Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

The People vs. Alex Cross (Alex Cross #25)The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first started reading this book, things didn't feel quite right. New co-author, maybe?  But that feeling quickly went away, and it was pure James Patterson. The last time we saw Alex Cross, he was surrounded by multiple Gary Sonejis, three to be exact, and he shot them. Two died. The third was left paralyzed and wheelchair bound.

Now Cross is on trial for the crime. Evidence suggests he is a bad cop with a vendetta against anyone having to do with Gary Soneji, so much so that he would gun down three Soneji followers in cold blood.  This trial will determine his fate for the foreseeable future.

But that's not all. While Cross is suspended pending his trial, he decides to go into his previous career again as a psychologist/counselor.  He has some interesting new clients. Best friend Sampson is assigned a new partner that he just can't deal with, so he pulls Cross in on his investigation, hoping Bree doesn't find out. Someone is out there killing blondes for sport and broadcasting it on the dark Web.  One of the abductions hits very close to home, and Alex can't ignore the fact that he could save someone.

Meanwhile, the new evidence against him is pretty conclusive. Did Cross really kill unarmed people in a fit of rage? The jury will decide. Overall, this was a pretty thrilling ride.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday Thirteen Holiday Edition 1

Link up here for Thursday Thirteen! Spread the Word!

 I love the Christmas season! Have you ever wondered how some of our holiday traditions came about?

 1. Santa Claus - This holiday hero had his beginning in the 3rd century with a man named St. Nicholas who lived in Patara (present day Turkey). He made his debut in America in the 18th century. The name Santa Claus came from the Dutch nickname for St. Nicholas, Sinter Klass. There is actually a whole lot to the story of Santa Claus if you'd like to read it at the St. Nicholas Center website. 

2. Twas the Night Before Christmas - This poem was written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore as a gift to his three daughters. It was called "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas."
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 3. Rudolph - The most famous reindeer of them all! Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward (I remember that department store) wrote the story of Rudolph in 1939. The store sold over 2 1/2 million copies of the story. Years later, the story was written as a song recorded by Gene Autry and sold over 2 million copies. It has been translated into 25 languages.

 4. Christmas Trees - The Germans get the credit for the modern-day tradition of a decorated Christmas tree. It first became a popular thing to do in the 16th century among Christians.
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5. Wreaths - We have an evergreen wreath on our door right now. It provides a festive atmosphere at Christmas time. Long ago, people worshiped evergreen holly as a sign of eternal life.

 6. Stockings - In the days of the real St. Nicholas, it was said that he threw three coins down the chimney of three poor sisters. Each coin landed in a separate stocking that was hanging by the hearth to dry. Good fortune for everybody!
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7. Candy Canes - The first candy canes were actually sugar sticks that were bent to resemble the shape of a shepherd's crook. In 1670. the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral gave his young charges these sticks to keep them quiet during long ceremonies. What was he thinking? The red stripes and peppermint flavor weren't added until the early 1900's.

 8. Christmas Cards - The first Christmas greetings were written by boys who had to practice their writing skills, but Sir Henry Cole, director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, is credited with the first actual Christmas card in 1843.
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9. The 12 Days of Christmas song - Apparently, Roman Catholics in England were forbidden from openly practicing their religion during the years 1558 to 1829, so the song was created with hidden meanings in order to teach their faith without being discovered. Go to the Catholic News Agency website for the hidden meanings.

 10. Gift-Giving - This custom most likely originated in ancient Rome and Northern Europe when people gave gifts during year-end celebrations. The exchanging of elaborate gifts began in the late 1800's.
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11. Red and Green Christmas Colors - Green symbolizes the hope for eternal life that Jesus brings. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for mankind.

 12. Christmas Carols - Victorian England is credited with the revival of caroling which, for a long time, was repressed since Christmas was not a widely accepted holiday in England until Victoria came to the throne.

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13. The Nativity Scene - The story of Jesus' birth is recounted in the Bible in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20. But when did people begin creating the visual Nativity Scenes you see during the Christmas holidays? St.Francis of Assisi is credited with creating this scene as a way to share the Christian faith with those who could not read.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Random Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stacy.

