Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010 Wrap Up

Wow, hard to believe that Fall is behind us.  Guess that means it is time for the Fall into Reading 2010 Wrap Up post.  So let's get to it.

Here's what I got read in the last three months.  (All links take you to my review at Epinions.)

Tide Water Talisman by Glynn Marsh Alam
Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, & Leslie Meier
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis
Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen
Naked Heat by Richard Castle
Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian
NERDS: M is for Mama's Boy by Michael Buckley
Nightmare by Robin Parrish
Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow by Ridley Pearson
Psych: A Fatal Frame of Mind by William Rabkin
The Silver Chair by CS Lewis
The Chocolate Pirate Plot by JoAnna Carl
The Inside Story by Michael Buckley
They're Watching by Gregg Hurwitz
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Motherhood is Murder by Diana Orgain
The Last Battle by CS Lewis
A Truth for a Truth by Emilie Richards

Currently Reading:
Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry

On the List but Not Read:
Berried to the Hilt by Karen MacInerney
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst
Meaning at the Movies by Grant Horner
Walt Disney by Neal Gabler
Dog On It by Spencer Quinn
To the Manner Dead by Sebastian Suart
Book to be named later (I was going to borrow from the Church library)


I really did think I had a list that was way too long.  Granted, I didn't finish like I did in the Spring, but I'm happy with the number of books I did get read.  Okay, so it helped that a lot of them were aimed at kids and young adults, but I enjoyed many of those books and hope to include more kids' books in my reading in 2011.

I really need to read more books for the Church library since I've said I would.  The fact that we are now three months later and I haven't done that is rather embarrassing.  Heck, I don't even have a name for the book yet.

As usual, the non-fiction on my reading list got pushed to the back burner.  Oh well.

Look for any of these books I don't read in the next three months to appear on my list for Spring 11.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Word Association for December 20th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Charts :: Graphs
  2. Best moment of 2010? :: Mud Runs!
  3. Checkered :: Past
  4. Glass :: Broken
  5. Resolve? :: Yes
  6. Expensive :: Gift
  7. Humongous :: Big
  8. Scent :: Sent
  9. Trashy :: Novel
  10. Candles :: Burn
I'll be back in the morning with my Fall Into Reading Wrap Up Post.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekly TV Recap - Dec 18th

The Amazing Race - The right team won! I can't tell you how rare it is that the team I want to win actually wins. But I am thrilled that Nat and Kat won. Frankly, Brook and Claire would have been alright for first, too, although I'm happy they got second. And as much as I was rooting again Jill and Thomas, I'm sorry they had to go out with a taxi they couldn't communicate with. As they said, you don't expect that kind of thing in America after you've raced around the world. That's how Nat and Kat won. Their driver letting them use their phone and the person they were talking to looking up the information for them was the lifesaver.

The Sing Off - Monday was definitely a mixed bag. The rock songs weren't that good, but the guilty pleasures were amazing. I was sorry to see Groove for Thought leave, but I wasn't that surprised. All the groups are amazing in their own way, it's hard to see anyone go. Wednesday, all five groups were much better. Yes, the judges copped out by not doing the final elimination, although both my roommate and I were saying we wouldn't want to pick after that last song, so I don't understand. Still, I'm rooting for Committed or Street Corner Symphony to win (and someone else to offer whoever comes in second a recording contract).

Psych - To be honest, I was disappointed with both of the episodes. They were trying so hard to be funny that they weren't being funny at all. In fact, the second one was downright painful.

Survivor - I do and don't sympathize with Jane. You know going into the show that there will be people voted out. It's part of the game. And people you trust will wind up voting you out. However, to have people who have told you that they will take you to the final four vote you out is certainly going to hurt. Were her actions at camp over the top? Absolutely. Was her behavior at tribal counsel perfect? Absolutely. It didn't save her skin, but it certainly forced the truth to come out.

Burn Notice - How awesome were those two episodes? I was glued to the TV for both hours. I'm very curious to see where they are going to go next season since it looks like Michael has gotten his wish now. But for now I will bask in the glow of those two episodes.

Big Bang Theory - How funny was all the stuff with the costumes. And Penny thinking about going and then not wanting to go. Her boyfriend Chuck is pretty good at being dumb, too.

