January 24th, 2015

Caturday 1.24.15


Happy Caturday!

 

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I couldn’t get PicMonkey to stop freezing so you all get a boring intro photo. #sadtrombone

This week has been so uneventful. At work, we’re counting down to our annual meeting, where my foundation will host a gala. I’ve been working so hard on that its exhausting. Cross your fingers that ticket sales stay strong.

In other news, you may have noticed a new site design. I of course love it but its still go some bugs to work out. Bear with me (and I hope to god that’s the right bear/bare.)

I don’t have much in the way of cat photos this weekend. I was all set to go to a DAR event but with the impending weather coming I decided to get some errands done instead and then lock myself up. Of course, this storm is late and in retrospect I could of gone to my event but oh well.

Instead, here’s some timehop photos of Forrest as a kitten and my late cat Jasmine.

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time hop forrest

Ciao!

 

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January 20th, 2015

Between the Lines: Dark Places


We’re doing a different kind of book review today. I’m linking up with Kristyn and Anne for this month’s Between the Lines, where we discuss Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

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My review

Libby Day is the sole survivor of a massacre in Kinnakee, Kansas, that claimed the lives of her mother and two sisters. She later testifies against her brother Ben, who takes the fall for the murder and sentenced to life in prison. The novel rotates perspectives between Libby today and Ben and Patty, the mother, on the day of the murders. Libby is contacted by the Kill Club, led by Lyle, who ask Libby to investigate the murders for a fee. The themes of the book include poverty, abuse and abandonment. Needless to say, it’s a pretty grim book.

I’ve been long fascinated with the Satanic Panic of the 80s. I remember being a little kid and watching the McMartin movie on HBO. (Where were my parents???) And I followed the West Memphis Three case for years. (Again, I remember watching the first documentary when I was kid – where were my parents? They show the bodies and everything!) It’s just so interesting to me how this happened due to the influence of religion and the growth of relaying on other people to take care of one’s kids. And Flynn does a great job of painting that in Dark Places, showing how easy it was for people to believe surface things and not look past it to see what really happened because of their need to blame someone, anyone.

This is my first Gillian Flynn book. I’ve checked out Gone Girl (which I want to call Bye Girl, Bye) numerous times but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. For my first outing, I’d say I enjoyed Flynn’s style, which seems to be a theme from what I’ve heard. However, I will say it didn’t quite grab me—it’s easy to put down. That may have been because I picked it up later in the month and thus had to rush a bit but it didn’t have that can’t-put-down feel that I’m looking for and haven’t found in my recent reads. #sadtrombone.

4 stars!

Between the Lines Questions

1. Libby became famous as a victim—how do you think this strange fame affected her?

Libby is such a hard to like character. She grew on me eventually but her let her fame as a victim turn her into more of a victim than she already was. Which probably makes no sense but it’s like this—the murder of almost her entire family supposedly by her own brother made her a victim technically. However, she continued to let that status take over her whole life and never worked to remove the stigma. Sure, it was profitable for a while—she lives well into her 30s off the kindness of strangers. But there’s no long term plan, leading her to keep reliving the murders over and over just to get by. It’s horrific in of itself.

2. What do you think of Patty Day as a mother? Is she doing the best she can, or is she making excuses for herself?

Patty was probably the only character I liked from beginning to end. She’s doing the best she can to get by and she’s not really blaming over people for her own choices. I like that in a person. Even her final decision I don’t think damns her or anything. Yes, it’s a stupid one and led to easily preventable events but still, she continued to keep what was “best” in mind for her family. Even though it was crazy and I would never have done it. But what do I know? I’m not straddled with four kids in poverty.

3. Why do you think the author chose to set the murders on a farm? What images and themes does the heartland and farming evoke?

You know, except for a few snippets, you’d never know this was set on a farm. The farm just felt incidental, just a way to find a sympathetic setting. I think farmers in poverty are probably more sympathetic to people than poor people in an urban setting. But there’s very little in the way of farming descriptions because of Flynn setting the past events within a day. But really, it could have taken place anywhere.

Like I mentioned in my review, poverty is such a heavy theme in this book. It’s a comparison about how Kinakee wants to present itself – the heart of American – and what it really is – a depressing place to live.

4. What do you believe is Diondra’s motivation throughout the story? Does her relationship with Ben change him?

Diondra is insane. At least, that’s what Ben’s point of view shows us. Its interesting seeing history repeat itself in a way – Patty is abused by her ex-husband while Ben is abused by Diondra.

That said, I don’t know if she changed Ben. I think Ben was set up to go down a bad road just due to the circumstances of his life just as Libby was doomed to her way of life after the murders. Sure, people break out and can fix themselves but its damn hard and especially hard for a teenage and child to do it without guidance. As much as I liked Patty, she was really just keeping her head above water and failing at that.

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January 17th, 2015

Caturday 1.17.15


The return of Caturday!

junior caturday

I won’t lie, when I started blogging again I couldn’t wait to get Caturday back up and running. I just love those two little jerks.

