Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Reviews: One day we will all eat shit from an IT guy

You know how you put off doing things that you know you should do and then you go to do it and then you are all "Nah" and then you put it off some more, knowing the longer you wait the harder it's going to be and then the harder you think it'll be, the more you put it off. It's a vicious procrastination cycle that only the truly slothful would ever understand.

That is this blog right here. I know I should do it. I have things started. I have ideas to write about and yet here we are. I even have book reviews written down and ready to go. That is how much I try and avoid this.

In no particular order...

32. I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman: It’s a book of essays focusing on villains/ heroes and how we perceive them. If you knew your heroes, they may not be your heroes anymore,etc. (Did you know that OJ Simpson had to pay Ron Goldman’s family all the proceeds from his book, If I Did It?) This book also gives a lot of insight into IT guys. I think I now know why my husband is the way he is. He’s an IT guy. He has too much power and knowledge. He would make the perfect villain because he can fix your computer. Think about it. I will just leave this here: “This is what makes an IT guy different from you. He might make less money, he might have less social prestige, and people might look at him in the cafeteria like he’s a morlock – but he can act however he wants. He can be nice, but only if he feels like it. He can ignore the company dress code. He can lie for no reason whatsoever. He can smoke weed at lunch because he’ll still understand your iMac better than you.”

33. To Die For by Joyce Maynard: Kindle Monthly Deal right now for $1.99. Remember that movie some years ago that had Joaquin Phoenix and Nicole Kidman having a lot of sex in it? Yeah so this is the book that that was based on. Great read. I love a story about a sociopathic woman who manipulates everyone to do her bidding.  

34. Feed by Mira Grant: Not too Shabby. A aombie book but a different take.  Zombies have been around for a while and people are just kind of living with them. When the infection first started, the government and the liberal media fucked everything so it was really left to bloggers and interneting people to tell the real story (In this zombie world, there are enough people alive that electricity and things like that are still on in most places). Basically it’s saying, in the modern world if there was an internet, a zombie apocalypse would never happen. First people would think it was fake, of course, but if you have enough people saying the same exact thing with video proof and what not, eventually people will have to take it seriously (You can only hear that Richard Gere gerbil story so many times until you start to believe it). This is the story of a group of bloggers/ vloggers that follow the 2040 presidential campaign that focuses on zombie issues. Sounds stupid, I will admit. But it’s actually very well done.

35. Divergent by Veronica Roth: Gross. I just did not like it at all. I couldn’t even finish it. My main problem was that I did not care about any of it. The characters have to be one dimensional because it is what their faction needs of them or some shit and that is not fun to read. I love a ridiculous story as much as the next but this was just stupid-ridiculous. Like why would anyone want to be in a faction? I know they explained it in some half-ass Young Adult Fiction way in which it helped crime somehow yet there was still crime within factions and other factions are constantly fighting so… And does having to catch a moving train every time you need to go somewhere prove that you are fearless or is it just inconvenient? And why in the world are they letting 16-year-olds make a decision that will dictate to them the person they have to be for the rest of their lives? Teenagers are notoriously awful at making decisions, let’s let them decide what they want to be forever. GREAT IDEA. It’s just stupid story and when you compare it to Hunger Games, you are insulting Jennifer Lawrence herself (even though JLaw had nothing to do with the HG story).

36. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson: I loved this so much. There is a quality to this book that reminds me of Grey Gardens and I love those ladies so I was already predetermined to like this book. The only exception was Edie and Little Edie were never suspected of murdering their whole family by putting arsenic in the sugar.

37. The Magpies by Mark Edwards: This would have been an excellent book even with a generic story if someone else that wasn't a dick had written it. It's a simple enough story of a couple moving into a new home and the neighbors being crazy psychopaths. The wife sees it first and freaks out in a shrill unreasonable way and the man tells her to calm down with her menses and make him a sandwich. So I was pretty much done with this book from the first incident. Throwing in numerous pop-culture references in a fiction story drives me crazy and this book is riddled. Also you know how much I hate reading dreams and again, countless dreams that meant nothing. The characters were one-sided and insufferable. Whoever Mark Edwards is, it would be great if he would stop writing women characters. Thanks. This dick writes the man of the story to be full of masculine pride but instead of using his repeatedly mentioned masculine pride and confronting the issues, he just hopes they will go away. I am not positive but I don’t think ignoring problems is usually conceived as masculine but I am a woman do what do I know?

