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The Long, Hot Summer: Kathleen MacMahon

This is my first book by Irish writer Kathleen MacMahon. It was one of those books I picked up because of the cover. Sometimes, if I go to the library and I don’t have a specific list of books I want to check out or read, I’ll surf the shelves for something that pops out. It’s how I pick out my wines. So far it’s worked out pretty well.

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This book is about four generations of a family and their dynamics and dysfunction over the years. And although each one has their flaws, make mistakes, and have their differences, in the end, family brings them all back together again.

Each chapter focuses on one character and his/her point of view which I liked. I felt like the author did a good job, for the most part with character development. Deirdra and Manus are the first of the four generations. Deirdra is a retired actress that gave up her career for children, but kept her artistic uniqueness throughout her life, while Manus is a character who doesn’t figure himself out until years into their marriage.

The ones that stick out the most Alma and Acushla, two sisters who end up marrying two brothers, Liam and Mick. From the reading, you can tell that Alma and Acushla definitely have different personalities. They are close in age but Alma is the strong type, while Acushla is usually more quiet and reserved. Alma goes through a horrific event and her strength is challenged, while Acushla hides a secret, keeping her strength quiet for years. On the other hand, Liam and Mick are brothers, both working in the political world, and a few times throughout the book, I had to ask myself who was which again. I felt like their characters weren’t as strong.

Overall the book was alright. There wasn’t much of a climax. I was waiting for the height of the book, which was supposed to take place during this long, hot summer, but I couldn’t really figure out when that was. I liked her writing, so I’ll probably seek another of hers to give it another shot. This one just felt….*sigh*….okay. Maybe it’s because I just got done reading Stephen King? We’ll see.

 

Overall rating: 7/10

 

 

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End of Watch: Stephen King

I was lucky and found this book available for check out at the library. This is the third of the Bill Hodges detective series. Since I don’t know how many of you have read any of the series I’ll try to keep it vague but informative.

This is a detective series by Stephen King, veering away from his usual horror-style, but still giving it a supernatural twist that Stephen King does so well. Brady Hartsfield is still alive and has spent the last few years in a hospital, a veritable vegetable. Or so most people think. A few people, including Det – Ret Hodges thinks there’s still brain function within Brady, and possibly some other sinister activity within his brain. Nurses see things that don’t make sense, like faucets turning on and off by themselves and blinds tilting. Many of the nurses feel something dark within Brady’s room, and some refuse to tend to him.

Then the deaths come. Not in murders, but in suicides. The suicides are mysterious in the fact that the ones who are committing suicides were also past victims of Brady during the first killings. Hodges thinks there’s something else going on, but he doesn’t want to believe, or doesn’t think he can believe it would be something paranormal.

With the help of Holly and Jerome, they push through their original thoughts and beliefs of the possible and step into Brady’s dark world.

 

I felt this book was the best of the series. The characters were more relate-able, more human, and King did a great job keeping the characters consistent throughout.

**Also: Rumor has it, they’re turning this series into either a TV series or a mini-series, so get your read on so you can be one of those people.

 

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Overall Review: 9.5/10

 

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Let Me In (Let the Right One In): John Ajvide Lindqvist

If it wasn’t so G-D cold in Sweden, I might just want to live in the Nordic wonderland. Now, as far as Swedish authors go, I’ve only read this guy and Steig Larsson, but man, they’ve been great. I will definitely be reading more of this author’s work.

The Swedish version of the book is called Let the Right One In, and in the U.S., the book is called Let Me In, and yes, they made a movie out of it, but like most movies from books, about half the book is missing. There’s so much more to this book than what I remember in the movie. One factor that was different was that the movie made it clear that “Abby” in the movie, who is “Eli” in the book is a female. In the book, the gender isn’t always clear, which reveals an entire history of where this character came from. The book also goes deeper into the lives of  all the other characters, how they act, why they act how they do, but it still leaves mystery. I left me wanting more. I wanted to find out what happened next.

The book is a vampire-ish book but not at all in the sense you think. It’s not about attacking people, drinking blood, torture, lust, etc etc that most vampire-style books are. This one humanizes a child who has to make horrible decisions, and another child who often feels like a shadow on the wall, alone and not fitting in with the world. Together they find a bond that, although they may not completely understand, fills them with life that keeps them alive, in a sense.

