Friday, October 18, 2013

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)
Genre: Horror, YA, Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
Buy It: Amazon
Reviews: Goodreads

Alice grew up  never allowed to leave the house after dark. Her alcoholic father built their house into a fortress, paranoid about monsters only he could see that came out at nighttime. Alice and her little sister, Emma, never got to do anything after dark. On her 16th birthday, Emma begs Alice to ask to go to her dance recital as a present. Alice can't say no so she convinced her parents to go. On the way home, her father is terrified the creatures are coming and causes her mother to lose control of the wheel and they get into an accident which kills Alice's family...and allows her to finally see the monsters.

Alice goes to live with her grandparents, and at her new school she meets a group of tough kids who carry secrets...and one of the boys, Cole, shares a strange connection to her.  As stranger and stranger things start to happen to her, down the rabbit hole she goes.

Ok, so I'm not the biggest zombie anyway. Zombie themed books, however, are blowing my mind. I like monster books, but after a while, all the themes on vampires and werewolves are getting hackneyed. Zombies, however, are so new (in comparison) that their stories are all so unique.

This one is a retelling, re-imagining of Alice In Wonderland. I can't say how true this is to Lewis Carroll's books since I've never read them. I grew up hating Alice In Wonderland. The Disney version upset me and the Jabberwocky scared the bejesus out of me. Not fun for a kid.

As an adult I haven't been able to revisit Alice's tale, but even without much knowledge of it, this book is still amazing. Ali is tough, smart and a well drawn character. At times she reminded me of Tris from Divergent, and other times she reminded me so much of Kate from Wilde's Fire I was almost convinced it was the same author. Cole is dreamy, brooding and surprisingly patient.  I loved them both so much.  The other characters were great and I may have shed a few tears for Alice's family.  You have to respect an author who makes you feel that much emotion for their characters.

Filed with romance, suspense, humor and horror, this was a fun, refreshing new take on zombies and on Alice in Wonderland.

Need a recommendation?  If you like Alice in Zombieland, you may also like:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

And Down The Pinterest Rabbit Hole I Go...

Pinterest is a fun website.  You can find loads of pictures of makeup, outfits, recipes, books, decorations, furniture, art, photography, puppies, kitties, polar bears hugging wolves...pretty much anything you can imagine.  However, it is a rabbit hole...once you enter, you fall into it and find yourself in an entirely new world.

Yesterday, I took one particularly disastrous tumble. You see, I have wavy hair.  Thick, frizzy, wavy hair. Picture Kelly McGillis from Top Gun.  That's my hair.

While I'm sure this was considered hot in 1986 (it wasn't), it really isn't my style here in 2013. I usually straighten my hair, but a) it's time consuming and b) it's very damaging to my hair. I decided that maybe I'd see if I could rock my waves.  I mean, I'd be okay with my waves if they were tamer, smoother, glossier.  More like this:
This is when I made my mistake.  My "Pinterest Fail".  I started searching for ways to get my hair from looking like Kelly McGillis' to looking like the woman in picture 2.  I stumbled upon various different pins showing gorgeous curls and waves by using the "plopping" method.  Well, this gave me pause.  I've recently had a string of unfortunate Google searches which have resulted in porn. (I wanted to find the .gif from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure of the character Large Marge, so I innocently typed "large marge gif" in the search bar...and got images of SIMPSONS PORN.  Did you know that's a thing?  Well, now I do and no amount of brain bleach will get rid of THOSE images.)  But steeling my courage and with one eye closed (to lessen the amount of porn I could accidentally see), I typed "plopping method" into the search engine.  Lo and behold, I found not porn but legitimate non-porn websites explaining "plopping" or "plunking". 

Basically it goes like this:
  • Step 1: Condition your hair.  It is strongly advised that you no longer shampoo your hair (the no-poo movement (enter joke here)), but if you must, do it and then condition. And then re condition. You can comb your hair while in the shower, but not once after!  This is it for any knots.
  • Step 2: Condition your hair.  Seriously, now you put in leave-in conditioner.  This is supposed to keep your hair so moist that it can't frizz (dry hair frizzes more than moisturized). But do NOT towel dry your hair.  Step away from the towel.  Towels cannot touch your hair.  Bad towel, bad!
  • Step 3: Plop.  Ok, so this is when you do the plopping.  Since you can't use a towel on your hair, you use either a micro-fiber towel or a t-shirt.  Long or short-sleeved, your choice.  Leaning over the t-shirt, you position your hair on the t-shirt, put the shirt over your head and then twist the edges around and tie them at the back so you have a sort of turban deal going on.  
  • Step 4: Dry. You leave your hair plopped for 20 minutes, and then you can blow-dry your hair with a diffuser only! until your hair is 80% dry.  No more than 80%.  How you can tell then your hair is 80% dry versus, say 84% or 76%, I have no idea.  If there's a hair dryness meter, I don't have one.  It also says that you can just leave your hair up and sleep in the t-shirt and skip the hair drier all together.  
  • Step 5: No touch!  That's right. No touching your hair.  It'll just frizz, so noooo touchy.
What followed were the aforementioned pictures of gorgeous hair, curly or wavy.  And I fell.  Hook. Line. Sinker.

