BTT- The Cold, an Award and a Giveaway!

btt button

The northern hemisphere, at least, is socked in by winter right now… So, on a cold, wintry day, when you want nothing more than to curl up with a good book on the couch … what kind of reading do you want to do?

When it’s really cold, I like get into my bed, snuggle up under my warm covers, and then read.  I’m not particular about the type of book, though I don’t think I’d read anything that required me to think.  The problem I have, however, is that I always fall asleep!

read other Booking Through Thursday answers here :-)

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I’d like to say thank you to Reagan at Miss Remmers’ Reviews for my first award for 2010.  It’s quite a lovely award, don’t you think?

Prolific Blogger Award

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

There are a couple of rules for this award:

  1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
  2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
  3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
  4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

Miss Remmers’ Reviews is one of the blogs that I first visited during Bloggiesta as part of the comment mini-challenge, and I enjoy Reagan’s posts, especially the Thesis Statement Video, which has the Thesis Statement Rap in it.  LOL! Had to put it in there :-)

Now for my magnificent seven nominees:

Care’s Online Book Club – While Care is currently UNPLUGGED, I enjoy reading her posts, particularly the Virginia Wolf ones (I argue I don’t like stream of conscious, and yet I loved Push.  Maybe I should give Ms. Wolf a shot, since it really was the movie The Hours that made me run from her.)  Looking forward to your return, Blogging Buddy :-)

Wrighty Reads – Debbie has great reviews and I enjoy her “So I was just wondering…” posts.  AND she’s a fellow left-hander ;-)  Lefties RULE!

Unfinished Rambler – Poor Unfinished.  He’s lost his favorite blog home, Humor-Blogs.com, and he’s been going through the various stages of grief about it.  I think he might be at acceptance now, but I’m not quite sure… He’s definitely still snarky about it, but he’s usually snarky anyway, which is one of the things I enjoy about his blogs.  Did you know Elvis is the janitor at his library?  He’s probably too cool for this award, but here it is all the same :-)

Lady Gwyn’s Kingdom – This is a fairly new-to-me blog, but quite enjoyable.  I found it through my Google Alerts.  She had “Reading Challenge” and Welsh on the same page, so Google thought it was the same as “Welsh Reading Challenge”… erm, not quite, but I’m glad for GA’s loose extrapolation, because I would have missed this one.  It’s a lovely blog, playing chamber music while you read reviews of books about Tudors and other royal members behaving badly (and some not so bad, too;-) ), books by Sharon Kay Penman, and you can read about what happened on this day in history, as well.

Reading In Color – Ari is probably another one who is too cool for this award (really, she is, go check her blog out :-) ), but it’s what I’ve got to show my appreciation for what she’s doing, so here ya go.  She’s working with Doret and Laura on a project to find the most diverse YA/MG publishing company, so if you have any ideas, pass it along!

Debbie’s World of Books – This is another great blog I first visited during the Bloggiesta mini-challenge, and I’ve enjoyed ever since.  Great reviews, fun memes, and I love the blog theme (purple’s my favorite color ;-) )

In Spring is the Dawn – Also a Bloggiesta find, Tanabata focuses a lot on All Things Japanese, whether that be in book or movie form, or the traditional music of Japan.  It’s fascinating to learn about translations, and her blog’s layout is fun and beautiful.

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Also, don’t forget to check out my giveaway!  I’m giving away a copy of Push by Sapphire, and the more people sign up, the more prizes!  If 50 or more people enter to win, I’ll add $10 to spend on Amazon.com for the grand prize!

Post-It Note Tuesday! GLEEk for It!

I saw this meme on someone’s blog last week (forget whose, but I’ll remember right after I click “Publish”), then was reminded of the meme by Rebecca’s post today, Lost in Books:  Post-It Note Tuesday #2.  As soon as I saw it last week, I ran over to SupahMommy and got the direction on how to play.  I remember, as a kid, when Post-Its became all the rage, and we used to write goofy stuff all over them, tag each others books, bags, lockers… bodies, even!  Those and the label gun were enough to see me through my teenage angst.

So naturally I HAVE to play :-D  You can visit Superstickies and make your own Post-It notes, which can give you hours of fun all on it’s own :-)

First up, my Ode to GLEE Post-It:

Glee's balloon quote

After watching the first four episodes of GLEE, I ran out to Wal-Mart and bought season one.  Honestly, I might like this show more than Stargate, LOST, and Star Trek combined!

