Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29, 2012 – Book Review – Pennance by Clare Ashton


Pennance by Clare Ashon

Publisher: Self Published: Amazon.com
Mystery/Contemporary Women’s Novel
 

Product Description From Amazon

“Lucy is haunted by the death of her partner, Jake, and lives in paranoid fear and reclusion. She lives in a small, introverted village in Cornwall, and is surrounded by Jake's family and memories of him. She feels intensely guilty about his death and thinks someone is out to get her in retribution. Relief appears to come when a new neighbor, Karen, enters her life, but is that when the real threat begins?”



Review:

4 out of 5 Stars

The main character Lucy is struggling with an incredible amount of grief and guilt over the death of her partner Jake in an automobile accident.  These emotions tend to manifest as crippling anxiety.  Plus for the reader you are never quite sure if she has lost her mind or if she is actually seeing and interacting with Jake’s ghost.

Eventually, we are introduced to the new neighbor “Karen” who is dealing with her own issues but the two women begin to form a friendship that strengthens both women, emotionally.

Initially, when I started reading the story I found the flow a little confusing.  I suspect it was related to my getting hung up on the ghostly portion of the story and trying to figure out what was “real”.  However, I quickly found myself adjusting to the style and relaxing into the actual characters and their development.  There is also a healthy mix of mystery/danger throughout to keep the reader intrigued.

This was a very good book, a bit quirky and I’m hoping to see more from this author, self published or otherwise.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

February 29, 2012 – “It’s a beautiful day in the Neighborhood….”

At least now I’m not the only one with that crazy Mr. Rogers line stuck in my head.  When you get right down to it, Mr. Rogers was kind of creepy.


Of course thinking of Mr. Rogers made me think of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, which was a crazy puppet show that my sister and I used to watch as kids.  Yes, on the black and white TV.  Yes we are old and according to my mother we did not feel deprived with the B&W TV because we insisted that we could see colors when we watched.  Ok fine, we were weird little kids

These are from this morning.. it really was a beautiful day in the neighborhood





Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012 – An open Letter to Winter Pennington

Dear Winter Pennington,

Did you really have to write not one but three books that have me completely addicted to the main character and her cohorts? 

I plowed through Witch Wolf.  I loved the interaction between Kassandra Hall (werewolf and Preternatural Investigator) and Lenorre (Countess Vampire).  When I finished the first book I realized that I did not have the second book in the series, but rather the third.  This just was not going to make it. 

Now I bought the 1st and the 3rd from boldstrokes but I’m sorry I was in South Africa and didn’t have access to the internet and I needed to know what was going to happen next.  Fortunately, my Kindle has 3G and I could download the second book, Raven Mask.  Seriously, you almost ruined my vacation because there was no way I could read the third book without finding out what happened between Kassandra and Lenorre in the second book.  It’s your own damn fault for writing a great story with interesting main and secondary characters.  If they had been less interesting I might have waited until after vacation to pick up the second in the series, but as it turned out I needed to know what happened next ... immediately.

So there I am reading the second book and still loving the characters and now you’re throwing in more mythical magical things and I want Kassandra to kick Shiela Morris’ ass.  So of course when I was done I had to move immediately onto the third book on in the series; Bloody Claws.

Now not only do I like Kassandra and Lenorre but I’m sucked into the entire dynamic of the group: Kassandra, Lenorre, Rosalin, Eris, and Zaphara.  I want to keep reading about all of them.  Do they have a fan club?

I get that Bloody Claws is a brand spanken new book…. But now I’m stuck waiting for the next one.  Patience is not my string suit  Please tell me there will be a next one.… .  *sigh*

Sincerely

CAB



Book Review: The Kassandra Lyall Preternal Investigator Series

Witch Wolf  (book 1)
Raven Mask (book 2)
Bloody Claws (book 3)

Short and sweet: If you like paranormal/fantasy/crime books read them, you won’t be disappointed.  Well except for the fact that you have to wait for a 4th to be written/published.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

February 27, 2012 – South Africa Vacation Roundup

Highlights:

I think Australia and China are off my list of places to visit because I’ve learned that a 10 hour flight flying “cattle” is about all I can handle. We flew from Zurich to Johannesburg (10 hours) and then from Johannesburg to Durban (1 hour) and I was more than ready to be off a plane. Thank God the long flight was overnight. I at least managed a couple of hours of sleep.

The Hotel was beautiful and I was surprised by the waves on the beach. It’s no wonder they discourage people from swimming there. Fortunately there were plenty of pools at the hotel and it was easy to find a shady spot away from people to relax.

