Monday, March 31, 2008

Childhood Mistake

I was thinking about those slight changes in lyrics that kids hear... I finally remembered one of mine.

Whenever somebody got baptized at my church the preacher would say the same thing,
"United with Christ in death, risen to walk in newness of life."

I now admit to believing that they were saying,
"United with Christ in death, risen to walk in Unis of life."
I could never figure out what 'unis of life' was... I thought maybe it had to do with being united with Christ...

March Books

Dead Wrong by J.A. Jance A
The twelfth in the Joanna Brady. I love how she takes the mystery genre and turns it topsy-turvy. It’s not just about finding out ‘who-dun-it’. It’s also about the relationships and the stuff going on in their lives. And the politics of our times, ‘cuz Sheriff Brady’s workforce is affected by the National Guard deployment to Iraq and the new policies on immigration over the Mexican/U.S. border. And the town’s view of her is affected by the discovery of a dog-fighting ring in her county.
The Heart of Valor by Tanya Huff B
This is the third in her Valor books. I loved the first one and kind of stumbled through the second one. ‘Heart’ is more in the middle. Military sci-fi and not quite as good as David Weber or Elizabeth Moon… But I do like her main character, Gunnery Sergeant Torin, and I like the other odd aliens fighting for the Confederation.
Improbable Cause by J.A. Jance A-
The fifth in the J.P. Beaumont series. I liked this one- In general I prefer a third person narrator and not first person. The Beaumont’s are all in first person and sometimes it makes it hard for me to enjoy them- I get caught up in ‘can I trust this narrator?’, ‘did he just miss something that I caught?’. However, I do like Jance’s writing and characters, so that makes up for my questionable trust in Beaumont.
A More Perfect Union by J.A. Jance C+
The sixth in the J.P. Beaumont series. I didn’t like this one so much. Don’t know why exactly… It’s about an Ironworker’s Union and some guy who required the women to have sex with him before they could join… I was quite delighted to see him go down.
Derik’s Bane by MaryJanice Davidson B
Very silly werewolf romance. I enjoyed the humor. Not for those who are shocked by spicy sex scenes. Of course, this was one recommended by my sister…
Fantasy Gone Wrong
A collection of humorous tales of fantasy. Some of these were very good and some were lousy. Worth the time.
Something From the Nightside by Simon Green A-
First in the Nightside series. Establishing the world and characters. Good
Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon Green A
Second in the Nightside series. I liked this one better...
Nightingale's Lament by Simon Green A
Third in the Nightside series. Good.
Mister Monday by Garth Nix B
Yikes. This was slow..... Took forever to get going. It wasn’t until halfway through the book that anything made sense, and if I didn’t love some of his other books I would have given up. It does get good when it gets going, but up until then, yuck.
Riddle Master of Hed by Patricia McKillip A
First in a trilogy. I read this series a long time ago and loved them. They’re still just as good. Magic, mystery, relationships, good and evil. Very good. Morgan was born with a difficult destiny and he must learn to survive through it.
Heir of Sea & Fire by Patricia McKillip A
Second in the trilogy. I’d forgotten that this focused on the princess, not Morgan. Very good.
Harpist in the Wind by Patricia McKillip A
Third in the trilogy. Magic & mystery- these are so good. I enjoyed reading this series again...
White Knight by Jim Butcher A
I actually liked this one very much... I think I may have missed his last book, ‘Proven Guilty’, but I’m not sure. I do agree with the cover - ‘What would you get if you crossed Spenser with Merlin?’ Although I think Parker’s descriptions of people are wittier than Butcher’s- I’ll never forget this one description of a bad guy. I don’t remember the exact words but basically he described him as a wire hanger. I could see that guy so clearly! Anyway, White Knight is very good. Good installment in the series.
Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge A
I’m reading this ‘cuz I’m married to a guy. I really liked this book, and actually pulled out some stuff about my own relationship with God. Some good insights into the guy I married and what makes him tick.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cats arrived!

