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Monday, August 03, 2015

Reading Habits

I've seen this on several blogs now and thought it would be fun to play along. Bonus points that it's much easier to write this post than to write a review.

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
No. I wish I did. As it is I'm constantly moving around looking for the place with the quietest children. I often rule out the couch because there's so much debris from the kids in there that I'd feel like I had to clean up before I could relax. (Sidenote: We spent a ton of time this summer trying to teach the kids to not trash the living room. We have had near negative success. It's disheartening.)

2. Do you use a bookmark or a random piece of paper?
Neither. My books magically remember my spot.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or a certain amount of pages?
I can stop anywhere. I like to SAY "Let me just finish this chapter..." but it's really just an excuse.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
Almost always. My Kindle stays open nice and flat, there's no glare ever, and I can turn pages with the back of a knuckle, so if I were eating something sticky it would not be an issue.

5. Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading?
I can read through almost anything, if I want to. Good thing too, because quiet is rare at my house.

6. Do you read one book at a time or several at once?
Several. Always. I'll often have one that I pay the most attention to, and I might read one in it's entirety without dipping into another, but it's not intentional.

7. Do you prefer to read at home or anywhere?
I prefer to read on the boat, but if that's not an option I'll read anywhere.

8. Do you read out loud or silently?
To my kids, but why would I read aloud to myself?

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I have no problems DNF'ing a book, but I'd never skip entire pages. I might skip occasional paragraphs where the author falls into description.

10. Do you break the spine or keep it like new?
Back when I read print books I was careful with them, but not obsessive. If the spine broke it wasn't a big deal. When buying used books I would look for the nicest copy. With my Kindle... well, same thing actually. I throw it in my purse and don't worry about it, but I don't take it in the tub either. So careful, but not crazy.

11. Do you write in your books?
No. I do highlight in the Kindle, but I never wrote in paper.

What to participate? Leave a link so I can check out your answers or answer in the comments.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Five Books I'm Totally Gonna Read Next. I think.

Am I the only one who thinks "man, there are SO MANY books I am DYING to read, if I just sit down this week/weekend and blow off everything else I can blow through at least three or four" ? And then if I do get a chance to read I might read half a book? It's a sickness. I want to read them ALL. (I'm sure you all relate.)  Now this list happens to be all romance, but you should know that I have a good half-dozen self-help type books, a couple running books, and a couple suspense books weighing down my kindle as well. And that's just the ones I "really, really" want to read.



1. Bad News Cowboy by Maisey Yates. If I'm being honest here, I'm about 2/3rds done and I'm struggling a bit. This should be a storyline that I love, and I loved the first two in this series to pieces, but this one isn't really doing it for me. I owe it to the first two to finish this one.

2. Sweet Southern Nights by Liz Talley. I love Talley's realistic (and still romantic!) grownups in her books. They are settled, they know what they want, and they aren't all superheros.

3. The Liar by Nora Roberts. I got my library hold in last weekend, and it's an e-book (of course) so I can't cheat and keep it out longer than my turn.

4. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. My number came up a second time at my library. I am determined to read it this time. I have not heard ONE bad word about it.


5.Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis- Because it came out weeks ago and I still can't believe I haven't read it.

The good news is that I already know that I read Roberts and Shalvis fairly quickly (cause I can't make myself stop) and I'm over half done with the Yates... Surely, if I just put my head down and read I can check them off quickly. Right??

What's next on your to-read list?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Forgotten by Heather Graham

I've now read four of Heather Graham's paranormal suspense books.  The Forgotten is the latest in her Krewe of Hunters series, which makes no sense as the Krewe isn't more than a bit player in the story.

Here's the summary:

Murdered by a dead man? 

A woman named Maria Gomez is murdered in Miami, apparently by her husband—who'd been presumed dead, slain by a crime boss. FBI agent Brett Cody can't believe it; dead or alive, the man had loved his wife. He also can't help feeling guilty, since he was responsible for protecting Miguel and Maria Gomez. 

A few miles away, Lara Mayhew has just begun working at a dolphin research facility. She loves her new job—until a dolphin brings her something unexpected from the deep. A human hand. More body parts show up, and when Brett looks into the situation, he discovers that the dismembered corpse is Miguel's. 