The view from The reception area of the Fairmont Hotel

The Beach

L and me in South Africa


Safari

On my birthday we did a day trip to the Hluhluwe Game reserve (pronounced SlaShoewe… why and “h” sounds like an “s” I have no idea). I would definitely say this was the highlight of the trip. Sure I’ve seen Giraffe’s and Elephants on TV or in a zoo but there is just something totally different about seeing them loose and in a natural environment. 





The section of the reserve we were in has been having a drought for the last few years so they have not seen Elephants or Hippos in the area for quite some time, but recently there had been a major storm and we spotted both. When I say spotted, I mean up close, 20 feet away, and kind of scary but cool.

The guide estimated this elephant to be about 10 years old... so he is still "small"


A random Giraffe

Hippo Family... just the eyes and ears


Massage

As part of my birthday celebration, L got me a massage at the hotel/resort. Why am I telling you this? Because how the massage ended was too funny not to share. When the massage was completed, the guy said “I would like to recommend that you start cardiovascular exercise program because you have cellulite in your right hamstring and the cardiovascular exercise, it gets the heart pumping and the blood flows, and it will break up the cellulite.” Then he recommended one of those “creams” you can put on to help eliminate the cellulite, one that they just happen to sell at the counter. Fortunately I was relaxed and his entire spiel literally made me laugh. I think I took him back a bit because I really was laughing at him.

Seriously, the only thing that would have been funnier is if the guy actually broke into song and sang “Fatty Fatty Bo Batty, Fe Fi Mo Matty…FATTY”; which is actually the tune that started running through my head when the guy started to speak. Along with the following inside voice dialogue: Hello, I’m now officially 47 years old, I have cellulite. Hell I may have had cellulite when I was 27 years old. I’ve earned my cellulite. Oh, and no, I am not wearing my born yesterday hay so no I am not spending money on some crazy cream that doesn’t work, and while I am at it…“No Tip For You!”


Tips for massage therapist:

(1) If the person you are working on is overweight…. They already know it. We might be in denial of just how overweight we are but we are aware. Pointing it out even under the guise of being helpful could get you bitch slapped

(2) Be quiet and get the knots out of my shoulder

(3) Really after item 1 and 2… there is no need for item 3


Monkey’s

I mentioned on facebook that L doesn’t like monkeys and that we had seen some blue balled ones. Apparently they are Vervet Monkeys and the males have blue balls. I have no idea why they are blue I refuse to think too much about it. Here’s a female enjoy a snack by the pool


A Random Sand Castle Builder.  They want "tips" if you take a picture

Surfer Girl in Durban


Books:

I read too many too quickly to write reviews for all of them, but there are a couple that I definitely want to take the time to do that for later in the week. In the meantime, here’s a quick list and the # of stars I associated with each. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being I hated it and 5 being Fantastic.

· Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake                                              3.5 stars
· Unbound by Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, Jeaniene Frost     1.5 stars
· Witch Wolf by Winter Pennington                                         4 stars
· Raven Mask by Winter Pennington                                        4 stars
· Bloody Claws by Winter Pennington                                     4 stars
· Roses and Thorns by Chris Ann Wolfe                                  4 stars
· A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison                                          3 stars
· Body of Water by Sarah Dooley                                             3 stars
· Pennance by Clare Ashton                                                      3 stars
· Before It Stains by R.E. Bradshaw                                         3 stars
· Haunting Whispers by VK Powell                                         3 stars
· Rescue Me by Julie Cannon                                                   2.5 stars




Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 17, 2012

February 17, 2012 – Vacation/Flat Stanley

We head out tonight, the flight is at 10:45pm.  Which I am hoping means I will sleep.  The day of travel always makes me anxious.  Do I have everything I need?  Passport… check…. Credit cards… check… toothbrush… check… MEDS… check.  Ok fine I have the essentials anything beyond that that I forget I can pick up.

Speaking of picking up, we have an unexpected guest joining us on our travels:  Flat Stanley. 

Flat Stanley is a fictional character created by Jeff Brown and he’s used by classrooms to help kids learn “map skills”.  Personally I have limited map skills.  Anyway, my friend D’s niece (Macie) is in the second grade and she colored in this particular Flat Stanley.  They are doing a school project to have Flat Stanley go on some adventures.  I literally BEGGED to have him join us on our South Africa Tour.  I’m very excited and can only imagine what kind of mischief I he might get into.