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The book drops you into the lives of several characters and you instantly feel their realness. They were instantly alive, and although they all had different, separate lives, they all were connected too. I highly recommend this book, and although the movie left out a lot, it makes me want to watch it again.

 

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Overall review: 10/10

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Boomsday : Christopher Buckley

Wowee, I’ve been gone for a while, and longer from reviewing a book. I’ve read a few since the last one I reviewed, but I’ve been crazy busy with life matters. Since my last review, I sold my house, moved to another state, and started a new job, oh and bought another house, which we will be moving into in about 12 days, meaning I’m sure I’ll stumble again with a regular blog post.

So let’s get this ball rolling in the right direction again. I just finished reading Boomsday by Christopher Buckley, who is the author probably best known for Thank You For Smoking, the 2005 movie with Aaron Eckhart. Although I didn’t read that book, I assume it would have the same tone as Boomsday, because as I read the book, I recalled parts of the movie, mainly from the dialogue and the overall tone of the book.

This story follows Cassandra Devine, a 29-year old, who finds her world quickly changing directions when her dad decides to use her college tuition money plus the family mortgage as startup money for a business. This creates a permanent rupture in her and her father’s relationship and she takes his actions out on all baby boomers. She comes to the conclusion that the baby boomers are causing, and will cause, her generation enormous amounts of financial pain, and possible ruin, because they now live longer than they used to.

She enlists in the military with the idea of getting college paid for through public service. She goes into the Public Affairs career field, which leads her to a deployment to the Middle East, escorting distinguished visitors from the U.S. around the base. Her world again takes a turn when she meets Randy Jepperson, a young and defiant senator who disregards all protocols. She and Randy end up getting blown up and an IED. Both her and Jepperson survive, but she is booted out of the military and is left jobless in the hospital back in the U.S. She is approached soon after by Jepperson, who offers her a job in his office.

The shenanigans persue and her desire to push her agenda is let loose.

Overall I thought the book was entertaining. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a political satire fiction book, as I usually steer away from books with any hint of politics, but I enjoyed this. A lot of times I found myself chuckling thinking, ‘It’s funny because it’s true’. But sadly a lot of it is true. I could see the makers of House of Cards reading these books before writing the series.

Rating: 8/10

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Almost, almost

My life is going through a ton of changes right now. Changes that involve Yeses, Nos, and Almosts. We sold our house in 72 hours which was a big Yes! We are now reflecting on the inspection. They either want little piddly things to be done (nail the fence post that’s loose, change the AC filter) to big things (re-do duct work, change out electrical).

Let me clarify, our house is in great shape. None of the things they are asking for are necessary for the safety of the house. Inspections are a weird thing. Some guy whose never been in your house comes in and tells you everything he thinks is wrong with it. Some things are legit, some are squabbling. At first I got really angry. I just wanted to yell, “Here’s a hammer. Fix the damn fence yourself!”, but that’s not quite advisable so we are working on compromises now. We’ll have someone out to fix some of these small things, with a few bucks for them on the table to do their own electrical if they so feel the need to rewire the house.

So with the house…we are at an Almost. Hopefully by tonight, we will have a Yes.

During the craziness of selling our house, I also was interviewing for jobs. I had three interviews in one day, so I was really hoping one would work out. One was certainly a No, I think mutually. One was a Maybe, but nothing on their side was solid, which made me nervous, but the last one felt like a Yes and ended up being so. I ended up getting a second interview with a company and they called the next day asking if I’d accept a position with them. A definite YES.

With all of the craziness, and change happening, I definitely needed to get a run in. Between sitting in a car for hours, waiting for people to be done strolling through the house, then stress eating to calm myself through all of this (breakfast tacos and chocolate shakes…mmm), I needed some exercise to make myself feel better again, and clear my mind. I remembered that WordPress was running a 5K challenge, asking people to run/walk/stroll/bike a 5K and post about it. I was hoping to get one in last night, but I didn’t quite get there. I knew time was a crunch because we had plans to meet friends for dinner, and I needed to bathe the dogs as well. I decided on one of our shorter routes in hopes that it was still a 5K. No luck. An almost.