New TV Related Reviews This Week:
24 - Season 8  
The Sing-Off: Harmonies for the Holidays 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Criminal Plots Reading Challenge

I swore I wasn't going to do any more reading challenge.  And now, for the second day in a row, I'm signing up for one.  And this one will take a bit more doing.  It's the Criminal Plots Reading Challenge, and I'll copy the details from the site.

So, what's involved in this challenge you ask? It isn't too difficult. It involves reading six books throughout 2011 (January 1 through December 31, 2011). One book should be read that fits into each of the following categories:

1.A book by a new to you author who's blurbed a book you enjoyed. So check out the cover of a crime fiction book you've enjoyed and see who blurbed that book and is also an author you've never read before.

2.A book that has been made into a movie. It doesn't have to be a movie you've seen but it can be. The book, however, should be one you haven't read before. (Examples: MYSTIC RIVER, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, LONDON BOULEVARD, HOSTAGE, etc.)

3.A book with a protagonist opposite your own gender. So if you're female, the protagonist should be male; if you're male the protagonist should be female.

4.A book set outside the country in which you live.

5.A book that's the first in a new-to-you series.

6.A book by a 2011 debut author.
Okay, a few of those will be easy.  After all, I read mostly cozies, and those have mostly female protagonists.  And there are already a couple of 2011 debut authors and a new series I'm planning on starting.  The movie one is stumping me, although maybe it's time to read some more Agatha Christie.

I'll come back and fill in the titles as I read them, posting links to my reviews at Epinions.  And heck, maybe I'll even start writing some reviews on my blog again.

Books Read:
1. Pipsqueak by Brian M. Wiprud
2. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
3. Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini by Sue Ann Jaffarian
4. The Brothers of Baker Street by Michael Robertson
5. Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst 
6. Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick

September 19th Update:

And there you have it.  All six books read.  All but one of the books I would have read anyway, but all told this was a mixed bag.  Three books were very good, three were average at best.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crusin' Through the Cozies Reading Challenge

I swore I wasn't going to try a new reading challenge this year.  But then I saw this one and couldn't resist.

See, Socrates' Book Reviews is hosting the Crusin' Through the Cozies Reading Challenge.  With the number of cozies I read, it only makes sense to sign up, doesn't it?

Granted, I also intend to read more kids' books this year because I have a bunch I want to read but haven't yet.  But I think this will be doable.

There are multiple levels to the challenge, and I will be signing up for Super Sleuth, which means 13+ cozies.  Fortunately, I don't have to pick them yet because I'm not sure what they will be, although I can think of many books by favorite authors already that I will be reading next year.

Once I get them read, I will start listing them here and link to my review at Epinions.

Books read:
1. Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst
2. Mr. Monk on the Road by Lee Goldberg
3. How to Survive a Killer Seance by Penny Warner
4. Devil's Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
5. Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini by Sue Ann Jaffarian
6. Deadly Currents by Beth Groundwater
7. Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen
8. The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson
9. The KenKen Killings by Parnell Hall
10. The Brothers of Baker Street by Michael Robertson
11. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
12. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward
13. Berried to the Hilt by Karen MacInerney
14. Twice as Dead by Sue Ann Jaffarian

That's my 13+, so I'm going to say this is my list.  I do feel a little guilty calling this a challenge since I love cozies so much, but here you go.

Final Fall Into Reading Question(s)

Since this is the last Tuesday of Fall Into Reading 2010 (can you believe winter starts in a week?), this is also the final question from Callapidder Days.  Okay, so she went with four questions today.  And, I will be answering all of them.

1.Do you write in your books?

How dare you even think about the possibility?  I have a few books I wrote in as a kid.  But I don't think I've written anything other than my name in a book since I became a teen.  And I have a hard time writing my name in books I own, too.
2.Can you read in the car?

Not while driving.
And for a more serious answer, I have always been able to read in the car, a fact my parents hated as I would read past stuff they wanted to show me while we were on vacation.  Now that I have to drive, I will listen to books on tape, which is fun.  But if I'm on a long car trip and someone else is driving, you'd better believe I've got my book within easy reach.
3.Does the rest of your family enjoy reading?

