I decided that I wanted to get more out of the dozen books or so I read every month. To meet that end, I've decided upon a review format for each title. I also signed up with Amazon, in case one of my reviews sparks enough interest for someone to purchase a book. I appreciate any comments on the form.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Title:Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Author: J.K. Rowling Genre: Fantasy Summary: Further exploits of the battle against evil. Seriously, if you don't know what it is about by now, you'd better start at the beginning. What was Good: About half of the questions I had were answered. Being able to see the beginning of Voldemart's rise and Harry's own personal history were fascinating. What wasn't: I throw my towel in with those that think Rowkling left too much of the book to rely on current events rather than building the terror into the words of the novel as was done in Book 5. Then again, if she had done that, she would have added at least 300+ words, and when it comes to length, more is better. The Take-Away: While half of the questions were answered, I'm left wondering if Dumbledore is dead or is it another hoax. What really is going on with Malfoy and Snape? Too many questions remain for this to be resolved. Recommendation: Buy it, along with the other five. After Book 7 is out, let the real discussions begin. The best part of Rowling's work is the effect, not the cause. Kids (and adults) everywhere are stopping to read. While they wait for the next installment, they are looking for other things to read. Rowling isn't the best fiction writer of all time. Others are equally as good, possibly even better. Fantasy authors are being discovered and publications are up because of the stir she has caused. That is what truly needs to be celebrated and not just the continuation of the story.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Thanks be that this news source is telling us how our returning troops are being supported.
Basham, now home with his parents, wants to start a new life with a quality education. When he enrolled at Austin's Community College to become a paramedic, they told him he'd have to pay out-of-state tuition, because of his time in the military.You'd think that the Texas Education Coordinating Board would cut the guy some slack. It's things like this that result in the bad reputation of colleges and military service. Now I'm wondering how many others are suffering from the same. via J-Walk
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/30/2005
Monday, August 29, 2005
In March I read and reviewed The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. The second novel of this series, The Subtle Knife introduces the two characters that will complete the novel; Will, a boy from our own world who is chosen to be the Knife Bearer, and Mary, a former nun turned scientist who is studying Lyra's Dust, but knows it in other ways. This extraordinary tale of Good versus Evil continues with themes hauntingly familiar. My favorite aspect of the book is how each character must decide for herself if Dust is good or bad, if the Church is for or against Dust, and what side to fight for. The lines of good and evil are not clear, until the very end. The end is one book away. This series makes the reader think, rather than merely entertaining. Identification with all three characters is easily obtained as each speaks to differing aspects of ourselves. I recommend buying all three and reading them in a row.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/29/2005
James Patterson writes spine tingling psychological thrillers and touching love stories. He has crossed yet another boundary in the written word--Young Adult Fiction. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment is told from the point of view of a teenage girl who has been created in a lab. Her body is the result of genetic experimenting. She has wings and can fly. But she isn't the only one of these amazing creatures. Her family consists of several other, like herself, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. They've been stolen from the lab that created them. The scientists want them back. The man who helped them escape, Jeb, has disappeared, leaving Max as the oldest in charge. The scientists aren't satisfied with creating just these amazing kids that can fly. They also have created "Erasers," a werewolf-like creature whose only goal is to get the extraordinary flying children back to the lab. Max leads, follows and pushes to save her family from a fate that will fulfill their worst imaginings and fears. On his website, Mr. Patterson offers a partial outline, sample chapters and words of encouragement for young (and old) authors. Well worth the visit.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/29/2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
I generally post first thing in the morning before anyone else in my house hold is awake. The postings today are midday only because I am home with the littlest one, who is taking a nap. His daycare had the day off so I am spending time with him...slowly going crazy, but time none the less. In other words, I won't be fired for blogging at work.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/26/2005
