Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's Up Wednesday - A Recap

It feels like I am hitting that time of year again where time seems to whir by because of the outrageous amounts of things I am expected to conquer over the next few months - and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels that way over the October-February months! ;)

So I am pretty far behind on the blogs I follow, but to my relief it looks like they haven't been posting as much either (at least, not all of them). Here's a recap of some of the interesting things discussed by my fellow bloggers in the last 24 hours:

1) Twilight clip - I had to laugh that one of my fellow bloggers was making fun of the next Twilight movie, even though I know I'll be one of the crazies who ends up seeing it during its first week in theaters. I won't lie though - I loved the books, and I want to see how they do this whole "having sex and getting preggers right away with an incredibly fast-growing mixedbreed" thing...
2) Big Ol' List of Giveaways - I'm not sure I actually have time to try to win any of them, but it's always fun to try and participate.
3) A Book Review - Yeah ok, so probably the majority of the blogs I follow review books because I'm a book-a-holic, but this was a particularly nice review.
4) Discussion about the eBook market - This is interesting and worthwhile if you are also an author like me.
5) Personal advice - Written in the style of "Ask Ann" or any other advice column, but in a much better and more detailed form.
6) Super Awesome Sock Yarn Giveaway - Which reminds me, I need to finish a baby blanket for a friend before November 10th when she is induced...
7) Darndest Things That Kids Say - I had a good laugh, and I don't even have kids!
8) A Droolworthy Fake Boyfriend - You'll get this once you read the post.

As for a recap of anything I've done in the last week or so... mostly homework, work, read a few books, and oh yeah - started up a campaign to raise money to purchase CARHENGE! :) Please come check it out - I have donation amounts starting as low as $1 and could really use some help promoting it!! Here's the linkity link.

Recommended Read - How to Write Short Story Reviews by Graham Murray

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shameless Shit #5 - Declare your love for an uncool movie.

I usually prefer books over movies, which drives my husband kind of batty since he doesn't like to read and would prefer watching movies. However, I still partake in cinema entertainment on occasion, especially if the movie is based off a book that I liked.

Which is why I'm practically panting for the new Twilight movie coming out.

That's right - I watch the Twilight series. I'm not some drooling 13 year old girl in love with the actors, but I won't lie and say that I haven't been excited about the next installment. The movies aren't really that great - the effects are fairly cheesy and terrible, and they skip some of my favorite things about the books - but for some reason I just have to watch them. Maybe it's like when you pass by an accident and you can't help but look, even though you know it isn't going to be pretty.

So, as uncool as it is, I'm probably going to see Breaking Dawn: Part 1 in theaters within the first week it comes out. No matter how uncool that makes me. ;)

Recommended Read - Bloodmaiden by Christine Schulze

BloodmaidenBloodmaiden by Christine E. Schulze

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book will sweep you away into a very colorful and vibrant fantasy world! The writing is poetic yet easy to read, and I appreciated that there weren't any obvious errors. My only issue was just that the phrase "roll(ed) her eyes" was used way too often which kind of ruins the poetic nature of the writing. The characters were interesting, and the situations were different from anything I had read in a fantasy novel before. There was nothing truly wrong with this story, I just didn't connect with it as much as I wanted to. But it was an overall good read that I think any fantasy fan would enjoy!

View all my reviews

Recommended Read - The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son: A NovelThe Orphan Master's Son: A Novel by Adam Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a brilliantly written novel that exposes how true poverty can affect the human spirit. Though the story jumps around a bit and can be confusing at times, that actually contributes to the tone and atmosphere of the book. It's incredibly poignant yet optimistic, and both raw/real and unreal all at the same time. The characters live on in my heart like the tattoos on the sailors! I didn't want to put this one down, and found it to be an incredible work of art as well as a soul-searching look at poverty, socialism, and how culture is created and scripted no matter where in the world you may live. This is one of the top ten books I have read this year!

View all my reviews

Monday, October 24, 2011

Buying Carhenge

One of Nebraska's greatest and most unique tourist attractions is up for grabs! Carhenge has been named the #2 Wackiest Attraction in America - and I want to try and make it #1 by purchasing Carhenge and revamping it!

