The Sunday Salon ~ Jane Austen and Henry III in a throw down… who’d win?

The Sunday Salon.com

Read.  Read read read read read.  and then Read some more.  Having been distracted by life and video games, it would seem that the end of the year has snuck up on me.. again.  This is very familiar.  It seems that I was racing to the end of the year last December, as well, only Second Life was my distractor then… World of Warcraft has done it this year (the facebook games don’t help, either).  But I think I’ll make the 75-book goal this year.  I’ve already read more this year than last.  I ended with 63 last year, but I’ve read 71 already, and with only eleven more days to go, I’m confident I’ll hit 75.

This week I finished three books ~

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the fifth of the sixth Jane Austen novels.  Though it was written first, it was published, posthumously, next to last.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have to admit that it’s my new Austen favorite.  I crushed harder on Henry Tilney than I did on Mr. Darcy, and that’s saying something.  Tilney has a bit of an edge over Darcy… Henry is actually a nice person, as well as being funny and smart.  Darcy, while sweet in his private way, was a bit of an ass.  I guess that went along well with Elizabeth, since she liked to jump to conclusions and was a bit proud herself, but it did a little to put one off.  Of course, the ingenue.. the innocent, country flower.. who is a blank slate and, therefore, non-threatening to Tilney’s intellectual authority, ready and willing to be molded by him, which suits his fancy, I think. 

All in all, I enjoyed Austen’s wit and sarcasm, as well as her parody of Gothic novels of her day.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a humorous walk through many schools of philosophy.  The authors, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, use jokes to illustrate what each school of thought is about.  Like with Teleology, the philosophy that all things exist for a purpose, one joke used to illustrate this is:

Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren.  A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.  She replied, “The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.”

I also finished my appointment read, Three to Get Deadly, the third book in the Stephanie Plum numbers series by Janet Evanovich.  I’d been missing Stephanie lately, so I picked this, the next in the series for me, up to read when I was away from home.  I learned an important lesson with it.  Just because a book can fit in your coat pocket doesn’t mean it’s a good appointment book.  By the time I’d gotten to the end of the book, I’d forgotten some of the beginning.  Also, it lost a bit of it’s momentum this way.  In the future, I think I’ll stick to short stories for appointment books.

I’ll write up real reviews for these books later this week… I hope.  I’ve already jumped into my next book, and I’m about 40 pages in it already.  Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second of the Dune series.  I read the first book earlier this year, and I was in the mood for a good sci-fi book, so I picked this up.  I had forgotten how fascinating and fantastic the first book had been, and the second book is, so far, every bit as good.  It is also, however, as much a thinking book as the first.  My brain hurts after a while.   Trying to picture Edric, the fishy-humanoid Guildsman in his tank… picturing the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale manipulate his physical body to be one form one second, then turn into the ghola version of Duncan Idaho (also a mind-bender of a thought), then back again… it’s all an exercising of my imagination muscles… both enjoyable and tiring at the same time.

Reading may be a little easier to do here… but I won’t guarantee it.  Sam, my oldest, has gone to her dad’s for the two-week vacation, and Gwen will go closer to Christmas day, but only stay gone for a week.  Maggie, however, will be here throughout, as her dad has moved back to town.  She’s happy about this, but it has it’s downside, too.  He’s here more, which means he’s nit-picking about my housekeeping more… which means less time to read.   And it means that he no longer needs to take her home with him to spend time, since he can see her whenever he wants. 

LOL.. the remainder of my reading may be Magic Treehouse books with Maggie.

I’ve been watching the Tudors, also.  I got hooked on it when I was sick with the flu last month.  I watched Seasons 1 and 2 straight through on Netflix’s Instant thing.  When the third season came out on DVD this past week, it was on the top of my queue.  I watched the first two discs last night, but I’ll have to wait for the third to come on Monday.  Watching it reminds me how we tend to judge history with modern day values.  Henry VIII was quite a tyrant through 21st century eyes, but was he all that bad or different in his own time-frame?  Sure, he had the north of England hung without trial for rebellion, but the Catholic Church had the Inquisition.  I suppose it all balances out.

I have to admit to a bit of cheating.  I had forgotten which wife Henry took after Jane, so I watched this video.  Now the rest of this season’s lost all suspense for me! 

Happy Reading and have a safe and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Heads or Tails, My Stapler, Knives and Nukes, and Much, Much More!

Once upon a time, there was a meme enjoyed by LibraryThingers called “TuesdayThingers”.  It was hosted by Marie, the Boston Bibliophile, and played on Tuesdays, naturally.  The Kool-Aid Mom was one of the many, many bloggers who loved playing along, and looked forward to Tuesdays, stalking Marie’s blog around midnight every Tuesday so that she could jump on the question and post her answer with great relish.

Thenone day, The Kool-Aid Mom was tempted away from her home in Mt. TBR and the blogosphere by the deceptively addictive virtual world of SecondLife.  Before she knew it, months had gone by, her fellow bloggers were emailing their concerns for her welfare.  Was she still alive?  Was she alright?  Her brief, random and sporadic posts always received comments of deep relief that she was still in the land of the living.

When she received an email from a stranger offering her a free book to read and review, there was something about his book that rang true within her, and she could not resist accepting his offer of Matrimony.  What The Kool-Aid Mom did not realize, though, was that the book contain a magical spell that broke the enchantments SL have woven around her.

Suddenly, everything was clear!  Her eyes were opened to the long months wasted in SLumber  under the wizard LindenLab’s evil spell.  The Kool-Aid Mom was grateful to the wise author, Joshua Henkin, for her rescue, and gave his book a glowing review, including it in her Top 10 list in the sidebar.

