Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: MaddAddam

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a little devastated this series is over. But it was a truly beautiful ending, totally fitting of the amazing people Margaret Atwood created. I'm pretty sure I have a new favorite author to add to my list. I can't wait to read everything else she's written.

I can't talk about the actual story though- except to say everything makes sense in the end.

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Review: Someday, Someday, Maybe

Someday, Someday, Maybe
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adorable. I listened to the audiobook read by Miss Lorelai Gilmore herself! Lauren Graham is adorable and I want to be her BFF. This book was about a young struggling actress in New York in the 90s, the day of file-o-faxes and answering machines. I don't know if it's autobiographical at all but I'm going to find out! But it's adorable and cute and not the greatest piece of literature out there but for what it is I love it! And it was the perfect thing to listen to on my drive to and from San Antonio this holiday season.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories

Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories
Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories by Karen Russell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was very impressed with this short story collection. I've ready two other short story books this year and this is my favorite. There were only 8 stories but each one was excellent, compared to [b:Tenth of December|13641208|Tenth of December|George Saunders||19256026] and [b:Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury|13329252|Shadow Show All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury|Sam Weller||18536664]. Here's a by story review and rank (8/8 being my fave and 1/8 still being awesome just not my fave- cause again they were all great!) Slight spoilers for plot, not outcome

Vampires in the Lemon Grove- 1/8 Great opening story. It was engaging and well told, for short stories there was excellent character development. I felt so sad for the old male vampire because you could tell he was trying and the bat/vampire was just kinda heartless bitch.

Reeling for the Empire- 4/8 Creepy and weird. Poor women are given the "opportunity" to make money for their families by because human silk worms! OMG weird. Creepy and gross, but again you really feel for these women because they're tricked into it and sometimes sold by their families to do this. Weird.

The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach- 2/8 Probably should actually be 1/8 but it was written so well I can't help at least put it second to my least favorite. I didn't feel like the potentially time traveling aspects of it were too well thought out or developed but I kept wanting to know where the hell the story was going.

Proving Up- 6/8 OMG CREEPY! This one gives me the heebies when I think about it. Kinda a little Book of Eli action going on here. Even though it's not supposed to be a dystopian story it totally could be. People who moved west early on and struggled and died for years but still worked so hard for the "inspector" to come and grant them their homesteads. Eeeek scary scary cause you can totally see this happening...back then.

The Barn at the End of Our Term- 5/8 Fabulous little story! One of the shorter one but super cute, presidents that didn't really make that big of an impact become horses at the end of their presidencies or when they die, it's not clear, but so entertaining. Some of them think they're in heaven, others think they're in hell and some are still trying to Politic their way out of it. LOVE IT!

Dougbert Shackleton's Rules for Antarctic Tailgating- 3/8 Cute story, shortest of the bunch and just entertaining. What if antartic tailgating was a thing, who are the teams- Whale VS Krill of course! How do you prep- by fattening up and training for months. It's hilarious and just super cute.

The New Veterans- 8/8 BEST SHORT STORY EVER. I could have used a whole novel on this one. Reminds me a bit like a story from Shadow Show because it had an interactive tattoo- a tattoo so tied into a persons soul basically that it can effect their lives. Really good. I will probably keep thinking about this one for a while.

The Graceless Doll of Eric Mutis- 7/8 Uh kids. Uh kid bullies. And creepy Scarecrow! This one could have been so much worse (as in stomach turning) but luckily it wasn't. I kept waiting for true horrors to happen but honestly just thinking about what could of happened makes it so good. I wanted to finish this one fast because I was so scared of what the ending could be.

I love this short story collection, seriously every one is deserving and I really liked this one best out of the short story books I've read this year.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age

Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age
Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age by Mathew Klickstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you're between 23-33 and spent the first 8ish years of your life watching Nickelodeon then go read this book. It was a delightful trip down memory lane. The "golden age" of Nick stops right around the ending of Clarissa Explains it All and started during You Can't Do That On Television. This book was just interview after interview with all the people involved (actors, producers, animators) in You Can't Do That On Television, Welcome Freshman, Out of Control, Nick Arcade, Roundhouse, Double Dare, Wild & Crazy Kids, Clarissa Explains it All, Salute Your Shorts, Hey Dude!, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, Rugrats, Doug and Ren & Stimpy. It was so interesting.

What's amazing is all the child actors seem to be completely normal people now. Most of them went on to college and if any of them stayed in the business it was as Production Assistants and Producers. The people who were really screwed up by Nickelodeon? The adults! OMG it sounds crazy. Backstabbing and bickering and being just downright cruel to one another. You'd never know the animosity that came out of RUGRATS! The backstabbing that happened with Ren & Stimpy.

This books covers everything from what Slime is made of (eww), to diversity on Nick, the music, the costumes- Pete & Pete's costume designed does Mad Men's costumes now. It's so interesting. For the adults at the time they of course seem the least effected, all the actors apparently still get approached on the street by not 30-somethings telling them how big a fan they were of their shows.

