Top Ten Halloween Memories

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a Halloween-themed freebie, so I’m going the non-bookish route and looking back over my favorite Halloween(ish) memories through the years!

steeple-me-21. I enjoyed Halloween as a kid, but it was really college when the holiday got super fun. My friends and I dressed up and went out trick-o-treating in a rich neighborhood despite being 18/19 years old. We also took pictures in front of an old steeple that was just sitting on the side of the road. Really.

pumpkin-patch-52. Pumpkin patches and corn mazes with toddlers who were afraid to pet the goats.😀 To be fair, Morrigan wasn’t the least bit afraid. Just Ambrose. (Laurence was in utero when this picture was taken.)

ghosts-43. My favorite Halloween decoration ever was this circle of ghosts we made outside our house in 2004.

gb-05-band-postsides4. Making a Halloween-themed gingerbread house has been a tradition for us ever since Jason and I met back in 1999. We can’t do one every year, but we build them when we can. We’ve made a courthouse hanging, a witch-burning, the headless horseman, a scene from Sweeney Todd, and Twilight (complete with a stalker werewolf). My favorite was the year we made a gingerbread Stiffs, Inc concert. They’re my favorite band and they loved the gingerbread portrayal! Notably, Twilight was our last and that was five years ago. We need to get on it next year!

halloween-boys-35. Back when Laurence was three years old, he went as a pirate for Halloween. We used eyeliner to draw a scruffy beard on him, because we knew he wouldn’t keep a cotton-ball beard on. We found out later that he was terrified that if he moved his mouth, the eyeliner would drip into it and he’d swallow it, so he held his mouth in this semi-open position all night. Ha! (Next to him, Ambrose dresses as Harry Potter and Morrigan dresses as Stewart Little.)

death-trio6. Death and Baby Death had been a part of our family since the early 2000s, but their Book Hour videos on Youtube began in 2009, and they joined us for our Halloween celebrations that year.

11-kickoff-17. Because Halloween falls the night before NaNoWriMo starts, I have a lot of great memories over the years finishing up the Halloween-related stuff and getting ready to burst out of the gates for my wordcount.😀 Pictured is the midnight kickoff in 2015.

night_circus_cover8. The Night Circus. I really don’t need to say more than that, I think.

10-costume-prep9. Halloween morning, 2014, Boston. Laurence, in full costume, passes me as I’m making coffee. I point to my coffee mug, which is Slytherin-themed, and say, “Slytherin mug.” Laurence stops for a few seconds, points to his vampire-slicked-back-hair, and says, “Slytherin hair.” That still cracks me up every time I think of it. (Laurence was technically an assassin that year, while Ambrose dressed as Luke Skywalker and Morrigan decided he was “too old” to dress up.)

ripeleven30010. And okay, there is some bookish stuff here, because Halloween just wouldn’t be complete without the RIP reading event and the autumn Readathon.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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The Girl with All the Gifts, by MR Carey (audio)

the_girl_with_all_the_giftsI don’t know when exactly this book came to my attention. It was released a few years back, but I only really remember hearing about it this year, when people started raving about it. I glanced at the GoodReads description and decided I wasn’t interested. Between the title and the description, I got the impression this was a dystopia about the government trying to control kids that had been born with dangerous psychic/telekinetic/magic-like powers. I’ve read too many of those, so despite the rave reviews, I passed.

Then I saw a movie trailer, or a picture from the movie. I didn’t really know anything more about the movie, but it looked slightly more interesting after that. I decided to try out the audiobook. Honestly, I kinda thought perhaps I’d already tried out the audiobook at one point and rejected it, and figured I’d do the same this time. Except when I began to listen, I didn’t remember anything that I heard. I gave it a bit longer. My attention was caught. I started thinking maybe this wasn’t about psychic powers, but about a clone colony like in an Ishiguro novel. Another story I’ve read once too many.

I’m not sure why I kept going. I’m glad I did, though, because it was neither of my predictions. I won’t say what this book is about and give away spoilers, but there were no psychic powers or clones involved. Instead, this ended up being another well-worn story with a very unique twist that made it not-so-well-worn, a twist that I loved a lot. The world was very well-developed and I grew to love many of the characters (except Dr. Caldwell, who I doubt you’re supposed to love…). The ending took me completely by surprise and sent a very strong chill down my back.

In the end, I really loved this book and highly recommend it. I’m glad it made my RIP list this year!

Performance: Finty Williams does an excellent job with all the characters. I was particularly impressed with Melanie, because Williams makes her sound young and childlike without any of the whiny bits that too often go into children’s voices in audiobooks.

Posted in 2016, Adult, Prose | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Sunday Coffee – BrainMelt

img_6505Back in 2012, there was a time when I didn’t have a blog and was only putting book reviews up on Goodreads. Most of the time, those “reviews” were just a sentence or two about my feelings for a book. When I transferred all my reviews off Goodreads to a private location, and later to this blog, I didn’t bother moving those. They weren’t even mini-reviews.

In the years since, I’ve regretted my laziness in not reviewing those books. I’ve regretted not taking the time to write down some real thoughts. And yet recently, I’ve found myself in a similar mindset to where I was four years ago. I have a blog, but my brain isn’t really reading books in a way that lends itself to discussion. Ever since July, with all the construction and moving going on, I’ve been reading far more shallowly, to entertain myself or even just to take up time. Sometimes I really do have nothing more to say than “I liked this one” or “this book didn’t work for me.” Because I know I’ll kick myself later if I don’t, I’ve been forcing myself to write reviews most of the time. I can’t remember the last time I wrote an in-depth review, though. Early August, maybe? Perhaps even further back.