However, as she settled back into reading, blogging and memes, she was stricken to find Marie no longer hosted her beloved TuesdayThingers.  She became even more dismayed when she couldn’t find where it had moved to.  Who is hosting TuesdayThingers now? The Kool-Aid Mom wondered, but to this day, it still remains a mystery to her.

The End

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Since I’ve lost track of who’s hosting TuesdayThingers now, I visited The Daily Meme to see what might be out there for what is possibly the longest day of the week.  So far from either weekend, Tuesday’s doesn’t have the misery of Monday when everyone goes back to the salt mines, nor does it have the glamour of being dubbed “hump” day, like Wednesday.  Thursday is practically Friday, but Tuesday is just…. *sigh*… Tuesday.

TBH, I’m still pooped from the read-a-thon, and the grey and rainy sky is NOT helping in my quest to stay awake and read.  I have a little bit more than 1/3 left in Marked, which I really should’ve been able to finish Sunday, but I haven’t been able to string two thoughts together in a straight, cogent line.  I want my brain back! lol…

So for today, I found a couple Tuesday memes to play:  Heads or Tails and Ten on Tuesday.

First up, Heads or Tails:

The theme/prompt for today, April 21, is:

TAILS - “Once upon a time”

 

Make a post using the prompt “Once upon a time.” It can be a real story or idea that you want to start that way, a fairy tale of your own, etc. (Remember this is TAILS so your post needs to start with “Once upon a time.”)

This one was covered by the first part of this post since the rules are the post had to start with “Once upon a time” ;-)

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Ten on Tuesday ~ Ever watched a movie that got bad reviews, or didn’t do well at the box office and think to yourself, “Man, this should have been a HIT!!!”?

okay, the whole concept of whether a movie got bad reviews or lost money is lost on me, as I don’t listen to the “movie critics” or watch the financials for the film industry.  So, I think what I’ll do with this is just list the top TEN movies I’ve loved, but never hear people talk about or they say, “Huh?” when I do.

  1. Anything by Tyler Perry.  Period.  More specifically, though, I think Madea’s Family Reunion has been my favorite so far, but that’s probably only because I haven’t seen Madea Goes to Jail yet, or because he hasn’t made a movie of Madea’s Class Reunion yet, either, which is the play where Madea suddenly realizes Mr. Brown is Cora’s daddy :-D  FUNNY!
  2. Music of the Heart~ Mags and I just watched this last night and loved it!  It’s the true story of Roberta Guaspari and her violin classes in the East Harlem school system.  Sweet, funny, and moving, it was also a movie that was a conversation starter as Maggie talked at length about her own music teacher… particularly during the scenes where Roberta bit the kids’ heads off. 
  3. (*shaking my head, thinking about Madea and Dr. Phil going head to head…* I have to see that movie!) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ~ Okay, I think the only reason this movie tanked is because people seem to be growing illiterate in this country.  If it wasn’t in Capt. Underwear or Gossip Girls, then it was never a book, so obviously this movie was completely lost on them.  *growls in bitter frustration…*
  4. *singing… Go, go, go… Go! GO! Speed Racer!  What was not to love with this movie?  Racing action; cool, futuristic cars; a monkey and a little brother;  Jack, er I mean, Matthew Fox as Racer X…  The cinematography was awesome, and it remained incredibly anime-like, even though it was real people. 
  5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show~ Cult classic, panned by the critics…. Dammit, Janet!  Do the Time Warp!  Few movies encourage audience-participation, or at least not to the extent of TRHPS.  And, though I’ve seen the movie, I’m still a “virgin” as far as going to an event.  I seriously doubt it’ll ever be shown here, in my little small-town two-screen theater.  Come on, the man didn’t even get Twilight.
  6. The Rundown~ The ROCK… nuf said.
  7. Office Space ~ I believe you have my stapler, Michael Bolton.
  8. Super Troopers ~ Cat Game, seriously.  If for no other reason, I’d watch it for The Cat Game.  *Foster and Mac have pulled a man over for speeding and are deciding what game to play*
    Mac: All right, how about “Cat Game?”
    Foster: Cat Game? What’s the record?
    Mac: Thorny did six, but I think you can do ten.
    Foster: Ten? Starting right ‘meow?’
    [Mac laughs - they walk up to the car, and Foster taps on the driver side]
    Larry Johnson: Sorry about the…
    Foster: All right meow. (1) Hand over your license and registration.
    [the man hands him his license]
    Foster: Your registration? Hurry up meow. (2)
    [Mac ticks off two fingers]
    Larry Johnson: Sorry.
    [the man laughs a little]
    Foster: Is there something funny here boy?
    Larry Johnson: Oh, no.
    Foster: Then why you laughing, Mister… Larry Johnson?
    [pause]
    Foster: All right meow, (3) where were we?
    Larry Johnson: Excuse me, are you saying meow?
    Foster: Am I saying meow?
    [Mac puts his hands up for the fourth one, but makes an "eehhh" facial expression, as he is considering the last one]
    Larry Johnson: I thought…
    Foster: Don’t think boy. Meow, (4) do you know how fast you were going?
    [man laughs]
    Foster: Meow. (5) What is so damn funny?
    Larry Johnson: I could have sworn you said meow.
    Foster: Do I look like a cat to you, boy? Am I jumpin’ around all nimbly bimbly from tree to tree?
    [Mac is gut-busting laughing]
    Foster: Am I drinking milk from a saucer?
    [feigned anger]
    Foster: Do you see me eating mice?
    Foster: [Mac and the man are laughing their heads off now] You stop laughing right meow! (6)
    Larry Johnson: [the man stops and swallows hard] Yes sir.
    Foster: Meow, (7) I’m gonna have to give you a ticket on this one. No buts meow. (8) It’s the law.
    [rips off the ticket and hands it to the man]
    Foster: Not so funny meow, (9) is it?
    Foster: [Foster gets up to leave, but Mac shakes his hands at him, indicating only nine meows] Meow!
  9. Starship Troopers ~ ROFL…  What goods’ a knife in a nuke fight? All you have to do is press a button… 
  10. Jack the Bear~ I bawl every time I watch this movie.  Danny DeVito plays a single dad of two young boys.  He’s a local late-night TV celebrity, hosting horror movies, Sammy Terry style.  Gary Sinese plays a neo-Nazi in it, and if I had nightmares, his character would be the boogeyman in them.