I recently bought a new journal. My old one had been serving me since the fall of 2000. I'm not an every day journaller, quite frankly, it just didn't work for me any more. It's only about half full and while I feel odd leaving it in its current state, I know that I just cannot write in the thing. The new journal is a Moleskine which has quite an interesting history, found here. I've helped people pick out journals and it really is quite an intimate thing. The senses need to be considered, as well as the purpose of the book. Color choice is huge, not only for the pages themselves (as they do vary) but also for the outside. A brilliant red might suit your mood at time of purchase, but will it do in the dead of night when recording your fears and dark thoughts? I don't imagine any publisher would put out a book that is horridly ugly, even as a journal, but certain looks appeal more than others. I cannot abid a journal with a picture on the cover. The solidity of black or tan is my journal cover. But the section is huge and its looks should appeal. The binding is equally important as the colors used. Spirals mean that a page can be torn from between it's protective covers with none the wiser. Whether or not it is a desired feature is something else all together. I am very tactile when choosing a journal. Shopkeepers must hate persons like me who open the plastic wrap. I have to feel the leather (as I won't settle for anything else on my cover) and the fibers of the page. I know just by touching them if the kind of pen I prefer to write with is compatable. For, if they are not, I won't purchase it. Leather is a must for the cover. The smell holds many memories for me, even though it only lasts for a short time before absorbing the smell I carry every day. Taste is one that doesn't quite fit in with the purchase, exactly, but I'm nostalgic for the days when I could spend hours in a coffee house, sipping a latte flavored just so. I think of that when I review "taste." I'm nuts, I know, but if I'm not happy with it, I won't use it. I'm just as bad when choosing a pen, only it doesn't take me as long, as I have three or four that I consider staples and can purchase them almost everywhere. Those I've shopped with generally want my answer for "the best journal" only to find that I ask too many questions and convert the question into "the best journal for you."
Thursday, August 25, 2005
How much caffeine would it take to kill you? The above link will let me know if I'm in danger this morning after my night with two boys and the subsequent morning activities of getting them ready for their previously scheduled activities (daycare for one, back to mom for the other.) Everything went well last night and this morning. If it hadn't required dropping my car off for an oil change too, I would have been to work at my normal time. As it was, I arrived ten minutes later, but before the guy who notices what time everyone comes in. It's all good. via J-walk
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/25/2005
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
My husband is out of town for the week. A big thanks to Sprint for helping us in reducing the finicially crippling roaming charges that we would have incurred, if they had not provided us with a solution. Unfortunately, they cannot help with explaining to a two year old why Daddy is suddenly at work all of the time. Said two year old continuallys inquires and must be frustrated by receiving the same answer. "Daddy's at work, honey. He'll be home soon." My husband usually does work a couple of nights a week, so the nights are generally okay. The difficult part is morning, when we typically trek to the bedroom to say goodbye to Daddy. So far he hasn't noticed that we have not done this for the last two days. Tonight might be difficult also. The five year old comes over. He knows and understands that Daddy is in Colorado. In all honesty, he is looking forward to having me to himself and Jonathon. We do things differently when Daddy isn't around, you see, as Daddy's tastes are different than mine. I can't remember when the three of us last spent the day together. So far the plan is to shop for Daddy's birthday present; I can't wait to see what sort of things the five year old comes up with. Oh, and go out for dinner at Perkins. It should be a fantastic night. I'll post tomorrow if I make it.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/24/2005
And they dish during poker night. Jill A Davis, a writer for shows like Saturday Night Live brings a great beach read in Girl's Poker Night. Columnist Ruby Capote shows her readers the pitfalls and dangers of being single and dating in today's world. A new job brings a potential Mr. Right into her life. The draw back? He is her new boss with his own baggage.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/24/2005
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Last week, Jory posted her usual thought-provoking and "wow, I was thinking the same thing, but not as wonderfully," post. I loved the post, as always. More striking though was the pattern of her mother being the first to post a comment. I commented on this phenomenon in relation to my own mother. My mother seldom reads my blog; a mixed blessing that I am thankful for. When I work on my novel(s) she hints to no end that she would like to read them, but I refuse. I'm not ready to show them to anyone; she too will have to wait. If she wants to read my writing that I am willing to share, she should come here, I believe. Jory was kind enough to send me an email of encouragement that I greatly appreciated. At the same time, it made me envy the relationship she has with her mother, but not as much as this post did. I love this explanation of her mother.