Thank you, Marty! http://renzntzman.blogspot.com/
My girls are dancing again! May Cats live forever! ;)
I actually got brave and went ahead and ordered a DVD copy in hopes of it surviving more than 6o viewings. I also ordered a copy of T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats because Deborah's convinced they're singing 'Jericho cats'. I'm hoping I can correct that before it becomes a part of her normal routine.
Have you ever been singing a song and suddenly realized what the actual lyrics are? Rather than what you thought they were?
Jake's is fun- Jefferson Starship's We Built this City- for the longest time he thought they were singing 'Marconi plays the Mama' rather than 'Marconi plays the mamba'. Certainly gives a different flavor to the lyrics, doesn't it? He was too young to really know what that might mean, but he and his best friend had an idea...

Crazy, Crazy

Jake's been in Blaine, WA (way Northwestern WA) with his parents for the last week and our house has been crazy!
The girls are VERY difficult with their Daddy gone. Deborah threw an hour and a half temper tantrum on Monday. I stuck her in the car and drove her around until she calmed down- took about a half hour. She was so angry! It took her refusing to talk to Jake on the phone two different times before I finally realized she was angry at him. That's where all the anger was coming from in those tantrums. Wow. I'm not looking forward to him taking any more week long trips.
Abigail's been clingy- "I want Mommy!" She wants to sit on me or next to me or have me carry her everywhere. And she's been WAY past that stage for a long time. Most kids go back through that sort of behavior when they're sick or something traumatic happens. I guess Jake being gone for the first time since she was born constitutes trauma.
Anyway, he comes back tomorrow! Hallelujah!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Childhood Fears

There's a great post about childhood fears over on Word Tangle- http://rheahollan.blogspot.com/2008/03/root-of-my-fears.html
Here's my reaction to her post:

I remember the terrible fears of my childhood: the dark and these monsters in/on our walls...

The dark was a real thing to me, like it could reach out and grab me although I was also afraid of the monster hiding in the dark.
In the house I grew up in we had wood paneling, and the knots and natural wood markings would look like there were things in the walls trying to reach out and grab you- there was a swirl/knot in the door of our closet that looked like a shrieking woman ghost reaching out with a long arm. And in the wall over my bed there was a swirl that looked like a demented monster rabbit. My sister and I were talking about these recently and realized we both had nightmares about these swirls- and my mom walked in on this conversation and was shocked she'd never known....
I wish I had pictures to show how real these 'monsters' were... Suffice it to say I'd still be terrified of the woman on the closet!

Pepsi- for Jake

I offer this picture in honor of my love, Jake. His nasty addiction to Pepsi will surely be the death of him... Although it looks like he would get along with these fellows.
I really shouldn't comment about his nasty little Pepsi problem since I have a minor diet Coke one as well.
Caffeine, can't live without out it...
If you haven't visited www.icanhascheezburger.com you should. :)

Just taking a catnap


Treehuggers have nothing on these gardeners! Nice variation on the 'don't walk on the grass' theme.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Perfect Father

In my own childhood and boyhood my father was the refuge from all the ills of life, even sharp pain itself. Therefore I say to son or daughter who has no pleasure in the name Father, "You must interpret the word by all that you have missed in life. All that human tenderness can give or desire in the nearness and readiness of love, all and infinitely more must be true of the perfect Father- of the maker of fatherhood." (The Heart of George MacDonald)

*****
My best friend in high school was severely abused by her father. She still struggles with nightmares because of the abuse he inflicted upon her. I don't know that I would have ever been able to forgive my father for his absence and failings if I hadn't known my friend. I saw her accept that God the Father was someone to run to, not from. That He was the perfect Father and everything that her terrifying human father was not.

A lot of my early struggles with God centered around the evil He allowed in the world. I could only reconcile child abuse and cancer two ways: Either God was loving and powerless, or He was powerful and evil. It seemed to me that the loving God described to me in Sunday School would not allow the world to continue as it is. And that since He had allowed the evil I could clearly see every day, then He must be evil and He must enjoy watching humanity suffer.

It was not until I saw my friend grapple with God about the abuse she had experienced that I could search out what the truth must be: that God allows us to choose evil or good, and that since He could see the whole picture His way must truly be best. That to Him it was better to give us choice, even knowing what we would make of that choice, than to make us into obedient worshipful robots. Sometimes I still have a hard time accepting that His way is best.

Sometimes when I see the helpless suffer- the children in Africa devastated by AIDS and trapped in refugee camps - I think it would be better for us to be obedient & mindless.