Okay, so I cheated a little with Rocky Horror… I don’t know many people who say “Huh?” to that one, but it did get panned, critically.

So, what’s your favorite dissed movies?

Read-a-Thon ~ I Can Now Be a Villian :-D

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YaY! I just finished How to Be a Villian by Neil Zawacki. At the back of the book there’s a template called an Evil Plan Generator, and I thought it’d be fun to post mine here.

Now, my Sinister Name worked out as: Countess Carnal Fury

My Evil Plan is:

Stage One:

To begin, I must first _seduce_ _the Chosen One_. This will cause the world to _whisper among themselves_, _amazed_ by my arrival. Who is this _Destroyer of All That is Good and Nice_? Where did she come from? And why does she look so frightening in that _dominatrix outfit_?

Stage Two:

Next, I must _steal_ _that Opera House in Sydney_. This will all be done from my _Underground Secret Headquarters of Doom_ , a mysterious place of unrivaled dark glory. Upon seeing this, the world will _weep uncontrollably_ , as countless hordes of _Demented Clowns_ hasten to do my every bidding.

Stage Three:

Finally, I must _tauntingly wave_ my _Needlessly Big Weather Machine_ , bringing about _something really, really bad_ . My name shall become synonymous with _fuzzy bunnies_ , and no man will ever again dare _interrupt my sentences_ . Everyone will bow before my _mystical abilities_ , and the world will have no choice but to _restore my credit rating_.

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It was a fun book, and I’ll post a review tomorrow or Monday. For today, more reading! :-D Next, I’m going to read Marked by P. C. Cast. It’s the first book in the House of Night series. It’s a book about a boarding school for the training of teenage vampyres. Coincidently, I talked to a good friend of mine last night, and she started telling me about a book series she was into at the moment, and when I asked her what it was called, she said “House of Night.” I thought that was really cool, since I was planning to read Marked today ;-) Then again, she’s really into vamps (she’s my SL vamp clan’s Queen, in fact), so I shouldn’t be too surprised.

*sigh*… peace and quiet’s over, Gwen’s home and wants to tell me everything that was wrong with my demented idea of sending her to the Y.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who said they love my RaT button :-D It was fun making it, too ;-)

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ just starting

The Sunday Salon ~ I’m Loadin’ Up the ARCs for April!

The Sunday Salon.com

Good Morning and Happy Sunday everyone :-D

I’ve been busy reading and working hard to catch up with myself, and I’ve finally managed to be on track to accomplish my goal of 75 books by December 31st. I’m even a little ahead with 21% of my reading complete while there’s only 19% of the year spent. I read Wuthering Heights, The Appeal, Heart-Shaped Box, and Derailed this past week, and started The Book Thief Saturday evening. I doubt I’ll be breaking any reading records this week, though, since I have two dentist appointments, a choir concert, and a school meeting to go to, not to mention a serious need for spring cleaning, laundry, gardening, dishes and spring cleaning. I hope to at least get through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, though.

All this frenzied reading, though, has made me remember all the ARCs and other books I’ve committed to reviewing… about 35 books. I dug them all out of Mt. TBR today and stack them in the Books on Deck shelf which is now making me a little claustrophobic sitting between the two: Imposing and collapsing Mt. TBR to my left and towering and condemning Books on Deck to my right. My plan is to declare April as ARC month… and probably May and half of June, too. I’ve been feeling a bit irresponsible with all those books just sitting around and waiting on me to fulfill my committment. And now I feel a bit better.

So, should I thoroughly shame myself by posting the list of the books I owe reviews for? Books that have been sitting on Mt. TBR, gathering dust, and being passed over and forgotten?

*sigh* full-disclosure and acknowledging my problem and all that, in no particular order:
1. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland ~this is an LT ER book, and I can’t remember when I got it.
2. Memoirs of a Fortune Teller and Vigilante Witch Hunter by Gary Turcotte. I received these books recently, and the second is the sequel book to the first.
3. An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
4. The Tutu Ballet by Sally O. Lee ~ETA finished and reviewed :-)
5. Mischief Maker’s Manual by Sir John Hargrave
6. The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal. This is an unbound galley I received after a cold request. I have trouble in and of myself with an unbound galley, like it’s not a real book. Anyone else have that problem?
7. Stealing Athena by Karen Essex. Yes, I really HAVE had it THAT long.
8. The Power Makers by Maury Klein
9. I, Robot by Howard S. Smith
10. The Spirit of the Place by Samuel Shem. What? I thought I read that one…
11. The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman
12. Surviving Ben’s Suicide by C. Comfort Shields
13. Guernica by Dave Boling
14. So Long at the Fair by Christina Schwarz. I don’t think I got this book in lieu of a review, I think I won in on a blog contest.
15. First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader.
16. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
17. The Art of Listening by Seth Barnes
18. Operation Blue Light by Phillip Chabot
19. When a Man Loves a Woman by LaConnie Taylor-Jones
20. My Father’s Paradise by Ariel Sabar
21. Shadow of Colossus by T. L. Higley
22. Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi
23. Schooled by Anisha Lakhani
24. The Mysterious Receding Seas by Richard Guy
25. The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti . Yes, like I said… I have had them THAT long… I’m a bad, bad kitty.
26. Red Letters by Tom Davis
27. Blue Genes by Christopher Lukas
28. The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis
29. Swimming With Strangers by Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum
30. Forbidden Tales: Sword by Da Chen
31. The Icy Hand: Something Wickedly Wierd vol 2 by Chris Mould -finished and reviewed ;-)
32. The Terminal Spy by Alan S. Cowell
33. Nation by Terry Pratchett
34. The Organ Grinder and the Monkey by Sam Moffie
35. Last Night I Dreamed of Peace by Dang Thuy Tram