My mother is more open than most mothers. Not open like the mother and sex therapist I recently saw on Dr. Phil, who gives her son-in-law hives by patting him on the back and asking him if he's lubricating properly. My mother isn't quite like a Focker, but she'll listen to anything and not think it's all that outrageous. And believe me, over the years there have been doozies.Jory reveals quite abit about herself and her mother in this posting. All of which goes to show how much trust we have for our readers.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/23/2005
Monday, August 22, 2005
Global Gas Prices and where the US ranks. I'm sure glad that we pay less than those other countries, but (heard that one coming, eh?) our country was physically developed to support a society of drivers. Ever taken the bus in your town? How long would it take you to get to work? Groceries? Now figure in all of the time it would take to shuttle the kids around. Is bicycling an option? Sort of. If you don't mind rude and inconsiderate drivers, people who pay little or no attention to cyclist, along with bad sidewalks and busy streets. When will people wake-up and realize that oil is not going to be able to continue to support our energy needs? via J-Walk
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/22/2005
Friday, August 19, 2005
A tip for all of you aspiring investigative reporters: When you expose an Internet sex hoax, there are going to be consequences. Take it from me. My sleuthing got me an unplanned role in a piece of erotic fiction that starred Chewbacca as a Wookiee Casanova. It all started on the weekend of July 4, when I spotted a discussion on the Web site Metafilter about a new fad called "greenlighting." The dubious claim was that an "emerging underground [group] of sexually promiscuous teenagers" had started wearing green shirts with the collar popped up. When a greenlighter spotted a fellow traveler, he yanked his or her collar down, triggering anonymous sexual escapades. (What's it called when you wave off a green-shirted lothario? Redlighting, of course.)The amazing part is the upbeat attitude that the article displays.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/19/2005
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Perhaps I'm odd, but if I dial a wrong number or believe that I have, I generally ask the person if I dialed the number I meant to be dialing to verify that I don't have it written down wrong, apologies and dial a different number the next time I pick up the phone. I don't just hit redial to piss of the person that I just talked to. If I did, I'd apologize and repeat the above, NOT CALL THEM FOR A THIRD TIME. The owner of phone number 786-362-2925 decided to opt just to hit redial, annoying me three separate times while at work. Reverse look-up reveals that he lives in North Dade, Florida and is registered with Supra Telecommunications & Information. If only I could have gotten his name.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/18/2005
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Twenty year career as a professional assistant gives Heather H. Howard plenty of fodder in Chore Whore Heather creates a world where $32,000 a month isn't enough for a star to live on, personal shopping includes picking up condoms for the boss and washing his girl friend's dirty underwear. Throughout, the antics of the extremely wealth (and spoiled) stars of the silver screen will keep the read laughing.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/17/2005
In The Closers Harry Bosch returns to the police force's new department - Open/Unsolved, aka Cold Cases. His first day on the job has a cold lead - DNA typing on a 20+ year old case. Harry partners with Kiz, his previous partner on the force. Together they find the clues that will eventually solve the case. More interesting is the political spin that it received during its original investigation and where those politicians are today. As always a great novel by Michael Connelly.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/17/2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Diane Mott Davidson did it again. I'm dying to get a paper copy of The Cereal Murders since I listened to it. The treats and desserts sound absolutely fabulous once again. While making treats for the Elk Park Prep seniors, Goldie Bahr solves the murder of Keith Andrews, the top student in the year's graduating class from the exclusive prep school. Goldie is caught in figuring out who is threatening not only the seniors, but also her son, a 7th grader at the school. The stress of college acceptance exams and letters of recommendation are getting to someone. But who benefits most? Julian Teller, Goldie's boarder/assistant? Or someone who needs to make it into the top 5% to get the college of their dreams?
