Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday Snapshot - Graduation

We turned a page last night.
One that thankfully we felt pretty ready for.  I teared up a couple of times, but not because I was sad...not because I wish my girl was little again...but because of how proud I am of her.  She's worked hard to find her way, she's slipped up a time or two, but has always picked herself right back up. 
She's ready for the next step...and we are too :)

It's only fitting that I would share my Instagram shots from yesterday on today's Saturday Snapshot.   Here are my favorites :)



 My middle daughter and her little sister...clowning :)




My middle daughter was explaining the medals around her neck to the youngest.  These two can fight like cats and dogs, but when all is said and done, they are kindred spirits.
I may frame this one.




All three of my "babies."




A good friend of mine sitting on the opposite side of the auditorium took this photo.  My daughter is standing right in front of the fella in the lower right hand side corner...you can see her yellow tassles of her honors cord handing down in front of her.
This photo is priceless :)


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ At Home with Books.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Blogger Hop



I haven't hopped in quite a while.  And, I've missed it!  The best thing about the Book Blogger Hop to me is getting to see a lot of new bloggers/blogs I might not have visited before :)

This week's question is:

How many books do you own? This can include books in your to-be-read (TBR) pile(s) and books you have already read that are on your keeper shelf.

My answer:

Um, I have no earthly idea how many books I own.  There are books in every single room of our house.  Seriously. 
I have shelves of TBRs, shelves for keepers I've read and loved and will probably never part with, shelves for series/authors I've read for a long time, shelves for classics, shelves for antique books, etc. etc. Surely I don't have to list them all.  I have always been a book fiend...as long as I can remember.  When I was in high school, I worked at an independent book store where I received a substantial discount on the books I bought...needless to say, I didn't pocket much money during those years. 
I'm a sucker for a bookstore...I cannot pass one without going in...and it's very seldom that I don't come out without something in  my hands.
Oy.

Can't wait to hop around and see if anybody else is as nuts as I am.
;)


Book Blogger Hop is hosted @ Crazy for Books each Friday.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review - Deadlocked


Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
May 2012
Hardback auto shipped from Amazon

Why?  Deadlocked is the 12th installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series, and I've read all of the others.  I wasn't thrilled with the last book, Dead Reckoning, the emergence of so much fairy stuff, and Sookie's relationship with Eric instead of Bill.  But, how could I not read this? 

What Now?  I thought that Deadlocked was the last of the series, but I found out just this week that the 13th book is the last and it won't be released until next June.  I'm still in.

Golden Lines

Her rich brown eyes narrowed.  Clearly Freyda was having second thoughts about something.  I hoped those thoughts weren't about whether to let me live, but I was pretty sure she was considering how much of a threat I represented.  If she did me in right now, she would have the luxury of apologizing to Eric after the fact.  Warning bells were clanging too loudly for me to ignore.
I slept between three and six, I think, and woke up to a summer day that mocked me by being beautiful.  The downpour had washed everything, cooled the air, and renewed the green of the grass and the trees.  The delicate pink of the old crepe myrtle was unfurling.  The cannas would be open soon.
I felt like Hell hungover.

It seemed that all the separate parts of my life were finally colliding.  My personal highway was jammed with fairies, werewolves, vampires, and humans. 


"After that, you tell me that [...] you want to be mine forever, and that to share my life you will permit me to make you a vampire like me."
The silence was now thick, and the fun had drained out of the fantasy.
Then [he] added, "You know what I'd say when you told me this? I'd tell you I would never do such a thing.  Because I love you."

Summary

King Felipe is in town, looking for answers about the disappearance/murder of his regent Victor.  Even though Felipe is not really upset about the loss, vampire law requires that someone accept responsibility and be punished.  All eyes are on Eric, and even Sookie begins to question him after walking into his home and finding him feeding on another woman, the same woman who is later found dead on Eric's front lawn. 

Queen Freyda of Oklahoma wants Eric as her own...by marrying her, Eric will gain great power and presige in the vampire world and will be protected from punishment if indeed he is proven guilty of killing Victor.  As Eric's "human wife,"  Sookie is also protected from harm, but that same title creates an obstacle for Freyda...an obstacle she must somehow remove if she is to get what she wants.  And, she wants Eric. 

