December 28, 2011

This is my ouch face.

I poked a hole in my nose. Happy birthday Sally! Now it's your turn!

December 14, 2011

A Letter to Santa

Cooper's Christmas wish list as dictated to his 11 year-old aunt. God forbid Santa leave some non-shiny coins in his stocking.

November 17, 2011

October Reads: 50 Books for 2011

It was a YA-tastic October! For no reason at all, and completely by accident, all of the books I finished in October were from the Young Adult genre. Okay, it wasn’t completely by accident as two of the selections were for the Forever YA book club I joined.

#28: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Is a 576 page tome about an orphan, her foster family, and the Jew hidden in their basement in Nazi Germany during World War II. It’s horribly depressing, mainly because everyone is starving and then dies. Okay, not everyone. But geez, did I need a fluffy romance novel to recover from this one. Liesel, the 11 year-old heroine learns to read over the course of the book and also begins accumulating a collection of stolen books. I didn’t love this story. I could see how it was skillfully written, but by the end, it was very hard to find something good to take away from it. Due to the sucking of the joy out of the world. And I hated the narrator. [book club selection]

#29: The Radleys by Matt Haig – This was recommended to me by two avid readers and it’s vampire YA – what more could I want?? The Radley’s are your average suburban-dwelling English family that go to work, go to school, eat dinner, socialize with the neighbors, take out the trash etc. Except they’re also vampires. I really enjoyed the family dynamic juxtaposed against the paranormal drama. It was entertaining, and had some genuinely exciting moments. And even with all the moodiness and noir of a vampire family drama, it was a relaxing breath of fresh air after The Book Thief.

#30: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – This YA fantasy has some insane world building and fascinating secondary characters. The heroine Karou, is a blue-haired, tattooed art student in Prague, with a very unusual part time job. She's kickass and incredibly vivid. The Prague setting is wonderfully drawn and has me dying to visit and have a bowl of goulash in a hidden cafe. I would never have chosen this novel for myself, but actually really enjoyed it and look forward to a sequel. [book club selection]

#31: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen - This is my first Sarah Dessen (the reigning queen of YA romance). Remy is the daughter of a one-hit-wonder rock star and an oft-married mother and is cynical about romance. Then she meets Dexter, a mess of a dude in a band. I kind of like the fact that Dexter took on the manic pixie dream girl role. I had a hard time connecting with Remy because I didn't understand her terror of committing herself to awesome Dexter. But I liked the ending and will be squeezing in some more Sarah Dessen.

It happened to me.

October 26, 2011

“You're dead, dude. Get over it.”

So my current obsession is vampires. And you’re like “You? No! That’s crazy talk.” But no, REALLY, YOU GUYS. The Vampire Diaries is currently in its third season, and it is so insanely good, that I can’t even stop talking about it. The energy and pacing is amazing. They throw so many huge plot twists and new developments into every single episode, that it’s like sweeps week all the time.

In the first season, and on the surface, it’s very Twilight-esque. A hundred-something year-old vampire falls in love with a human teenager. But right away, the story expands, and it’s not just about the two star-crossed lovers anymore. It’s really funny, and genuine, and action-packed. It’s about love and loss, and betrayal and forgiveness, and trying to be strong in the face of overwhelming odds. And the epic bromance between a vampire and a vampire hunter. But at its core, The Vampire Diaries is about characters. Amazing, flawed, three-dimensional, evolving characters.

The two very different brothers who’ve fallen in love with the same woman… twice. The brooding vampire who’s been betrayed by his brother a hundred times, but hasn’t become jaded or forgotten how to smile. The anti-Bella who loves a vampire, but hasn’t lost her self, who values family and friends above everything, and never wants to become a vampire. The most reckless, manipulative, and self-destructive vampire ever, who loves his brother… and his brother’s girlfriend. The human history teacher who’s lost the two women he’s loved but is trying to be there for two teenagers who’ve lost everyone. The cheerleader turned Vampire Barbie who’s acquired depth and compassion but never lost her enthusiasm for life. The young witch who’s willing to sacrifice herself for the ones she loves. The sullen teenager who’s faced overwhelming loss but is growing up and trying to be there for his family.

Oh, and every actor on this show is mind-blowingly talented and insanely good-looking. The first two seasons are on dvd and Netflix Instant and if you don’t start watching them immediately, I don’t even want to know you.

