September 27, 2012

Got Ink?

SO, while I've been reading like a mad thing and slowly digging myself out of a reviewing backlog, the dear Good Man Michael has been up to all sorts of adventures lately!  I believe I have mentioned his pursuit of powerlifting perfection before on this blog, but in case I haven't, let's pause to give it a proper introduction.

I know; that's impressive, isn't it? Some serious beefcake.  Mind you, that's not just him hanging out in the gym doing his weekly workout--that's him in a competition!  Earlier this week, a kid in a restaurant asked him which NFL team he plays for, and some strumpet! woman was hitting on him as she drove by the gym tonight!

ANYWAY, last weekend, Good Man Michael got his first TATTOO!! Before you ask, I was completely okay with this idea, and he did notify me beforehand that he was thinking of doing it. (Notice I said "notify," not "ask".  Despite the fact that they're all grown men, his lifting friends are always impressed that I "let" him do these crazy things. All I asked was that he not start piercing random parts of himself; he said he'd already ruled that one out himself, thank you very much!)

He went with a friend to a Tattoo Expo that was in town, and when he left the house, I asked,"So, are you finally going to do it? Gonna' get inked?" Lots of hemming and hawing and "oh, I'm sure they're already booked up, so I'll just get some information" sort of thing. Mmm-hmm. I knew when he left the house that he would come home freshly marked. I wasn't expecting it to be quite this BIG, but I think it's absolutely awesome.

"I will find a way, or make one."
(Here's me being very grateful for the first time in my life that Michael's Mom DOESN'T routinely read my blog! He's going to tell her, of course; he's just "waiting for the right moment." Good luck with that. When his brother saw it, he practically asked if Michael was planning to sell tickets to the parental unveiling!)

Just look at the definition on that tricep, will you? You know what that is--that's a BAMF, right there, that's what it is. (If you have to ask, you'd rather not know, trust me.) Luckily for his daughter and I, he's also a sweet, muscly teddy bear.

September 25, 2012

Review of "Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas"

Another of my seriously back-dated reviews, this one for the "Just Contemporary" YA challenge that I've undertaken this year (because my Twitter friend, Basically Amazing Books, is hosting it, and she's several colors of awesome). Hope you enjoy it!

March 8, 2012

Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas
by Louise Rennison

Another of my complete fluff YA books.  (Not all YA books are complete fluff by ANY means, let me point out; THIS series, however, certainly is.)  Thankfully, Rennison went back to what this series does best on this one, cutting WAY back on the "things that have never happened to an average person in the history of the world" scale, so I enjoyed book #3 much more than I did its predecessor.

There were some truly, wonderfully funny moments in this one.  As always, Georgia Nicholson's toddler sister Libby stole the show, leaving me laughing so hard at one point that I was afraid I would either wake up MY sleeping toddler or pass out from trying to keep quiet!

In books like these, I'm not accustomed to the author TRYING to make you dislike the boyfriend that the girl has spent three books trying to land, leaving you HOPING that the girl will break up with him and go for the other guy, instead, but that seems to be where we're headed here.  Georgia's "Sex God" (Robbie) is an indecisive, wishy-washy, annoying "wet weed" (as Georgia's calls his ex, Lindsey), and she really needs to dump him and go out with Dave the Laugh, in my opinion.  The Sex God is too old for her, anyway, so she really doesn't have any fun hanging out with him and his college-aged Bohemian friends. 

Ah, the trials of being 14--much more fun to read about than they were to endure.

September 22, 2012

A Review of "Unnatural Death"

Ah, a day without Lord Peter Wimsey is like a day without food for your brain...

March 8, 2012

Unnatural Death
by Dorothy L. Sayers

I cannot believe that a mystery writer can make it ridiculously obvious from the very beginning who the murderer is, make other vital information so clear that I figured it out 150 pages before the detectives did, and make one of the primary opening characters turn out to be utterly annoying and completely inconsequential by the end, and yet STILL keep me riveted--and even still keep my GUESSING!!!--to the very end.  How is that even POSSIBLE?!  I knew who did it, I knew the person's dirty little secrets, I even knew HOW the person did it, and yet Sayers would throw me a little curve ball in plot or wording once in a while that would leave me going, "Well, now, wait a minute...maybe I was wrong..."  It was infuriating, but still a great deal of fun.

