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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Gone Girl

Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (goodreads.com)

Holy beejeezus! So I picked up this book because so many people in the online course I am taking mentioned this as one of their current and/or last reads. It was so raved about that I had to see what it was all about. I even joked that we should make this an unofficial textbook for the class. 🙂 One of my classmates mentioned that I should get the school work I wanted to do done first because once I started Gone Girl I wouldn’t be able to put it down.

You know what? She was right. I took a day off of work to focus on some research and instead, I had to finish this book because the few moments I’d be able to grab during the week, before I fell asleep, were not enough. I NEEDED TO READ MORE!

If you’re looking for a Fall/Halloween read then pick this book up. What you think is happening changes from chapter to chapter, from part to part. Once I’d gotten to the end of Part 1 I had to start Part 2 to see what was next. Then I couldn’t stop reading because I NEEDED to know what Part 3 was all about.

Then there was the ending.

OH BOY THAT ENDING!

This book will freak you the heck out. It’s very psychological and it is fascinating to see how the story plays out. How things end up. I was completely enthralled by these characters. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My brain was a continuous loop of “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe this person!” and “Oh my gosh, that person’s mind is brilliant! Are there people like this in real life?” The more freaked out I was getting the more impressed I was becoming by the thought process.

You forget that there’s an author behind all of this who is actually creating the characters and the mystery itself. Should I be worried about the AUTHOR? 😉 Should I be worried that there are people out there in the world that could be just like the characters in the book?

Worried or fascinated? Impressed? Scared?

So, yeah. Gone Girl knocked my socks off. It also pains me that I have neither the time nor money to spend on more books but I feel as though I need to read Gillian Flynn’s other two novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places while the leaves are changing and the days are getting shorter. She writes the perfect books for this time of year! I just don’t know how I am going to be able to time manage everything right now. I do have to visit a bookstore as part of a class project (no, really! Even my husband is suspicious about this. heh) so maybe I’ll casually wander from the MG section over to the adult fiction one and see what they might have in stock. *ahem*

Many people seem to rant/rave about the ending of this novel. I, personally, feel that the ending was perfect for the story. Have you read this? What did you think of the ending? If you don’t want to spoil it for others, feel free to email me. 😉

(Yes, yet another post-dated blog post. This was the last book I read in September, so it has to appear in that month or my little OCD Angel gets all bitchy and needs medication.)

Mini-Reviews: Scars, Sleuth or Dare Books 1 & 2

Yeah, so, you may have noticed that I have been a slacker-pants and haven’t posted anything in forever. Well, I have been so bucy I just don’t have TIME for anything. But the OCD part of me can’t let this blog go without having a post for every book I read, so I’m combining some into one. Weird mix because, well, YA ISSUE NOVEL and MIDDLE GRADE MYSTERY aren’t exactly the same thing.

Scars
by Cheryl Rainfield

Kendra, fifteen, hasn’t felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can’t remember the most important detail– her abuser’s identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it’s her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who’s becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra’s abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. (goodreads.com)

(Read September 3) You know me and my issue novel obsession, so of course I really, really wanted to love this one. I just couldn’t get into it fully though. I find I am very picky when I read novels about cutting. Sometimes I feel like it’s just so forced that it seems like it was written just for shock value. I didn’t quite feel that way about Scars, but it flirted the line between real and over-the-top in my mind. I think my main problem with the book was how it seemed as though there was too much going on at once. Kendra had a ton of issues, including being followed and threatened by some mystery person. I couldn’t decide if this book wanted to be a mystery/suspense or an issue novel. Have to say I was completely surprised by the ending though and for that I liked the book much more than I would have.  Also, I’m not belittling the emotional seriousness of the topic, but my own personal history just makes me a lot more picky about how these issues are presented in a book. Yet, I can’t seem to get enough of them. 😉

Partners in Crime (Sleuth or Dare, #1)
by Kim Harrington

Whodunit?

When best friends Darcy and Norah have to create a fake business for a school assignment, they come up with a great idea: a detective agency! Darcy loves mysteries, and Norah likes helping people, so it’s a perfect fit.

But then their pretend agency gets a real case. Someone is missing, and it’s up to Darcy and Norah to take on the search. Unfortunately, there’s someone else out there who doesn’t want the two detectives stirring up any trouble. . . .

