Monday, January 31, 2011

My first Amazon "experiment"

Well, I thought I'd see how a person could make any money offering books, CDs and DVDs for a penny on Amazon.  I mean, I'm competing against that price whenever I list stuff.

So, I listed a book I got free for a one penny sales price.  And the experiment worked.

I just listed the book yesterday as soon as I'd finished writing the review, and it sold this evening.

With the Amazon built-in shipping, I made a whopping $1.66 for that book.  But wait, there's more!  I also had to pay for shipping to ship it to its new owner, to the tune of $3.07.

Basically, I can list books (let's just leave it at books, OK?) for a penny, but I lose about a buck and a half on the transaction.

Bottom line?  My minimum price for a break even transaction is about $1.50 for a book.  That's good to know.

Facebook Friends

There are some people with whom I do not wish to be connected on Facebook.  My ex-husband is among them.  I really wish that when I clicked the little X, he really would disappear from the people Facebook suggests, but no such luck.  He keeps popping up.

Book Review: The Miracle of Mercy Land

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan.  


The author's name makes me giggle, just so you know.


Like the author, River Jordan, Mercy Land is a person, not a place.


Miracle sounded interesting when I chose it at booksforblogging.org, but once I got it, I had second thoughts.  I spent the first few chapters of this book wondering if I would be able to finish it.  The writing style is very talky, and not one I generally like in my reading material.  For most of the first half of the book, the story is told from the perspective of Mercy Land, a young woman from Alabama.  Alternating throughout the book are journal entries by her boss at the paper, Doc Philiips, with one or two as John (another character) thinking.  These alternating points of view are easily identifiable and are in no way confusing. A couple of them are used as venues for exposition, and I guess by now, you know I fail completely to be a fan of tell-not-show.  I did finish the book, though, and while I wasn't wowed by it like some others seem to be, I did enjoy the read.


Mercy Land is born on a riverbank (literally), during a freak thunderstorm in not-even small-town Alabama.  Though she relates some of her childhood, the story actually takes place during her adult life, after she has moved to Bay City, Alabama, which is big enough for a Woolworth's and a couple of restaurants, but definitely not Mobile or Atlanta, Georgia.  The sequence of events she relates occurs during her tenure at the Banner, the local newspaper, in the mid to late 1930s.  


While I don't generally enjoy talky books, Mercy is a unique enough individual that I got a kick out of her.  She was born to parents on the upper side of the riverbank, as opposed to the lower classes who lived on the other side of the Bittersweet River.  She talks to herself some in the book, and sometimes lapses into her country-speak while giving herself pep talks, and this is sort of entertaining.  Mercy is also unique in that her childhood, while not one of plenty, is a happy one.  She is a grown woman, and a smart one, not necessarily naive, and without an ugly bone in her body.  I'm talking about pretty-is-as-pretty-does, not physical beauty.


The heart of the story is that a few years into her work with Doc at the Banner, Doc magically (again, literally) comes into possession of a miraculous book of light that contains people's lives - the choices they made, the paths they did take and the ones they might have taken.  Doc entrusts Mercy with the safekeeping of the key to this book, and as a team they protect it from others who might use the information in the book for harm.   In reaction to the book, Doc pretends to plan for retirement and invites a strange man to town allegedly to take over the paper.  Mercy picks this man up at the train, and knows almost right away that he's not here for the newspaper, though she continues to be confused as to why he IS there.


The remainder of the book is the story of connections: to past, to present, to Bay City, to Bittersweet, and how those connections create and destroy trust between the characters, most notably between Mercy and her "family" of people.


In the end, I'm still not sure why the book came to Doc Phillips, what purpose it served other than to be the center of the story.  I enjoyed Miracle enough to finish reading it, and I will probably not be searching out another by River Jordan anytime soon.  


You can read the first chapter free by clicking on the image of the book and clicking on "read first chapter free" to the right of the page.




FTC Disclaimer: Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, who shipped this book to me at no charge for the purpose of reviewing it for my blog and for their website.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: Shadow of the Vampire by Meagan Hatfield

Shadow of the Vampire by Meagan Hatfield was a book that made both a positive and a negative impression on me.   Parts of the book were very well-written, and other parts were cliche-ridden.  

The main male character, the hero, is a dragon-man.  I'll admit to a fascination with dragons that started in my early teen years with the first Pern book I ever read (though these dragons' resemblance to Pern dragons ends with the word dragon).  Declan is a strong figure, physically attractive, and head of the dragon clan after his parents' deaths.  He's full of angst over their manner of death and his unexpected ascendance as head of the clan.

Alexia is a 125 year old vampire, daughter of the current Queen, and heir-apparent.  In some places, she's smarter than she appears to be, and in others, she's just dumb as a rock.  I don't really understand why she puts up with Lotharus at all, except to appease her mother, whose "lover" he is.