October 12, 2011

September Reads: 50 Books for 2011

Okay, I can promise I read more than one book in the month of September. I did a bit of a re-reading and then also read a big chunk of The Book Thief for Forever Young Adult book club, but that post will be in the October round-up.

#27: Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead - They finally get the cover art right and it's the last damn book in the series. Succubus Georgina Kincaid finally finds what she's been looking for - a loophole in her contract with hell. But hell doesn't really like losing employees so this could turn out really bad for her. But of course she gets her (mostly) happy ending and the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, it's not the one I wanted her to end up with. Carter 4-eva!

August Reads: 50 Books for 2011

#22: Eye of the Tempest by Nicole Peeler – I was SO excited for this fourth installment in the Jane True series. I’ve been dying for Jane to get together with the big hulking barghest that she has a thing for, but epic forces of good and evil keep getting in the way. Jane basically gets sent on a quest for the holy grail (substitute: powerful relic) and has to decide whether she really wants to be a hero or not. I have to admit, I found this one to be a bit repetitive and not quite as good as the previous volumes in the series. I’m anxious to see where the author goes next.

#23: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb - This is the eleventieth million in the In Death Series. Or, number 32. This series has been getting pretty stale and formulaic, which is probably what happens after you’ve written 30 books about the same characters. I was skeptical this one would be any better since it was also about corrupt cops within the force, which has been covered in this series before. But the approach felt fresher and the character’s reactions were much more emotional. I think kick-ass homicide detective Eve Dallas is finally allowing her soft side to show.

#24: Succubus Dreams by Richelle Mead – Demonic and yet essentially good-hearted succubus Georgina Kincaid is having a crappy Christmas. Some mysterious angels have stowed some random dude in her apartment for safe-keeping, and some mystical force is draining her succubus energy. There’s also more and more discord between her and the human boyfriend she keeps at arms-length out of concern for his mortal soul. This book was depressing.

#25: Succubus Heat by Richelle Mead – This fourth book in the Georgina Kincaid series sees Regina’s boss, the arch-demon of Seattle disappear from the city, which renders the lesser immortals under him temporarily mortal. This allows Georgina and Seth to give into their long denied desires, even though he’s now with someone else. But of course Georgina can’t leave anything alone and feels the need to rescue her boss, even if it means she goes back to being a succubus.

#26: Succubus Shadows by Richelle Mead – As a result of what happened in Succubus Dreams, succubus Georgina has been kidnapped by some kind of evil dream-sucking thing. She’s left in an in-between state where she’s constantly dreaming. Some of the dreams are real events from her life and some are fake – just to mess with her. This is all really just a device for the character to relive all the things she’s done in her centuries long life, including all the men she’s hurt. Her friends work to save her, and I have to say, I was surprised at who ended up being the key to ending her torture.

September 28, 2011

Having a bad day?

This makes everything better.

September 12, 2011

The Little Missus

I've been giving some thought to weddings and marriage since this week I celebrate my eleventh wedding anniversary (I may even let Rob celebrate too). And then this post by Andrea Grimes got me thinking (and okay, a little bit defensive) about the long-held, and somewhat outdated tradition of women taking their husband's name when marrying. I made my decision a long time ago, and have occasionally felt twinges of guilt (as good, privileged liberals are wont to do) about the possibility of having done a disservice to the sisterhood. But then I remind myself, thanks to hard fought battles of the women who came before me, it was my own damn choice to make.

I am a third-wave feminist. I was raised Unitarian, by a single mother, and I majored in Anthropology. And I chose to take my husband’s last name when I got married.

In my defense, I got married at 22. I think it’s downright miraculous that I’ve stuck with any decision I made at 22, including my choice in husband. I often think about all the things I’d do differently if I had my wedding to do over again. I’d pick a different dress, possibly a different venue, and there’s no way in hell I’d do that damned garter toss again. But strangely enough, taking my husband’s name isn’t one of those things.

Given my background, I grew up knowing that taking my husband’s name when marrying was my choice to make. Since I was one of the first to get married among my friends, I didn’t even have a peer sample to compare. My mother, who’s been married three times (don’t tell her I told you that), has taken his name, been a hyphenate, and is now sporting her maiden name for good.