With the help of hidden clues, spy gadgets, and trusted friends, can Darcy and Norah crack the case in time? (goodreads.com)

(Read September 13) If you’re looking for a fun, cute middle grade mystery for your kids (or your grown-up self), look no further than these Sleuth or Dare books by Kim Harrington. If you recall I raved about her YA series (Clarity & Perception) earlier this year. They were honest-to-goodness fun mysteries à la Nancy Drew or Buffy. The lovely Gail from Ticket to Anywhere picked up the three MG books for me at an event near here this summer. I found the mystery in the first book pretty interesting and original and I was enjoying it immensely. One thing did bother me though and it has to do with the ending so I don’t even know how to explain it without spoiling the end of the mystery. It was something that REALLY bothered me though. Maybe I’ll post it in comments and you can not read it if you haven’t read the books.

Sleepover Stakeout (Sleuth or Dare, #2)
by Kim Harrington

WHO’S OUT THERE?

Norah and Darcy’s detective agency, Partners in Crime, is taking on a new and chilling case. The girls’ classmate, Maya, is hearing strange, crackling voices coming over the baby monitor while she’s babysitting late at night. Maya is worried someone might be in danger.

To help investigate, Norah and Darcy join her for a sleepover stakeout. In between eating snacks and watching TV, the girls are on high alert for anything suspicious. Soon, they stumble upon a mysterious secret they never could have imagined — but Norah and Darcy clash over how to interpret the new clues.

Can the girls get past their differences to see their way to the truth? (goodreads.com)

(Read September 23) This series continued to entertain me and make me long for the days of reading The Babysitter’s Club and Judy Blume books. They are short and the mysteries are well written so you think you’re onto something dark and dangerous but not too scary! I did, however, find this book much scarier than the first (and I say scary in a light-hearted way). Hearing voices through a baby monitor is something that freaks me out though, so I was just as nervous as Darcy, Norah and Maya while they were out late at night. There’s something about this series that just makes me happy. I’d likely have loved them all when I was under 10. The dialogue is realistic, the characters are very imaginable as middle graders (with the discovery of first crushes, cool crowds, fitting in) and they are pretty likable, too. I had totally planned on finishing all three books in September but that didn’t happen. Which is sad because these aren’t very long books! I just have so little time to focus on anything anymore.

And that’s all she wrote, folks. I have two more books to blog about and I will give them each their own posts. At some point. Maybe this weekend. It’s a long weekend here (oh, hi, post-dated post! Look at me writing from the future!) but I have a group project and research paper to work on, so… we’ll see.

the right way to jog

Oh, Sophie…

Yesterday I got the urge to try and do that jogging thing again. It happens every year at this time. The weather just makes me want to get outside and MOVE. Thing is, I can’t run to save my life. Zombie Apocalypse? Yeah, I’m just going to sit there with a sign around my neck that says “Free Food!” Not running away. Nope.

So I took Sophie and Shawn took Jinx. Shawn wasn’t running, I was. I couldn’t jog with Annie because, well, she was ANNIE and she didn’t DO exercise. Or outside. Or many things. She was a big fan of FOOD! though.

Sophie, on the other hand will trot along happily as I attempt to jog. I don’t go fast AT ALL. In fact, Shawn walks because my jog is his slightly faster pace.

Shush.

Except as I started my first goal run (one end of the street to the other end… it’s about .5 of a kilometre) Sophie started to drag. And drag… and… finally I had the leash extended all the way and she was BEHIND me and kept jerking my arm BACKWARDS. She wasn’t having any of the running. Nope.

So I stopped. I half jogged, half walked back to Shawn. Handed him Sophie’s leash and said “Give me Jinx. Sophie sucks.”

I can’t normally run with Jinx. As soon as you even look like you might want to run, Jinx takes off like he’s singing BORN FREEEEEE!!! and galloomphs down the street. He’s not particularly good at keeping pace (read: SLOW) with me. But he didn’t do so bad this time around.

I walked the next corner-to-corner and then ran another stretch. Walked some  more, pain in my foot that I have been dealing with was getting worse (I will eventually have to bite the bullet and call a physio office I think. It’s getting to the point that I can’t even stand on it.), and then started on my second-t0-last running gig. I told Shawn, “Jinx and I are going to run from that corner, around to the next street and stop by the park.”