There's a feud between dragons and vampires, a la Underworld's vampire/lycan struggle, and the background for this feud is scattered about in little bits and pieces, with not much organization.  Ultimately, all I really understand is that the vampires hate the dragons and vice versa, with no real inkling as to why exactly this is so.  Maybe there's a previous book or story I missed reading before this one.

The villain of the piece, Lotharus, is easy for me to hate, as he is abusive (verbally, physically, sexually) and a bigot.  His secret plot to take over the vampire clan is threaded throughout the story, until the denouement decides his fate once and for all.

Alexia's mother, the Queen of the vampire clan, is mostly an afterthought tucked into chapters here and there, though she does play a major role in the climactic fight for "survival" of the clan.

The chemistry between Alexia and Declan fairly crackles, and this is a part of the book with which I'm pleased.  Their growing care for each other, and the internal struggles each experiences, create obstacles with which most of us can identify from our own romantic hobgoblin-strewn past.

The most obvious place for my displeasure in this book is one single word:  conscious.  In no less than six places, this word is incorrectly used instead of conscience.  As the daughter of an English teacher, I tend to see mistakes like this in blinking neon letters, and it not only irritates me that a mistake of this kind passed the editing process, but also these mistakes tend to take me out of the story in a highly abrupt manner.  Thus does even an otherwise nearly perfect book lose a star, or even two, in my own personal rating system (not that this one was nearly perfect).  No, I do not use the English language perfectly, though I do try to keep my errors in the spoken arena of use, rather than the written.  I have high expectations of a published work, and this one fell down on the job.  Conscious and conscience just aren't interchangeable in the English language, and the repetition of the mistake really chapped my hide. 

Fight scenes are an obvious part of the plot, both between the dragons and the vampires, and internally amongst the vampire sects.  For the most part, the fight scenes are well-written, though sometimes they do spring up from practically nowhere.  The private scenes with Declan and Alexia are probably the most engaging, and there are enough to keep the reader interested in finding out how this relationship resolves in the end.

In this universe, dragons have powers, and sometimes those powers (such as telepathy) appear out of nowhere to move the overall arc forward, but in reality as a form of exposition.  It's not overused, but often enough that I remember it.

One of the biggest wtf's (and yes, I am aware that is not proper English, lol) in this book is an entire chapter dedicated to Declan's sister, Tallon, and her newfound attraction to lone wolf Griffon.  Had it been interwoven into the book from the beginning, it might have worked.  As written, though, one single chapter in the middle of nowhere, it stuck out like a sore thumb, and did nothing whatsoever to impact the plot in any way.  It deserves its own story, not being stuffed into the middle of Declan's, particularly as this chapter shows Tallon and Griffon dancing around her sprung-out-of-nowhere attraction, and finally falling into a fairly hot love scene.  Turn the page, and we're back to Declan and Alexia.

Bottom line:  I enjoyed parts of this book, but none of it was really memorable beyond reading, with the exception of the word conscious and the fact that the villain was an abuser.  I remembered those two points!  In order to write this review, I had to open the book a couple of dozen times to random pages and rescan to remember names or plot points.  If you like dragons or vampires or feuds or paranormal in general, you might enjoy this book.  If you read with a critical eye, you will probably not enjoy this book.  

I got this book as a sample-pack of four paranormal/suspense/thrillers from Harlequin.  I got nothing else from this except the on-again, off-again pleasure of reading this book.

Shadow of the Vampire (Hqn)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

To Do List

Today was a very busy day.  I had a To Do list a mile long.  Thankfully, I managed to drag my ass out of bed and get it all done, and still have time for a nap.  :D

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Taxes

So, I filed my taxes this morning.  Due to unemployment for the second full year, I was not eligible for the Earned Income Credit.  Due to Mrs Potatohead getting married, I lost my status as Head of Household.  I neither owed anything nor got a refund.  But it's done.

I used TaxAct for the third year.  It's also the one I use for the few clients I have left who ask me to do their taxes for them.  It's inexpensive if you need more than just the basic return, and it does all the calculations for you.

I've linked to the Deluxe version here, but I just use the free online version.  So far, I've had no need to use any of the extra forms or archival services.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: Torn Apart by Sharon Sala

Katie and J.R. are a married couple in Bordelaise, Louisiana.  The couple has a deep love for one another and solid commitment to the marriage and to raising their son together.  They are experiencing some realistic problems - he's away from home a lot for his job, and she's still grieving over her parents' deaths.

Life throws in a monkey wrench, as life is wont to do, and this seemingly tiny thing puts a serious crimp in the marriage, leaving the two living apart, with neither willing to move forward on a divorce.

On Dad's weekend with Bobby, a big storm hits, one that does serious damage in the Gulf of Mexico, and touches down twisters in other parts of Louisiana, including Bordelaise.  As this twister rocks through Bordelaise, Katie and J.R.'s son, Bobby, goes missing.

Now, we get to the meat of the book.