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/16/2005
Monday, August 15, 2005
My mortgage was recently switched from Flagstar Mortgage Company to Net Bank. I fully comprehend that this sort of thing in normal in the course of mortgages and have no problem with it. My issue comes with Net Bank and their idea of convenience and just in time. I pay as many of my bills online as possible for two reasons.
- I'm bad at remembering to mail a letter.
- I like paying a bill and have the money disappear instantly rather than hanging out in my checking account deceptively.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/15/2005
Friday, August 12, 2005
J-walk, the site of 1000+ viewer a day is offering to link to his readers sites, provided that they link to his post: Attention Bloggers! I'm a cheap internet link whore. I'll do it. Being superbly confident in his internet skills, J-walk is challenging his readers to put him to the test.
This is an experiment to see how "findable" blog references are. Put me to the the test, fellow bloggers. All you have to do is post a link to this particular blog item (i.e., the one you're reading now). Just call it J-Walk Blog Link Experiment or something like that. After a few days, I'll post a list of every blog I found that linked to this item. If you're not on the list, I'll invite you to send me the link to your entry. I'll post these unfound links, and we'll try to figure out why I didn't find you.He even admits that it is a cheap way to get some linkage.
By the way, this is not just a cheap way to get some linkage (although it won't hurt). I really think it will be a useful experiment. I'll reveal all of my sources and, hopefully, learn about some new ones. I think other bloggers and the blog tracking sites may benefit from the results.I'm in.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/12/2005
Of course by now I've forgotten where I read that writer's block doesn't really exist; it just means that the writer really wants to work on something else. That may be the case. Or it just could be that the ideas stream has dried up. Either way, the Oshkosh Area Writers has a recommendation for those in need of a new spark. The Official Movie Plot Generator by Jason and Justin Heimburg is a funny, funny book that deserves a much better review than I am giving it. That review would be here.
Transgression and Retribution by Randy Ingermanson are the first and third installments in the story of two modern day scientist stuck in first century Jerusalem. Each novel of Mr. Ingermanson's that I read improves. His talent for imagining and bringing the stories of the early church to life is amazing. He writes beautiful stories using what little we know about the people who shaped the beginnings of the Church. While major players from the Bible are a part of his telling, the focus is on those who were impacted by these great men. Read my thoughts on Premonition and Double Vision here.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/12/2005
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
My husband still has a job since the fire that destroyed the warehouse didn't take the company down with it. As the summer draws to a close, sales are picking up again - always a good thing for the store and us. He finished all but the smallest details in refurbishing his boat. It looks great in blue with silver decals and numbers. Now it needs to sit for a week, preventing either of us from using it. The oldest is thrilled with the current exhibit at the Public Museum - "Pirates!" He and the youngest have taken to saying "Argh!" and "Aye, me hearties" in their very best pirate voices. No one has been asked to walk the plank. Yet. The youngest has really gotten into his routines. Any variance means that we show up early to daycare or the planned event. He has taken to saying "Sure" instead of "Yes" and "Umm" when he is thinking about it. Yesterday he answered a request for a hug with "Not now." He sounds more like his brother every day. I am still trying to hold everything together and get people to where they need to be. The story is coming along slowly as I spend precious writing time on reading. You'd think I'd be smart enough to read my own story and commit it to paper, but it is so much easier and tempting to read what others have written. My mother found a new job in the most unlikely of places - the same store as my husband. While this might seem like a recipe for disaster, it works rather well as they seldom interact as she is the office manager while he manages the sales staff and store front. In fact, we are pretty sure that she is ill, as she has complimented my husband a couple of times on his management abilities. Thomas is finally finding acceptance in our house. Other than this morning's antics of disappearing for a 30 minute bathroom break, he has been a good puppy. Elle likes him being around and peered anxiously out the window for him. I'm looking forward to the end of summer and a return of cooler weather, which always means time at the YMCA for swimming and other indoor activities like drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows. Best wishes to you as well.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/10/2005
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Dorothy's deepest desire to return to Kanas lead to the demise of the Wicked Witch. In Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire tells how the witch became the evil woman we know from Frank L Baum's stories and MGM's production. Elphba, the witch, was born with green skin. Ever think of suffering through childhood with that affliction? The reader discovers how she deals with that, along with her sexually promiscuous mother, her fanatically religious missionary father and her armless sister. She desires to be her own person, to make her own choices. Inspite of her father's teaching, she grows up believing that she has no soul. Mr. Maguire incorporates charming elements that will tickle the fancy of fans and adds layers to the story that make it more than the cut and dry tale of MGM studios. Definitely worth the time.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/09/2005
Monday, August 08, 2005
This is the video that I was using when the Baby decided to do Pilates with me. I am under the assumption that it works since my abs are KILLING ME today. Hey...wait a minute...Overstock is working again. Screw posting. I'm shopping! Seriously, they have $1 shipping. How can you go wrong?