Things went fairly well, except my stupid yoga pants kept falling down. Very uncomfortable and I don’t know what pants to wear while running now. Argh. Suddenly I hear Shawn running pretty fast, coming up behind me. As I slowed down to pull up my stupid pants, I thought, “Damn, Sophie! She’ll run for Shawn but not for me?!”

Then Shawn passed me….

… he was CARRYING Sophie!

He ran past me with Sophie lolling around all happy in his arms.

I had to stop running because I was laughing so much I couldn’t breathe.

When he put her down, she pranced around, wagging her tall. SO PROUD OF HERSELF!

Good lord. He said she had a moment of panic when he first picked her up, but then she just flopped into relaxed mode as he ran. She didn’t like that Jinx and I turned a corner and she couldn’t see us, so she ran a little but then stopped. So Shawn picked her up and ran to meet us.

I’m worried Sophie had set a precedent for our walks now. Like hell I’m carrying her around. I’m not in military training! I don’t need to run and carry 28lbs at the same time.

Though, now I’m wondering if the next time I want to go jogging I can get Shawn to do the running while carrying me.

Seems like Sophie might be on to something…

driveway destruction chronicles – and almost a year later…

Coming out of semi-but-not-really-but-it-sure-feels-like-it blog retirement to post a little update on the mess that is my driveway. For those of you playing at home, you might recall how my driveway was surprisingly dug up in November of last year. The sewage pipes backed up and flooded my poor neighbour’s basement. What we thought (and agreed to) was going to be just a little hole at the top of our driveway, turned into half of our drive being dug up, for a long, long time. Because of the time of year, we agreed with the neighbour that there was no point in repaving the driveway at the end of November as winter was coming (ha! Even before Game of Thrones, there was Cat’s Driveway Destruction Chronicles!) and that paving could happen in the spring.

We parked right at the bottom edge of the drive all winter. Suffered through mud, rocks, crappy winter of snow removal people not showing up and then the thaw.

Thing is, spring came and went and there wasn’t a peep from anyone about anything to do with paving.

Hmm.

April 2012

By July we were tired of waiting for the neighbour to come to us, so we went to her. Turns out there was a little misunderstanding about things, which we worked out. Because the stupid tree on our property was to blame for the pipes breaking, she was waiting for us to take the tree down before repaving. To be honest, we wanted that tree gone years ago since it kept dying every summer. So I called the city right away and was all “Now will you permit us to cut down your tree?” Turns out, the city is all about saying it’s their tree when the leaves fall off in 24 hours during the summer, but as soon as that tree causes damage to someone’s property the city is all “That’s your tree. You pay for it.”

Politics. Bleh.

Stupid Annually Dying Tree – July 2012

So we got our estimate, we got our permit and we just waited for them to come cut down the tree. As soon as I had the permit and a date for the tree removal, I let the neighbour know and she said she’d have them come and give her an estimate for the driveway paving. Things were underway. Finally.

Then it took forever for the tree people to come by and cut the tree down. They did, though. Eventually. In mid-August.

Take that, tree!

And then we waited for the driveway to be done. This has been another long wait. I don’t know if the tree people and pavement people are in cahoots or what, but the driveway process is even slower than the tree process. The driveway process had best be done before the ground starts freezing again, because there is no way I’m going through another winter with a sinkhole in my front yard.

Two weeks ago we came home to some progress…

Dirt!

The dirt that had been in piles on the neighbour’s lawn for nearly a year, was finally put back into the sinkhole! Woohoo! Progress! Any day now.

Remember how I said that was two weeks ago? Yeah.

About a week and a half later, we got this:

Gravel! And cutted up parts!

Then, we went back to having nothing done. Again. Woo.

Last Wednesday we came home to some work men on the roof of the neighbour’s house. They came over and spoke to us about the driveway. They wanted to know if we wanted them to even out the parts that weren’t cut up yet (see the stuff on the right hand side?) and if so, we’d have to pay for that because they weren’t including it in the neighbour’s price and if they did, the neighbour wasn’t going to pay it. Regardless of our thinking that it would just be normal for them to fix the driveway proper-like, we just want this done! We said if they gave us an estimate we’d let them know because it does make sense to have the space paved properly. Also, I’m thinking about wanting to sell this house in a year or so and I want a non-crappy driveway. We were told we’d have an estimate in our mailbox by Friday – Sunday the latest.

