Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weekly TV Recap for New Year's Eve

Welcome to the week between Christmas and New Years.  The only reason I have anything to post about is because NBC is trying to burn off Chuck before the end of January.  So let's talk about the last two episodes.

I didn't much care for the Christmas one this year.  First of all, I thought Chuck killed Shaw, and I kept waiting for that explanation.  Guessed I missed it somehow.  And I really don't like the darker episodes, so that bothered me as well.

I much preferred this week's episode.  I wonder how this fits into the whole Sara and Bryce part of the early seasons.  And Sara wasn't originally going to be Chuck's handler.  But those inconsistencies aside, I did like it.  Plus it was fun to see Peter Burke from While Collar as a bad guy (the mirror of his character on that show, but like Neal is the mirror of Bryce Larkin).  Plus they ended things with a happy note and no cliffhanger leading into the next new episode.  That surprised me.  And it looks like they've worked through the Alex/Morgan issues, which I knew they would, but I liked how they've handled that aspect of things.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Word Association for December 26th

Since I missed this last week, I thought I'd get in this week's word association while I'm thinking about it.

  1. Elves :: Santa
  2. Holiday :: Christmas
  3. Candles :: Light
  4. Family :: Friends
  5. Insight :: Understanding
  6. Sleigh :: Ride
  7. Party :: Fun
  8. Weather :: Sun
  9. Presents :: Gifts
  10. Misfit :: Toys

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekly TV Recap for December 24th

Merry Christmas Eve!

It was a light TV week, although I missed this week's Chuck since I'm out of town.  Just gives me something to look forward to come my return home.

Survivor - So, apparently a few apologies make up for lying and backstabbing your way through the game, especially after you super secret pinky swore.  Come on, really, Coach?  You are a hypocrite of the first order.  The sad fact is, it seems that the only way to make it through to the end is to lie your way through.  Honestly, I may have found another show to eliminate from my schedule.  And after 23 seasons of never missing an episode, that's saying something.  I just can't put up with people like Coach who claim they are going to do things one way and then wind up breaking everything they claim they stand for and then trying to justify themselves.  As much as some of their villains drive me crazy, at least they are honest about what they intend to do.

Terra Nova - I am but I'm not surprised that they killed off the son's girlfriend.  That free him up to fall for Skye, which they've been teasing all season.  Honestly, I'm glad to see both of them have redeemed themselves by the end.  And Lucas is like the villain in a horror movie, he just won't die.  I'm curious what the ship's figure head is and why the bad guys rushed out there right away, but if the show doesn't come back, I won't care.  It's fine for me either way.  I did feel sorry for Mira who just wanted to get back to her daughter.  That was a harsh ending for her.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Fall Into Reading 2011 Wrap Up

I'm on Christmas vacation.  Can you tell by how little I've posted?  But today is the first day of winter, so it means it's time to wrap up this year's Fall Into Reading challenge.

So, here's what I got read during the fall.  The link takes you to my review of the book, although I haven't reviewed the last two books on the list yet.  (A * denotes a book not on my original list.)

Quickstep to Murder by Ella Barrick
Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook by Joanne Fluke*
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Heat Rises by Richard Castle
A Case of Hometown Blues by W. S. Gager
NERDS 3: The Cheerleaders of Doom by Michael Buckley
Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen
Darkwing Duck: F.O.W.L Disposition by Ian Brill
Dog on It by Spencer Quinn
No Place Like Holmes by Jason Lethcoe*
Thrown Out: Stories from Exeter by Jennie Coughlin*
Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play by Ridley Pearson
Formula for Murder by Diana Orgain
The Last Musketeer by Stuart Gibbs
The Albuquerque Turkey by John Vorhaus
The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney by Michael Barrier
Hidden Mickey: Sometimes Dead Men Do Tell Tales by Nancy Temple Rodrigue and David W. Smith
Killer Routine by Alan Orloff
In Service to the Mouse by Jack Lindquist with Melinda J. Combs

Books from my list I did not read:
Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Based on number of books, I hit my target exactly. However, I still have about 1200 pages I didn't get read, and those substitute books are maybe 250 pages combined, so it's not like I really read the correct number of pages. I saved all the big books for the end, didn't I?