This book probably doesn't really deserve 5 stars, but it gets it because I'm a nostalgia sucker. What this book reminded me of- I will forever long for the day when the entire series of Pete & Pete is on DVD (right now only two seasons are grrr), Clarissa had the best fashion sense in the world, and Marc Summers is a bad ass.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review: The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the scariest book I've read in years. I can't remember the last time a book so thoroughly creeped me out but still made me love every second of it. I was kinda over dystopian novels but when assigned my Book Buddy for the month we both had had this one sitting on our shelves for a while. So I jumped into it. She's taking her time with it which I can totally understand, but once I figured out what was going on I just had to get away from it.

Imagine a future where women have all their rights taken away. Where they are no longer allowed to work, no longer allowed to own money, property, even their own kids. A large number of men and women seem to have become infertile and the fertile few are taken and given to high ranking married couples that need children. Veiled by extreme religious officials as what God wanted, women here for procreation, cooking, cleaning, or marrying. These are the only roles they have! Or I guess raising up the ones to be procreators.

The story was some what scattered and told in bits and pieces that make it really suspenseful. You never really know what's going to come next. At the end you get kinda the "historian's perspective" hundreds of years later with people criticizing the authenticity of the "tale" as a woman's confession when she escapes the world. But you don't ever really know what happens to her, which is frustrating but at the same time the way I wanted the book to end.

The most terrifying thing is you can imagine this happening. You can imagine one day are our rights slowly disintegrate this happening to different groups of people. We don't get a lot of back story on what lead up to this, or the period right before the period that lead to this. But what happened the day of the takeover we get and it's horrifying.

I had a very strong reaction to this book that I wasn't expecting. It gave me nightmares. I can't imagine a world that I wouldn't be allowed to work- or maybe the problem is I can see it too easily. If I couldn't work what would I be? For god's sake if I couldn't read what would I bed?

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Story.

Today at work I had the opportunity to take 10 minutes out of our staff meeting and talk a little bit about who I am and why I am the way I am.  Too many ams.  I told Haley about a week ago that I was doing this and she was like "oh how are you going to do that?" I said I'd probably talk about adoption because I thought that'd be easier than talking about how music defines me, or why I love student affairs, or about my college roommate dying, or about how I'm divorced.  Adoption is easier, I talk about it all the time.  She didn't think I could keep it under 10 minutes, but I think I did okay.  But it was harder than I thought.

Being adopted isn't something that happened to me.  It's just who I am.  I've never blamed any of my problems on being adopted and I've always acknowledged how lucky I am that I get to be adopted and get to have a ton of people in my life who love me and I get to love right back.

So I went into it just creating a simple powerpoint of pictures of everyone.  Mama, dad, Deirdre, Bridget and Hail.  My stepbrothers and stepsister were in there, as well as Willy, Grace and Jonah.  Not wanting to get too much into Haley story I did include a picture of her Zack and Scott and briefly introduced them.

But I didn't really think about the presentation of it too much before hand because I talk about adoption all the time, it's a normal part of conversations to me.  "Oh my birthfamily this, my birthmom does this and mom does this" It's just normal for me so I was very shocked when explaining my family or my story I got a little teary eyed about it.

I can't really remember everything I said, but I hope I got across how lucky I feel that I'm adopted and how important it is in defining me, and if I didn't get that across then hopefully I at least got across that love and family are the most important things in my world.  That the more people in your life that you can love and that love you back the better.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury
Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury by Sam Weller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had super high hopes for this book. I love Ray Bradbury and I thought short stories in his style would be an awesome quick read. But since this thing took me forever to read I guess not. So many of the stores were wonderful and amazing but others to me were duds. My faves are below

Sam Weller - The Girl In The Funeral Parlor- sweet, super sweet.
David Morrell - The Companions- BEST SHORT STORY EVER!
Thomas F. Monteleone - The Exchange- Beautiful
Lee Martin - Cat on a Bad Couch- very touching
Joe Hill - By The Silver Water Of Lake Champlain- OMG Creepy!
John McNally - The Phone Call- Creepy & awesome.
Gary Braunbeck - Fat Man And Little Boy- LOVED! I could picture it all.
Bonnie Jo Campbell - The Tattoo- LOVE
Audrey Niffenegger - Backwards In Seville
Julia Keller - Hayleigh's Dad- ahhhh creepy!
Dave Eggers - Who Knocks?- SCARY
Bayo Ojikutu - Reservation 2020
Kelly Link - Two Houses- Loved this story totally fun, creepy in a way you easily see coming.

I really liked the creepy scary ones, which is unusual for me. But as a whole this was a really great collection, but some just didn't hit the mark with me.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Binge reading can be dangerous. Getting wrapped up in stories, not wanting them to end, becoming too attached to characters and the events in a book. Reading itself is totally dangerous. Books leave deep impressions on the heart and soul.

