Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Jack Nightingale series by Stephen Leather

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

I found these as a Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon. I don't know what made me decide to buy them, but I did. WOW. The plotline is fairly dark- Jack is a former cop turned private eye. Book 1- Nightfall- tells how Jack left his former career and how several years later he finds out that not only was he adopted, his biological father was a Satanist who sold Jack's soul to the devil at birth. Now he regrets the deal, has committed suicide, and left everything he has to Jack in the hopes that he can use it to get himself out of the deal. People close to Jack begin dying horrible deaths at an alarming rate, demons are stalking him, and Jack has to make deals with a devil to save his soul.

Midnight- Jack has survived the battle for his soul and is trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of his life and go on. Then another bequest from his bio-dad makes his life worse. Turns out that dear old dad not only sold Jack's soul, he sold the soul of a little sister Jack never knew he had...and if Jack survived past the date he was supposed to die, Dad wants him to try to find/save her too. The problem? Jack finds his sister...and she's in a mental institution as it's believed she's a serial killer of children. And she thinks he's the crazy one when he explains what is happening.

Nightmare- Jack has survived deals with devils, retained his soul, freed his sister and saved HER soul, and is once again hoping to get on with his life. Sadly, the devils he outsmarted in their deals are out for revenge. Adding to the confusion, the ghost of Sophie, a little girl Jack was unable to save when he was a cop, keeps appearing and asking him for help. The only way to help her? Another deal with a devil, of course. The fallout from that deal makes the whole series worth it. Yes, there is a sort of happy ending...after all that darkness, Jack needs it!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oh, Happy Day!

The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs

I was feeling sorry for myself because I stayed up way too late and had to work an OT shift today. Then I logged into my Google Reader and discovered that I won the book pictured above from a contest on Stacey Ballis's blog. (

Combine that with a couple of new stitchy magazines, a quiet office, Girl Scout Cookies, a vat of iced coffee, and a deli sandwich delivered by one of my favorite officers (I actually do like a lot of them, despite my bitching, and not just because they do things like this) and this has turned into a fairly decent day!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage- Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School)

I believe I reviewed Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series in an earlier post. This is the first book in the Divine Miss Gail's new Finishing School Series for YA readers. It's set in the same world, but earlier than the PP books and you encounter some familiar faces in their youth.

The heroine, Sophronia, is my kind of girl. More interested in how things work and the world around her than is considered proper, she is 'banished' to finishing school after an incident involving visitors, a trifle, and the family dumbwaiter. An attack by air pirates as she is on her way to school makes Soph wonder just what kind of school this is.

She finds out pretty quickly. This school isn't just about learning nice manners and gentility. The girls also learn the finer points of espionage, battle with the air pirates again, and learn how to coexist with vampires & werewolves. And Sophronia adopts the cutest mechanical dog, Bumbersnoot. Reading about him made me want one of my own.

I can't say much more without spoilers, but suffice it to say that it's a worthy addition to my library. I'm looking forward to book 2, due out much later this year, and the sequels to the Parasol Protectorate that are also forthcoming!

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Father, the Gigolo

I don't know what it is about the males in my family that causes the women of the world to find them totally irresistable.  Men of all ages in the family often have to beat women off with a stick. For example:

1. My sister Sandra called us once in hysterics when her son was 6 years old. Some "fast little girl" in his class was calling him on the phone and waiting for him outside the school and kept inviting over to her house to play. (for the record, the knucklehead is now 26 and still getting calls from girls, only the games they want to play aren't quite as innocent)

2. Uncle John & Cousin Henderson came to visit us when I was 14 or so. (that would have put them in their mid 50's- early 60's) They spent a few hours entertaining us with their adventures, and then were heading out to a bowling tournament. As they were leaving our apartment, 2 20-something bimbos were heading up the stairs to see our next door neighbor. "Well, HELLO there!" says Henderson. "Party's going this way, girls!" added Uncle John. Damned if those little bimbos didn't start wiggling/giggling and follow those old goats out of the building. Mom sent me after them to say that she was calling their wives if they didn't send those twits back upstairs, PRONTO.

3. My brother, Neanderthal Idiot, has been married 5 times and has 6 children (that we know of) with 5 different women. Only 1 baby momma was ever married to him.