If we can get online I'll try and update the site to let you in on the adventures.  In the meantime I have my reading list (Not Necessarily in this order):
  • Pennance by Clare Ashton
  • Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake
  • Before It Stains by R.E. Bradshaw
  • Bloody Claws by Winter Pennington
  • Haunting Whispers by VK Powell
  • Rescue Me by Julie Cannon
  • Witch Wolf by Winter Pennington
  • Roses and Thorns by Chris Ann Wolfe
  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
  • Saints Astray by Jacqueline Carey
  • Unbound by  Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, Jeaniene Frost,
  • Body of Water by Sarah Dooley

*** Update
Hi Sis... I just realized our birthday falls on Fat Tuesday, I am excepting you to take full advantage of the day in honor of our B-day.   Win something at the casino.  Happy Early Birthday.  Love your "younger" sister.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16, 2012 – Random Thoughts

Work: I’m not sure what it says about me that while I was sleeping I was thinking about a work related problem and figured out the solution.  It’s a little disconcerting that I struggled with the issue all day yesterday and finally implemented a work around and all I apparently needed to do was take a nap.

Hearing:
I jinxed myself yesterday talking about hearing losses.  I haven’t had an issue with my hearing acting up in several years and sure enough today it’s all screwed up on the left side.  At least there is no ringing, that drives me insane and it’s such a short drive.

Vacation:
1.5 days and counting. 

Rick Santorum:
How the heck is this guy winning any primary states?   I have so much I want to say about this guy but it just depresses and astounds me that anyone could listen to this guy and thing he could even remotely be a valid candidate for President of the United States.  Maybe his next campaign platform should be to repeal the 19th Amendment and reclassify women as property.


On a Happier Note

The Beast:
Still cute, still fat, going to camp while we are away, and guarding his chews even in sleep.





Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15, 2012 – Random Thoughts/Gram


Two days.  Maybe 2 and ½ days until vacation.  Of course I have to survive the 12 hour flight 1st.  That is going to be a trick.  The good thing is that we leave Friday evening so I will take my meds and hope for some sleep during at least some of the flight.  We start off on Swiss Air and then switch to South African Air in Johannesburg.  Let’s just hope that if there is a night terror during the flight it happens on Swiss Air and not the next flight.  Somehow I image the Swiss being unphased by a sleeping woman screaming in the middle of a flight.  Well that and I’m pretty sure they would console me with chocolate.  Yes, I’m still all about the chocolate.  I have no idea when this happened.

Have I ever told you about my grandmother?  I blame her for my sweet tooth.  When I was younger I thought that she just didn’t eat very much.  It wasn’t until I was older that I was clued into the fact that she was making sure to leave room for dessert.  For some reason I remember her really liking Poppycock, the popcorn and caramel mix that was way better than Cracker Jack because it didn’t have peanuts.  Later in life she had a thing for… what are those square ice cream bars covered in chocolate?  My brother has a thing for them now.   I think they have a polar bear on the logo.  She taught my brother, sister and me how to play poker when we were in elementary school.  We would use her pennies for bidding, although, I don’t really remember playing for very long because we really wanted to play pinochle.    I have no idea how old we were when we learned how to play that card game but they were in the new house, so we must have been 10 or 11 years old.  I have no doubt my sister will remember.  I also remember my Gram and her sister my Aunt Edith playing basketball with us.  We really had a lot of fun.


Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14, 2012 – Crushes & Other Random Nonsense

I keep losing track of the damn days.  Yes they invented a calendar for just these moments but for a brief moment I thought it was Wednesday.  It’s not, it’s Tuesday.  Still one day closer to vacation and plenty of time to get as much work completed as possible.  What is it with killing yourself with work before going on vacation when you know no matter what happens you are going to get punished with work when you return?

Books, I’m on a reading bender again which is good and bad.  Good because it’s always good to find a bunch of books I like.  Bad because I am trying not to start any new books until the plane ride on Friday.  I think I have 14 in the queue and I know the new Kim Harrison book “A Perfect Blood”comes out on my birthday and there is no way I am not downloading it.  Fine I sort of have a crush on the character Ivy, and Rachel.  Ok they can get in line with:

Batwoman,

Kate Beckinsale’s character from the movie Underworld,

Ali Vali’s Cain Casey,

Vickic Pettersson’s Joanna Archer I really wish she would publish another in the Sign of the Zodiac Series

JM Redmann’s Mickey Knight although, I’m currently boycotting JM Redmann because damn it all Mickey deserves a break.

I pretty much have a thing for any strong female character who kicks ass.


Is there a 12 step program for fictional crushes?  Yes I know it’s called Fanfiction and it’s all over the internet.  If I didn’t enjoy these characters so much I would think I had a problem but as long as authors keep writing about them I think I should be fine. 


Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012 – Book Review – Shaken and Stirred by Joan Opyr

Shaken and Stirred by Joan Opyr

Publisher: BywaterBooks 
Fiction

Product Description from Amazon.com

Sometimes, I think my story is about addiction and adultery. Other times, I think it's about bad luck with the Avon lady. And not just one—one I could chalk up to chance. Two rotten Avon ladies feel more like a curse.

