Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Salon: No Reading for the Obsessed

 So apparently there will be no reading for me until I've caught up with my TV binging.  When it's just my husband and I of an evening, we watch House of Cards (halfway through the 2nd season).  When my son joins the fray, we watch Game of Thrones (2 episodes away from end of second season).  And at all other times of my life, I am trying to get caught up on The Walking Dead (will finish season 2 today).  Says the person who never used to watch TV at all.  I've never imagined such entertainment.  I'm not sure if I will ever get caught up enough to be current, but I'm giving it my best.  Now if I could just find someone to share their HBO code with me to round things off...

Besides this serious distraction, I'm still dealing with sick kids. Specifically my son, whose health has now escalated to the point where I had to take him to a pediatric gastro.  Lots of fun testing coming up with that one.  I just hope we can get the answers we need to allow him to live a normal life sometime soon.

My neighbor, a guy who has been in poor health for as long as I've known him, passed this week.  He was his wife's caregiver, however, and his presence will devastate his family.  I have no idea how this will all affect our little three-house neighborhood.

So all of that plus volleyball, doctor appointments, and my husband's upcoming out of town trip to an annual convention has left me wildly distracted. I'm generally able to play an audio, but reading just IS NOT HAPPENING!

On audio, I finished "A Burnable Book" by Bruce Holsinger.  This was not the book I'd hoped for.  It was set in the middle ages, and while I love a good mystery, the language, the complicated plot and the real-life characters left me in the dust.  Hey, I finished it but I consider it an ineffective use of 14 hours of my time, despite Simon Vance's amazing narration.  I then launched into the 25-disc tome "Iron Curtain:  The Crushing of Eastern Europe" by Anne Applebaum.  This one may take me awhile but I find it fascinating, since my in-laws and husband lived through communism in Eastern Europe, and was nearly crushed themselves.

Print was a whole different matter.  I could not focus.  I got through about 30 pages of "The Expats" by Chris Pavone, in preparation for his arrival at the UCF Book Festival next weekend.  Uhhh, well, no.  I'm sure it is great, and I promise I will return to it.  So I hopped on over to "The Troop" by Nick Cutter, a nail-biting gross-fest, but I've made little progress on that too.  I just...need to finish Walking Dead.  Then I'll read.

I did go see "Divergent" with my daughter, despite the fact that the media over-saturated me with previews.  I liked the book well enough.  It was pretty two-dimensional, but loved Tris's fighter mentality and the chemistry between her and Four.  The director delivered these things in the movie, and therefore my expectations were met.  It isn't going to win any awards, but it is entertaining and the actor that plays Four is smoking hot.  I'm hoping that maybe my son and I will zip out today to see "The Grand Budapest Hotel", the latest masterpiece by Wes Anderson.  That is what I am really excited about.

So will I make progress with "The Troop" today?  Maybe.  I don't have much planned.  Let's hope for the best.    

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Salon: Wolf made me do it

 Good morning, my lovelies.  I seriously had to sit here and think hard about my past week before I wrote it all down.  It wasn't necessarily a pleasurable one for sure.  Every day but Wednesday I had a kid home sick, plus I had the crud as well.  I had a female doctor appointment with a bit of unpleasantness.  About 50 tons of pollen falling from the trees, resulting in not only red eyes and sneezing but daily yard and pool labor.  The air conditioner upstairs blew out.  Blah.

So it may not shock you to hear that I only made it two weeks into the "no alcohol" Lenten sacrifice (hanging head in shame).  Yeah well, it just wasn't happening.  I gave up Diet Coke instead.  The final straw in my whole undoing this week was a rather incredible but disturbing reading adventure with Mo Hayder's upcoming release "Wolf" (coming in May).  She is amazing, this women, but she is SICK AND TWISTED.  And I love it.  But it was the last straw.  So sue me.  After I finished it, I quickly plucked "The Expats" by Chris Pavone from my shelves, in preparation for his arrival at our local book festival in a couple of weeks.  But I've not progressed with it.  I'm still too..unsettled from "Wolf".  So I'll blame Hayder for my weakness.

On audio I finished Laura Lippman's "After I'm Gone", which was a little quieter than I thought it would be, but was great storytelling, with good discussable plotting, and a satisfying ending.  I also finished "This Dark Road to Mercy" by the most incredible Wiley Cash, which was also quieter than his previous novel and great storytelling.  I'm now about halfway through "A Burnable Book" by Bruce Holsinger, narrated by Simon Vance, yo.  However I am not digging this audio at all.  The only thing that is keeping me in the game is Simon.  I hope it turns around here soon, or I will have wasted 12 hours of my life.