ok… I think that’s it… for now… but I know I have a few more on the way. SO… any suggestions on how to organize this list? Any books I should read right away? Were there any that you particualarly liked or wanted to know about? HELP ME!!!! :-p

TSS -Mad Dash for the Finish Line!

The Sunday Salon.com

Happy Sunday! and Merry (almost) Christmas :-)

I have been a readin’ fool this week; I’m trying to reach my goal of 75 books by December 31st. I’ve really made progress this past week, but I’ve also been busy on Second Life, as well. I could probablyget more read if I stayed off SL, but I need balance between the two loves. At any rate, the following books were read and reviewed on Mt. TBR this week:

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil GaimanI am blown away by Gaiman’s ability to weave magic throughout his writing. A master at creating art, the pages of a book are his canvas and words his medium. I will definitely be reading more Gaiman in the new year!

Robot Dreamsby Sara Varon A very cute and touching graphic novel that tells a story of Dog and Robot without words. Great for a family of all ages to share, Robot Dreams shows the fragile and organic nature of friendships and relationships.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Unionby Michael Chabon  In this murder mystery, Chabon uses an alternate timeline to mix Jewish culture with the Arctic setting of Sitka, Alaska. Landsman is a maverick detective with personality failings and quirks, i.e. an alcoholic afraid of the dark. Yiddish Policemen’s is a story of the love children have for their fathers, and how age never dims their desire for their fathers’ acceptance and love.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis  Last of the Narnias to be written, Lewis intended The Magician’s Nephew to be read first. It gives the background of the events to take place in the most widely known Narnia book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, I think I enjoyed reading it better having read the latter first.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis  The most widely known and read of all the Narnia tales, this book is one of my all-time favorites. This is the fourth time I’ve read it, not to mention having watched both the BBC TV production and the Disney movie version several times. Written as a Christian allegory of the work of Salvation, this story is still enjoyable without that as a reader’s focus.

Besides reading these books, I’ve also launched a second BookBucks Giveaway. After receiving a disconcerting email from Joshua Henkin about the potential narrowing of new book selection due to the decline in publishing profits, I wondered what I could do to bring this concern to more people. And what brings more people in than free money? Don’t forget to sign up for your chance to win a $25, $15, $10, and $5 gift card to your choice of Borders, Amazon or Barnes & Nobles!

In the coming week my plans for reading are: The remaining five Narnia books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, Brisingr(the third book in The Inheritance cycle) by Christopher Paolini, The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak, and Visions of Sugar Plums(Stephanie Plum Christmas novel) by Janet Evanovich. I also plan on finishing the books I’ve started but not completed this year: A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeline l’Engle, Bed, Bath and Beyond by J. D. Warren, and How to Be a Villianby Neil Zawacki. Okay, even without the kids here, this may be an ambitious list… lol.

As to Second Life, my vampire clan has split again and this time I’ve gone with the new family. Chosen Immortal is everything Treasured Vamps was suppose to be but has lost their way and become more about numbers, titles and politics. I’ve also moved from my old apartment to a floor in a friend’s castle. I’ve gained more space at about a tenth of the cost. I’m also going to be selling pictures and other things at a friend’s store, C&C’s Designs.

AND… due to an accidental purchase of a pregnancy pack, my avatar is now expecting. A $1500L mistake, I figured I’d just go ahead and use it… hate to spend the money and then throw it away. Currently, the little one’s name is “Mommy’s li’l Oops!”. It’s a boy (I have three girls in real life, by golly I’m having a boy this time ;-) ), and I’m not sure what to name him. Since BF is a werewolf, I had a half a thought to name him “Wolf”… lol… last name “Blitzstein”… That’s funny, because, unthinking, I made a comment the name “Wolf” worked well for the newsman Wolf Blitzer. Hahaha!

The Sunday Salon.com

Well, I missed last week’s Salon, and finishing Breaking Dawntook a bit longer than I had anticipated… like 10 days longer; it was an exercise in self-torture and perseverance. I wanted to finish before my boyfriend, but I think we both finished the same night, and I’m not sure who read “THE END” first. You can read my review here.

One of the things disappearing in Second Life for a few months has done is rob me of the time to comfortably achieve my reading goal of 75 books for the year by December 31st. After Breaking Dawn, I had 19 books to go… it’s a seemingly impossible goal to achieve; it works out to one book every day and a half. So I’ve been piling headlong into this insurmountable quota. It’s my goal, set by me, and if I miss it I’ve only got myself to answer to. But still, it chafes a bit that I might NOT make it. I have every intention to meeting this goal if I go blind in the process.

For that reason, my next book was Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr. A short 125 pages with a lot of illustrations, this cute little book took a little over 2 hours to finish. Maggie looked it up at her school to see if it’s an Accelerated Reader book, which it is, so I’ll be reading it a second time with her next week ;-) . You can read my review for Nim’s Island here.