Jojo Moyes, again you mess with my heart. Not as badly as in [b:Me Before You|12649718|Me Before You|Jojo Moyes||17763198] gosh but there are a hundred ways this book could have gone in that direction easily.

A story about war, about loss, about restitution and art. I can't think of things that go together more. Do yourself a favor and just read it.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: The History of Love

The History of Love
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a beautiful book. A complicated, woven love story. Filled with lonely people who were unable to be with the ones they loved. It was just sad. Heartbreaking really. The main character Leo was able to escape the Nazis and more to America to be with the one he loved, but she had already found someone else. As the story unfolds- completely out of order- I kept getting so frustrated cause I had no idea what was going on. There's a seemingly unconnected little girl trying to play matchmaker to her mother, who finally ties back into Leo's story in the last 50 pages. It's a beautiful tragedy and I'm so glad Deirdre gave it to me, but it's also so unbelievably sad.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love. I loved this book. I loved the movie but the book was so much more. A short book, a short chapters book. It was perfect. You really get inside Pat's head and it sounds real, true and honest. It was great.

After going through a traumatic experience with his wife, Pat ends up in a mental institution to recover. He loses years of his life forgetting what is too painful to remember. He suffers from severe depression, delusion and anger. The book is his perspective and few letters between him and another. The book chronicles his recovery once he leaves the mental institution and the difficulties it causes his family and himself.

Yah there's LOTS of football talk. As someone who HATES football it honestly didn't really bother me. It was interesting to see how fanatical people can be about sports. Even in my most outrageous love for my Spurs I'm not like that.

What I loved about this book was it's honesty. Recovery from a mental illness is not immediate, it can't all be solved by medication and it can't all be solved by therapy. I believe in therapy and abhor overmedicating but understand that some people need both. The book was painful to read at times, because someone who is suffering from delusions can talk themselves into anything at certain times, you'll make excuses and make bets with yourself. You'll tell yourself if you just change yourself it'll be better and so hearing Pat's mind as he had these arguments and wagers with himself was hard. Because once you're on the other side you know that's not how it works. You have to do the work. If you keep deluding yourself it wont happen. It took Pat 5+ months in this book plus the 3 years he was institutionalized but that's because he wouldn't do the work.

I loved this book. It was so good. I own the movie, it was one of the first movies I saw by myself when I moved to college station and I remember it meant a lot to me then. The book does now too.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing. I've read a lot of nonfiction but I didn't know it could be like this. So storylike, so compelling, so captivating and shocking. The story of Chicago's world fair and the serial killer who emerged at the same time.

Another book I picked up because a book group was reading it. My fave Goodreads group "ladies and literature". It was about a week before the book discussion was about to start and everyone was complaining that it was too slow or they were afraid the murder chapters were going to be too gruesome. I love history and I tend to get really wrapped up in murder mysteries so why not! It was neither of those things to me.

I found the history fascinating, the architecture gave me such a clear image of this fair that took place almost a hundred years before I was born. The landscape was painted to clearly and the people became real to me.

"The knew he was a killer, but he was a charming killer." Man did this killer have confidence, that's what made it so scary. When was this going going to get caught? Why did people keep giving him loans and furniture? Why were there not regulations on buildings at the time?

I loved all the cameos by people who in the future will take cues from the fair- Disney, Frank L Baum, Frank Lloyd Wright! All the inventions we take for granted. This is history and yet so much of it is forgotten or unappreciated that it started somewhere.

I'm tempted to read one of his other books if they're all written like this, but like so many other author's I love I'll wait a bit and spread the wealth because if they're not as good it could sour my memory.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

My first duty as President...

I propose the day after the Fourth of July, when not falling on a Saturday or Sunday, to also be a holiday.  Or at the very least only a half day requirements.  (disclaimer: At employers discretion.)

I had a great Fourth of July in College Station! I spent the whole day with my boss and her family.  First we went to the Bush Library & Museum.  Here are a list of things I was reminded about 41 that we all know but probably forget:
  1. He was in WWII (seriously I always forget this)
  2. He and his son were in office 8 years apart! (it just seems so close together)
  3. His passion for cancer research and the Human Genome project comes from losing his first daughter to leukemia
  4. He has a million grandchildren
  5. He too is episcopal
Super cool things to see at his museum
  1. the Gulf war diorama (omg cool)
  2. the Situation Room (Soooo coool)
  3. Bush living room videos (omg Bar & Poppy- so much in love & hilarious together)
  4. WWII wing (cause duh)
  5. oh just go see everything
After the museum we chill'd ate yummy burgers and watched some patriotic A Good Day to Die Hard and A Few Good Men (had to wash the memory of A Good Day to Die Hard out of our brains).  Then we returned to the library to watch the fireworks.  The fireworks were so good! Super fun and a good 25 minutes worth.