Turns out, I have been using the wrong facial soap for YEARS!  The pharmacy/grocery store brand I started using, Neutrogena far exceeds the cleanliness of the  department store brand, which will not remain nameless (Clinique).  I've used the same facial soap forever it seems.  I always had to clean my face with toner after cleansing because there was so much dirt and makeup left on my skin.  I
recently switched to Neutrogena, and it removes virtually ALL of the dirt and makeup, including what the other soap was leaving behind.  My skin feels so clean now.  What took me so long to switch?  I'm glad I did!

New topic, because this is a random post:  My school is not releasing for the winter break until December 22nd.  You read that correctly!  I will have two whole days before Christmas to do all the things that normally take me about a week.  Augh!!!!!  I would rather have a few extra days on the front end of Christmas than all the days we get after Christmas.  They were dead set that we were going to finish the semester before Christmas.  We never did that when I was in school.  It's not as if students are going to forget everything they learned so that they can't pass semester exams after a two week break.  Rant over.

So... what is your favorite Christmas tradition?  I like to look at lights.  My kids outgrew that a while back until last year that my daughter asked if she and I could go, so we did.  Growing up in the late 60's and early 70's, one of my favorite things to do was to go Christmas Caroling.  Do people even do that anymore?  What tradition do you and your family have?

And I will leave you with a smile:

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Random Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stacy.

Happy beginning-of-the-holiday season!  I love Christmas!  I love the songs, decorations, gifts, traditions, church service, and so on.  I like to put my tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This year, it has taken longer.  We're using the artificial tree this year.  My son helped me put it up last Monday.  I did the lights two days later, and I did the ornaments this past weekend.  I'm waiting for my husband to put the treetop on.

We used to have an angel on top of the tree.  Well, actually, we still have it, but we started using a star two years ago.  I think the tree we used when I was growing up was a glass finial.  What do you use at the top of your tree, if you have one?

New topic... Friday as I was about to leave work, I felt something in my mouth.  Turns out a crown had fallen off.  Yep.  My luck.  Friday evening.  I tried to put it back in, but it's the very back tooth, and I couldn't do it, and I dropped it.  I spent about half an hour looking for it.  I went to the dentist Saturday, and of course, they have a huge treatment plan for me which I can't afford right now.  I had to ask them to please put the original one back on.  It fell out again before I was even out of the chair.  Finally, she did it right.  It's been 72 hours, and it's still there.  I hate going to the dentist!  Does anyone else?

My student intern will only be with me through the end of the week.  She's going to be a great teacher, and she has a job taking over for a teacher who is retiring in another district.  I'm going to miss her!

So, what's at the top of your wish list this year... or your child(ren)'s wish list? (Remember looking through the wish book when you were little?)  I'm having a hard time coming up with anything.  I just bought myself some new clothes and shoes.  I also had a birthday 3 months ago, so I really don't need anything.  Of course, there are a few little things I would like.  Some bubble bath, for example.

I sure am enjoying some of these Hallmark Christmas movies.  Are you watching any?

And to make you smile, here's a cat video you might like.  Be sure to watch number 3 (reverse order)!

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch, #22; Harry Bosch Universe, #30)Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first started reading this book, I thought that Michael Connelly may have taken on a co-author. It just didn't seem like his writing style, but after a few chapters, I knew it was authentic Connelly. I can't really put my finger on why I thought that.

I love the character Harry Bosch, even more than the Lincoln Lawyer character. His character changes, but somehow stays the same. His personality is so well-defined. Then again, just when you think you know him, he does something surprising while staying in character to do so.

This book has two main plots. One of them is when Bosch responds to a call from a pharmacy and discovers that there are illegal clinics prescribing Oxycontin. Bosch has to go under cover to get to the bottom of the mystery. The other conflict involves a former case of his in which the defendant was found guilty, but new technology makes it seem as if he was wrongfully convicted. Is what's left of Bosch's career going to survive?

This was a pretty good page-turner after getting past the first few chapters. Everything had to be set up so that readers who have not read the entire series can till enjoy this title as a stand-alone.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What a Girl Wants

What a girl wants, what a girl needs... I bet you sang that!
This is my take, based on relationships I've been in and others that I've seen, of some things that makes girls happy, and things that don't.  These are not necessarily in order.