The more I read of Lord Peter Wimsey, the more attached to him I become.  He just grows on you, like some sort of good-natured, nonsense-babbling, insidious lichen or ivy.

September 21, 2012

I Heart Judi Dench! : A Review...

I simple ADORE Dame Judi Dench, and she IS an actual dame of the British Empire.  I think we all know that NONE of us want to get me started on the British honors system (a.k.a. that deal where the Queen goes around "knighting" people every year), the intricacies of how it works and the fact that most people who get referred to as "sir" or "dame," especially by us Americans, don't actually have a right to the title, but sufficeth to say that DAME Judi Dench DOES have a right to the title, and personally, I think she earned it.  She sweated in a lot of Shakespearean costumes and labored to give a lot of theater-goers their money's worth to get that title.  On with the review.
And Furthermore
by Judi Dench
(as told to John Miller)

March 8, 2012

 Celebrity memoirs often seem like they will be simply fascinating until you actually start reading them, and then they all develop the same problem--they talk endlessly about a HUGE group of people, none of whom has the reader ever heard before.  Other actors, movie executives, agents, members of various filming crews, acting instructors and countless others are all described in excruciating detail, along with a rough sketch of their impact, for good or ill, upon the person telling his or her own story.  While this book does not entirely escape that pitfall, a couple of mitigating factors made it far better about the issue than most I've read.

First off, as we all know, Britain is quite a small island, so the number of its actors with careers as long-lasting and broad-ranging as Judi Dench's forms a pretty exclusive club.  When we take into account the fact that she has spent most of her career doing Shakespeare on stage in companies like the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) and the Old Vic, that club gets even much smaller.  So a number of the names she dropped at least rang a bell for me, and some were very familiar, indeed.  Secondly, Judi Dench is just so entertaining, and she so infectiously enjoys life, that I happily read her telling me stories about complete strangers!

Best of all, in this book she finally dedicated an entire chapter just to talking about television series in which she has starred, something she didn't really do in previous publications.  That chapter was all too brief, in my opinion, since I simply ADORE As Time Goes By, but it was a lot of fun to read, all the same.

September 16, 2012

Review Archaeology

Now that I'm slowly returning to blogging--and to life in general--I'm looking back over my Book Lover's Journal, and finding that I have about a trillion reviews that were recorded there months ago, but never made it onto the blog!  There seems no time like the present to rectify that, especially since I need to link those reviews over to various reading challenges that I do still hope to finish before this year is out.  Anyway, let's give it the old college try, yeah?  I'll keep posting these archived reviews periodically, with the date that I initially finished the book, until hopefully we'll be caught up.

March 6, 2012

Despite my initial hesitation about Lord Peter Wimsey, by the time I was a few pages into this novel, he had made a life-long fan of me.  Dorothy L. Sayers Wimsey books are just so comfortable; never boring, just...comfortable, somehow.  (Hence the term "cozy mystery," right?)  The main characters are the kind of people with whom you could hang out happily in a pub on a long winter evening, so despite the loony circumstances that whirl all around them, they're the bastions of sanity at the center.

In this case, Wimsey's own brother, the Duke of Denver (who is as thick as two short planks and one of the dullest men alive) is accused of murder.  I don't know if the bit about a peer of the realm having to be tried by the entire House of Lords in order to be assured of getting "a jury of his peers" was true--it may STILL be, for all I know!--but it certainly made for great mental pomp and spectacle to read about!  It certainly SOUNDS like something that would true of British law.

The title of this book is hilariously apt, because Lord Peter and his sidekick, Inspector Parker, took forever to find out what actually happened, thanks to the myriad dead-end "leads" provided by an enormous collection of completely useless "witnesses".  Frustrating for our heroes, no doubt, but quite fun to read!

September 10, 2012

BBAW2012: Favorite Blog on the Block

When I first began blogging seriously, just over a year ago, many book bloggers were very kind and welcoming to me, patient with my questions, and willing to help me publicize and slowly gather a following.  A post that focused on each one would fill everyone's data allotment to capacity, but they know who they are, and how grateful I am.  On this first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2012, I decided I would focus on one blog that has given me so many rewarding book recommendations, and a blogger who has been a very good friend to someone she's never actually met.