Other Post-Its I had fun making :-)

don't go commando!

your real dad is a carnie!

I actually say this to my children, by the way. A for-real quote from The Kool-Aid Mom.

about as funny as a rubber crutch

Actually, my dad's favorite way of telling me my pranks and jokes had gone to far was, "You're about as funny as a rubber crutch"

shut up or I'll nail your other foot to the floor

This was a joke I heard when I was about Maggie's age. There were a whole bunch of Mommy! Mommy! jokes, but this is the only one I remember.

jealous of my voices

Okay, I actually stole this from my nephew's t-shirt collection :-)

Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine

Islands Apart by Ken McAlpineTitle:  Islands Apart:  A Year on the Edge of Civilization

Author:  Ken McAlpine

Paperback:  256 pages (Advance Reader’s Edition)

Published: 2009

ISBN:  9781590305300

Acquired:  won in the May 2009 LibraryThing ER batch

Challenges:  ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge (under California)

A humorous and wise look at contemporary American life—and how time spent alone in nature can give us a fresh perspective and greater clarity about what matters most.

In this touching and often humorous book, author Ken McAlpine does what many of us long to do. Overwhelmed by the hectic pace of his life, he escapes to a beautiful, remote location where he finds the open spaces and solitude that bring him some peace of mind. McAlpine camps alone in the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Southern California, a place where time slows down, the past reveals itself in prehistoric fossils, and where a person can become attuned to the rhythms of the natural world and find their rightful place in it

For McAlpine the Channel Islands become a modern-day Walden Pond—an enchanting, isolated location from which to reflect on nature, civilization, and what matters most. Back on the mainland, McAlpine continues his explorations by seeking out experiences that reflect who we are and what we value today. His travels include spending time at a soup kitchen in Beverly Hills; a Catholic monastery; and visiting Arlington West, a veteran-run memorial to soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Islands Apart is an engaging meditation on what we can learn about ourselves and our world when we open ourselves to the wisdom of nature and begin to look more deeply.

-Product description at Amazon.com

I have had Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine on my ARC-alanche pile since June of 2009.  It’s one of my way-overdue ER books, and the second one I’ve completed this month (three more to go, woot).  When I first read the description and clicked the button to enter my name in the fandangled LT ER algorithm, I was intrigued by the premise of the book.  McAlpine wants to get away from it all, and find a quiet place to reflect on humanity… kinda like Thoreau with Walden, but on the Channel Islands in Southern California.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book.  The chapters on time spent between the islands and the mainland alternate, so that it has a feeling of interaction with people and then reflection on our place in this world.  I liked this book so much, that I have struggled to understand how the two diverse world are suppose to relate to each other because a lot of the time it felt like I was reading two different books that were mashed together.  What do a hustler/wannabe actor, a tree-loving priest, homeless diners, veteran protestors, and preschoolers have in common with each other, let alone with the foxes, eagles, and xantus murrelets of the Channel Islands?

We lay claim to the things we come across in our lives, as if it is possible to own them, but you can no more own an island or a stoic gull than you can possess the fleeting moments that accumulate into a lifetime.  It is good to recognize life’s gifts, but foolish to hold them too tightly.

-Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine, page 201 (ARE)

I think what McAlpine was trying to do was to show that there is a deep desire in all things, in people and in nature, to know that there will be some piece of them left behind after they die.  To know that they won’t just fade into oblivion.  It is why we have children.  It’s why writer’s write, cavemen drew, why the park ranger’s work so diligently to preserve the foxes and murrelets and the ugly scrub that’s native to the islands.  It’s why the xantus murrelets continue to lay eggs in caves where rats destroy the embryo within before it’s even had a chance to firm up.  What’s more, in an effort to ensure we continue on, we do what we can to control what little bit we can, whether by planting a tree in the desert or by working long hours to invest every cent possible in a future hoped for. 

This book was a slower read, no matter how much I wanted to hurry, and I almost abandoned it at one point.  Despite absolutely loving the first 127 pages, when I hit the chapter on San Miguel Island, it was like falling into a pit of quicksand.  It’s the only part of the book that I hated.  I think it was too long, too boring, and interminable (a word I had to learn to spell to describe this chapter)  That chapter should just say, “Spent a week on San Miguel. Ian was cool. The elephant seals were horny buggers. The fur seals are mean little shits. And all the pinnipeds are louder than a Greek convention at Grant’s Farm! There’s bird poop everywhere, the ravens know how to pick locks… oh, and some dude killed himself because he thought this place was Heaven on Earth.” Next chapter!