So begins the story of Poppy Koslowski. She's trying to recover from a hysterectomy, but her family has other ideas. She's the one with the legal right to call time on her alcoholic grandfather in North Carolina. So she's dragged back across the country from her rebuilt life into the bosom of a family who barely notice the old man's imminent death.

Poppy understands why her grandfather is dying alone. She remembers how his drinking terrorized his family. But she also remembers the man who made her feel worthwhile and wanted after her parents' marriage collapsed, a time when she felt like she was dying alone.

Plunged into a crazy kaleidoscope of consulting doctors, catching fire with an old flame, and negotiating lunch venues with her mother and grandmother, Poppy still manages to fall in love. With her best friend. Because nothing in the Koslowski family is ever straightforward.”


Review:
4.0 out of 5 Stars

I admit I originally judged this book by its cover and put it into my, maybe read, as a last resort, column.  I don’t know why, I just didn’t like the cover.  Why I would decide to reject a book solely on the cover makes no sense at all since I do 99% of my reading on my Kindle, but let’s face it, the cover art catches my eye, it makes me take a closer look at the book, and causes me to read the product description.  Yes, it’s ultimately the description or someone’s recommendation that makes me buy a book but the artwork is what grabs my attention.  It’s why I love book stores.  I like walking through the aisles and seeing the cover art

Fortunately for me, I’m part of an online book group and this is the book they are reading for February.  I’m new to the group and I wanted to participate in a least some small way.  So I sucked it up and bought the book.  Well you know the adage; don’t judge a book by its cover; that couldn’t be any truer in this instance.

Shaken and Stirred is a quirky and fun novel.  On more than one occasion I was laughing out loud and had to explain to L what I was laughing at.  The novel is written in a way that tell’s Poppy’s story and relates childhood events to her current life situation. 

When I first started reading the book I did find myself a little confused as the story worked it’s way back and forth between current day events and childhood memories but it didn’t take long for me as the reader to get into the flow of the story and how the author switched back and forth.
I don’t know that I would personally classify this as a romance novel, in my opinion this is a great fiction story and now I have another author I can stalk read.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

February 13, 2012 – Weekend Update

 Let me just say that the weekend was chuck full of adventures. 

Saturday I took the train to the tram, by myself, and went to sihl city.  What pray tell is Sihl City?  A Swiss Shopping mall.  My headset gave up the ghost on Wednesday and I needed a replacement.  Now I was smart enough to bring the old one with me so when I got to Media Market and found out the girl at the info desk really didn’t understand English I was able to mime/show and tell what I needed.  Language barrier?  What language barrier.

Then as I was leaving the mall, a young man walked up to me handing me a rose and saying something in German.  Loosely translated I’m pretty sure he said “Excuse me, you are the most beautiful and sexy woman I have ever seen, please accept this rose as I worship at your feet.”  Well, that’s the translation I’m running with and not “Hey we’re doing a promotion for the film Valentine, have a rose.”

Oh, and I also captured an entire warren of bunnies…. They were small so I felt no guilt in eating all of them.  I did share with L.

Saturday evening… this is where things got really exciting.  Hey get your minds out of the gutter.  Shortly after I went to bed … and fell asleep… there was a “BOOM” and then the windows rattled.  Of course this triggered a minor night terror so I followed the boom with a small scream of my own.  Turns out, there was a minor earthquake 4.2 on the Richter scale.  Btw who the heck was Richter?  Sure you Californians wouldn’t bat an eye at that but me I’m from Connecticut where we have earthquakes that you have to read about in the newspaper to even know happened.  That’s how I like my earthquakes.  This one happened so quick I have no idea if there was any real shaking.

What else?  Sunday was a quiet relaxing day.  L headed out to Dublin, then she is off to London, then back home and we are off for vacation.  5 days… 5… yeah.




Happy Monday



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February 11, 2012 – Book Review – Dust by Ann McMan

Dust by Ann McMan
Intrigue/Romance

Product Description from Amazon.com

When it comes to finding dirt, Evan Reed is the best in the business. She’s a dust-buster—a paid operative hired by political campaigns to vet candidates. She’s also a foul-mouthed, cranky ex-Catholic, attempting to raise a fourteen-year-old daughter on her own.

When she’s hired to investigate the background of a squeaky-clean and charismatic senator who might just be the next president, the last thing she expects to uncover is a murder. Evan’s life is further complicated when she meets the senator’s reclusive wife—who happens to be hiding some dust of her own.


Review
4 out of 5 Stars

This was an excellent second novel from Ann McMan full of political intrigue and a variety of plot twists that keeps the reader guessing.  Each of the characters have their own complexities with varying degrees of “badness” making it difficult to figure out who the good guys are in the story.  There were several times when I thought I had a handle on who the “bad guy” was and then there would be a new twist that would point me in another direction. 