We never got that estimate, though this morning, as I was sleeping off a migraine and bad cold I was woken up by pounding. Turns out the guys were back and breaking up that part of the driveway we hadn’t agreed to have done and not gotten an estimate for.

We worked 45 minutes today. We need a break, we’ll be back in a couple of weeks, I guess.

I texted Shawn and told him what was going on. I honestly didn’t feel comfortable dealing with these guys by myself and I didn’t want them to know I was home alone, so I didn’t go out there. Way we saw it, they did this without out assent, so if they quoted an outrageous price at us we just wouldn’t pay.

I ran into the neighbour tonight as Shawn got home. She’s also a little unimpressed that these people do next to nothing and then leave for a week or more each time. However, I’m guessing these are friends of friends and like all of us, trying to save money on things if we can. My problem is that there’s a tiny corner of her driveway that’s effected by this and a dead truck sits on that part. We have to park our car right at the edge of our drive. It’s frustrating.

Not to mention the people today LEFT ALL THE ASPHALT ON OUR LAWN! We still had rocks and dirt from NOVEMBER there. They didn’t clean up after themselves either time. Ugh.

So the neighbour came over again earlier and had the driveway guy on the phone. He quoted Shawn a price and it was not at all what we were willing to pay. Shawn countered with what we were willing to pay and it was agreed upon at once. Obviously this is just a cash grab. We’re supposed to pay on Wednesday. Apparently this is supposed to be done on Wednesday. I don’t want to have over one cent unti this is finished. So we’ll see how Wednesday goes.

And yes, do we think we should pay for this? No. But are we? Yes. Why? Because I am sick and tired of this entire ordeal and I want the bloody thing paved and I want it paved before the winter starts. Besides I know the damaged cost a ton to fix and it’s not all done yet. The tree, though on our property, wasn’t planted by us, and the city is the one who ran those pipes through our driveway and under that tree (who the hell knows where OUR sewage pipes are?) so this little bit of cash isn’t going to kill us.

This has been one of those situations that’s totally awkward because our tree caused the damage, but it wasn’t OUR tree but we could still be held responsible because it’s on our property. That being said the neighbour’s pipes went through our property. Anyhow, we just want this done and no one suing anyone.

I’m hoping that by the end of September this will all be a bad memory. Although I’m not holding my breath. If luck’s on our side it’ll be done before November.

And then, hopefully next summer, we can sell this place and move away from this stupid province.

The Other Normals

The Other Normals
by Ned Vizzini

Given the chance, fifteen-year-old Peregrine “Perry” Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, an epic role-playing game rich with magical creatures, spell casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin, so when his parents ship him off to summer camp Perry is sure he’s in for the worst summer of his life.

Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. Perry’s new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest together, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero. (goodreads.com)

Release date: September 25, 2012

There are many things I need to say about this book that aren’t actually about the story. I’ll get to the story in a bit. First: I don’t know how to categorize the book! It’s fiction, with a fantasy world sort of tossed in, but it’s not Urban Fantasy and it’s not Fantasy-Fantasy and I wouldn’t call it Paranormal either. So what do I call it? Alternate Fantasy? I know this seems like a not so big deal, but it is. I HATE not being able to categorize something. The OCD in me is going CRAZY!

Second: I have renamed The Other Normals. In my head this book is called My Husband (as a Teen): The Book. I kid you not. I kept reading him parts of the first few chapters until he told me to stop reading the book. It was all lies. HAHAHAHA! I have a soft spot for RPG-playing geeky boys. I married one. 😉

Third: I met (and discovered) Ned Vizzini at the Teen Author Carnival in May 2010. I’d never heard of him or of his novel, It’s Kind of a Funny Story before that event. After listening to him speak and finding out what the book was about (mental hospital!), I bought his book when I didn’t have enough money to get me through the week and had him sign it. I was that taken by both author and story summary. I then fell in love with the novel and because of that, Ned contacted me right before BEA this past year and asked if I’d be interested in reading his new novel. Of course I said yes.

