Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Shulz Mysteries

I've been reading Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Shulz mysteries for about a year. I pick one up when I don't have anything else on hand to read. I bought most of the series at a rummage sale and picked up the rest as I found them/searched them out. I am currrently reading the 11th of the 14 books in the series.

And I'm getting annoyed.

I had fun reading these books at first. The main characters are (for the most part) likeable, the stories move along pretty quickly (with perhaps an overabundance of cooking references, but since these are cozy culinary mysteries, I suppose that's to be expected), and the setting (Colorado Rockies) is very nice.

But here's what I don't get... and, yes, I'm doing bullets
  • A small Colorado town has this many murders? Really? Shouldn't they quarantine it so the rest of us don't drink that water? And, yes, I know they are cozy culinary murder mysteries, but still...
  • It's always bugged me how the author has to point out that Goldy's best friend, Marla, is overweight every blessed time she's in the books. Pudgy fingers, etc... I get it, the woman could stand to lose a few pounds... sheesh!  Can we get past that now?
  • Goldy is a nosy nuisance. Yes, yes, I know that if she wasn't, these mysteries would never get solved (and the poor town of Aspen Meadows would have a huge Cold Case problem *nod*). But she doesn't use an ounce of common sense. Her cop hubby even tells her that she needs to stay out of a case, but does that deter Goldy? Heck no.
  • Goldy's son, Arch. Grrrr. I mean the kid was cute in the first book or two, but he's growing up to be a hoodlum, a rude, arrogant, horrible little hoodlum. Does Ms. Davidson really think all teens turn into surly mutts who'll bite your hand off before you can say "Good boy"?
  • Goldy's reaction to Arch's 'moods'. For example, in the book I'm reading: Arch is being horrible - asking for all sorts of expensive gifts while at the same time being rude and secretive. Yep. And what's Goldy do? She starts buying him the things on his list! Huh. *scratches head* Seems counterintuitive to me. The child is 15 years old - if he was one of mine and he's going to sneak off, not tell me where he is, and then act as if I'm the bad guy.. well, guess what, kiddo? Birthday or no birthday you're grounded, you're not allowed to play on the lacrosse team with those thugs, and you don't get a darn thing for your birthday until you can show some respect.
  • And 15 year old Arch sneaks off and gets a tattoo. I found it amazing that neither Goldy nor her cop husband thought about how it's illegal for anyone to give an under 18 a tattoo without parental permission (unless laws are different in different states). Goldie didn't even show Arch how mad she was because she was afraid to make him angry. Yeah, right...
  • Ms. Davidson's 'small town' makes me shake my head. Goldy sends Arch to an expensive private school (full of snobs, btw) because the public school is so overcrowded (teacher to student ration = 1:50). Huh? I live in small town America. Our schools are NOT overcrowded. Isn't that supposed to be city schools?
  • Not getting facts straight. Goldy gives in and buys arch the $1400 guitar (on sale for $700!) he wants. Before she can get it home, she's whacked over the head with it (just after she finds an old friend stabbed). Ms. Davidson seems to think electric guitars are made of metal. Not kidding. The guitar gets dented. *headdesk*
And I could probably go on, but I think I made my point. (The point being that I'm annoyed).

I think it's good for a writer to remember that sometimes even a good thing can be spread too thin, and taken too far.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pet Peeves: Or the Toilet paper is on the wrong way

I've been thinking about pet peeves today.

I've been wondering if I really have any. I'm sure I do, but they don't seem to loom large enough that I can think of any at the moment. *thinks* Nope. I have this thing about hating having bare feet, but really, that's more of a hangup than a pet peeve. I mean, I don't care if anyone else goes barefoot, just don't let my tootsies out of hiding. My family makes a big deal (pretend heart attacks, etc)., if they see my feet.... yeah.

But that's not a pet peeve.

My sister Babby has two pps I can think of off the top of my head (which is probably pretty good since she lives three hours from me and I only see her a dozen or so times a year).