Dealing with the evil in the world- cancer, abuse, careless hurtfulness, self-righteousness, casual selfishness; the travesties played out through history like the Spanish Inquisition, the Trail of Tears, Apartheid... This is where I still question God. This is the sticking point for me. I wonder what He's up to... Why He allows things to go on so long... Why He has allowed us to go on so long...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Screamer & A Sketch

I helped out in my church's 2 & 3 year old class this morning. Man, there was one little girl in there with a wicked shriek. Every time she'd scream I'd jump a foot and then cover my ears till she was done... Yikes! High pitched and LONG.
I hate it when kids scream just to scream and really try to prevent my girls from doing it. It still happens sometimes, but they end up with consequences. Abigail screams sometimes when she's angry, but we've got Deborah pretty much broken of the habit. I hate it when kids scream just to scream. Especially inside! When they scream I want to see blood or something, a reason for a scream...
Abigail was really sick today so it was kind of weird to be in her classroom without her. Jake stayed home with her and Deborah went to church with me. I don't want to be in the class room every week, but they need the parents to volunteer every 6 weeks or so. Next time I think I'll try to be in Deborah's room.

Last week Jake & I got to be in a sketch!
Our church is in the process of starting a drama team. And I'm getting to be a small part of that. When we joined I asked if they'd ever used drama and if I could help with some. They'd already asked a couple at the church to head up a drama team and it's been a pretty slow start.
Weird news: I knew the couple they'd asked! I knew them from my college drama department- actually, the first Sunday we visited the church I got to see them baptized. Really cool. These were some people I had been praying for and really never expected to see anything come of that. Pretty weird how God ends up surprising you. There were many reasons we ended up choosing this church to stick with, but that was pretty far up there for me- that they had reached out to this couple with their secular background. And that God brought me there to see the results.
Anyway, back to the sketch. I haven't gotten to do drama anything since we left Shannon Park, and it was WONDERFUL to get to be part of something. It was a Willocreek sketch called 'Parents on the Sidelines' about two couples at a soccer game. A very good script. Jake actually did it with me! It's always fun to drag him into something like that. Poor guy. He didn't know being married to me would mean doing drama with me! I'm glad he's game even if he's not confident!
Here's our church's address just for the curious: http://www.friendschurch.org/ Warning: it's not the best church website I've ever seen, but it does the job. Actually, taking care of fixing our church's web address was one of the first things Jake did when he was hired as secretary at Shannon Park. To see the website he established look here: http://www.shannonparkchurch.com/index.php The theme and verse have changed a little since we were there, but it's his hard work that shows.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Belly Laughing Baby

My girls have got a mild cold and they're not sleeping very well. Last night my 2 year old was kind of whimpering in her sleep.

Then suddenly she was laughing in her sleep! This deep belly laugh. The kind that makes you want to laugh along.

I've got a monitor 'cuz the walls in our bedrooms are very soundproof- you can't hear a thing in the next door room (Bonus: we're right next to them. I love knowing they can't hear a thing going on in our bedroom! ;). Anyway, Jake, my mom, my sister and I were all laughing along with my belly laughing baby til she woke herself up... Poor thing. I think she scared herself with her laughs 'cuz she immediately started crying!

I love baby belly laughs!