Yes, but not as much as I do.  My parents read some, mostly non-fiction.  My brother and sister-in-law read more fiction.  My niece hasn't quite figured out reading yet.  She seems to think it's fine to turn the page in the middle of the page being read to her.  But since she's only 17 months, we'll cut her a little slack.
4.What’s the longest you’ve gone without reading?

24 hours.
I know that sounds like bragging, but it's got to be close to the truth.  I always have a book going, and I always try to read a chapter in it before I go to bed.  Some days, that's all I get in.  I usually read on my lunch hour, so I get more reading in during the week.  But if I let a book go too long, I lose the story and characters, so I try to keep things advancing forward somewhat steadily so that I don't forget things.  And I usually have my next two or three books at the ready, so there's never a hesitation on what I will read next.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Word Association for December 13th

And here's this week's word association.

  1. Block :: Bad Behavior
  2. Comforter :: Cold
  3. Santa :: Presents
  4. Tape :: Recorder
  5. Humor :: Laugh
  6. Charity :: Giving
  7. Receipt :: Store
  8. Hospice :: Very sick
  9. Stuffing :: Turkey
  10. Binge :: Drinking

I don't binge drink.  Really!  As as to block, that's something we do at Epinions when someone is being a troll or breaking the rules.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for December 11th

Yes, I'm getting this up late because I just finished watching all my shows.  But here we go.

The Amazing Race - Nick and Vicki were pretty much irrelevant in this episode. At least it looked like they had fun on their last leg. And talk about a crazy episode, going to the zone between North and South Korea? Especially with the stuff going on in the news. Yeah, I know they filmed this months ago, but still that was in the back of my mind as I watched. One more thoughts. Go Nat and Kat!

The Sing Off - I was thrilled when I heard this show was coming back. So far, it's not completely obvious who the judges are rooting for, which is a nice change from last year. Yeah, most of their comments are still meaningless, but I could listen to the groups sing all night long. I was sorry to see the guys from Jersey leave Monday night.  And Wednesday night, I was shocked to see the Huffenpoofs go.  I seriously thought they'd make it to the final.  But as my roommate and I say, we'd hate to be the judges because all these groups are great.

Castle - A very fun episode with all kinds of twists, turns, and secret tunnels. Did I mention it was fun? Yeah, it seems like they don't quite know what to do with the Castle's family, but the mysteries are still pretty strong. And Castle's joking theories are such a blast.

No Ordinary Family - They obviously knew this was the episode going into the break because they played a lot with the story involving Dr. King. Man, I can't wait to see how long it is going to take for more people to be suspicious of "Joshua." And Daphne having amnesia, while a cliche, certainly makes me want to tune back in when the show returns in January.

Psych - Funniest episode so far this fall. Shawn and Gus pulling Lassiter over was worth the time to watch it alone. Lots of great lines, too. I was laughing almost the entire time. But I've noticed they aren't doing as much with the flashbacks right now. Not complaining, just found it an interesting break in the formula.

Survivor - Ben is gone. Honestly, I don't know how I feel about that. With NaOnka gone, the last person I hated is out of there. I think I've been rooting for just about everyone still in the game to win at some point. Except maybe Dan. Frankly, he should be gone long before the merge, so that fact that he is still there surprises me. Watching how the last few days plays out will certainly be interesting.

Burn Notice - So that's how they are going to extend things. After all, they can't really clear Michael's name or the show will be over. Now, I just wish I could remember who that guy is who showed up at the end. I love this show, but I can't keep all the villains straight or keep the story line going from week to week. But the main stories continue to entertain. Watching them clear the dead cop was good, although watching Sam and the widow reacting was heartbreaking. Well played by all.

Nikita - Speaking of heartbreaking, Tom's death was shocking and heartbreaking. I felt for Alex. However, this does increase her clearance, so it will be interesting to see how that helps the cause of taking down Division. And with the chat program known, we can't use that any more. How will they communicate frequently? It sounds like Alex will be out of Division quite frequently, so that will help.

