Monday, December 28, 2009

Book 53: A Duty To The Dead

I believe this mystery was one of the NextReads recommendations I get by email from the Omaha Public Library. I highly recommend signing up for that from their website. You select the genres and each one gets a monthly email of recommended books. I save them for those times when I just don't know what I want to read.

A Duty to the Dead is by Charles Todd-- apparently a mother and son writing team. I cannot imagine such a thing. I am certain there would be insurmountable creative differences when I refused to include Jedis or Robots. The heroine of this mystery is Bess Crawford, a British Military nurse during WWI. Prior to the opening of the book, Bess had promised Arthur Graham that she would deliver his dying message to his brother-- a wrong must be set right. Bess has delayed in fulfilling this wish, but after the hospital ship she is on is sunk and she nearly dies, she realizes she has a duty to the dead.

Arthur's family is a trainwreck, a closed-mouth sort of trainwreck. There are three living brothers-- one who is unfeeling, one who has a clubfoot, and one locked in an asylum for the criminally insane. There is also a frosty stepmother and her nearly silent cousin. In setting right the wrongs, Bess has to dig around and pry quite a bit and naturally, the family sets up as many roadblocks as possible.

The pacing of this was quite good. There were some unexpected turns of events. I must say that I thought justice was poorly served on the family members. The ones left living ought to have paid more and the ones who paid with their lives ought to have paid less.

Bess's family also makes an appearance in the book-- her parents and her father's bat-man provide the appropriate contrast to the Graham family. At the same time, they are rounded enough to serve in future installments of the series. I may have to check out the other series by this duo-- the Ian Rutledge mysteries.

Book 52: When He Was Wicked

A reread of one of Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series. I find it refreshing that the characters are worried about run of the mill things like barrenness, malaria and dying in childbirth. None of the dangerious spy-based intrigue or hidden treasures or paranormal crap.

Tangentially, I finally saw the "Twilightized" cover of Wuthering Heights at the bookstore. It has a sticker that says "Edward and Bella's Favorite Book." Of Course It Is. It's Stalkers: Old School. Stupid Sexless Teen Morons.

The heroine of this book, Francesca, is a widow. The hero, Michael is her late husband's cousin, heir and BFF. He happens to have been secretly in love with Frannie for quite some time. He was immediately taken with such guilt at John's death that he went to India for six years and got malaria. So there is a certain amount of dithering between "John would want us to be happy. . ." "How could I do this to John." Fortunately, among all the mindfuckery there is some of the real stuff. A little veiled dirty talk, certainly nothing compared to the type of dirty talk one might find in actual porn.

Going forward, I am considering a Filth-O-Meter rating system. I shall have to get out my notepad and devise a system. I promise to test it rigorously. I shall devise a questionnaire for my Contractually Obligated Fuck Buddy. (He came up with that term, not me, for the record.)

So, I have made my goal of 52 books for the year, with three days to spare! I am quite close to finishing number 53-- probably later today. Numbers 54 and 55 are also well underway. I have cast aside number 56-- Gossip Girl. Wow, does it ever suck the big one. So, watch this space for a couple more book reviews this year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Book 51: The Mediator

I stumbled on this book through the ebooks selection with the Omaha Public Library. Meg Cabot writes some funny contemporary romance for grown ups and I decided to try this paranormal young adult series as some light reading to store on my laptop. The heroine of our series is a Mediator-- she sees ghosts and helps them resolve whatever is keeping them here in the material world. Her style of ghostly mediation is typical teenager-- reckless, oblivious to danger, a little lacking in subtlety.

Suze has just moved to California from New York after her mom (a widow) remarries a carpenter with three sons. Not a lot of character development in these four guys or Suze's mom. Suze isn't so happy to leave her best friend and her hometown. Thankfully she is about 87% less of a whiner about it than Bella F. Swan. Suze's new house is an old place and her new room has a young, male hottie in it. I fear we are being set up for the ridiculous sexless teen romance in future books. So realistic!

Suze is also enrolled in co-ed Catholic school. I am interested to see if there is any theology in other books and if it is remotely accurate. Turns out that there is an older priest teaching at the school who has the same gift as Susannah. Sadly, Susannah has not yet gotten smart enough to take advice from a grown up. Maybe in book 2.

The big Mediator conflict here is that Suze has only gotten into the school because a girl blew her brains out over Christmas break. She's not too happy to see that she has a replacement. Things rapidly spiral out of control due primarily to Susannah thinking she knows better than the experienced mediator. Sigh. Teenagers.