The plethora of strange postings is due in part to this error message combined with the fact that the baby goes to bed early on Monday nights and my husband is communing with nature by resorting the hunter/fisher role for the village that is raising my kids. He returns tomorrow and normal (for me) posting will resume.
As I watered my tomato plants tonight, I thought to myself, "Self, why doesn't Glade or Bath and Body or one of those other smelly companies come out with a room freshener that smells like my tomato plants? I like it. I'm sure I can find others that do too." Things like this keep me from having a successful career in marketing.
This CNET article doesn't scare me as much as Google's reaction to it. I am aware of the multitude of information Google knows about me, if someone cared to look. I use their email, Blogger and typically, it's the first place to go if I'm looking for information, whether it is work related, writing related or personal. My main priority at work is to monitor the shipping patterns and habits of a multi-million dollar freight spend. I know all sorts of things about Susie Q and John P that they don't realize that I am watching. I can only imagine what sort of things Google could find out about people, if they really wanted to know. Right now, I can think of several scenarios, each scarier than the last. But they all seem to be the fodder of a literary twist that the likes of John Grisham or Robert Ludlem would come up with and not real things. Of course, I could tell you what my neighbors' paid for their houses and how much it is worth. I bet they don't know that. Should that be scary? Absolutely. Am I afraid of it the way I am of terrorist or Nazis? No. What does scare me is that Google black-balled the reports. Can we really trust a company use a slogan - "Don't Be Evil" - to keep its ideologies pure? Is violation of this basic human deceny the reason CNET reporters are being punished? How much evil is Google allowing to happen every day? As a country, don't we rises to arms when our freedom, and that of others, is being violated? Yet, Google is allowed to keep massive databanks that violate my privacy. If they were to attack us as a whole, instead of allowing the pieces to be attacked, would we care then? I like Google. Their email is great. The provide the best search engine for my needs. Blogging is something I really enjoy. Why are they keeping data? What purpose, other than pushing ads, does it serve? Questions need to be raised, especially as Google is now a public company and accountable to its stock holders. The Board of Directors needs to define what purpose the databank serves and that people can expect a reasonable amount of deceny. CEO Eric Schmidt has felt the violation of privacy that his company provides. His response, or lack their of, is as telling as if he had held a press conference.