I’m very glad I didn’t abandon it, because the next chapter, “Almost Famous”, was the best part of the whole book.  In this chapter, McAlpine explores the extent people go for the chance to be famous.  He spends long hours with James, a Captain Jack Sparrow working the tourists outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  I liked James, and you can tell McAlpine does, too, but I can’t help but wonder how much more he could accomplish if he would put his hard work toward something tangible.  At what point in time do you accept the reality that your dreams are just that, pipe dreams, and the real world is calling.  James wants nothing more than, and WORKS harder than anyone I’ve seen to achieve it, to be a star.  But does he have a viable and real future in it?  Sadly, I don’t think so.  I think he should grow up and get a job and find a way to contribute that way.  But… no one’s depending on him, he’s his own man, and he’s not taking public assistance, so who is he hurting?

I also relished the chapter “Lunch in Beverly Hills” where Ken spent time getting to know and gaining an understanding and appreciation for the homeless.  I have a personal interest in this issue.  You see, seven years ago, the girls and I WERE homeless.  We weren’t without a place to stay, there’s a large shelter here in town, and the people who run it are fantastic.  Thanks to them, I was able to take some time to look at my life and where I was taking my kids, and to reevaluate my priorities.  I want to go back to school to finish up my degree in Sociology so that I can get a job as a client-to-community liaison in a homeless shelter.  In this book, McAlpine says that homelessness is a complex problem, and that is very true.  Some people have chosen it as a lifestyle, others are there because shit happens, while still others are there because it’s better than where they came from.  We were in this last group, having left an abusive and volatile situation with the hope of something better.

I must admit, however, that I can very much relate to MRS. McAlpine, who told him at one point in his working on this book, “I hate you, you know.”  Ken is a white professional male, close to, if not already, middle-age, and has the means, ability, and the people in his life that affords him the ability to just take off whenever he feels like it to spend a week camping on an island or at a monastary, to just sit and think.  Kathy McAlpine makes the statement that she doesn’t have time to go off and think.  And I have to say this:  Where are the books where women just take off, leaving their children for weeks at a time with their fathers, so they can go listen to their inner voice? 

No Where.

Why?  Because we live in a society that, despite the lip-service of equality, that if Ken had been a Kendra, she would have been railed against as a bad mother who abandoned her kids to selfishly wander.  Mr. Kendra would have filed for divorce, and NOT wanted custody, so that Kendra would have had to either cart the kids around, (What a bad mother, not giving her kids a stable place to live) or leave them with someone (What a bad mother, she just dumps her kids and runs off). 

Okay, social rant is over.  In the interest of full disclosure, I hate Ken, too, and wish I could run off to an island and just sit and ponder, too. But, I still love the book, even if I am jealous. ;-)

I think Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine is a book that will stick with me for a while.  The Channel Islands are a beautiful place, and I recommend you take time to check out their website.  The Parks Department has put together an extensive, multimedia site with details of what’s being done to preserve as much of the indigenous species as possible, as well as the discovery of the best preserved and most complete fossilized remains of  a pygmy mastodon.

4 out of 5 stars

Motherhood From the Frontline

This was my “rainy day” post from BethFishRead’s Bloggiesta mini-challenge… Enjoy :-)

When it comes to children… especially when they’re your own and you can’t drive them out to the country and dump them because they know their addresses and how to get home… sometimes SANITY is a battle ground, and I feel like I’m battling them for it.  AND, I’m losing.

First off, the odds aren’t in my favor.  There are THREE of them and ONE of me.  Then you gotta add the 3 cats and the dog to that number, because they tease each other with the pets… “Look Maggie, your cat loves me more than you” wait for it “MOOOOOOOM!!!!  Maggie hit me!”  Well, the math adds up to 374 of them to the half-wit ME. 

Seriously, I used to have brains.  I did.  I once took the Mensa test and was well above the entry number.  My IQ, last I checked, is 168.  But see, that was before kids.  Nowadays, I’d be shocked if I could beat out a bunch of Broccoli in a game of Boggle.  My mom always said, “Insanity is hereditary… you get it from your kids!”  And the older they get, the more I realize she’s RIGHT.