As such, I'm creating a couple of campaigns - one on Kickstarter, one on IndieGoGo - so that you all can take part in helping me buy Carhenge and keep it alive for many more years!! I chose to use both sites because they reach different audiences and take different forms of payment so you can use whatever works best for you.

I'll be posting the links to the campaigns shortly, and when I do I will link to them here!!

Thank you for helping me fulfill my dream!

*** My First Campaign is Up!! *****

**Update - there will not be a second campaign on Kickstarter; apparently, purchasing and then revamping a unique art attraction is not eligble for their site. But please come help support me on IndieGoGo!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shameless Shit #8 - Sweat.

I'm headed to Florida in early December for a visit with family - my first time ever going to Florida! So, when I booked the trip back in June (and in preparation for my ten year high school reunion, which was a waste of time) I signed up for WeightWatchers.

And it didn't work. Despite following their guidelines religiously, I couldn't pass the 10lb mark (and at that time, I needed to lose 40lbs). That includes working out at least three times per week!

Recently, a friend of mine has had a lot of success with The Metabolism Miracle, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm at the end of Week 2, and still have the occasionally strong, want-to-gnaw-my-arm-off craving for my favorite gluten-free pitas but am otherwise doing fine. I won't find out until the end of 8 weeks if I've lost weight, because I'm not weighing myself until then.

In the meantime, my hubs and I have been getting a little more creative for our workouts (no, not THAT - get your mind out of the gutter!!) and one of our favorites has been playing Fruit Ninja on XBox 360 Kinect. Yep, it sounds easy - but when you are ultra-competitive like we are, you spend hours trying to get all the achievements and beat each others' scores! ;)

Talk about sweating! I did Fruit Ninja so hard on Thursday that I could barely move my shoulders or arms on Friday! But it was a lot of fun, and helps me burn better than doing the same old boring routine.

Now if I can just master Zumba a little better....

Sorta Recommended Read - Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian SpiritualityBlue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here's the thing - I'm not a very big fan of first person, totally self-absorbed reflective writing. That being said, there were some real gems hidden between useless nicknames and pages of boring that made this book worth reading! His tagline, "Nonreligous Thoughts on Christian Spirituality," is a bit deceptive, for this is a book written by a Christian about Christianity. However, it explores what its like to have doubts, and how choosing to live spiritually does not always coincide with being raised a believer.

I took away a lot of great quotes that sounded almost like they could have come out of my mouth, but I also took away a dislike of nicknames and outdated hippie language - though the book was copyright 2003, it felt like I was reading something from the '60s and '70s. My favorite quote was actually a starting paragraph of one of the later chapters in the book, which I'm sure many of you will also appreciate:

"Writers don't make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don't work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck's book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealously, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch face down and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man's stupid words. And for this, as I said before, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more."

Overall, this was a good book, once you looked past the fact that it read like an old man's hippie diary.

View all my reviews

Sorta Recommended Read - The Traiteur's Ring by Jeffrey Wilson

The Traiteur's RingThe Traiteur's Ring by Jeffrey Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First, know this: "A traiteur is Cajun healer, or else a traditional healer of the French-speaking Houma Tribe, whose primary method of treatment involves using the laying on of hands." I had to look it up, because I was thinking maybe the title of this book had been misspelled. It's not a common word anywhere out of Louisianna, as far as I can tell. Anyway, so it's not a misspelling of "traitor," in case you are wondering.

The storyline in this book was decent, but fragmented and hops around a bit. I like how the author makes you feel like you are part of the Navy SEAL team - my husband was military, and I know that the situations in this book that don't pertain to magical powers are actually fairly realistic. However, when you add in the magical things, it just feels a little weird.

There's also part that involves a Rougarou... and there's not much info out there on that myth, but it's generally thought of as a werewolf of sorts. This book didn't really showcase that, and just made it sound like some nasty cannibalism.

There are a couple of small editing/spelling errors, and the cover would turn me off if I was at a store looking to buy a book (I won this on First Reads here) - it's really ugly and indie-looking, not a professional cover at all.