1. The toilet paper has to be on the hanger in a certain way. I think this is a common peeve. My question is: Who decides the right way for the TP roll? For me, the right way is the way it happens to go on the holder when I'm changing the roll.

2. The way things are stapled. I don't have the minute details on this one, but I know her papers have to be stapled a certain way. For me, as long as it hits that upper left corner, holds the papers together, and closes at the back enough that I won't get scratched, I'm happy.

Maybe it's because Babby is a perfectionist that she has these peeves. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not putting down her perfectionism. I'd love to have the drive to keep my house and car as clean as she does, or to know the night before what the heck I'm wearing for work, but I just don't. My house, car, and desk are always a bit messy. In the morning, I usually look at my feet, see what color socks I'm wearing, and dress accordinglyh (not kidding).

My husband, Jon, has this one pet peeve that I think (from my very informal technique of watching people walking down the sidewalk) many men share. For Jon, if you're walking down the sidewalk, or entering/exiting a building with two side-by-side doors, you should always keep to your right - as if you're staying in your lane while driving a car. He really does feel it's wrong to go into the left hand door of a store. I enter through the nearest door (or the left hand door if he's with me and I want to drive him just a little crazy). I even (gasp) exit from the post office down the same flight of steps I ascended when I entered (it's closer to the cross walk). Hmmmm... this is all making me sound a bit lazy. LOL. Perhaps I am....

I was thinking about this today because as I was taking a quick stroll during break, I found myself walking down one side of the sidewalk while a teenage boy was walking toward me. I was on the left. Of course I was (I think I like to be closer to the buildings than the street). He was coming straight at me. I did my normal game of watching to see if he'd veer off. He didn't. I moved to the right. *sigh*

I actually played this game of chicken with an older gentleman once. In fact I got within two steps of him before I gave up and veered before I ran him over. But of course, because of Jon's peeve, I have this little voice in my head telling me I'm on the WRONG SIDE.

Ah well.

So, what's your pet peeve?
I'll let you know when I think of mine. :)

Oh and as I passed a store today (walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk) I saw a cute little desk sign that read, "I'm so far behind I think I'm first." I need that sign.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I seem to read a lot of YA (young adult) books lately. I'm not exactly sure why. The funny thing is that I didn't read YA when I was YA.

I adored Hunger Games so much, that when I heard another YA dystopian was being highly touted, I figured I should give it a try. Divergent by Veronica Roth was a fun read, if I didn't think too deeply about the world Ms. Roth created.

I loved the book. I inhaled it. I had my nose stuck in it every extra second I had for about two days, and then I was done. It's a fast paced, violent romp through a dystopian Chicago, with a little romance thrown in. Almost a cross between Hunger Games and Ender's Game... almost.

But, like I said, I enjoyed it as long as I didn't think about the world Ms. Roth was building. I let myself suspend disbelief (though I had very little reason to) and just enjoyed the book while I was reading, and then later, when I was done, all these points that just don't make sense popped into my head.

I won't get into them as I'd have to include spoilers to do so. But I'll just say that if you look at her world too closely, it falls apart like Swiss cheese with too many holes.

But I loved the book. Go figure.

And even though the plot holes didn't throw me out of the book, sometimes the writing did. The author uses far fewer contractions than many other writers, and I found myself noticing it.  Many times, the characters (mostly teens) sounded stiff.

But, like I said, I loved the book.

I absolutely recommend reading it. Just be ready to suspend your disbelief....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

YA Confidential

I am SO excited about this new blog. YA Confidential is for writers of YA fiction - so us 40+ year old hopeful writers of YA can feel like they can get this right. To celebrate the launch, there's a contest. Yay! Hop on over there and check it out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My desktop background photo: Saturn!

I don't take my computer background photos lightly. In fact, both my work and home computers still have the generic desktop background they came with, until today.

Why? Because an image has to really strike me for me to want to see it every day (and at work - for hours and hours every day).

I used to have a photo of our beloved Marnie dog on my home computer (it was Marnie photographed from behind, sitting and looking out a window.. awww). And for a time I had a photo I had taken of the White House at dusk on my work computer (nothing to do with patriotism, really, the color and shadows were just gorgeous).

