Today's Grateful List/21 July 2014

  • Online friends
  • Antiques Roadshow
  • Being hopeful
  • Reading
  • Being lazy

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ghosts Among Us

If I were in an analytical mood, I'd begin to wonder why it is that in the past few years, I've become very interested in the paranormal, but I suppose the truth is that I've *always* been interested in things that go bump in the night. Those things used to terrify me, but as I've gotten older, I find myself ever more fascinated. Besides watching Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi religiously (Hey, Tango!), I've found myself reading more fiction and non-fiction, hoping to lift that veil that divides the known and unknown.

To that end, I picked up Ghosts Among Us by James Van Praagh after my friend Sharon sent it to me. Van Praagh's a pretty well known medium, and is also co-producer of The Ghost Whisperer on CBS (a show I don't currently watch...it's a Jennifer Love Hewitt problem). Anyway, I was hoping for, and received, several stories from Van Praagh of people he's met and helped, and lots of reasons to believe that he's telling the truth when he says he speaks with the dead. Good stuff in general, but Van Praagh lost me when he began describing his version of the after-life--not that I totally disregard his version, but I just wasn't all that interested. And when he got into energy levels and chahkras, my eyes glazed over. My skepticism hit a high note when he named Abraham Lincoln as one of his spirit guides...well, I guess it *could* be true, though it seemed too over-the-top for me.

I will say that after having read copious notes from my friend Susan about her experiences with her psychic friend Alison and the Akashic record, Van Praagh's version of spirit guides and "reincarnation" line up almost exactly. In my book, that lends a lot of credence to Van Praagh's words.

Ghosts Among Us is very readable and it's obvious Van Praagh is a good storyteller. After finishing this one, though, I will say I prefer Allison Du Bois's style of writing and her ability to stick to one topic throughout a book.

My Amazon review is found at http://www.amazon.com/review/R2EG7VH94BYA5G/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm.

~taminator40

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Olympics

The Olympics will finally come to a close tomorrow, and I will finally find time to read again. Since they started on 8/8/08, I've spent many, many hours glued to my television, watching everything from basketball to gymnastics to diving to track and field to lots and lots of swimming, and pretty much everything in between. The Olympics have been on when I've gotten up in the mornings and they are still going when I finally click off the tv late at night. I've missed many hours of sleep as I was riveted to ladies gymnastics (Nastia Liukin was robbed, I tell ya) and beach volleyball, but I still wouldn't trade the time I invested. I also found time during my planning period at school to flick on the tube and catch some equestrian events and rhythmic gymnastics, and I even provided soccer updates to our two p.e. teachers. Hey, we're Americans, and we're nothing if not obsessive about being #1.

While all this Olympic worship has been going on, my reading has suffered mightily. I *have* read, just not nearly as much as usual, and often between events. I just haven't wanted to read as much because I've been so riveted to all the sports, even events I don't normally watch that much. I don't know why this is, but every four years, I find myself watching television to excess during the Olympics and as a result, my reading just falls by the wayside. But I figure it's worth it to treat myself like this. Otherwise, I might've missed the triumph of Michael Phelps and all the other athletes who have competed. Or the moment I just witnessed when Sonia Richards just blazed by the Russians in the last few meters of the relay race. Too exciting! Go USA! Go us!

Once every four years, we're right there with the athletes, cheering them on and wondering how they do it. I guess I'm just a sucker for a good story--whether it's in the pages of a book or on the tv screen.

~taminator40

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Fun quiz found through Bookbrowse.com.

http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/

My results say (fairly accurately):


Your Personality: Exacting Eclectic Reader!


Your responses showed you fitting into two different groups - the exacting reader and the eclectic reader. The expression 'so many books, so little time!' sums up your life. You love books but you rarely have as much time to read as you'd like - so you're very particular about the books you choose. You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.


~taminator40

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Evernight

I just finished Evernight by Claudia Gray for the Amazon Vine program; I'd seen it in bookstores but wasn't sure if I wanted to spend my money on it, so I was pleased when it was offered through the program. I'm also pleased to say that Evernight was indeed very good; I liked the world Gray created and I especially am a fan of the surprise she landed on me about halfway through (how did I not see that coming??). Set in modern times, we follow sixteen year old Bianca as she's forced to enroll in Evernight Academy when her parents take teaching jobs there. Immediately Bianca feels out of place since most of her classmates seem not only beautiful, but snobbish and cliquish. So of course she instantly falls for the rebellious Lucas, who though good looking, seems to be so much more normal than the other students. But Bianca's still not feeling a part of things, and odd occurrences start to make her realize that she's going to have to make some strong choices.

I liked this one well enough to recommend it; it's a good supernatural entry in the young adult category, with some interesting twists and turns. I did find a couple of the plot points a bit silly, but those can easily be set aside as overall, this is good first book in what I believe is a four book series that's planned. You can visit my more comprehensive review at http://www.amazon.com/review/RQB4WTRL6UXKF/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm.