I don’t think Rob cared either way if I took his name. To be honest, I don’t recall ever asking him. If he’d had a definite opinion, I hope I would have at least listened politely. But even at 22, his opinion on this wouldn’t have carried much weight. It was always my decision to make.

Many factors went into my decision.

  • My parents divorced when I was a baby and I’ve never had a relationship with my father or his family, yet I carried his name for 22 years.

  • Maybe because of that, I was never particularly attached to the name. It wasn’t anything special, nor anything especially horrid.

  • It wasn't a difficult name to pronounce, yet people always seemed to stumble over it.

  • I am alive and vital and so very easy to find on the internet, regardless of what name you know me by.

  • There’s one benefit to getting married at 22: Before I became the internet sensation I am today, I was too young to have done anything especially noteworthy to give that name any added cache.

  • Having a uniquely spelled first name (silly as it is) was always my more memorable quality and I’ve always identified more with that.

  • Maybe if I’d had my last name changed to my mother’s family name when I was a kid, I would have felt differently.

  • I had and have a far stronger relationship with the family I married into, than the one who’s name I was born with.

I still worry sometimes (when I forget there are so many more important things to worry about) that some people will make incorrect assumptions about me and my values and background because of the fact that I carry my husband’s name. But never fear ladies, I didn’t lose my chance to fight the patriarchy. I just fought my own.

September 08, 2011

July Reads: 50 Books for 2011

I was an urban fantasy devouring fiend in July.

#15: Tracking the Tempest by Nicole Peeler – The second book in the Jane True series takes adorable Jane out of her small coastal Maine town and into the big city to visit her vampire boyfriend and fight big bad evil. (While cracking jokes and sporting Converse of course.)

#16: Tempest’s Legacy by Nicole Peeler – The third book in the Jane True series and my favorite one so far. Jane’s world is turned upside-down when she finds out the fate of her long-lost mother. She makes some big decisions about her relationships and also starts really coming into her own power. I adore Jane, but also really love all of the secondary characters in this series.

#17: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells – The first in the Sabina Kane series. Sabina is a vampire half-breed assassin in L.A. with a ginormous chip on her shoulder. She’s pretty rough around the edges but has fascinating adventures and a joins forces with a hot wizard.

#18: The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells – The second book in the Sabina Kane series sees Sabina relocating to New York to meet the magical half of her family. Things turn violent pretty quickly, which is pretty much just how Sabina rolls. I want to like Sabina, but she makes such dumb decisions sometimes that I kind of want to thump her on the head.

#19: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead – The first book in the Georgina Kincaid series introduces the succubus with the heart of gold, who works in a bookstore in Seattle, when she’s not stealing the life force from people. Georgina is full of all kinds of idiosyncrasies for a demon from hell. She also finds herself torn between two men that she really can’t have.

#20: Succubus on Top by Richelle Mead – In the second book from this series, Georgina is trying to make a go of it with her human boyfriend Seth, while also trying please her bosses in hell. There are going to be a LOT of obstacles in between Georgina and her happily ever after.

#21: Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells – The third book in the Sabina Kane series sees Sabina and her motley crue (hot mage Adam and her demon familiar Giguhl) heading to New Orleans to rescue her sister and go to war with her evil grandmother once and for all. The New Orleans setting is the perfect background for a paranormal adventure.

July 21, 2011

June Reads: 50 Books for 2011

For some reason my reading picks up in the Summer. So I managed three new books in June (and some re-reads of course) and July is looking even better. Yay! My credit card bill? Not looking so good.

#12: Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan - The fug girls wrote a book! The best celebrity fashion bloggers on the internet wrote a young adult novel, and it's fantastic. Brooke and Molly, who never knew they were sisters, have been thrown together as teenagers by their movie star father. It's Sweet Valley High meets Dynasty meets Beverly Hills 90210 meets every guilty pleasure you've ever loved. It's sweet and fluffy, and funny and poignant. If you love YA, and/or the fug girls, you should read this already.

#13: Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler - The first book in the Jane True urban fantasy series. Jane is bookish and yet scrappy and does a helluva job adjusting to her new paranomal heritage. Oh, and she meets a hot vampire. Which, of course, is like the beginning of every awesome book. Loving this series.