I finally returned to my Viral Video Wednesday post, this week posting music videos. The concept was “If there was a soundtrack to your life, what songs would be on it?” I listed mine, along with my reasons for them in a brief history of my life, which included songs like “Crawling” by Linkin Park, “The Unforgiven” by Metallica, “Wonderful, Merciful Saviour” by Selah, Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten” as sung by Team Lachey, and Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love”, among others. Personally, I thought it is a story of triumph and resilience, but it would seem that it was more depressing than joyous, inspiring pity. I apologize to those of you who found it more of a downer than a sharing of my life and recovery. You can check out this week’s Viral Video Wednesday here, if you dare.

I tried hard to finish Fragile Thingsby Neil Gaiman by Thursday to hit that one book per each day and a half quota, but didn’t quite make it. So I finished a book Maggie and I had been slowly working on for the last month or so. Vampire Kisses Blood Relatives, vol 2 by Ellen Schreiber was my first experience in Manga. It’s an interesting and by no means a small genre of reading material. Manga covers any subject matter and age group that books of text cover, only they do it with graphic art panels and thought and speech bubbles. You can read <my review of Vampire Kisses Blood Relatives, vol 2 here.

I did finish Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wonders by Neil Gaiman today. I really loved this book, and read the two poems I posted in the review, plus the short story “Other People”… making that my fourth time reading it… to my boyfriend. I remembered another short entry (not written in verse form, but feels like poetry nonetheless) that I liked in it a while ago. It’s called “In the End”:

IN THE END

In the end, the Lord gave Mankind the world. All the world was Man’s, save for one garden. This is my garden, said the Lord, and here you shall not enter.

There was a man and woman who came to the garden, and their names were Earth and Breath.

They had with them a small fruit which the Man carried, and when they arrived at the gate to the garden, the Man gave the fruit to the Woman, and the Woman gave the fruit to the Serpent with the flaming sword who guarded the Eastern Gate.

And the Serpent took the fruit and placed it upon a tree in the center of the garden.

Then Earth and Breath knew their clothedness, and removed their garments, one by one, until they were naked; and when the Lord walked through the garden he saw the man and the woman, who no longer knew good from evil, but were satisfied, and He saw it was good.

Then the Lord opened the gates and gave Mankind the garden, and the Serpent raised up, and it walked away proudly on four strong legs; and where it went none but the Lord can say.

And after that there was nothing but silence in the Garden, save for the occasional sound of the man taking away its name from another animal.

-Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wondersby Neil Gaiman, “The End” page 233.

You can read my review of Fragile Things here.

I started reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon today, and hope to finish and post the review tomorrow. I’m about 70 pages in and am enjoying it so far. It’s an alternate timeline in which Sitka, Alaska became the interim Jewish homeland after the fall of the State of Israel after three months of independence. The book opens with a murder, a messed up homicide detective, and the stress of the reversion of the Federal District of Sitka to the state of Alaska.

Unfortunately, though, I may not be able to finish it tomorrow… Second Life has made a claim to my time tomorrow, as a SL friend is getting married there and I’m a bridesmaid. Busy, busy, busy!

Viral Video Wednesday – The Soundtrack of My Life?

So, getting back into the habit of reading and blogging have been a little slow going. I’ve been a little here and a little there, but no where specific. Reading some, blogging occasionally, exploring Netflix, and raiding Rhapsody for all those wonderful songs I heard at the Second Life clubs. Interestingly enough, I haven’t logged into Second Life for over a week ;-) .

Oh, and to answer Unfinishedperson‘s question for info on Second Life: “Now about this Second Life? What is it? And how do I find out more?” Though it goes against my better judgment to share such access to something so addictive, I figure y’all could Google it anyway so here’s the long and short of what it is: It’s a virtual world in which you can be whoever, or whatever, you want to be… be it Vampire, Werewolf, furry or Neko (I’m a Neko Vampire, and BF is a Dragon-Werewolf). You can fly, teleport, own cars, houses and land, have a business, have.. ahem, physical relationships… marry and even be pregnant and have children (some people live their Second Life aschildren). It’s free to join and has a lot of freebie things, some good and some not so much, but you may find a need for cash (Lindens after SL’s creator Tory Linden), in which case you can camp (hang out in a club or other place of business and get paid for it), enter contests (usually a themed contest like “Best Neko”… which I usually win :-D ), play the sploders (a kind of pinata that gives out money instead of candy), you can even get a >gasp< job. There is also the option of buying Lindens with cash from your credit card or paypal acct ($20 US = aprox $5200 L ). You can find out more and even sign up for your free acct at their website: Secondlife.com. Use this link to join and I’ll get some Lindens for referin’ ya! ;-)

And NOW… for the videos…

I’ve really missed doing Viral Video Wednesdays… lol… I’ve missed watchingthe viral videos, too. And since I’ve been deep into loading my new MP3 player with excercisable music that I love, as well as grabbing all those songs I’ve been missing without Second Life, I though a Music Video Wednesday would be fun.

I’ve often heard people ask, “If there was a soundtrack for your life, what songs would be on it?” So today I’m going to answer this question with the music videos.

First off, if you follow my blog and have read my posts, I have mentioned some of the things I went through growing up. One line explanation, I was sexually and emotionally abused my my father. So, track one of my soundtrack is “Wonderful” by Everclear:

As you can imagine, I struggled with depression, self-esteem problems. When Metallica’s “The Unforgiven” came out, it was the song of my soul for a long time. Even now, I still struggle with not being completely myself, instead being just the parts of me I instinctively find others want me to be.

What i’ve felt
What i’ve known
Never shined through in what i’ve shown
Never be
Never see
Won’t see what might have been
So I dub thee UNFORGIVEN.