Soon, rumors of crazed zombies abound in the Miami media, and the Krewe of Hunters, an elite FBI unit of paranormal investigators, is called in. Brett and Lara find themselves working with the Krewe—and working closely together. An elderly crime boss who's losing his memory seems to be key to solving this case, but…there's no motive. Unless Brett and Lara can uncover one in the Miami underworld. And that means they have to protect themselves. And each other.



The Forgotten is the story of Meg's friend from The Silenced.  Lara is remarkably unscathed from her kidnapping experience. She's been at her new job at a dolphin research facility a very short time when her favorite dolphin starts bringing her body parts. She's a bit nervous, and grossed out, but doesn't panic or anything. When more people die and it appears that they are being killed by dead men, Meg and Matt (from The Silenced) are sent to Miami to help the local FBI investigate. Rumors quickly start flying that there is a zombie army being created, and it's true that the plot has some zombie aspects, but I never really felt any suspense about the zombies.

Local FBI is in the form of one Agent Brett Cody. I have absolutely nothing, good or bad, to say about him. He was as much of a non-character as I've ever read in a romance. In fact, I often forgot if he were the hero or if it were his partner. Interchangeable FBI!  What did this mean for the romance? It meant that it was pretty unbelievable. The tension leading up to their first kiss/encounter was pretty good, but they go from 0 to forever in about 5 minutes (literally) and frankly, I didn't see why. They just "knew".

As in The Silenced, Graham takes frequent detours to teach you some history, in the case about Miami and Haiti and zombies. It's clear that she spent some time thinking about the science behind creating zombies and unlike in The Silenced it wasn't so much as to be distracting from the plot. However, after several of the books in a shortish time, it felt very much like Graham is following a recipe for each book. (Crazily, even tho people criticize straight romance much more than anything labelled suspense, I've rarely found this type of formula in straight romance.)

I feel like four books is plenty to get a solid feel for the series and Graham's writing. They are a lot like eating candy that you don't love. When it's all said and done you think, "hmm. that was ok, but I could have been reading something much better". That said, I've already requested the next one from NetGalley (I'm weak, and they have the same comfort factor as a JD Robb book for me) but my hopes aren't terribly high for any of them to be favorites.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Five Things We Did on Vacation

Mike and I took vacation the week after the Fourth of July. My mom drove up from Alabama and brought with her my brother's four children, ages 6, 8, 10, and 14.  Here are five things we did while they were here.

Took everyone out on the boat and forced the Alabama cousins to swim in the "freezing cold" Missouri River.  My family lives right on the Tennessee River in Alabama (I come by my river love naturally), which is much much warmer than the Missouri.  They got over the cold. Tubing was a huge hit.



Took a walk in the woods to look for bald eagles. We didn't find any, but the kids loved these giant trees. The white lines are the flood lines from 2011. Anna (6) is the only one willing to catch a frog.





Went to play on this walking park in our town. It's like a playground but each structure is several hundred yards down the path from the next, so they get a lot of walking/running in.



Took them on a Black Hills tour- we saw Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park (sadly, no buffalo), the splash pads in Rapid City, and I took the girls went through the Badlands on the way home.












Mike and I took a 48 hour mini-vacation to Sioux Falls with no kids. We shopped, ate, ran, and drank beer. It was terrific.




Next year we are probably headed back South, but it was really awesome to get to have Ryan's kids here and I'm betting it's memories they will never forget. "The summer we went to South Dakota!"


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid

After I read Blood on the Table, I was still in the forensic mood and happily had Forensics waiting patiently on my Kindle.

Here's the description from Goodreads:
Val McDermid is one of the finest crime writers we have, whose novels have captivated millions of readers worldwide with their riveting narratives of characters who solve complex crimes and confront unimaginable evil. In the course of researching her bestselling novels McDermid has become familiar with every branch of forensics, and now she uncovers the history of this science, real-world murders and the people who must solve them.

The dead talk—to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.