What happens next is heartbreaking, and yet shows the lengths to which people will go for each other in times of life-threatening peril.  The story of how Katie finds herself, and how J.R. returns to Bordelaise, and how together they find Bobby is gripping and heart-wrenching and life-affirming, and unstintingly straightforward.  Sala tackles two incredibly difficult subjects - child abuse and mental illness, and does it without hesitation.

If this book is a random sample of the caliber of Sala's writing, I cannot recommend her highly enough.  I'd never read anything by Sharon Sala before, and I'm going to hit the library to find some more, as quickly as I can.  I hope the rest are as good as this one.

I got this book in a free sample pack of books from MIRA.  MIRA offers these trial packs to anyone, and had no expectation that I would do anything for them in return.

Got a lot done today...

When I got up, Mr Potatohead had rearranged the living room, again, making it more accessible in several ways.

This update freed up several boxes I had been unable to get to before, and I was able to sort several and empty at least two entirely.

My donate/freecycle bin is overflowing.  I have someone coming over probably on Wednesday to look through the stuff and see what she can take home with her.  Someone picked up a bagful of school supplies yesterday, and also took some stuff off the front porch, so it's going away.

Also got several new items listed on Amazon, neither books nor CD/DVDs.  We'll see how that branching out thing works for us.  Kids had some diapers and other stuff they got as gifts that they can't or won't use, so I'm listing it on Amazon, since it's easy as pie to sell it there.

On a less positive note, those roaches are starting to impinge on my reality again.  That "cleanout" the apartment pest control did was not effective.  So far, it's mostly the tiny ones, just hatched and easy to kill, but I've seen a few grown females, and I am not looking forward to having to climb furniture to kill the ones that like to walk around the edges of the ceiling after Mr Potatohead's gone to Basic.  Just kitchen and bathroom, as far as I've seen.  I could maybe handle the ones in the bathroom, as they've been very sporadic, but the ones in the kitchen just creep me out.  I feel compelled to wash everything I take out of the cabinet before I use it, because I just don't know what's been crawling in it.  Well, enough of that.  I'm starting to get the creepies.

Yes, I did just do that, and...?

Dude, I so need my medication.

I just got so mad that I threw plates in the sink.  One broke.  I have managed to resist all such impulses for years.  Universe, please toss me the resources to get back on my meds.  Thank you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Behind on Book Reviews

OK.  I've got eight book reviews I need to get out, plus a book to read for booksforblogging.com.

In the order I read them:  Torn Apart by Sharon Sala, Shadow of the Vampire by Meagan Hatfield, Wages of Sin/Grave Sins/Bound by Sin by Jenna Maclaine, Silent Truth by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love, Thief of Hearts by Christopher Golden, The PMS Outlaws by Sharyn McCrumb.

I have not yet read the booksforblogging book, but it is supposed to be next on my list.  Damn if I'm not having a tough time being in the mood to read it now that I've got it.  Murphy's Law.  lol

Nothing Important Happened Today

Bonus points if you know from whence that came.

I got a little bit of stuff out the door to a new owner, who knows several families recently affected by fire in their homes, so more stuff may go soon from her referrals.

Moved some stuff around to make it easier to access once Mr Potatohead leaves for Basic Training tomorrow.  OMG, it's tomorrow!  :(

Held Baby Potatohead while he slept.  I love doing that.  He also helped me list things on Amazon by pounding on the laptop, and helped me hold my Snapple bottle so it wouldn't run away from me.

Made some guacamole in the middle of the night.  It tasted better than the chips, so I ate it by itself.  I may have already told you this.

Got my car fixed and got the title in my hot little hand.

Got a couple dozen new items listed on Amazon, and shipped something to Norway (!).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just a random post

I'm up at a ridiculous hour of the night because I've been cleaning out (also known as decluttering, lol) my email inbox.  I've got two packages ready to leave my house (stuff that's long overdue to go somewhere) and another couple of First Class things to mail.  Now, if only I can get enough sleep and wake up in time to get my car fixed at 1400 on Saturday.  This daytime sleeping is for the birds.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Somebody's been working on me....

The pain and the weird feeling in my hip is almost gone.  My elbow still hurts, but definitely not in the same way it has been.

Whoever you are, Thank YOU!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

latest on health 01/19/2011 - mild tmi alert

Well, I have been sleeping pretty crappily for weeks now.  I stay awake all night, sleep all damn day, don't get anything done (except sell things on Amazon, thank goodness it's open 24 hours!).