What a girl wants
1.  To be loved, wholly and completely.
2.  To be cherished.
3.  To be number one.
4.  To be hugged daily.
5.  To be kissed.
6.  To be publicly acknowledged with love.
7.  To hold hands.
8.  To have her opinion respected.
9.  To feel valued.
10. To matter.
11. To be included.
12. To be appreciated.
13. To have promises kept.

What a girl doesn't want
1.  To be ignored.
2.  To be made fun of.
3.  To be taken advantage of.
4.  To be demeaned.
5.  To be controlled.
6.  To be lied to.
7.  To be spoken down to.
8.  To feel unimportant.
9.  To be called negative.
10. To be treated like a child.
11. To feel like an obligation.
12. To be left out.
13. To be business partners only.

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A Perfect Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving is the best meal of the year!  Turkey and dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, black olives, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes with loads of butter!
I am linking up with Image-in-ing and Wordless Wednesday.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Random Tuesday

I'm late, but it's still Tuesday!  I'm linking up with Stacy.

Thanksgiving is over!  Let the Christmas season begin!  Actually, Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the whole year.  Turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy, not necessarily in that order.  Now, I can take or leave the desserts.  I'm not crazy about pumpkin.  But the dinner... yum!

My school was out for the whole week.  It was a nice break.  Usually, we have three weeks of school between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year, we have four.  Whose bright idea was it to keep us in school until December 22?  That gives me two days off before "The Big Guy" comes down the chimney!  That's not enough time!  But... before I panic too much... at least I don't have little ones.  On second thought, I will probably panic a little bit.

I usually get sad on Christmas morning.  Why?  Because it's OVER, that's why!  Christmas is such a cheerful time of year.  The celebration of Jesus' birth, the music, the Christmas movies, Christmas carols, decorations, and buying gifts.

 Unfortunately, my better half doesn't have the same sentiments.  He'd rather go on a vacation and skip Christmas, but I just can't and don't want to.  It would be like Christmas with the Kranks!

And - big news - my daughter graduates from college in less than three weeks!

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

You Don't Know MeYou Don't Know Me by David Klass
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have to admit... I am abandoning this book. I wanted a really gritty, realistic young adult novel that I might be able to recommend to some of my boys. But this? This is an angry rant from a very angry character. I don't see any redeeming or likable qualities, and I am on chapter 5.

It is similar to stream-of-consciousness writing which is difficult to do well. And this main character has some major issues. Mom is remarried to a man that beats him and insults him mercilessly. He seems bright as far as academics go, but his attitude toward the world is just one of anger.

In chapter one, he must have said, "You don't know me" thirty times. Maybe I exaggerate a little, but after the first time or two, I think it sank in... I don't know him. I'm glad I don't. He is unlikable.

At one point, he says he is floating 20 feet above his backyard. He also states that his real father named him after a toilet (John). He calls his step-father "the man who is not my father." One of his teachers, the one he calls Mrs. Moonface, assigns too much homework. He calls school "anti-school." He nicknames a classmate's nose "Beanman's Beezer." He talks about Glory Hallelujah as though she is ugly, has greasy hair, and is stupid. Then he decides to tell the reader the truth, that he is in love with her. His tuba is not a tuba; it's a frog. Delusional! And he repeats that the reader doesn't know him and will never know him. And for all of his delusions, sarcasm, and anger, he tells the reader he is not to blame.

I just couldn't read any more. I found the cynical protagonist had no redeeming qualities. I just couldn't keep reading the negativity. As I was reading, the words that kept playing through my mind were, "This is so stupid." And you can't fix stupid! Maybe one day I will pick it up again and give it another shot, but if the first five chapters are an indication of the rest of the novel, I'm not sure I can finish it.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Random

What a week or two it's been!  The World Series, the victory parade, basketball season picking up, the time change, Veteran's Day, blood work, and a "little" thing called work!  Whew!

Speaking of blood work, no surprise that my cholesterol is up.  I was taking a statin, but when it ran out, the doctor wouldn't renew it until I had another office visit.  However, over the course of the last few months, I've changed doctors.  I know I need to eat less fat and exercise more, but I'm sure going on the medicine had something to do with it, too.

Also, I ran out of my migraine preventative, and, you guessed it, I have to go to the doctor again before they will refill it.  And the soonest I can get in is a week and two days.  Meanwhile, I am suffering from headaches with occasional blinding pain, where it feels like the side of my head is burning or that part of my head may melt off, and flashes of light like lightening rods.