Bev at My Reader's Block is quite the eclectic reader, and her recommendations--especially for mysteries that the world has begun to forget--have led me to some delightful reading.  Of all the challenges I undertook at the beginning of this year, her Vintage Mystery Challenge has been my favorite by far.  Someone else had been praising Dorothy L. Sayers on her blog, and I decided I wanted to try out Lord Peter Wimsey, but it wasn't until the Vintage Mystery Challenge came along that I finally dived in.  I can honestly say it was one of those moments when a series became not only a new favorite, but a permanent part of my mental framework.  That alone makes Bev one of my favorite people!

September 09, 2012

A Good Cause

Folks, I just wanted to drop you a brief note about a really cool site I found today, and recommend it to those who might find it helpful to themselves or someone they love who suffers from one of the many battles that we're all hoping medical science will someday help us be able to win.  As regular readers will know, a number of major causes are very close to my heart--the fight against lupus (my mother, +2011), heart disease (my dad, +2007), diabetes, PTSD, PCOS, IBS (all of which I have)--and I've been searching for a while now for a type of "cause jewelry," so to speak, that really appeals to me.  Today, I found this.

Teal is the color for PCOS.
Bravelets come in a wide variety of colors/causes.

They're called Bravelets, as is the company that sells them, and for each one sold, the company donates $10 to the cause which the particular bravelet represents.  If you have experienced any of these illnesses, or have had to watch someone you care about suffer with them, you can understand why a person might need the admonition engraved on this bracelet, might need some encouragement to keep fighting the simple, daily struggle that living can be at times.  Each Bravelet is $35, and is made of stainless steel and leather, so even someone with ludicrously sensitive skin like mine can wear it without developing green patches and heinous rashes.  I'm not a paid spokesperson for this company or anything; I just believe in what they're doing, and felt I had to share it with all of you.  I hope you will find it as uplifting as I did.

September 06, 2012

Nebkheprure, Lord of the Two Lands

Oh, my dears, after a whole week spent resting and readjusting to the rhythm of everyday life, I can finally sit down and chronicle for you the famous Fabulous Birthday Surprise referenced in the last post.

I turned 35 last week, and my family conspired to give me one of the most wonderful birthday weekends since the Queen's Jubilee.  First, you need to know that my mother-in-law is the lord high mucky-muck of all gift-givers.  I mean, this woman could figure out the one thing that Oprah doesn't already own but would simply love to have and find some way to get it for her.  Add to that the delightful fact that my husband actually loves me, and puts a great deal of thought into what would make me happy, and you have one hell of a birthday.

(Photo by Charlie Phillips)

Unbeknownst to me, a significant portion of King Tutankhamun's grave collection, along with numerous other wondrous Egyptian artifacts, have been in Seattle for some months at the Pacific Science Center.  My amazing mother-in-law, however, always watchful around birthday times and aware of my absolutely consuming passion for all things ancient Egyptian, spotted the advertisement with her eagle eye and bought Michael and I two tickets to the exhibit.  Moreover, she booked us in for two nights at the only hotel within walking distance of the museum (which was a very nice place, I might add).

On the evening of my birthday, Michael, the SuperToddler and I joined his parents and brother at Olive Garden for a lovely dinner (for which they paid, God bless them), and we finally had the big reveal.

Michael and I would be heading off to Seattle to commune with the great kings and queens of The Two Lands (as the Egyptians knew their kingdom)!  Meanwhile, Brigid would be enjoying a long weekend with Grandma and Grandpa, beginning right after that dinner and lasting until we got back into town from our trip on Sunday evening.  Wasn't it helpful of me to schedule my birthday over the Labor Day weekend?

So, while the SuperToddler went to her favorite place in the world--Grandma's house--Michael and I came home, watched some Mock the Week, slept in a bit the next day, packed and started our road trip to Seattle.