However, I did finish up all the books from last fall and this spring, so that makes me happy. And I am 10 pages in the Peter Pan prequel, so I'm continuing on with my list even if Spring is over.

I think that's it for me this fall. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekly TV Recap for December 17th

Once Upon a Time - Maybe it's time I avoided spoilers.  I knew how that episode ended and so pretty much guessed how the episode was going to go before it started.  Okay, so a few of the twists along the way did get me.  I wonder who else the queen has captured with their heart.  And exactly what is the secret that Snow White blabbed that led to all this?  And when will Emma wake up and realize that it is indeed all true?

The Amazing Race - I was still so disappointed that the snowboarders weren't in it that I really didn't care who won.  Cindy was pretty arrogant when she was talking about people she didn't want to lose to, however.  I was rooting against them for a while, although the way they were talking at the finish line made me like them again.  Now, for the snowboarders to get a second chance and actually win this time.

Terra Nova - So Skye was found out, and it looks like she is at least partially forgiven.  And the colony is preparing for war.  Yes, it was a much needed episode since it sets things up for next week's finale, but it was definitely a place holder.  I hope that next week's two hour finale delivers on the promises.

Psych - I could have done without the Henry sub-plot, but the rest of that episode was so funny.  Great lines and situations that were truly milked for their comic possibilities.  My favorite scene was probably at the beginning where Shawn and Gus were reading each other's minds.  Too funny.  The ring Gus found at the end certainly explains why Shawn was so upset over his missing DS.  I wonder how that is going to play out.  And how funny that the thieves missed it when they were robbing them.

Survivor - If I hear one more person go on and on about being a Christian man, blaw, blaw blaw.  Please.  Of course, it makes it easy to watch because I just fast forward through Brandon and half of Coach to get away from that nonsense.  I believe this is the second time that the person with individual immunity gave it up and both times they immediately got voted out.  Obviously, that is a stupid move.  And anyone who has watched the show would know that based on how people have acted in the past.

Burn Notice - Who would have predicted that I would ever side with Fiona over Michael on something.  Even so, how heartbreaking was that final shot?  Actually, this is a surprise because I thought they'd figure out a way to take down Anson before this was all over, but he's still out there and free to rebuild the group.  Frankly, they didn't tell us for sure that Jesse got to the lap top in time to save Pierce and the others from being burned, so I wonder if that will factor into next season or not.  Summer is going to be a very long time off.

Chuck - There were some funny moments, but that was a very intense episode.  It's always nice to see Beckman again, and even without the Morse code, I figured she was trying to warn them.  And Ellie and Awesome thinking the limo was the surprise they other had for them was funny.  But overall, I was actually concerned for everyone, probably because they've been hinting that all might not make it through this season okay.  Oh, and I completely predicted that Alex would see Morgan's PANTS and see something of her in there.  I hope they get those two back together.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

FiR Question 12

Here we are at the last Fall into Reading question, at least for this year.

Christmas is quickly approaching. What book- or reading-related gift would you love to receive for Christmas?

As always, I included books on my list.  Gayle Roper, a favorite author going back years, has a new book out that is on my list.  And I have several books by authors I'd like to try out on my list.

Gayle is an exception.  Usually, books by authors I like are bought within a couple of weeks of them coming out.  I just found out about her new book a couple months ago and knew I wouldn't get it read before Christmas (it wasn't on my Fall into Reading list, after all, and I already had made some additions), so I figured it would be a good Christmas list item.  Honestly, I'll be a little surprised if I don't get it because my parents know how much I like her books.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Word Association for December 13th

And here is this week's word association.