Even though this wasn’t a full 5K, between all my walking around, I’d  hit over 10,000 steps which was around 5 miles. I felt good about that.

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My Almost 5K

 

To be honest, I’m not a fan of Almost. Almost doesn’t cut it. But Almost is what I have and I am hoping that tonight Almost becomes a Yes. Almost is better than No. I almost ran a 5K today among the worry of inspections, dogs needing to get bathed, meeting with friends, figuring out when to pack, what house to buy next, I still got a run in. I still did something for my health. That’s what matters. Getting into the habit of this is what matters.

We will be road tripping it to Omaha this weekend to house shop and hopefully buy, our next home. I’m excited and nervous and what we’ll find. All I hope is that whatever we decide on, I hope it’s a Yes.

 

 

 

 

 

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72 hours

Our house sold in 72 hours at more than we were asking for. I couldn’t be happier for that. I’m still sad to be leaving our house after nearly three years, which doesn’t seem long enough, but I’m grateful for the time I spent there and the lessons I learned while overseeing projects, as well as seeing to my own projects.

I can feel myself slowly disconnecting from my house, like a love relationship ending.

I just hope they treat you as well as I treated you….

While all of this was happening over the weekend, I actually had three phone interviews for jobs! While I’m ever so grateful for this, it definitely was a challenge to do this, while getting the house ready for multiple showings. I had to clean up the house, get it looking as perfect as possible, turn on all the lights, light candles, etc., get two dogs and a kitten in the car, and keep them happy for hours, all while trying to prep for potential jobs. Luckily two of the interviews I was able to complete before the first showing, but the third was in my running car with two dogs in the back, one cat in my lap, in a library parking lot. The dogs did a fantastic job staying quiet, and little miss Edith slept most of the time.

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Neurotic Stan to my right, beady eyed Arthur behind me, and Edith on my shoulder – right before my interview.

Two of the jobs interviews went well, and the third….I didn’t feel into the company so I think I’ll refrain from that one. I have a follow-up today on my favorite of the three (yay!) so here’s to hoping!!

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Nobody puts baby Edith in a carrier

Now that the house selling is over, we can rest a little more, and just enjoy the house while we have it for one more month. I want to relax in my house, spend time enjoying it, adding any last fun memories I can before I have to fully let go.

This weekend we will be exploring Omaha for houses. I have a list of potential homes we’d like to see, and hopefully we can see all of them, barring that they’re still available by the time we get up there.

Anyone know a great realtor in the Omaha area?? Anyone?

 

 

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A home is more than a home

We are looking at listing our house next week. Typing that, plus packing up boxes into a storage unit, makes this feel very real.

I know I’ll miss friends. We’ve made just a few here, but they will be missed. I’ve found a new love of food, especially the smoked meat varietals. Texas knows meat, especially brisket. I’ve found a new love for beer. Austin can brew. I’ve learned to appreciate the hill country and it’s arid, green-dappled landscapes. I’ve learned what it’s like to be a proud Texan and love Texas. There’s a pride going on here that people make fun of sometimes, but only because they don’t understand it. I’ll always remember that.  Continue reading

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Working on patience

We would like to move. We’ve been working on moving for a while now. On many occasions I’ve gotten impatient with the progress. I’ve started to focus so much on waiting for news, looking for a place to live, cleaning the house, getting it ready to list….that I’ve forgotten about everything else in life.

As important as it is to have the house looking nice for pictures, I don’t want to look back after we’ve moved (and I know it’ll eventually happen), thinking only about how much time I spent cleaning, not on any of the things we loved about Austin.

We recently made a list of a handful of restaurants we want to hit up one more time before we leave. So far we’ve hit none of them. This week and going forward, we’ll be refocusing our efforts on enjoying our time where we are before it’s gone. I’ve been in those moments of regret, looking back, thinking about how focused I was on the future, forgetting about my present. There will be plenty of time to wrap myself in those moments later.

Less dreaming and focusing on the future, and what may be, and more focusing on the here and now, while I’m still right here.

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Getting closer….

The bathroom is pretty much finished…Master bath that is. We finally had a break in weather so I was able to finish painting the doors, and we trimmed up the mirror. It’s one of the easiest and quickest ways to freshen up a space without tearing anything down or spending lots of money. Continue reading