Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Book Wednesday -- The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Monday, I finished reading "The Twelve" by Justin Cronin - the second book in The Passage trilogy.

The storyline started out with our beloved heroine Amy, some five years after the end of The Passage.  It briefly explained the whereabouts of the other characters, then jumped to a few storylines that I found peculiar until later on in the book.  For instance, I didn't understand why I was reading about Lawrence Grey in a situation several weeks after the escape of "the twelve," or why I was reading about the survival of a seemingly random group of people immediately when the viral outbreak began, rather than the time period that Amy and the others were being discussed in.  However, once I read a little further, it all started to make sense, and I even got a few pleasant surprises.

This book was full of just as many suspenseful moments and twists and turns as The Passage.  I loved the building of the characters, especially the growing maturity of Amy.  Throughout the whole book, she never ceased to amaze me.  Also, I think I can even go as far as saying that this book was more chilling than The Passage.  Especially toward the end when Alicia ends up at the Homestead.  The description of her internal conflict is amazing, and the mental picture I had of what she went through actually kept me awake at night.  It's not for the faint at heart.  Even next to Amy, Alicia is hands down the toughest character in the book.  Peter always seems to come out ahead, but I don't think there is any way he could have endured what Alicia did and still be able to fight for humanity.

The ending of the book did not go how I expected.  I may have to go back and read the last couple of chapters again to decide if I liked how it ended.  The Epilogue was amazing, though.  Without spoiling too much, I will say that I think Alicia has a very interesting journey ahead of her in the next book and I really wish I did not have to wait that long to find out what happens!

My next book:  Clash of the Otherworlds by Elle Casey.  I've already read the first book in the series.  I'm starting the second one.  This series follows the War of the Fae series, so it is strongly advised to read those books before tackling this series or else you will have no clue what is going on.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why is it so expensive to be a vegetarian?

My co-workers are probably sick of this rant, but seriously, why does it cost the same, or more, to be a vegetarian than to eat meat? I went to McDonalds the other day to get an egg mcmuffin, without meat, and the dang thing was still $2.79, even though I wasn't getting the ham thingy on it.  A sausage mcmuffin is $1.  If I go to the grocery store, a roll of sausage is like $3.19 and a dozen eggs is about $1.29.  Why then do eggs cost more at Micky D's?  And why does my apple pecan chicken salad without the chicken at Wendy's cost the same as if I get the salad with chicken?  It's not like these fast food joints have many vegetarian options.  Fries and a frosty do not a substantial lunch make when one has to work all day.  I need healthy brain food!  I'm not a vegetarian, I just don't always feel like eating meat.  And I hate breakfast sausage.  And the ham thingy on a mcmuffin.  I actually like black bean burgers but they cost more than hamburgers!  I can't afford to be healthy!  Ugh.  Don't get me started on the cost of produce and how quickly I have to throw it away and how time consuming it is to go to the store every 3 days to buy fresh.  It's exhausting!

So die-hard vegetarians, hats off to you.  It's difficult to find affordable, healthy options around here (clearly I do not live in California or anywhere that accomodates differing diets).  Actually, to quote someone I know who lives around here "if it ain't deep fried in animal fat, I ain't eatin' it."  Yep.  That was probably my facial expression, too.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Another Weekend Gone

So I spent the weekend with my nerd in a shiny Toyota.  Yeah, similar to a knight in shining armour, except this is the 21st century and we don't really have knights anymore and nobody really wears armour anymore either, except for like Under Armour brand clothing -- so nerd in a shiny Toyota (NIST) is my version of a fairytale hero.  I'm in love with NIST, but I've totally been friend-zoned.  We've all been there.  It's okay though.  He's one of my best friends ever.  He came into my life and rescued me from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (yes, Harry Potter fans, I dated a guy who was pretty much as evil as Lord Voldemort himself, minus the whole horcruxes thing).  For that rescue, I will forever be grateful.  

Anyway, this weekend was pretty fun.  We watched the Lord of the Rings movies (hey--the first letter in his name stands for NERD!).  We watched football.  We ate great food.  It was a nice time.  I love weekends, but hate when they are ending and the threat of Monday looms nearby.  I like to spend Sundays relaxing and reminiscing over my weekend when really, I should be planning for my crazy busy work day tomorrow.  Instead, I'm watching Storytellers on Palladia, playing SongPop, and blogging.  And trying not to eat the cake that my mother vindictively placed in my kitchen while I was away this weekend.  (I said I would try to work on the willpower thing...I can't help it if someone else puts chocolate cake on my counter.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book of the Week -- The Passage by Justin Cronin

I thought it would be fun to discuss my thoughts on a different book each Wednesday, as long as I'm not out of town for work and have access to the blog that day.  So for my first book, I wanted to give a shout out to "The Passage" by Justin Cronin, mainly because I just finished it on NYE.

All I can say is, "Wow!"  I was sucked in from the beginning.  The book tells a story from several different viewpoints.  There is Amy Harper Bellefonte, a six-year-old little girl who ends up in the care of some nuns and is the key to saving the world;  Brad Wolgast, an FBI agent who starts off all bad-guy, but ends up being a favorite character; Anthony Carter, a death row inmate who can't seem to understand what happened to land him on the path to losing his life; Peter Jaxon, a member of the First Colony who seems to feel a lack of confidence and like he has something to prove; and a whole slew of other characters who somehow cross paths when the world "ends" because of a sort of "vampire" outbreak.

My first thought was "Oh no, not another vampire book."  But rest assured, this is no love story.  This is a vampire story like never before.  Nobody is safe.  Anyone could die when the end of the world is here.  And what happens when society as we know it ceases to exist?  Does anyone survive?  If so, how to the survivors make it?