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Additionally, I’m excited to officially cross off my first 101 in 1001 – volunteering at the animal shelter. I’m, of course, a cat room volunteer at the Alexandria Animal Shelter. Its a great little gig, though I can only do an hour before I have to leave or fall in love and take all the cats home. There was one cat, Malcom, who I fell for instantly. 1) He’s a giant cat and 2) he was a cuddle bug. Instantly just a little lover. Thankfully someone adopted him because my landlord won’t let me have more than two.

malcolm

In non cat news (aka boring news), I’ve download Evil Apples. Its basically Cards Against Humanity meets Apples to Apples. But of course, even in simple gameland, a woman can’t avoid getting hit on.

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I don’t want to marry you either dude.

How are you spending your Caturday?

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January 16th, 2015

My Retirement Plan


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While I enjoy what I do a lot and with the economy I foresee this never happening anyway, but I do have dreams of my retirement days. Laying around not doing anything, only goal is waking up and putting on some kind of pants. But that would be great in a heartbeat. Here are my top five goals for when I retire! (If this were fantasyland!)

1) Open a vineyard. This is my big one – I love wine and I would love even more to own my own vineyard. Maybe name all the wines after my many cats?

2) Own a horse. In fantasyland! I would have all the money in the world and would finally get back into riding horses full time. I will get my Christmas pony dang it!

3) Read all my unread books. So. Many. Books.

4) Spend time with my family, of course. Hopefully by then I’ll have dozens of grandchildren.

5) Travel of course. Ideally I would get most of my traveling out in my younger days but there’s just so much to see. Plus, I would love to do it multiple times.
What would you do in your retirement?

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January 12th, 2015

12 Books to Read Before They Hit the Big Screen


I hope its apparent that I love books. And with a reading goal of 50 books this year, I’m pretty ambitious (I feel short last year by 20 books). I also enjoy partaking in challenges such as this one. I’m also going to try to read 12 books before seeing the movie (the first one will be a close one…)

Without further ado…

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1) Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Release date: Jan. 16

Amazon summary:

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…

The DUFF

2) The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Release date: Feb. 20

Amazon summary:

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush, who calls Bianca the Duff–the designated ugly fat friend–of her crew.

But things aren’t so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

 serena

3) Serena by Ron Rash

Release date: March 27

Goodreads summary:

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

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4) Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Release date: April 17

Goodreads summary:

Stalin’s Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law. But when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the State’s obedient servant finds himself demoted and exiled. Now, with only his wife at his side, Leo must fight to uncover shocking truths about a killer-and a country where “crime” doesn’t exist.

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5) Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Release date: May 1

Amazon summary:

Set in his fictional Wessex countryside in southwest England, Far from the Madding Crowd was Thomas Hardy’s breakthrough work. Though it was first published anonymously in 1874, the quick and tremendous success of Far from the Madding Crowd persuaded Hardy to give up his first profession, architecture, to concentrate on writing fiction. The story of the ill-fated passions of the beautiful Bathsheba Everdene and her three suitors offers a spectacle of country life brimming with an energy and charm not customarily associated with Hardy.

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6) Paper Towns by John Green

Release date: June 19

Goodreads summary:

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

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7) Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Release date: July 24

Goodreads summary:

Peter Pan, the book based on J.M. Barrie’s famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children–Wendy, John, and Michael–who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks. Renowned children’s-book artist Michael Hague has brought the amazing adventures of Peter Pan to life. His beautiful illustrations capture the wild, seductive power of this classic book. This newly designed edition will be enjoyed by fans young and old alike.

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8) Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Release date: Aug. 21

Amazon summary:

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

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9) Black Mass by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill

Release date: Sept. 18

Amazon summary:

John Connolly and James “Whitey” Bulger grew up together on the tough streets of South Boston. Decades later in the mid-1970s, they met again. By then, Connolly was a major figure in the FBI’s Boston office and Whitey had become godfather of the Irish Mob. Connolly had an idea, a scheme that might bring Bugler into the FBI fold and John Connolly into the Bureau’s big leagues. But Bulger had other plans. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger, Black Mass is the chilling true story of what happened between them—a dark deal that spiraled out of control, leading to drug dealing, racketeering, and murder.
 
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10) The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
 
Release date: Oct. 9
 
Goodreads summary:
 
Run with them. Or fear them–

Bagheera the Panther: A silken shadow of boldness and cunning.

Kaa the Python: A thirty foot battering ram driven by a cool, hungry mind.

Baloo the Bear: who keeps the lore and the Law, and teaches the Secret Words.

Rikki the Mongoose: The young protector who sings as he slays.

Akela and Raksha the Wolves: Demon warriors of the Free People.

Shere Khan the Tiger: The dreaded enemy of all.

And Mowgli the Man-cub: The orphan baby raised by the wolves, taught by Baloo, trained by Bagheera and Kaa. The sorcerer who knows the ways of the jungle and speaks the language of the wild…

 
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11) The Martian by Andy Weir
 
Release date: Nov. 25
 
Goodreads summary:
 
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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12) Silence by Shuusaku Endo

Release date: December

Goodreads summary:

Silence is a novel of historical fiction by Japanese author Shusaku Endo. It is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to seventeenth century Japan, who endured persecution in the time of Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”) that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion.

Which book looks most interesting to you? Do you read the book or see the movie first?

 
 

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