Along the way, McDermid discovers how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine one’s time of death; how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer; and how a team of young Argentine scientists led by a maverick American anthropologist were able to uncover the victims of a genocide. It’s a journey that will take McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.


Forensics is broken down by subject- so one chapter will be on fingerprints, one on DNA, one on fires, etc. Inside each chapter McDermid covers the history of that type of science in a mostly chronological order. She includes a couple examples of cases in the explanation, so it's a good mix of historic and modern case histories. The detail rarely veers into the obscene and gory, while still managing to fully explain each topic. Many of the details were completely fascinating and it reminded me much of Death's Acre, which I read too long ago to have reviewed on the blog.

I have never read any of McDermid's fiction, but this certainly makes me want to take a look at her writing. I mostly get my forensics fix from the J.D. Robb In Death books, which is a bit skewed from being set in the future. I am slightly curious in dipping my toe into the tv version of this, but who has time? And which show?? (No really, I don't have time for tv.) If I had any complaint about the book, it's that I felt like at time she went on a bit too long theorizing or explaining, with too few real life examples. I prefer the technical details to the theory, and the last chapter was heavy on the talk. Overall, a good, but not great, read that took me much longer than I anticipated while still introducing me to an author I'd like to try out in fiction.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Five Things about Running



Mike and I had a chance to run together last week. We have completely different running styles- he runs slow and steady, and I run less slow (still slow) but take more walk breaks. We ran at his pace and it was actually rather pleasant.  I'm actually considering finding a regular sitter for two hours a week so we can do it again.

I got my new Garmin Forerunner 10 watch and am already in LOVE. I love that I don't have to listen to the Runtastic lady tell me how far I went and I love that it's instant feedback without fumbling for my phone. Now if I could find a pair of wireless headphones and curb my need to stop and take pictures on my runs I'd be able to run forever. Right?

I really seriously want these trail shoes. First, they are Brooks. Second, they are pretty! Third, HEXAGONS.

Babies.

On my dad's side of the family I only have two cousins. One of them ran a half marathon this spring, when her baby was about 6 months old.  The other one is running her first half this fall, when HER baby is about 6 months old. MY baby is almost 5.  It's a gauntlet they don't know they threw.


Ultrarunner Scott Jurek broke the supported thru-hike record of the Appalachian Trail this week in just over 46 days. He ran 50+ miles a day for 46 days. I'm not sure which is more amazing to me- that he could run that far that many days in a row... or how obsessively Mike and I followed his updates. While I have no desire to run the entire trail, it does make me want to run a bit of it...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Blood on the Table: The Greatest Cases of New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner by Colin Evans

This was a complete impulse grab from Overdrive and I suspect if I'd had read the details more closely I may have skipped it. As it was, this was the only book I read on my vacation, and it's slightly disappointing.

Here's the summary from Goodreads:
For almost a century, New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has presided over the dead. Over the years, the OCME has endured everything-political upheavals, ghastly murders, bloody gang wars, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and non-stop battles for power and influence-and remains the final authority in cases of sudden, unexplained, or violent death. 

Founded in 1918, the OCME has evolved over decades of technological triumphs and all-too human failure to its modern-day incarnation as the foremost forensics lab in the world, investigating an average caseload of over 15,000 suspicious deaths a year. This is the behind-the-scenes chronicle of public service and private vendettas, of blood in the streets and back-room bloodbaths, and of the criminal cases that made history and headlines.


So the summary sounds really terrific, right? I recently (last year?) read Working Stiff which is also a non-fiction memoir about the OCME and assumed this would be similar. It was not.  Blood on the Table is much more a history of the Chief Examiners than of the cases and the science behind them. Yes, there are some case details, but the vast majority of the book deals with the political and personal agendas behind choosing the Chief and the history of the office itself. 

As I read the book, I kept thinking that surely the next chapter/second half of the book would deal with more details than politics, so I kept reading. Ultimately I was disappointed, because honestly I just don't care about the politics of NYC. (Sorry, New York friends!) Would I recommend it to anyone else? Maybe to a very small subset of people. It's not that it was bad, but it was overall forgetful and unexciting- which is amazing for a book about murder.

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