Moving day thoughts

This is more like a cathartic journal entry than a blog post. I apologize in advance. 

  

In late January we noticed that a home (same floor plan as ours) sold very quickly in our neighborhood. Curious, we looked up the sales price and found that it was an amount that we would be happy to accept for our own house.  We had planned to stay for a few more years even though we weren’t super happy here if I’m being honest. It’s hard to use the outdoor space as the houses are so close together and with the influx of young families came a lot of noise.  I love kids but sometimes I want to sit on my porch and drink coffee without having to listen to 20 of them screaming in the street. 

With minimal expectations, we listed our house with the realtor that sold the other home. Lo and behold, about a week later we had an accepted offer. Panic time set in. Within a few days we had to find a new house, make an offer and start the painful process of MOVING. 

Today we are finally almost there. The movers are packing up the truck as I type. Yet my stomach is in knots and I don’t feel the excitement that I hoped. 

In some ways this was an easy sale and move. The realtor sold our house in a week. My husband and I have moved enough that we were very organized with the packing so that all the movers have to do is put everything on the truck. We love the house we are buying. With over an acre and woods on 3-sides, we will finally have the privacy and quiet that we have craved. 

So, what’s wrong?  Partly, I won’t be able to relax until we have the keys for the new house in our hands. I’m pretty sure the people purchasing our current home are first time homebuyers and their realtor must be fairly new. They were over an hour late when they originally looked at the house which meant I had to leave twice. With two collies. Then the inspection. Don’t get me started. Honestly everything they asked for was minor and cosmetic and that isn’t the purpose of the inspection. But you get to a certain point in the process and you just want it done so you agree even though it kind of infuriates you. And for some reason they showed up when the termite guy came to do the CL100. Um, dudes, no one does that. And even if they do, you need to knock on the door to let me know you are here before you go rummaging around in my garage and walking through the yard like you already own the place. That wasn’t cool and almost made me lose it. We went to sign our portion of the paperwork Friday so that tomorrow could be all about the purchase of our new home. Do you think it went as planned?  Nope, the buyers attorney had not sent the HUD. Still haven’t seen it. And that has to be done before we can buy our new house. 

It doesn’t help that I’m self employed and in the thick of busy season. Luckily I have some great employees and great customers. Only a few people have really tried my patience. When one customer sent me a text a few days ago telling me to HURRY, I almost snapped but as Elsa says I’ve decided to “Let it Go.”  It’s spring. We’re landscapers. It’s busy. Get over it. (By the way, I’m not being flippant. I am consistently told we are the most responsive service provider that people work with and that we get estimates out and work done quicker than almost everyone.)

I’m trying to have faith that all will go as planned or at least close enough to plan tomorrow. Like I said, all I want is the keys to my new house. And about 3 bottles of wine that first night. 

Review – White Night (The Dresden Files, #9) by Jim Butcher

91475Once again, Harry is called upon to help investigate a case, unofficially, for the police.  Murphy doesn’t believe a woman committed suicide and Harry finds evidence to support that. They discover that the deaths of several low-grade magic practitioners have been labeled incorrectly.  Who is targeting these women and why would they leave a message at this scene for Harry?  It starts to look like Thomas, Harry’s half-brother/White Court vamp, might be involved.  And, a gray cloak (warden?) has also been at the scenes.  Vampire power struggles, covens of suspicious witches, an apprentice who is a typical teenage girl.  What else will Harry have to deal with?

This is another solid installment in the series.  But, something wasn’t quite there for me.

Molly, Harry’s apprentice, serves a purpose in the story.  I get it.  But, yeah, I just don’t like her.  She’s a brat and doesn’t get the danger she puts herself and therefore Harry in when she doesn’t listen to his instructions.  Hopefully she’ll grow up and not be the death of Harry.  Luckily she isn’t a primary character in White Night.

Murphy, our other main female character, was a little two-dimensional.  Now that she’s been demoted she doesn’t have the same power in the police force.  Maybe she is feeling that and it comes through the pages.  She gets to kick butt a few times but I keep waiting for her character to take it the next level.  I know there is something coming for her and after 9 books I’m anxious to get there.

Harry, Harry, Harry.  I love you like a brother but seriously you need to find a girlfriend.  Stat.  I can hardly pay attention to the main storyline with your panting over every woman you see.  I know Murphy doesn’t seem to be an option.  And, Lara, yeah, stay away from that crazy vamp.  But there’s got to be someone out there who can, how do I put this delicately, get that monkey off your back.

4/5 stars.  A good story with great pacing.  Just needed more oomph.

Review – Dead Spots by Rhiannon Frater

16109210I am a big fan of Rhiannon Frater. She writes strong female characters with interesting paranormal and horror stories as the backdrop.