For a long time (more than four years), I've been experiencing an alternating pain/numbness in my left leg.  It's got something to do with spinal stenosis, and life just goes on, as it does no matter what.  This p/n was once just a small section of my outer thigh, and is exacerbated when I stand for more than about 20 minutes.  Lately, the p/n has encompassed my entire leg, down to the left side of my foot and the bottom of my toes, and happens whether I'm standing, sitting, or gallivanting through the tulips.  And you know I gallivant remarkably often.  :D

Add to that, I've been having pain in my left hip.  This pain makes it harder than usual to get moving if I've been sitting down, and makes it painful to put weight on it or to lie the wrong way in bed (or to change position if I'm in the wrong one!) or stand in the wrong position, like in the shower or in front of the bathroom sink.  This afternoon, this pain woke me up from a dead sleep.  Seriously! 

So, now I have a bum left elbow and a bum left hip, and it's beginning to get more than a little annoying.  And yes, it does concern me.  But without health care, what does a person do?  If I were a member of Congress, I could answer that differently.

The swelling in my feet seems to have gone down, though not completely away.  And yes, I still have the hemorrhoids from hell.  OMG.

Book Review: The Other Side by J. D. Robb, et al

J.D. Robb's Possession in Death - Eve finds herself compelled more than is usual to stand for the dead. 

I LOVE Nora Roberts' alter-pen-ego J.D. Robb and her In Death books.  I love the near-future she's created, I love the regular characters, many of whom make an appearance in this short.  I love the relationships these characters have created, which evolve over time, ebbing and flowing with the vagaries of life in the 2050s and 2060s.  I love that she just pitches right in to the story without worrying about explaining every single damn thing about the Eve-verse.  A frequent visitor to the 2060s will note a few nods to long-time readers.  A first-time visitor won't be put off by inside jokes she doesn't get.  Possession in Death is a perfectly-sized bite of Eve Dallas' universe.  And that's all I'm gonna say.

Mary Blayney's The Other Side of the Coin - that sparkly little coin with a mind of its own weaves a little more magic into some mischief.  An earl and his countess get to know each other (and each other's friends) a whole lot better than they imagined was possible. 

This is a funny and intriguing look at life in another century, and the relationships between husbands and wives.

Patricia Gaffney's The Dancing Ghost - a ghost draws a very early paranormal investigator and a forward-thinking woman into a partnership to prevent a house from selling.

This particular story failed to capture my attention.  It's the longest of the five stories in this collection, and the two main characters just never gelled for me.  They seemed vaguely out of character, not comfortable in their own skins.  I just can't explain it better than that.

Ruth Ryan Langan's Almost Heaven - a couple watch their son and daughter cope with the aftermath of the parents' unexpected death.

Almost Heaven was a short and sweet glimpse into the stopoff between dying and going into the light and the desires of good parents to see their offspring happy.  Ted and Vanessa devise a plan to find the right Mr Right for their daughter, who's already engaged to another man.  It was the tiniest bit convenient how the right ghosts kept showing up to help them at the right moment, but cute and enjoyable, nonetheless.


Mary Kay McComas' Never Too Late to Love - a grown woman with lots of better things to do has to visit her deceased mother's last home herself to find out why no one can clean it out.

M.J., who uses those initials so no one, but no one, finds out her given name, is extremely put out to have to make the trip from Alexandria to Loudon County to unlock the house her mother died in.  How hard can it be to get a few things out for shipping, give away the rest and demolish the eyesore?  She gets into the house, only to find that the house has its own ideas about what's going to happen to it. 

This is a funny and touching little romp with the demons of MJ's relationship with her mother, and her memories of her mother's sisters.  Along the way, she meets a little boy who gets really put out when his father won't let him go to the house next door to visit the lady who bakes apple pies.  She thereby meets little boy's father, who doesn't pay any attention to MJ's bitchy attitude.  The ending is sweet, not a bit sappy, and leaves room for the imagination to take the story farther (or for the author to do so), and is true to the personalities of both people.

Stories ranged from about 70 pages to just at 100 pages, so it was easy to put the book down to do something else that needed to be done without stopping in the middle of a good read.  That's one of the things I love about these story collections.  Another is that while I get a taste of familiar universes (I almost always get a book with an In Death story), there's nothing plot-impacting about them.  I can miss them if I don't find them without fearing I'm missing a birth or death or planet exploding.  When I do find them, I can place them anywhere in the universe, no matter what year is mentioned.

This book was a gift from my little sister VC.

The Other Side

Apple-flavored pot...

roast. 

That is what I am eating.  Yes, at 2:30 in the morning.  The Potatoheads made it in the crockpot (their new one from christmas), and it's ready now, so we're eating it now. 

We are indeed a weird family.

Want the recipe?  I'll ask Mrs. Potatohead.

Book review: Killing Me Softly by Maggie Shayne

I count on Maggie Shayne to give me a thriller with hot sex scenes thrown in.  Some of the book was a bit cliched, and I still enjoyed reading it.

Dawn is a specialty mechanic in California.  Bryan is her former high school sweetheart back home in Vermont.

Off-duty cop Bryan finds a dead body in his bed - apparently killed by a copycat of the Shadow Falls Strangler, said Strangle having recently died in prison. 