4. The girls at our favorite Chinese restaurant think Daddy is just the greatest thing since sliced bread. They fuss and fawn over him, have been known to make special dishes for him when he just picks at food from the buffet, and god forbid we go there without him because they ignore our table if we do.

5. The little old ladies at the parental church of choice love Daddy too. They constantly invite him to gatherings and parties. Mom is usually added onto invitations, clearly as an afterthought. I had to go to one dinner with them and explain that I would cut an old bitch if she didn't quit trying to seduce my father.

6. Baby girls love Daddy too. If there's a baby/toddler within eyeshot, she will zero in on my dad and started cooing & giggling. We had one wiggle out of her booster seat and try to follow us out of the Chinese restaurant once. Daddy picked her up and took her back to her momma, and then they both flirted with him.

7. The most recent bimbo attack was the Friday before the Super Bowl. The grocery store that my parents shop in most often has a $tarbuck$ in it. Mom offered to buy Dad a tall blonde roast coffee and leave him in a chair there while she did the shopping. (Dad doesn't like strong coffee, so theirs isn't normally his favorite, but he does like the new lighter roast) He said no, he'd get it at the end of the trip- I think he wanted to stay with her in the hopes of hurrying her up. They filled the cart and were heading up to the checkout when Mom said this leggy, half-dressed blonde stopped Dad and asked him where the peanut butter was. (About 2 feet past him and VERY visible) She went on, thinking Dad was behind her, checked out, and walked over to Starbucks. Suddenly realizing that Dad wasn't there, she frowned. The cashier asked if she needed help with something, and without missing a beat, Mom said "I told my husband I'd get him a tall blonde, but I guess he decided to go with the one he picked up in the jelly aisle." The cashier about wet himself laughing. Dad showed up a few minutes later, looking sheepish, and claimed he'd gone to look at magazines after helping Blondie find the peanut butter.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Disposable Girl - or - My Anti-Valentine

Welcome to Worldwide "Make Lonely People Feel Like Crap" Day, or as it's more commonly known, Valentine's Day. The day that scars children for life when teachers have to institute the "bring everyone in the class a valentine or don't particiapte rule" and they still wind up with a small handful of the ugly valentines left in the package. (true story. 35 kids in my class one year and I got 7 valentines despite the teacher's rule. 6 of them were the same missprinted, off-kilter one. Not only did we all buy the same assortment, but they apparently came from the same batch. The lone halfway nice one was from my teacher) The day that makes grown women take to their beds with a migraine when they listen to their paired-up friends gush over their romantic plans. The day that none of the lousy bastards I ever dated wanted to celebrate if we were dating at the time it rolled around. I would have settled for a lousy card and a hug and didn't get either.

Not that I'm bitter.

Ok, I'm bitter.

Anyway, my last long-term relationship ended a couple of years ago. Beast & I were sort of together off and on for a dozen or so years. During which he married 2 other women. We'd stop speaking altogether while he was married, he'd get divorced, and we'd pick back up where we left off. Both times I found out about the marriages from his company's website and/or mutual friends who were surprised I knew nothing about it. Yes, I was that stupid, naive, and thought I was in love. I finally walked away after the last marriage, depsite reports from friends that the marriage was in trouble almost as soon as they said "I do." Because even if he decided he didn't, he'd never commit to me. And I finally realized I deserved better than that.

So here's a poem/song I wrote last year after he called me. Just to say hi, you know. For the record, I hung up as soon as I realized it was him.

Disposable Girl

I'm just the poor girl who begged you to stay
I gave you my heart and you threw it away
You laughed at my tears, as they shimmered like pearls
There's no room in your heart for disposable girls...

I'm a no-one from nowhere, who didn't understand
That the cool ones like you would never take my hand
If I stayed in the shadows I could bask in your light
But you'd never say you loved me because "It wouldn't look right."

I'm just the poor girl who begged you to stay

I gave you my heart and you threw it away
You laughed at my tears, as they shimmered like pearls
There's no room in your heart for disposable girls...

Too tall, too dark, too fat, and too loud
I didn't belong with your privileged crowd
I was your dirty secret, tucked safely away
A bird on a wire, waiting for 'someday'

I'm just the poor girl who begged you to stay

I gave you my heart and you threw it away
You laughed at my tears, as they shimmered like pearls
There's no room in your heart for disposable girls...