I became a cutter after daily failed attempts of suicide settled into a habit self-medication through releasing these demons through my flesh. When Linkin Park’s “Crawling” came out, I only had to hear it once to know it was a complete lyrical representation of my own life. In the video you see a young woman in an abusive relationship with an older man, then later you see her in bed with a guy closer to her own age. For me, I see this as her using a physical relationship to fill the void of love she doesn’t receive, or at least in the right way, from her father.

I struggled with cutting as a form of escape and a pressure valve release for over a decade; It’s been 9 years since I’ve done it and three weeks since the last time I wantedto grow a small flower bed of my pain (meh, you’d have to be a cutter to understand that I suppose). It NEVER goes away completely, it’s always there on the fringes… waiting to return to its place in my life, but I learn a way to go around it.

Linkin Park’s “Bleed It Out”, to me, really represents the futility and never-satiated need to cut. The act itself bled out the emotional pain and despair I felt, however, it was an addictive behavior that was easier and easier to return to and rely on. The last time I cut myself I was 26, and I started in on the inside of my right arm until I ran out of room then started on the outside of the forearm. I later counted the number of lines I cut and, quite by coincidence, there were 26… one for each year of my life was my thought at the time.

I just want to point out a line in the lyrics, “I’ve opened up these scars
I’ll make you face this”. No matter how hard I tried to get recognition from my father for what he did to me and how it affected my life, to have him shoulder his responsibility and apologize for it, I never got it. In the end, I forgave him for my own personal peace and the last conversation I had with him before he died from cancer was a release of his hold and power over my life and my happiness… I simply told him I forgave him and let go of my role as victim, becoming a survivor from then on.

As I’ve gotten older, healed some and put distance between myself and that dark time in my life, I have a deep affinity for The Fray’s “How to Save a Life”. The song was inspired by The Fray’s lead singer and songwriter Isaac Slade’s experience working as a mentor at a camp for troubled teens. He was completely at a loss at how he, a suburbanite, could reach the troubled musician/teen with whom he had been paired. The song has since taken on a life of its own, having become a song of survivor’s guilt for many.

It has also inspired the Save-A-Life Campaign, a nonprofit organization that was born from the tragic loss of the founder’s son in a car crash. “How to Save a Life” was the last song he had downloaded. The organization seeks “to save the lives of our youth by enabling them to have moral courage to do the right thing no matter how hard it may be and to accomplish this by providing and supporting committed volunteers, coordinating community education, and teaching them that the first life they must save is their own.

I must give credit to God for my healing and survival. It was only after I released my pain, disappointment, grief, shame… sense of injustice… and “let go and let God,” as they say, that my life made the change it has. I had accept that the past is something I can do NOTHING about, and throw off the binds that kept me opressed. I stepped out of the darkness of bitterness and despair and into the light of hope and love. What happened is in the past and I have no control of it, but what I do today and tomorrow is completely within my power.

After a lifetime of having my identity dependant upon having a man in my life, and having never learned how to relate t guys without sex, I made a vow to myself not to date for 5 years… until after my 35th birthday. In that time I finished college, getting a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry, and I learned who I was. What I wanted and didn’t want in life. I learned to be comfortable within my own skin.

Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” is a great song to make the point that I am not limited by my past, but that my future is entirely in my hands… “the pen’s in my hand.” BUT, the version of this song that would be on MYsoundtrack is Team Lachey’s version of “Unwritten” from NBC’s “Clash of the Choirs”. Hometown, everyday singers had a chance to be part of a choir directed by different professional singers from that town (Team Lachey was directed by Cincinnati native Nick Lachey). Gotta love that!

Well, I celebrated my 35th birthday last June, and met my boyfriend at the beginning of September. It’s all post Twilight series, lol, and new and different… and absolutely terrifying. I learned to be by myself and became quite comfortable and good at it. No heartbreaks or hurt feelings to contend with. No worries of his nefarious motives… why does he want a single mom with teenage daughters? >… paranoia sets in …< and I’m finding two songs being the major lyrical voice of my life at the moment: “The Rose” by Janis Joplin

because I am finding it hard to get past fears and previous heartbreak… it would almost be easier to just go back to my shell and turtle in, except I would be missing him.

Everything with him is completely new and unlike anything I’ve ever known. Whereas in past relationships the other person always wound me even tighter than I already was, he calms me.. and not just me, but the kids and even the dog… and she’s a rat terrier (hyper doesn’t even begin to cover it!). We think so much alike, that if I want to know what he would think about something, I only have to think how I feel about it and it’s almost always right.

But the voices of doubt and fear still hang out and whisper in my ears, trying to keep me from becoming attached to and loving him. Just when I had given up on ever having a “love life” again, I met him. He gets through when no one else, not even family, has ever been able to.

Because of all that, the last song in my soundtrack (at least for now :-D ) is “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis.

So, what would be the soundtrack of yourlife? What song describes who you are or where you’re at in life right now? Leave it in the comments, or better yet, blog the meme on your spot and leave the link in the comments here :-D

I’m looking forward to your songs ;-)

TSS – Habits, Addictions, and I’m Back!!

The Sunday Salon.com

Alright, alright… So I’ve been away for a couple weeks months, and the few posts in between seem to get the same comments, “I was wondering where you’ve been! I thought you died!” lol… Not quite, but I found a virtual world called Second Life and found it rather addictive. Think: Everything the real world has to offer, and then add flying, teleporting… being a werewolf or vampire… or a middle-age princess or knight in King Arthur’s court… and you can see why it’s so addictive.