I would have still probably given this book four stars if not for a glaring mistake at the end of the book - the end alludes to the idea that his newborn son is now going to have a Traiteur ability. However, the definition and information on Traiteurs says that the powers pass from opposite sex - so since the main character got his powers from his grandmother, it would only make sense that his child would gain the powers if he had a daughter, not a son. I hate inconsistencies, and since I had to take the time to look up what a Traiteur was, I want everything to be correctly used.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Interested in a FREE COPY of Start Something That Matters?

I know a lot of my faithful followers are also avid readers (and bloggers), so I thought I would share this great giveaway that is going on right now from . A few weeks ago, I won a copy of this book - and have since read through it TWICE (the review is coming, I'm just a little backlogged, but it's getting 5 stars)!! The book is chock full of great entrepreneurial inspiration, and a great overall read. It is written by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes - possibly the most well-known for-profit organization that focuses on giving away one pair of shoes for every one pair bought!

I personally can't participate in this book blogging giveaway, because I live in a state where it is void (c'mon Nebraska, what the heck? lol). However, if you live in a state where you would be allowed to participate, I highly recommend it! Just head on over to and fill out the form to see if you can win TWO copies of the book - one for you, and one to give away on your blog. It will be worth it!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shameless Shit #16 - Spend money on a non-necessity or share a financial struggle.

This weekend, I got an email from my wireless carrier that I was eligible for a cellphone upgrade. I'm not normally one that is attracted to "the latest and greatest" in wireless technology, but for some reason I decided to look at phones anyway.

The second I saw it, I knew I was in love with it! It's sleek design, 4G LTE speed, 5 row slide out keyboard.... it was everything I could want and nothing that I needed. I told my husband, and since his line had been eligible for an upgrade earlier in the year, he had no problems with me going in to check out The Phone in person.

I went in, and it was just as beautiful in person as it was online. I talked to a rep - and that's when I found out that I had been "baited" by my wireless carrier - yes, I was eligible for an upgrade, but only if I paid a $20 early upgrade fee. If I waited until November 15th, I wouldn't have to pay the early upgrade fee and could receive $30 off.

I left with a broken heart - it just made so much more sense to wait and buy in November - but I couldn't stop thinking about the phone. It's bright AMOLED touchscreen glowed in my mind, and I won't lie - I lusted after it. For a mildly technophobic gal, I couldn't believe how much I wanted that phone!!

The next day I was still moping, and my husband put his foot down - we were going in and buying that phone, discount-next-month-be-darned! I won't lie - I was a little happy, and a little terrified all at the same time. See, I'm not one of those people who is able to spend a large chunk of money all at once without SERIOUS buyer's remorse afterwards (even on our house!)... ok, I'm not even one of those people who can spend a small chunk of money without having some guilt issues!! So buying a phone that I didn't need... it was kind of scary. But I kind of wanted it.

In the end, I walked out with a shiny, brand new Samsung Stratosphere - and some serious stress about money! ;)

Recommended Read - The Pirate's Dilemma by Matt Mason

The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing CapitalismThe Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism by Matt Mason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really got a lot out of this book - I would recommend it to anyone who owns or is interested in owning a small business! It had some interesting information and tips on creating a different type of work culture based on youth countercultures (both present day and previous). There was a little too much repetition in many spots, and a couple of editing errors. There were also several interruptions in the flow of thoughts, but still a lot of good ideas on the changing business environment.

View all my reviews

Freebie Flop - Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link

Recommended Read - Until Death by Karen Woodward

Until DeathUntil Death by Karen Woodward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a story, this was an excellent read with in-depth characters. We explore a world in which you are either magically gifted or mundane. There are lots of great paranormal elements, and a few good surprises mixed in with a few more predictable events. The main character, Darla, is one who is easy for the reader to relate to.

However, there are several spelling and editing errors, the biggest of which being the use of quotation marks - they are misused all over the place, and it makes it hard to tell which phrases are thoughts and which phrases are spoken aloud which is very confusing.

If the editing errors were fixed, this could easily earn 5 stars.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shameless Shit #12 - Share About a Health Struggle

Five years ago this month, I found myself suffering from a stabbing pain in my midsection. We had only moved to the Wichita, KS area a few months before that, so I was fairly new at my job. However, the pain was interfering with all aspects of my life so I ended up missing some work to get tests done.

