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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

A Bad Day For Voodoo

A Bad Day for Voodoo
by Jeff Strand

When your best friend is just a tiny bit psychotic, you should never actually believe him when he says, “Trust me. This is gonna be awesome.”

Of course, you probably wouldn’t believe a voodoo doll could work either. Or that it could cause someone’s leg to blow clean off with one quick prick. But I’ve seen it. It can happen.

And when there’s suddenly a doll of YOU floating around out there—a doll that could be snatched by a Rottweiler and torn to shreds, or a gang of thugs ready to torch it, or any random family of cannibals (really, do you need the danger here spelled out for you?)—well, you know that’s just gonna be a really bad day …(goodreads.com)

I received my copy of A Bad Day for Voodoo from Sourcebooks last October as part of their Halloween give-away promotion and I gave away a copy of this book and others to one lucky reader. I am sad to say that this book sat on my TBR for so long before I picked it up. I get into these comfort zone phases and I don’t want to read anything outside of that zone. This book scared me because I was pretty sure it would be Outside The Zone.

Of course now I’m in a phase where any and every book I pick up just annoys the hell out of me and I feel like everything is just so unoriginal. Does that ever happen to you? I have a plethora of books hanging around my house that are half-started and left behind because I just can’t connect with them.

Cue this book.

This book, with its ever so obvious Outside The Zone-ness and I hoped that it would be what I would need in order to actually complete a book from start to finish. And I had just come off the disappointing read of A Discover of Witches and I wanted something that wouldn’t have anything to do with silly women pining over vampires that treat them like property.

I will say this loud and clear, in bold, so you know I mean business.

I have not enjoyed a book this much in a long time. It made me laugh. A lot. Out loud. Over and over again.

I had so much fun reading this book. Sure, it’s pretty ridiculous a lot of the time but it’s hilarious the entire read through. It’s a perfect comedic horror story. If it can go wrong, it will but you will probably burst out laughing while taking the bus to work in the morning and then have to put the book away so the other passengers stop giving you dirty looks.

This book was fun and rather creepy (OMG, that house with the Basers. I was freaking out with that creepy family. *shudder*) and I laughed. I read the book over lunch breaks. I tried reading it on the bus, but public laughter aside, I still get rather bus sick so that didn’t work so well. I didn’t even want to work because I was enjoying the book so much. It gave me a nice escape from the office during a particularly brutal week both in the office and personally.

My gods, there’s even an intermission in the story and I nearly fell off the couch when I turned the page and saw that.

Jeff Strand has an amazing sense of humour and it is very obvious in the writing of this novel. He also has some creepy stuff going on in his brain since he is also a horror writer. I believe this is his first book for teens.

I really wasn’t expecting the voodoo doll to work the way it did and the first time Tyler tries out the doll on his teacher – well, the results took me by surprise and again, I laughed out loud. The book just became way more fun from there on.

I will warn you, this book is complete humour and it can get pretty corny and you have to reeeallllyyy suspend your beliefs as things happen. It doesn’t stop. There’s no moment when you think, “well, it can’t get any worse than this” because it will and you will giggle and think “Holy cow! This is all so ridiculous, but I love it!”

I don’t know why the foolishness of the book didn’t bother me. Sometimes  I find stories this far-fetched a little over the top, but maybe I just needed this much humour in my life and I have to say that Strand’s writing was really engaging. I find he writes humour very well and I think a lot of that was why I enjoyed the book so much.

So if you need a pick-me-up and you feel like reading something that will make you laugh and wonder if any of the characters will make it to the end alive – I highly recommend A Bad Day for Voodoo. 🙂

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. (goodreads.com)

Well, hey. It’s a pretty amazing thing that I actually read all 579 pages of this book because there were many, many moment when I questioned whether or not to go forward. Many.

I did not like this book. I thought I might  like it, but it was a slow, painful discovery of dislike as I turned the pages.