I’m very much a creature of habit, BUT… my habits are so-SO-SO easily disrupted. My grandma’s death and funeral brought my mom up from Texas for a week long visit, which knocked me out of my reading habit. I decided to try Second Life because my best friend and her fiance (now husband…Yay!) were ALWAYS talking about it. So, on a whim, I created an avatar, signed on and was instantly caught up… so much so that I’ve been planning to buy a second computer and giving this one to the kids because I wouldn’t get off even for them to take their hour computer time (3 hours… I couldn’t even take 3 hours away!).

And in the process of living in Second Life (a common expression on it is “My first life is getting in the way of my Second Life!), I met a guy. Now, if you knew me, you’d know what a LAUGH this is. I’ve always been adamant AGAINST online relationships… and here I am, in a relationship began online. Yeah… be careful what you say because you may end up eating your words… lol. BUT, it’s mostly good. Both of us have had some really bad luck in past relationships, so there’s a lot of fear and insecurities to get past, and I vacillate several times a day between ending it NOW to avoid the heartache that MAY happen and going headlong into it, hoping for the best. HOPE.. *gack!*… never been a good friend of mine.

So, boyfriend lives about 2 1/2 hours from me and came to visit for the first time last weekend. Two and a half days of goo-goo eyes and my kids (who love him already, and likewise… a good chunk of my fears and insecurities eliminated right there) chanting “KISS! KISS! KISS!” then going, “EwwWWWwwwwWWww!” when we did, and my habit of Second Life was broke. I’ve been on for maybe, MAYBE, 8 hours in the last week.

And what filled the Second Life spot? Back to the books :-D and reviewing (-: and blogging the memes \o/ (yay!). I had the commitment of a November 25th blog stop for Two Brothers: One North, One South by David H. Jones, and I had only read a chapter or so before his visit, so I had to cook through it to make the deadline. And while it was an excellently written and researched book, it wasn’t exactly my cuppa. However, it really reminded me of my serious LOVE of reading, and how I’ve always said that as long as you have a book there’s no hell you can’t escape. Hey, if I lost the internet or if Second Life was shut down for some reason, where would I escape to? But books are always there, always accessible, and provide a second life in the world within.

And one of the fun things with my boyfriend is that he’s an avid reader. I’ve introduced him to The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, my number one Best New Author book and definitely on my top 5 reads for this year, as well as getting him into the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer.

He had read the first two books, Twilight and New Moon, and had just started reading the third, Eclipse, when he came down Friday. One reason for coming Friday was so we could go together to see the movie Twilight (I should review the movie, but I’ll have to watch it again… lol.. I was a bit, erm.. distracted the first time ;-) ). So when I finished Two Brothers, I picked up Breaking Dawn so I could keep ahead of him. Problem is, he’s reading them by audio book, which is faster than I can read. I HAVE to beat him, lol, so I picked up the audio book to read along. Hehehehe…. So I’m in chapter 16 and he’s in chapter 7, and if I read while he sleeps I should be able to beat him ;-) .

And now I’m so excited to be back into the books… of course, now I’m getting the “Where are you? Are you dead?” messages from my SL friends, but Boyfriend can let them know ;-)

So what’s next on my TBR right away pile? Well, after Breaking Dawn’s 700+ pages, I think I’ll read Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr. It’s a nice thin book, and I saw the movie when it came out… hadn’t realized it was a book until a few days later. Then maybe Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling… the movie will be out soon, so I want to get it read before then. Then… maybe Yiddish Policemen’s Unionby Michael Chabon (never read anything by him) and Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, or vice versa. Also, I’ve been slowly working through Emma by Jane Austen, so I’ll get back to my Jane-a-thon, too.  AND… I’m ashamed to say, but somewhere in the last couple months I missed a blog tour stop.  I was suppose to be on Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination.  I couldn’t find the date I was suppose to post… if I would have looked at the letter in the book I would’ve seen it was for September 30th.  I think I didn’t start looking for the date until after my House and Home review was posted, so I owe that review quickly.  As well as owing a review of Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland for LibraryThing’s ER group.  AND all the other ARC books I compulively requested… which is a LOT :-\ .

My reading goal was 75 books by December 31st, and I’m at 54 books… which means I’ve got less than five weeks to read 21 books. Hmm… don’t know if I can do that now, that’ll be more than 5 books a week, but I’ll do my best to get as close as possible.

So check back often, because the reviews are going to be flying up here quickly.

Oh…

and I’M BACK!!! :-D

Merging Reality with Fantasy

Second liOkay… I’ve wrote on here about my absence being related to an addiction to a Virtual Reality world called Second Life.  Many of you have commented about running in terror (or something close to it) from such a potentially life-sucking vortex, and maybe I can’t disagree with you on that… lol.  If you’re on susceptible to addictions then you’d probably do well to get the crucifix and holy water to spray in the general direction of anything that puts the words “Second” and “Life” in the same sentence.

But….  Why is it so addictive?  Why do I get a panicked feeling sitting in front of the computer and NOT have Second Life going?  Why am I seriously considering plunking down hard cash for a new computer so I can fully enjoy the effects and not laaaaaaaag to the outer realms of darkness?  LOL… Why do I actually put real money … US dollars… into my PayPal account so I can buy Lindens, the currency of Second Life?  I want to take this non-book related blog post to tell you (and to sort it out myself, for that matter).