38. Inside Graceland; Elvis' Maid Remembers by Nancy Rooks: I love a good Elvis story. I don't even care all that much for his music but he seemed like a nice enough guy and I love a story about a famous person being very nice and generous with their help which was exactly what this was. You could tell Nancy just adored Elvis and I am convinced the feeling was mutual. It's just a good simple story. It is what you expect it to be with a few inside details.

39. The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick: This is the same guy that wrote Silver Linings Playbook, which I loved. I didn't love this one was much but it was still a good enough story but with maybe too much of the unusual characters being so unusual it's kind of hard to follow at times at what is even going on. But it wasn't bad. A lot of talk of aliens, Catholicism and Richard Gere.

40. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: It’s a book based on just the most terrific blog ever. It’s pretty and colorful and a book I had to have the hard copy of because it was so slick and pretty. Also the stories were good. A few of them have appeared on her blog before but they were worth a read again. I would also like to take Allie Brosh along with me in my pocket and have her be my best friend.

41 - 43. The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro: I have had these books forever and I saw that FX was making a show about that that should be out this summer and I was like "Oh yeah, I have those." These were the most informative vampires novels I have ever read, and not about vampires. About so many things. Rats, eclipses and diseases mostly but so much information. Like did you know that rats don't have a gag reflex and that is what makes them so susceptible to poison? Did you know that blood thinner is basically rat poison? Did you know that you can obscure your fingerprints by putting super glue on them? Did you know that the lions in front of the New York Public Library are called Patience and Fortitude? I did not know any of that. – Okay so it’s a vampire story but very, very different than any other vampires story you have ever read. I promise you. It has everything. These aren’t your run of the mill vampire. They aren’t pretty. They lose their genitals, facial features, personalities, everything. They are basically all drones serving the master. Just a really creative story that I enjoyed.  


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I wrote a book review. It went awry.

I’ve been reading so many books lately that it’s messing with my brain. My mind comes up with all these words and I don’t know what to do with them. So this either means I have to start writing or I am becoming schizophrenic. Either/or. So for an outlet and maybe to stave off my eventual psychosis a bit longer, I have been writing a lot lately. Mostly book reviews and random dialogue I come up with when sorting out arguments in my head. You know. The usual.

This started as a book review and then ended up as…something else entirely. So first you have just the book review, in case that is all you are interested in and then you have the book review as it was originally written and everything that goes with it. So many more things.

31. Blaze by Richard Bachman/ Stephen King: Richard Bachman is Stephen King’s pen name from back in the day because he was under some  kind of yearly book cap and he wanted to see if his books would sell under a different/unknown name. Not surprisingly, the Bachman books only sold a small amount of copies and, when Bachman was outed as Stephen King, they sold way more copies which is really where it sucks to be a Stephen King fan (I would say it sucks to be Stephen King himself, but it doesn’t. That guy is doing just fine.).  It’s really just a sad story about a guy named Blaze who had little chance in life to not be a criminal. When he was a child he suffered head trauma after his father threw him down the stairs three times in succession, so he is a little dim.  From then on he goes from foster home to juvenile detention to prison, you get the gist. He turns con man and goes in for a long con and kidnaps a baby from a wealthy family and hilarity ensues, but not really. And I don’t know who Steve was fooling, but the book is obviously by him. Blaze has a touch of the shining and that is something that reeks of a Stephen King character (the shining is a feeling about something. Like you can find things easily, or you prepare yourself for something that is about to  happen though you have no way of knowing. Like you bring the clothes in from the line (because people still have clotheslines outside, I am sure) a few minutes before a surprise thunderstorm. That kind of thing.). But that is really the only supernatural element in this book and he barely touches on it.  It’s just a very good human story about a person you don’t normally think about, or try not to anyway.