All in all it was a great Fourth of July.  Had too much fun just relaxing but also getting to see a lot of great American history at the museum.  Next year the Fourth will be on a Friday I guess meaning I'll probably go home to San Antonio, but I'm sure this wont be my last 4th in College Station, just the first.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Epic Battle

Tyler versus Sugar Ants from hell!!!

I have never been what one would call a "neat freak".  But I usually try to keep at least my living room and kitchen presentable at all times.  However sometimes when I'm really busy or distracted mess takes over.

During 9 to 5 rehearsals I may have let me kitchen get a little bit out of control.  There may have been like 2ish weeks where I didn't really go into my kitchen cause I was afraid.  Afraid of what had taken over the sink and afraid of the leftovers that had turned into science experiments in my fridge.  But then my mom and sister were coming into town and I knew I needed to enter the forbidden zone.  So I cleaned it all, top to bottom with bleach and lysol.  I love lysol I'd spray the world down with it if I could.  I go through like a bottle of it every two months- because when I'm sick I feel like the world needs a little more of it.  So I cleaned and swiffered and threw crap away and ran the dishwasher- TWICE!

The next morning I awoke- to ANTS.  Tiny black sugar ants EVERYWHERE.  WTF? I just cleaned you why are you attracting ants kitchen? They appeared to be coming in my front door crawling over my DVDs and slinking up the wall to get behind my microwave.  Well I know what'll work- Lysol! I sprayed those little devils with so much lysol I had to lock the cats in the bedroom and leave the apartment.  I came back to no more ants...well no more alive ants.  And all was good.

Until 2 days later they were back! And they were eating my sponges! Uhg! How dare they! I lysoled them.  And again they disappeared for two more days. Then they came back in both places!!!  Well lysol wasn't working maybe Off would do the trick.  Off in my kitchen where once I cooked.  I locked the kitties in my bedroom and fled the apartment again.  This time they stayed away pretty well.  Pretty much for my mom and sister's full visit.  Then they were back again after the first weekend of 9 to 5.

Dammit ants! So I went to our trusty friend Google and learned you can get rid of ants with Tea Tree Oil! I have a ton of that cause I use it for EVERYTHING.  (like coconut oil but foul smelling) So I put tea tree oil on cotton balls and strategically placed them near the front door and all the spots in the kitchen I'd seen Ants.  Vamoose!  Ants were gone!  Never to return!

For 5 days.  Well that worked better than lysol and I didn't have to flea my house.  So maybe I need to use more.  I put some tea tree oil in a spray bottle and sprayed the world! They didn't like it at all.  So what did those devilish little monsters do?  They found a new entrance.

That's it! I'm done being humane lets go get some REAL ant killer.  So I bought some Ant trap bait things.  I bought two packs! Spread them throughout the kitchen and nothing.  The ants laughed at my traps and brought their friends along to see me suffer.

I almost gave up and called the apartment people to get an exterminator out here, but then I was at HEB  yesterday and I saw Raid Ant Bait Gel.  Ooooh.  I'd read online that gel is a good way to kill ants.  It was on sale AND I had a coupon.  I bought the gel.  The instructions said to put pea size dots on the ant trails and that they'd carry it back to their nests.  The box also said it starts working within an hour!

So I put maybe dime size drops out for those ants and left the apartment to go to the liquor store cause what else can you do.  I came back and to my horror there were more ants than ever! They had swarmed the gel like they were at a picnic! WHAT???? Google help me wtf is going on?  Apparently the bait attacks all the ants and over 4 hours they'll disperse taking their sweet death back to their colonies.  Okay. Okay Google.  I'll give them another 3 hours to see what's up.  So I waited.  And watched.  And waited and got a little trigger finger itch on my lysol can.

I was having people over later in the day, I really didn't want my kitchen to be full of ants, especially since everyone was bringing stuff that would be sweet and sticky and only attract more.  Well almost 24 hours later there is nary an ant in my kitchen.  Fruit juice was spilt yesterday, a jar of salsa broke, all sorts of things spilt in that kitchen and the ants have disappeared.  It's still way to early to know if this is a true success.  But 24 hours later I'm super excited that they may have disappeared.  Go Raid Ant Gel!

Friday, June 28, 2013

They're Only Days Update- 286 days in the BCS

So I kinda forgot to write about my 9th month.  Partially because I was busy, partially because I was in a show but mostly because I was having entirely too much fun to give a damn that I've now been away from home for 9 months!  9 months! I could have had a baby in that time, but thank god I didn't.  So now we're at pretty much exactly the 9 1/2 month phase and I'm just so pleasantly surprised at how much I'm loving living here.

Don't get me wrong I still hate severely dislike that BCS is not San Antonio and that I don't get to see my family, friends and nephew all the time, but it's okay I've dealt with it and am moving on.  Not really, but trying to.  I no longer have debilitating homesickness.  I have people outside of work that are super friendly, supportive and fun/ridiculous.