Oh the lies that you told me and the promises never kept
Did you ever consider the tears that I wept?
The love you held back from me, for which I so yearned
Was a flame for this moth, and oh did it burn...

You chased after others and still I remained
Waiting in the darkness with the heart you disdained
But nothing is forever, and I took a chance-
When given the choice you left with no backwards glance.

I'm just the poor fool who begged you to stay
You crumpled my heart & threw it away
You ignored my tears as they shimmered like pearl
Now there's no room for you in the life of this disposable girl.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl: A Novel

I wasn't going to read this one because I don't like following the rest of the sheeple in the world, but several authors I like (with similar tastes to mine) had put it on their recommended lists, so I thought I'd try it.

Wow, are these characters screwed up! The story starts out normally- boy meets girl, boy & girl get married. Then boy & girl both lose their jobs in NY, her parents go broke and have to take the money from her trust fund to pay debts, his parents are dying, and they move back to his childhood home in Missouri. She's not happy about it, but is trying to stay positive. He uses the last of her money to open a bar with his sister and thinks everything is peachy...until he comes home on their anniversary to find signs of a struggle and his wife missing.

Then it gets interesting.

The police ask the usual procedural questions. Her parents come to help with the search. Friends and neighbors start looking for the missing woman. And parts of the story don't quite add up. Neighbors paint a different picture of his life than the one he gives the police. Weird things show up, and the 'hero' is shown to be hiding things from the world...things that don't put him in a good light and make matters the affair he's been having...

Now he's accused of killing his wife and hiding her body. And while the police are trying to find evidence to put him away, the husband is trying to prove that his wife set him up to look like he killed her. As he grasps at straws to save himself, the reader is shown how the missing wife isn't quite the sainted angel she's been cast as.

I won't spoil the ending, except to say that it wasn't entirely satisfying, but in a way, most of the characters got what they deserved.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Some days you're the windshield

Today, I'm the bug. SPLAT. I can't think of a single thing worth posting about. So, I'm going with random thoughts.

The little black cat has been driving me crazy. The feral black cats have moved back under the house and she is DYING to go out and play with them. Or fight- I'm never really sure.

I'm ready for winter to be over. I'd like a month or two with a low power bill before we head into the summer stupidity. I've kept my heat set between 62-67 all winter (usually on the lower end) and it's still ridiculous.

Why do I like British TV so much more than American?

I've picked out names for the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's upcoming baby. Will be funny if I'm right! For a girl, I predict Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. For a son, George Henry Michael.

Laura and I are trying to find a way to go to BookExpo America in June. They're offering a special one-day pass for book lovers who aren't employeed in the industry. The problem is getting there from here in anything resembling a timely fashion. Most of our flight options involve long layovers and ridiculous connections. (We may be in Charlotte for a few hours Dan- want to come to the airport and entertain us? LOL)

While I'm at it, I need to decide what I want to do with my annual vacation in August. Preferably before my family starts planning it for me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Expo America is Coming Up

Laura has been dying to go to this as long as I've known her. I'm kind of interested, but had never really given it that much thought since it's an industry show and almost impossible to get into unless you work in the publishing industry. Not to mention the expense- the registration is something like $400. But then we found out that this year they're offering a $45 one-day pass to booklovers not in the business.

Well, that still wasn't quite enough to tempt me...until I did my taxes the other day and discovered that I'm actually getting refunds this year! WOOOOOOOOT! Laura is doing hers this weekend, but suspects she will be getting one as well. So we decided we're going. Luckily we seem to travel well together.

Now for the fun part. *eyeroll* BEA is in NYC. Yeah...that's gonna be expensive. The hotels offering discounts to the Expo guests are all $200-300 a night. We're going to have to stay at least 2 nights. (the day pass is for Saturday, June 1, so we'll have to fly up on Friday and come back Sunday) I'm playing around with different sites, hoping to score a lower price, but it's not looking too promising right now. The lowest I've found so far was $189 and somewhere out on Long Island. (The Expo is close to Times Square)

Ticket prices are a booger too. So far it's looking like $230-300 each to fly, and that's if we fly into Newark, which means getting transport into NYC. Normally I'd be willing to drive to where I'm going, but the idea of drving in NYC (with MY roadrage?!?) sends cold chills down my spine. And since Laura sucks at navigating (sorry, chica), the odds of us getting hopelessly lost are pretty good. So flying is our best bet, especially if we wind up at a hotel near the Expo. I'm not too sanguine about the NY subway system, but we may have to use it for some of the things we're hoping to do while we're there.