#14: I'm Not the New Me by Wendy McClure - Amazon has recommended this book to me for years, and the cover art has always appealed to me. But this isn't your average chick-lit novel. It reads more like a blog (which is what it's based on) so I kind of felt like it lacked a clear plot and ending. But I LOVED the retro Weight Watchers recipe cards and witty commentary that were included, and that's where the author's humor really shines.

Life List (100 Things I Want to Do)

Vacation in Hawaii
Take a photography class
Meet John Prine
Travel Scotland
See castles
Eat an In-N-Out burger
Have dinner in Little Italy
Go shopping at the Alight store in NYC
Have a Nathan’s hot dog on Coney Island
Visit Bremerton, Washington
Go on a cruise
Pay off all of our credit cards
Have my kitchen remodeled
Buy a Volkswagen Beetle
Have a swimming pool
Write a novel
Drive across the U.S. in an RV
Go to San Diego Comic Con
See a Broadway show
Take Cooper to Disney World (Planned! June 2013!)
Have a picture taken of Rob, Cooper and me that I really love
See the sunflowers in Tuscany
Open my own or work in a book store
Hire a maid service
Find a job I can do from home
Take the Jack the Ripper tour in London
Go on a trip with my mother and sister
Have an elfa closet
Become a professional organizer
Visit the M&M store in Las Vegas
Buy something at the Tiffany store in NYC
Go whale watching
Visit Deadwood South Dakota
Quit my job
Take Cooper to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Open my own summer camp
Get my nose pierced
Resurect Jello Pudding Pops
Get a passport
Keep a plant alive
Find the perfect little black dress
Go to my high school reunion
Get back in touch with my half-brother
Go to the beach with friends
Fly first-class
Read 100 new books in a year
Be a vegetarian for a month
Go on a dinosaur dig
Adopt from foster care
Read the complete works of Zelda Fitzgerald
Go on an Etsy shopping spree
Spend a week by myself with no obligations
Learn to prepare a vegetable I never thought I liked
Take a road trip to Dollywood
Spend a month in the French quarter
Pose for boudoir portraits
Eat bread in Paris
Finish my college degree
Ride a mechanical bull
Inspire someone to do something new
Sunbathe in the Italian Riviera
Sleep more
Attend the Highland Games in North Carolina
Watch everything in my Netflix queue
Rent a beach house with my family
Take Cooper camping
Have Butterbeer at Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Planned! June 2013!)
Learn to pack light
Host a dinner party
Sit on a jury
Perform a karaoke solo
Write my will
See the Fall leaves in New England
Teach my sister to apply makeup
Throw a Halloween party
Have a pint in an Irish pub
Have a professional photographer take my twitter avatar photo
Make homemade ice cream
Have dinner at the Commander's Palace in New Orleans
Watch AFI's Top 100 Films of All Time (seen 28 so far)
Have a movie marathon weekend
Take a second honeymoon
Live in Central Austin
Rock pink hair
Wear a bikini, without having a "bikini body"
Make a living working less than 40 hours a week
Get to name an OPI nail polish color
Become a more mindful consumer
Spend more time with my grandmother
Take a vacation every Summer
Own every color of Converse
Get a sleeve tattoo of my favorite desserts
Take a pottery class
See Dolly Parton in concert
Have a big window-seat for reading and daydreaming
Be an extra in a movie or TV show
Send Cooper to college
Spend a weekend at a spa
Overcome my low-level OCD

July 05, 2011

"Eulogy on the Flapper"

I've never gotten around to reading any Zelda Fitzgerald, but after reading this quote from an article she wrote in Metropolitan Magazine, I think I must.

The Flapper awoke from her lethargy of sub-deb-ism, bobbed her hair, put on her choicest pair of earrings and a great deal of audacity and rouge and went into the battle. She flirted because it was fun to flirt and wore a one-piece bathing suit because she had a good figure ... she was conscious that the things she did were the things she had always wanted to do. Mothers disapproved of their sons taking the Flapper to dances, to teas, to swim and most of all to heart.

June 15, 2011

May Reads: 50 Books for 2011

May was another slow month as far as my book list. I'm very irriated with myself. Luckily I'm already making a lot more progress in June.

