Finish #51 – An Island Christmas

P8081795.JPGCrazy, right, reading a Christmas book in August? I couldn’t help myself, though, when the wind blowing through the windows started making me think of fall. (That same wind dropped the temperature in the house to a chilly, wool-sock wearing, 66 degrees.) Then there’s the fact that December always goes by so fast that there’s no time for reading all of the Christmas-y novels. So I got an early start on the season.

Finish #51 is An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer.

Something weird has happened in the past two years since I’ve really branched out into different genres of books. I’m bored, dissatisfied even, with books that don’t have a little more, shall we say, “meat” to them. There wasn’t anything wrong with this story. I’m just looking for a little deeper meaning to pop out, a lesson, something. That said, there was a lesson to be learned from the main character. She’s worried about having the perfect holiday. What she gets is quite less than what she was aiming for, but I hope she learned that perfection is overrated. The most entertaining aspect to this story was the cat. You simply can’t go wrong if you add a cat into any story. (That’s why we have 4!)

 

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Finish #50 – Tricky Twenty-Two

P8061794.JPGFifty finishes! Yeah!

I’m only almost two months behind schedule. Boo!

Finish #50 is Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich. Twenty-two books in and Stephanie Plum still hasn’t decided between Morelli and Ranger. Pick already, would you?! And what is up with that hamster, Rex? How does a hamster live that long? We had hamsters. We had two. One beat up the other one. If I recall (It was ages ago when the kids were little that we got them for pets, so my memory could be a little fuzzy.), we had to move them to separate cages. Then they died. Start to finish, we had them less than a year. They might not have even lasted six months. What’s really bad is that I can’t even remember their names. So, considering our inability to keep two hamsters alive  when we’ve done quite well keeping four cats, three kids, two adults, and one dog alive, it really grates when a book character who can barely feed herself manages to keep a hamster alive for 22 books! (Yes, I do realize this is fiction!)

Anyway, enough with the hamster rant.

This was a typical Stephanie Plum book. Cars were ruined. There was man trouble. Bad guys got the upper hand. Lula and Grandma Mazur had the best lines. There were some laugh-out-loud moments. It was a good book; however, it was predictable since she has a formula that seems to have worked for 22 books and she doesn’t really deviate from it. I’ll probably continue to read these books just for those few laughable moments.

 

Finish #49 – Fire Storm

P8031793.JPGHave you ever had one of those books that was just MEH? Not good enough to keep your interest when something more enticing appeared, but not horrible enough to just give up on entirely?

This must have been one of those books, because it languished, unfinished, in a basket on the toilet lid for at least two years. It was in there so long soaking up moisture in the air from the shower that the pages are wavy from water damage. It was in there so long that I had to start it over a second time since I had forgotten most of what I had already read.

And you know what happened?

My interest flagged in about the same exact spot!

But, after a brief respite and with a little urging from a library summer challenge board square that said to read a book previously abandoned, I persevered and got through it. I might have also told myself to not even THINK about reading the newest Janet Evanovich book BEFORE I got this book finished.

Finish #49 (Yeah! Almost to 50 just two months behind schedule) is Fire Storm by Iris Johansen. This was the first book by Iris Johansen that I’ve read. I got a real kick out of the saying on the front of the book: “Takes you to the edge of suspense.” Um…apparently she takes me to the edge of boredom but doesn’t quite push me over.

 

Finish #48 – Calamity Jane

DSCN1637You are going to think that all I do all summer is go on vacation! I can assure you that this summer has been quite out of the ordinary for us. I can’t recall the last time (before this year) we’ve gone on anything more than a day trip during the summer.

This time the whole family headed down to Sandusky, Ohio for a couple days at Cedar Point. After riding Mean Streak there a few years ago (following a very bad experience with Shivering Timbers at Michigan’s Adventure), I was beginning to think that my days of coaster riding were coming to an end. Man, did that make me feel old! But, alas, I’m not old. I’ve still got a few more years of being flipped upside down and all around left in me. I just have to use a bit of wisdom when picking coasters. Mean Streak was definitely not ridden this year. (And, bummer, I say with no remorse, they’re getting rid of it.) I also avoided Corkscrew since bad things happen to my head whenever I ride that one. We enjoyed Valravn, though that time spent hanging there, looking down, and waiting for it to dive…YIKES! We rode Gatekeeper and Raptor three times each. The Magnum was way bumpier than I remembered. Eldest and I rode that and warned the rest of the fam away. (They had been off enjoying Soak City while we rode since it was just a bit too chilly…yes, chilly in August…for us to enjoy a waterpark.) We stayed in a cabin at Lighthouse Point with Lake Erie right outside our front door. I highly recommend it.

After Cedar Point we spent a day at Mammoth Cave. We enjoyed a picnic and two cave tours. We did the Historic Tour (see photo above of really old “graffiti” on the ceiling of the cave) and the Domes and Dripstones Tour. I have to say, I really did not need to know how many feet of earth were above my head during the tours. (We saw that movie about the Chilean miners a while back…Well, you can imagine all that was going through my head while we were down there!)