Things to do while we're there- we both have ideas for that. I'm sure Laura will be posting hers on her blog, but here's mine:

1. Have a pastrami sandwich at Katz's Deli. I have been dying to do this since I saw them on an episode of Man Vs Food.

2. Visit the Strand Bookstore

3. Visit the NY Public Library and take a picture with the lions (shock, right?)

4. Find a stitch shop.

5. Visit Chinatown

Any other suggestions or travel tips?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Party Like A Rock Star

I'm always amused when somebody gets wind of the outrageous demands made by celebrities before they will deign to make an appearance somewhere. Lady Gaga has triggered the latest bout of stories with her demands for white leather sofas among other things. Jen of posted what would be her list of demands and asked her readers what theirs would be. So, with a little thought, here are some of mine:

1. A case of ice cold Nestle Pure Life Water.

2. A gallon of strong, iced coffee

3. Dark chocolate covered almonds on a silver salver

4. A crystal bowl filled with Fererro Rocher candies

5. Bouquets of purple flowers in each corner of the room and on a table in the center of the room

6. A Cheesesteak & Ham Sandwich from the original J Michael's Philly Deli in Wilmington NC

7. A case of ice cold Dr Pepper in glass bottles

8. A cool, dark, quiet room for me to rest in when I grow weary of the hangers-on, equipped with a queen-sized pillowtop bed made with jersey sheets, a fluffy duvet, and equipped with 6 pillows of varying thickness.

9. A handsome dark haired male assistant with either blue or green eyes and a melodious British/Scottish/Irish accent

10. A chinese buffet that includes Mongolian Beef, potstickers, and shredded pork with green beans.

11. A jacuzzi with 3 black and 3 purple beach towels

12. A selection of Regency Era romances, Mystery novels, and Steampunk novels with a good light to read by.

13. A funnel cake fryer, manned by another British hunk

14. A personal masseuse

15. A sound system playing soft jazz in the background.

I could keep going, but I think that's enough silliness for now. Sadly, if I wasn't so lazy/broke, I could have some of those things in my daily life. LOL

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Relax- You May Only Have a Few Minutes Left: Loretta LaRoche

Relax - You May Only Have a Few Minutes Left: Using the Power of Humor to Overcome Stress in Your Life and Work

Yes, I read a self-help book. It wasn't my idea- the shrink I have been sent to (thanks to the psycho I work with) recommended it. This was better than most, but still not my ideal choice of reading material. Loretta LaRoche gives suggestions for way the reader can reduce their stress level by looking for the humor in stressful situations. There were a few helpful suggestions and some great one-liners.

One of my favorite sections was about people who play the "ain't it awful"/one-upmanship game. To quote:

I have the worst headache today.

I've had five headaches.

Ok, you win. You get 5 bottles of aspirin and a trip to the neurologist.

Coming soon- I'm going back to fiction reviews, and possibly a few on DVD's I've been watching.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Childhood Accidents

This post was inspired in a kind of roundabout way. Laura and I were chatting about childhood crushes and how we were both enchanted with Shaun Cassidy. (If you just said "Who?", please ignore me when I start sobbing quietly) I was too tall & fat  (and poor) to wear the bell bottom jeans emblazoned with Shaun's face, but I did have the bracelet. Laura had the jeans and was lamenting that they'd gotten torn when she tripped while running for a ride to school and she still had a scar on her knee from the fall.