There were also several characters I would like to see again, obviously I’d like to know what happens with Evan Reed and Julia Donne, but I’d also like to see Maya/Margo to learn more about her and what exactly is she involved in.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any other novels by Ann McMan.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012 - Nothing Exciting


Is it just me or has this work week been exceedingly long? 

I finally managed to buy the beast low cal dog food.  The store said they did not have “diet” food.  They did however have “light” food.  I’m not entirely sure what the difference is but he’s got it now and I’m easing him into the transition.  On that note, let’s just say a little prayer that he adjusts to it faster because if “light” continues to equate to “gas” I need to find a different brand of food.

For those of you who know, I work from home as a result I rely heavily on a headset that I can plug into my computer and speak with co-workers on goto meeting or google talk, and I use the same headset plugged into my phone for everything else.  I didn’t realize how much I depend on it until Wednesday when it gave up the ghost.  I can hear people.  They just can’t hear me.  Of course for them that might be an excellent thing.  Needless to say this weekend I will be making a trek to the city in search of a replacement.

That’s pretty much it for the day, no real excitement… yet.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February 9, 2012 – Book Review – Jericho by Ann McMan


Jericho by Ann McMan
Romance

Product Description from Amazon.com
“Librarian Syd Murphy flees the carnage of a failed marriage by accepting an eighteen-month position in Jericho–a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Her plans to hide out and heal her wounds fall by the wayside as she gets drawn into the daily lives of the quirky locals. She becomes fast friends with Maddie Stevenson, the enigmatic physician who has returned to the backcountry community to take over her late father’s medical practice. Together they learn that life and love can have as many twists and turns as a country road.”

Review
4 out of 5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book, and a good bit of that was because both Syd and Maddie came across as being three dimensional characters.  Syd is dealing with a failed marriage and trying to figure out what happens next in her life.  As a result, she takes a temporary (18 month) job setting up a library in the rural town of Jericho.  In her opinion this is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate her life.  While there meets and becomes friends with the local Doctor, Maddie.

The reader gets to go along for the ride as these two develop and a strong supportive friendship.  From my perspective the friendship felt “real” as if it could happen in real life. 

This was a very good read; I was engaged the entire time and had a difficult time putting the book down.  However, I will say near the end of the book I started to feel like the author may have gotten stuck and just started throwing things at the wall to see what would stick and progress the story forward: family issues, an outside threat, death, destruction, and foster kids.  I mention it because it was enough that I actually noticed all these significant life events happening at the end when even one or two would have been more than enough.  It didn’t detract from the story but the thought did provide a bit of amusement for me. 

The book is certainly worth reading I’ll be starting her second story “Dust” next.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

February 9, 2012 – Bunny Hunting Season

Bunny Hunting Season has officially started.  Consider today, opening day. 

No, Bunny Season is not the same as rabbit season.  You are confusing what Elmer J. Fudd and Bugs Bunny where up to with what is a critical necessity for the environmental well being of the planet. 

Yes ladies and gentlemen, once again it’s that time of year where all good bunnies must die.  I know it sounds a bit harsh but when you look at it from a pragmatic standpoint someone has to keep the bunnies in check or they will overpopulate… well like “bunnies”.  Just think of yourself as the natural predator for bunnies and that you are just doing your part in the food chain.

For you novice bunny people, there are just a few simple steps to follow

Part 1: Capture a Bunny
  • This might seem like a daunting task, but it's actually pretty easy.  I have found that if I go to the local grocery store it's fairly easy to come across one of their large cardboard warren's.
  • This is a little counterintuitive, but make as much noise as possible when approaching the warren.  I would suggest singing "Here comes Peter Cottentail, hoppin down the bunny trail..."  There is something about the song that causes them to "freeze" in place, making it incredibly easy to grab one.


Part 2: Remove their protective armor.



Part 3: Quickly… bite the head off.  Really this is only the humane thing to do.  I know there are some people out there that like to nibble on the feet or the ears first, but I personally can't stand to listen to all the screaming.  My method is quick and, fairly painless. There is a shot burts of "Noooooo...." but it end's quickly.


 Part 4: Enjoy



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February 8, 2012 – What Happened to Tuesday and other Random Things

Sometimes the day just gets away from me.  I started reading a book on Monday and when Tuesday came around I couldn’t put it down long enough to swing in and say hello.  Then work starts and you know how that goes. 

We’re still having quite a bit of cold weather.  I know, it’s winter and the weather is supposed to be cold.  I’m not complaining, but I don’t think we have been out of the single digits for temps in a couple of weeks.  The good news, the beast LOVES this weather and that’s why they invented layers for cloths.