Dawn's mom, now married to Bryan's dad, calls Dawn to come home for moral support.  She hems and she haws, but eventually she returns home, as we know she must, because Bryan is a primary suspect.

Bryan and Dawn's reunion is by turns tense and easy, as they fall into the old habits of friendship.  Over the course of the murder investigation, Bryan and Dawn remember why they were in love, confront relationship ghosts and go on the lam together when the Strangler strikes again. 

They run their own investigation while they're on the run, thanks to the original police reports on the Strangler, which Bryan happened to have in his garage before the copycat struck.

And so, thrilling action ensues and some romance is to be had, old friends are rediscovered and new friends are found in unlikely places.

What I didn't like:  I met the killer in the first few pages of the book, and I knew who he was the minute he stepped onstage.  When I turned out to be right, I was deeply disappointed, because this sort of foreshadowing, for lack of a better word, falls short of Shayne's best.  I knew what the "witness" twist was very shortly after said witness was first discussed when reading a police report.  The sex scenes were tame in comparison to what I know Ms. Shayne can write.

What I did like:  The friendship of Dawn and Bryan was fairly realistic.  It moved tensely from the first re-meeting, when both parties remembered their mutual attraction, to the culmination of their story, with a supercorny but appropriate to the relationship resolution.  Shayne avoided the too-easy love at second sight immediate rebonding that some storytellers insist on using.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read.  It wasn't the best of Maggie Shayne's books, but it was better than the last one I read a week or so ago.

I bought this book sometime last year, and got nothing out of it but reading a good book.  I'll list it somewhere, and it's in like-new condition.  No, really.  I am more than a little OCD about my brand new books.  lol

Killing Me Softly

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scream!!!!

I hate not having a washer and dryer.  I either have to go to the laudnrymat or go to my in-laws to do laundry, and for a while we did not have a car to go either place.  Now that we have a car, I can't get the laundry down the stairs, there's so much of it.  And I'm down to my last pair of underwear and my last clean towel!  Ugh.  Where's the darn laundry fairy?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bzz - Dymo Labelmaker - followup

OK.  I got this at the end of December and Bzzed about it then with a preview.

I've used this labelmaker for several weeks now and LOVE it, with one caveat:  it's not qwerty.

It holds well in my hand, being neither too heavy nor too light.  It runs on either batteries (Li-Ion replaceable battery) or AC power, and the battery recharges quickly.  It uses the same DYMO label cassettes that other DYMO products use and the cassette is clearly labeled with color and size.

I can change the font (three choices) or the size of the font.  I can print multiples of the same label.  I can save the label to use later.  The label can have multiple lines of print.  I can italicize, bold, underline, put letters in a box.  The labels are clean and crisp.

In short, it's a pretty amazing labelmaker!  For me, though, it's supertough to find letters on the "keyboard" when it's it's in alphabetical order with an arbitrary seven letters on each line.  I'm having a lot of trouble adjusting to that.  Because of that one small thing, making a label is a bit time-consuming, and it seriously detracts from my enjoyment of this labelmaker.

I'm going to keep working with it while the BzzCampaign is going on, and then I might have a little giveaway.  Would you be interested in winning this labelmaker?

DYMO Label Manager LM260P label Printer, Black /Gray (1754490)

Songmaster by Orson Scott Card

This was one of four or five books that I started the year with, all reading at the same time, in different spots in my home.  Once I got past the first chapter or two, I felt compelled to finish this, to the exclusion of others.

Songmaster is set in a world with Earth, but significantly different from the world we know.  Earth is both the armpit of the universe and the home of the Emperor of Everything.  What a dichotomy!  Earth is a government of continents, not countries, and the US is divided into Western and Eastern America.  Some American nameplaces are familiar, and a few references are made to other places on Earth.

Communication at its best is done by Singers, and Singers are trained in the Songhouse on Tew, which is a planet.  People still talk, but Singing communicates at a subconscious or subsonic level and affects people's feelings, attitudes, actions.  Frankly, I'd hate to live in a world where I could not sing (I CAN sing, but you really don't want to have to listen to it), even to myself.  In this world, only Singers can sing (unless you are very small and don't know better), and you can only become a Singer by being raised in the Songhouse.

OK, enough about that. 

The book follows main character Ansett, a supremely gifted Singer, from his beginning as he is separated from his mother, to his death, and slightly beyond, in vignettes, some longer, some shorter.   Details are never glossed over, but neither are unimportant things included.  I don't need to know the minutiae of his life, endlessly recycled, to know that three years have passed.  You understand?

At times I found myself identifying with Ansett.  He was by turns pampered and abused, praised and vilified.  I was able to get into his skin, so to speak, and memories would scamper across my mind, much too quickly to be conscious, but passing through and leave food for contemplation.  Reading this was similar to reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein many years ago.  I find myself mentally chewing on something days after reading, and learning things about myself I did not know.