This weekend I was extremely motivated to work on my abs. My pants fit great in the rear and thighs, but often prove to be excruitating by the end of the day in the waist. I picked up a Pilates video that targets specific body parts in 10 minute segments. The segments can then be used separately or in combination through some built-in programming features. Pilates focuses on the torso and abs as the basis of all other exercises. The very first move learned is called the one hundred. If you aren't familiar with this move, this pictoral should give you an idea of what position your body should be in. What you don't see is in the third picture; the arms beat up and down towards the floor very quickly. Since I planned to only do the ten minute abs section, I figured that it wouldn't matter that my youngest was awake and in the same room as me. I was wrong. As I lay on the floor, attempting to keep my body in the position and move my arms, he lays down next to me, feet in the arm and beats his arms up and down too. He didn't know what game we were playing, but he sure thought it was fun.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Friday, August 05, 2005
Thursday, August 04, 2005
To my Oshkosh area readers: Have you seen a Winnebago County Sanitation Truck lately? Not the garbage truck, but the other one? Glaring down the side is the subtitle "Liquid Refuse Hauler." Quite a vivid description and one that I can do without. Now the back end of them reads "Used Food Hauler." Seriously, they need someone with an ounce of decency in their marketing department. Apt taglines they may be. I don't want to think of it in that manner.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/04/2005
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
U2 has a lyric that I especially like. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. During one of my numerous years in a dormitory, I had this phrase on my message board. Most likely it was defense against my boyfriendless status, but I loved the way it sounded. One of my fellow dorm-mates commented to me, "That doesn't make sense. Why would a fish need a bicycle?" As I laughed, I knew that I couldn't explain it. She looked at it too literally, taking it for the letter, but not the spirit of the declaration. Or perhaps, she couldn't imagine being without a boyfriend. I, on the other hand, never had a problem with that. During high school I had my share of crushes and friends who were boys. If I hadn't gone to a parochial school, rumors probably would have floated about my sexual tendencies since I didn't have a boyfriend once during the four years. Looking back, there might have been one or two that were interested, but I was a geek and it wasn't cool. (Note: write to producers of The OC and thank them for making Seth Cohen a geek, but uber cool anyway.) College was slightly better. I dated a few guys during my first year, before I dropped out. The year inbetween lead to one serious boyfriend. That relationship ended when I returned to the parochial school system and the higher calling of public ministry as a teacher. Once again immersed in the world of church combined with schooling, I was a social outcast. Oh, I had friends, but not that special person that so many of us crave. It never bothered me, especially when I was often the confidant that heard the horrors of having a significant other. Eventually things turned for the better and I did find someone that I love and loves me. My husband and I have a good relationship, I feel, yet that phrase sticks in my head. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. A friend of my husband recently complained about how his wife often times her returns from shopping expeditions with his own arrival at home so that he can carry in the products of the trip. His complaint was mild-mannered. He just wished she would take more initiative in other areas rather than rely on him so often. My husband responded with a laugh and a description of my last shopping trip. I carried in four or five bags from the grocery store, juggled a kid, his back pack, my work briefcase while opening and closing various doors. Unfortunately, this is the norm, not the exception. I have theories as to my inability to ask for help. But could it really be a simple as taking a lyric from a song to heart at the tender age of fourteen?
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/03/2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
In a world where every aspect of life is controlled by corporations, select individuals earn the opportuntity to test their skills and strength in the Outback. Getting Back by William Diedrich promises that they will get back, only to find that the exit is not there. I purchased this book at a rummage sale and loved it. I tried to find out more about it - website, other books by the author - only to come up short. I loaned my copy to a friend, who did the same. Now it is lost to me. I really would have liked to keep this on my shelf.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 8/02/2005
Monday, August 01, 2005
My youngest turned two this month and the oldest is asking for two babies for Christmas - one boy and one girl. Since my husband agrees with him, they talk about it and pick out names even. Evidently his has decided that the youngest is okay, now that he is older. Just wait until they have to share a car. Then they'll regret it. For the month of July, I read 4,216 pages or 11 books. In 2001, I read 2,795 pages/7 books; 2002, 2,439 pages/6 books; 2003, 1,222 pages/3 books; 2004, 2,006 pages/5 books.
- Getting Back by William Diedrich
- Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
- Transgression by Randy Ingermanson
- Retribution by Randy Ingermanson
- The Cereal Murders (Audio) by Diane Mott Davidson
- The Closers by Michael Connelly
- Chore Whore by Heather H. Howard
- Girl's Poker Night by Jill A Davis
- Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
- The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman