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Showing posts from 2012

I Owe It All To Jimmy!

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With apologies to Jimmy and the Parrots for paraphrasing their song title.

I know there are a lot of people celebrating some pretty famous guy's birthday today but perhaps not the guy whom I would wish a most happy birthday to and give many thanks. In fact, just what people are doing to that other guy, now that I think about it.

Yeah, it's that Jimmy Buffett dude. Today is his 66th birthday.

Unlike the most devout of Parrot Heads, I have no idea how many Buffett shows I've been to. I'm not even sure which was my first one but I think it was after a Triple-A baseball game here in Phoenix. Jimmy played out on the field and we hung out in the stands and had a great time.

Gosh, I can't even tell you the first Buffett song I heard or when that was either. It seems like there was just always Buffett in my life. And, now my life is based a lot around Jimmy.

I officially joined the Arizona Parrot Head Club in 1998. The first meeting we went to was at a bar on the west sid…

Finally Got A Kindle

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It's really nice to have friends who need to have the latest and greatest, especially when they share their older toys with others.

Sugar Daddy had an old school Kindle that he gave to me with the promise that I would return it to him if I didn't like it. Yeah, he's not getting it back.

So old school that the only image I could find (without searching really hard)
was one comparing it to a newer model. Mine is the one on the right. Correction - it isn't old at all. That shows how little I know!

I'm surprised to find that I really like it. I had resisted electronic readers because I'm so in love with the feel and smell of actual books but the Kindle makes it easy to fly through a tome. Especially, the ones written specifically for the digital market. I suspect they're a lot shorter than traditional books and I've read so many in the past few weeks that I didn't even post reviews here because it would have been a ridiculous amount of posting. I think I…

Book Review - The Housewife Assassin's Handbook

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The Housewife Assassin's Handbook by Josie Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a $.99 Kindle download.

What a fun book! Donna appears to be your typical OC housewife but she's far from it. When her world was exposed as a big lie years ago, she made a career change. To assassin for the CIA. And, she's really good at it.

When a terrorist organization threatens an attack in her area, Donna has to team up with a hot but conceited agent posing as her husband to save the day.

Lots of good characters, family drama and great sex scenes. I liked the plot and that Donna isn't judged for her sexual activities.

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Me So Sad Because Me So Old

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I was out buying holiday cards from Tar-jay when they sucked me in for another purchase. Displayed all over an endcap were sets of eyeshadows, blushes and lip colors. I'm a complete sucker for those things. I can't resist the pallet of colors even though I probably wear shades of brown 6 out of 7 days.

So pretty!
All those beautiful colors at the low, low price of $10! There's no way I could resist even though I have 3 other sets of shades already at home. No, I have no willpower. And, to be fair, I don't have a lot of these same colors, especially the pinks.

Seriously, how fun will it be to play with all those colors? The thought of all the hooker eye combos I can make fills me with joy. Bonus is that I'll have plenty of browns for my boring days.

I thought it would be fun to post a picture of my first day's eyes. I used a glittery blue and two shades of purple. After spending an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out exactly where to look, I shot a pi…

Book Review - Textual Relations

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Textual Relations by Jamie Lee Scott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually purchased this for my Kindle after reading the first book in the series that was free. Just like drugs...

Mimi comes into work and finds an ugly parental situation. Her partner Jackie suspects her tween daughter is hiding something boy-related so confiscated all of her electronic devices. Jackie was right to be worried, her daughter was sexting with a pedophile. The search for the pedophile turns into a murder and kidnapping investigation.

I like these characters a lot. Mimi is cool, Charles is awesome and Nick the detective/former boyfriend is showing some layers. I'll probably buy the next book.

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Book Review - Let Us Prey

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Let Us Prey by Jamie Lee Scott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Free Kindle book.

I liked this book. Mimi is an ex-Secret Service agent who has a PI agency with two of her best friends. They're hired to protect a famous authoress who writes a popular vampire series. When someone is gruesomely murdered, Mimi gets dragged into the investigation. Making it even more interesting was that the investigating cop was Mimi's college boyfriend. Very hot boyfriend.