Sookie's great uncle Dermot (half fairy/half human) and cousin Claude (full fairy) are living in Sookie's attic after being left behind in the human world when Sookie's great grandfather Niall closed the opening to the fae world.  A population of fairies besides Sookie's two relatives was also left behind, some blending in with humans better than others.  They all feel the presence of the cluvial door, a gift given to Sookie's grandmother Adele by her lover and Sookie's biological grandfather Fintan (full fairy).  The cluvial door can grant one wish on behalf of its owner to someone the owner loves.  The fae  hope that the cluvial door can help them get back home.  They also know that it can provide a dangerous weapon in the hands of the wrong person. 
Sookie's grandmother left Sookie the cluvial door, and she must decide how to use it before someone finds it and steals it from her.

Should Sookie use the cluvial door to free Eric?  Should she use it to help her human friends and family who are all at turning points in their lives?  Should she use it to help her fae friends and family return to the homeland they desperately love and miss?  Should she use it to help her Were friends who are struggling to strengthen the pack while battling rogue Weres and adjusting to Alcide's new leadership?

Sookie has to dig deep inside herself to make the right choices before Deadlocked comes to a close.

What I Liked

The end.  When I first started reading, and, in fact, at least half of the book, I was just about outdone with all the fae relatives and the seemingly disjointed plot.  Where was Harris going?
 However, right about the time I had decided I wasn't going to like Deadlocked, the winds began to change.  Connections were made, and the real Sookie began to show herself.  As the rest of her loved ones lives begin to come together, she begins to closely and realistically examine hers.  Although she loves Eric, she seriously begins questioning whether or not they belong together...for the long term, will their relationship be able to stand the test of time?  Are they compatible enough to have the kind of relationship Sookie has always known she was meant to have?  Does Eric even want that kind of relationship?
I can't tell you what happens in the end, of course, but I can tell you, I closed this one and felt good about it.   We don't have the answers yet, but I didn't feel like throwing it against the wall like I did Dead Reckoning.  I think Harris is going to bring us full circle in the last installment.  The original Sookie that I fell in love with at the beginning of this series is back, and she will make all the right decisions for herself.

What I Didn't Like
While some authors repeat too much background, Charlaine Harris doesn't provide enough.  One of my biggest complaints once all the faeries came on the scene in the last book was that I couldn't keep up with who was who.  There are just too many of them, with too many loose connections...It's as if Harris spends the first 10 books getting us close to the main characters of Bon Tempe, and then in Books 10-11 throws in all these other characters at once. 

Sookie in Deadlocked is not the same Sookie as Dead until Dark.  While she shouldn't be of course, and I would have had a problem with that if it had been the case, she almost seems too brash, too accepting, too casual, especially during the first half of Deadlocked

Eric - Eric is nothing but a cavemanesque neanderthal in Deadlocked...oh, wait, that's how he's always been :p  Seriously, I'm biased against Eric...I don't like he and Sookie together, never have, except for the time that Eric had lost his memory and wasn't himself.  He's back in full form with memory in tact in Deadlocked unfortunately though.
Overall Recommendations

Sookie fans should push through the first part of Deadlocked to get to the real story, the good stuff, in the 2nd half.  I have high hopes for the last installment of this series.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Death Du Jour - Audiobook Review



Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs

Format - Audiobook, Downloaded by Audible

Narrator, Bonnie Hurren

Why? 2nd in a new series I'm reading 

What Now? on to #3 but not in audiobook format...and here's another plug for Audible (no I don't work for them)...I downloaded #3 Deadly Decisions to my Iphone and was shocked when the download  was complete so quickly.  I realized then that I had downloaded the abridged version...not the unabridged...I almost had a conniption fit.  I emailed Audible explaining what I had done but didn't really expect them to be able to do anything about it.  Within 24 hours I had a credit to my account for the price of the download and a very polite email apologizing for any inconvenience I had been caused.
Now that's customer service :) 
Unfortunately though, I have yet to find the unabridged version of Deadly Decisions so I may have to go back to the old fashioned way of reading again...on my Nook ;)

Summary

While working on a historic case, to establish the sainthood of long dead Elizabet Nicolae, Temperence is called in to investigate a housefire where adults as well as children have been killed in what turns out to be a cult murder.  The cult connections run deep, and once Temperence gets the Canadian officials to get over their macho selves, they begin to put the far flung pieces together in this "better stay sharp or you'll miss a clue" novel.
In the process of Death du Jour, Temperence finds that a cult following is similar to a cancer that spreads wide and within even the smallest niches, only to be discovered after irreversable damage is done.