  1. Dedication :: Ceremony
  2. Dream destination :: Disney World (again)
  3. Games :: Play
  4. Hard as :: a Rock
  5. Convict :: Prison
  6. Submit :: Authority
  7. Alcohol :: Drunk
  8. Clippers :: Hair
  9. Hormonal :: Imbalance
  10. Diet :: Exercise

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Concerts

This last weekend, I participated in my first Christmas concerts as a member of the choir at church.  This meant a busy weekend for me since I we did the concert both Saturday and Sunday nights.  But I loved the songs so much that it wasn't an issue for me.

It also meant Friday I had to sneak in a trip to Follow the Star.  One of the churches in the area puts this one very year.  They use members of their congregation to reenact scenes form Jesus' life, mostly His death and resurrection.  It's a drive/walk through attraction, so most scenes are on 15-30 second loops, but it's very powerful.  I love going every year.

Anyway, the concerts went well.  I struggled with two songs, the same two both nights.  I kept wanting to singing it too high.  I'm not sure what range I was even singing in half the time, but I knew it was wrong, so I'd drop out and mouth the words.

One highlight for me was the song where the guys played chimes while the women and children's choirs sang.  Most of the guys struggled with that song, but I felt right at home because of the years I spent in the handbell choir.  In fact, it made me wish we had a handbell choir for me to join again.

Another favorite song was "'Tis a Wonderful Thing."  It had a very jazzy feel and was a blast to perform.

But my favorite song of the concert wasn't one we did.  I was introduced to "Mystery" by Selah thanks to the people who did it as a duet.  Talk about powerful lyrics!  It marvels at God becoming man in the form of Jesus so He could die.  Nothing new, necessarily, but the way it is expressed just blows me away.

However, it was very bittersweet.  Back in September, they laid off our music minister due to budget cuts.  This was his last horrah at the church.  He was very pleased with how it went, which is good.  But there are lots of us who are really going to miss him.  He was very invested in all of us, so it is going to be a huge loss personally, plus his musical expertise is going to be missed.  Those will be hard shoes to fill.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekly TV Recap for December 10th

The Amazing Race - Augh!  The snowboarders got eliminated.  Yes, they made a mistake when they left that last place (one I probably would have made, too), but what killed them was the fact that the other taxi drivers were sharing information.  If it weren't for that, two of the teams would have gone wrong and there would have been time for them to figure things out.  I'm not at all happy.  Yes, I'll watch next week, but I'm not that excited about it.

Once Upon a Time - I was conflicted about this episode.  I know we're supposed to be rooting for Mary Margaret and David to get together as they are in the fairytale world, but I have a hard time rooting for someone to leave his marriage.  So I'm glad he is going to try to work on fixing his marriage, but I know I shouldn't be because he really belongs with her (and is married to her in the fairytale kingdom).  Augh!  Meanwhile, I guess that is wasn't Charming's brother who Cinderella married.  I wonder who that was.  And how exactly does he get out of marring Midas' daughter?  And does Mr. Gold remember about the curse?  So many questions, so long to wait for the next episode.

The Sing-Off - Yeah, I watched the holiday special.  (Boy, they never did say Christmas once, did they?)  Okay, maybe watched is too strong a word.  I listened while Christmas shopping on line.  But there were some great songs here, and it was very fun to hear everyone singing together from all three seasons.

Prep and Landing 2: Naughty vs. Nice - The first one surprised me with how much I wound up liking it.  This one not so much.  It was as predictable as the first, but I didn't get the same happy feeling at the end.  It felt forced, probably because they were trying to create a sequel.  Won't be watching it again if it gets rerun.

Castle - How much fun!  So many great lines, and seeing Castle and Beckett working together so well at the end was great.  Plus Laney and Esposito bickering was great.  I loved the Captain's response.  "What has Castle gotten her into now." When he had nothing to do with it.  And the way this show can take an unusual premise and still put together a solid case that gets solved is the sign of the great writing staff they have.

Covert Affairs - First vacation since joining the agency?  I thought the Niagara Falls episode had a similar premise.  That aside, I did enjoy this one.  The scene in the house was intense and creepy.  And I loved how Danielle found out that Auggie is really CIA.  I don't know what they are doing with her and her husband, but that's the one storyline I absolutely hate.  And I'm curious where they are going with Jai next, too.