Speaking of Simon, I need to just mention, because you know I feel that audio narrators are ROCKS GODS, that my son went to Megacon this weekend here in town.  (In case you aren't aware, this is a celebration of geekdom in the best way, with all stuff involving graphic novels, TV shows, movies and video games.)  ANYWAY, my dear child scored an autograph from Wil Wheaton because he knows I love him.  Because Wil is an audio rock god, among fifty other reasons to love that man.  My son told him that his mama loved him.   I thought it was pretty cool.

While he was rubbing elbows with Wil and the cast of the Walking Dead and a badass from Assassins Creed, my hubby and I were at the Bay Hill golf tournament, which was fun.  Adam Scott IS a talk drink of water.  We won't discuss how we were trying to find our car and ended up walking like five miles because "someone" has a bad sense of direction.  Details.  I just know "someone" owes me a foot rub.

Besides church today, there is nothing on the schedule. NOTHING.  Maybe I'll get a running start on "The Expats".  Lay by the pool with pollen falling gently down into my hair like delicate flakes of snow.  Hope everyone has a relaxing day of reading.  What is everyone up to?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Salon: Girls Weekend

 Happy weekend everyone!  We had a normal week in the Nawrot house, and normal is good.  My parents left to go back to the cold, unforgiving North (from the 80's to the middle of yet another snow storm, go figure), which is a sign that spring is upon us.  Both my son and daughter chose their classes for next year, which is always cause for discussion and debate.  I golfed on Thursday.  Weather was gorgeous.

I just have to make a comment about my daughter's birthday dinner on Sunday night at Victoria and Albert's (at the Grand Floridian Resort at Disney).  Not something you want to do more than once or twice in a lifetime, but it really was incredible.  They wait on you hand and foot, seven courses of taste explosions in your mouth, and they even offer the women cashmere shawls to borrow if it is too chilly.  It is first class, an an event you should try if you can.

We continue the birthday celebration this weekend.  (Trust me, this ongoing extravagance isn't routine, but she DID turn 16.)  She had Friday off, so she and I did some shopping, then went to Downtown Disney and had lunch and saw Frozen.  On Saturday we went to the spa, then spent a night at Disney Caribbean Beach Resort.  Just to get away.  (The boys went to North Florida to see a rodeo and drag racing - woo hoo!).  It was a nice relaxing time, with a few hours by the pool and some good reading.

As far as reading goes, I finished "The Wicked Girls" by Alex Marwood, which I LOVED.  So twisted and full of conflicting emotions!  This book was one of Stephen King's "best books of 2013" and for good reason.  I'm now about a hundred pages into "Wolf", the new Mo Hayder, which was sent to me by the dear Michele Jacobsen of "Reader's Respite" who got her hands on the ARC.  Can't even tell you how damn excited I am to read this.

On audio I listened to "Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore", a charming little book that was made for geeky modern-day bibliophiles.  I am now near the finish of Lippman's latest called "After I'm Gone".  It isn't quite what I was expecting, but is good storytelling.

Besides church and a shelter adoption event today, I'm not sure what else will be going on.  Hope you all have a great Sunday!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Salon: Four days down...

Good morning friends!  Don't you just LOVE it when you lose an hour of your life to the time change?  Bah.  The only upside is that you can squeeze in a late golf game on Sunday afternoon.  Other than that, it sucks.

It also sucks that for the third year in a row, I've given up alcohol for Lent (which started Wednesday).  Yes, I could give up Diet Coke or sweets or cursing.  But I have found that it is truly good for my soul and my diet to dry myself out for 40 days.  A real test of the will.  Having two teenagers in the house doesn't really lend itself to an easy journey however.  Ask my BFF, who after two years of accompanying me in this sacrifice, hung her head this year and said "I just can't do it.  I'm giving up sweets".  36 more days to go.

On to things that do not suck.  Did everyone catch the Oscars last Sunday night?  I think Ellen should have a lifetime job of hosting.  I loved her selfies, the pizza delivery, and her little fluffy Glenda the Good Witch outfit.  I was not at all surprised or disappointed by any of those winners.  Everyone that won should have.

The weather down here doesn't suck.  Gorgeous, 70's and 80's and sunshine.

House of Cards and Game of Thrones don't suck.  I am THOROUGHLY addicted to both.  I have not watched a proper movie in ages.  This is how we spend our evenings, quickly snarfing down whatever I make for dinner so we can immerse ourselves in scandal, murder and treachery.  And more than our share of naked boobs.

In the reading department, I finished "This House is Haunted" by John Boyne for book club.  Eh.  There was plenty of good there...creepy characters and house, gothic time period...but the haunting was just a little too overt.  Too much 'splaining, and not enough left to the imagination.  It came across as a little silly and predictable to me.  I just started "The Wicked Girls" by Alex Marwood on my Kindle.  This was a recommendation from Stephen King at some point last year in EW.  I couldn't resist.