*** Now the review in it’s long-winded entirety ***

31. Blaze by Richard Bachman/ Stephen King: Richard Bachman is Stephen King’s pen name from back in the day because he was under some  kind of yearly book cap and also he wanted to see if his books would sell under a different/unknown name. Not surprisingly, the Bachman books only sold a small amount of copies and, when Bachman was outed as Stephen King, they sold way more copies which is really where it sucks to be a Stephen King fan (I would say it sucks to be Stephen King himself, but it doesn’t. That guy is doing just fine.). 

I am usually dismissed as someone with shitty tastes in literature from anyone that wasn’t already a SK fan. And I resent that. If you aren’t a fan of the horror genre, I get that. But many of his books contain nothing of the supernatural. I feel like I am yelling at you (I am). People are very much against reading his work because of the name but really the man is a great writer. I was biased against him at first as well, and I turned out all right. But my path to Steve is a long story for another day today.

I grew up reading the normal girl things that a girl reads. Babysitter’s Club. Judy Blume. R.L. Stine. Goosebumps. Scary Stories to Read in the Dark. My favorite Book was Wait Till Helen Comes and it scared the shit out of me. I read it again not too long ago and it holds up. 

As a teenager, I really don’t think I read all that much which is odd because I wasn’t doing anything else. Seriously. I had very little to do in high school. I wasn’t in anything extracurricular, I didn’t have a job, I surely was not involved with any form of boyfriend and I didn’t even do drugs or drink then, so wtf did I do to fill my time? It’s ponderous, for sure.

For lack of anything else to read, I made the perilous journey to chick-lit, Jennifer Crusie/ Helen Fielding/ Jane Green, one in the same. I guess this was college. I don’t think I read too much in college because I was too busy being an idiot. Like everyone from age 18 – to about 27 I’d say. Just dumb shits. All of them. What I do remember reading in college besides the novelization of Romantic Comedies (bad ones), I was forced to read, which was ok with me.

I took two classes in college that I adored. Women’s literature and children’s literature.  In Children’s Lit, I read every children’s book there was. We had to read 25 books and write a few sentences about each one just to prove that we read  it. I think I read around 40. More Judy Blume. Shell Silverstein. The entire Junie B. Jones Collection up until that point. Also the classics like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Rotten Teeth. That class was so much fun. 

In Women’s Lit, I think we had to read six books written by, obviously, women. The ones I can remember were The Yellow Wallpaper, The Bluest Eye, The Women of Brewster Place (If I looked real hard I could probably find the syllabus from that class (type 2 hoarder)). I think that is when I got more into women writers while also trying to distance myself from the garbage that women were reading at the time that I did not enjoy.

This brought me to Cynthia Hiemel. Her books were mainly compiled of essays about her life, relationships, yada yada. The most memorable, If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why aren’t You Dead Yet? Pretty sure this was when I was in my “Men are so awful and weird” stage. But now I see that I chose the ones that were awful and weird. I had many a chance with men that would have made excellent additions to my admittedly short list of boyfriends from college, but I wasn’t interested in those! I was in my early 20s and still dumb as shit. Anyway, I was reading relatable stories from adult women so I kind of stuck with that genre for a while. Bitch, Bleachy Haired Honky Bitch, Cherry, The Broke Diaries, and a book that continues to be my favorite; Hell Hath No Fury. It’s a compilation of letters from some supremely pissed off women throughout history. As a women who has written many a pissed off letter, I can tell you that it is both accurate and fantastic.

Technically Women’s Literature could be Harry Potter. I read it in college, but I feel this doesn’t even need to be said as a genre that I enjoy or even a milestone in my history of books. I mean, everyone should read Harry Potter, you just should. It’s like The Diary of Anne Frank or To Kill a Mockingbird. You just stfu and read it. It is something you read. It breaks all literary boundaries and it is wonderful and all the good things that a book should be. And I swear to you, I do not want to hear your bullshit about you not wanting to read a children’s book and/or you have seen the movies so why bother. You get out of my face with that. Mainly, because you are wrong.  And I won’t waste my time with just a movie watcher, I won’t do it.

My love for books of essays written by women brought me to David Sedaris. If I had been born many years earlier as a gay man living all over the world, I would be David Sedaris. I just would. Also, Chuck Klosterman is known for his essays but he has two very good fiction books out there that I enjoyed. The Visible Man and Downtown Owl.