Big Bang Theory - Yes, I'm adding this show back to my viewing schedule. I enjoyed watching it back in season two, but I took it off because of the sexual content. And this episode was full of it. I don't know who the new female characters are, but I'm sure I'll pick up on it soon. Meanwhile, I will be glad to have a comedy in my schedule.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My Last Mud Run of the Year

Remember back in January when I was hesitating about signing up for two mud runs this year?  Well, this Saturday I did my fifth mud run of the year, and there are several more I would have liked to do.  As tempted as I am to sign up for one on Sunday, I just don't see how I could make it work.

Anyway, Saturday was the Gladiator Rock 'n Run.  I signed up with my friend Dave.  We met up Saturday morning to car pool down to Irvine.  Traffic was amazingly light, and we got down there long before I thought we would.  Turned out to be nice to get there so early so we could check in, get our numbers on, and all that kind of stuff.  We really only had about half an hour to kill before the start time.

Note how clean we look in the before picture.

We had signed up for the noon wave, and it turned out to be the last wave of the day.  It was a three mile run, and the first mile was running.  Then we hit the first obstacles, stairs.  Lots of stairs.  Over the course of the next three miles, we had a giant hill and a few smaller ones, a slide into mud, a few small walls and a 7 ft. wall.  And mud.

We only had one mud pit to crawl through, although I think there was a second we should have crawled through but the flags were down by the time we got there.  But let me tell you, the mud was thick and deep.  Most of the time, the mud is pretty runny and it's not that hard to get clean.  Not so this time.  We were both caked with mud.  I had to bleach my shirt, and even so there are a couple of spots that aren't coming clean any time soon.

We both had a blast.  I know I've got some mud runs coming up in May and June, but that's probably too long to wait.  I've got to find a way to get muddy before that.

Of course, I haven't run since then.  Something about over sleeping every morning.  I've got to start getting up and running again since I know I won't run over Christmas at all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

FIR Questions 10 & 11

Yes, I let myself get behind on answering the Fall into Reading questions.  And I didn't even catch up yesterday!  So let's fix that today.

First up, Question 10.

Do you have multiple books going at once? Or do you prefer to stick to one book at a time?

Just as no man can serve two masters, Mark can not read two books.  It doesn't matter how I plan to split my reading or how much I am enjoying one or the other, I always manage to get so sucked into one that I ignore the other and forget what was happening there.  As a result, I read one book at a time and then move on to the next one.

And, from yesterday, Question 11.

Do you ever read the end of a book before you actually get there? Have you sneaked a peek at the last page or two to find out what happens? Or do you faithfully avoid the final pages until you’ve “earned” them by reading to that point?

I try not to look at the end.  After all, in a mystery (which is most of what I read), the whole point is to be surprised by the ending.  However, I have a need to know how many pages there are in a book, and I have to look several times so I can figure out when I've hit the half way point or the final 100 page milestone.  I also need to know how many chapters there are.  As a result, I have occasionally seen things I didn't want to see.  Yes, it does diminish my enjoyment some.  Yes, the simple solution would be to stop doing that.  But I can't seem to fight my compulsion.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Word Association for December 6th

Let's do this week's word assocation, okay?

  1. Twitter :: Short
  2. Facebook :: More Interactive
  3. MySpace :: History
  4. Friend :: Smile
  5. Subscribe :: Magazine
  6. Conflict :: Resolution
  7. Ignore :: Problems
  8. Drama :: Play
  9. Hide :: Seek
  10. List :: To Do

Normally, I don't see a theme with the words we're given, but I certainly did this week.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Weekly TV Recap - December 4th

So, I came back to town on Tuesday and have been playing catch up all week. It didn't help that I decorated my Christmas trees last night instead of watching TV. But I still managed to get all caught up.

The Amazing Race - I am so ready for either of the couples left in the race to go that I was very sorry to see this be a non-elimination leg. Of course, I don't see how they'll overcome a 6 hour penalty. I hope they can't. He doesn't deserve to be in the final three after he gave up during the detour.

Chuck - I was expecting much more of a cliffhanger than that since this looks like the break until the new year. Three more episodes on the original 13 episode order, too. Not too surprised that Chuck has the intersect back. I'm not as sure as he is that his mom is all good. And I'm wondering what exactly that was Ellie decoded on the computer. I'm sure it will come back up at some point. I'll be interested to see where they go with it.