Orson Scott Card is famous for his Ender books in particular.  I've read Ender's Game, which left me glad I'd read it, though I was confused throughout.  I've tried reading other Orson Scott Card books and been unable to get into them.  Without a doubt, he has a way with words, and sometimes, my brain is just not ready for that train yet. 

If you've liked other Orson Scott Card books, I recommend this one without reservation.  If you've never tried an Orson Scott Card book, this might be a good one to start with. 

I have had this book for quite some time, in a box of other books I wasn't ready to read yet.  I probably got it at a used book store, or from my mom, or from a library discard sale.  I definitely didn't get it free, and got nothing out of it, but reading a good book.  My book is in fair to poor condition, and I'll send it to anyone who wants it, in exchange for shipping (probably a couple of bucks for media or first class)

Songmaster

Product Recommendation - Bath & Body Works

Bigelow Apothecaries Lemon Body Cream

No 005, Lemon Oil and Extracts 4.5%

Short and sweet?  This stuff smells too much like lemon furniture polish for me to ever use it as a body lotion.  I'm so glad it was just a sample!  lol

It had a good consistency - not so thick that it sat on top of my skin, and not so thin that it dripped out of my hands before I could apply it.  So, for that part of the formula, Yay!  It's hard to find lotion that is the right thickness for my weird skin.

If you like smelling like furniture polish, this will be a great purchase for you at Bath and Body Works, or their website.  If not, just say no.

Personal update

More like health complaint update...  lol

My left elbow has been really hurting.  It's amazing how much I use my elbow to do simple things: pull up or push down my pants, get up from sitting down, lean when sitting or standing.  I can't really do any of those things lately without hurting more, which makes it very hard to do anything really.  Luckily, or unluckily, as the case may be, I've been sick and lounging around lazily in bed for most of the past week.  It still hurts to use my elbow to roll over or to read, but it's not as bad as trying to use it to get through a normal day.

My hemorrhoids have been acting up.  Ugh!  It's damn difficult to keep from scratching my butt constantly, even with hemorrhoid ointment.  Guess that's another thing I'll talk to a doctor about, someday.   And sorry for the TMI, but we've all got them, sooner or later.

We got approved for Food Stamps, and Baby Tatertot is on Medicaid, so financially speaking, things are a wee bit easier.  Still struggling to pay all the bills that someone else has been paying for the last six months, but I'm feeling like there's hope in there somewhere.

I've got quite a backlog of reviews to write, and just couldn't motivate myself to write a thing yesterday.   I'm hoping that I can get at least one written today, so that I can stop reminding myself what the book was about.  lol

We did get some more stuff rearranged in the living room, so it'll be easier to sort more and get more stuff out of here, which will make it easier to live in general.

I did pretty well on Amazon the last part of December and first week or so of January.  Mostly sold tarot decks, with a book or DVD thrown in every now and again to jumble things up. 

I have found enough incense, candles, books, rocks and other odds and ends to start a small store.  I am apparently addicted to owning weird stuff.  It'll be a challenge to let go of some of this.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Updates coming soon!

While I've been sick, I've slept a LOT and finished eight books.  Reviews on those and a couple of other things coming soon. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Product Recommendation - Target Market Pantry

Where Target has Up and Up for its non-food items, their general-quality food items are packaged under the Market Pantry name.  Specialized foods are packaged as Archer Farms.

Today's item is Market Pantry ready-to-bake, break & bake, oatmeal, cranberry & walnut cookie dough.  I bought these on a whim, since I actually had a coupon for a different Market Pantry item.  I like oatmeal cookies, particularly oatmeal chocolate chip or oatmeal cranberry (I HATE raisins, just fyi).  I'm not necessarily a fan of walnuts, but I figured I could eat them in this combination.  They come in a flat package, much like other break & bake cookies in the refrigerated section.

The first few times I bought them, I ate them, one at a time, from the package, when I needed a 'sweets' fix.  Yes, I know, raw cookie dough is dangerous and sugar is bad for me.  Whatever.  I liked them like this, and bought a couple more packages.

On another whim tonight, I decided that I would go ahead and bake some, just to eat them the way Target intended.  I liked them better raw.  The cookies turned out a great brown color at about 25 minutes.  They stayed soft out of the oven a little too long, making me have to wait to put them on something that could go in the fridge, or put cookie pieces on the plate. 

When I eat oatmeal cookies, I like tasting the pieces of oatmeal in the cookie, and the texture those pieces give to the cookie.  These cookies don't have that texture, and I didn't taste any oatmeal pieces.  The cookies taste floury rather than oatmealy.  Though I do like them as a sweet fix in their raw state, I'll probably find something else now that I know the finished product doesn't taste like I want it to.

For a better oatmeal cookie product, try Nestle.  They make (or used to) an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie in a tube, that tasted good raw or baked into actual cookies. 