On audio, I finally caught up on all my Jack Reacher novels by finishing "Never Go Back", the 18th and latest installment.  I REALLY thought Lee Child was going to change things up in this one, as Jack finally tracks down Ms. Sexy Voice from a few books ago.  But, well, I guess the jury is out.  I also listened to "American Assassin" by Vince Flynn, another badass bit of manfiction that was recommended to me by a badass friend.  It had some corny, predictable moments but I love clever men who are good at hand-to-hand combat.  I have now just started "Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan, which is charming so far.

Our Sunday is going to fly by, with church, four hours at the animal shelter, and my daughter's birthday dinner at Disney. I vote that weekends be three days long.        

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Salon: Off the Grid

I never intended to stay away this long, but I found myself off the grid for awhile, and I guess that is never a bad thing.  So I have to catch you up over the last couple of weeks.

So it turns out that while my son didn't individually qualify for the National History Bee, our school team did.  So in early June, the five kids and their families will all head up to Atlanta to compete.  My husband, my daughter, my son and I will all go, and make a long weekend out of it.  He also received news that he qualified for the Criminal Justice Magnet at a public high school in town, which has been his ultimate goal for a couple of years now.  This kid has only ever gone to private schools, and he is so excited for this new challenge.  I am now running around gathering documents, registering him in the public school system, and making an appointment to schedule his classes.  This whole thing gives me the heebie jeebies.  If you have young ones, look at them long and hard and appreciate them, because they grow up overnight.

On that note, my daughter turns 16 tomorrow.  We've got a big dinner at Disney planned for her next weekend, and the weekend after that she and I will be doing the spa.  (We had to plan the spa weekend around her test schedule!)  I just wrote a $995 check for an SAT test prep course that starts in August, and she is whittling down a list of colleges she is aiming for.  Gah!

So last Saturday, my husband and I went down to Key Biscayne for a JP Morgan conference that is held every year for their clients.  It was held at the Ritz.  Yeah.  No way I was going to be left behind on this one.  But you see, while the Ritz prides themselves in serving their customers like royalty, they also charge $20 a day for Internet, which I cannot abide.  Thus, I just put my computer away while I was there.  We had A BALL.  We golfed...I experienced having my first caddy - a wiry little dude from Boston.  I ate some amazing food and drank a bunch of rum, thanks to our bartender friend Anthony.  I spent excessive amounts of time at the spa and the pool.  We went on a couple of long walks and explored the island, and observed wealth that is hard to comprehend.  Tony Blair talked to our JP Morgan group about the state of the world...that fellow is looking good these days.  (And he ended up in the gym with me the next day, but I left him alone lest his guards rough me up.) Here are some pictures:

The ball-eating tree.  One of them belongs to hubby.

Sunset off our balcony.

Where the rich and famous hide.

Trying to steal my lunch at the poolside.

Anthony our rum man, and enabler.

 I had to actually go back and see what I was reading two weeks ago.  So here is my update.  I finished Fight Club in print, and loved it.  In this case, however, I might even say that the movie is better.  I almost never say that, but I probably would have loved it more had I read it first.  I'm anxious to read more by Palahniuk.  I'm literally pages away from finishing The Tilted World by Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) and his wife Beth Ann Fennelly.  Great historical-based novel that nicely balances his tendency towards violence and her fierce maternal instincts, and has heart times two.  I'm diving into This House is Haunted by John Boyne next for book club.

On audio, I finished both The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, the first two books in The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater.  I really liked both of them...loved the characters, their chemistry and the overall premise.  Will Patton, the narrator, does an excellent job.  I also listened to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.  For the first half of the book, I listened to it on Overdrive from the library, and was narrated by David Warner, and I loved his gothic British accent.  Then it stopped working, so I found it on the new Hoopla system from the library, and that one was narrated by Bernadette Dunne, who was fine but I preferred Warner.  Great classic scary story where you don't really know what is going on, kind of like A Little Stranger.  For fun I watched The Haunting, a 1999 movie based on the novel, starring Liam Neeson, Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta Jones and Owen Wilson.  Goofy ass movie, kind of a shame.  I'm now closing in on the end of the latest Reacher novel, Never Go Back.

Whew.  Are you still with me?

We went to the annual Gala fundraiser for the school Friday night, and last night we went to the annual Crawfish Boil at a friend's house...a Catholic community's big hurrah before Lent.  Spicy food, crawfish from Louisiana, King Cake, Hurricanes.  Yeah baby.

Today my mind is on the Oscars.  I have officially seen all 10 of the nominated movies.  I have my opinions.   Not sure if I'll be able to stay up the entire time, but I will try.

I won't torture you any further.  Hope everyone has a great Sunday!