So happy/crappy time or whoops & poops as my boss prefers.  Always start with crappy or poops because then you end on the high notes-

I still always feel like my health isn't good here.  I wake up with a bloody nose at least twice a week and am unable to breathe through my nose a lot.  The air here sucks! I always have the strange remnants of a tickle in my throat and I've had a bad cough since I had walking pneumonia back in March- it will not go away.

This town feels empty in the summer and it freaks me out.  Where is everyone?

Sometimes I still don't sleep. And the cats don't like it when I talk to them at 3AM.

$4 Zombie movie viewing....bad idea.

A little bit of both
Drinks are cheap here y'all.
Snap Chat.
Drinks are cheap here y'all.
My cats are crazy.
Snap Chat.
Spamalot Auditions on Sunday.

I never have to buy gas.  Seriously y'all I went all of May on one tank till I went home to watch the nephew for Memorial Day. Amazing!

I love the theatre company and the people within it.  Don't know what I'd do here without them.

I am no longer a flight risk, we can take the bed alarm off the hospital bed cause I'm not going anywhere!

I cut my hair. Well actually Amanda at Flux did.

Downtown Bryan. The Corner. Karaoke.

I think those are the highlights- So it's almost July and I can't freakin' believe it!!!  How did that happen?  In just a few more months I'll have been here a year.  Super excited cause this year has been amazing.  Terrible, awful, no good but also wonderful, fun, scary and great.

Wishes for month 10!
Don't get sick.
Don't get sick.
Snap Chat.
Don't get sick.
Work on my tan.
Read 3ish books.
Don't get sick.

So a much more positive "days" update than the previous ones that can be seen here, here and here. Yes?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World

The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World
The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World by Nancy Jo Sales

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really more like 3 1/2 stars. I totally enjoyed this book because it reminded me of that time in my life where I too was a little obsessed with celebrity culture/lifestyle and spent my lunch hour reading Perez Hilton (no shame) and following Star and all those things. It was right around the time these burglaries were happening. I really read this book because I love Sophia Coppola and Bling Ring doesn't start showing in BCS till next week I think. So I needed something to hold me over.

I have a tendency to become very obsessive about some things. Books, movie franchises, music- whateves and that usually then is transfered to the artist doing these things and I go through a phase where I have to know EVERYTHING about that movie, author, musician. So I may have become a bit obsessed with knowing everything about this case and thank god Nancy Jo Sales does a great job going into ridiculous detail. But I also learned there was a reality TV show staring one of the burglars! OMG is it on Netflix? Yes, yes it is and I may or may not have watched the whole thing last Sunday afternoon.

So my experience cyber-stalking all the burglars is somewhat crazy for me to think about. I mean that's what they did to the celebrities they robbed right? They did their research online and found out everything they could about them. Scary. 15 years ago that would have not been possible. The book talks about teenage culture throughout our American history. Looking at the American revolution, Boton tea party and such and what the teenager's role was in those. She doesn't go into horrible detail, we're here for the gritty details of these crimes, but it's so interesting to think about when the obsession with celebrities and crime arose. She mentioned Bonnie and Clyde, those two brothers who committed murder because they wanted to be famous and the introduction of TMZ into our lives. People are obsessed with celebrities, people want to be famous. Reality TV, being spotted at the hot club, these are all things teenagers know about and think will get their foot in the door to becoming famous. Hell I've known people who want to be famous! If I could only get on this TV show, this is gonna be my big break.

I don't know, maybe this book does deserve the full four because it made me think so much. I found it really fascinating. And at the same time just totally fun to hear about these spoiled kids obsessed with celebrities and breaking into their houses.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: How to Eat a Cupcake

How to Eat a Cupcake
How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a sweet little bubble-gummy book but I'm so glad I read it. It's about friends, friends who fall out and come back together- those are the best types of friends. Friends who fight and love like sisters. And eat lots of delicious cupcakes in between. I got this book cause it was on sale for super cheap at BN online and it just sounded fun. I've always liked books with food in the title [b:I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti|5996317|I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti|Giulia Melucci||6170613] and [b:The Toaster Broke So We're Getting Married|6077049|The Toaster Broke So We're Getting Married|Pamela Holm||6253646] are two other cheapie books I got that I ended up loving too.

So How to Eat a Cupcake- first thing you do is take off the paper wrapper. This story is written from two points of view Annie's & Julia's. Each chapter alternates back and forth. These are the two childhood friends reunited. Both are dealing with their own pasts and moving forward and decide to open a cupcakery together. At the beginning they're more frenemies than friends but they make up for it quickly.

Maybe because I'm homesick, maybe because I miss my friends but this book just made me sigh and say "ahhh" a lot. Nothing was too shocking, no one got irreparably hurt and it was a super quick read. It's just a nice feel good book and a great book to kick off the summer with. So yay.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: Dead Ever After

Dead Ever After
Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The 13th book I finished in 2013 was also the 13th and final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series! Whoop!

