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Monday, September 28, 2015

Peter Meredith--Hooray for Zombie Lit! (Is that even a genre??)

I have to begin my Peter Meredith post with a big THANK YOU to Book Bub for introducing my cheap miserly ass to this author. Back in January, I received my daily BookBub email with the list of freebies and almost freebies of the day. For some reason, I've been binge reading apocalyptic zombie stuff for the past couple years.  I'm sure some shrink out there could look at me and give me a detailed explanation given what the past couple years have been...but I don't care...just gimme a good zombie book, ok? That particular day, Peter Meredith's book, The Apocalypse (The Undead World Book 1) popped up. I thought to myself, "self...it's 99 cents...and it's got 4 1/2 stars with well over 500 ratings on Amazon.. go for it."  

I was hooked after the first couple pages. This guy writes a terrific story!! Great characters, multiple story lines, just an all round great read. And I was off and running...It was a Peter Meredith-palooza (Peterpalooza sounds better but.....you know....)  around here for a couple months. First there was The Apocalypse, immediately followed by The Apocalypse SurvivorsThe Apocalypse Outcasts, The Apocalypse Fugitives, and The Apocalypse Renegades. Then I was done with the Undead World Series. So bummed. But wait! This guy has written lots of stuff, all equally *ahem* "affordable" on Amazon...(I mentioned I'm cheap, right....)


The Trilogy of the Void, was my next Peter Meredith binge.  No zombies here, just a terrifying romp through hell, filled with monsters, demons and the damned. With, of course, the Meredith hallmark of great characters and  action. I'll admit, I wasn't as fond of the Void series as the Undead, but it was very good.

Once again, I was done. Sigh. Now what? Wait...oh boy! Another Peter Meredith zombie book! The Apocalypse Crusade War of the Undead Day One: A Zombie Tale. Yeah, it's a mouthful, but here is the genesis of the zombie apocalypse, according to Meredith. Hooray! I am such a fan of this guy. He never fails to bring his A game!

I was intrigued by his new set of characters, what was the cause of the zombie outbreak, who would survive the first day, who would escape quarantine to bring the disaster to the rest of the world, industrial spies, Chinese spies, insane convicts, cancer patients, corporate intrigue, with action and pathos galore!! I enjoyed this book just as much as the Undead Series. So, of course, when I received an email that his newest book was available for pre-order, I signed up right away, promptly forgot all about it and was delighted when I woke up one morning to a shiny new Meredith book on my Kindle.

I'm currently reading The Apocalypse Crusade 2 War of the Undead: A Zombie Tale,and it's great!!  I haven't made my way through Mr. Meredith's entire bibliography yet. He has a series called The Hidden Lands, which I'm not sure is up my alley. I'm not much of a fantasy reader. And I do want to read some of his freestanding books. I have The Sacrificial Daughter on my Kindle and The Perfect America sound interesting too.

All in all...Peter Meredith...you rock my socks! Peter Meredith books give you  more bang for your buck than you can imagine!!! So far, this author has never disappointed me. And I'd like to extend a big THANK YOU to Mr. Meredith for sharing his stories with me, it's been great fun!!

And if you read this, Mr. Meredith...please? Another Undead World book? I'd love to know what happens to Jillybean, Neil and the whole bunch!!

My rating for all the Peter Meredith books I've read so far?






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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Homemade Granite Cleaner really works!

I know, I know....GRANITE CLEANER???? What does that have to do with a book blog? The way I see it, if I can clean the kitchen fast and make the granite look good AND save a ton of money in the process...more time reading and more money for books!

 Waaaaay back in 2008, here at the House of Unlimited Potential, you may remember the Hubs and I tore out our kitchen and redid the whole danged thing. When we got to the countertops, I cheapied out and didn't want to spring for slab granite. (And yes...much  much regret now.....) So we used 12" square granite tiles and have a granite tile countertop. All the durability of granite with the pain in the ass grout lines of tile. What WAS I thinking???? And, because I couldn't decide what color to chose, being a quilter, I went with the light, medium, dark rule. The floor is light colored tile, the cabinets are a medium oak, so I went with black Ubatuba granite. Again...WHAT WAS I THINKING???!!!  It all looks so awesome when it's shiny, dust free and streak free. For those 30 seconds after its all wiped down with $8 a bottle granite cleaner. Then the dust starts showing. Place a glass of water on in...bingo...moisture leaves a smear. Place your hand on the counter...finger smudges...ARRRRRGH!!!  And I'm sick of shelling out 8 damn dollars for a bottle of cleaner...even at TJ Maxx, it's $6.

Pinterest to the rescue! I found a homemade granite cleaner recipe, and thought, "What the hell, it's not like I don't have an empty Method granite cleaner bottle under the sink!" Here's how I mixed it for the 28 ounce Method bottle.