But in a news article today, I saw this:

and it literally took my breath away.

This is the planet Saturn. The photo is of its dark side, taken by the Cassini Robotic Orbiter.

It will now grace both my computers.

I just couldn't NOT share this image...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Of Cleveland, the Indians, Dinosaurs, and Sea lions

Vacation.... Ahhhhhhh....

Our plans for this year were to go to New York City via Amtrak. We were to see my niece, Leeanne, and friend, Jeanette while there, but Hurricane Irene had other plans.

We were supposed to leave last Tuesday, so Monday I was on the phone with Amtrak twice asking if the train would be running. Monday's trains were shut down due to flooding, damage, etc. I was told that yes, they would run. At 6:30 Monday night, we got a call from the Utica Amtrak station saying that no, our train wouldn't be running. It was go time....

I called the hotel and cancelled our reservation, then called Leeanne and Jeanette to give them our regrets.

Jon said he'd drive to NYC, I vetoed that. I get nervous enough riding through the traffic of smaller cities without pushing myself to that one. (Sheesh, I'm getting old).

So then Jon, Mark, and I sat in the living room and discussed. Well, it was more of Jon and I plugging away at the computer and throwing suggestions out which Mark promptly vetoed.  Since east (and much south) was into the hurricane ravaged parts, and we don't have passports to go north, it left us with few options.

Finally, Jon said, "How about we go back to Cleveland?" We've been there twice, though once, last year, was just a drive-by visit to the Rock Hall as we drove farther west. Mark agreed. He just really had his heart set on a city this year.

Tuesday morning I researched hotels and made reservations and we got on the road.

We arrived in Cleveland about 4:30. When we realized our hotel was almost directly across the street from the Cleveland Indians Stadium, we took our bags to the room and walked to the box office to get tickets for that night. After we go the tickets, we wandered around the neighborhood for a while. So, for one night I was an Indians fan. (they beat the A's). I was glad I had put my sunglasses in my purse when the valet took the car as the stadium lights triggered a migraine, so I wore my sunglasses the entire game. *sigh*

Wednesday we took the not-quite one mile trek to Lake Erie. I had wanted to tour the WWII submarine, COD, and the guys liked that idea as well, so we found that and paid the admission. Unfortunately when I saw the entrance into the sub (down a ladder through a narrow hole to a concrete floor below), I couldn't make myself climb down. I'd blame it on age, but I've always had this wierd fear of laddres. So, while the guys toured the inside of the sub, I walked the deck and then sat and waited.


After, Mark wanted to go to the Great Lakes Science Museum. LOADS of fun. All interactive. Mark even got strapped into a harness so he felt like he was only 30% of his body weight so he could practice walking on Mars.

Then we walked the almost mile back to our hotel.  All told, we were walking/touring for 7 hours. After a short rest and shower, I was ready to roll again. So we went to a Blues restaurant, Fat Fish Blue, and ate and listened to music. Wonderful food, great atmosphere, and good music.

Funny side note: There's a song I've been wanting to hear for a couple of weeks. I'd mentioned it to Jon, but we couldn't find it on his ipod or the CD I know we have that it's on. The musicians at Fat Fish Blue played it that night. I was so happy!  :)

Thursday morning we checked out of the hotel and drove to the Natural History Museum. We've been there before and loved it, and loved it again. (I missed having Brian with us, though.... and it's sad to think in very few years we won't have Mark vacationing with us anymore either). They have Balto there, by the way - stuffed Balto - he's so pretty in a dead dog kind of way. And the dinosaurs are always amazing to look at. Wow!

We made it home about 7:30 that night.

Then Saturday was annual State Fair day. Lots of fun.

Here is a pic of sister, Babby, and me (I'm the horribly overweight one) with the sea lions at the State Fair:

The Sea Lion who has his head on mine definitely knew when the photo was taken because he lifted his head and nudged me away. LOL

A wonderful vacation - and now a catch-up at work!!