#11: Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) - This is the 31st novel of the In Death series. Honest to God. 31 books. And the main character, Eve Dallas, who is mostly a kick-ass homicide cop in futuristic New York City, is finally learning how to deal with her interpersonal relationships. She's 32, so it's kind of about time. The case wasn't particularly emotionally involving, so the fact that Eve is trying to focus on her relationships more (with a sprawling cast of main and secondary characters), helps to make the story move along.

May 05, 2011

April Reads: 50 Books for 2011

I only read one new book this month. And now I has a sad. I re-read some other stuff, but really need to pick up the pace. However, I did redecorate the bathroom (photos coming soon), do a massive closet clean out, and replaced my vanity last month. I was kind of busy.

#10: The Outlaw Demon Wails (The Hollows, Book 6) by Kim Harrison - Pretty standard urban fantasy fare (not to be confused with paranormal romance). For some reason, I continue to enjoy this series despite the fact that I don't much care for the main character. But the secondary characters and the plot twists keep me coming back.

April 29, 2011

Yay for Royal Weddings!

Sigh. What lovely day.

And a new pretty, pretty Princess to admire! (I know, I know, she's a Duchess. Shht! And let me enjoy.)

April 18, 2011

A Tale of Two Vanities

A couple of weeks ago (before I came down with THE SINUS INFECTION FROM HELL), I made a solo trip to Ikea (which I have never done) to procure a new vanity. I loaded it in the car, carried it into the house, and assembled it all by myself. This may sound like a very small achievement, but that bitch was heavy. The vanity I had before was cute, but in a very dainty, girly way. And although I am girly, I'm not the least bit dainty. And as you can see by the plastic sets of drawers to the right, the vanity cannot contain the mass quanitites of crap I have. Seriously - my scarf, headband, and sunglass collections are something to behold. (Apologies for the cell phone photos. I've been too busy to upload from my camera.)

The Malm dressing table from Ikea (not currently listed on the website) is larger, sleeker, and fits in with the modern (and also birch colored) furniture in our bedroom. The drawer was a bear to assemble and I'm not positive I got it in right, but it holds about three times what the previous vanity could. As you can see, I still have too much stuff and have the storage cube underneath (from Target's Itso line). But overall I think the effect is more attractive and more streamlined.

Don't you just love Spring cleaning?

April 04, 2011

March Reads: 50 Books for 2011

Reading was definitely too slow this month. We've been busy with visiting family members, house projects, LIFE, etc. I did re-read a book or two, but I need to pick up the pace if I want to finish 50 new books this year. I really should be averaging 4 books a month. Eek!

#7 - It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita by Heather B. Armstrong - Successful mommy blogger ( Heather Armstrong writes about debilitating post-partum depression with her trademark blend of humor and exageration. It was very funny and touching. The only thing I really disliked was the epilogue about how easy baby number two is since she stayed on the anti-depressants this time. She left out the part about how it might also be easier now that her website makes so much money that she and her husband now work from home with a nanny and a personal assistant.

#8 - Deadly Vows by Brenda Joyce - I've written about this series at length including the fact the final installment in the series was being held hostage by the publisher. I was so excited they finally decided to release it and the final Francesca Cahill mystery does not disappoint.

#9 - Demon Possessed by Stacia Kane - This is the final book in the Megan Chase series about a psychic psychiatrist who's been swept into the world of demons. This was a mostly entertaining series and a satisfying end to the series though I definitely don't feel the same affection for Megan that I do for Stacia Kane's Chess Putnam (heroine of the Downside Ghosts series).

March 24, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Spring always puts me in the mood to organize. I guess it’s the need to start fresh to match everything green and blooming outside. But my mind these days is overflowing with ideas for projects, new furniture (to better organize), better storage space, cleaner spaces. Unfortunately my wallet is not overflowing with cash for all of these projects.

We’re starting with the master bathroom out of necessity. While bracing my hand against the shower wall, the tiles collapsed under my hand. Unbeknownst to us, we had some water leaking through the grout and now have water damage in the walls. This is what we currently live with.

So while a new shower was definitely an unplanned expense, I’m looking forward to the nicer and larger one we’re going with. Since we’ll have a new shower, I’m taking the opportunity to spruce up that bathroom. Since we’re the only ones who ever see that bathroom, I’ve never really taken the trouble to add an pretty touches (other than a shower curtain and mats). It’s been a fairly utilitarian room except for the massive lack of organization. The counters are covered with hair products, prescriptions, and assorted ugliness. I’m posting the before picture in an effort to shame myself into fixing this space. Don’t judge!