Book 50: Undead Kama Sutra

Half the fun of reading the Felix Gomez books in public is how distasteful the titles are to Twilight Fans. I can't wait to pick up Jailbait Zombies at the library. In this book, Felix is sent by both a dead client and the Araneum (like Godfathers, only bitier) to investigate and eliminate an alien menace. His leads take him to Florida where he meets up again with, Carmen a vamp with a ravenous appetite.

Carmen joins him on the investigation because her Chalice (aka snackfood) has gone missing while looking into some of the same strange circumstances. Carmen's side project is that she is researching (and doing some field work) on a Kama Sutra which restores psychic energies and may help Vampires be more human. Felix finds that Carmen has discovered a venomous spider whose bite returns the color to their skin and allows them to move more freely during the day-- temporarily at least. Some great action sequences and an ending of mixed results. I do like that these books have that hardboiled mentality about them-- the mystery is solved but it has left an indelible mark on Felix.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book 49: Tempt Me At Twilight

This was a grade C book. Maybe a grade B-. The hero was pretty much a dick, and I don't quite get what the heroine saw in him at all. The big 'danger-conflict' was rather contrived, almost as if it was cobbled into the story as an afterthought. I finished this a week ago and haven't really worked up the enthusiasm to write anything about it. It was an ok bathtub read, but it never made me late for work.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Commercials Which Must Be Stopped

Kit Kat-- the one with the VILE, DISGUSTING chewing noises. Nasty. I can no longer face the kit kat, even the rare dark chocolate kit kat, without a shudder of revulsion.

This PSA:

Not just "NO" but "FUCK NO!" I want a present for Christmas, not an invasive scrape in my ladybusiness. If you must celebrate the festive season by honoring my ladybusiness then go for something buzzy.

Anything with the plastic Burger King Stalker. God, he's creepy.

The Lexus December to Remember Series. First of all, the sales for these are run every year. That makes it December As Usual. Secondly, who buys a car for someone? I have preferences! I despise the drive, look, and seats of my husband's car and I cannot imagine what he would come home with if allowed to select a car for me.

All the diamond crap. Shouldn't they show the real reason men buy women jewelry? You know, he pulls out the box and she hits her knees. Goods for Services. That's not very Christmassy.

The new one for splashless clorox. A woman wears a dress that probably requires a corset while pouring bleach into a pyrex measuring cup. Then the announcer calls the product liberating. This makes me want to build a bleach based incendiary device.

Any commercial that mocks nerds. I am looking at you Mac Guy. You can piss right off. And I consider the guy playing the PC to be a traitor to his nerdly people.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Go Me!

Wow, I just posted that blank. I clicked too soon. I know, it happens to lots of bloggers. We can try again in 30 minutes.

I wanted to catalog some of the things I've learned this year. In reverse order:

I learned the Norwegian Purl this week during a run of Three Snowdays. I'm still quite slow at it, but I think it may become my preferred purl method.

I learned to purl without twisting my stitches. (Yes, I didn't realize I was twisting my purls until now. It's hard to be left handed. Many, many 'teachers' believe the solution to all my knitting problems is for me to just knit right handed. Those bitches can suck it.)

I learned to use a cable needle when I did a spiral rib!

I made a hat!

I learned I prefer 2 circulars to DPNs.

I blocked!

I kitchenered. Yuck. Do not love.

I did applied i-cord bind off!

I learned to pick up and knit stitches!

I learned to knit a flat piece in the round!

I learned to bind off and cast on in the middle of projects!

I learned the crochet cast on!

I learned the long-tail cast on! I was using an e-wrap until this year. Sad, but true.

I learned short rows!

Professionally, financially, and personally this year has been hard and long and unpleasant. Many times, the only thing I have felt successful at has been knitting. So in that way, it has keep me from getting drawn into a downward spiral. Thanks be to yarn.

Also, I am pretty sure I will not be reading 4 books in the next 21 days before the end of the year. I am not quitting, but I am ok with not making the goal. I did at least learn to quit before finishing books that are neither enjoyable nor educational.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book 48: American On Purpose

I am not much for late night television. Mainly because I am very much for sleep. Especially in quantities that can be described as 'adequate'. I have seen a few clips of Craig Ferguson on YouTube but I will probably never be a regular viewer. I saw a bit of stand up a couple of months ago and he mentioned his book. I promptly put it on hold at the library. As a Scott, he should appreciate my thrift.

The book is a pretty straight forward autobiographical thing. It is refreshingly free of excuse making. He's certainly fucked up a lot over the years but he does not blame anyone but himself. Also blessedly devoid of navel gazing and hand wringing. God I hate that shit.

Ferguson over and over expresses gratitude and bemusement that so many people have been so good to him over the years. It was especially sweet to read of how much he clearly loved his parents, and thought them genuinely good people.