I watched a program on PBS about negative emotions the other day… okay, I just watched a segment of the show while COPS was on commercial break, but still… and they said that negative emotions like stress and fear burn memories deeply into your psyche.  That’s why everyone remembers where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001, but few remember what they were doing on September 10th, the day before.  It is ALSO why my mom STILL remembers EVERYTHING I EVER did as a kid, and points out that “Paybacks are a BITCH!” whenever I’m word-vomitting what dastardly deeds the girls have been up to lately. 

Really, I began to understand what my actual role as a parent was when Sam and Gwen were about 7 and 8.  We had went to the mall and had stopped into the store where a friend worked.  Because I was engaged in adult conversation, and because I had taken longer than the generous minute and a half they allowed for such foolishness, the girls began to get antsy and started running around the store.  After a few loud rounds of “THWACK!  Mom!  She hit me!”, I made them sit in time out and confined each of them to their own tile square on the floor.  That I hadn’t set them far enough apart soon became evident when their arguing and tattling reached my ears.  And what were they fighting over now?  A piece of tracked in DIRT.  DIRT!  My darling dimpled dears were debating the ownership of a clod of DIRT!

So what role did I discover I was truly filling?

Wild animal handler.  I’m just here to make sure they don’t get loose and annoy the public.  I feed them, clean their cage and try to learn ‘em some manners, but mostly, I’m crowd control.

OH, and I used to hear or read the statistics that some parents only spend about 3 minutes of quality time conversing with their children and I’d think “How horrible!  What terrible and selfish parents can’t make time for their kids?!”  THEN I got teenagers and NOW I think, “GOOD GAWD!  3 minutes?!  They deserve an award!  At least a medal for bravery!”

Bloggiesta Progress Update #4

started at 7pm today

Pedro

Well, it’s been a busy day away from Bloggiesta today.  Mags and I went to eat at her favorite restaurant, The White House.  We read a bit of Fruits Basket volume 5, then went to the library for their showing of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.  It was a cute enough movie, but I wanted to leave more than once.  It’s just… IDK… childish? annoying?  I did, however, love the monkey, Steve, as well as the police officer who I think was voiced by Mr. T.  I had to laugh when I said, “Hey, that’s Mr. T!” and Maggie said, “Who?”  I remember a time when the answer would have been to either do my best “I pity da foo'”, or say “B.A. Baracus”, however today my answer was, “You know, the Night Elf Mohawk.”  Ooh, yeah… lol.  I picked up some books for The Welsh Reading Challenge, too, and then we were off to the grocery store for the ingredients for Taco Casserole, which I ended up NOT making because I was too dang tired.  We stopped at Hardee’s for an industrial sized cup of coffee for me and a hot chocolate for Mags.  We sat there and finished Fruits Basket, for which I’ll write a review and schedule it for later.

I’m hoping to manage to get at least 3 more mini-challenges done tonight before going to bed, and then hopefully finish them all tomorrow. 

AND I just realized the mini-challenges I did yesterday were from last Bloggiesta, but it’s all good.  I needed to do them, anyway.  I still want to get through them, too, but that doubles the amount of challenges… not sure I’ll get them all done in that case :-)

So first challenge tonight at Emily’s Reading Room.  It’s about setting up Google Alerts to keep track of trends in searching for topics to do with your blog.  Personally, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do for me, so I set up a couple with “The Kool-Aid Mom, thekoolaidmom, In the Shadow of Mt. TBR, Mt. TBR, and Welsh Reading Challenge”.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens.  According to @pussreboots and @bookladysblog, it also lets you know when the phrases you put in the alert are mentioned on the web, whether they link to you or not.

Next, I went to Books, movies, and Chinese Food‘s mini-challenge to create an elevator pitch for my blog.  Here’s what I came up with: 

In the Shadow of Mt. TBR is a fun and informative blog where The Kool-Aid Mom reviews books, posts humorous memes, occasionally rants, and has fits of ADD randomness.  Come on over and sit a spell in the shade, have a good laugh and contiue on your Web-browsing journey feeling refreshed!

Was kinda tough to write, but I’ll be surprised if I ever remember it when someone asks about my blog… lol.