I think I was around 19 when I saw Fight Club for the first time. And I found out it was a book and I was all “Whaaaattt?? This movie spoke to me, somehow, in my untainted 19 years of life, I must learn more this man who speaks to my soul,” or some other emo-bullshit I probably wrote down at some point. I started reading Chuck Palahniuk, and things got weird. If you loved Fight Club, but it was a little too violent/”out there”/ strange for you, don’t go any further down the Chuck Palahniuk rabbit butthole. It only gets stranger from there and more disappointing. I haven’t read an entire book of his since Pygmy (which I did enjoy).  Everything else has been impossible for me to get through to the point where I get really pissed off. I heard there was a sequel to Rant, though. Is that right? I wouldn’t mind giving that a gander.

My love for Chuck Palahniuk brought me to zombie fiction (partly because if you can read anything from Chuck, you are obviously able to stomach the viler things in life), then to apocalyptic fiction (two of these I can recommend, Day by Day Armageddon and The Road) and then, begrudgingly, to Stephen King.

When I was a teenager, I read Dolores Claiborne. For some reason it was sitting on the bookshelf in the living room. My mom is a big reader, but usually only crime or romance novels so I am really confused on where this book came from and why it was in my house. I had seen the movie many times (excellent adaptation) so I figured I would give the book a try and I loved it. But then I got all boy crazy and feminist and shit and forgot about the book and my enjoyment of it.

How I picked Stephen up again was, I was forced into it. I had a good friend that was a SK fan and he was like, “You should really read this.” And I was all “Um, please. Stephen King is a hack! I can’t believe you read this shit.” And he was all, “Shut up, though. You will love this.” So after many days/months/years of foot dragging, I finally read Salem’s Lot. And to say that it was an amazing experience would be a gross understatement. From then on I wanted every Stephen King book in my head at once. And now I have become the annoying friend that is all “Ok, just shut up and read this. Thanks.” But you should listen to me, I know of what I speak.

Anyway. What was I saying? Oh yeah.

Blaze: It’s really just a sad story about a guy named Blaze who had little chance in life to not be a criminal. When he was a child he suffered head trauma after his father threw him down the stairs three times in succession, so he is a little dim.  From then on he goes from foster home to juvenile detention to prison, you get the gist. He turns con man and goes in for a long con and kidnaps a baby from a wealthy family and hilarity ensues, but not really. And I don’t know who Steve was fooling, but the book is obviously by him. Blaze has a touch of the shining and that is something that reeks of a Stephen King character (the shining is a feeling about something. Like you can find things easily, or you prepare yourself for something that is about to  happen though you have no way of knowing. Like you bring the clothes in from the line (because people still have clotheslines outside, I am sure) a few minutes before a surprise thunderstorm. That kind of thing.). But that is really the only supernatural element in this book and he barely touches on it.  It’s just a very good human story about a person you don’t normally think about, or try not to anyway.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reading List for...let's just say 2014

I have got to get this down sooner. This took far too long to write. I would say this list is from as far back as Christmas, I think. I have not been a good blogger but I have a few things I am working on. So you will be rewarded soon, dear readers.

17. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion- okay it’s a zombie book, sure. But it’s also more human than most zombie fiction (as opposed to zombie fact). It’s a zombie book from the perspective of the zombie and that is something I haven’t read before which is refreshing. You kind of start to pity this emo zombie at one point and who knew that possible. Also it contains something that most zombie books do not, a cure.

18. Rena’s Promise by Rena Kornreich Gelissen -  Non-fiction.  Rena’s promise was to always look after her little sister which became considerably harder once they both ended up in Auschwitz for over three years. In those three years, they basically built the ovens that would later incinerate them one day if they proved too weak to work any longer. It’s an excellent survivor’s story and I am a sucker for those.

19. Night by Elie Wiesel - Non-fiction. I like a good non-fiction war story when it’s from the point of few of those that lived through it. I have no interest in reading about a war. I like a more personal story, you see? Wiesel was actually in the same concentration camp with Rena and her sister but for a much shorter stay. It’s no less harrowing a story, though. And it’s also from the male point of view.