1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol
About 8 drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid
About 20 drops of lemon essential oil (from a little set of three essential oils I found at TJ Maxx, lemon, rosemary and peppermint, for 4 bucks. They're going to last me a long time! Although I'm a little skeptical about rosemary scented granite cleaner....)
Water to fill.

I put the alcohol, Dawn and lemon oil in the spray bottle, filled it up  the rest of the way with water and.......TA DA!!!! 

Ohhh.......shiny........!!!!    (It's hard to take a good picture of shiny granite!)

And yes, I'm yearning for slab granite, and one of those splotchy beigy colors where you can't even see if you  have toast crumbs on it.

My rating for homemade granite cleaner:

Thank you Chuck Norris. (Dodge Ball reference....because of its important life lessons: If you can dodge a wrench. You can dodge a ball.)  Love that movie...it's dumb but hilarious!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Vale of Stars by Sean O'Brien makes me want to read more Science Fiction!


Wow, okay, so its been a while and I'm pretty sure my reviewing skills are a might rusty. So please bear with me as I get my stuff together! Recently I was in a local bookstore and noticed a poster regarding a local author who would be signing books there. And even though I never, and I mean never read straight up "on another planet with the weird character names" science fiction, I said to myself, "Self, support the local guy." So I got myself a copy and started in.

As I was saying, I don't do  sci fi...Yeah, I read Dune back in the day, and Battlefield Earth and I really did try to read book two of that series. (It was AWFUL!)  I've read my minor share of Bradbury too. But it has been decades, so here's me, dipping my toe back into the reviewing pool with a genre heretofore unknown to me.

Sean O'Brien's Vale of Stars is an ambitious book, covering four generations of women colonizing a distant planet. The book opens aboard "Ship", where we meet our first protagonist, Jene Halfner, as Ship approaches Epsilon Eridani near the end of a hundred year voyage. Jene is a member of the fourth generation born aboard Ship as they make their voyage. The plot has some surprise turns that I really never saw coming. Perhaps because it's an unfamiliar genre? But perhaps because it's just quite imaginative.

The book incorporates many of the ills of our own society, and I'll admit, I kept waiting for it to become preachy or heavy handed as so many books that include the themes of  racism, segregation, religion and environmentalism tend to. Much to my happy surprise, the author manages to include these themes without beating us over the head with them. Not as a preachy point of view, but rather as hard issues faced by the characters.

Since I'm not a geneticist, doctor or any other type of scientist, I can't do any of the nitpicky stuff that I'm sure some readers will do. I found the scientific explanations believable, readable and downright enjoyable. Is any of it even remotely plausible? Heck if I know! But I enjoyed reading about it and imagining what might be!

There are large gaps of time between each part of the story, and I found that it often discombobulated my old brain for a few pages until I sort of caught up. However, I liked that the author doesn't spend time explaining the changes in societal mores, language, physical appearance and the like. He assumes we readers aren't dumb, and we'll figure it out as we go along. And, little miss Smarty-pants that I am, I did.

While on its face, the story is about the colonization of a distant world, this is much more the story of four strong women, faced with difficult choices, and the ramifications of their decisions. It's about people constructing and finding their way within brand new societies; all of whom never chose to be there in the first place.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't expect to like the book, and I found myself staying up way too late during a very busy week to read. And I found myself thinking about it for quite a few days after. In fact, I really only found one negative thing, and it's an aforementioned nitpicky thing....I read an electronic version, and the last 25% of the book had some typos that proofreading should have caught. And if that is the worst thing I can say about a book then it deserves at the very least an enthusiastic thumbs up from me!

Read Vale of Stars. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

My rating:



Friday, September 18, 2015

So....I'm back and damn it's been a long time....

I've been absent from the blogosphere for quite some time. I wondered, "Should I just review a book, and ignore my long absence?" Is that weird? Yeah, it is. I mean lets face it. I haven't exactly been  bashful in the past. You all know waaaay to much about pooper cancer thanks to me. So I decided to simply tell you about the past 18 months or so.

In short...2014 was a tough one. As was the first half of 2015. When I last posted, I was getting ready to begin chemo and looking back on my last post, wasn't I a feisty one! Chemo sorta kicked the stuffin's right outta me. But I did get the entire Jack Reacher series read, so, bright sides and all that. I started chemo in March of 2014. The very best thing that could happen to anyone, happened the end of April 2014, the hubs and I were awarded the Grandparent award when our daughter and her hubs had their first wee one. A beautiful, hilarious, bundle of energy. For purposes of this blog, I'll call her Twinkles, because she is just the happiest kid in the world! This picture isn't terribly new...it's from last November..but you see what I'm talking about...right??!
So..light of our life and all that!!