This book is action-packed.  I will admit, I thought it was a little strange about a quarter of the way through the book.  I got confused and a little lost, but soon everything made sense, so if you feel that way partway through, do not give up reading.  It is well worth the time investment.  By the time I had finished the book, I became so emotionally invested in the characters, I was literally sad the book was over.  Beware:  it is an 800 page, 3+ pound book, so for the sake of your wrists and arms, I recommend the kindle or nook versions if you like to read in bed, as I do.  This is the first in a trilogy and I just purchased the next book in the trilogy, The Twelve, so likely that will be next Wednesday's book if I can find the time to finish it before then.

You can find the book on Amazon here.

Think Before You Speak

Today I was thinking about how difficult it is to be a kid - a kid of any age really.  Young, teenager, it doesn't matter.  Now, I know people may think "Wait.  Why is it hard to be a kid?  They have no responsibility.  They have someone to take care of them.  They have a home.  They don't have to work.  They just have to go to school and come home."  But no.  It's much more than that.

A few weeks ago, I was shopping at a local shopping center (not to name any names, but it rhymes with Schmall Schmart) and standing in front of me in line was a woman with a small child, probably around three years old.  The child -- not the woman.  The child dropped something and when trying to pick it up, she knocked over some other stuff.  I expected the woman to maybe scold her or tell her to be careful, but I was not expecting what actually happened.  She told the child that she was a failure at life.  A failure.  At life. Ummm...what?  No.  The poor child hasn't even begun to live her life, so how can she be a failure?  

Now I know that people have bad days.  And I am not saying that this woman was a terrible parent/aunt/babysitter/older sister/friend/whatever she was to the child.  Sometimes we say things we do not mean.  But maybe we should try and make a point and think about it before we speak.  Especially to a young child.  What if this is not the only time this child hears things like that?  What if that little girl at the age of three or four really does already think she is a failure at life?  What if other small children across the world think that?  You know they do.  Thinking about that today made me think of two likely scenarios that could play out in a child's life if that child is constantly told things like "you are a failure" or "you are stupid" or "you are not good enough" and other confidence destroyers.  One is that the child believes it is okay to say such things to people and becomes a bully to others in the way that he or she was "bullied" by words.  The other is that the child becomes a target of bullying.  Nobody here lives under a rock.  We all know what happens in schools in either situation.  Someone ends up getting physically hurt or ends up dead.  School violence, school shootings, suicides, they all start with some sort of bullying or emotional issues.  I have no psychological evidence of this, I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist -- I just use my common sense and what we hear in the news lately to come up with this idea.  

Agree or disagree.  Either way, it can't hurt to think before we speak, right?  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year,

The start of a new year is a time for starting over.  A time for people to "re-invent" themselves or change the things they do not like about themselves.  I figured this was a good time to start blogging.  After all, I see and hear so many things being a sort of wallflower and all, it seems almost selfish not to share.  So I want to blog about things I encounter that I like, things I hate, things I find amusing, and things about life in general.

First, as the blog title suggests, leggings should never be a substitute for pants.  Now, I shouldn't say never.  It's okay on children.  But once you are over the age of like 16 (or 19 if you are fortunate enough to be ridiculously skinny), wear some real pants.  If leggings were intended to substitute for pants, they would cost as much as a regular pair of jeans or black pants or something.  There would be racks and racks of them at the stores in every brand imaginable.  Wear them under a skirt or a dress or a tunic (whatever that is...I'm not a fashion guru, just an everyday observer).  Now that I got that rant out of the way, I can get on with this post.

The start of a new year is a time when many make their new year resolutions.  Some years I do this, some years I don't.  I rarely ever keep the ones that I do make.  My resolutions are always made up of generic, predictable words, such as:  I want to lose weight, I want to find true love, I want to make lots of money, etc.  If I do lose weight, it's like 2 pounds.  If I exercise, that lasts about a week or two.  I never keep a boyfriend.  I spend money as fast as a I make it.  My typical resolutions just don't cut it.  So, I don't really see the point in resolving to do something that I know I won't do.

The question is:  why won't I do these things?  My mother told me the other day that I lack willpower.  At first I thought she was just being mean to me, but then I realized that she is right.  Why don't I lose weight?  Well, I will never say no to an office lunch outing.  I will always choose the cheeseburger over the salad.  If cookies are sitting around, I won't eat just one.  I won't say no to a boyfriend, even if it makes me unhappy.  I always accomodate everyone, even if it makes me unhappy.  I do not have the willpower to do what is best for me.  I just choose the easiest option.  To gain instant gratification, to avoid conflict, to make everyone else happy.

I also think I just tend to jump feet first into things.  I don't like to take small steps toward my goals.  I want to lose 20 pounds?  I will throw out all of my food and practically starve myself while trying to exercise a zillion hours a day, thus making myself hate trying to better myself.  I want love?  I will throw myself 100% into a relationship without first figuring out if I really want to be in it, just because I am so desperate for someone to love me.

So how about this for some resolutions:  gain some willpower and slow down.  Do things one step at a time.  Learn to enjoy life.  Slowly work toward a healthy lifestyle.  Build friendships and healthy relationships.  Focus on what I want out of my life.  Be nicer to myself.  Make MYSELF happy.  Those seem like good resolutions to me.  I don't think I am the only person in the world who made those this year.  I'm sure I can keep at least one of them.  Oh, and I would also like to finish one of the novels I am working on.  And by working on, I mean I started working on for a couple days and then never looked at again.  I wrote 19 pages of one and 8 pages of another, convinced myself they sucked, then stopped.   There's where that "be nicer to myself" thing comes in.  How can they suck if I only just started?  Give myself a break!