What didn’t I like? Well, the first problem was how bloody slow the story was to start. This book seemed unnecessarily long. There was so much contained within the first 450 pages that just did not need to be in the book. That whole chapter just on GOING TO YOGA? I don’t care if it was freaking supernatural yoga, it was a chapter on GOING TO YOGA. The chapter included being picked up at the apartment, taking things out of the trunk, walking up to the class and then a description of the class.


The worst part is that I didn’t really see the whole “Hey, this book is actually Twilight on steroids” coming until it was too late and I was stuck. I had invested 400 pages and hours of my life to the story, just hoping that it would pick up and the sort of mystery of what was going on would get a little bit more exciting. I couldn’t stop with less than 200 pages left to go. I couldn’t.

Maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad. I could just skip pages upon pages of description of how things smelled (especially wine). Seriously. I could literally flip a couple of pages and get back to actual plot happenings and not miss anything critical. Maybe I won’t know what vampires like to smell and taste and what they can eat (hint: they are on the paleo diet. All raw meat and veggies and nuts. Of course they are. I was surprised they weren’t vegan.)

I could ignore (and roll my eyes, and make fun of) the awkward, creepy relationship that Diana has with Mr. Dreamy. Vampire. (Diana: Let’s sleep together! You’re so hot and I am so attracted to you! Matthew: No! We have so much time ahead of us! You warmbloods always rush into things! Let us just canoodle and touch each other inappropriately because that is SO MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL than making love! Diana: Um, ok. But, I don’t really have as much time on earth as you do. I’m not 1000 plus years old, and I’m a witch. Matthew: Nonsense! Now get on with the oral pleasure!)

What I couldn’t ignore? That all of a sudden Diana was ALL of the MOST POWERFUL and AMAZETASTIC EVERYTHING PARANORMAL EVER! OMG! This all just happened in the last bit of the book and Diana kept discovering she was ALL POWERFUL and she has ALL OF THE MAGIC and yet she was still all, “But  I don’t use the magic! I’m not magical! I don’t want to me magical! Wait, Mr. Dreamy Vampire, don’t leave me, I’ll cry all of the tears and then almost drown in some form of ALL POWERFUL water magic that no one else can do! And wait! Can’t we have sex yet? No? Oh, gosh, ok.”

And then..then… THEN! she found out SHE COULD TRAVEL THROUGH TIME!

Of course she can.

The time travel thing was almost my breaking point. It was so close but I was about 100 pages away from the end and I can’t just stop a book when I’m so close to finishing it. I couldn’t. So the last 150 pages or so, I read parts out loud to my husband who helped me get through it.

“Oh, now she can control fire.”

“Of course she can, dear.”

“Oh, wait, now all of the outcast other paranormals are coming to stay with her because she can save them.”

“Of course she can, dear.”

“Oh, and Squee’s* vampire mother and vampire house keeper…”

“Vampire housekeeper?”

“Yep. I guess she had nothing else better to do with her eternity. Well, the vampire mother hates ALL witches because they killed her husband but she ADORES Diana. Adores her and tells her son to treat her right. Everyone seems to love Diana! She’s so AWESOME and she DOESN’T EVEN KNOW IT!”

“Of course she is, dear. I’m still confused about the vampire housekeeper…”

“Oh my god. Now she can WALK THROUGH TIME!”

“You need to stop reading this. Now.”

And the ending.. I just couldn’t. I knew it was coming as soon as the whole time walker thing was mentioned. I could feel it in my bones. I was pretty sure that I had no interest in the sequel to this book and by that last chapter I was more than 100% certain. Alas, this was not the book for me and I can’t believe I read all of it. I should have stopped early on but I really thought it would get better once all of the random descriptions went away and the PLOT actually started. I should have paid better attention to the Twilight warning signs and just backed away from this book.

But I didn’t.

The one good thing about the book? I LOVED Diana’s family home. The HOUSE. I loved the house. What does it say about a book when your favourite character is a HOUSE? For real. It had this awesome personality and magical quality to it that reminded me of a Sarah Addison Allen book. In fact, I want SAA to write a book about a house with a personality. One that creates rooms when people are coming over and hides things that don’t need to be on people’s’ minds until they need it and it appears. I loved the entire idea of this house and I loved the house itself as a character.

I read 579 pages and I only loved a house that showed up in the last 100. Golly.

And I will disclose that I received this book as a gift from a publisher for filling out a survey. I got to choose a book and I chose this one because I thought I would like it and it sounded so interesting. I really wish I had liked more than the house. Bummer.


*Squee is what my husband and I call the main character in Twilight because that’s the sound females seem to make when they see or talk about him. WaggleSquee is what we call the werewolf because he has a waggly tail like our Jinx Puppy.

monday madness

I’m not one of those people specifically hates Monday. I will happily hate whatever day of the week I have to wake up and go to work on. Mondays do not have the sole monopoly on bad days, but sometimes they can get a little crazy.

Did you know that Monday, July 22 was a full moon?

I did. So really, none of the crap that happened yesterday came as much surprise, but I did find myself thinking that this Monday was particularly Monday-ish.

The morning was comfortable temperature-wise and as I was standing at the bus stop, sleepily awaiting the bus I noticed a small dog come around the corner, cross the street and meander across laws while peeing on every dandelion and shrubbery in its path. In fact, one particular clump of dandelions must have really caught his attention because he peed on them about 5 times.

Since the bus was about to come speeding down the street, I knew I couldn’t run after the dog, and I was pretty sure it belonged to a house three doors down from us (and on another street!) I called Shawn and asked him to come out and try and corral the pooch and bring it home. Of course as Shawn came around the corner and headed towards the little scruff of a dog, the dog took off and ran out into the street and nonchalantly walked around me (as I tried to grab him) and then the bus came. So Shawn walked after the dog, I got on the bus, the bus waited at the corner for someone running for it and when we turned the corner…

There was Shawn standing at the end of the block in a stare-down… with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SMALL DOG!

This one ALMOST got hit by the bus. The driver stopped just in time as this Schnauzer thing bolted out into the street. The passengers on the bus let out a collective GASP and the dog ran back to the sidewalk.

Holy cow was my heart pounding. I was terrified that the dog was hit (I have been in a car that’s hit a dog before and had nightmares for months about that). The dog – at that time – was unscathed. But I got a text from Shawn that said “He won’t let me near him.” And I wrote back, “That’s a totally different dog! What the hell is going on in our neighbourhood!?”

Shawn eventually went back home (and made sure both of OUR dogs were still inside) and wasn’t able to catch either of the small dogs. One had a collar with tags and the other, nothing. Hopefully they found their way home.

Then, still on the bus, we were on our way to the autoparc before crossing the bridge into town and at the intersection by Loblaws we slowed down. I looked up to see why and was greeted by the sight of the most horrific car accident that *I* have ever seen. The sedan was crushed, upside down, trunk open, roof off to the side and…I just couldn’t look any more. It was after ambulances had left (I believe, based on how much space was roped off by the cops) but I already felt my body reacting as I was texting Shawn. I think had I been on my regular bus (I was 30 minutes later than usual) I’d have seen way more that would have made my reaction worse.

Throughout the day my anxiety grew. Obviously that crash, coupled with the story I saw on the news the day before about a skydiving student in Toronto whose parachute did not open (OMG!!) triggered my PTSD from the jumper guy in March. As much as I tried to breathe deeply and focus on other things, my panic attack was worsening. I ended up working through lunch and leaving early because I just couldn’t type. My hands were shaking so much and I couldn’t take more than 3 bites of food all day because my stomach was churning so strongly. Even breathing was difficult.

Shawn met me at the parking lot near the autoparc so he could drive us home – and we stopped and picked up McDonald’s because I didn’t know what to eat, but I knew the salt would help. I don’t know. It just does. When I got home, I was surprised by a lovely bouquet of flowers which Shawn got me to help me feel better. They smell so good, too!

My stupid body was shaking and so anxious so late in the evening I ended up sucking it up and taking one of the ativan that I was prescribed back in March after the Incident. I didn’t use many of them back then and I have been content just knowing I had the bottle in my bad in case of emergency. I wouldn’t take it at work because it knocks me the heck out, but by 7pm I caved in and took one.

