Sunday, January 29, 2006

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Book Summary: Joanne Walker has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers and save the world from the unleashed Wild Hunt. No worries. No pressure. Never mind the lack of sleep, the perplexing new talent for healing herself from fatal wounds, or the cryptic, talking coyote who appears in her dreams. And if all that's not bad enough, in the three years Joanne's been a cop, she's never seen a dead body--but she's just come across her second in three days. It's been a bitch of a week. And it isn't over yet.

I don't know. I couldn't even finish the book. I really couldn't get into it, which is sad because I wanted to. I was looking for something like the Anita Blake novels when they first came out. Back then I had enjoyed reading about Anita and her adventures. Not far into the series, these novels became little more than porn in a dust jacket. I stopped reading and started looking for something else, something similar but with a great story. Urban Shaman just wasn't it for me. I couldn't get into it. It's been done, and done better. Disappointed? You can say that. I may try to read it again someday but at this point and time I'll just say to skip it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

One of Holly's Favorite Blogs: Casper D Dog

You have got to check out this great blog about an American Eskimo Dog - this is Holly's breed so she gets excited. Holly and I have been visiting since back in the "Tao of Puppy" days. She loves coming up to the monitor to take a look at Casper and his friends.

One of Holly's Favorite Blogs: Casper D Dog.

Also - Our week is coming to an end so don't forget to check out this week's tenant, Paper Shell!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 1/27/06

The March Hare has come close to a nervous break-down. She's been under so much stress lately that I'm very concerned about her. My own week hasn't been much better, let's just say -Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole and is still falling. Will we ever reach the bottom?

Remember to click on this week's tenant, Paper Shell, to get insight into some great weekend reads!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Curse the Writer, She Bleeds.

To misquote Dickens - I am getting over the unfortunate habit of breathing - or rather I'm dying! I got the most crushing news today and am absolutely devastated.

My personal laptop went in for service to a local electronics store. Purchased there only a year ago, I was having trouble with the charger. My husband, J, and I took it in two weeks ago and they said it would have to be sent out. They also recommended that we back up the hard drive. J and I talked about it. We could take the laptop home and ghost the hard drive or hand it over to the store and allow them to back up the hard drive. The back up was expensive, $99 dollars, but we decided it was worth it as J really didn't feel like having to ghost the whole hard drive. Doing this, I understood that I would have to reinstall the programs if anything happened that made the back up necessary. Since it was a power problem, no one really felt the backup was necessary but I am anxious when it comes to my stuff.

Any way, I went to pick it up today and found the most horrific heart break I'd ever received. They replaced the motherboard and reformatted the hard drive. It should have been okay but it wasn't. They only backup my documents folder. They said I never told them there was anything special that needed to be backed up. Of course, they never told me I had to specify what to back up. I thought that was clear. I wanted my hard drive backed up. So, where does this leave me? For 4 years now I have used a program called Book to manage my large home library, over 800 books worth of information. I had everything from where it was purchased to who had a particular book checked out. It's taken me years to get everything into the program and it's all gone. Yet, as bad as this lose it there is worse. All my writing was in a folder on the desk top. I mean ALL my writing, including a novel I had almost finished. I have been working on this novel for years While I do have some printed backups, I do not have the full piece and am out 15 chapters.

Lesson to writer's everywhere - do your own backups. Don't trust anyone with your most prized possessions. I did get the store to refund me the backup fee and J is going to try and restore what I've lost. I can be hopeful but the damage is done and I am hurting. Losing my writing is a grief I can't describe. It feels as if I've lost a part of me. I tell the kids every day to save often. I follow my own advice all the time. I should have backed up my own work. I should have insisted the tech right out my directions. I should have done much but can only start all over now.

Once upon a time. . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Paper Shell

Hey all! Thank you all for the advice and kind words concerning Monday's hurtful events. Wanting to get on with a brighter note, I'm asking everyone to check out this week's new tenant - Paper Shell. With everyone knowing how much I love books, is it any surprise that I should be excited for this blog of book reviews? Click over and take a look, so many different types of books and so little time to read them all.

Monday, January 23, 2006

You're a Mean One, Mrs. Grinch!

I'm not sure why I care. . .

Today the Dormouse came over to me and told me that some of our coworkers were afraid to approach me or ask me for anything. Apparently I am MEAN. I can't for the life of me figure out where this came from. I always try to smile and say nice things. I try to be pleasant, even when the day is going to crap.