[Mock the Week on YouTube--YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE!! But if you're easily offended, for God's sake don't ever watch it.  (Sucks to be you.)]
We checked in on our first night and roamed around for a bit, rustling up the nearest installation of my husband's favorite restaurant, Chipotle, and generally getting a bit lost and annoying Seattle's Yellow Cab drivers and dispatchers before we found our way back to our hotel.  The big event of the first evening in the big city was when we stumbled upon a Dr. Marten's store, in a lovely old building that obviously dated from the turn of the 20th century or before.  As the daughter of a shoe repairman, I grew up with the smell of leather and shoe polish, so I was whisked back to my childhood the moment we stepped in the door.  While Michael shopped for a much- and long-needed pair of black shoes that could be worn to work or for dress, I was captivated by a beautiful, burgundy leather bag that I could tell would make an excellent over-the-shoulder messenger-type purse.  It was expensive, but the beautiful thing about anything Doc Marten's is that it's virtually guaranteed to last longer than its owner!  My lovely Good Man Michael generously made the bag my other birthday present, along with the delightful surprise of an iPod Touch that he'd given me earlier, and I was a very happy birthday girl, indeed.  (I told him that for Christmas, I'd LOVE to have the matching women's wing-tipped leather shoes.  Hint, hint.)  (Photo courtesy of Doc Marten's website--who else?)
The next morning, of course, was the main event--the Lord of the Two Lands, Ruler of the Land of the Bee and the Sedge, Nebkheprure Tutankhamun Hekaiunushema--and any number of his royal friends and family.  (Believe it or not, those are just a very few of his names; he had many, many more.)
(Photo by dalbera)
It was an amazing exhibition, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the gift shop, picking up a copy of the official catalogue, the DVD walk-through of the exhibit, and some lovely stationery.  The SuperToddler, who adores all things Egypt as regular readers certainly know, got a lovely blue glass scarab magnet as a souvenir, which thrilled her heart and provided her hours of playful enjoyment when I got it home to her.  (She LOVES all the beetles everywhere in Egyptian art; we haven't delved into the whole bizarre relationship they have with DUNG yet.)
(Photo by Rick Vaughn)
We also explored the famous Pike Place Market, with its extremely fresh fish, myriads of tiny, funky little shops that sell a bit of everything--including "herbal refreshment" in a few of them, I suspected as we shuffled quickly past!--and we stumbled upon an Egyptian shop keeper who was thrilled by my smattering of Arabic and small knowledge of classical hieroglyphs.  His souvenirs, by and large, were much more satisfying than those in the museum gift shop, because they were actually MADE IN EGYPT.  (I know, right?  o.O  He felt the same way--"Why they don't sell things made in Egypt?  The things they sell have no soul!")  I bought a sterling silver pendant from him, bearing the two primary names of the Boy King on it, and he was so impressed with my meager skills that he gave me one of the traditional, pressed-paste scarab beads "to protect you--we give them everywhere in Egypt."  I was quite pleased, actually.  Proof positive that we're all still at least a little pagan.
(Photo by Frank Rytell)
Michael and I rounded out the evening with a lovely meal at P. F. Chang's and a brief saunter through the mall, where we stumbled upon a great little Japanese store in which I bought some adorable stationery with "English" sayings printed on them that make ABSOLUTELY no sense whatsoever.  (This is roughly akin to how we pick a new Chinese restaurant to try; if the name has been "translated" into English, and is utter gibberish, the food is pretty much guaranteed to be authentic Chinese cuisine, and therefore delicious.  Our all-time favorite was called "Rice Star," although "Pig Miracle Barbeque" certainly won honorable mention.)
And there you have it, dear readers.  The next day, Michael and I made our way back home, stopping in one of the towns along the way whose primary industry was tourism to visit a lovely bar and grill, enjoy an old-fashioned malted in their vintage 1950's ice cream stand, and take a brief ride on the remains of the historical railroad, now preserved in miniature as an excursion train for railroad enthusiasts.  My dad would have loved it.  I brought Brigid home a wooden Percy locomotive to add to her wooden Thomas the Tank Engine set; she was thrilled.
Snoqualmie Depot
(Photo by Max Richards)
All in all, I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful birthday weekend.  My health issues even behaved themselves.  I am a blessed woman.
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