And, I have to say that Dead Spots is probably my favorite so far.

Mackenzie has gone through a horrible 6 month period and now is traveling through Texas to move back in with her mother as she pulls her life together. When she almost hits a deer and stops unexpectedly, she decides to spend a few minutes exploring a deserted old restaurant. As she walks in, she discovers that she has enters a Dead Spot – she’s no longer in the real world but that of fears and nightmares.

Part horror, part psychological thriller, part paranormal, part women’s fiction. It works.

One of the things that I love is that Frater doesn’t write about perfect women with perfect lives. Mac has suffered, been wronged and is close to the end of her rope when she goes into the Dead Spot. But, she learns to take care of herself…with a few bumps in the road. The men also aren’t cardboard cutouts. They are real with strengths and weaknesses.

Plus, the Dead Spots are freaky. I wouldn’t consider it horror with a capital H but there is plenty here to make you want to keep the night-light on and check under the bed before you go to sleep.

A great addition to your library and highly recommended. 5/5 stars.
P.S. I did have one minor quibble but it had nothing to do with the book itself. The cover model is a blonde. Mac is a brunette. I can see why a blonde would work better with the color scheme but it just seems off. Publishers, don’t do this.

Review – A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George RR Martin

12844597I meant what I said when I finished this book – “How do you review this?”  So much happens and to really understand the epic-ness of the story you really do have to read it for yourself.

A Clash of Kings picks up right where Game of Thrones ended.  Each of the major characters are on the move and it’s all about those who would be King.  Rather than do a proper review, I’m just going to give you my thoughts on the wannabe Kings.  Keep in mind that Martin loves to kill off his characters so their inclusion on this list doesn’t mean they survived the pages.

Those that have crowned themselves King: 

Joffrey Baratheon- he is kind of technically the king since his “father”, the prior king, died.  Is there a more hated young boy in literature?  If so, I can’t think of him.  Readers know the truth of his birth and rumors abound among the kingdom.  This won’t end well.

Stannis Baratheon- brother of the former king.  One of his court, the Red Woman, is freaky deaky.  While Stannis probably didn’t start out as a bad guy, he’s made the jump now.  The drive for power is consuming him and he is willing to do unspeakable things to get to the Iron Throne.  Bad, bad, bad.

Renly Baratheon- the other brother of the former king.  Fancies himself a charmer and has plenty of backers.  Does he have the fortitude to do what it takes to get to the throne?  Doubtful.

Robb Stark – Ned’s son and the Lord of Winterfell.  We are supposed to pull for him.  He’s a Stark.  But, I felt his presence was largely absent from the pages.  His mother spoke for him as she travelled to try to rally supporters.  We saw more of his younger brother, Bran, back at Winterfell.  However, never underestimate the Starks.

Daenerys Targaryen – Technically a queen but in many respects the rightful occupant of the throne.  She is the only surviving child of King Aerys (the king killed by Robert Baratheon when he took the throne.)  Mother of dragons. Khaleesi.  A woman in a child’s body.  (*coughs* My choice for the throne. *coughs*)

Wild Cards – not Kings but could they be?:

Tyrion Lannister – hate his family all you want, the Imp is one to pull for.  I always sat up straighter, read faster and wished for more when his chapters opened.

Bran Stark – younger brother of Robb and probably the best of them all.  He may have lost full use of his legs but he is learning to run with the wolves.

Jon Snow – bastard son of Ned Stark.  Think of him and Dany together.  Whew.

There are others who think themselves worthy of the throne but they aren’t even worth mentioning.  Move along, Greyjoy.

It’s easy to throw superlatives around but there truly is something magical about this series.  There are a couple of POVs that aren’t as interesting (Catelyn specifically).  However, each page adds to the complexity of the story.  Martin’s willingness to treat his characters brutally is refreshing.  Don’t expect happy endings.  You won’t get them.  And, that’s the fight for the Iron Throne.

5/5 stars.

 

Review – Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8) by Jim Butcher

91474Harry Dresden, now a reluctant warden for the White Council, has to find out who is practicing black magic in his town of Chicago.  At the same time the Council wants him to talk to the Sidhe regarding their lack of action against the Red vamps.