For my third challenge this evening, I went to The Book Lady’s Blog Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Set Goals for 2010.  Rebecca has sooo many great ideas there, and my main goals that I’ve set for myself this year are:

  • Get back to posting daily, whether a review, meme, or random post.  I had gotten distracted by playing the computer games, and got out of the habit.
  • I plan to make a monthly reading plan and sticking to it.  I made one for January, but I’m already starting to whine and want to cheat… there’s just SoOoOOoo many good books out there!  But I really WANT to make the ARC-alanche pile disappear, so I’m staying with it.

Okay, so now I’m onto my fourth mini-challenge and that’s with Bookalicio.us’s Bloggiesta Mini Challenge:  Footers.  I caught some chatter about this one on Twitter last night and wanted to make sure I got it done.  To be honest, I’ve never done anything copyright related, so this is a completely new thing for me.

*tick-tock… time passes… spring, summer, fall, winter…I now have a headache…*  I don’t know how to do this stuff.  It looks like I have to pay for the copyright thing, and I can’t figure out how to do a footer.  I’ve looked all up and down the control panel in my dashboard, and I can’t find a thing to do a footer.  I can’t figure out how or where the plug-ing for it is, and even if I could, I think I tried to do some WP plug-in once before and found out I had to upgrade my account to use them.

I give up… I think I’ll go lie down and watched Stargate for a while.

***edit*** I added a Copyright widget, so I got it worked out.  I’m gonna do the feedburner, too.

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Title:  Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel

Author:  Janet Evanovich

Hardback:  149 pages

published:  2002

ISBN:  9780312306328

My name is Stephanie Plum and I’ve got a strange man in my kitchen.  He appeared out of nowhere.  One minute I was sipping coffee, mentally planning out my day.  and then the next minute… poof, there he was.

He was over six feet, with wavy blond hair pulled into a ponytail, deep-set brown eyes, and an athlete’s body.  He looked to be late twenties, maybe thirty.  He was dressed in jeans, boots, a grungy white thermal shirt hanging loose over the jeans, and a beat-up black leather jacket hanging on broad shoulders.  He was sporting two days of beard growth, and he didn’t look happy.

“Well, isn’t this perfect,” he said, clearly disgusted, hands on hips, taking me in.

-Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich, page 1

I took up this little book just before Christmas as part of my dash to the 75-book finish line.  It only took a couple hours to read it, and it was rather amusing.  It was a quick, light, and fun read for the holiday times.  Much like the chocolate chip cookies Mags and I made, I quickly devoured the whole thing and barely remembered it a couple hours later.  But I do remember the tickly-happy-treat feeling from both :-)

Okay, so it’s not an instant classic that speaks from our generation to all generations (HaHa.. if you’ve ever read a Plum novel, that will be about the funniest joke you’ve read lately), but it’s still fun.  And since it was written later than the earlier books, the characters are much more developed than those in my most recent Plum foray, Three to Get Deadly.  Also, this is the book that introduces the read to Diesel, the third member in Stephanie hunk-buffet. 

The book opens up with Diesel popping into Stephanie’s kitchen, telling her he’s been assigned to her to teach her Christmas cheer.  He accompanies her as she tries to bring in Sandy Claws… sounds like a criminal caught stealing truckloads of cat litter, right?  LOL…  who is  a toymaker hiring elves to handmake product in a wharehouse converted from a daycare (hence the need for elves, as the potties and other equipment are just the right size).  Stephanie’s divorced and formerly-perfect sister has moved back in with mom and dad, and has found out she’s pregnant by her less-than-stellar boyfriend (who faints).  Add to all of this, Grandma Mazur has a new studmuffin, and there’s a supervillain with electrical powers trying to kill them.  It all adds up for some absolute craziness.

While I found it a fun and quit book, the super powers stuff kind of irked me.  Honestly, I felt it was a bit of cheating on Evanovich’s part.  I’ve always enjoyed the mystery-book aspect of the Plum books, but reaching for the paranormal makes me wonder if the next book will have aliens and spaceships to chase down her FTA’s on.

It’s quick, it’s fun, but it stretches credulity, so I’m giving Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich 3 out of 5 stars.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

Title:  Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar… Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

Authors:  Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein

Paperback:  196 pages

published:  2008

ISBN:  9780143113874

An Irishman walks into a Dublin bar, orders three pints of Guinness, and drinks them down, taking a sip from one, then a sip from the next, until they’re gone.  He then orders three more.  The bartender says, “You know, they’d be less likely to go flat if you bought them one at a time.”

The man says, “Yeah, I know, but I have two brothers, one in the States, one in Australia.  When we all went our seperate ways, we promised each other that we’d all drink this way in memory of the days when we drank together.  Each of these is for one of my brothers and the third is for me.”

The bartender is touched, and says, “What a great custom!”

The Irishman becomes a regular in the bar and always orders the same way.

One day he comes in and orders two pints.  The other regulars notice, and a silence falls over the bar.  When he comes to the bar for his second round, the bartender says, “Please accept my condolences, pal.”

The Irishman says, “Oh, no, everyone’s fine.  I just joined the Mormon Church, and I had to quit drinking.”

-“Illogical Reasoning,” Plato and a Platypus Walks into a Bar… by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, page 29

In Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar… by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein the authors use jokes to illustrate a wide variety of philosophical schools of thought.  Sometimes they do it with great intelligence and deftness, sometimes not so much.  Most of the jokes are quite funny, with an occasional belly-buster, but some do fall a little flat.

But the jokes are only a vehicle for the authors to open the door for the layman to understand different philosophical thoughts.  For the most part, they are successful in this venture, but there are a few sections which I didn’t understand any better after reading them than I did before.  Overall, however, the book seems to be meant only to introduce the reader to philosophy, leaving it to them to explore different concepts on their own. 

Two cows are standing in the pasture.  One turns to the other and says, “Although pi is usually abbreviated to five numbers, it actually goes on into infinity.”

The second cow turns to the first and says, “Moo.” -“Metaphysics,” page 20

What this book really accomplishes is make philosophy accessable to readers who have had little to no exposure to it.  After reading, I also want to look into some of the philosophers mentioned in this book.  For readability and for inspiring me to get MORE books, I give Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar… by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein 4 out of 5 stars.

An eighty-year-old woman bursts into the men’s day-room at the retirement home.  She holds her clenched fist in the air and announces, “Anyone who can guess what I have in my hand can have sex with me tonight!”

An old man in the back shouts, “An elephant?”

The woman thinks for a moment and says, “Close enough!” -“Philosophy of Language,” page 141

By the way, the website is pretty cool, as well.  You can watch videos as well as take tests and read the authors’ latest news.  Check out Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar… the website.

Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich

Title:  Three to Get Deadly:  A Stephanie Plum Novel

Author:  Janet Evanovich

Paperback:  321 pages

published:  1997

ISBN:  0312966091

“You’re ruining everything,” Stuart said to me.  “Why can’t you leave me alone?  Who’s going to be Mr. Cluck if you take me in?”

I pulled the cuffs out of my pocket.  “Don’t give me a hard time, Stuart.”

“You can’t put cuffs on Mr. Cluck!”  Stuart said.  “What will all these kids think?”

“Wouldn’t get my hopes up that they’d give a hello,” Lula said.  “Isn’t like you’re Santa Claus.  Truth is, you’re just some whiny little guy dressed up in a bad suit.”

“This isn’t a big deal,” I said to Stuart as calmly as possible.  “I’m going to cuff you and walk you out the door, and if we do it quickly and quietly no one will notice.”

I reached out to snap the cuffs on Stuart, and he batted me away with his chicken wing.  “Leave me alone,” Stuart said, knocking the cuffs out of my hand, sending them sailing across the room.  “I’m not going to jail!”  He grabbed the mustard and the special-sauce squirters off the condiment counter.  “Stand back!” he said.

I had pepper spray and a stun gun, but it seemed like the excessive force to use them against a chicken armed with special sauce.

-Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich, page 236

In this third book of Evonovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, Stephanie back in the Buick, even though she tried to replace it with a cute little truck that spends more time in the shop than on the road.  She’s caught what she’d thought was a couple easy skips, but have turned out to be like trying to find Jimmy Hoffa and capturing Dilinger.  What’s worse, Morelli is treating her diffidently, while Ranger seems to be a superhero, and Grandma Mazur keeps bringing men over (her studmuffins) who seem to want to move in with the family (some have all their original parts, while others plop their replacement parts on the dinner table while eating).  If that’s not bad enough, Stephanie gets a bad dye job making her look like Ronald McDonald’s Jersey cousin.  It’s all very hilarious and quite a fun read.

I give Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  It’s not the best Plum, but still quite fun to read. (Wow, that was about the shortest review EVER!.. at least, for me.)

Friday Fill-Ins ~ If We Get Dee-vorced, Is We Still Cousins?