It was a nice read and the first in a series. I'll be checking out the next one.

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Be Happy I Didn't Take The Picture

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A big group of us headed to El Golfo which is a gorgeous beach about an hour from Rocky Point. The qualifications to attend was to bring your own beer and a "toy". The toys in question were a combination of ATVs, Quads and a heavy duty golf cart.

Our vehicles consisted of three trucks pulling trailers, Annette's Xterra and the Pirate Captain's big, red Chevy truck. We carefully navigated down the partially washed out road to the beach and got stuck at the end where we couldn't go any further because another group had parked an old school bus, a popup camper/car and a couple of tents (including a teepee) at the end of the road to the beach and even pulled a rope across the road to stop all traffic.

So, we stopped about 100 yards away from them up on the road and lugged our stuff down to the beach via human effort and Quad delivery. As we were unpacking our popups, two of the guys came over from the other group and started talking to us. The older guy was the spoke…

Book Review - Dead End Job

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Dead End Job by Ingrid Reinke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Another free Kindle read.

Louisa is an Admin for the legal department of a PR company in the midst of a big merger. She's a hot mess at the beginning of the book. Slacker at work, anxiety-prone and a mess around men. I found that to be laid on a bit thick and discordant as she managed to still have a full social life and a lot of great friends.

When people at the firm start dying, Louisa is a suspect and also in danger. She half-heartedly tries to discover who's killing her co-workers but can't get past her hots for a good looking cop and the office cutie.

I saw some growth in Louisa but it felt a little forced considering the shortness of the timeframe for the story.

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Book Review - Ex and the Single Girl

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Ex and the Single Girl by Lani Diane Rich
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Got this for free to read on the Kindle.

Good story. Portia is depressed after her boyfriend of two years leaves her on Valentine's Day with just a note written in the front of his recently published but unsuccessful book. Her Mom calls and asks her to come home to their small town and help with the family bookstore.

When she arrives, she finds that her Mom, Aunt and Grandmother have set her up to have a fling with a visiting British author. Lots of family drama as Portia tries to discover what the women in her family do to chase men away and there's an added element when her ex-boyfriend shows back up.

This was a nice, light read. However, I gave it two stars instead of three because of the formatting and typographical errors. They drove me nuts.

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John Patti Sandwich

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I made my annual trip to Key West at the end of October for Meeting of The Minds. It's where several thousand parrot heads take over the island and follow all things Trop-Rock.

Two great things about the event are the chance to meet some wonderful people from across the country and to see a lot of musicians. And, meet a lot of musicians. So, that makes three great things. The Trop-Rock people are super friendly and really gracious with, and grateful for, their fans.

I was working Registration on Thursday morning and had two super volunteers, Lorene and Joe at one of the desks. I swear they worked more hours during the convention than I did and I'm an assistant Chair.

In walked John Patti and his Dad, John Patti, Sr. Lorene was so excited! She got in between them for a hug then moved back to her job. I stopped her and said, "Do it again so I can get a picture." Man, that was even more exciting! She lunged between them and almost knocked down Jr in her exuberance.

I as…

This is just a test...

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So, I have an iPhone5 and I love it more than is healthy. It's awesome!

I just loaded the Blogger app and created this post with a picture from the Roller Derby from the photos on my phone. Yes, I went to the Roller Derby on Saturday and it was the BEST people watching.

It will be interesting to see how this post looks when I'm done.

Book Review - Bemused

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Bemused by Catherine Winchester
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A friend gave me his old Kindle to try out so I got this book free from Amazon to read on that device. I thought I would find it annoying because I'm a really fast reader and there's not a lot of text on one page but I very quickly got used to it and I liked the portability.

On to the book, Niall is a Scottish property developer who is attacked by vampires one night while leaving the pub. Suddenly appearing to rescue him is Mel, an apparent 20-something, beautiful woman. She fights off the vampires then reveals to Niall that she is a 6,000 year old Muse and has been giving him inspiration since he was a small child.

Mel is tired of sitting on the sidelines so she enlists Niall into solving a supernatural case of a hotel with mysterious, malicious incidents and the two become increasingly closer emotionally.