20. Horns by Joe Hill – This was just a good book. I do not know what kind of genes Stephen King is giving out, but they are of the crazy-gifted-creatively kind. One day, Ignatius wakes up from a blurry night of drunken melancholic shenanigans with horns. But the horns have just as much affect of him as they on everyone else. They bring out the worst in people and it is amazing. Also, this is not your average supernatural story, I don’t think. It’s very real and the best kind of entertaining. I think most people who don’t normally read the genre would really enjoy this book. I thought it was wonderful.

21. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski – I didn’t know that I would be this fascinated with animal husbandry.  Also, it made me want all the dogs. After reading two fairly graphic non-fiction novels about mass genocide, I figured I could stomach a story that would more than likely contain a few dog deaths. Perspective. Overall, it was a compelling book but a little over-long for my tastes. Also, in the last 20% of the book, each chapter starts to separate out into points of view of the same event and this drives me batshit crazy. I don’t want to read the same thing from the perspective of three different people and then a dog. I have read the same thing once already, please don’t make me read it again, three more fucking times, over the span of 150 pages. Who has time for that? Ain’t nobody.

22. The Neighbors are Watching by Debra Ginsberg: This is where the different perspective works as a story telling device. Time has passed since the last chapter and the story progresses!!  I am really having a hard time remembering what this is about. I know I liked it! Ok. A google search tells me that is about the suburbs in San Diego during the 2007 wildfires. Oh yeah, ok. A pregnant teenager shows up. Things go crazy. It’s all a “You never know who you are living next door to,” kind of thing. Which is fun.

23. N0S4A2 by Joe Hill: Nosferatu. Get it? Nosferatu means Dracula in German, but everyone knows that, right? Surely. It’s not a vampire story, but it is but not like a blood-sucking vampire. More like a life-sucking vampire and creepy children in another dimension where it is always Christmas and you can only get there from your dreams. I don’t know how to explain it better than that. When I was recommended this book I was told that one of the characters is very much like me but not which one. So I read along looking out and I came upon a very strange purple-haired librarian with a penchant for nerdery and I was like “This is surely me.” Then I continued reading and came to this, “With your mother’s tattoos and unfeminine mode of speech…” and that is when I realized I was not the librarian but the main character. I think most people will be surprised at how good this book is. Much like Horns, it’s a great story a worth a read no matter your usual preferences.

24. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby: The book starts with four people meeting on the roof of a tall building on New Years Eve intent on killing themselves. And to be honest, I would be ok with that.  None of these four are great people and at times you are going to wish they would just kill themselves but I think that is supposed to be the point. It’s crazy well-written and for the lack of a better, less-pretentious word, it’s pretty fucking poignant. These people aren’t the greatest, but they know that and you see them start to realize how terrible they have been and poorly they have treated people.

25. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simson– A man with aspergers sets out to help a manic pixie dream girl find her father and himself a mate with science. Guess what  happens?!?!??? It’s pretty obvious from the start how this is going to end but it is an adorably fun ride there. 

26. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard – Adorable but not exactly fun unless you consider your soul being crushed fun. I do not. It’s just a very sad story, is all I can say about it. You will feel sorry for every character at one point and you will weep for them. Or I did, but I weep for everything. I am a born weeper.

27. Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris – I don’t know how I went so far in my life, liking the things that I like and I never knew this was a book first.* And then when I found that out, I don’t know why it took me so long to read it. It’s pretty much exactly like you would picture the book version of the movie to be. Enjoyable. Fun. Gruesome. All good things.

28. The Stand by Stephen King – Holy shit was this book long. So long. And this was the extended version which is supposed to have 150,000 more words. That is too many more words, especially considering most of those words were dreams. The same dream by different characters which I mostly skimmed over because, really?! My beloved Stephen is very fond of writing about dreams and that is not something I love about him.  And it may very well be symbolism that the book was crazy long and the journeys of the characters were crazy long as well, but I really didn’t need to read about even grain of sand they passed along the way. I didn’t. That being said, I still loved it as I knew I would.  If you enjoy apocalyptic fiction, it’s worth a gander.

29. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak– This would be the first book I have read about WWII that wasn’t from the perspective of a Jewish person. No one is in hiding but they are prisoners just the same. Okay there may be a few people hiding.  It’s about a little girl told through the perspective of death. And it is beautiful. It lived up to the hype.  

30. found. by Todd Rigney – I was warned that this book was very gory and gruesome but I just kind of scoffed at that. I can take it. I’ve seen many a gruesome horror movie and read countless books on the macabre. I stand corrected, because nothing has been quite as disturbing as this. Well, no. That isn’t right. First you have disturbing and then you have this book. It’s told from the point of view of a boy in the fifth grade living in Kentucky. To quote a memorable passage, “My brother is a head collecting racist.” I don’t know what else I need to say here. When this book was recommended to me, it was explained, “It’s a short book, easy to read, has a nice little flow..and then INSANITY SHIT WTF, book over.” That is a more solid description than I could ever give it. 

That is all I have for now, guys. I am currently making my way slowly and cautiously down the Kingsroad and through Game of Thrones. I am about 15% through A Storm of Swords right now. That is the third book and the first part of the third season.

I am about to spoil the show. If you are not caught up on the show, go away. Or not. It’s your choice.

I have a growing pit in my stomach every time I read anything alluding to the Red Wedding. Guys, I don’t want to go through it again. I just don’t. I am dreading it. Catelyn just met Rob’s wife. And I am just like “You stupid fucking child!” When the first time when I saw it on the show I was like “Catelyn is being way too harsh about this.” No. She had it about right. At this point in the  book she knows they are fucked and I am like “Listen to your mother, you arrogant child!” Sigh. But I have come too far to go back now. So I forge on. The night is dark and full of greasy bird eating. Seriously. There are just so many birds being eaten in this series…

* I also did not know until a few years ago that The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me were based on short stories by Stephen King. It’s true.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Reading List for December: Three Sads and One Angry

My reading has slowed considerably this month. Christmas is in about an hour it seems and as most of you should know by now, I make a lot of my gifts. My arm is about to fall off and my granny craft gloves aren't helping. So I haven't had a lot of time for reading. And it seems as though the books I chose to read so far this month are very sad. Except for the last one which I was too irritated with to feel any emotion besides bored rage.

13. Lisey's Story by Stephen King: (pronounced, LeeSee) To be honest, this book could use an entire lengthy review all on it's own, but I don't work like that. A little long, but that is ok. And it was also very emotional for a SK book. While it did have many supernatural elements, it had a lot more to do between interactions between family and spouses. I loved it, as I figured I would.

14. Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist: I feel icky describing a vampire book as both sad and heartfelt but it's true, ya'll. It goes very closely with the movie, Let the Right One In, with only a few small differences. It's also a pretty solid underdog story, which I am a fan of.

15. Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos: This is not the usual kind of book that I read. It is more chick-lit-y than I ever like to get, but that being said, it was superb. I enjoyed it greatly. I also cried while reading. A lot. Which is unfortunate seeing as how I read the whole thing at work. If you love a good emotional book, this will do the trick. I actually couldn't finish the last five or so pages because I was bawling my eyes out, snotting, the whole mess.

16. Autumn by David Moody: I have read another book by David Moody "Hater" and I fucking hated it. This one was no different. If the intention of this book was to mimic the monotony of trying to survive the apocalypse, it succeeded. The only redeeming quality in this book is that it's short. That is about it.  It sounds like an interesting premise, and it would be if the characters weren't annoying pieces of shit that fight all the time. I understand in an apocalypse-type situation things are going to get hairy and there is going to be fighting but when you hear the same damn fight from the same three people in every other chapter, it gets a little old. Also, the phrase "the pain was almost more than he could bear" was written about the same character three goddamned times about the same thing. Get a thesaurus, man. And then beat yourself to death with it. I only hate to say this this book did not end with everyone involved dying horribly. Actually, it might have. I could not finish it, but I doubt it. There is a whole series of these books. If anyone has read them and would like to tell me that "it's get better," let me know. I got to 75% read and I could go no further. My reasoning was, if it hadn't gotten any better by then, it prolly wasn't going to.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reading List for Oct/Nov: I would make a terrible fundamentalist Mormon

Ok. I've been reading a lot. If you happen to wonder what, here you go (It should also be said that if I actually took the time to type the name in a list, just assume I liked the book. Books I don't like, you will never see. Unless I make a list of books I didn't care for and didn't finish, which I may do).