Additionally we’ll be adding a new shelf and bringing in some decorative baskets to store some of that unsightly mess in, some fresh new rugs, and some pretty decorations. Yes, no guests see that room, but Rob and I see it on a daily basis. And I think we deserve to have a fresh and serene bathroom to enjoy.

Bathroom after photos coming in May.

Other projects I’m currently planning: new vanity and makeup organization, and the great closet cleanout part 2. You may remember the great closet cleanout of 2008.

March 22, 2011

The moments that make us fat.

Last week CNN helpfully posted an article designed to make you feel shameful about pretty much every bite of food you put in your mouth: The moments that make us fat.

Luckily, awesome blogger extraordinaire Lesley Kinzel of Two Whole Cakes has re-worked that article into something useful: Helpful Tips: How not to be a boorish body-policing jerk.

Trust me, you will never lie on your deathbed thinking, “I wish I’d berated
myself more for not looking like a photoshopped-to-perfection model in a
lingerie ad,”

March 04, 2011

The Kid's Speech

My son Cooper will be four years-old next month. He has blonde hair and dimples, with his daddy’s eyes and his mama’s eyebrows. He’s bright, funny, shy, and testing his boundaries on a daily basis. He loves cars, superheroes, Pixar movies, and macaroni & cheese. And he stammers.

It’s very common for toddlers to stutter as they’re learning to speak. They often get so excited over new discoveries that their mouths can barely catch up with their brains. We read up on it and talked to his pediatrician and then didn’t worry about it. Early childhood stuttering usually disappears within six months.

In Cooper’s case, it’s been going on for over a year. So we made an appointment for him to be evaluated by a speech pathologist. She was very impressed by his vocabulary, but even I could see that he became reluctant to identify items on her flash cards, once he realized that we were focused on his speech. And for days afterward, his stammering became much more pronounced and he would refuse to say words that he’d said a hundred times before, as if afraid of stuttering over them. It was heartbreaking.

Then the diagnosis came: moderate fluency impairment. It’s very hard to not think “wow, we screwed him up fast”. The King’s Speech aside, most experts don’t seem to think that parents actually cause stammering. But what if it is our fault? Was it our repeated insistence to “use your words”? Or the many times we’ve tried to instill better manners by having him repeat himself so as to ask for snacks and TV shows instead of demanding? Was it the genetic combination of my mild OCD and Rob’s anxiety?

And here we are now. Paying $75 a week (which insurance doesn’t cover, since his impairment is not the result of a birth defect - see? The insurance company thinks it’s our fault too!) for Cooper to meet with a speech therapist. She’s made suggestions for behavior modification we can try at home. She thinks we should speak more slowly, pausing for 1-2 seconds before responding to a question or a comment from him, and decrease the amount of questions that we ask (instead of directly asking questions like "Which color do you want?", she suggests rephrasing them as a statement like "I wonder what color you want.") The idea is that these modifications will help to create a more relaxed conversation environment, and decrease time pressure to communicate. This is a very difficult challenge for people who choose to speak in 140 characters or less.

So my precious, beautiful child, who is pretty much perfect in every way (except for the occasional epic toddler meltdown) is learning that it’s okay to communicate more slowly. And mommy and daddy are endeavoring to do the same.

March 03, 2011

January and February Reads: 50 books for 2011

Below are the books I've read so far this year. I probably won't be doing individual book reviews anymore. It seemed to just be setting myself up for failure since it requires a lot of time. Which, I don't know if you've noticed this yet, but I don't have a lot of time.

#1 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by JK Rowling - Didn't really miss the lack of Quidditch matches in this one. Could NOT help picturing Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory despite not having seen any of the movies.

#2 - Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (Book 5) by JK Rowling - This was the beginning of the series turning much darker. The Umbridge character was truly horrifying and there's an overwhelming helplessness about the entire story.

#3 - Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner - I was attracted to this book due to the plus size heroine (though repelled by the $9.99 Kindle price point for a 10 year-old book). It went the usual chick-lit path and then veered off in a direction I hadn't anticipated. Fairly long for the genre, but enjoyable.

#4 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by JK Rowling - Reviewers claim this to be when the series turned dark, but I disagree of course (see above). It's without a doubt building on the darkness, with a truly traumatizing ending.

