense of Eva and her trouble, I missed actually getting inside her skin because the timeline moved so quickly. However, this book would be ideally suited for teachers to use in middle school classrooms as an introduction to the severity of life for Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany, and many lessons about overcoming obstacles can be learned by readers of all ages. Inspiring and enlightening, this is a tale you won't soon forget.