This got me thinking about some of my more spectacular wipe-outs. I was never what you would call a graceful child. I wasn't even in graceful's neighborhood. My inability to walk in a straight line without tripping over my own feet (or air molcules, lines on the pavement, and pocket lint) comes from my equally klutzy mother. Here, in no particular order, are some of my greatest hits:

I still have a scar from a childhood merry-go-round incident. Yes, I managed to jack myself up on a carousel. It’s a talent. I was trying to jump on while the other kids on it were trying to slow it down/stop it. THEY knew I wasn't going to make it- I just wish I did. I wobbled on the edge, grabbed a rail, still fell halfway off and got dragged around the circle for 3 revolutions. The base of the carousel was concreted and of course that's what my knees scraped the whole way around. I also managed to fall off a see-saw in the same park when I was 6 feet in the air. No scars, but I saw stars for a week after landing on my head.

One of my better accidents was something out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. I was about 12 and chasing one of the neighborhood brats through the woods behind our apartment complex. Now, I knew those woods like the back of my hand, but I was so mad and intent on committing mayhem that I forgot to pay attention to where I was going. Forgot to duck and ran right into a thick, low lying branch, chest first. My newly developing, somewhat painful chest, I might add. The friend that was following said I made this horrible “ooooof” sound, and then somehow managed to go OVER the branch headfirst and landing flat on my back. That was the last time I ran through the woods. Come to think of it, it may be the last time I ran, period.

Then there was the time my friend Jennifer and I were strolling through Roses Department/Discount Store in junior high. I stepped on something on the floor- we never found out exactly what it was- and sure enough, my feet went up, my head went down, and the resulting thud could be heard store-wide. Along with me screaming, "SHIT!"  (the standard accident call, based on the number of times my mom & I have screamed it)

I also tripped over my own feet while getting off the school bus in high school. (Yeah, lost any cool points I had that day) I had my walkman (forbidden at school) on, tumbled down the bus steps with my usual war-cry (see above) and landed at the feet of the assistant principal. He managed to keep a straight face while he helped me to my feet, ignored the walkman, and sent me on my way. I was about 6 feet away when I heard the muffled snort of laughter explode from him.

Bonus story: Poor Shawnte.

Shawnte was an on/off friend in junior & senior high school. She was a year behind me and lived a few buildings away in my complex. Poor girl was long limbed & almost painfully skinny, and the butt of a lot of jokes for her gangly appearance.

The apartment complex could never decide on an theme for the grounds, so they were constantly erecting and dismantling fences. The day in question, the fences were sort of down- there were stakes and ropes along the front border of the property to indicate where the next build should be. This is important.

The complex also could never decide where the school buses should pick us up. Some years it was at the front entrance of the complex, some years it was at the back. In retrospect, the back was a safer option- that entrance was in a residential area. The front entrance was on a busy street that fed into one of the busiest streets in Wilmington. That week, we were being picked up out front. It was busy, and in a rare moment of serendipity, the junior & senior high buses arrived at the same time.

Shawnte lived in a building at the end of the main drive into the complex. She'd missed the bus a lot that year and her mother was NOT happy about it. So when she stepped out of the building and saw BOTH buses at the end of the drive, she panicked and went into Road Runner mode, screaming "wait for me!" as she ran.

Most of us felt sorry for her (her mom had blasted her in front of most of us on more than one occasion) so we started calling to the driver to wait. He did, much the the consternation of the cars backing up in each direction, and they started leaning on their horns. Shawnte put her head down and ran even faster.

The problem? She wasn't aware of the 'fencing' the management had erected. And she was going so fast, with her head down, that she didn't see it. I was just about to get on my bus and had a clear view of what happened next:

Shawnte ran- well, attempted to run- through the rope. It didn't break, but it DID stretch and she got up to the third step onto the bus before it snapped back into place. Since it was at waist level on her, it flung her backward off the bus with her folded in half over it and launched her a good 20 feet backward. She landed flat on her back and didn't move.

*crickets* Everything stopped for a minute. Nobody was pounding on their horns, Nobody moved. Then, lord forgive us, everyone burst into laughter. I stopped laughing when I realized she hadn't moved and got off my bus to check on her. Jennifer got off their bus and came with me.  The bus drivers put the buses in park and joined us.  Luckily she wasn't seriously hurt, but it totally knocked the wind out of her. We got her up and onto the bus and life went on for another day...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Today's Thoughts

I'm only cranky on days that end with a Y.

Also, toasting slices of Sara Lee pound cake and slathering them with Nutella is a perfectly reasonable reward for convinicing yourself to get out of bed.