My Most Serious Health Concern, Part 5

Plans & Dreams
*****
So, we know I’ve got a ruptured endometrial cyst and I’m still in serious pain. However, we know it’s not terminal, just painful.
But this scuttled all my plans for the summer- No summer Company tour. My parents flew me and my mom back up to Alaska so that I could see a surgeon. My Dad and my sister, Beth, drove up to Fairbanks as fast as they could- took about a week. By the time they got there, we’d already seen a good OB, Dr. L, to schedule a surgery.
Here’s the extra exciting info we learned from Dr. L.: in my file the original OB who’d diagnosed my endometriosis had written that I had a ‘serious’ case and would require intervention, probably surgical, within a year. But he’d told us that I had a ‘mild’ case, and not to worry. In fact, this discrepancy was so weird that Dr. L. wouldn’t have believed me if my mom hadn’t been there and been able to corroborate my story.
I took some serious pain meds until the surgery. And once again, I had a HORRIBLE reaction to the anesthesia (even worse than the first time). I ended up staying in the hospital several extra days. I was pretty pathetic afterwards, too.
The strongest memory I have of that summer is of the incredible heat. We had a very hot summer for Fairbanks- in the 80’s & 90’s- and I was sick and miserable. I laid around on the couch and floor drinking ice water, eating popsicles and holding a wet cloth on my head for about a month. Bonus: I lost about 15 pounds.
The OB told us that he removed multiple cysts and that they had twisted my ovaries around and messed up the left one ‘til there was almost nothing left. He told me it was unlikely I’d have children. I was kind of numb- sick from recovering, sick from the heat, sick from missing out on summer Company, and heart sick from what had happened.
I kind of went into a depression and it wasn’t until a few years had passed by that I realized how angry I was at God. I had always wanted to have several children- in fact, I’d always been jealous of my Mormon cousins. There were seven kids in their family and they always seemed to have the most fun. Every time we’d go over there we’d have an adventure. Not that I really wanted seven kids, but I did want children. This is a poem I wrote that summer:

Cleansed

I stand under the pitiful spray of my parent's shower and question the ceiling.
I see names printed with a slow dream hand,
now rinsed down the drain.
I wrote them on the walls of my mind,
too precious to be shared aloud.
Joshua, for the mighty Biblical hero who stood against
laughing enemies and his own doubtful people,
carried down the pipes on old soapy water.
Sharalyn or perhaps Auralyn, for my Grammy,
flushed from my future like a gold bauble lost at sea.
Maybe Jonathon, for my parent's dreams,
washed into the ocean of never-never land.
Tears mingle with visions,
float away,
purify my mind of hope.
I let them go.
I do not hold them.
I do not smell sweet baby.
I do not hear dog and child
playing tug-o-war.
I do not wash dirt rings
left from hard play.
I step from the bath,
Cleansed and sterile.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Frozen Forays


This is a picture taken from the Fairbanks newspaper of the World Ice Art Championships. Every year many artists come from around the world- Russia, China, Japan- to try their hand at ice carving. Apparently our ice is amazing, very clear, lovely and rewarding to shape. This picture was taken in the kids area of the park- slides, mazes, spinners- great fun. In fact, even though it was -20 on the day we went last year the girls both started crying when it was time to go.
This year we've had STRANGE weather. The carvers have been working in t-shirts 'cuz we've had temperatures in the 40's! Crazy. May sound cold to you, but March is known for it's negative temps here.
My little family hasn't gotten to go this year because the girls have both been sick. Probably by the time we get there it'll all be a puddle of water...
If you're interested in better pictures of the Ice Art, look here: http://www.icealaska.com/ or here: http://www.icealaska.com/08/08mb8/08mbdaily/indexmb08.html The first address is the home site, and the second is the index of this year's pictures. Some of the pictures aren't very good, pretty blurry, but it's amazing to see the sculptures taking form.

Luna in a Box


I was doing some cleaning a couple days ago. If you've got a cat you know that an empty box = a cat in a box within seconds. Luna just sat in that box for something like 20 minutes, rather like she was the queen of her world.

Owl Head Spin

From http://www.cuteoverload.com/
Reminds me a bit of Poltergeist...
'OH REALLY!
You think you can turn your head around further than MOI!?
REALLY!?'

Wingardium Leviosa

Beth & I just spent an hour laughing at this site: http://www.icanhascheezburger.com/.

Funny animal pictures...

Let the hysteria begin!



Thoughts on the Blues

I've got two fairly good tells for how depressed I am: the number of books I'm reading and my general lack of sleep. I'm not good about noticing them, though, unless they're pointed out to me. Two days ago Jake told me that I had read more books in February than there were days... And God has been impressing upon me about my need for more sleep than I'm getting. So, I guess I must be feeling more down than I thought. Might explain my total lack of interest in doing more than going to drum class and doing any house work... I would say I'm out of the blacks, but definitely not completely out of the blues.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Friday, March 07, 2008

To Place Excrement...

Another one from http://www.engrish.com/
Oh, my! Who translated this??!