Which brings me to the meat & bones of this post about The Other Normals. I loved this book. I loved this book because I can officially say that I love Ned Vizzini’s style of writing. I swear on everything in the world that I love that I am telling you the honest truth. I loved the narration and dialogue in this story. It took me no time at all to read from cover to cover and I realized as I was finished that the author has managed to make me love two books with teen male protagonists when I generally do not like male MCs. I can’t always relate to male protagonists, often I don’t even care about what they might be thinking. This isn’t the case this time around. Sure, it’s possible that my own brain was just picturing my husband at 15, but still.

I have no idea what it’s like for a male teen to go through puberty. The male species is a complete mystery to me – even today! I do know that when I was 15 I was way too shy and scared of boys to talk to them without blushing a million shades of red and just assuming they were going to pick on me and make me feel bad about myself. Such was my life as a teen. So this little glimpse into the male psyche was interesting. I felt sort of like I was reading some sort of anthropology book and getting more of a clue. Where was this book when  was 15? Geez. (Spoiler Alert: I wouldn’t have even picked this book up when I was 15 BECAUSE the MC was male. I’d have been all, “Ppfffft! BOY book! Boooooring!”)

So, Perry’s life is wrapped up in the game Creatures and Caverns and his parents (and their lawyers) think this is not healthy and they send him to a summer camp. He’s the only white boy at this camp (and I have to admit, I was curious as to WHY he was sent to this particular camp. It seemed rather odd to me?) and the one sort-of-friend he’d made playing C&C was also at this camp, though Sam wouldn’t talk to Perry when his other friends were around. (That is such a girl thing to do! Do boys do this, too??)

Perry discovers that the world in the latest C&C book is actually real and so the book bounces between real life (Earth) and the World of the Other Normals. Everyone there has a correspondent person on earth. What happens to one correspondent in one realm, happens to the other in the other. (I’m horrible at explaining this, sorry.) What ensues is a whole lotta personal growth (both literally AND figuratively) in Perry’s life, but it all seems to happen in the space of 2 days? The amount of action that takes place in a small amount of time seemed strange to me, but I let it slide because I was thoroughly enjoying reading the dialogue.

There were many instances I was proud of the decisions that Perry made, which I won’t spoil for you all – but there’s a moment near the end that surprised me. I guess his honour is more than 50. 😉  There were also instances when I thought “WTF? How did he get that much confidence so quickly? Seems like an abrupt personality change in such a short time?” Either way, I loved Perry. I am totally Team Perry and he was such an endearing character in my eyes. I hope he grows up to be a handsome, funny, still geeky man who shaves his head and falls in love with a short, yet adorable, purple-haired girl and they get married and live happily ever-after.

*ahem*

So, after reading two Ned Vizzini books and loving them, I am determined to read the rest of the books he’s put out. There are two from the early 2000s (and it pains me more than you know that one can now say “the early 2000s”. I miss the 90s.) that I must get my hands on. I will also always pick up any new books this man puts out because his writing style is just my cup of tea. And I LOVE tea. So, yeah.

AND as a special bonus, I asked Ned if there was any sort of special tidbit about this book that he could tell me so I could include it in my post and he sent me this:

The Other Normals started in spring 2009 as a realistic drama set in summer camp.  The idea was to have the main character, Perry, go to a camp where he felt out of place but meet a girl and have this doomed romance (because at the end of summer camp, you go home).  I thought Perry’s love could be named “Summer” and the book could be called Camp Summer.  But as I was writing, all of sudden I got this VISION of a character who had red skin and yellow hair and who smoked pebbles in the woods.  That was Mortin Enaw.  Once he appeared I couldn’t resist him and I took the book in a different direction.

Although I would totally have read the book either way, I’m sort of happy that the world of the Other Normals became a part of this story. It adds an element of adventure to the book that I enjoyed. (Oooo! Maybe I can start a new category called “Adventure”? I still don’t know how to classify this book. ARGH!)

So, thank you Ned (via HarperTeen) for sending me this novel and I hope many of you pick it up and read it. And if you know any teen boys who are into Dungeons & Dragons and like to read, I’d slip them a copy of this book and tell them to have fun. 😉