No Ordinary Family - They basically presented two A stories this week with a focus on the adults for one and the kids for the other. But I'm very curious to see where they are going with the fake boyfriend. He seems to know a whole lot more than he's telling. What might he be up to?

Psych - I have never seen an episode of Twin Peaks, so I really didn't get much of this story. It was a good mystery, but missed a lot of the normal humor. I'm sure if I knew the other show, I would have gotten the humor here.

Survivor - Not one but two people quit? In the same episode? Wow, that's pretty surprising, especially that NaOnka was one of them. I'm not at all sorry to see her go, but I would have loved to see her voted out. Have I mentioned that I couldn't stand her?

Burn Notice - If you'd told me they would end an episode with Michael in possession of a list of people who burned him, I would have guessed it would be the season finale. Instead, it was this episode. I'm glad since it means we won't have a long wait to find out what he wants to do with it. And Nate is going to be a dad! I love Nate, wish he were on more. I hope they make him into a good father instead of the predictable leaving them when the going gets hard.

Nikita - I know they said they were going to introduce a love interest. If it isn't going to be Michael, I'm okay with it being this guy she was working with. In fact, I kind of like that idea, although I still want to see more of the relationship with Michael. Sadly, I'm most concerned with Alex. She's going to be in serious trouble very soon.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Back Before Thanksgiving

So I never did blog about the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Movies and plays.  Oh my!

It started with a Friday night trip to Sherman Oaks where I met up with Angelique for a screening of Harry Potter 7.1.  I'd read the book, she hadn't.  Frankly, neither of us were super impressed.  As I expected, it moved rather slowly.  That's the thing with the books, the first half is usually rather slow, and the second half is where the excitement is.  When you break a book in half, you're going to get a slow first half.  And that's definitely the case here.  But I expect the final movie to be a fun, fast paced ride come July.

Then Saturday, my roommates and I headed down to Glendale Centre Theatre where we met up with Angelique to see A Murder is Announced.  I'd never read the book, so I was confused until the end.  A great job with the mystery.  And the cast was great.  I just love going to that theater.  The performances are always great and the small, center theater aspect makes you feel like it is happening right there.  I wish I had started going when I'd first heard about it.  Think of all the great plays I've missed.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


As I hinted at yesterday, I've been out of town for almost a week.  Once again, I spent Thanksgiving at my brother's house in Dallas.  This was the first time we'd all slept there since my niece was born.  My brother and sister-in-law wound up sleeping in the living room.  I figured I'd be out there, but it was nice to have my normal bedroom.

My niece is so cute!  (I know, that's a real news flash).  She turned 16 months while I was there.  We heard he actually say "bird" at one point, although she didn't say it again.  However, she clearly says "Dada" and "Mama," "Izard" for lizard as well.

Obviously, Uncle Mark is still a bit too complicated for her, but I've been joking that I think my name might be "Ticka, ticka, ticka, ticka," her word for tickle.  Not that it would be entirely her fault since I was tickling her quite a bit.  But when asked to point to Uncle Mark, she would point to me (sometimes faster than others).

My brother and sister-in-law left for a mini vacation part way through my trip.  They'd arranged with Mom and Dad to watching my niece long ago (not that it was any big chore).  That went better than we feared it might, but I know she'll be glad to see them when they get back.  Those three adore each other.

But now I'm back at work.  I finally am beginning to feel like I have my feet under me.  Even though I was only gone two working days, I felt swamped when I came back.  But things are well under control, or so I think.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Word Association for December 1st

I know, I know.  I'm out of town for a week, and I come back and do word association.  What kind of blog is this?  (And that's a very good question.)

  1. Scrabble :: Words with Friends
  2. Watching :: Waiting
  3. Habitually :: Without Thinking
  4. Gritty :: Dark
  5. Slovenly :: Lazy
  6. Canvas :: Tent
  7. Leggings :: Stockings
  8. Thursday :: Tomorrow
  9. Attention :: Span
  10. Hypnotic :: Suggestion

I didn't really intend for this to be a plug, but I did downloan Words with Friends over the weekend, so if you want to play, hit me up and let's play.  I'm Carstairs38, and I'm sure I'll be an easy win.