I’m also becoming a Hot Chocolate snob.  Shocking I know.  Last year I was making hot chocolate with “Caotina Noir” (Dark Hot Chocolate Mix).  I enjoyed it, but this year I’m using “CaotinaSurfin” which is so good it almost, but not quite, makes me wish it was a bit warmer outside so I could run off all the cups of hot chocolate.  It just needs to get into the 20’s (Fahrenheit) -5 (Celsius) and I would at least entertain the idea.  I also discovered I have the perfect sauce pan for heating the milk.  It has a little lip so when I pour it I don’t make a mess.



We have 9 days until we leave on vacation not that I am counting or anything.  Which means I am trying to focus as much as possible on work so I don’t get killed when I return.  Ok yes, I know that never works out that way, but let me have this little delusion.

Yesterday I ran into a friend of my neighbor’s.  She was parked at the end of the building complex driveway.  It seems she discovered that her car brakes were no longer working.  She did have the wherefore all to use the hand brake and fortunately she was driving UP the hill versus down it.  I took the kids and herded them to the neighbor’s apartment while she hopped back into the car to drive it up the hill a bit further to the gas station.  It reminded me of my drivers ed lessons, oh so very long ago, and the teacher making us practice losing our brakes.  It seemed funny at the time.  Not so much when you think about it actually happening.  It also made me wonder where the heck the emergency brake is on the Audi I’m driving.  Then I realized there isn’t one.  It’s a computerized “parking” brake.  Which also makes me think maybe just maybe car manufacturer’s need to keep one thing retro style because if I lose my brakes in the Audi there ain’t no stopping with a push button parking brake.

What else?  Oh yes, woke up with a headache.  This might not seem surprising but I’ve actually been headache-less for several days.  I’m going with PMS and the weather is probably going to change.

Proposition 8… Yeah! California.  I’m thrilled with the Federal courts’decision that ruled Prop 8 is discriminatory under the 14th Amendment.  Of course I also realize that there will be an appeal because the “Protect Marriage” people just can’t let it go.

Onward and Upward.  I'm going to make this a good day for myself.




Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 6, 2012

February 6, 2012 – Weekend Update

This weekend was filled with cold and hot chocolate because there is no sense in foregoing the hot chocolate when the temperatures outside are -10 Celsius (7 Fahrenheit).  My neighbor told me I was “brave” walking outside.  I explained it was more a matter or practicality.  I either take the dog outside for a walk or he pee’s in the house.  Really, when you look at it that way I’ll be going outside when it’s even colder.  I just won’t be lingering.

I did take a walk into town on Saturday to take some pictures of the river.




Then I came across this storm drain and I thought the little ice formations were cool.







The Superbowl:

No I did not watch the Superbowl.  I had no desire to stay up past Midnight to watch a bunch of men in shiny Capri pants and helmets tackle each other.  What you don’t think those are Capri pants?  I’m pretty sure they are very close to being the right length for that designation.

I did however watch a couple of the commercials online this morning, which only confirmed for me that I must be starting my PMS cycle.  I know you were dying to know that, but there is no other explanation for way the Clint Eastwood, Chevy commercial would make me cry.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

February 6, 2012 – Book Review – 96 Hours by Georgia Beers

96 Hours by Georgia Beers
Publisher: Bywater Books

Romance

Product Description From Bywater Books:

"9/11. Numbers carved on the hearts of every American. Numbers that transformed millions of lives. Numbers that threw two women together.

Erica Ryan is flying home from London after a disastrous business trip. Free spirit Abby Hayes is flying into New York City to visit her mother before jetting off again when their flight is diverted to Gander, Newfoundland.

The people of Gander are generous, and Erica and Abby are invited into a stranger’s home. It’s a simple act of kindness, and it draws the unlikely pair together.

For 96 hours Erica and Abby share a rollercoaster of emotions and eventually find themselves drawn to one another. Will their nascent connection survive everyday life when they return home?"

Review:
4 out of 5 stars

I had the pleasure of meeting Georgia Beers in PTown during women’s week.  She was promoting 96 Hours.  As a good rule of thumb I will read anything that she puts out because I like her as an author.  However, and this is a big “however” I really couldn’t foresee that I would read this one.  In fact, I told her that there was really no way that I would be able to read it.  Using 9/11 as a backdrop for a story is pretty brave, but I know that I personally still get incredibly emotional even discussing 9/11 so I couldn’t imagine putting myself in a situation where I would willingly read a story that revolves around those events.  Thus, the avoidance began.  Except it keeps popping up in my recommended to read lists and finally someone I know on Goodreads wrote a review that they liked it.  So, I decided to suck it up and be brave and read it.