I bought these cookies myself and got nothing except the pleasure of eating them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Second book finished in 2011 - Night Play

Judging from the state of the book, I probably got this at a secondhand store or a library discards sale.  I didn't get it for free.

Night Play confused me for about the first 80% of it, but most particularly the first chapter.  I'd read the first chapter before, and it was in the middle of a book, not the beginning.  I kept reading, knowing that it was a different book, and hoping to get unconfused.  Eventually, like in the last couple of chapters, I did finally figure it out. 

Eureka!  I was reading the series of events from the other brother's point of view.  Boy, did I feel dumb when I realized why I was confused. 

This book had its fair share of romance and action, but it just wasn't as compelling as I usually find Sherrilyn Kenyon's books to be.  The sex was OK, but not the wet-your-seat good I've come to expect from Ms. Kenyon (In one book, the two main characters don't even have sex until near the end of the book, but the interactions they do have are damn fine examples of wet-your-seat writing.).  The characters were mere shadows of themselves, even the ones I already know from reading other books in the Dark-Hunter universe.

The heroine, Bride, was a solid size 18, with self-esteem issues galore, just as many of us with size dramas are.  Vane, the brother in question, was naturally a magnetic, powerful, sexy, hot, etc. magical wolfman, with a tight ass and washboard abs and cruise ships full of money.  Bride's self-esteem issues were magically borne away on the wind when she realized that Vane wanted her, all of her, as she was, and not some skinny chick who was "more sexy."  I know that in the first glows of newfound love, self-esteem issues sometimes seem to disappear, but really, they don't.  They just take a back seat.  Knowing that your man finds you sexy doesn't mean that you still don't wonder what other people think of you.  In Bride's case, she found out exactly what her sister thought of her, for instance.   

To be honest, though, I think the book could have been better if size was not an issue in the first place.  I know that I despair of ever reading good books written with heroines who are more than a size 14.  There are some out there, but they are few and far between.  The best ones are written by women who have actually been there and come back from the trip.  Queen Latifah, who is a very sexy large woman, probably hasn't always been as comfortable in her skin as she is now, and I bet it wasn't easy to find her true self among the garbage.  But I digress.  In this case, such an issue was made of Bride's size and her emotional baggage that the easy fix was a letdown and took me out of the story. 

Vane is just too perfect for words, perhaps more so than other heroes in Ms. Kenyon's book, and maybe because his perfection was described at so much length by Bride herself, in her thoughts and conversations, as comparisons to her own "shortcomings."  As the hero of the book, Vane should have been easier to peg, but his characterization is pretty shallow in this book.  I actually prefer the Vane I got to know in the book where his brother, Fang, finds his own mate.  In this one, so much of his time is spent agonizing over whether or not Bride can understand his world or not, hiding his magic from her, calling in favors to protect her when she doesn't even know she needs protecting, pretending to be someone else (his wolf persona) so that he can be close to her without scaring her, etc., that I never really got to know HIM at all, just what he can do.  He's too perfect for words (ok, weak and unintended pun), and as such, not really appealing to me.

So, though I did enjoy reading how Vane and Bride met, I didn't enjoy it as much as I "should" have enjoyed it, considering Sherrilyn Kenyon wrote it and considering that she's one of my favorite paranormal authors.  This could easily have been written into the other book, as an alternating viewpoint kind of thing, though the characterization flaws would have stuck out like a pimple on your nose.

If, despite my review, or maybe because of it, you'd like to read it, let me know.  I can ship it - $2 for postage, including delivery confirmation.  First come, first served, though in Ms. Kenyon's books, it's usually the other way around.  Pun intended.

Night Play (Dark-Hunter, Book 6)

The next to be finished is looking like Songmaster by Orson Scott Card, so look for that review sometime in the next week.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I got a car!

Today I got a new-to-me car.  It's a 1996 Volvo, green, in very good condition.  It's very snazzy, with little perks my Blazer didn't have.

The first thing I did was pack the kids all up and go to the title office, then to the Post Office, then to Target.  Tomorrow is laundry.

See what you can do when you have a car?  lol

What I found tonight

Because it's tonight until I go to bed, you know.

Anyway, in a box near the box with my high school pompoms was a small box with dozens of glass vials in it.  About 25 of them have essential oil (already mixed with a carrier oil), most of which appear to be orange oil. 

Now, there's an item that stumps me as to where to sell it.  lol

Yesterday...

I slept most of yesterday.  I woke up relatively early, but didn't really feel good, and hurt a lot, so I took some Aleve and Benadryl and went back to sleep.  Woke up about 4.

Got some reading done, found a few art books and got them listed, then last night I got a spurt of energy, and found the pieces to a shelf and put it together.  Found a bin that had my extremely generous supply of incense and candles.  Found a bin that had my high school Pep Squad pompoms.  lol 

So, with that little bit, I feel as if I actually got something done.