What I Liked

Detective Ryan - He's not Booth (from the t.v. show)...and that was almost a dealbreaker for me when I was trying to decide which next series to try...but this Temperence is not the Temperence on t.v. either...once I got to know both these characters in the book, the details worked out much better than I thought.  I like their partnership; I think it's inevitable that they'll end up a couple of some sort, but I think they'll also remain professional...that's my hope anyway...if Reichs goes all lovey dovey on me, she'll lose me.  

Reichs got me again...I had absolutely no clue who the villain was...until Reichs decided to unveil it...I was stunned.  Walking around with my earphones in, I actually stopped and said the person's name.  My oldest daughter said, "Huh?"

The movement from Montreal and Quebec to Charlotte, Virginia...Murtrey Island - the island of the monkeys...the movement of the story is one of the many reasons you have to stay alert while reading Reichs.  I think she does that on purpose, and I appreciate it!

Daisy Ginot - the McGill University professor with deep, dark secrets...I can't say much here, but she gave me chills from the first time Temperence met her. 

Elizabet - the bones that begin the mystery...end the mystery...a very comforting and effective closure...possibly one of the best I've read. 

While the storyline is wide, it all connects in the end and sets up just enough lose ends for continuation later in the series...Temperence's daughter Katy connects with an anthropologist mentor, Sam Rayburn of Temperence's on the grounds of the island on which he studies monkey behavior.  Katy is struggling with decisions in her life right now so the connection here brings out some of her characteristics like her mom.  Of course the most direct connection is that 2 dead bodies show up on the secluded island, which is quarantined due to risk of infection for the animals.

Cults are the focus of this novel...and while the novel follows a distinct storyline, the reader also "accidentally" gains a great amount of information about the subject matter...all of the info pertinent to being able to figure out the puzzle.

Temperence's brain doesn't stop when she sleeps...especially when she's working or anxious...at one time in her life, alcohol numbed that anxiety.  A recovering alcoholic, Temperence works, runs, reads, travels, etc. in order to keep her sanity and stay sober.  Even during the times that she would like a drink, she works through the desire logically...deliberately thinking about how the relief is always temporary and that the consequences, physical as well as emotional, are not worth a drink.  Temperence drinks Diet Coke instead of alcohol, doesn't whine or moan about her status, and doesn't share her story with just anyone.  I think I like this part of Temperence's personality bc it shows how even the toughest, smartest, most together women can and do have weaknesses/challenges over which they climb every. single. day.
The older I get the more I am convinced that the brightest people are at risk of addictive behavior as well as mental challenges.

What I Didn't Like

The use of dogs as part of the villainous torture...I'm biased here, but 
dogs, knives and scalding liquid as forms of torture are gruesome.  I'm also one of those dog owners who doesn't encourage my dog to "get" anything, nor do I reinforce any of her aggressive traits.  The world has enough images of dog viciousness already...hence breed specific legislation, which I am totally against.  

The science and the language - it's not that I don't like these aspects...bc I felt more connected with this 2nd book than I did with the 1st, but it's still challenging for me to keep up at times.  Kathy Reichs' isn't a brainless writer so her books are anything but brainless.

Temperence's sister Harry...accent snob as I am, the narrator's voice wasn't my problem.  Harry's "voice" is high-pitched and whiny...makes me shiver just typing that line.  I don't have a lot of patience for characters who just bumble around aggravating the crap out of everybody else and never learning from their mistakes.  Harry is the complete opposite of Temperence.

Narrator

Since I liked the first narrator so much, I was immediately taken aback when I realized the narrator this time was different.  Her voice was different with nuances I wasn't sure I would be able to be ok with.  I thought a lot about how difficult I am to please with narrators.  I'm not sure there's anything I can do about it although I did finally get over the differences enough to still enjoy the story.  