Even though the vacation was enjoyed by all, I think that everyone was just as happy as I was to get back to our own house with our own beds, own bathrooms, tasty healthy food, and pets. (Let me tell you something. It isn’t easy for vegetarians and vegans, frankly healthy eaters in general, to go on vacation. The meat eaters of the family were even requesting some veggies and fruit within a couple days.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile on vacation I finished book #48, Calamity Jane by Kathleen Bacus. This was a cute, light romance. In fact, the romance part was so light it was almost nonexistent. I’d say it was less romance and more just a story about this gal who has a lot of calamities befall her, thus leading to people not taking her seriously. There is a fellow in the story that she exchanges a few smooches with, but the story does not dwell on this relationship all that much. While creative, I did find the prevalence of similes to be almost distracting. It was good, though, for a light vacation book.

Finish #47 – Charley’s Web

P7271790.JPGThis was a good one. Even though I had the bad guy figured out about halfway through, it was still good. You know it’s good when you are bummed that it’s over. (Or maybe I was just bummed because I was in the middle of a project and I had nothing left to listen to and no time to go to the library to get another audiobook.) Finish #47 is Charley’s Web by Joy Fielding.

It’s a bit difficult to be fond of the main character as the story begins. In fact, she seems to not really care if people like her. She’s made her neighbors mad, her relationships with most family members are strained, her work relationships aren’t great either. But there’s something about her that you (or maybe it’s just me) can relate to. And when she gets letters threatening harm to her children, you really start rooting for everything to turn out okay for this prickly character.

So here’s the final installment of vacation pics:

DSCN1510.JPGThe only snake we saw in North Carolina was at the North Carolina Arboretum. We spent an enjoyable morning wandering through the gardens, looking at bonsai, eating the most delicious sandwich ever (Can we just have truckloads of Olive Muffuletta delivered to our door daily?), and checking out the cool Lego stuff (like the snake). It was a welcome reprieve from the strenuous walking of the previous day. But it was a short reprieve, because in the afternoon we went to Chimney Rock where we climbed a bazillion stairs to get to the top. Then we climbed some more to get even higher. Then we hiked to a waterfall. Then we collapsed and never wanted to walk again. (Well, actually, we walked back to the car before we collapsed.) The next day we drove all the way home, struggling at every rest stop to get our legs to straighten and move, just so our doggy wouldn’t have to spend one more night at the kennel.

Then you know what happened? I actually got all the pictures developed and scrapbooked within a week. That’s never happened before. We even got enlargements made of our faves and already have them hanging on the wall. That’s never happened so quickly either. Then I decided that I should finally tackle all of those other photos that have been gathering dust for YEARS. Sigh…my “sewing” room is now a disaster area. But the job is almost finished!DSCN1563.JPG

Finish #46 – The Guardian

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Finish #46, The Guardian, was supposed to be my vacation book. I read a Dee Henderson book on vacation last year and decided I would try to do the same this year. I finally got started on it on the LONG ride home.

I enjoy Dee Henderson books. There’s suspense, romance, and a Christian theme. In this one you know who the bad guy is from the beginning. You know his motive. You just don’t know if he’s going to get to the girl before the law gets him. (Well, you can pretend that you don’t know that. It is, after all, a romance, and how often do the main characters not end up happily ever after in romances?…Don’t consider Fault in Our Stars-which I found dreadful- or just about any Nicholas Sparks book when answering that question.) Still, despite knowing just about everything, it was an enjoyable book to read.

I promised vacation highlights over the next couple of posts. Here’s what we did on our second day in North Carolina:DSCN1456

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It was a crazy idea, but it was on the Bucket List so it had to be done. It was actually the main reason we vacationed in North Carolina. We climbed a mountain. Actually, we climbed Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi.

We climbed over roots and rocks for HOURS. It was gloriously quiet…except for that constant whine of bugs that seemed to come from all around us. (And if you listened real closely, the sound of sweat dripping from our bodies and dropping onto the ground below.) Unlike Michigan bugs, though, they left us mostly alone.

It took us five hours to get up the mountain. We emerged onto a smooth paved pathway made for those folks who like to drive up the mountain, park in a parking lot, avoid nature, and say they were on the peak. It was weird. After so many hours of solitude, we were rudely thrust back into civilization. All those fresh-faced people chit-chatting around us while all we wanted was some quiet to enjoy the view and privacy to assess and dress blisters. I have to say, I thought going UP a mountain would be more difficult than going down. Was I ever wrong! It took only four hours to get down, but after the first mile or so, my toes were in agony. Every step was torture. You cannot imagine my joy at seeing our car at the end of that trek. You cannot imagine the aching muscles I had the next day…and I’m in pretty decent shape. But, all in all, it was an awesome experience, and I got to do it with my best friend, my husband.