This was just OK. Pretty much a fluffy, paranormal romance without the hot sex that those books often have.

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Book Review - Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was our book club selection. I was happy about that because I wanted to read this book but couldn't muster the energy on my own to tackle 600 pages.

We really didn't like it.

The first 200 pages, I thought, "What an asshole" on every page. Jobs was one crazy, self-absorbed, delusional dude. However, a brilliant dude when it came to vision. When it came to execution, it's hard to know what was Jobs and what wasn't because he took credit for a lot of others' work. And, for a guy who said he didn't care about money, he certainly screwed a lot of people out of some large sums.

Most of us felt that the writing was what distracted us. It read to me like a "look at all the research I did" tome with lots of small stories in it. Others found the jumping back and forth on the timeline annoying.

I knew a lot more about Jobs than the other members in my book club so the major things weren't …

Book Review - Frozen Heat

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Frozen Heat by Richard Castle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love these books because of the brilliant tie-in to the show and tongue in cheek style that Castle is actually writing these based on his experience working with Becket and crew.

A Jane Doe is found dead in a suitcase. The suitcase turns out to be detective Nikki Heat's (based on Becket) from when she was a child. The investigation leads to a tie-in to Heat's Mother's murder from ten years ago and sends Heat and Rook on a transcontinental search for evidence. Add in the CIA, Homeland Security and police station politics and it added up to a good story.

If you like the show, Castle, you'll love these books. He really is ruggedly handsome.

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Book Review - City of Glass

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City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This read like the end of a trilogy but with a small opening for more (which there are). However, I may be satisfied with just the first three.

Clary, Jace and crew travel to the City of Glass, home of the Shadowhunters, to face questioning of what's transpired so far. The action heats up as Valentine enacts his evil plan and there's a big showdown. You're left until nearly the end as to who's side everyone is going to be on and what's going to happen. Needless to say, young Clary is in the middle of all of the action.

Again, Cassandra Clare doesn't steer away from serious issues and she showed she's not unwilling to let some of her characters die.

A reason why I may stop at this book is that I saw the major plot twists coming from nearly the beginning of the book. There are plenty of clues and, frankly, issues could have been resolved much earlier if people had just freaking talked to each other. Tha…

Book Review - City of Ashes

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City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Clary and gang are after the big bad, Valentine, former Shadowhunter and the man who's stealing the Mortal Instruments (magical items) so that he can force his will on the world of man, magical creatures and demons.

Again, the young characters are full of drama but also face serious issues and decisions. I can see teens and tweens really liking this series.

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Book Review - City of Bones

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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up the first three books in this series at Changing Hands for my recent trip to Florida. I thought they would make good airplane reading and they did.

Clary Fray appears to be your average teenager living with her very cool artist Mom in NYC. She and her best friend Simon go out to a rave club one night and Clary sees an attack by three teenagers on another and an apparent murder. The problem is that no one else can see them and the body disappeared before her eyes.

Turns out, Clary comes from the Shadowhunter society where humans with magical enhancements fight off demons who prey on mundanes (or humans as we like to be called). There are your standard paranormals in here. Fairies, vamps, werewolves, etc. and even mentions of angels.

The first book follows Clary as she tries to make sense of her new world view and is romanced by Jace, one of the young Shadowhunters. It's a YA book so the characters are overdramati…

Book Review - The Power of Habit

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I already had this on my library reserve list when our CEO talked about it at a company meeting. He made me want to read it even more.

Duhigg explains how habits create actual changes to our brains, why it's so hard to change them and how some people are seemingly able to change while most people struggle.

He also talks about keystone habits which have more influence than other habits. If you change a keystone habit, it has a ripple effect on other habits. For example, if you develop an exercising habit, you'll eat, drink and smoke less, sleep more and spend less money. If you develop a financial budgeting habit, you'll exercise more, eat, drink and smoke less and sleep more.

Duhigg gives lots of examples from science, business, sports and personal stories of people who experienced very destructive habits. As I was reading, I was reminded of what they've been trying …

Book Review - The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf

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The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man, I am ripping through Molly Harper books like there is no proverbial tomorrow.

This one finds Pack Alpha Maggie facing some challenges. Someone seems out to get her, she has a persistent but unwanted suitor from another pack, yet another pack wants to take over her territory and a human scientist shows up to prove his theory that werewolves exist. If it were any other scientist, he might have met a tragic "accident" but he's a young hottie.

Fun stuff!

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Book Review - Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors

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Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice ending to Jane's story (though I suspect she will be in a supporting role in future books). Jane and Gabriel are finally going to get hitched now that the government is allowing vampires to marry. Of course, all does not go well. With a vindictive spirit haunting her house, a potential killer stalking Gabriel and trying to keep her Mom from taking over the wedding, one would think Jane has enough going on. Nope. Add in her reluctant but requested turning of a young vampire childe and the mix gets overwhelming.

I love these characters and I hope Harper includes them in her next books which look to center around a newly introduced character in this one.

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Book Review - First, Break All The Rules

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First, Break All The Rules: What The Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A group of managers from our company read this as a book club. Lots of discussion ensued as we devoted up to 90 minutes per chapter.

There was a lot of great material to make you think.

Buckingham does a hierarchy of employee needs based on 12 questions. I'll paraphrase some "Do you know what is expected of you? "Do you have the tools to do your job right?" "Have you been praised for your performance in that past 7 days?" Like Maslow's hierarchy, basic needs have to be satisfied before satisfying higher needs positively affects performance. For example, if an employee doesn't know what's expected of them, giving them rewards won't increase their job satisfaction.

What also touched me (because I've been doing a lot of this lately) was the message about hiring for talent, not necessarily skills. And, to consider that …

Book Review - Nice Girls Don't Live Forever

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Nice Girls Don't Live Forever by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun addition to the series.

Jane and her vampire boyfriend break up so she's trying to deal with that grief while supporting her werewolf friend and human husband who are having a baby, getting her book store remodeled and running, fighting with her sister and Grandma and, of course, being stalked by an unknown crazy.

I love all the characters in these books, especially Dick Cheney (a pre-Civil War vamp who wears inappropriate t-shirts and dallies in illegal behavior).

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Book Review - Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men

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Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another entertaining book from Molly Harper.

In this one, Jane is stuck in bridesmaid hell for Jolene's wedding. She's also worrying about her boyfriend's frequent trips and clearly secretive behavior. To top it off, her Grandma (a very unpleasant person) is engaged to a, well, something not quite human.

I really like Jane and her growing circle of friends. I think I would hang out with them in real life.

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Book Review - Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs

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Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jane Jameson had a bad day. She got fired from her job at the library, got drunk then sober at a local bar then met a tragic accident on her way home to then wake up three days later as a newly made vampire.

Not only does Jane have to deal with her new vampire life, she's being framed for the murder of another vamp and is also the victim of rumors that she's a big vamp ho. Oh, and there are two hot vamps after her bod so she's got that going for her.

Molly Harper is a really fun author. Her heroines aren't wimpy, whiny chicks. They're the type that faces their challenges and move on. I really dig her writing.

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Book Review - Rapture

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Rapture by Lauren Kate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The final book in the series. Daniel, Lucinda and friends have nine days to locate three artifacts that will lead to finding the exact spot where the angels fell from Heaven so they can stop Lucifer from resetting history. I saw a lot of the story coming but it was still a nice end to the story.

These were decent teen fiction books.

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Book Review - Biting Cold

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Biting Cold by Chloe Neill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I could go 3 1/2 stars, I would.

Merit and Ethan head off to capture a renegade sorceress who's after a magical book that can release unimaginable evil. The reappearance of an enemy and the threatened expulsion from the world Vampire organization are also on their plate.

Merit continues to grow on me and grow as a character. Ethan is doing the same but at a much slower pace. I guess 400 year olds don't change that quickly.

Really dig this series.

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Book Review - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this for our book club this month. That choice was met with a mixed reception.

I enjoyed it. I dig historical fiction and I love vampires so, as long as this was well written, how could I not enjoy it?

The gist of the story is that the author is given a set of diaries by a semi-stranger who tells him to write the story. The diaries are allegedly Lincoln's and tell his tale of why he hates vampires and how that hate led to his disgust of slavery.

There was clearly a lot of research done for this book which was cool. After our discussion, I had to agree that it would have been better if there had been some closure on why the diaries were given to someone at that point of time and what happened to the author (because he writes it in the first person) after he finished the work.

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Book Review - Passion

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Passion by Lauren Kate
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought there were only three books in this series so I was looking for a big finish. Oops, there's one more.

This book was mostly Luce and Daniel flitting back through Luce's previous incarnations as Luce tries to discover how to break their curse and Daniel tries to stop her from changing history or hurting herself. While the past lives were interesting, I don't know that I needed a whole book of them.

It is now set up for a big finish, however, so I'll be checking out the next book.

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Book Review - How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf

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How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The plot is straight out of Romance Writing 101. Heroine moves away from family after breakup to small town where she's at first a fish out of water but then finds acceptance and love.

The twist? The love interest is a werewolf. Sweet!

There's actually more to the story than basic romance plotting and I really enjoyed it.

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Book Review - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting story. Yeine Darr is the young leader of one of many kingdoms in the realm. After her mother dies mysteriously, she is summoned by her Grandfather, ruler of all, and named one of his heirs. That doesn't sit too well with his other two heirs and there's a lot of intrigue and violence and, oh, yeah, gods as slaves.

This is the first in a series but it could stand alone.

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Book Review - Torment

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Torment by Lauren Kate
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Second in the series and I think I'm too old for it. This is a teen fiction book and it has some of those Twilight elements that annoy me. Young girl think guy is her soulmate even though she doesn't know him, has other great boy interested in her, etc.

That said, the story is at least continuing. Luce is hiding out at another school for angel/demons while Daniel and Cam try to protect her from the Outcast angels. She doesn't make it easy as she keeps leaving the school to investigate her past lives. Several new characters and Luce finally starts taking matters into her own hands. I have the third book on hold at the library and am intrigued at how the End Times all play out.

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George and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Which Could Have Been MUCH Worse)

The short version of the story:  George makes a miraculous recovery and George's Mommy saves $1,000.

The long version...

Several months ago, George started doing something very bad. She started peeing on my bed. I couldn't  find anywhere else in the house except right there, on top of the comforter. Nice. Other than that behavior, she seemed perfectly fine. Still eating and drinking and actually using her litter box.

I took her to the Vet and he said she probably had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) so he gave her a newish antibiotic which is in a shot and works up to 14 days. They tested her urine and found one lone crystal in it. He told me at the time that it could take up to 6 weeks of treatment to make a UTI go away.

About ten days later, the peeing on the bed started again. I took her back to the Vet and she got another shot and also an oral antibiotic which I had to give her twice a day for two weeks. Since I was leaving town (of course) in ten days, I said I would be ba…

Book Review - 13

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13 by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really nice finish to the series. We got a good wrap-up of the storyline developed in the past two books and left the characters in a good place. All is not right with the world so you know they will have further adventures but at least all is right with the world in that moment.

This book was mostly told from Savannah's viewpoint but Eve, Jamie, Paige, Hope and Elena all got a little bit of the story to tell, as well. I love how strong the women are in this series and how it doesn't take away from how strong the men are as well. There are a nice number of well balanced relationships.

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Book Review - Drink Deep

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Drink Deep by Chloe Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm really enjoying this series.

Merit is trying to get over Ethan when a series of mystical events start plaguing Chicago. The general public blames vampires. The GP (vampire authority) is investigating Merit's vampire house as to its worthiness and restricting their involvement in solving the puzzle. Also, there's a new mayor in town who is using supernaturals as a platform to higher political office (hmmm, sounds like AZ and some politicians' stands on immigration).

I like the characters in here and I really like that Merit may whine a bit but then she bites the bullet and faces issues head on.

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Book Review - Shadow of Night

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Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Man, I wish I liked these books more because everyone is raving about them.

Diana and Matthew go back in time so she can learn how to control her witchcraft and they can hide from those looking for them. We got a lot of Elizabethan life which was interesting and I liked how Harkness wrote in folks like Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth. What I didn't like was how it dragged on. And, her lessons in magic and how she learns to cast her spells were silly to me. Oh, and never mind how much they changed the future by being in Matthew's past.

Will I read the third book? Probably, just to see how it turns out. Will I rush to read the third one when it comes out? Not likely.

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Where In The World Is Kathy?

I don't know why I think I'll get back to regular posting on this blog when I can't seem to stay home for more than a few days in a row.

Here's my recent travel:

7/27 - 8/6 Tour of my Wisconsin Homeland with my parents.

8/6 - 8/10 Calgary for work.

8/17 - 8/19 California for a Disneyland visit.

8/23 - 8/26 Minnesota for a Parrot Head event.

8/31 - 9/2 Litchfield Park, AZ for our local Parrot Head event.

Add in a few sick days, two football drafts, book club, poker, the planning for our local event and a few other Parrot Head events and there was barely time to sleep. Certainly no time to clean as is clearly evident to the trusted few I've let enter my hovel.

The good news is that I'm not on the road again for almost two months. The bad news is that I have to shovel out the hovel because I'm hosting book club this month. OK, I guess that should count as good news, too. It's way overdue.

What Did The Rabbit Ever Do To You?

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We were in our department meeting today and our boss started telling a story about how his Uncle took his brother and him rabbit hunting when they were kids. The boys used rifles to shoot the rabbits and that was hard and the Uncle used a shotgun and, while it was easier to kill the bunny, it was a lot of cleaning before you could eat them.
He was using it as some sort of analogy on our big project and the few items we have left to complete. Apparently, he wants to use a rifle to finish the job and avoid the shotgun. I think it's just good that I don't own any firearms considering how the past few months have gone. 
I don't know what all he was going for because I couldn't get past the thought of shooting rabbits and I said so. "That's a terrible analogy. I don't want to think about killing little innocent bunnies. I keep picturing Thumper and it's just wrong."
It didn't take long for my brain to do a few mental table joins and this was then …

Beggars Can Be Choosers

My friend Cheryl and I drove over to California on Friday night so we could hit the Disney parks early on Saturday. We left after work and by the time we got to Blythe we were a might peckish. After checking out the fast food establishments on the right side of the freeway, we decided on Jack in the Box, or Jack in the Crack as we like to call it.

As I pulled into a parking spot, we were facing a Circle K and saw two dudes on the side of the building. One was walking around, more like weaving, with a paper bag covered object in his hand. The other was sitting on the side of the building.

I said to Cheryl, "There's some men for us. Which one do you want?" She replied, "Well, the one who can't walk away, of course!"

We went inside to get our dinner and when we got back to the car weaving guy was nowhere in sight but sitting guy was actually up and approaching my car.

"Excuse me, I don't mean to bother you but I haven't eaten and I was wondering i…

Water Magnet

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I went to Disneyland on Saturday with my friend Cheryl. Our friendship goes back to high school and we've been to many theme parks together. She knows very well that I hate the water rides because I always get soaked. She also knows she can get me to go on them anyway though I'll bitch the whole time.

We hit Splash Mountain early in the day. My Facebook status afterwards? "Well played, Splash Mountain. Well played."

Half soaked
My right leg got completely soaked as did my sandals. I had my camera in that pocket but it made it through unscathed. While I wasn't literally dripping wet, I did leave some damp seats in my wake on the next few rides.

Cheryl? Even though she was sitting directly behind me, she was dry.

Just as I was getting to only slightly damp, we went over to California Adventure and just had to go on Grizzly River Run. That's the one where eight people sit in a really big tube and go through the rapids.

I loathe that ride.

The woman sitting direc…

What Are The Odds?

It seems fitting that I restart the blog with a small world story since I love those so much.

We got an email on Wednesday from Ladd, the President of the Dubuque, IA Parrot Head Club. He was in town for business and wanted to know if there was a chance to meet up with some local club members. I was happy to tell him that we were going to be at our Margaritaville on Thursday for their summer entertainment night and that we'd love for him to join us.

He noticed that I have my blog referenced in my email signature and mentioned that he was from Madison. That's not the small world part of the story as lots of people are from Wisconsin.

As we were chatting last night, I told him about the family visit that I had just made with my parents back to the homeland. He asked where my parents were from and I said my Mom was from Baraboo and my Dad was from Wisconsin Dells. He told me his Dad was from Lake Delton which is 3 miles away from the Dells.

He whipped out his phone and sent a tex…

Book Review - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Sherman Alexie's writing and have read most of his books but didn't realize he did a Young Adult tome. I read this because it was our book club choice this month.

Mostly based on his own life, the story is told by Indian Arnold Spirit, JR, better known as Junior. Junior is persuaded to move from the reservation school to a public school 22 miles away. This makes him an outcast on the reservation and at the new school he's an outcast until he becomes the star of the basketball team. His struggle between two worlds is a big part of the story.

This book is filled with serious topics of alcohol abuse, poverty, violence, sex, death and racism. It's told in a way that makes it very relatable and the illustrations by Ellen Forney are a great addition to the story. I would recommend it to everyone from tweens on up. It's an eye-opening story for those not familiar with life on …

Book Review - Fallen

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Fallen by Lauren Kate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A young adult book that was kind of angsty but I still liked it.

Luce Price has always seen dark, threatening shadows and has spent lots of time in therapy and on drugs for her "craziness". When she's sent to a new reform school, she meets a lot of interesting characters, including two boys. One who pursues her, the other who avoids her. Of course, she likes the one who avoids her. Because it's a paranormal story, there are lots of reveals on supernatural beings, reincarnation and the battle for humankind and Earth.

First in a series and I'll read the second one.

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Book Review - The Next Best Thing

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The Next Best Thing: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Weiner's latest is about Ruth Saunders, a young woman who was horribly scarred in the car accident that killed her parents when she was a child. Her Grandma raised her and encouraged her to write then pursue her dream in Hollywood as a writer. Ruth's dream of frontrunning a TV show is realized but then turns into a nightmare of the studio interfering, stars being divas and her own insecurities.

NIce view of the world behind the TV screen and I wonder how much of it was inspired by Weiner's short stint of producing her own TV show.

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Book Review - Let's Pretend This Never Happened

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Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this book! Jenny Lawson, known as The Bloggess with a blog following in the hundreds of thousands, is funny, touching and incredibly open. Her stories from growing up with her Dad's taxidermy hobby and penchant to keeping wild animals in the house to her tales about the many fights she and her husband have are hilarious. I totally want to hang out with her. When she talks about her anxiety issues, I want to hug her and tell her it's all going to be OK.

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Book Review - Survivor

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Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was our book club selection for the month.

Plahniuk is clearly one of those people that make you wonder, "How is his brain so different that it comes up with crazy stuff like this?" I was reminded of Kurt Vonnegut's work when reading this book.

Tender Branson is the last survivor of a religious cult who goes on to fame and fortune then complete, tragic, failure. This book skewers the rich, celebrity and organized religion and the masses who follow it. It's surreal yet often believable. We get the story of Tender's life as he recites it into the black box of a plane he's hijacked and intends to crash to the ground with when the fuel runs out. Or, does he?

Very clever writing and good discussion material.

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Book Review - Blood Oath

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Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The world is a dark and scary place filled with more dangers than just terrorists and Republicans. :-)

Fortunately, for the US, the President has a super agent working for him to fight against werewolves, aliens and monsters of unimaginable evil. What makes his agent rise above all others is that he's one of the monsters. A vampire tied by oath to the Presidential office for 140 years, Nathaniel Cade is a lean, mean predator. Along with his new handler, former White House staffer Zach Barrows, Cade must investigate and diffuse a horrific attack on the US.

Good stuff and a nice combination of paranormal and spy stories.

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Book Review - The Forgotten Garden

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The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was not my intent to read this 549 page book in one setting but I did. I had to stay up until 3 AM to do it but I found I just couldn't put it down after I got 100 pages in.

The story crosses over years between the early 1900s up to 2005 and tells the tales of three women, Cassandra, Nell and Eliza. Cassandra is a young widow living in Australia with her Grandmother, Nell, who raised her since she was a small child. When Nell passes away, Cassandra finds out what her Grandmother learned on her 21st birthday. Nell's parents found her as a four year old who had been abandoned on a ship from England to Australia and raised her as her own.

Cassandra also finds her Grandmother's journals as she tried to discover her identity. Armed with a book of fairy tales, written by Eliza Makepeace and found in young Nell's suitcase, Cassandra endeavors to complete the search for Nell's family.

It was a beautiful story f…

Book Review - Undead and Unstable

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Undead and Unstable by MaryJanice Davidson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finally! Some actual action and plot progression. It's about time.

This was a good airplane read. Vampire Queen Betsy and friends actually spent some time talking to each other in this entry in the series and Betsy did more than just flit around and whine. It's about time because I was going to abandon the series if this book wasn't enjoyable. It was and I look forward to the next book.

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Book Review - Shadow and Bone

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice fantasy selection.

Alina Starkov is an orphan in a world of magic with a gaping divide of darkness with flesh eating monsters. She and her childhood companion are in the army but Alina soon shows that she possesses incredible magic that hasn't been seen in ages. Alina is whisked off for training by the Darkling, a wizard who controls the magical folks under the command of their King. Palace intrigue, politics, magic and a love story ensue as Alina tries to learn to control her power and survive the machinations of others.

This was a nice first entry in the series. I will definitely be checking out the next book when it's released.

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Book Review - The Innocent

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The Innocent by David Baldacci
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Baldacci's writing so I knew I would enjoy this book.

Will Robie is an assassin for the US government. He's dispatched on an assignment but chooses to not make the kill because it doesn't feel right. Soon, he's on the lam with a young girl whose parents have been murdered. It was a good story of Will putting the pieces together and developing relationships with people, especially the girl.

I did figure some stuff out before it was revealed but enough of the story was a surprise to keep me interested.

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Book Review - Kabul Beauty School

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Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was our book club selection and we all really enjoyed it. Rodriguez' story was both humorous and heartbreaking. The humor came from her stories of not following the Afghani way and the heartbreak from the stories of her pupils. The women of Afghanistan appear to be very much victimized by their society. Yes, that's coming from a Western viewpoint but giving away child brides, beating women and restricting them from leaving their homes should be universally viewed as wrong.

The gist of the story is that Rodriguez, without a lot of forethought, heads off to Afghanistan to teach women how to be hair stylists so they can earn their own money and potentially start their own businesses. While there, Rodriguez impulsively marries and becomes a second wife. She seems to ultimately be OK with that which was strange. However, the relationship seemed to sincerely work albeit with…

I'm Not Dead Yet

I'm pretty sure this is the longest I've gone without posting on my blog since I started it. It's been almost a month.

It's not that I don't have lots to write about. Work is sooooooo busy and my social life is just as full. I'm just so overwhelmed between the two that, when I do manage to have some down time at home, all I want to do is watch mindless TV and drink wine.

Seriously, my mind is mush and my energy level is non-existent. My house and my yard are a mess, I'm behind on club administrative work and all I can think about is sitting in the chair with the DVR controller in hand. Up until this weekend, I had only read one book this month and only because it was for book club.

Sad.

I think about writing something and even halfway compose it but it just seems like too much work to actually type it all out. Actually, it seems like too much energy to even take my laptop out of its case when I get home.

You know it's got to be bad when I don't even…

Book Review - Fifty Shades of Grey

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Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I had to read this since everyone else is. Yep, reads like Twilight fan fiction all right. Innocent heroine stalked by older, very experienced male with instant love based on nothing more than pheromones. Or, in this case, how a dude looks in grey pants and how a girl bites her lip.

I didn't think the writing was great and the emails as exposition device was lazy.

However, I have to give it up to James on the sex scenes. They are well worth the rest of the book. Man, smoking hot. I think every dude with a lady should be looking for some tips there.

I'll probably read the next two books and feel ashamed of myself that I fell into the hype just as I did when I finished the third Twilight book.

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