Seriously! How easy do you think it is:
  • Getting up at 5 am each morning.
  • Driving 33 miles to work.
  • Being cheerful and helpful every single morning to a school of over 700 kids and 50 teachers.
  • Dealing with all the crap jobs that no one else wants to do.
  • Fixing things that break because of user error.
  • Having to explain the same computer program over and over and over.
  • Doing all this and more without ever slowing down, always smiling.

I'm not sure how I ended up being the bitch, as I bend over backwards trying to get each person whatever it is they need. I can't believe how much this is bothering me. I just wanted to put this crappy day out into the void and let the nothingness take it away. While I send it out there, "Void? What the F*&%?!"

Friday, January 20, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser 1/20/06

The Dormouse and the Mad Hatter are heading for blows, I can feel it. The whole work environment seems strained and uncomfortable. I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done about this but the results are not going to be pretty. Someone is going to lose their head!

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

It all started with a book, but doesn't it always start that way for book people? In 1972, Amsterdam, a teenage girl discovers a book in father's library. The book is void of all writing, containing only a woodcut of a dragon and a group of aging letter addressed to: "My dear and unfortunate successor." So begins the journey to discover the reality about a series of ghastly events and to truth about Dracula.

An interesting plot weaves three stories together; our narrator, her father, and her father's teacher. The characters are vivid and well developed. The story brimming with suspense and mystery. The Historian is an intense read, an amazing debut novel when you look at it for what it is. This book is an interesting historical mystery and a vivid suspense. The problem is the hype that has surrounded this novel. All the critics, publishers, and reviewers were billing it as one of the greatest novels ever written; a must read for everyone. These statements are simply not true. This book is good, yet I don't believe I will read it again and I do not believe it is right for everyone.

If you can get past the hype, read it. If you like suspense and historical mysteries, read it. If you are looking for a straightforward horror or vampire book, this may not be for you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Taste Test Nazi

So I was in the supermarket today when a woman asks me to take a quick taste test. Ironically enough it's for Coke and Pepsi. The woman is a student at a local college and is running a taste test to prove a theory. I have no idea what the theory is as she wouldn't tell me. She said it was all very scientific and most people wouldn't understand. Okay, so I already am not liking her but that must be cause I'm dumb! Anyway. She shows me a series of ads for the sodas. I noticed all the coke comercials were old, I mean like my early childhood old. The Pepsi commercials are all new with young and beautiful people. So I am guessing her theory has to do with displayed images affecting the stupid masses. I taste each soda and point to the one I like. It's Coke. No surprise there. I am a self proclaimed Coke fiend. Would you believe this scientific chicky starts to yell at me? I mean, SCREAM! She starts shouting how I must be doing this on purpose to ruin her results and someone must have sent me to screw with her. I'm sorry. Did I miss something? I guess taste preference no longer has anything to do with taste.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Living Vicariously

The glory of a new romance. The touch of your lover's hand brushing against your thigh as he reaches for the popcorn in the movies. The light nibble on the ear that sends chills up and down your spine. Dates that last for hours, just containing conversation and some wine. Roses left on your pillow. Love letters written in haste to describe what no words can ever desirable. These are the passionate throes of new loves. Women everywhere call it romance, and gentlemen, we crave it.

My husband, J, and I have now been married 5 years. We are almost together 10 years! Romance has fizzled to comfort. He loves me, I know that he does. However, it doesn't change the fact that I miss that movie-like romantic glow the world takes on when your newly in love.

This is where "living vicariously" comes into play. My roommate, K, has always been a great source for this. She use to come home and tell me all about her day and adventures in dating. I think most people have this kind of friend. A person who, you at least think, lives a more exciting life than you. A person you "live through" because you sometimes find yourself jealous of their excitement. K is the type of person that I sometimes wish I could be. Now, however, I don't want to hear anymore details. It's not that her life has become less desirable or that I don't envy the things she does. It's not anything she's done to lead me to stick my fingers in my ears every time she talks. K is now dating my brother JT.

I have no desire to do the horizontal tango with my own kid brother, Gods save us from 7 eyed octobabies. K, and JT for that matter, still think they should tell me intricate details or their relationship. I think they maybe doing it on purpose to make me turn pink. Many people enjoy seeing me blush in multiple shades of red!

So that leaves me with 2 problems:
  1. How do I pull of "cool" while I am running from them both, fingers in my ears, screaming "La, La, La, La, La!"
  2. Who do I get to live through now? I've never really been into romance novels or soap opera.