Real MEN


I loved this! ;) I know it's silly, but I couldn't help myself...
I found it on the Greater Good network- the place where you click and they give money to different causes like hunger, saving abandoned animals, or preserving rainforests. I try to click in every day- doesn't happen unless I've got a moment free of screaming hungry kids...
Here's the link: http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces;jsessionid=23F9A54C4B1C60C5881EB2BD97045554.ctgProd04?siteId=1&link=ctg_ths_home_from_ars_home_sitenav (By the way: I did some checking out- It's a real site. The advertizers actually do give money to the places listed: The One Campaign, America's Second Harvest, Mercy Corps, Prosthetics Outreach International, Helen Keller Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation, First Book, Room to Read, The Nature Conservancy, The Rainforest Conservation Fund, etc....)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Puppy torture

Two more pictures from http://www.cuteoverload.com/



Temptations!


This is from a website my sister loves: www.cuteoverload.com.
Actually, this is a site I enjoy very much, too. Sometimes I get, well, a cute overload ;) and have to take a break from checking it out, but mostly it's just a laugh.
The site mistress has a unique method of writing that you have to kind of go with and just let it roll...
So, try it, Sam-I-Am. You might like it...

World Beat

I'm playing djembe! I'm playing congas & guirros & bombas! And more fun instruments than I remember the names for!!



Finally! I am doing something I've wanted to do for 3 years- taking a world beat class up at UAF. My friend Valette had the opportunity to take this class several years ago and had suggested that I might like it. Right after she told me about it the professor who taught it left on sabbatical. When he came back he was so busy that he couldn't restart the program.
Finally, they've returned World Beat to the curriculum! One sad thing- it's being taught by a graduate student, and in my opinion he's not the greatest at teaching how to play a riff. I dont' know- it's probably just that he & I learn in very different ways.
However, I'm still having a BLAST.
We're learning different styles of conga music and the basic rhythms that are the basis of those styles. Kind of like a waltz is always in 6 beats, or jazz has open sections where each individual instrument has their own solo...
So far, I've learned the Danzon and the Camparsa style of South American music...
It's hard!! Mostly 'cuz there's 7 or 8 of us in the class, so I'm not getting individual attention. I'm having to reach way back in my concert band memory from high school and college to remember subdivisions of notes and exact rhythm notation.
Yikes! I always did have to hear a rhythm before I could play it... Also, I have to remember different strokes on the drums, and which hand he wants us to play them with, along with the rhythm. I quickly get overwhelmed. I can do one or the other- the right hand or the right stroke- but I'm not so good at doing both at the same time. At least not on the first day of learning the rhythm!
At first I was frustrated, but now I'm just having a grand time. The best part is that there's a really wide array of experience in the class: from an ethnomusicology professor, to a couple percussion majors, to a guy who hasn't played an instrument since 6th grade.
Djembe players of the world, unite!

My Most Serious Health Concern, Part 4

A Trip to the ER
*****
So, I was in agonizing pain and had finally agreed to go to the hospital…. Getting me to the ER was a task in and of itself… I couldn’t get into the car ‘cuz I couldn’t straighten up, move or bend. I was locked into this fetal position, moaning and groaning. I’ve got this odd flashback memory of getting in the back seat of my aunt’s car head first and folded over in fetal position.
Nobody knew exactly what was going on, and when we get to the ER they’d only let my mom go back with me (which worked out fine, I honestly couldn’t handle more people at the time). I remember gripping hold of my sister’s arm, and saying I wanted her to come with me. She’s told me since then that from my appearance & behavior, my family was completely freaked out and had thought that I might even die.
Since I’d already had appendicitis the doctors quickly ruled that possibility out. From my behavior and pain level the ER staff was convinced I had a tubal pregnancy, which infuriated my mom and annoyed me. They demanded that we do a pregnancy test even though we told them that wasn’t a possibility. (This is still a touchy subject around here- that they wouldn’t believe me- but I know lots of young women will lie about their sex life or the possibility of a pregnancy.) By the time the pregnancy test came back negative I’d had some good pain medication and was doing better. And now I had the ER staff as concerned as my family was…
They did an ultrasound (even with the pain meds that test hurt so bad that I really can’t describe it- if you’ve had an ultrasound you know they have to press the sensor very firmly against your skin…), and we found the problem. I had a dark black cyst about the size of my dad’s fist against my uterus. It had ruptured and was obviously bleeding or leading fluid. And then we remembered the endometriosis…

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Funny Cats

My girls LOVE this video. They will sit and make me play it OVER & OVER & OVER. It is pretty funny if you like cats, but if you're sitting with a belly laughing 2 & 4 year old, it's the BEST thing on the planet....
http://s141.photobucket.com/albums/r78/alinutza_s/Funny/?action=view&current=funny_cats.flv

Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down


Wouldn't want you to fall down carelessly now, would we?