I read the book yesterday and yes there were several spots that made me cry; the brief recounts of the planes striking the towers and the aftermath.  Thank God I was smart enough to read it when I was not suffering from PMS or I might have shorted out my Kindle.  Having said that, I think Georgia Beers handled the book in a way that lets the reader understand the events that throws Erica and Abby together without overwhelming them.  The best description I can say is that she handled it sensitively while letting the characters work through the tragedy and make connections to each other and the people around them.

I’m glad that I read the book.  I liked how Georgia Beers handled the characters and how they were changed by the events.  It felt real and relatable because I don’t know anyone who was not changed by those events in large and small ways.  Would I recommend other people read it? Absolutely, with a small caveat:  if you were in or near NYC on 9/11 maybe read it with a box of tissue, a glass of wine, and when you are not PMSing.




Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5, 2012 -Book Review –Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
Science Fiction/Fantasy


Product Description From Amazon.com:
“Lushly written with rich and vivid characters, SANTA OLIVIA is Jacqueline Carey's take on comic book superheroes and the classic werewolf myth.

Loup Garron was born and raised in Santa Olivia, an isolated, disenfranchised town next to a US military base inside a DMZ buffer zone between Texas and Mexico. A fugitive "Wolf-Man" who had a love affair with a local woman, Loup's father was one of a group of men genetically-manipulated and used by the US government as a weapon. The "Wolf-Men" were engineered to have superhuman strength, speed, sensory capability, stamina, and a total lack of fear, and Loup, named for and sharing her father's wolf-like qualities, is marked as an outsider.

After her mother dies, Loup goes to live among the misfit orphans at the parish church, where they seethe from the injustices visited upon the locals by the soldiers. Eventually, the orphans find an outlet for their frustrations: They form a vigilante group to support Loup Garron who, costumed as their patron saint, Santa Olivia, uses her special abilities to avenge the town.

Aware that she could lose her freedom, and possibly her life, Loup is determined to fight to redress the wrongs her community has suffered. And like the reincarnation of their patron saint, she will bring hope to all of Santa Olivia.”

Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Let me quickly state that this is not a typical “werewolf” story.  I certainly can’t claim to know the author’s intent for latching onto that claim other than to provide some context for Loup’s extraordinary abilities.  Having said that; the story is very well written and was a pleasure to read.   It starts a little slow introducing the reader to “Outpost 12”, which is a military zone that acts as a buffer between the United States and Mexico following the outbreak of an epidemic in Mexico.  The people of Outpost 12 are no longer considered US citizens and are completely isolated. 

As the reader I found myself cheering for Loup and the other orphans as they take what little action they can to provide justice for one of their own and unwittingly provide hope for the town in the vestige of ghostly miracles.  The Santitos (the orphans) are a wonderful cast of characters who all add value and insight into the main character and again I couldn’t help but like them all.

Prior to this story I had not read anything by Jacqueline Carey, but I was thrilled to find out that there is another book that continues Loup’s story.  I will definately be picking that one up





Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

February 5, 2012 - Book Review - The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch and Lee Chadeayne


The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch and Lee Chadeayne
Historical Fiction/Mystery

Product Description:

“A historical thriller set in Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and the women burned at the stake just seventy years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau. When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead—marked by the same tattoo—the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.

Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth. With the help of his clever daughter, Magdelena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town’s physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in Schongau. But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.

A brilliantly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller, The Hangman’s Daughter is the first novel from German television screenwriter Oliver Pötzsch, a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.”

Review:
2 out of 5 stars

The author is a descendent of Kuisls Executioners and has taken that history and translated it into the fictional character of Jacob Kuisl, the hangman of Schongau.  The story starts off at a decent pace and briefly tells the story of the grandfather who was the hangman and explains how the son does not want to follow in his fathers’ footsteps.  It then it jumps forward 35 years and refers to Jacob as the grandson who is now the hangman in the same town with no real transition or explanation.  I was surprised at how hung up I got on this detail, throughout the story I found myself trying to figure out if there was an error in the translation and the current hangman was actually the son, and regardless, how the heck did Jacob become the hangman when the prologue clearly indicates that the son would do anything to avoid becoming the hangman.