Was it the best book ever written? No. Was it the best book in the series? Hell no. Was it still a good and satisfying ending o the series? Yes. What do you expect something Sookie changing forever? No. It wrapped everything up. Brought back some characters we hadn't seen in a while. And like all other Sookie books what you thought was the "main" mystery gives you a surprise twist at the end.

If you didn't guess she'd end up with Sam after the end of the previous book then you do not know our girl Sookie. She used the CD on him, of course that means he was her "true love" and HEA. There wasn't enough Jason in this book for my taste, it's the end of the frickin' series give us more Jason time. So glad to see Quinn back! He was always one of my fave supes and Alcide, Amelia, and Bob.

It was fine, it was a good logical ending to this series. She probably could have kept it going longer, but it wouldn't have been as satisfying. So good job.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review: Me Before You

Me Before You
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

F you Jojo Moyes. I love this book and hate this book at the same time. I had no idea what the subject matter was going to be about and have no idea why I event chose to read this book. Did I read about it somewhere else? Was someone in one of the book groups mention it? Why did I stumble upon it and why was it so good? Although warning it's a tearjerker.

This book is about death and dying and life and living. A subject I became very familiar with in college. It deals with a patients choice to end their suffering which is a subject I struggle with, but only because it has been ingrained in me since I was a child that suicide is wrong and selfish. But isn't it humane sometimes? Isn't it better than letting someone's soul die inside a body that no longer works for them?

I can't really write a review for this because there's no way to without giving away huge plot points. But I'd like to give it 4 3/4 stars because it was a great book, but I can't give it 5 stars because F you Jojo Moyes.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Once a month is probably enough

And now that I've typed it I'll probably be inspired to write more than that.  But around my move date anniversary I'm always more compelled to write, if for no other reason that to just update on how things are going here.

So April 15th marked my 7th month here in BCS, Tax Day and my dad and stepmom's 13th anniversary.  Since my six month anniversary I've gone home to SA for a full weekend, home for about 24 hours for the Woodzie and been to two theatrical events in BCS.  I turned 28, received a ridiculous number of shoes, got to spend my first full day with Hail since probably before she got pregnant.  I graduated from therapy, after a full year of it, first half in SA, second half here, I'm cured! Mental health is mine!  I've had a really great month.

That 6 month cut off date really just did something to me, it made me wake up and appreciate what I have here.  I have an amazing job, great co-workers, really good new girlfriends from Sunset and a wonderfully supportive family 160 short miles away.  I have finally gotten my reading appetite back and while last year at this time I had read about 30 books, I'm fine that I've only read 9 this year so far.  Last year I was in a completely different place emotionally and I retreated into books.  Now I'm reading because I enjoy it, not because it's an escape.  I've been playing my guitar more and even invested in a giant white board for my wall to try to write.  I've written a few words down I even like some of them, but I'm not sure of the current order.

I'm still waiting to find music here.  I have music in my life through my guitar and the constant stream of Google Music or Pandora I have going, but I need the live music.  The Woodzie only gave me a brief taste and it wasn't enough.  Especially as summer approaches I'm going to need it so much.

This week will be my first Fiesta away from SA.  We're doing a Fiesta Karaoke night at Los Cucos on Thursday, it's like the bastardized form of Fiesta, but I will take it and run with it and Fiesta the hell out of these BCSers.

It gets easier day by day, every day I am reminded thought that I have made the correct decisions in these last 7 months, in the last year.  I know I'm where I'm supposed to be.

Review: Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For my second Murakami I think I was expecting more. This was a really good book and I enjoyed it immensely, but I think if it had been my first Murakami I wouldn't have been as excited to read another.

So basically this book is about a college student who is very boring. He's a good student, follows the rules, maybe drinks a little much but for the most part he's your average good guy. He has this problem of being attracted to crazy girls, not just your normal crazy girls but girls that have issues. The story itself was fine, I didn't really know where it was going so it still surprised me a little, but I feel like it was kinda always leading up to something but never got there. There was no climax for me.

Like [b:1Q84|10357575|1Q84 |Haruki Murakami||18160093] sex is everywhere in this book, as are the amazing descriptions. I loved 1Q84 because of the story, but the descriptions and details are what made me so interested to read another Murakami. The description of the food, the way the girls looked and the journeys into drunkenness.

One of the reasons I think I'm attracted to this book is because it takes place somewhere real but that is completely foreign to me. I love that Japan is a place I'm familiar with culturally and geographically. I don't really know the cities or why traveling by train is so common, but it's something I can just accept because it's a real place out there, instead of having to imagine what it would be like because the author just created it in his head. Maybe some of the cities he wrote about aren't real, but because so many things are real it makes the whole book feel real. Too many "real"s in that sentence, but whatever.