And the last of the medical info... the carbon dioxide in my blood is too high.  I've never heard anything about that being an issue.  Is anyone familiar with that?

Thanksgiving is coming soon, and I can't wait!  I love to eat turkey and dressing (down here in Texas, it is called dressing, not stuffing, and there are no oysters, apples, nuts, cranberries, or any unusual ingredient in it.)  Dressing is best made with cornbread, butter, onions, celery, broth, salt, pepper, and sage.  Delicious!  Unfortunately, my family doesn't look forward to turkey and dressing as much as I do.  It's a shame.

I'm looking forward to more than the Thanksgiving meal.  I love the parades!  And I'm excited about listening to Christmas music and decorating the house.  Most of all, I'm ready for a week off from school after which there will be four more weeks till we get out for Christmas break!

And now, I will leave you with this cute cat video!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

Malevolent (Cases of Lieutenant Kane, #1)Malevolent by E.H. Reinhard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first novel by Reinhard that I have read. It was a slow start, but it picked up. Overall, I thought it was good.

The story's main character is Lieutenant Kane, a police detective with decades of experience who prefers to work alone. He doesn't always make the decisions I would expect a police officer to make, which is how he gets himself into some trouble. There is a killer on the loose, and Kane becomes his focus. The killer is out to prove that he is sharper than the police, Kane, in particular.

I believe the story could have been told in a more concise narrative. The author focused on too many nit-picky details about coffee, food, clothes, the cat, etc. that did not lend themselves to moving the plot forward. Sometimes I felt like the plot was predictable, and I don't believe some of the criminal's behavior was sufficiently explained.

On the other hand, I liked this book because it reminded me of an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, Criminal Minds. It was graphic, dark, and twisty. And while it was at times predictable, there was enough suspense to keep me interested. I might even read another book in the series.

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

World Series Champions!

Here in Houston, we've waited 55 years (For me, only 52) for the Astros to win a World Series.  They have only been to one previous World Series in 2005, and, of course, they lost.  But we're winners now, and it's great for our morale.  Many in Houston are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey damage, including my in-laws. The World Series win brings us all together regardless of income, status, race, employment or lack thereof.  It doesn't matter.  We are ONE.
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And did you see Carlos Correa propose to his girlfriend?  So sweet!  And of course, she said, "Yes!"
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Did you know that, 3 years ago, in 2014, Sports Illustrated predicted the Astros would win the 2017 World Series?  Crazy, right?  George Springer is on the cover, and there is it in print...
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"Your 2017 World Series Champs."  How did they know????  A guess, sure, but they must know things about baseball that the average Joe doesn't know.  And there will be a parade today at 2:00 PM to honor the Astros.  I can't take off work, but my son and his friends will be there.
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I'll catch you on the other side of the field!
I couldn't be more proud and excited for these guys!
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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Is it Really Random?

I'm linking up (a little late) with Stacy.

What with the World Series going on and all, I almost completely forgot it was Random Day!  We've been keeping up with baseball this season.  From about 2008-2012, my husband and I didn't watch much baseball.  This was brought about by the news headlines regarding performance-enhancing drugs, in particular, by Roger Clemens.  It was proven with DNA and from other people's testimonies that he had been injected with steroids and human growth hormone, but a jury acquitted him.  It was appalling!

But I digress.  We didn't give it up completely, but rarely watched or went to games for a while.  We have gotten back into the habit of watching again this season, and not only during the playoffs, lest we be called bandwagoners! Now our team is in the World Series for only the second time in the 55 years we've existed.  You can imagine how excited Houston fans are!  Not to mention that we have the best offensive player in the American League... Jose Altuve, this year's winner of the Hank Aaron Award.
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Enough about baseball, at least for now.  It's also Halloween today.  My students were fairly well-behaved today, considering.  Tomorrow, after the candy high, it may be another story.  I wonder what their favorite candy is?  And how many are actually dressing up?  The cutest costumes I saw today were posted by The Ellen Show:  little old ladies.  Aren't they adorable?
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And, how about a vampire CAT to round out this random post?  These are real teeth!  Here's an article about this unique cat.
Have a great week!

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