Enjoy yourself with other people!

If you haven't visited http://www.engrish.com/ you are seriously missing out!
I've found that it's the best treatment out there for a seriously bad mood. Well, aside from cuddling with Jake. But he's mine and you can't cuddle with him!

My Most Serious Health Concern, Part 3

A Change in Plans
*****

Fast forward to 1998: I’m in my third year in the M.A. in Communication Arts program in Fort Worth, TX at Southwestern Seminary. I’m busy studying and also actively traveling at least weekly (often bi-weekly) with the touring drama team, The Company. I’m also working part time in the school district as a reading tutor and helping out at my church with the youth group & doing some drama stuff.
My plans for the summer of ’98 were as follows: I was driving up to Oregon to visit some relatives and meet up with my parents. Beth would drive back to Alaska with my parents and I’d fly back to Texas to tour full time with The Company for the summer, and then I’d go back to school.
So, Beth & I drive up and meet my parents in Oregon. All is going great until a few days before they’re going to put me on the plane to fly back… For whatever reason, I was in a back room by myself while everybody else was up in the living room. We’d all just gone on a fun shopping excursion and returned for lunch.
All of a sudden I have this horrible tearing black pain in my belly- like I’m being ripped apart. It’s so bad I can’t scream. I can’t call for help. I can’t stand up.
I’m gone so long my sister calls me to come back up front. Finally, I struggle up the hall to the living room by leaning on the wall. And I told them all something was wrong and I didn’t know what to do. They all look at me and say it's time to go to the hospital and I refuse. (I HATE hospitals, shots, blood… I’m the fainting queen. And I’ve got a LONG negative history of bad doctor experiences. Maybe I'll tell part of that story sometime...) I went back to the room I was staying in and laid down. I’m moaning in fetal position and holding on to my belly. (Beth’s told me I looked like death- gray with black eyes and actually rather scary looking.) Finally, the pain gets so bad that I let them talk me into going to the ER.

My Most Serious Health Concern, Part 2

Lessons in Pain
*****

The year is 1998: three years after my diagnosis. I’ve seen an OB and talked about treatment. I know lots of facts about my new friend: Endometriosis. I’ve discovered that there is no known treatment- Endo is one of those mysterious ‘female’ ailments for which very little research has been done. And most of the research has been in the area of making sure women with endo can still have children.
Very little research has been done in the area of curing it, or in living with the pain it can cause. (This is still basically true- in fact, it was only recently discovered that it’s an immune system disorder like MS or cystic fibrosis because of an accidental discovery during some AIDS research. Endometriosis wasn’t even discovered until within the last 50-75 years. When women used to have terrible stomach pains/cramps doctors would call them ‘hysterical’ and often treat them with valium.)
One of the earliest and more aggressive treatments was & is a complete hysterectomy. This used to be the preferred method of treatment, but it has been proven to be ineffective- women with complete hysterectomies still develop and grow impressive cysts. Now, most OB’s treat it with birth control pills because when you’re pregnant the cysts tend to shrink and can even go away completely- the philosophy is that birth control pills can simulate pregnancy and perhaps convince your body you’re pregnant. It doesn’t work for everybody, and in fact, very little research has been done proving it’s actually effective for anybody. I tried birth control pills for a while and it did not work for me- I spiraled into a massive depression and had more pain than I’d had before.
So, during the three years since my diagnosis I had noticed some pain, but I’d done exactly as the doctor in ’95 told me to do- I’d seen an OB every year and really not worried about it too much.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