When the book was over I couldn't sleep for a little bit because I just wanted to think about it. It was really good and I enjoyed it but I don't know who I would recommend it to. Can't give it 5 stars because there were lots of minor things that annoyed me, but the story was so good and like in 1Q84 the stories inside the story were so good too and so detailed. I loved the talk of music and the letter writing. I liked the three female characters but Reiko was by far my favorite and her ending shocked me. Can't decide if I want to go into another Murakami this year though, they seem to need space between.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Every Day

Every Day
Every Day by David Levithan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I already know this is going to be a favorite. I just finished it and I know. This book was awesome and my first 5 star of the year. I read it too fast I wish I could have lived in it longer, but I had to know what would happen.

Imagine everyday waking up in a different body. You have the same consciousness everyday but each day you're physically someone new, you can access their memories and try to live their lives like they would so the next morning when they wake up back in their body there isn't too much disruption. You age at the regular rate and everyday you wake up in the body of someone the age you're supposed to be. Some days you're a girl, somedays a boy, somedays overweight, somedays super hot, somedays an addict, somedays broken or hungover. One day you fall in love with the body's girlfriend and for the first time in your life you tell someone what's happening to you. What do you do?

There are parts besides the end of this book that made me cry, A (the consciousness' name) inhabits some truly horrible people, A inhabits some wonderful people and he tries to respect their lives until he can't. Only intervening when absolutely necessary (that one made me cry). I loved this book and want to tell everyone about it. Have you read Every Day? OMG you should. Go read it, go read it cause I'm not gonna stop bugging you till you do.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: The Romantic Movement: Sex, Shopping, and the Novel

The Romantic Movement: Sex, Shopping, and the Novel
The Romantic Movement: Sex, Shopping, and the Novel by Alain de Botton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Similar de Botton setting, character types and philosophy. London, two successful people, and love through literary eyes and philosophy. Two people brought together through ordinary circumstances and the dissection of their courtship. She is completely more into him than he is into her. It's not a spoiler to share that the relationship eventually fails because after all this is Alain de Botton not some YA BS. One thing I can say about the characters is that they grow, they evolve and by the end of the book I no longer wanted to slap Alice- well I did but not for the same reasons I had in the beginning.

Alice is your typical needy, emotional and over-thinking 24 year old girl in a profession beyond her years. Eric is a self-centered, successful and almost ten years her senior aloof man. She was frequently awe struck and he was frequently frustrated by her youth and naiveté. Their little more than a year relationship is stripped of all emotion and analyzed for our reading pleasure and it is both educational and enlightening.

In a few days I'll know if this can be added as one of my favorites. The female version of his [b:On Love|23426|On Love|Alain de Botton||14280312] both are amazing in their own ways. This one was much more difficult for me to read because the female character made me want to slap her all the time for being such a total wimpy sap. But as a whole it makes some great observations about life and love and that horrible transition from young 20 year old in the professional world to young woman. Young woman in love to young woman who understands mature love. While I still strongly dislike the character of Alice and hope I was never her, I still think she is a great character who evolves very believably.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

180ish days (aka 6 months)

I no longer hate Bryan-f'ing-College-Station! I don't LOVE College Station, but I no longer hate it.  The last two and a half months here have made all the difference.  I haven't been home since New Year's.  I made the decision to stay here until my birthday and it's been hard, really hard especially in January with a three day weekend and especially when my mother started teasing Isaac about my whereabouts (not cool mama).  I wanted to go home a lot in January.  But I made the decision to stay here and try to figure out a life here that I could be happy with and I've definitely made a good start.

In January I auditioned for a musical, the first musical I'd auditioned for since Beauty and the Beast at SAC a hundred years ago.  To say I was out of practice would be a huge understatement.  So on January 27th I auditioned for Sunset Boulevard, at the community theatre in Bryan, TX (the audition process totally needs its own blog post, but because I'm putting this out there I'll get to it eventually).  I got an ensemble part and spend the next month practicing pretty much daily for the show.  We had a couple random days off here and there but seriously for the most part it was daily rehearsals with Sundays off.  I did it to meet people, to step out of my comfort zone and to see if Bryan-College Station was actually live-able and I can say it did all those things.  I met some wonderful people, people I want to keep in touch with, people I want to stay friends with and people I can see being a part of my life here.  Mission accomplished! There are more than just students here and people with real jobs and people with lives away from the university! I was amazed.  Anyways I could write too much about SSB and it all but I'll leave it with it was a wonderful experience and I'm so glad I did it- even if at times I was too exhausted to do shave my legs or too tired to mind that my legs and feet were covered with scratches and bruises.

The first week of February, besides being the first week of rehearsal, also marked the first non-family visitor I had up to BCS.  My good Matt came and stayed with me for a long weekend and I got to show him a little bit of what my new life was like here.  It was good in many ways, but the best way was that it was a friend from my SA life who wanted to see me be successful in my new life here, he wanted to meet my friends and see what I was interested in here.  It was a very therapeutic visit and of course he introduced me to a new guilty pleasure in the form of Trailer Park Boys, but again that's info for another day.