I am trying to post them in the order I read them. I will start with 1, since that is how numbers work.

1.  Carrie by Stephen King - Believe it or not, I have never read this Stephen King book.

2.  Doctor Sleep by Stephen King - This was the sequel to The Shining. I had low expectations and they were exceeded, so I guess that is good. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy the book. I surely did. And if you are a Stephen King fan, you will love it.

3. Favorite Wife: Escape from Polygamy by Susan Ray Schmidt - Guys, I have read a lot of books on polygamy and this was the first one that really goes into the financial burden having seven wives and 80 children that no one else really says a lot about. It was a different angle, which I enjoyed.

4. The Witness Wore Red by Rebecca Musser- Holy crap, you guys. So good. When I want to read non-fiction about a cult, this is the sort of thing I want to read. All the details. All of them.

5. Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple by Deborah Layton - Jonestown was far crazier than I could have ever imagined.

6. Not Without My Sister: The true story of three girls violated and betrayed - I love a story about a cult, I really do. This one was about three sisters, all from different mothers, who grew up in the Children of God which was a Hippie Cult in the 70's. It's almost as fucked up as The Witness Wore Red, but not quite.

7. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - You know those books where while you are reading you are honestly dreading what is on the next page. It's Monster at the End of this Book type shit. You know what is coming and you are terrified of the heartbreak that is about to happen but you press on. That is the best way I can describe this book. Also, bawled my stupid face off.

8 & 9. Catching Fire and Mockingjay - Look, you people know what these are.

10. Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick - Oh it was so good. It is very much like the movie but there is less focus on the dancing and more focus on Pat and his family, which I enjoyed more than the dancing. Pat was totally a character that you root for and you audibly squeal when things go well for him. Bawled my face off, as well.

11. Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes - I wasn't really on board at first. It was hard to follow and I got bored. But after the first eight chapters (they are very short chapters) I was interested enough to keep reading and it ended up being great. It's about a woman who developed an obsessive compulsive personality after being attacked years before. Cults and crazy ladies, my two literary weaknesses.

12. The Worst Hard Time: The True Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan - I have learned more than I ever thought I wanted to know about soil erosion. Also, I re-learned a lot about the great depression that I had long since forgotten. Knowledge is power! And, wow, if you think people are stupid now...

The Iceman Cometh: Remembering the Great Ice Storm of 1994

This may not even be Memphis, but pretty much every street looked like this

Anyone in or around the city of Memphis is probably a flutter with nerves at the impending shitstorm coming our way, meaning: ice. There is just one thing that the people in the ever-so-sheltered south fear more than snow. It's ice (don't even get me started on black ice, which I just learned is also a big deal in other places, not just here).

I wasn't aware of anything catastrophic happening in this area any time soon, until Michael brought it up. At first I rolled my eyes and scoffed, "It isn't going to do anything," which is my go-to response whenever people start flipping their shit about the weather. And I am usually right. It never does anything of note and schools close early for one snow flurry in 40 degree weather. It's absurd.

But then, like most Memphians right about now, I started to think back until the Ice Storm of '94...

Picture it. Bartlett. February. 1994. (please take into account this was almost 20 years ago so my memory is a little fuzzy so I may be off about a lot of things but this is how I remember it)...

It was an exceptionally traumatizing time where most people were without power and heat for several days. And in February, one of the coldest months of the year for us down here. And as I said before, people do not respond well to inclimate weather. Everything that can afford to be closed is closed and remains that way for as long as it takes for everything to be deemed "safe." Which usually takes about 30 minutes. But not this year.

Things were bad for what seemed like four days, and I think my family was without power for at least two days but some people were out a lot longer. The trees fucked every power line they touched and since freezing weather isn't all that common down here, no one was prepared. I don't remember being out of food or that there was even a problem with thawing food, due to it being so cold outside. We were fortunate to have a working fireplace, however the stock pile of firewood that dad usually got every year was frozen and pretty much useless. By some means, we got firewood, I think it was more of a "neighbor helping neighbor" kind of thing. Or completely illegal for all I can remember.