Then we found out that my father-in-law had fallen at work (a tiny 15 feet from the ground – but is relatively ok) and it just added to my DAY.

I was so happy when the day was over. I fell into bed a little after 9pm and let the ativan finally do it’s job. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to sleep though because often, as my panic attacks are wont to do, everything gets WORSE once the lights are out. I guess my brain was more than ready to turn off and forget this day ever happened because I was asleep pretty quick (for me) and don’t really remember Shawn and the dogs coming to bed later on. (Although I have a vague recollection of getting up to go to the bathroom when they arrived).

Today the PTSD anxiety is at a manageable level – sleeping helped. Although I do have some other reasons right now to be high anxiety and I would just very much like some GOOD news to happen and happen soon.

I just keep whispering over and over, “NanaPoppopAnnabellyKewpieLadyAuntyKathy” and invoking their spirits to send some good and happy news our way. Over and over. It’s my mantra that I am whispering into the world in hopes that these spirits will watch over us and bring the GOOD. And bring it SOON.

But, yeah. Monday was pretty mad this week.  Full moons and Mondays don’t really mix.

(By the by, there was a full moon on March 27 when the jumper landed in front of me, too. Full moons in 2013 are messing shit up, yo.)

diary of a non-jogger – july is not the best running month


Hey, so I keep meaning to update this blog with more than just jogging posts but I never seem to find the motivation. I have a different post already started about other things, but each time I sit down with the intention of blogging I get restless and distracted.  I’m a day-time blogger, really, so if I can’t find time at work to update (and trust me, I can’t. Soooo busy.) I just don’t feel like sitting and writing when I get home after a long day. Alas.

Even now, as I try and write this particular post about my run this morning, I’m all over the place. Not feeing it. BUT I am keeping track of this for my own reference and I want something to look back as I move forward. So, here I am.

We’ve just come off a 2-week major heatwave that saw a few days with highs of 44C in a row with humidity. That’s 111F for those of you who don’t speak Canadian. I have never experienced anything other than humid heat so I don’t know what 44C would feel like WITHOUT humidity. I’m sure it’s still hot and I have been told that it’s a little more bearable than a humid heat. Who knows. What I do know is that I couldn’t go out at all while the humidity was so bad. I can’t breathe just walking in that weather, there was no way I was going to try and run. I know my limits. I did go for a few bike rides though and although it was still hot it was a little easier to bear.

Thing was, I was missing the runs BIG TIME. I was feeling anxious and antsy and cranky about not being able to run and yet each and every time it’s HARD and I wish I could run MORE and not have to walk. Still, I’m going  out and doing things so I’m getting stronger and apparently I’m even starting to like it. Who knew?

Friday night my throat started to hurt and my neck got tight. I was hoping it was allergies (hay fever started early this summer) but by the time my glands swelled up I knew that was wishful thinking. Sleeping Friday to Saturday was uncomfortable. Everything hurt from the hair on my head to the bottoms of my feet. Saturday evening was cool and nice and I wanted to go running to badly but I was so sick. It was worse than Friday and I just could not get comfortable. I was angry at my body for doing this to me the first day it was nice enough to go out and run again! Curses!

This morning was a miraculously cool 15C and although I woke up with the intention of going out to run first thing in the morning (regardless of how I was feeling) I realized that I am not a morning runner. The idea of doing anything other than sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee in my jammies was not a reality. I ‘m not a morning person in general and most week-days my husband has to help me make sure I am leaving the house with pants on. The number of times I have started out to the bus with slippers still on is astounding. 😉

But after a pancake breakfast I was feeling the urge to go out again. I am still sick but not quite as bad as yesterday and I am stubborn. I got changed from tinkerbell jammies to running clothes and I went out by 11am. It was still cool and I knew most of the path I’d be running on would be in shade.

It was going well. Surprisingly well. I am giving myself another “week” of the week 2 C25K schedule to make sure I can still do it (and, it’s been 21 days since I last went out!) and it started off so well. Those first few runs were like nothing. I was feeling so confident. Not too hot. Not too sore. Lungs were working, nose was running but my throat was a little bit better. I was going to DO THIS!