February Books

Because I ended up reading so many this last month, I’ve decided to put them in the order of my preference (A+’s down to C’s), rather than the order in which I actually read them.
I know it’s weird to just group all the books I read in a month, but I seem to be able to keep track better that way. I generally haven’t processed the book enough if I immediately post about it, and if I try and do it weekly I get massively far behind. Monthly seems to give me enough time to process the books, and enough time to actually get it all together. Sometimes after a week I discover I enjoyed the book way more than I thought originally. A book I read and thought was merely okay might just stick with me, and I’ll keep thinking and thinking about it and what it all meant… It’s nice to give them a little more of a chance than to be tossed aside rudely. So, monthly really seems to work best for me.
*****
Reader and Raelynx by Sharon Shinn A+++
I loved this one! The finale to her Thirteen Houses saga and I’m terribly sad to see it conclude. Her books are so satisfying. Like an excellent meal eaten with friends and finished with a favorite dessert.
I love these characters! They’ve become friends who I cheered for and for whom I wanted good things to happen to… I loved seeing the situations work out and the bad guys get what they deserved. I loved seeing the good guys end up with the dreams they never even knew they had…

Mystic & Rider, The Thirteen Houses, Dark Moon Defender by Sharon Shinn A+
First, second & third in her Twelve Houses Saga. After reading the finale I decided to go back and read the whole series. I enjoy these so much. She is a talented storyteller. Excellent characters & details. Interesting world.

The Spiderwick Chronicles, 2-5
by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black A
These are fun! I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. Kind of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type adventure. Three kids discover a world of fairies, sprites, goblins and are drawn in… Charm, wonder and a good dose of kids dealing with a deadbeat dad. Fun and quick reads.

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Care & Feeding of Sprites by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black A
Pictures and silliness. A quick and enjoyable read. After careful consideration I think I would enjoy keeping & caring for a Thicket Sprite.


Monster by Frank Peretti A
Really enjoyed this. Kind of a sci-fi/mystery/thriller. Good fiction with Christian touches- Kind of Michael Chricton/ James Patterson. A little too much story in the middle, I think… But otherwise excellent. He's been thinking about evolution lately- Interesting thoughts, too.

Rattlesnake Crossing by J.A. Jance A
My favorite Joanna Brady mystery so far…

Outlaw Mountain by J.A. Jance A
A re-read. I wanted to read all the Brady mysteries in the correct order, so I went ahead and read this one again. Very good mystery.

Devil’s Claw
by J.A. Jance A-
The eighth in her Joanna Brady series. Not as good as some of her others, but still quite a good mystery.

Exit Wounds by J.A. Jance A
The ninth in her Joanna Brady series. Very good. Brady’s dealing with her re-election as sheriff, family problems, protesters, a cult, and a serial killer.

Trial by Fury by J.A. Jance A
The third story in the J.P. Beaumont series. A black coach is lynched, hung and found in a dumpster. Who did it? A well-told, convoluted and interesting mystery

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer A
From the jacket: "Thousands of years ago, fairies and humans fought a great battle for the magical island of Ireland. When it became clear that they could not win, all of the fairies moved belowground- except for the 8th family, the demons. Rather than surrender, they used a magical time spell to take their colony out of time and into Limbo. There they have lived for decades, preparing to exact their violent revenge on humans"…
The fifth in the AF series. Enjoyed this very much. I like watching Artemis grow up and deal with caring about people…


The Killing Game by Iris Johansen A
The second in her Eve Duncan forensic sculptor series. I enjoyed this one much more than her first- A good forensic mystery. Interesting situation and characters.

The Search by Iris Johansen A
HaHA! I found a Johansen with a bit of charm! Amazing. This tale revolves around a woman & her dog and the man who gets them in trouble. Sarah and her dog, Monty share a special relationship (yes, one or both of them is telepathic) and they use it to help others through Search and Rescue. They’re called in to horrible situations like the Oklahoma City bombing or South American earthquakes to find & rescue victims. Logan, a wealthy ex-con/tycoon, needs her to rescue one of his medical researchers from an evil rival. Evil spies, traitors, and vengeance are mixed up with a huge helping of love (also, rather a surprise from Johansen- Lust, rather than love seems to be her primary story vehicle) to create a tale worth reading.

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison B+
Second in her Rachel Hunter bounty hunter series. Sprites, vampires, werewolves, demons, bad mo-jo. Good urban magic tale.

Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison B+
Third in her Rachel Hunter bounty hunter series. Sadly, her stories are becoming more polished and less fun…


Heart of Stone by C.E. Murphy B+
I didn’t think this one was as good as her Walker Papers series; however, I did enjoy it quite a bit. Urban fantasy: gargoyles, vampires, dragons, djinns and selkies in the heart of New York.

The Face of Deception by Iris Johansen B+
The first in her Eve Duncan, forensic anthropologist series. I haven’t read much Johansen, but my mom thought I might like her Eve Duncan series. I’m not sure… It started out interesting but ended up going political which I found annoying- about a murdered president and the man substituted for him. Ten years ago, Duncan lost her daughter to a serial killer… She became a forensic artist to help deal with the stress and to help other parents find their missing children. I like the Duncan character, but this book is so convoluted and involved with politics…

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult B
I’ve seen a lot of Picoult’s work and they’re always on the bestseller lists, so I thought I’d try a couple. This one’s much better than the other one I tried- Picture Perfect. Much, much better. Apparently, her thing is writing stories about headline events: date rapes, school shootings, sports guys doing drugs… Remember the old ‘after-school special’? That’s the kind of thing Picoult writes. This one was about a 14 year old who’s date-raped by her 17 year old boy-friend. Except it’s not really about the rape itself or the situation that caused it- the story’s about the aftermath and how it affects their families & friends and the small town they live in. The boy is a hockey hero and known by everyone, while she’s a faceless freshman.
The book is told primarily through the eyes of the father of the girl, which makes for an interesting tale. The father is an up and coming comic book writer/artist and there are pages from his comic book spread through the book- I liked that part. The comic idea is interesting and it reinforces what’s happening in the story.

The Big Over Easy, A Nursery Crimes Mystery by Jasper Fforde B
This was HARD to get into. Even though I enjoy the Thursday Next books, The Big Over Easy dragged. A confusing mystery with almost too many convolutions… If you don’t enjoy British/Welsh humor, BOE is just plain odd. Humor is SUCH a cultural thing- so few jokes cross over. Plus, this is literary humor, so you’ve got to be familiar with your nursery rhymes: Solomon Grundy, Jack Spratt, Tom Tom the Piper’s Son, Mary Mary quite contrary, Humpty Dumpty, Georgy Porgy… These are all MAIN characters in Fforde’s world. Before jumping into this one better brush up on your Mother Goose, and get into a European mood…

Body of Lies by Iris Johansen C
Another of the Eve Duncan forensic sculptor books. I liked her characters, but this one went all political, too. There’s this cabal with members from secret groups like the freemasons and they run the world… And the good guys are trying to get rid of them, but there’s more going on. Anyway, that’s what the book is about and it’s merely okay.

The Red Heart of Jade by Marjorie M. Liu C
This is the third book in the Dirk & Steele Detective agency series. Kind of a disappointment. Yes, she’s a young writer, but this one had some odd jumps and lapses, and was confusing in rather important parts, such as the climactic moment.
(Also, sidenote: Beth found the first one of these on a library shelf so neither of realized the only place to find them is in the romance section of Barnes & Noble- right between an illustration of a pirate ripping open the bodice of some dazed-looking blonde and another one of a muscle-bound cowboy dressed only in jeans, boots and a hat standing in an open field… I’m not sure we would have ever picked up the first one if we’d known…)

The Ugly Duckling by Iris Johansen C
I wish Johansen’s books had a little more charm or wonder… They seem fairly hard and cold to me. I guess that’s the way a lot of people view the world though. It seems to me that Stephen King’s books have more charm than Johansen’s…
Anyway, this is a Cinderella sort of tale. Plain Jane is in a terrible accident, gets whisked away and through the magic of plastic reconstructive surgery becomes a mind-boggling Helen of Troy. There’s evil spies, vengeance, lust and adventure galore. I’m sure it’s a good book. I’m just not sure it was my cup of tea.

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult C
Somebody tell me why this woman has had so many bestsellers?! This book was lousy, clich├ęd and sad… Domestic violence, famous husband, wife too scared to leave… I’ve read this before and it was told better. I just kept thinking it would get better, but it didn’t.

The Haunting of Josie by Kay Hooper D
One of her first books- a romance with paranormal touches. Not very good. Probably shouldn’t have been republished. At least I liked the main character.