#5 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by JK Rowling - The series came full circle and yet it's a fitting adult end. And war is hell.

#6 - For a Few Demons More (The Hollows, Book 5) by Kim Harrison - I was becoming apathetic about this series (the main character has never really clicked with me) and then Harrison blew the whole thing apart and everything has changed. I feel re-invested in the series.

100 Books for 2010... or not quite

I really haven't even come close to reading 100 books a year. So I've decided 50 new books a year is a more realistic goal. I definitely read more than 50 books a year, but I love to re-read favorites all the time, and that cuts down on time left for new books. Like right now, I'm re-reading Charlaine Harris' An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly #3) while simultaneously reading Brenda Joyce's brand new Deadly Vows (Francesca Cahill novels, #9). So in order to be more practical, I'll be resetting my annual goal to 50 new books.

Below is a wrap-up of 2010 books read. You'll notice it's heavy on the urban fantasy series and YA books. I guess that's my new thing. Can't recommend Stacia's Kane's Downside Ghosts series enough. She's built a fascinating world and created a compelling and yet deeply flawed heroine. I'm breaking up with the Anita Blake series. She's gone off the rails and I've taken it as far as I can, which is further than most people would. Most advice I've read online is to stop at Obsidian Butterfly. Wish I'd stopped before then. Oh, and if you haven't read The Hunger Games series, you must.

#12 - Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 10) by Laurell K. Hamilton
#13 - The Vampire and the Virgin (Love at Stake, Book 8) by Kerrelyn Sparks

#14 - Incubus Dreams (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 12) by Laurell K. Hamilton

#15 - Every Which Way But Dead (The Hollows, Book 3) by Kim Harrison

#16 - Cerulean Sins (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 11) by Laurell K. Hamilton
#17 - Micah (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 13) by Laurell K. Hamilton
#18 - Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1) by Stacia Kane

#19 - City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 3) by Stacia Kane

#20 - Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts, Book 2) by Stacia Kane

#21 - Danse Macabre (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 14) by Laurell K. Hamilton

#22 - Fantasy in Death (In Death series, book 31) by J.D. Robb

#23 - Personal Demons (Megan Chase, Book 1) by Stacia Kane

#24 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) by J.K. Rowling

#25 - Demon Inside (Megan Chase, Book 2) by Stacia Kane

#26 - A Fistful of Charms (The Hollows, Book 4) by Kim Harrison

#27 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J.K. Rowling

#28 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling

#29 - Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

#30 - Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

March 02, 2011

It's Pouring

Today I wrote a letter to a Republican senator. No, I didn't call him any rude names. And no, I haven't hit my head.

See, Texas is on the verge of an economic crisis. Many would argue that we're already there, but really, it can get worse. The state is broke, and there are budget shortfalls in every branch of government. The state will likely have to lay off 9,000 employees. And many teachers are going to lose their jobs (1,500 in Austin Independent School District alone). They may even have to close schools. And it's not because we don't need the teachers and the schools. Even though Texas is like 49th in Education in the country, we can't even afford to maintain that level of abysmal quality.

We have a despotic governor that has been driving the economy into the ground for years because he refuses to consider raising taxes, for fear of alienating his donor base. We're a diverse state, but less than half of the population votes, and the ones who do vote tend to be conservative. And we have no term limits in Texas.

I'm not pretending to know how to fix this problem, but it seems like common sense that when you're out of money, and you have no way to pay for the necessities in life, that you need to do whatever is necessary to raise money.

Dear Senator Deuell-

I wanted to thank you for your stance on raising taxes in order to address our current economic crisis. It's time to spend the Rainy Day Fund and it's time to raise taxes. These are hard times, and cutting education and firing teachers and state employees wouldn't have to happen if we were willing to pay a little more in taxes. As a parent who can only afford public education, I'd like my child to get a better one that what's being offerred in this state right now.

My mother is a state employee and my step-father is a teacher and neither of them is ready to retire. It's shameful that they could both be unemployed, due to no fault of their own, by Summer.

Your constituents expect you to defend education and public service and to be realistic about how it needs to be done. I hope you'll continue to support raising taxes and I hope the Democrats I voted for will stand with you on this issue.

Thank you-
Kandis S.