The Bloggin' Bizatch

Okay so this is not for everyone but if you've got the odd sense of humor I do then I think you'll find the attached link hysterical. Check it out! It's totally worth the time to click over!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Got Blog? Why?

JT, my younger brother, and I were just hanging out this afternoon. We do this every once in a while, get together to just catch up on the bit of fluff that make up our lives. Near as I can tell, we are really the only siblings in our group of friends that have this kind of relationship. I love this fact about us, but there are times we don't agree. Today was one of them. The subject? Blogging.

Now, as I've mentioned before, JT and I grew up in the home that estrogen built and technology forgot. The poor boy was surrounded by women and permanently stuck in 1979. The most high tech thing we had was a color television and cable. We still had a rotary phone in 1997 until J came along, asked me to marry him, and dragged my entire family into the 20th century by giving my mom a push-button telephone. Anyway, I digress. The point is that JT and I missed out on the whole early life of the internet and computers. While I had college friends and J to drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st century, JT has adapted more slowly. . .He bought a cellphone recently. For the life of him, he doesn't understand the purpose of blogging. He thinks it's stupid; a bunch of people whining about their everyday life. His major point is that most blogs are virtual diaries and diaries are suppose to be personal, not available to be read by the entire world-wide-web. After he said this, a lighting bolt hit me with understanding. As much as I wanted to disagree. He is sort of right. Not all blogs are diaries, some like my best friend's, deal with weird news or cool gadgets. However, many are journals, including my own.

So why do we blog? Why do we read them? I started blogging to talk about raising Holly and the difficulties I encountered training her. Then I went back to work and realized how insane a work place a school can be. I found myself wanting to write about books I liked or stresses I encountered. I think I just wanted to know I wasn't alone. This is what blogging has brought to me. I got tips from others about puppy training and honest opinions of my stresses. I'm sure other people have their own reasons.

But is he right? Is it a declaration of the way our world is going? Is it the same motivation that makes itself known through bad reality shows and gossip shows? Why do we blog? Why do we read? What keeps us coming back? Do we want to shout to the world that we are here, living and learning? Is it vanity or social? According to JT, blogging seems to be a sign of the final apocalypse. Do we dare to type another word. . .Yes?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

What happens when we die? For 15 year-old Liz Hall, it's not a question anymore. After she gets hit by a car, Liz finds herself on a cruise ship heading for the destination of Elsewhere. The life Liz knew is over and with it go all her dreams of the future. She will never turn 16, get her driver's license, go to the prom, or fall in love. Elsewhere, a perfect island community where the deceased inhabits continue their lives while aging in reverse, holds no happiness for Liz. She meets her grandmother, a woman who died before she was born, and makes friends. All the while struggling with all she lost by dying so young.

There have been a number of books in recent years that dealt with the main character as dead, especially in the realm of the YA novel. The ones I can recall the best are The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. Elsewhere falls into this category and doesn't really do anything to set itself apart as a breakout novel, but it is a good book. Elsewhere is a quiet book. While Liz's death is tragic, it is not violent and intentional. She is hit by a car while riding her bicycle to the mall. Liz's afterlife is calm and almost normal. (Elsewhere kind of reminds me of the Town of Perfect shown in the series of Walgreens commercials.) She makes friends, gets a job, and goes on with her "after" life. The tone of the book is calm, simple, and patient. It sounds undeniably boring, but it wasn't. I liked this book. My boss brought it back from a convention and offered it to me, we like to read what we are putting out into the middle school library. I took it home and couldn't put it down. I finished it that night. It was just that good. It is not an action packed adventure with secrets at every turn. It is not a highly mental book where every page brings up new questions. It's not the best book ever written. It is a great read with lots of quiet thoughts and ideas. It can be emotional, both crying and smiling all the way to the end of the book. It is one of the more happier books in the "dead character' group of books.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year! Happy New Blog!

Well 2006 has arrived and with it I am making some major changes to this blog. If your a regular you've already noted out change of name. Holly will still be a main topic but I've wanted to start including other things as well. Happenings in my life beyond puppy training, like work and books and all the little dramas.

My favorite book as a child was Alice's Adventures Through the Looking-Glass, with Wonderland being a distant second. As I grew up, I started to see how the insanity of life might mimics the idea of Alice's worlds. So here I am with the blog's new title.