February was also the time where my work life started to pick up too, things at work started to get really busy and every day something new and exciting happened. Everyday I left totally satisfied with what I had accomplished and while I frequently left tired, just to go to rehearsal to get more tired, I was still excited every day to go to work.  I was so tired I even lost my voice for the first time since college, I'm blaming allergies which have finally reared their ugly head in my life, after not being present for 27 years.

The first weekend of January was opening weekend and after the first Sunday show I had to figure out what to do with myself now that rehearsals were over.  Mama had come down for the weekend and we just sort of hung out at the apartment watching movies and relaxing.  When she left I had 4 days of nothing to get through.  I decided it was time to pick up my guitar and start playing again, my poor Taylor was very neglected the last 6 months.  I made plans with one of the girls from the cast to hang out and then it was time for the next weekend of shows.  On Sunday after strike I was driving home to get my dishes for the cast party and I started crying.  I was so sad the show was over.  I enjoyed everything about it and while I was physically glad it was over, I was not emotionally glad it was over.

It's only Tuesday now so I don't really know how things are going to be now that the shows over.  But I feel really good.  I feel good about my life here and feel like I've found some things to hold on to, to make it more than just bearable, but to actually enjoy myself here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: Shine Shine Shine

Shine Shine Shine
Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great surprise. The first 50 pages in I really wasn't feeling this book. I was confused to why there were robots in it and why everything was in the 3rd person. 150 pages in I was hooked and didn't want to put it down. This book is a love story, a bizarre, twisted love story about how to love others but most importantly yourself. While that may sound ridiculously cheesy in execution it really wasn't.

The mechanical husband Maxom is going to the moon with robots to help prepare for human colonization, he's leaving his pregnant bald wife Sunny at home with their autistic son Bubber. Nothing is going according to plan. Sunny is trying to fit in with her wigs and being the perfect mother. Maxon is unable to express his feelings and lives by science and Sunny as the only things in his life that make sense. Without giving away spoilers this is the story of their past and future. And I want more! I want to know what happens next, I'm not invested in this relationship and want to know what goes on next.

Fave Quote-
“There are three things that robots cannot do," wrote Maxon. Then beneath that on the page he wrote three dots, indented. Beside the first dot he wrote "Show preference without reason (LOVE)" and then "Doubt rational decisions (REGRET)" and finally "Trust data from a previously unreliable source (FORGIVE).”

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

4 months in BCS

How have I already been here four months? And what the hell do you mean it's only been four months it feels like a year.  I got back and forth daily between loving this place and hating it.

Going home for break was of course great but two weeks in SA was both too long and way too short.  I was looking forward to coming back but really only for work reasons.  I'm trying to stay here till my birthday and not go running home before then, but I don't know if I'll be able to make it.  I have visitors coming in February which is nice but I wish some of them were coming this month instead cause my apartment is cold and lonely.

The cats are crazy and super frisky with the cold weather.  They have ridiculous amounts of energy and I have a cold.

There have been more days...
123 days ago I picked up my life and moved to BCS
121 days ago I started my amazing new job at TAMU- love it.
68 days ago I went home for the first time to watch Isaac with mama
56 days ago I went home for Thanksgiving and spent 5 glorious days in SA
27 days ago I went home for 14 days
20 days ago my divorce was finalized
13 days ago I came back to BCS
12 days ago I went back to work- yay
8 days ago I moved into my permanent office- double yay
1 day ago the students returned
2 days from now daddy is coming up for a visit (well work but he'll visit too)
16 days from now I have my first visitor of the year
23 days from now mama is coming to visit
72 days from now I go home for the first time this year (hopefully I'll be strong and wait)

One day I'll stop counting days I'm sure...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't even know where to begin with this damn book. And it's impossible to review without pulling my own failed marriage into my thoughts and opinions of it. I started reading this book back in July when my marriage was flailing horribly. I had to put it down cause it was pissing me off. This book is a historical, anthropological, sociological and biographical look at marriage. This book is what Liz Gilbert wrote after Eat, Pray, Love that tells her journey of how she got married again to her brazilian man from Bali even though she had never wanted to get married again. This book shares her journey through travel and research about the history of western marriage. That being said, she does eventually convince herself to get married again, whereas this book has continued to support my idea that marriage is dumb and unnecessary (again ask me in 3 years how I feel and I'm sure it'll be different). This book also has a great story about women in relationships, women as wives and women with the choice to be mothers or not. I found the section about motherless women to be particularly moving because I go back and forth daily about ever wanting children and again this book makes me feel like it's totally okay not to.

Overall I wont say I liked this book at all, I found it very interesting and well researched, but I could have read this book without Liz Gilbert's story just as the research she provided, because I found it all so very interesting. I originally picked up the book because I loved Eat, Pray, Love, but this was no Eat, Pray, Love.

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