Now, I should be trying to sleep, because my mom (yes, the one who removed me from her Facebook page) is taking me to get a car.  I imagine she'll want to start as early as possible (she knows I'm a night owl), so I may just stay up and forget trying to sleep until after I've gotten home again.  I'm not really interested in the lecture involved in answering the phone from a dead sleep and saying I'm not ready to go.

I really do need to find some matches or a couple of reliable lighters, though.  I ran out of matches and can't find a single damn lighter in the whole house.  I want to burn some incense!

latest on health - TMI alert (at the end)

What I've noticed this week is that I am superstiff in the morning, or anytime I've been asleep for a while. 

I don't pee as much as I used to, even when I drink A LOT.

My left hip protests at some very strange things - moving around or rolling over in bed, walking, moving in my chair, etc. 

My left elbow often gets very stiff.  

The bug in my left eye is still there, and I'm occasionally getting flashes.  I think that's not really a good sign, but money is, as it has been, tight.

Without all my meds, my period has moved two weeks and gotten VERY regular.  Like the same date each month regular.  Like I know it's going to start today regular, even though I've had no symptoms.  Weird.

I get swelled up nearly every day, and it's always better after I've had some sleep.

I get cold now.  Since I have been used to being able to sweat in Siberia, that's very, very strange.  Plus, I don't really like being cold.  It seriously makes my hands hurt.

My shoulders pop in and out, kind of like popping my knuckles.  Hurts more before I do it than after I've popped it. 

The range of motion in my neck is less.  I can't always turn my head to look behind me, which is something I do most often in the car.  Yes, I look behind me instead of just using my mirrors.  Call me old-fashioned.

And, if you've read this far, here's the TMI:  This week, I reached a milestone.  One day in the shower, I could not reach everywhere to wash.  I had to really squirm to get soap in certain places.  One day this week, I also could not reach as far as I needed to to wipe.  Since it only happened once each, I'm going to pray that it's just isolated for now.  I mean, this could really help me with my disability claim, but I think I'd rather qualify some other way.  Know what I mean?

Got my Amazon book order today

I got an Amazon card from my sister, and had to break down and buy myself some books with it, instead of just getting practical stuff.   lol

I got four, and they arrived today.  Three from Jenna Maclaine  and one Sherrilyn Kenyon.  I'll review them here, but first I need to finish the other three I'm currently reading.  lol

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

new car

I am going to go look at a car tomorrow.  Might even be able to drive it home.  Wish me luck.

First book finished in 2011

Three Fates by Nora Roberts

I can nearly always count on Nora Roberts to write a good book, so if I see something that even remotely sounds interesting, I can pick it up without hesitation.

Three Fates is that good, solid book.  It has seven or eight main characters, and each is well-written.  Of course, the three fates as a collective are a character in and of themselves.  Each character, or set of characters, is given an opportunity to be on top so the reader gets to know them. 

Because of the number of main characters, and the chance each got to be up front, when I finished the book, I actually felt like it was a bit too short.  So much was put into characterizing that the last few chapters of mostly action weren't really enough for me.  Some of the personal advances seemed wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am.  I must note that I enjoyed reading the book, and while I was reading, this too much, too fast didn't feel that way.  It's only on reflection afterwards that it seems that way.  

I liked the characters (the ones I was supposed to like, anyway), even the peripheral ones.  I'd like to read more about the core family characters, whether back in Ireland on their home turf, or on travels related to the job, in the case of Jack and Rebecca.  I'd like for Ms. Roberts to find a way to work the cop and the Greek Tycoon into the background of another book or two.  The cop might even be able to carry a book on his own (with a female companion, obviously - this is Nora Roberts).

Bottom line - I enjoyed it and it was a good use of my reading time.

I read the hardcover version of this book, and I don't remember where I got it.  I do know that I paid for it, so I got nothing out of this except the pleasure of reading a good book.

Three Fates

Monday, January 3, 2011

Gotta lotta cleanin' done

Actually, it wasn't me at all.  My son-in-law got a wild hair and decided to clean the living room.  Where before we had a very narrow passageway through boxes and other things, now more than half of the living is passable.  There's even the Suburban third seat clear now, so I have someplace to sit while I'm sorting stuff.   Through his sorting, I came across the TV remote I'd been looking for since we moved, and an art book that I've listed on Amazon, as well as a small bag of heirloom linens that belong to a client.

I don't know what got into him, but I appreciate it muchly.

Not what I had in mind...

So, I got an email from my mom today, telling me, among other things, that she had removed me as a friend on Facebook.  She never posts, only comments now and then, so I probably wouldn't have noticed for quite some time - it's not like I check my friends list all that often.  But to make sure I knew, she had to tell me.

That's not exactly what I had in mind when I decided this year was going to be much better.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's officially the year 2011 in all parts of the USA now, and since we're the last of the Mohicans, so to speak, it's 2011 everywhere.

I sincerely hope your new year starts out smoothly and brings you increased health, wealth and happiness.