BTW, I have to express wonder at the fact that I posted a review of Juliet's Moon by Ann Rinaldi last Wednesday to Amazon, and it's yet to show up. I can't imagine what the hold up is, since it's a pretty tame Civil War young adult novel, while Evernight has some fairly bold sexual situations that I mention in my Amazon review. Who knows?

~taminator40

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Great Lady

I'm not sure what you say or do when one of your mom's best friends dies. My mother loved Katherine, and she loved Owen as well; even though Katherine hadn't been herself for a long time, my mother would still visit her and often spoke of all the fun they had together. I'm glad she's at peace now, and I know my mother is at a loss, even if she considers it a blessing. I hope I have friends who will stay by my side like these two did. And God bless the Bradleys for mentioning my mom's friendship. It warms my heart.
~taminator40


Mary "Katherine" (Franklin) Bradley
BRADLEY, Mary "Katherine" Franklin, passed away on Tuesday, August 5, 2008 while residing at Woodcrest at The Blakeford in Burton Hills, Nashville, TN. Katherine was born on December 27, 1915 in Nashville. She was preceded in death by her husband, Country Music Hall of Fame Member, Owen Bradley, and by her parents, Clevie Franklin Ligon and William C. Franklin, and by her brother, William C. Franklin, Jr.. She is survived by daughter, Patsy Bradley; son, Jerry (Connie) Bradley; grandchildren, Leigh Bradley Jankiv (Grimbsby, Ontario, CN), Clay (Sara) Bradley; great-grandchildren, Josh, Eli and Emma Jankiv (Grimbsby, Ontario, CN), John Owen and Grace Bradley; brother-in-law, Harold (Eleanor) Bradley; and numerous nieces and nephews. Katherine attended East High School. She was a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Cook's United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, and The Church by the Lake at Cedar Creek Club in Mt. Juliet. She was a member of Cedar Creek Yacht Club for over 50 years and a member of the Nashville Yacht Club. She traveled throughout Europe, Canada, the Panama Canal, Alaska and the continental United States with her travel group from Glasgow, KY. She was a member of the Donelson Red Hat Club. Katherine was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She met her husband-to-be when they were in the 8th grade. They married in 1935 and shared 62 happy years together. She was the homemaker while Mr. Bradley pursued his musical career, which he began at the age of 15, playing piano. He was Musical Director at WSM Radio and formed the Owen Bradley Orchestra, which was considered Nashville's premier dance band for society events until 1964. Owen and his brother Harold built the first recording studio on Music Row, where he produced many of country music's greatest artists, including Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells. Mr. and Mrs. Bradley made their home at Cedar Creek on Old Hickory Lake in Mt. Juliet for over 25 years. They loved entertaining family, friends and civic groups on their houseboat "Studio A". The Bradley family would like to thank Katherine's friends, Cecile Light, Martha Koudelka, Mary Elizabeth Webster, Janet Gregory, Pearl Williams, Jackie McMillin, Mary Mitchell, Michael Sayles and all the caregivers at Woodcrest at Blakeford for their loving care, especially The Memory Care Staff - Valerie, Hester, Selena, Rebecca, Cierra and Linda, as well as Karen Heath and Alive Hospice of Nashville.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Breaking Dawn


Ah, Breaking Dawn. The long anticipated end to Stephenie Meyer's hugely successful series that began with Twilight finally landed in stores last Saturday at 12:01 a.m. but I wasn't there. I did, however, take my happy self to Borders early (okay, early for me--11:00 a.m.) to pick up my very own copy. Is it wrong to admit that I immediately sneaked a peak at the last page just to ensure that my two lovers would be together? Nope, won't answer that. I headed home, determined to finish the 752 page book over two days.
Two days past my deadline for finishing, I closed the book and put it gently on the shelf near the others. It's taken me all day to think of the review I want to do for Breaking Dawn; it's very obvious that it's a polarizing novel, judging by the often incoherent reviews posted on Amazon. I've decided to forego posting a review there, at least for now; I have a feeling that a traditional review would be trashed at the moment. Anyway, back to the book and my thoughts on it.
I liked it.
What did I like specifically? I like that Meyer took us where we didn't think we'd go. I like that she took chances with her characters, making them step outside their own comfort zones and find things within themselves worth fighting for. I loved that she devoted an entire section to Jacob, a character I'll admit I never felt overly sympathetic for; seeing events from his point of view was the absolute perfect way to move the story along at a crucial point and give us reasons why Jacob was acting as he did. I love the titles for those chapters from Jacob's point of view!
I like that Meyer was able to have Bella incorporate her old family into her new one, and I like how Bella's insecurity was challenged once she moved onto her destiny. (How's that for being vague so as not to give away spoilers--unlike the bajillion teens on Amazon?). I looooved the transition piece; it could not have been done any better, in my opinion. I was there in the room with Edward, Bella, and Jacob and I was breathing with Bella every step of the way. I loved the developing relationship between the vampires and the wolves, and I loved how Jacob felt about Renesmee. I think it was realistically done since Meyer *had* set us up for the possibility earlier. I do believe she'd planned the whole thing out early on.
I suppose it's a spoiler to say I love the happy ending, but I do believe in happy endings. I loved that through it all I could feel the commitment between Edward and Bella. That's what drove me into the story in the first place, and that never changed.
Now for what I didn't like. Even though I feel that Meyer made a courageous and interesting choice in taking her characters into a phase of life they hadn't expected, I felt it was all a bit too sci-fi (I posted earlier that I kept being reminded of Star Trek TNG and Troi's rushed pregnancy). I still don't understand the need for Renesemee to grow so rapidly other than the prove a point in the end to the Volturi (okay, I know that one's a spoiler). I got tired of all the hand-wringing waiting, and the surprise appearance at the end was a little too convenient. I didn't care for all the vampire support turning up at the end, though I understand the *why* of it. I also felt that Bella discovering her gift and then fully realizing it just when it was most needed was a bit much.
There were parts I loved and parts I didn't care for, but I think Meyer is to be commended for not just writing the pat final installment that would have pleased the masses. There was a definite maturing in the characters that I found surprisingly appealing, and a strong undercurrent of emotion that has always been the basis for the stories. I am sure that I will be thinking of this final novel in the series for a very long time, and finding that I am looking very favorably on it. The good outweighs the bad; I closed the last page and smiled. That's what any good book should do: crawl inside you and make you feel. Goal accomplished.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Breaking Dawn...No Spoilers