The doctors tested for just about everything you can think of - ovarian cysts, tumors, intestinal/stomach problems - I finally got to a doctor who figured out that my pain was some type of groin injury and I was sent off for xrays. It was discovered that I had Osteitis Pubis, an uncommon joint disorder that involves having inflammation of the pelvic joint. I was told I should get a cortisone shot, and to take an excessive amount of anti-inflammatories each day to help to control the pain. I was also told I should take some bed rest.

The next day, I told my boss about the diagnosis and provided a dr's note that stated my need to be sitting for at least 15 minutes of every hour and that I needed to wear tennis shoes rather than dress shoes. The next day, I was fired... for "not working out."

The day I was fired was the day before the end of the month, which means I would basically lose my insurance immediately, so I decided I better go ahead and go in for the cortisone shot. They were able to get me in at the last minute.

Looking back, I almost wish they hadn't gotten me in! It ended up being an extremely painful procedure, one in which I wasn't warned of the dangers of getting a shot there in the first place, and then afterwards I dealt with one of the most painful reactions of my life - my body rejected the cortisone and I was left for three days feeling like my whole entire body was on fire and barely able to move for a week.

I stayed in bed for a couple of weeks, but then my husband and I decided it was time to move back to the Omaha, NE area since it was so difficult to find a job in Wichita. I spent months without insurance and with no money to treat my condition, and by the time I had passed the waiting period for a pre-existing condition, my pain had continued to get worse. Despite bed rest and avoiding strenuous activities, my inflammation had worsened. I was put on prescription anti-inflammatories and sent to physical therapy. In the course of three years, I tried several different forms of physical therapy with no relief or healing.

As of today, I still battle with severe pain in my abdomen whenever I am forced to exert myself, and am unable to use a normal bicycle. Climbing stairs is a difficult task. I can no longer run on the treadmill or elliptical like I used to. The only therapy that has "worked" for me is to take a combination of anti-inflammatories and neurological medicines, which isn't an ideal way to live.

However, out of all of this, I suppose there has been a couple of bright sides. First, I really learned not to take health for granted, and always try to look out for those around me. Second, I discovered a love of hand cycling, and hope to one day start either a hand cycle shop or a hand cycle charity that can help others like me who suffer from unapparent disabilities as well as amputees and those with other types of problems that make it impossible for them to ride a standard bicycle.

Recommended Read - The Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman

The SleepwalkersThe Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set back at the beginning of the rise of the Nazi's in Germany, this incredible story follows a Jewish man who previously was known more for his incredible detective work than his Jewishness suddenly thrust into a dangerous world. Many of the details were based off of historical facts, which gives the story a very realistic feel. This book makes the reader feel like he or she is witnessing the rise of Nazi power and the start of the atrocities that would later shock the world. It is a great mystery and overall interesting read!

My only complaint about this book was aesthetic - the cover had a really unique texture that kind of grossed me out - it felt like holding on to fine-grain sandpaper! For a tactile person like me, that means I found myself wrapping the cover in paper so I wouldn't have to touch that "yucky" cover.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Recommended eBook of the Week

So, if you haven't noticed, I'm a little behind at updating my recommended eBook... again... but I know you'll forgive me! ;) Between school and work and general life adventures, time sometimes slips away from me.

This week's book is a thriller called For the Helpless. Here's the Synopsis:
"Metro Homicide Detective Kelly Lowe is working the case of a lifetime. In pursuit of a sadistic killer bent on revenge, Kelly must stop him before his latest kidnap victim becomes his most recent homicide. Two young girls have already been brutally murdered and Kelly's team is working against time to find the killer before it's too late. She's leading her task force all over the state as the case and the suspect list grows larger. As she receives mysterious phone calls from the killer, or killers as it may turn out, Kelly begins to question the innocence of those closest to her. Time is running out. Can Kelly catch the killer before he catches her? "

Sounds good, right? So if you want to read it, just click here or click the link on the right side of my blog.

Shameless Shit #2 - Look a Fool

For the last two months, I've been looking forward to an advertised event in our area - Free Tattoo Day. Two shops were offering 18 free tattoos per location. I won't lie - I love tattoos. I'm not one of those people who has a ton of them, but that's probably only because I live in a state of perpetually being broke. I got my first tattoo back in college about 7 years ago, and since then have always hoped to find the extra money to get another one. So, it's not surprising that Free Tattoo Day caught my attention!!