Psych - They actually managed to make it more of a mystery at the end, but for the most part, the show was very much comedy and very light on plot, even for psych.  Lassiter at the commune was pretty funny, however.

Survivor - Can we get Brandon off the screen now?  Pretty please?  Honestly, that's about my only comment as once again the results of the episode weren't that surprising.

Big Bang Theory - I knew Penny was going to wind up being a bully as soon as that scene started.  Plus the clothes thing was pretty predictable.  But it was also very funny.  And Penny's expressions in the first scene were perfect.  The A story with Leonard and the bully was fairly predictable as well, but I was laughing at quite a bit of the episode.  See, predictable can still be funny.

Wipeout - Boy, I missed Jill.  But Hensen's sweaters were funny, and the new obstacles were actually kind of cool again.  I wish they weren't coming back in January because I enjoy the show if it isn't on 9 months out of the year.

Burn Notice - For a show that tackles the serious criminals they do, they usually keep a light tone.  This time, the show got very serious in the last act.  But everyone played it perfectly, and it was a great episode.  I'm very worried about next week, especially after the previews.  Can't wait to see how they wrap the Anson storyline up.

Chuck - Two episodes in two days that have communes in them.  Couldn't have done without the nudity, even if it was pixilated.  Did enjoy watching Chuck do the hacking.  And now that Decker is gone, who will this lead them to next?  Plus Casey and Lester in jail together was an absolute hoot.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Word Association for 12/9

If it's Friday, it's well beyond time that I posted this week's word association.

  1. Flannel :: Shirt
  2. Chairs :: Table
  3. Sporadic :: Pain
  4. Difficult :: Person
  5. Amusing :: Story
  6. Collapse :: Wall Street
  7. Hurtful :: Words
  8. Thump :: Bang
  9. Frugal :: Wise
  10. Collectibles :: Hallmark

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

FiR Question #11

Although December always feels like winter to me, we still techinically have a couple weeks left in Fall, so here's this week's Fall into Reading question.

Share a special memory relating to books or reading — something you’ll never forget.

The first things that pop into my mind are related to author interactions.  When authors remember me from one year to the next, it always thrills me.  Yeah, by the time I've been to several of their signings, I'm not that surprised, but when they remember me right away it makes me feel special.  I wish I were better with faces and names.

Then there was the first time that Joanne Fluke included me in the acknowledgements of her series (Peach Cobbler Murder) just for being a super fan.

The letters I've traded back and forth over the years with Sandy Dengler are something I will always treasure, along with a couple of the special books she's signed for me.

And I can't leave out my Trixie friends.  We've all met on the internet on message boards devoted to the Trixie Belden series of kids' mysteries that we all love.  Over the years, we've met up at "camps" as we call them to hang out in person.  I know you can create friendship over the internet, because these are definitely friends of mine.  (True, few are as close as friends you see in real life, but they are still good friends.)  I've got lots of memories with them.  They only relate to books in a superficial way, but there is that connection.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

My November Reads

And now we are up to date with November.

All ratings are on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

NO PLACE LIKE HOLMES by Jason Lethcoe - 4
A kid's mystery that focuses on Sherlock Holmes' lesser known neighbor who might finally get his big change when he nephew comes over from America for the summer.  I found some of the characters stuff predictable, but overall I enjoyed this fresh take on the Holmes universe.

Four short stories set in a small, college town in Massachusetts that focus on the characters who live there.  I really enjoyed meeting them and look forward to getting to know them better in the novels she is also setting there.  NOTE: I was sent this book in exchange for my honest review.

Lee Woodyard finds herself in another case when a reunion of her aunt's old high school singing group leads to a murder.  As always, I love these characters and the plot moves forward very quickly.  The definition of a light but fun mystery.

THE LAST MUSKETEER by Stuart Gibbs - 4
Greg Rich finds himself sucked back through time to early 1600's Paris where he must unite teenage musketeers to save his parents.  A kids book that combines elements of fantasy with historical fiction, I enjoyed it, although I did find the set up a bit too long.