Then, at the end of the walk 6 of 9 I was slammed with a wave of dizziness. Ugh. I was on my way back and was hoping to make it through but I had to pause everything and sit down for a little bit under a tree. I drank my water and texted Shawn, letting him know I was going to take a break. But as I ran out of water and the dizziness wasn’t really passing we decided that I’d go back a different way and he’d come pick me up by car with more water. I should have brought a bigger bottle. Oh, well. I wasn’t too warm believe it or not, but I don’t think I was hydrated enough AND I am still sick. Bleh.

I managed to get two more runs in and my last 90 second walk ended just as Shawn appeared with the car. I made it through almost the entire program but not the last 90 second run and the 5 minute cooldown. When I got back up I was feeling a little better, which is why I added the runs back into the path home (towards the car) and told myself I’d stop if I was dizzy again. Thankfully it only started up right before the car appeared.

I only made 3km and I was covering less distance this time, but my running pace was a little slower than it has been. I’m chalking that up to my cold. I’m not too disappointed though part of me had hoped to complete the entire thing plus some. I had wishful thinking for a sick-day run.

I sat with an icepack on my head when I got home and have drank boatloads of water. I feel fine now – just tired and I am so much happier that I went out and did something. I probably should have gone for a bike ride over a run today, but I MISSED the running.

I am hoping that the cooler (well, under 30C anyhow) weather this coming week will allow me to get back out there a few more times after work. I’d like to try out the week 3 schedule by next week, but I want another successful week 2 under my belt before that happens because the running jumps quite a bit after this.

Speaking of belts, I might need to get a FuelBelt with two water bottles in it since I don’t like to run with a big bottle and my little Evian bottle isn’t quite enough for summer runs. Not that I can spend money right now, but I’m going to look into it. I also need shoes but I don’t think mine are quite as bad to make it urgent. I am not having problems with the shoes…yet. But that will be soon I think.

Running is great exercise but boy can it be expensive (and I haven’t even signed up for any races yet!)

Happy 6th birthday to Beyond Books!

Yesterday I was visiting a friend’s blog. She uses one of the free wordpress blogs and so I get my little dashboard toolbar over it since I use WP myself. I noticed that I had a notification in the toolbar and thought that was odd. I clicked on it and, lo! Apparently yesterday was my 6th anniversary of signing up with wordpress.com. Although I have been self-hosting my blogs for a looooong time, I didn’t know how to run two at a time so when I broke off the book posts from my personal blog, I used a free wp account.

Six years ago, on July 19, 2007, I wrote my first ever book blog post. I was certain I’d never keep it up and would quickly forget about this blog. Oddly, I ended up devoting more time to the book blog than the personal blog over the years. I know that lately neither blog has been getting much love, but that’s more due a lack of time than anything else and not because I have given up blogging.

And so, even with being four book posts behind, I am writing this little note to acknowledge that I have been doing this for 6 years in one spot. That’s not something to sniff it. It’s pretty good. And since I’ve be writing about the books I have read since I started blogging originally, I have almost 10 years under my belt in the blogging world. Good on me!

I have tried various book blogging hats on throughout the years but ultimately I end up back where I started – I just like to keep a journal of the books I have read. For myself. The occasional review book is a wonderful perk and gift to my hungry reader-heart, but it’s not why I do this. It never has been. I’d been blogging for years before I was ever contacted by a publisher and it didn’t matter to me. I don’t promote things I don’t like myself. I keep my book reviews honest and try to explain things to the best of my ability, but I am not a writer, I am a reader.

Thanks to those of you who have been reading me for all of this time. Thanks to the new readers who might have just discovered me recently (sadly in such a quiet time!). I will always keep up this blog, even if it’s sporadically.  I like it. I like you. I like reading. AND it’s a handy reference tool if I need to tell someone about a book I liked. I just send them links. heh.

Happy 6 years of blogging about books, to me!

My first ever book blog photo. Ah, nostalgia.