In anticipation, I took off of work and prepared several templates for tattoos I've been looking forward to getting. I talked about it for those entire two months, probably annoying my lovely husband and my closest friends and coworkers, and even people who weren't close to me. I was just darn excited!!

Finally, Free Tattoo Day arrived this last Friday. I got up at the same time my husband did for probably the first time in... well... ever - 5:30am. When he left for work at 6AM, I headed out to the closest of the tattoo shops. I accidentally drove past it the first time, I was so excited! Then I managed to find it and find a parking spot. I was the first person there... and I began to worry that maybe I had gotten the information wrong. I started looking up the info online, but while I was doing that on my painfully slow phone (I don't have 4G), a group of kids walked up and started a line, and I knew I was in the right place.

So, I grabbed my camping chair and bag full of goodies, and bundled up in my extra layers. Then I joined the kids and we talked a bit about the tattoos we wanted, but then they went around the corner to smoke cigarettes and weed (like I couldn't tell by the smell what they were doing lol) and I settled in to read a book. I read for about an hour or so before I was joined by an older gal, which made me feel relieved since I didn't want to be the oldest person there. It was another hour before we were joined by anyone else, then steadily from there on. I was so excited that I found myself re-reading pages over and over, so I finally decided to put the book down and just people watch.

The advertisements I had read said that the doors would open at 11am, so I was thinking they might come out at about 10:30am to hand out numbers and let us look at books, but nothing happened. 10:30 passed, then 11, and then finally at 11:30 the doors opened and we were led in. Once in, we were told that it would be a "lottery" and were given a ticket. I couldn't believe it!! Apparently at the last minute the shops had decided to do a lottery rather than first come, first served... but kept their deceptive advertising! :( I wasn't the only one angry, and as the numbers were drawn and they were all from the back of the line, several others joined in my anger. When the last number was drawn and it wasn't mine, I was darn near furious!

I also felt, and looked like, a fool - with my camping chair, bag full of goodies and other evidence to show that I had been there since first thing in the morning when I could have just shown up at the last minute and been fine like most of the participants.

True, I was misled - but I still could have called ahead the day before to confirm and would have found out that I didn't need to waste an entire morning sitting out in the cold, then heat!! And I would have been more likely to be drawn for a tattoo at the end of the line anyway. ;)

With a red face and a crushed heart, I did find a happy ending to my story - I found out a guy I went to high school with is a tattoo artist at a more reputable (and much much nicer) shop! So I took my business there, even though I ended up having to pay.

At least next year I won't fall for that trap! That is, assuming they will even bother doing it next year, since I'm sure they have received their fair share of complaints.

Freebie Flop: High School is a Jungle by Lani Wendt

High School is a JungleHigh School is a Jungle by Lani Wendt Young

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really didn't get this, and didn't find it enjoyable to read. For a teacher, this is not well written or even close to grammatically correct - and the story is supposed to be about an ENGLISH teacher, for crying out loud!! This reads like really bad run-on poetry. Thank goodness it was short, because I couldn't have handled reading any more than I did. I think if it were re-written to be grammatically correct and more like a journal entry than a series of jumbled thoughts, it might be a better read.

View all my reviews

Recommended Read - The Incredible Origins of the Onyx Sun by Christopher Mahoney

The Incredible Origins of the Onyx SunThe Incredible Origins of the Onyx Sun by Christopher Mahoney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a highly enjoyable young adult read, that reminded me of what would happen if Lemony Snicket were to join the cast of Star Trek while the kids from The Magic School Bus tagged along. The story was a little predictable for my adult bibliophile mind, but it was good and had an interesting premise. Some of it did feel a little redundant, but since I was reading an Advanced Review Copy I'm going to assume that the final editing process would remedy that. I absolutely LOVE that the author set up a code at the back of the book that allows the young readers to change the story to their hearts content and make it their own - that is such a great, creative way to engage the readers and promote the next generation of brilliant authors! I'd recommend this as a good pre-teen book, especially for one interested in writing their own books some day.

View all my reviews