Overall Recommendation

"Bones" viewers and mystery, detective novel readers who are also interested in the science and social aspects behind cults, their organization, characteristics of followers as well as leaders, will enjoy this edition of Temperence Brennan.





Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012 - My mama



I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a mother. 
 It's no coincidence that me pondering motherhood so deeply comes at the end of a two-year period of graduation ceremonies for my 2 older daughters. 
I used to think a person couldn't understand motherhood and/or appreciate her own mother until she became a mother herself.  Now, I'm pretty sure that a woman can't really appreciate motherhood until she has to start letting go of those same beings she carried inside of her for 9 months, heard their first cries, brought them home all swaddled and wondered what the heck she was going to do with them now :)

Immersing ourselves so completely into babyhood, toddlerhood, elementary, jr. high, high school, and all that comes in between ain't nothin' compared to realizing they really do walk away. 
They really do. 
Even after those tiresome, never ending, adolescent years...just trying to get them through every day, figuring out that perfect dance of being their mother, their friend, their confidant, and when appropriate, all the way back to Mommy again, the realization that they are not really ours is one that slaps you in the face. 
What?? After all that work I did??? ;)
I also realize now that there is no perfect mother...sorry folks, even those who seem to have it all together, seem to have the most well-adjusted kids, and especially those who post to Facebook daily about how special and accomplished their children are (sorry, just had to throw that in), have had and will have even more times where they are at a loss as to what to do next with these creatures we've been blessed with. 
Nothing worth having is easy...Nothing.
I'm thankful for the challenges my daughters have weathered...and I'm thankful for the challenges I've weathered...and I'm even more thankful for the mother I have who taught me through her own challenges how to do just that. 
She is stunned every time I tell her this. 
Times were really tough for her at one point in our lives, and like most mothers she feels as if she somehow needs to make-up for that.  What she doesn't realize is that those times in particular provided the very best lesson of all...hang on and just keep going.   Keep your head up, accept your mistakes and move forward.  Move forward with as much grace as possible, with your shoulders back and your sassy shoes on when things are really really tough :)

My mama taught me to be myself.  I am who I am. 
As we critiqued prom dresses posted on FB last night, my firstborn said to me, "Mama, you know sometimes you are really blunt...and even rude."   I said, "If I'm blunt and rude sometimes, and you're bluntly and rudely telling me I'm blunt and rude, what does that make you??"
She replied just as quickly, "just like you."
Ha!

While I do agree that I have to watch my mouth at times (I generally call a spade a spade when I see one...you know, if it looks like a duck, it probably is a duck, and all those other euphemisms), I don't think we do our children any favors if we teach them to look at the world through rose-colored glasses.  Last time I checked, reality is anything but rose-colored.  When our children begin to step into the real world, and we're not there to protect them or fix every little misstep, chances of them falling much harder are very high.  If our children expect challenges, expect life to be tough, etc, they will appreciate so much more when things are smooth...and they will love deeper, be more committed and persevere in the things that matter most. 
My mama taught me that.

My middle daughter asked me sincerely the other day, "Mama, is this really the best time of my life?"  I held back a full belly laugh and told her, "Absolutely not."  These kinds of misconceptions to me are sortof like the Cinderella myth our daughters grow up with.  While high school years and the early college years are a lot of fun, they are not...let me say that again...NOT the best time of your life.  The day that you begin to realize who you really are and your possible place in this world, the day you become comfortable with yourself and refuse to be around others who don't accept you for who you are, the day you look in the mirror and say, "Ya know...I may not fit society's definition of perfect...but I think I'm all right," then the best time of your life begins.
My mama taught me that too.

Some of the best lessons life has to offer are learned the hard way...through experience.  Just bc my mama taught me these things does not mean I always do the right thing...none of us do.  Life is about constantly balancing the demands around us, and especially for women, those demands can swallow us up in a hurry.  Part of a balanced life is knowing when to say, "Hey, I need some alone time," and then to take that time.
Guess who taught me that?

I still have my mama.  I actually cannot even have a discussion about not having her.  Will I be ok? Somehow, I will...the grit I'm made of came straight from her.  It will push me forward even when I don't think I can go on anymore.
If I can do that for my daughters, then I'll be half the woman/mother that mine has been to me.

I love you, Mama.
Happy Mother's Day 2012