It was a particularly traumatic time for me because a few days into the shit, I got my period for the first time. My back had been hurting for days. I was a fairly wimpy kid so I could have injured it in a number of ways. My mom was just kind of like, "Take some Advil (admittedly, generic ibuprofen that has been put back into an Advil bottle that was roughly 5 years old at the time and now is older than my two children's ages combined)," and she sent me on my way. It never occurred to either of us that there was a very good reason for my back to be hurting. So it made a whole lot of sense when, two days into the ice storm, I got my period. I remember the look on her face when it clicked in her head, like "Ohhhh, now I get it... Okay. Yeah. That is going to happen." We didn't so much have a "talk" about it as a mutual understanding between the both of us that I knew exactly what was happening (which I did) and there was really no need for a discussion. I have a mother and an older sister and we have never been a modest family. I knew what a period was, just not how bad cramps can be, apparently. Which is why I spent the remainder of the ice storm laying on a hot water bottle. Yay puberty.

And for weeks now, my new co-worker Judy has been saying, "We are really due for some bad winter weather." And she was right, ya'll. It hasn't been bad for almost 20 years guys (20. Years.). We are long overdue, really. So I can totally see it happening this week. I even went and bought candles and batteries and I am now charging everything that can be charged. I may even take a shower and dry my hair.

Everyone will be grateful to know that the City of Bartlett has been trimming trees all week long. Any tree near a power line is getting it's branches we just have to worry about them falling on our homes, which I just now thought about. Shit.

 Please share your Ice Storm 1994 stories in the comments!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Recipe: Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake

As promised, here is my low-carb pumpkin cheesecake recipe. Guys, look, I don't measure if I can help it so this is just a guessimation. If you fuck this up, that is on you.

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake

3 8oz pkg of Cream Cheese (softened, duh)
1 15oz can pure pumpkin puree
3 eggs 
1/4 cup Torani sugar-free vanilla syrup* (coffee aisle) 
2 T Pumpkin Pie Spice (2T is on the low-end for me, feel free to add more if you want, I would) 
5 packets Stevia* 
1/4 cup Splenda* 
Heavy Whipping Cream (optional) 


1 1/3 cup almond flour 
1/2 cup sliced almonds 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ginger 
2 packets Stevia 
1 T Torani Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup 
2 T Coconut Oil 

Throw everything for the crust in a food processor. If your coconut oil is in solid form, there is no need to melt it. It will process just fine with everything else. And you don't have to have sliced almonds, either. If you have whole, that will be fine too, just process them first by themselves so you don't get chunks of almonds all up in your crust. Once everything is processed, press the crust into a 10" springform pan (you can use any old pan, I just use springform because I am fancy). Then bake at 325 for about 20 minutes or until crust is dry enough so it won't soggy out on you once you add the filling. 

For the filling, go ahead and throw everything you need into a big bowl. If I haven't had enough time for my cream cheese to soften, I usually put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, that usually softens it up just enough. I mix everything with a hand mixer until it's a good, creamy consistency. On a keto diet, fat is the most of anything you should be eating, so if you want to add heavy whipping cream, now is the time to do it. And it kind of gives the cheesecake a lighter feel once you get it all whipped up if you are into that sort of thing. 

Before you proceed, taste it. Does it taste like you want it to? If not, add more sweetner or spice. I find that is what it needs most of the time. Are you good now? Ok. 

Pour the filling into your baked crust and then bake the cheesecake for about 35 minutes at 325 or until it sets to the touch. And it will turn a slightly burnt orange. Once it is done to your liking, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in there and let it cool while the oven cools. It will keep the cheesecake from cracking. Or if you don't have time for that shit, take it out, let it cool until you can touch the pan and then put it in the freezer for about an hour and then it should be ready to serve. If I were you, I would serve it with whipped cream with either cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top. But you don't have to. It's your life. 

* As far as sweeteners are concerned, use as much as you'd like. I don't love the taste I get sometimes with artifical sweetners, so I usually taste I go.