Conman Radar Hoverlander isn't sure if he can trust his dad, who has walked into his life after over 20 years and saying he desperately needs money to pay off a man in Vegas.  Once again, this is a wild ride that seems a bit too complicated and leaves the reader in a dark a bit much in the name of twists.  Still, it was a fun ride

My October Reads

And here are October's books.

All ratings are on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

A fun trip down the Mississippi with Huck Finn and run away slave Jim.  It's very episodic in nature, but still a fun read.

HEAT RISES by Richard Castle - 5
The third Nikki Heat book finds Nikki investigating the case of a priest found murdered in a bondage club.  I found the tie ins with the TV show to be the funniest so far and the mystery was quite good.  Yes, the book is still overwritten at times, but this was the best in the series so far.

Reporter Mitch Malone goes home to against his better judgment, and that night his high school crush is killed. Why?  And might it tie in to other tragedies from his past?  The plot is compelling, although a bit uneven at times.  Still, another good read.  Again, I got this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

NERDS 3: THE CHEERLEADERS OF DOOM by Michael Buckley - 4
Matilda is ordered undercover to find out who is robbing other dimensions and stop them before the space time continuum collapses.  The problem?  She has to become the thing she hates - a cheerleader.  A fun sci-fi/spy book for kids that was weaken by a climax that felt too abrupt.

NAUGHTY IN NICE by Rhys Bowen - 4
Lady Georgiana manages to get invited to winter in the French Riviera in exchange for finding a snuff box stolen from the queen.  But then another robbery and a murder complicate matters.  As is usual with the series, the plot took forever to get going, but once it did, it proved to be lots of fun.

DOG ON IT by Spencer Quinn - 4
Chet and Bernie attempt to track down a girl that has been kidnapped.  Unless she ran away.  What makes this series unique is that it is told from the point of view of Chet, a dog.  That was mostly cute, although occasionally it fell flat.  The plot could have used some rearranging as well, but overall I enjoyed it.

My September Reads

I am months behind on reporting what I have read, so I am going to catch up now.  First, up is September.

All ratings are on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

Now that the last movie is out, I decided to reread the series.  (Still haven't made it to year two, however).  A slow start but still magical even if have read it before.

PIPSQUEAK by Brian M. Wiprud - 2
Taxidermist Grant Carson thinks he's found a great piece of his childhood - a squirrel puppet from an old TV show.  But within moments of finding it, it is stolen and he finds a dead body.  The book is a wild ride, but the plot was too far fetched to be believable much of the time.  It was supposed to be funny, but it really wasn't.  And the characters were mostly flat.  I did care by the end, but this isn't an author I'll go back to.

Reporter Mitch Malone's day off ends abruptly when he stumbles on a fatal accident.  But the pieces don't add up, and Mitch soon begins to suspect that it wasn't an accident but murder.  It took a while for me to warm up to Mitch, but I loved the supporting players right away, and the plot was very interesting.  Note: I was sent this book in exchange for my honest review.

WHERE YOUR DADDY? by Sue Ann Jaffarian - 4
The third in the Holidays from Hell e short story series finds Zelda visiting her not so lovable grandfather in hopes of finding out where her dad currently is living.  It has the usual mix of humor and more tender moments, although the humor didn't quite work for me here.

QUICKSTEP TO MURDER by Ella Barrick - 4
Stacy Graysin is the prime suspect when her professional and business partner/former fiancee is found dead in their ballroom dance studio.  I really enjoyed this new cozy series debut and look forward to finding out what happens to Stacy next.

Yes, mostly recipes, but there are a few scenes with the characters from the series that are fun.  All the recipes from the early books plus some new ones to enjoy.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Um Thanksgiving?

Wow, I've been back for a week and still haven't blogged about Thanksgiving?

As has been the case for the past few years, we went to Dallas to visit my brothers, sister-in-law, and niece.  She's now two years and so cute.  She was so thrilled to see all of us, and she loved it when we were all together.