One of my favorite online people, Andi of Tripping Toward Lucidity, just posted a message about Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, which we are both reading (along with legions of fans of the Twilight series). Her post has prompted my own, which will probably echo hers in many respects. We both made the mistake of visiting Amazon's review page for BD; big mistake. Of course there were spoilers galore, which as a serial last page reader, really didn't bug me so much. It's the incessant whininess of the reviews, obviously written by teens who didn't get the story they'd wanted.

Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, of course. I don't deny anyone that pleasure. But having read several "reviews" (and how can they be considered such when 1) they are full of spoilers and 2) they just berate the author?) that seem to borrow from each other and influence further despair among said teens, I am waiting for the moment when cooler heads and rational minds decide to actually REVIEW the book. I get the feeling that most of these teens had the plot carefully planned in their own heads, and when Meyer decided to deviate from those pipe dreams, their worlds were shattered, making her THE WORST AUTHOR EVER. OMG, how are we all going to live? It won't do a bit of good to remind them that ultimately, they got what they wanted, because Meyer threw in some curves that took them on a ride they didn't meet the height requirement for.

I'm on page 185, and I have to say that the poor reviews at first made me very worried about how much I was going to like BD. I was expecting the worst. I know Bella is a drama queen and that Edward is controlling, but beyond all that, I like the stories Meyer has created and I'm happy (in general) with things as they've been written so far. I am beginning to realize my fear for this novel was wasted; I'm liking it. Despite a trip into sci-fi territory (I'm thinking specifically of a Star Trek TNG episode where Troi gave birth within 3 days), I think there's potential here for a good journey to a satisfying ending. I just started a section from Jacob's point of view, and while skeptical at first, I have to say I'm really enjoying it. I suspect many of the teenyboppers didn't care for this little tactic.

I'm really hoping that once the teens get all their own personal angst out of their systems that reviews will begin to appear that actually let people know what the NOVEL is like. While it won't be another Twilight, I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be one of those who will be giving it a fairly positive review. We'll see.

~taminator40

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason

I wanted to love The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason. Several of my friends had read it and raved about it, so I was prepared to be swept away (even if it is the story of a vampire hunter, rather than a vampire). Unfortunately, this book just never captured me the way I'd hoped. I wanted to love Victoria Grantworth, kick-ass Venerator in Regency England, but I kept feeling compelled to poke holes in the story ("How could she get away with that? Why isn't she more tired?"). I wanted to fall in love with the Marquess of Rockley, who was in love with Victoria, but instead just found him a so-so match who really didn't know what he was getting into (and then he *really* disappointed me toward the end). I could not stand the three "mothers" Victoria found herself saddled with; I kept picturing the three witches from the movie Hocus Pocus. I wanted more depth; I wanted darker. When vampires go "Poof!" when they are staked, somehow it just takes the wind out of my sails.


Did I mention the bellybutton rings? Okay, okay, I know that's not what they ARE, but hey, technically, I'm right.


I did like some of the story, and found the teaser chapter of the next book, Rises the Night, (which I own), to be very intriguing. I want to see how Victoria's life goes on now that her secret has cost everything dear. I think the series has potential, but the first book failed to realize it completely.


A more in-depth review from me can be seen on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/review/R3EBK3RAYIJKNK/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm.


Now I'm going to do my best to zip through a short young adult novel tonight because as soon as I get up tomorrow, I'm going to get Breaking Dawn, which will occupy my time and mind until I finish it.

~taminator40