Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shameless Shit #26 - Make a Mistake

I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent human being. I always did well in school, and my friends don't hesitate to ask me questions about things that they don't know because they assume I might know about them. I'm not saying I'm a certifiable genius or anything, just slightly above average.

Right now, I am working on my Master's degree. I've been working on it for several semesters, so it's not my first semester doing this. However, I made a big kind of mistake the last two weeks - I noticed on the assignments that it referenced Section A, B, C, etc. Since I didn't see any sort of section markings in the chapter, I just assumed it was a faux pas on the part of the professor and that she just meant subchapter 1, 2, 3, and so on. But as I participated in the discussion boards this week, I noticed some posts on things I hadn't read yet... and started getting the distinct feeling that I was doing something wrong. I emailed the professor, and felt really dumb when she responded with the following:
" if you look in the table of contents of the Frost, Nord & Krefting text, you’ll notice that they DO use Roman numerals for sections and alpha for the individual readings."

Duh, Jess!! ;) So now I'm about 20+ readings behind... sigh... in terms of mistakes, this one is one that made me feel really stupid and questioned my decision to work towards a Masters degree. Or if nothing else, it served me a big ol' piece of gluten free humble pie.

Sorta Recommended Read - Dancing with a Vampire by Anthony Auriemma and Carolyn Chambers Clark

DANCING WITH A VAMPIRE: A Paranormal RomanceDANCING WITH A VAMPIRE: A Paranormal Romance by Anthony Auriemma

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you took Dancing with the Stars, combined it with Twilight, and mixed in a little bit of Hairspray, you'd have the ingredients for this book! However, that meant it often felt predictable and cliche. There were lots of spelling and editing errors (and I'm not even counting the times when they tried to use them to portray an accent, such as the Russian dance instructor), and the use of quotation marks was all over the place! The storyline was really only so-so, and the characters were a little too flat and cliched to really draw me in emotionally. With some editing, I could bump this up to a 3.5.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finally a new recommended ebook of the week!

I've been falling behind a bit in my duties here... but I know you forgive me for having a life! ;) Anyway, felt like putting up a spooky horror story this week. It says it's good for "ages 10 and up," and is marked as "children's fiction," but from reading the blurb I'm thinking it might be better suited for adults. It's called Kissed by a Clown.

Here's the blurb:
"A clown moves into town. And everything goes to Hell.

When he was four years old, an evil clown took Daniel Rodgers into the woods.
“Ever been kissed by a clown, Danny?” he whispered. “It’s to die for.”
As it turned out, the clown was the one who died. Or so Daniel thought.
But now, years later, the clown is back. And he’s got more on his mind this time than just a peck on the cheek.
There’s a dark plague spreading through the town of Baker City—one kiss at a time. The infected appear normal enough. But behind their twisted ear-to-ear grins, something is wrong. Terribly wrong. Soon there’ll be no one left.
No matter how much Daniel tells himself that it’s impossible, the clown has come back.
And he’s brought Hell with him.

“Kissed by a Clown” is the first book of WELCOME TO HELL, the new series from master of terror O. Penn-Coughin (“open coffin”).

WARNING: this book is not for wimps, the squeamish, or those prone to nightmares. “Kissed by a Clown” will seriously challenge even the most brave-hearted bejeezus not to run away screaming.

For ages 10 and up. (The American Association of Clowns has certified that no actual clowns were harmed in the writing of this book.)"

If you want to buy it and decide for yourself, just click here or click the link on the left side of this blog. Enjoy!

Shameless Shit #1 - Declare Your Love for an Uncool TV Show

While I don't often get a chance to watch tv, I think the majority of what I watch could be considered "uncool." I'm your stereotypical sci-fi-obsessed, reality-tv -show-loving, crazy gal (yes, I realize there really is no such thing as a sci-fi reality show, but if there was, I'd probably watch it).

Yes, I can quote Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Stargate (SG1, not those newer shows), and you can often catch me trying to throw a "Gordon Ramsey Fit" after watching one of his many fabulous reality shows, or catch me working out because I just watched The Biggest Loser and think I might end up like one of those folks... but I think the most uncool tv show that I ever loved was That 70's House. It was seriously dumb, and I loved every minute of it. I'm not surprised that it didn't ever catch on to a second season. When That 70's House was on air was the only period in my life that I have ever had cable tv, and it proved to me that I can live without cable! ;)

So, now it's out there. Yes, I shamelessly admit that not only did I watch That 70's House, but I actually enjoyed it.

What's Up Wednesday - Blogs of Note

So if you are a fellow blogger, you may have noticed that hidden in your dashboard, behind all the blogs you are currently following and their many updates, there is a tab labeled "Blogs of Note."

Today, I thought to myself - hmmm, what is a blog of note? Apparently, someone at blogger picks out random blogs they think are interesting. They don't really say anything else about the process, like how they choose or what it might take to become said blog of note.

I clicked the tab, and here are the blogs it led me to:
1) Rex Parker Does the NY Times Crossword Puzzle - This is actually an insanely funny and interesting read, it's someone who does the crossword puzzle then writes a post about the clues, etc. I dig it because it's writing and knowledge based.
2) Evie Jayne Elsaaesser - A personal blog about a little girl named Evie who has a rare bone disease. She is the second daughter, so I feel bad for the first daughter who probably feels a little neglected.
3) Eksi Besiktas - not in English, so I honestly have no idea what it is about.
4) Kat O' Nine Tales - a pretty hilarious blog from a personal standpoint, and a fellow author. She has been doing this "30 posts of shameless shit" that I think I might have to borrow.
5) Who Is Mr. Mister - I don't really get this, but I guess it's supposed to be a blog about a retail store. All it looks like to me is a bunch of old photos of guys.
6) The Nearsighted Owl - looking at all the cursive on this blog nearly made ME nearsighted... seems to be just a regular ol' bloggity blog where a gal shares about her life. Kind of refreshing, kind of boring, all at the same time.
7) - yep, couldn't even try to sit and type that out and figure out where the word breaks were. Definitely not English.
8) Mountain Wandering - Posts describe trails, with pictures and facts. This blog belongs to a guy who owns a hiking map and book store - makes sense!
9) What's Good at Trader Joe's - Fan-blogging at it's best! The blogger takes us on a review of various products at Trader Joe's and gives ratings. There's only one Trader Joe's in my area and it's a half hour away, so I don't shop there. But maybe if I did, this would be interesting.
10) Cliff Mass Weather Blog - Weather. All the time, every time! ;) It's got charts and graphs and all sorts of weather eye candy. But, I live in a state with a greater variety of weather than the Pacific Northwest, so not all that interesting to me.

So, after looking these over, I might be interested in two out of the ten blogs they thought were noteworthy. That's a little less than a quarter.... maybe they need to hire me to pick the blogs of note! ;)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sorta Recommended Read - Discontents by James Wallace Birch

DiscontentsDiscontents by James Wallace Birch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honestly, this book wasn't for me. I wanted to love it, since I love a good crime-solver, action-packed, mystery type of book - but this book didn't pull me in, and I had a hard time finishing it.

The language was difficult, and the author was very wordy. There were several spelling errors present in the text.

However, the concept was interesting and it was very ideological. The reader follows a blogger who inadvertently ends up becoming a figurehead for a massive political movement. When he gets an offer that he can't refuse that would allow him to quit his crummy waiter job and write full time, he takes it... but finds out that not everyone can be trusted.

Overall, this story wasn't for me, but I think it would be a good read for those who like a high level of language and the idea of reading about political uprising.

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Freebie Flop: Simon High Death by Blair Burden

Simon Death HighSimon Death High by Blair Burden

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While murder mysteries are generally pretty good, this particular story didn't live up to expectations. The characters were rather one-dimensional, and the story itself jumped around and was very disjointed and hard to follow. There were some grammatical issues, and it just didn't feel like this story had been developed fully. It follows the reappearance of a student who had been missing for six weeks, and the deaths of several students at Simon High. As the investigation continues, this group of friends finds themselves to be considered the most likely suspects.

A study guide for study groups is included in the back of the book, but I don't see this as being a great group book.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Up Wednesday - Ten Year Reunion

This Friday and Saturday marks my ten year high school reunion - yipes! It doesn't really feel like that much time has passed, but I suppose my expanded waistline and gray hairs say otherwise. I'm really disappointed with our planning committee - our reunion is going to be fairly lame, and I'm only going to part of it as a result. Friday activities aren't too bad - a tour of the school (they did a bunch of major work since I was attending it) and the homecoming football game (I hate football - a cardinal sin in Nebraska - but I was part of the marching band so I'd probably go until half time just to see the band do a routine). These activities are free or cheap, so no worries there.
But then Saturday... ugh, Saturday... the former class officers chose to host our reunion at a smaller, dirty bar in Omaha - at a price of $25 each, which only covers a drink per person and some appetizers! :( First of all, the bar scene isn't for me - too smoky, too dirty, too smelly. Secondly, I can't really drink because of the medications I take and my gluten allergy. Thirdly, I can't eat any of the appetizers because of my gluten allergy. So basically, my hubs and I would be spending $50 for food I can't eat, drinks I can't drink, and a crappy atmosphere. Not gonna happen!!
I was hoping we'd have more of a fun reunion, like the one in the movie Peggy Sue Got Married. Something that would be in the high school courtyard, with some catered food and just some fun mingling. Maybe even including some fun memory games, and honoring classmates who have passed in the last ten years (surprisingly, it's quite a few - we must be an unlucky class). Not a night at the bar. I was so over bars 7 years ago. I'm not 21 anymore, so who cares about a bar?
Sorry about the rant, but I guess in my mind I was looking forward to meeting up with old friends who I'd lost touch with at the reunion, but instead I'll be lucky to catch up with the few who decide to do only the Friday festivities since I won't be attending on Saturday. :( Oh well, I still have Facebook I suppose... ;) I also tried messaging a few friends who I know don't want to do Saturday night to see if we could pull together something a little more fun and relaxed on Saturday afternoon.

Anyway, in honor of my ten year, I found a great list of class reunion books on Goodreads. Click here to check it out!

Recommended Read - The Gauntlet by Karen Chance

The GauntletThe Gauntlet by Karen Chance

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though this is a fairly short book, it is action packed from the first page to the last page and highly worth the read!! The characters have great depth, and the storyline is interesting and well-written. Honestly, I wanted more - so I'm sure I'll be looking for more of Ms. Chance's work! I love that the heroine is a strong, interesting character and not just some damsel in distress, and I think the use of mystical forces is done just right. This is a very good read and suitable for all paranormal/fantasy readers.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to Pick a Good Book

Let's be honest - for every great book you read, you end up reading another that's a waste of your time. Or if you're like me and your budget basically includes only downloading free books, you end up with two poorly written books for every one brilliant book! ;)

Tonight I decided to do a little search to figure out some tips for y'all so that you can narrow the amount of bad books you read and increase the amount of incredible books! In no particular order, here they are:

1) Try the "Goldilock's Test" - make sure it's not too easy or too hard, but just right. You won't enjoy a book if you find it too simplistic/young, nor will you enjoy it if it leaves you next to the dictionary because the words are just too darn hard. Sure, this method was meant for parents to use with their kids, but I think it applies to all of us - I have a large vocabulary, but there are definitely still some books that are too hard for me to read!

2) Check out popular book club picks. Generally, if it's good enough to be read in a group, it's good enough to read alone. Generally. However, if the latest book club read is a romance and you don't like the genre, look for an older book club pick.

3) Get a recommendation. You can do this traditionally, from family or librarians, or you can do this online on a site like Goodreads, where readers review books. Or you can do this my favorite way, and read the books recommended by your favorite book blogger! :)

4) Stick with a favorite author. If your author doesn't have any more books out, or at least not any that you haven't already read, look up one of her or his books on a site like Amazon and check out the "Others who bought this also bought" section at the bottom of the page. That will usually give you some similar genres or authors.

5) Browse the shelves of your favorite section. This can be at the library, a bookstore, or online. If you know what genre you like, try out a new author in that genre. For example, I know I like mysteries. So every once in a while, I randomly browse online for mysteries to find some great new books!

6) Pick a bestseller. To quote the site, "Not all bestsellers are great books, but all great books are bestsellers." If a book is a bestseller, there's usually a good reason.

7) Use Whichbook. I'd never heard of it until I did a search for this post tonight, but now that I've found it I can't stop playing with it! :) It's a really fun little website where you can choose from a variety of factors, like happy or sad, gentle or violent, and conventional or unusual.

So there you have it, folks! Hopefully these options will help you find a great book every time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

It felt like any other day as I walked in the brisk morning air towards my early class. I was in my freshman year of college at a small, private school in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska. Since I had been used to getting up early for high school, I was still at a point where I was taking early classes, and this one began at 7am. Class went by without incident; in all honesty, I probably couldn't tell you what class it was.
It wasn't until I headed back towards the dorm and starting walking down my hall that I could hear loud voices, crying, and several loud gasps. One of my dorm mates came out into the hall and told me I should turn on my television. I turned it on, fiddled with the tin-foil topped antennae, and finally was able to pick up a signal of a local channel.
There is was, staring at me in its smoky defiance - the first trade tower had been hit. At that point, it was still assumed an accident, though the devastation was no less worse. My dorm mate and I stared in shocked silence for several moments, and then I threw down my backpack and grabbed my cellphone. I called my mom, a teacher at a small private school, to make sure she turned it on in her class. She was already watching with the other staff and the students and parents who had already arrived.
We ended the call, and just as I was putting down the phone, I saw the second plane hit. It reminded me of watching a high-budget action movie - except the people here weren't actors and stuntpeople, but everyday people like you and me just making their living. The blood wasn't ketchup; the smoke didn't come from a machine. The leading men and ladies weren't famous - they were real life heroes, from all walks of life, risking their lives to save countless others.
My cellphone rang, and my mother told me that my Aunt had been driving away when the first plane hit, but she was ok. My cousin was at the Pentagon, but he was ok too. I felt so blessed, but at the same time felt so horrible for all the families who weren't getting calls of safety, who had loved ones missing and who might have to spend hours before knowing if their loved one was alive or dead.
I didn't bother with any more classes that day, although I doubt they were held. We all just watched as our lives changed and terrorism became more than something in another country.
At the same time, many many miles away, the man who would later become my husband was just finishing up basic training in the Army - and he knew this was the moment when serving his country would involve more than he first imagined.

It's been ten years, but the memory of this tragic event will stay in the memory of all of us who witnessed it. I know I will never forget, and will always be grateful for everyday heroes.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Recommended Read - Summoned by Susan Noble

Summoned (The Elemental)Summoned by Susan Leigh Noble

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in a mystical land, this book was a refreshing change from many of the "spin-off" paranormal/fantasy books that have made their way into the market. The characters were deep and interesting, and the writing style was unique and well-done.

The story follows Lina as she finds herself fighting an urge to leave her known life behind and head north to the unknown. Along the way, she is captured by gypsies, saved by a knight, and makes friends with a motley assortment including a former thief and a large black dragon.

As a cat lover, I especially loved the character Tosh, who is Lina's faithful telepathic cat.

There were still a few grammatical/spelling errors in this book, but overall I still felt it was worthy of 5 stars because the story made up for the errors.

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TOP TEN Recommended Read - Juliet by Anne Fortier

JulietJuliet by Anne Fortier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book will sweep you away on an incredible journey that has all the suspense of The DaVinci Code and all the romance of Shakespeare! Anne Fortier has a beautiful, easy to follow writing style and uses brilliant imagery to transport the reader to Siena, Italy.
The story follows Julie as she receives a mysterious note after her aunt's death, leading her on a mystery through time as she discovers she is descended from Guilietta Tolomei, the original inspiration for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. As she searches more, she finds out what really happened, and discovers it is up to her to help break the notorious curse on her famous family.
This is not your grandmother's Shakespeare - Ms. Fortier takes Shakespeare into modern times with this well-written book, yet still preserves a rich and interesting history of the original story. There are lots of good twists and turns, and several well-placed surprises, only one of which I figured out in advance (which is unusual for me, because usually I figure things out before they happen!!).
Without a doubt, this is one of the top ten books I have read this year, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery, romance, or overall good book!

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Recommended Read - Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and LoveGalileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every once in a while you come across a book that leaves you feeling fascinated with a new subject and increases your overall life knowledge. This book is one of those rare masterpieces! Rather than a dry, boring historical biography, we are drawn in to discover the true personalities and struggles of the famous astrologist/philosopher/mathematician Galileo and his eldest daughter, Sister Maria Celeste. These two remarkable people come alive in this touching narrative, through a series of letters and accounts of historical occurrences that impacted them both. The reader will find herself transported to a time when the Bubonic Plague claimed many lives; a time when the Pope determined what books could and could not be published; and a time when radical new ideas and scientific advances could be seen as heresy rather than breakthroughs.

This is a book that is truly worth reading, especially for those who seek to walk away feeling smarter than they were before reading it.

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Recommended Read - Voodoo Dues by Stephany Simmons

Voodoo Dues (Lian and Figg #1)Voodoo Dues by Stephany Simmons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was initially very put off by the author filling the first several pages of her book with reviews - personally, I find that very distasteful. I say if you want to include reviews in your eBook, put them at the end so those of us who just want to dive right into the story don't have to skip through several pages of self-promotion please!!

However, I decided to give the book a chance anyway, and was happily impressed by the interesting main characters. We are introduced to a bar owner who doesn't really want to own a bar, and a waitress/bartender who finds herself drawn in to a paranormal world. In fact, the entire setting and full cast of characters showed the writing prowess of the author - it's too bad that she had to go and spoil her work by putting reviews in the first several pages. I feel that the book itself merits five stars, but with reviews cluttering up the first few pages I can only give it four.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Recommended eBook of the Week

Happy post-Labor Day to all my American Readers!! Are the rest of you feeling as worn out as I am? Long weekends always seem to do that to me... well, that coupled with the fact that school started up again last week and we have a guy over refinishing the floor in one of our bedrooms...

Anywho, I was too busy last week to update my recommended eBook, but I have a new one up today! In honor of me working on my Master's of Science in Management, I chose a book that focuses on business and creating a smart strategy. Here's the description:
" Sorting your Enemies from your Advocates, your Players from your Critics, is just one step in the Stakeholder Influence Process described in this book. Developed by the author while working with executives, leaders, and managers around the world, it will help you to achieve your goals faster and with greater buy-in. In just one hour you can be up and running with a new influencing strategy."

Sound good to you? Just click the link on the side of my blog, or click here, to get the book! Happy reading!!

Recommended Read - The Haunting of Twentieth-Century America by William J. Birnes and Joel Martin

The Haunting of Twentieth-Century AmericaThe Haunting of Twentieth-Century America by William J. Birnes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I haven't read the predecessor to this book, I still obtained a lot of interesting information and greatly enjoyed my read. The copy I had was an uncorrected proof, so there were still a few editing errors. However, this book contained well-researched ideas and presented interesting claims for the reader to ponder. From exploring the Nazis and their ties to the occult, to psychic dreams, and even to the use of astrologists by former U.S. Presidents, this book opens the readers' minds to the idea that paranormal events occur in many aspects of life.

As a college student working on my undergraduate degree, I actually had the chance to take Parapsychology, and so was familiar with some of the stories presented in this book. However, the Parapsychology of modern times does not match its early roots as described in this book. No longer is Parapsychology setting out to prove paranormal events, but rather is used to dispute claims ranging from spirits to religion. Personally, I find this to be slightly sad, and wish that Parapsychology would go back to its roots.

Though skeptical of some things, I still believe that there are paranormal events that happen every day that cannot be explained away with science or reasoning. This book helps solidify my belief. Though dry in some parts, it is overall a very good read and I recommend it to believers and skeptics alike.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Recommended Read - Playing with Fire

Playing with FirePlaying with Fire by Coral Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This anthology of scary stories is like picking several horror movies at random from the video store - some of the stories are true masterpieces of scary, while others leave much to be desired. The few so-so stories included in this anthology are easily eclipsed by the better stories, making it a worthwhile read overall. The better stories are sure to make your skin crawl and force you to look over your shoulder in paranoia!

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Want to win some cool book swag?

Today I found a really fun little giveaway through a blog - it is three different sets of Banned Book swag!! It includes totes, shirts, bumper stickers, etc. My fave has to be the shirt that says, "The Worst Part About Censorship is the -----------"!! :)

Anyway, pop on over to the Reading for Sanity blog to read all the details and enter (or don't, cuz then there's more for me... *evil grin*).

Recommended Read - The Little Universe by Jason Matthews

The Little UniverseThe Little Universe by Jason Matthews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though touted as a "spiritual novel," this book really can appeal to all people interested in existentialism, evolution, creationism, sci-fi, science, and more!

Imagine being able to create a self-contained universe in a room, and being able to monitor how it evolves and changes throughout millions of years while you are only experiencing days - that is the intriguing concept behind this book. Would you want to learn more about spirituality? Or scientific advancement? Or human nature? Evolution? Something else?

All those views are held by the various scientists and staff working on this large project. As a reader, you are drawn in and asked to examine your own beliefs about life and what true advancement as a race really looks like.

The characters are remarkably developed, and feel like they could be someone in your own life. The situation is made more believable by the in-depth use of scientific explanations - but they are all written in everyday language so that you don't have to be a scientist to understand what is happening.

I hate giving spoilers, so I will just say that there is a fun "stunner" three-quarters of the way through the book that will shock you - I usually can tell what will happen ahead of time, but this book actually surprised me!

Overall, this is beautifully written and well worth the read.

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