The highlight for me came on Thanksgiving day.  She and I were alone in the living room and she came up to me and said, "I love you."  So cute.  I was flying for the rest of the day.

We also got to see a production of A Christmas Carol we've found there.  Hadn't gone for the last few years, but it was great to see it again.  They always do an amazing job.

Other then that it was lots of play with my niece and games with the rest of the family when she was asleep.  They decorated for Christmas on Friday, so I got to sleep by their Christmas tree after that (I got the couch).  My bro preached in church on Sunday, which was a treat to get to hear.

It really was a great trip.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Weekly TV Recap

Time for this week's TV recap.

The Amazing Race - So the grandparents never really seemed to have a chance to get back in it.  They were always in last.  Meanwhile, the snowboarders came back for a rather convincing first place finish.  While everyone else seemed to struggle, they didn't have that much of a problem.  Hope that holds true for the next couple of weeks.  It would be great to see a nice team finish first.

Once Upon a Time - All I know about Jiminy Cricket is from the Disney version of the story.  So I found this take on his origin and the idea that he and Gepetto are good friends interesting.  And it turns out Henry was right.  He had almost found something at the bottom of the old mine.  Was it the entrance to the fairytale world?  That's certainly what it looked like to me.

Terra Nova - The mole is Josh's friend Skye?  I can't say I saw it coming, but it didn't exactly surprise me either.  I take it the rest of the colony thinks her mom is dead.  I feel sorry for her.  I hope they can find a way to write her out of this.  Meanwhile, Taylor and Mira having to work together to survive was a cliched story, but at least they used it to show us more of both characters.

The Sing-Off - Urban Method didn't win!!!  Penatonix wasn't that much of a surprise as the winner since the judges loved them so much, but I really did think that Urban Method would wind up winning.  I was thrilled to be proved wrong.

Covert Affairs - I'm really not sure where they were going with the Augie's girlfriend storyline.  That's her last appearance, at least this season, and I was left feeling like it was a bit of a waste.  Maybe they'll move things forward next week.  And I'm also confused by Danielle's husband.  After not appearing all season, suddenly he's been on a business trip?  And those have to be new girls playing her daughters because they didn't look familiar at all.  And they looked too close in age.  Nit picks aside, I did like the main episode.  I hope they bring that guy back now that he's a full fledged MI-6 agent.

Ringer - I really didn't want Gemma to be dead.  And I really did think they were going to save her.  Man, that upsets me.  I was expecting more of a cliffhanger than that when I hear they wouldn't be back for six weeks.  Oh, and I'm wondering if the teacher really forced himself on her or if she is lying because he humiliated her.  I told my roommate you don't go into a situation like that one on one.  You always want a witness for this very reason.

Survivor - Well, after all this time, we finally saw Cochran go.  I'm not sure whether to feel good because he kind of deserved that for switching sides or if the other team should have done more for him.  Honestly, I saw it coming weeks ago.  Now we'll finally truly get to see the other side turn on each other.  Well, maybe, they do still have one more person to go.  Just don't tell me Coach is going to win.  If so and they do this again another couple times, the person who comes back from before is going to be history fast.  (Frankly, I hope they drop the person from before.  I'm so sick of that already.)

Burn Notice - Anson is truly evil.  Killing Michael's father?  And do we really know the end game yet?  I think that Michael's mom is being a little too harsh on him, but I can see where she is coming from.  As for the case of the week, how cool was it to bring in someone from the prequel movie?

Nikita - So that ending is going to shake up Alex.  I kind of like the fact that they completely left everyone in motion.  Michael showing up like he did was a bit of a cheat, although at least Owen had called him earlier.  So, why are the guardians meeting up?  Lots of fun when it starts back up in a month.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Word Association for December 1st

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Program :: Christmas
  2. Business :: Proposal
  3. Nerve :: Pinched
  4. Pipes :: Organ
  5. Man :: Woman
  6. System :: Works
  7. Roses :: Red
  8. Gong :: Show
  9. Heartfelt :: Emotion
  10. Strolling :: Park