Firstly, in the real world I’m a single mom of three wonderful girls.  Sam, 15, is a sophomore in high school and is starting to talk about moving out.  As her mother, of course I see all the things with her that make me worry about her abilities to survive on her own.  Firstly, gack! are there very many 15-year-olds that behave and function in a way that inspire parental confidence in their abilities to be responsible adults?  It’s a very strange time with her.  The other night she said she couldn’t wait until she’s 18 so she won’t have a bedtime… omg… I’ll never sleep (of course, thanks to Second Life, I don’t sleep now).  Secondly, she has a mental illness, and must take her medication or she hears voices and becomes severely paranoid.  Problem is, she hates taking her pills.  Who’s going to make sure she takes them if she lives alone?  Who will make sure she showers?  Who’s going to make sure she’s eating healthy, and not just spooning heaps of sugar on everything? Oh my, the thoughts and worries I have for my bunny (her nickname from the time she was 6 weeks old and I put a little knit hat with a funny little frill around her face.  I took one look at her and said she was my little snow bunny, and bunny stuck.  Tigger her other nickname because, as she has ADHD, she is very bouncy-bouncy-flouncy ;-) )

Then there is Gwen… my sweet, loving, at times mischievous, and mildly mentally handicapped.  At fourteen and in the eighth grade she is reading at about a second to third grade level.  Her math is higher; she’s working at a fifth grade level.  Socially, she’s disadvantaged, not understanding the nuances of social play.  She takes people at their word and falls for the cruel tricks middle-schoolers play on one another.  Again, how can I expect her to function as an adult?  To pay her bills and remember to put the milk away? She has such lofty dreams of being a jockey, a vet assistant, having a farm and horse (oh, how she loves horses!).  How can I tell her these things will more than likely not be possible for her?  I don’t, and I hope I’m not being cruel in the long run, because the world is cruel enough as it is and it will tell her she can’t have these things.  What she needs is a cheerleader, and I do my best to be that for her. 

What compounds Gwen’s problems is that, while her sisters have fathers who are very involved in their lives, she does not.  If she sees  her dad four times in the year she’s lucky, and that breaks my heart, as well as her sisters’,  for her loss.  She will look for that love in someone, anyone, who shows her the slightest attention.  What heartaches lie ahead for her?

Then there’s Maggie, whom you’ve met in her guest reviews.  Pretty, extroverted, and a normalmentally, intellectually and physically sound child.  She’s a treasure (not that the other two aren’t) because she’s easy.  With her I can hope for a successful future.  She wants to be a doctor and go to Vietnam to help with those less fortunate.  She’s a girl’s girl, bringing home all the stories of the day, from who had to pull a stick to updates on the frenemy sagas.  In every sense of the word, a normal nine-year-old.  And I feel miserably guilty for thinking and feeling this way, as if I’m writing off the other two.

And in all this, I am a single parent who has not dated in 10 years, and have not been romantically involved in five years (sorry if that is TMI, but it all goes toward the reasons Second Life is such a drug).  Kids, house, lawn, garden, dog, cats… bills… doctors appointments… school meetings… responsibilities heaped on responsibilities… being a grown up is hard.

Now, imagine a place where all that goes away.  Where I’m free.  Where I can fly.  Where I can where all the clothes that I can’t in real life because I’m not a size 2 and I’m a mother of daughters who are watching me for the path to take in their lives.  I can be a flirt.  I can have tons of friends.  I’m a vampire.  I can play sound clips from movies and act them out.  I don’t have to work.  I don’t have bills to pay.  It’ all fun and no responsibilities.  All the things in the real world can be found there, and whatever you can imagine and more.  I can live  in my favorite TV show, in fact my apartment is set in the UK cult classic show “The Prisoner”… which I did NOT know until after I had rented my place.  All my neighbors are running around capturing each other and playing spy games.  Since I’ve never seen the show, I’ve not joined in.  I can make a date at a romantic waterfall on a tropical island.  How can you NOT become seriously sucked into this virtual world?

Then throw into all that the people I’ve made friends with there… I’ve got to share a couple of them with you:

An artist and videographer (I hope that’s what it’s called) who’s entered the following cool video in a festival in Germany.

For No One

And SoliGoth, an artist for hire trying to feed his cats and get a better computer (a common SL theme for reasons discussed above). His cafepress store has some unique items for your perusing (and purchasing) enjoyment. My particular favorites are Mark’s Invisible Shirt and the Short Bus Bag (okay, I have a politically incorrect sense of humor…). Visit his store. Make a purchase. Feed his cats ;-)

Confessions of a SL Addict

First, I want to thank everyone who’ve been concerned with my disappearance from the blogosphere…  I had no idea that I had such friends ;-)  My grandma’s death and funeral and my mother’s visit threw me out of my reading habit… and I am horrible at getting back into the swing of things.  I have a blanket I started to make for Maggie’s first birthday… she’s now 9, and the blanket’s half finished and hanging in the laundry room.  Maybe it’ll be for her baby shower.. lol.

And, as any physicist will tell you, Nature abhors a vacuum.  So with the broken habit, there was a empty spot… which seems to be taken over by an online virtual world called Second Life.  Really, it started out as me finally giving into my friend’s two year long discussion of the wonders of the game.  AND it’s effect on her and her fiance’s life was bizarre.  Curiosity got the better of me, and I signed up just to see what she’d been talking about.  What I have found though, is that Second Life is Internet CRACK!  Highly addictive, life sucking, time consuming… I’ve gone days without sleep because I can’t log off… lol… 

I know that like most things, the novelty will wear off, and life will go back to normal.  I’ve been reading Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight Saga.  Edward and Bella just make me want to die!  They’re so absolutely perfect together… Breaking Dawn will have to be their death or break-up… nothing this perfect can last!

I’m also reading How to Be a Villian, which is hilarious, and I’m reading House and Home for the blog tour.

Thanks for all your questions about me :-)  I’m trying to do better…  Damn you, Second Life!  Why did you have to be so much fun!!!  lol

“Hello, my name is Alisha, and I’m a Second Life addict”

:-)

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