Setting that issue aside I found that the story moved well in the beginning with the mystery of who was killing the children and the search for the responsible party.  Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle the story got bogged down with talk of medicine versus witchcraft and political structures.  I almost gave up reading it.  Fortunately, clues to the mystery started to pile up and the story became interesting again.  Although, I did find myself “skimming” entire sections just to get through it.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 3, 2012

February 3, 2012 – Haircuts and Piercings

I got my haircut today, I did not however change the color of my hair… but I’m going to.  Just not yet, we didn’t have time and I really needed the haircut.  Oh and no I did not get a piercing either.  Call me old fashioned but my ears are pierced (3 on the left 1 on the right) and that’s plenty.  The girl who cuts my hair however is a different story.  She just acquired a relatively new piercing… I’m cringing as I type this… inside her mouth, where her upper lip meets the gum of her front teeth.  She now has a decorative little hoop with a tiny little ball that hangs down into the gap of her front teeth.  Ouch!  Oh and she can only keep it a few months because otherwise the gum will start to recede.  Her dentist brother did it for her.  I’ve had a lot of dental work, including surgery to fix a receding gum when I was 10 or 11 years old, so I’m not about to willingly pierce anything that comes anywhere near my teeth.  I know that I don’t really understand the whole piercing thing, but why the heck would you pierce something that you know you can’t keep for … ever or at least more than a couple of months.

During this discussion I apparently put on my invisible “tell me everything about you I never wanted to know” hat, because she shared that when she goes through airport security she inevitably gets wanded because her piercings show up.  Oh and if she has all of her piercings then she gets pulled to the little room where I managed to get her to not tell me what happens there.  Mind you she doesn’t have that many piercings; she saw a show the other day where a guy (whom she described as being nutty) has 300 piercings in his penis.  That bit of trivia has resulted in an inordinate number of inappropriate and unanswerable questions to race through my head all afternoon.  Ok maybe in the grand scheme of things the 5 – 10 piercings (I’m guessing) she has aren’t really that many, but HELLO you set off the airport screening devices and have to get wanded EVERY TIME.  I think that’s a sign that maybe you have one too many.  I’m just saying.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1, 2012 – Snowballs

Today L and I went to the Gemeinde in town to renew our residency permits.  I actually thought this might be my mini adventure for the day, but considering the efficiency of the Swiss it took 5 minutes and was without incident.

However, and this brings me to the fun part, it’s been snowing here the last couple of days.  Not enough to qualify as anything other than a dusting, but if you can find enough snow you coule perhaps fashion a snowball.

While I was driving down the road, at a seriously slow rate of speed, I saw a young boy on the sidewalk.  My best guess is that he was 11 or 12 years old.  It’s hard to know, because I’ve noticed EVERYONE looks young to me.

Anyway there’s this kid on the sidewalk, and he looks a little nerdy (no offense) and I can see he has some snow in his hand.  Now this is not an exaggeration, the snow might be the size of a 50 cent piece (or a franc).  It’s small.  I can also see the wheels turning in the kids head, he wants to be cool, he wants to do something… mischievous.  So what does he do?  He tries to throw the piece of snow at me and the car as I crawl past him.  I say tries because it sticks to his hands.  Now, I will admit that in the historical past when a kid has thrown a snowball at my car it has (a) startled me and (b) thrown me into a rage.  This kid’s effort at best worked up a little giggle, but then I saw the flash of disappointment in his eye so being who I am, I thought I’d give him a little thrill and a lesson in American Reactions.  Yes, you guessed it.  I gave him my best glare, slammed on the brakes and acted like I was going to give chase.  The kid got that wide eyed “Oh Shit” look and started to run.  The little girl who was several paces behind him looked a little shocked, until I smiled at her and laughed.  I’m thinking that at least initially the whole thing was way more fun for me and the little girl, but I have no doubt that kid got to school and told the story of how he threw a HUGE snowball at a car and barely escaped the crazy woman who chased him for blocks.

So here’s the thing.  There are rules about throwing snowballs at people, cars, whatever.

(a)    If you are going to throw a snowball at something you need to commit.  You decide and you do it.  No debating the process looking at the snowball, then looking at the target, and then back at the snowball thingy.  Seriously, that only happens in cartoons and apparently with young Swiss Children

(b)   Have a “real” snowball.  None of these snow marbles.  It needs to be an actual honest to goodness hand sized ball.

(c)    Make sure there is nothing in the snowball that will actually do any damage

(d)   Be prepared to accept the consequences… which means

1.       You better run

2.      You better run fast

3.       You better have a good hiding spot

Now beyond that a word of caution, back home when this has happened to me, it’s scared the crap out of me to suddenly hear a loud thunk hitting the car.  My first thought was “Did I hit something?” My second thought was: “damn kids better not have damaged my car… the car that I paid a good chunk of money for” hence the: “you better run” advice and the comment about flying into a rage. 

On second thought maybe the only snowball rule you should be aware of is:  Snowballs are meant for snowball fights between willing participants.  Don’t throw them at cars, crazy people drive cars.



Copyright © C.A. Bailey 2010 - 2012, All Rights Reserved.