My daughter was sad when someone said Twinkles was our consolation prize for such an awful year. I told her that the root of the word "consolation" was console. And Twinkles consoled me in wonderful ways. Because yes, then things really got bad.

A week after Twinkles was born, my youngest son's girlfriend, with whom he had lived for two years, went into the same hospital with a migraine. Issa had been having them for about 5 years. The hospital did a CT and found a mass in her brain. Biopsies, bleeds, intracranial pressure, shunts, MRI's, and days of impossible decisions ensued before she was finally diagnosed. She had a non operable glioblastoma.She was more than a friend, she was a sister to my kids, like a daughter to us, and my son's  beautiful soul mate. I wish you all could have known her. She was as loving as she was beautiful. Funny, sassy, generous, loyal, and fiercely protective of those she loved.

When I had cancer surgery, she showed up with food to feed everyone in the family for days. While I was recovering, she brought me albondigas and posole...and giggled when she told me she toned down the heat for my Montana farm girl tastes. 

When I started radiation, she brought me...of all things, a "medicinal herb" that she had got from a friend with a "medicinal herb card". I laughed...but it ended up being what got me through both radiation and chemo. When I was in chemo she called me frequently to check up on me and just to talk. She was an extraordinary young woman.

And the crap storm that was 2014 continued...

The end of May of 2014, I had a pulmonary embolism. I don't recommend this. Hurts like a bitch. I always thought I was a tough old broad...had 4 kids with natural childbirth...yeah...I'm tough. And then...BAM...wow...those suckers hurt. And I had to start taking blood thinners for 6 months. No more "medicinal herb" on those bad chemo days. It interacts with the blood thinners. I finally said, to hell with it, and used it on the last couple chemo rounds, got yelled at by docs, but hey...I'm still standing...so there!

Two weeks after I completed chemo, in the beginning of July, we had to  move my mom in law out of her assisted living apartment building in a city 60 miles from our home. Her dementia had made even living with that limited amount of assistance untenable. The good news was that we were able to find a nice place much closer to our home, so I no longer had to make the twice weekly trek out to see her that I was doing prior to my cancer diagnosis and treatment. Now it only takes me about 10 minutes. I'll admit I had hoped to delay the move until I was feeling better, but I guess it all worked out in the end. I certainly don't miss those hours spent in traffic!

On July 26th, our son's lease was up, and since as he said, "I didn't move out to live alone, I moved out to live with Issa", he moved back home with us. Two days later, Issa passed away. She had been released from Cedars Sinai a week before to hospice care at her sisters home. My son and her family were all there with her when she died.

She died on July 28th, 2014.  And here it is, more than a year later, and I still can't write all this without crying. We miss her so. It's so hard to watch your child try to survive a broken heart.

Then began the year of firsts. Issa's birthday, our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without her, and all those other happy events that we memorialize throughout our years. Those things become sad and painful reminders of things lost.

I've had some problems with the long term side effects of pelvic radiation, I had some internal scar tissue removed from my *ahem, internal lady parts, (knocked out, sound asleep...no big deal...bring on the anesthesia!). In April of this year, I developed a hole in the center of  my retina, I blame chemo....retinal surgeon says...ehh...maybe...no proof. But damn....I'm like 30 years too young for that! I had surgery to repair it, and had to spend 5 days in a face down position, with a 5 minute break each hour. I'll probably develop a cataract in that eye within the year and have to have that removed. Aargh. But my vision in the eye is better...the blind spot is wee little now...whereas before I could close my good eye and the entire lane of oncoming traffic would *poof* disappear. And the immense flare up of previously mild osteoarthritis has suuuucked.....again..no proof it's from treatment, but weirdly coincidental....

All in all...I do not recommend radiation and chemo. Unless, of course, it's going to keep you alive and kicking and all that.....

Anyway....I am apparently terrible at 'summing up' .. Inigo Montoya would be disappointed in me. I'm in remission. Hopefully forever. Statistically speaking.. ..40% chance of recurrence, so I try to remain aware. I'm not sure exactly what I try to remain aware of, since I never had any symptoms in the first place. But if anyone asks, yeah, I pay close attention to things....?? The bummer black cloud I had hovering over my head last year and the first part of 2015 is dissipating. I can actually listen to my "Happy Music" playlist on Spotify now without wanting to chuck my phone out of my car window...so that's good! We got an adorable puppy in February, who always makes me smile. And our little Twinkles is hilarious to hang out with. (more about both later!)

Thanks for hanging in with me. Life's a wild pony ride. Sometimes it tries its best to buck your ass off, so you just have to hang on for all your worth.