Serendipity
Graphic courtesy of Tonya!

And…here we go!

1. She had a great uncle who was married to his half-cousin who was the daughter of her uncle who was the brother of her mother until they were divorced, and now the entrance to the family reunions are guarded by a metal detector.

2. My left hip is by my side, always.

3. I know this: Shellacked moose turds are NOT my idea earring and necklace pendants (They really sell them in Alaska, my sister showed me some).

4. I got up to go to the bathroom, stopped to check if the Friday Fill-Ins were up yet, and I have to pee still.

5. These words apply to me: inca, dinka, doo and nee… but I turn down their application because they make absolutely no sense.

6. The sun was shining on the sea, shining with all his might: He did his very best to make the billows smooth and bright– and this was odd, because it was the middle of the night.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to going to the library and watching Inkheart, Sammi getting leaving to spend July with her dad, me going to Maggie’s VBS program, finishing Water for Elephants and writing the review, tomorrow my plans include taking Mags and Gwen out to lunch and finishing reading Something Beyond Greatness and Sunday, I want to go to church (we missed last week) and vegging out in front of the TV… or doing what our Pastor always says, “Fellowshipin’ with Pastor Pillow and Sister Sheets… can I get an ‘Amen!’ :-D!

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

landing_LLTitle:  The Last Lecture

Author:  Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

Hardcover:  207 pages

ISBN:  9781401323257

Brick walls are there for a reason.  They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

Grab your box of Kleenex because you’re gonna cry, most of the time they’ll be tears of laughter, but some of them will be from heart ache.  OH! and  Don’t forget the pen and paper, because you’ll want to take notes.  Professor Pausch is taking the stage for The Last Lecture.

Pausch covers the elephant in the room in his opening paragraphs:

I have an engineering problem.  While for the most part I’m in terrific physical shape, I have ten tumors in my liver and I  have only a few months left to live.

I am a father of three young children, and married to the woman of my dreams.  While I could easily feel sorry for myself, that wouldn’t do them, or me, any good.

So many things in this book are deeply inspirational, and that’s no surprise; he’s dying from cancer and that’s given him a chance to step back and say, “What legacy am I leaving?”  Much of them are simple concepts like, “Tell the truth, it’s not only morally right but efficient.”  Some are more profound like, “one customer-service decision over a ten-dollar salt and pepper shaker [ended] up earning Disney more than $100,000.”  But all of them are worth saving, writing down, reciting, and implementing, because Randy Pausch lived a life that saw almost all of his childhood dreams come true.

My Childhood Dreams

  • Being in zero gravity
  • Playing in the NFL
  • Authoring an article in the World Book encyclopedia
  • Being Captain Kirk
  • Winning stuffed animals
  • Being a Disney Imagineer

My mom turned me onto this book a couple weeks ago when I was telling her about whatever book I was reading, and she told me she’d just read a really great book.  Now, my mom doesn’t say a book is great very often… in fact, a lot of the time, they barely make much of a blip on her radar.  I’m not saying she’s a picky reader or critical, but when she ONE remembers a book and talks about it and TWO applies the “great” stamp to it, it’s a book guaranteed worth reading.

And I was definitely NOT disappointed.  The copy I have came from the library, but I will be buying my own copy.  I wish I could keep this one though… it smells lovely, reminiscent of the Viewfinder we played with when we were kids :-)

Send Out Thin Mints

As part of my responsibilities, I used to be an academic reviewer.  That meant I’d have to ask other professors to read densely written research papers and review them.  It could be tedious, sleep inducing work.  So I came up with an idea.  I’d send a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints with every paper that needed reviewed.  “Thank you for agreeing to do this,” I’d write.  “The enclosed Thin Mints are your reward.  But no fair eating them until you review the paper.”

… I’ve found Thin Mints are a great communication tool.  THey’re also a sweet reward for a job well done.

Okay, so… Publishers and authors:  I now expect Thin Mints with each book you’re wanting reviewed :-D  It was worth a try!  Chapter 55 says, “Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

Long and short of it:  The Last Lecture is full of common sense, community sense, wisdom that is worth reading and re-reading.  It’d make a great belated Father’s Day present, or a gift to anyone, including yourself.  I give The Last Lecture  by Randy Pausch 5 out of 5 stars.

You can watch Randy’s Last Lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” which was the genesis of this book, it’s an hour and 16 minutes long and worth it :-)

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