Jim Butcher knows what works.  He keeps the stories interesting in each installment and the characters fresh.  Harry is a constant throughout as the MC but his supporting cast is switched up a little each time.  In Proven Guilty Harry is joined by his brother, the White Vamp, Thomas (who has his own problems managing his hunger and keeping a job to pay the bills.)  Karrin Murphy is back as the head of SI for Chicago PD.  Her conversation with Harry about their sexual tension is one of the best scenes in the book.  Charity, Michael’s wife, plays her largest role yet.  She still gets on my last nerve with her treatment of Harry but we do at least learn more about her reasoning.  Michael makes a couple of important appearances (with some foreshadowing that stopped my heart for a second.)  Ebenezer continues to show his loyalty to Harry and there is hope that they will finally make peace with each other.  And, lastly, Molly – Michael’s daughter.  Remember her?  She is part of the primary storyline here and I imagine an important character going forward.  I typically don’t enjoy stories that include teenage girls (I was one.  I know how horrible we can be.)  But, Butcher did a good job of showing a rebellious teenager who is someone you want to pull for.  The Fae, both winter and summer, are here in all their crazy glory.  And, yes, I do mean crazy.  The whole lot of them.

What I’ve realized is that Harry has more friends than he even realizes.  With all of those listed above, PG didn’t give us any updates on Butters, the wolves and so many more.  Butcher has built a world full of interesting characters that we want to know more about.  I can see why 15 books (and countless short stories) have been published and there is no end in sight.

One thing that I love about the Dresden stories is that Butcher does a great job of showing the gray in life.  Very few of the characters are purely good or bad.  They all are driven by something they feel strongly about.  The black magic storyline was a perfect example.  You can have the best of intentions yet do something that has unexpectedly horrible repercussions.  That’s why our world has rules and consequences for those that don’t follow them.

Each book continues to be a little bit darker than the one before it.  We can feel the story building to something big.  I cannot wait.

It’s not perfect but I am addicted at this point.  5/5 stars.

Review – The Redbreast (Harry Hole #3) – by Jo Nesbo

7113816Harry Hole, an unfortunate name for an increasingly interesting character.

The third installment of this series is the strongest so far.  Harry investigates when a rifle is smuggled into the country.  The type of rifle is primarily used for assassinations and time is running out to find the gunman before he can complete his task.

What works in The Redbreast?  Many of the issues I saw in prior installments were thankfully absent here.  Harry stays in Norway and actually investigates a case for his department.  Plus, while he is still a very flawed character, he doesn’t make such bad decisions as he has in the past.  The story itself is intricate (more on that later) and keeps you guessing.  Chapters alternate between present day (2000) and World War II.  We follow the lives of several Norwegian soldiers who fought for Nazi Germany.  Slowly, Nesbo allows us to see what really happened on those snowy battlefields and where these men are today.

There is a lot going on within the pages and there were times when it was confusing.  Most of this was intentional and added to the tension that is so enjoyable in a thriller.  But, it probably could have been tightened up a little to reduce some of the headaches for the reader.  Harry also goes through something early on that may or may not have been necessary.  I felt that it didn’t add to the main storyline and the purpose it served could have been accomplished in other ways.

I was glad to see Harry’s relationship with his female partner.  It’s completely platonic and showed another side to his personality.  Plus he has the potential for a somewhat (?) healthy and appropriate romantic relationship with a new character. I’m sure we will learn more about this in the next book.

Nesbo really won me over by not wrapping everything up in a bow at the end.  There was a major storyline that wasn’t resolved.  It’s gutsy to do that and makes me want to read the next one even sooner.

4/5 stars.  Good stuff.

Review – The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

17251093What defines a good book?  Is it the writing?  Putting sentences together in the standard pattern but with words different enough to be interesting?  Or is it the sheer enjoyment that the reader finds between the pages?

For me, it has to be a bit of both.

The Casual Vacancy is a story about a small town and what happens when a member of the town council dies unexpectedly and has to be replaced.  It isn’t action packed, sexy or funny.  It is simply about people.  Really annoying, not so nice people.

JK Rowling is an exceptional writer.  No doubt about it.  And, while I understand why some readers didn’t like this because it was such a departure from Harry Potter, I think that is unfair.  It was clear when the blurb came out for TCV that is was going to be a departure and readers should go in expecting something different.

And, listen, it’s good book.  Great writing, character development, etc.  But I just didn’t enjoy it very much.  I grew up in a small town so I know that people play dirty when it comes to local politics.  Most towns have a divide between rich and poor, teens and parents, etc.  So from that perspective it is well done.  Boy did she show that divide.  For me, though, it was hard to pick it up each night when there was no one to pull for.

At about the 90% mark, I realized that I was being tough on the characters.  While some were bad people and deserved my disgust, others were just being human.  A teenage boy who rebels.  A promiscuous teenage girl with a druggie mother.  A wife who is bored with her life.  Are they horrible?  Probably not.  Just making horrible decisions and that’s the real world.

4/5 stars.  I saw recently that this will be a BBC series.  It will work.  There is so much juiciness here and television viewers will eat it up.