The thing is, I’ve really liked some of these books. I’ve enjoyed the brain-candy books and reveled in the meatier books and swooned over the romantic books. I’m in brainmelt mode, though, so even when there is something thicker and more interesting to think about and discuss, I’m not really feeling/seeing/processing it. And after awhile, I get tired of writing reviews that say “I don’t really have anything to say about this one.” Because that’s pretty much all books right now, good or bad, shallow or deep. I don’t really have much to say about books, period.

Maybe that’ll change, now that I’m in my own place. Maybe it’ll change once I settle down into a new rhythm and routine. I’ll keep writing my next-to-nothing semi-reviews in the meantime, because I don’t want to kick myself a couple years down the road, but I don’t know when my brainmelt will be over and I’ll be back to really thinking about what I’m reading again.

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Protected: Faking It & Finding It, by Cora Carmack

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Posted in 2016, Adult, Prose | Tagged

Wellness Wednesday #32: Discipline

buttonMy original health and fitness journey began in earnest in 2011. I had drive and determination and a plan. I made specific goals in short term (daily/weekly) and long term and longer term. I studied and evaluated and generally threw myself into this health and fitness thing wholeheartedly, without allowing myself to go overboard and burn out. It worked well. From January to the end of September, I lost 45 lbs, could jog for an hour straight, had built tons of muscle through strength training, had much better nutrition/food habits, and felt good about my body and where I was going for the first time in forever.

The thing is, I never relied on motivation. Life had long taught me that motivation was a fleeting thing that burned out after a few weeks max. Instead, I relied on determination. I was not going to stop no matter what. I treated health and fitness as a full time job. When you don’t feel like showing up to your job, you do it anyway, because you can’t afford to get fired. You take days off for illness, but not for “I don’t wanna go to work today.”

Determination worked well for me. When severe insomnia hit me in October 2011 and slowed my weight loss to a crawl, I kept going. When it took another 18 months to lose the last 40 lbs, I kept going. When I had a stress fracture in my leg and wasn’t allowed to exercise for three months, I kept going. No matter what, I kept going. That, I thought, was determination, and it paid off. Eventually I hit my goal weight, and then maintained that weight for another 18 months. That’s when things began to slip.

Because here’s the thing: It wasn’t determination that was driving me. Determination had started me going, but in the end, it was discipline that kept me driving forward. Last week I read an article about discipline from Nia Shanks, and something clicked. When life fell down around my shoulders in 2013, I’d kept going, kept maintaining my weight, kept training, kept eating well. A year later, when life crashed even worse, I didn’t keep going. I started gaining weight, stopped training, started eating erratically. I tried to get myself back in line, but with my life in pieces, there was no determination to be found. Every ounce of energy I had went toward surviving. I had nothing to spare for anything else.

This is what clicked last week. The difference between that first life-crash and the second wasn’t just the severity. The second collapse came during a crucial change in my life: when we sold our house and moved across the country. All of a sudden, I was in a new house, a new situation, a new part of the country with drastically different weather patterns, a new schedule for the kids’ schools, a new schedule for Jason’s job, and so on. My former routines meant nothing any longer. Everything had to be changed. I had to build something new from scratch, and I didn’t have the energy to do that. By the time I got a tiny bit of energy back, we moved across the country again. Rinse. Repeat.

I’m starting all over again from scratch, three cross-country moves later. Not just losing regained weight and getting my fitness levels back to where they were, but building up the routines and schedules and discipline that were once second nature to me. I’ll be honest: I’m not even trying right now while I live in my in-laws’ house. Sure, I’m trying to eat as healthy as I can and I’m trying to head down to the community center gym when I can, but I’m not trying to build a routine or regimen. I’m saving that for when we move into our new house. (Four more days!!) I’ve already started sketching out potential plans and schedules for myself. I’m itching to really get started again. Hopefully, that’s a good sign. I need motivation or determination or whatever to get me going long enough to build a practice that will morph into long term discipline again. Maybe DISCIPLINE will be my word for 2017.

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The Masquerading Magician, by Gigi Pandian (audio)

masquerading-magicianSince this is the second book in a series, I’m going to refrain from discussing the plot and simply refer back to the first book, The Accidental Alchemist, for anyone who is interested in storyline. In fact, I’m going to keep this as a mini-review altogether. My thoughts in brief:

There was a lot less to this story than in the first book. Less mystery, less storyline, less food-talk (a good thing in this case), less humor, less atmosphere, less closure. Additionally, there were a few new things. There were third-person flashbacks that are not all entirely explained yet, and an unresolved end that makes me anxious to get to the next book (January!). None of this is to say I didn’t like the book. I did. It fell a little flat after the first novel, as second books so often do, but was still good. Thankfully, it didn’t fall prey to being a repeat of the first book in any way, and I’m grateful for that. I definitely plan to keep reading on when further volumes are published.

Posted in 2016, Adult, Prose | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Coffee – One Week!

img_6464!!! Guys! I have news! Originally I thought for Sunday Coffee this week that I’d write about the upcoming Readathon and how I’ve been waffling whether or not to participate. I no longer have the choice now. I won’t be participating. I’ll be moving that day instead!

Yesterday, we met with the sellers of this new house we’re getting and a realtor to sign paperwork. We knew they were going to let us move in a few weeks before closing, but I figured that would be end of October or early November. Instead, we can move in next Saturday!! I’m foregoing the Readathon – which would have been difficult while not in my own house anyway – for hauling boxes from storage shed to house. I’ll relax with some books after a few weeks of unpacking, heh.

I’m so excited. I love my in-laws but I really can’t wait to get back in my own place, my own space, again!! It’s only been about two months, but it feels like a lot longer since my previous house was under construction since early May. I haven’t had a home in six months. And I’m really, really looking forward to having a home again.

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