Last night I decided to wash my hair before going to bed and since it's humid outside, I figured straightening my hair was a lost cause (humidity + straightened hair = frizz).  I washed my hair (the dreaded shampoo) and conditioned it.  Left the conditioner on for like 5 minutes.  I put in leave in conditioner.  I didn't so much as LOOK at my combs/brushes. I found a t-shirt (while dripping wet) and went for the plop.  Not as easy as they describe, let me tell you.  Attempt 1 immediately fell off again.  Attempt 2 was slightly better, but I had all this extra t-shirt hanging out the sides.  Attempt 3 was finally right...ish.  No matter, I jumped into bed prepared to wait my 20 minutes and then see what it looked like.  Unfortunately, this is just when my husband decided to come into the bedroom...and laugh.  I explained to him plopping (more chortling) and how it would give me gorgeous, frizz-free waves.  He replied by asking me where the snake I was going to charm was.  20 minutes and several wise-cracks from the husband later, I was falling asleep.  I had no energy to blow dry my hair (only to 80% but still), so I opted to sleep in it.

I woke up still in the t-shirt turban and stood in front of the mirror to see...waves.  And no frizz.  Ok, so the waves on the right side weren't as tight as the waves on the left, but I just heated up my curling iron and spruced them up a bit.  I was dressed and out the door in no time...and walked out into a damp, humid, slightly windy day.  Wind + damp/humidity is even worse on frizz than just regular humidity.  It's like blow drying your hair with humidity.  My hair immediately started to grow.  And frizz.  I didn't have time to fix it, so I ran out the door.  I could feel my hair frizzing as I drove to the train station.  It was growing as I waited for the train.  It started invading my face and tickling my eye lashes as I made my way in to the city.  And on the final walk from the station to my office, I was in full on attack. 

My hair was trying to eat me. Like straight out of Looney Tunes, the hair monster was trying to attack and eat me.
No amount of trying to smooth (broke the rule - no touching!) it helped.  I tried adding a glossing/smoothing coconut oil, but it was too late.  I was in full-on Kelly McGillis hair.  The hair monster had won.

So here I am, armed only with one stretched out hair tie and baby clip which can only hold about 10 strands of my hair and having to face my day as Kelly McGillis.  It's too bad Halloween is still 2 weeks away.  I would totally win any costume contest.  I would take a picture and show you, I really would, but my phone battery is dead, so there goes that.  Instead I invite you to use your imagination.  Create what you imagine me to look like in your own heads.  I assure you, it can't be as bad as the real thing.

Lesson learned. Pinterest is a cruel, cruel master and I think I need to slowly and calmly walk away.

Stay tuned for tomorrow. I promised an actual book review and you'll get one!  Alice in Zombieland. (Hence the rabbit hole theme.  See what I did there?)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Fall Photos

Wordless Wednesday time!

Every fall I take my two favorite models and pose them around the neighborhood.  I can usually get them in some cute and candid shots while showcasing the gorgeous changing leaves, but this year I thought was a total failure.  Benny Blanco wouldn't look at the camera.  Riley decided to pee on something the second I hit the button.  The sunlight blocked out the trees and everything looked over-exposed and washed out.  I deleted most of them, but I found a couple that looked okay and amazingly enough, the over-exposed one (with some help from Instagram) ended up looking amazing.  So I present to you my boys, awash in sun beams!
This past Saturday, I spent the day with veterans from WWII and the Korean War as we toured the war memorials here in DC as a part of Honor Flight Dayton.  For those of you who have been keeping up with the news and have heard the rants of the righteous who have been screaming for blood since the government shut down, I say to you this: we got in to every memorial just fine.  Well, Iwo Jima, which is located next to Arlington National Cemetery (located across from DC in VA), was blocked off by a police car and the port-a-potties were chained closed, but there were off-duty marines who escorted us to the memorial and the Arlington City Police gave us an escort back across to the river into DC.  But the National Mall?  Here is what greeted us:
Well, as you may know, the First Amendment includes the right to peaceably assemble, which is what I assume we were doing, so we just walked around the sign and the (moveable) barricades and viewed the war memorials.  Speaking of story.  At the Iwo Jima memorial, there was a woman with the following sign: "Please take down the barrycades." I didn't have the heart to tell her that it's an "i" not a "y". 

So that's me and my Wordless Wednesday.  Stay tuned for a book review (shock!).  I finally read something and I'll post my review of it shortly.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Benny Blanco's Birthday!

Guess what day it is?

Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike! What day is it?

Ok, sorry, it's not quite hump day but any excuse to giggle over that commercial. What today IS though, is my puppy dog's birthday.  The last time I celebrated one of my dogs' birthdays here on blogger and on Wordless Wednesday was the day after the Boston Marathon Bombing in April.  And here we are a week and a day after the Navy Yard Shootings and I'm celebrating my other dog's birthday. (On a sad note, one of the victims is from my little town in Maryland where I grew up and I was on swim team with his daughters as a child.  While I don't remember him, my brother and my father do.  Apparently he was just the nicest man.)

I do have to pause and wonder what is going on with this world.  This week it's the mall attacks in Kenya.  It makes me somewhat scared for next week.

However, life does go on and we really must celebrate all the good there is in the world because it IS there.  It's not as publicized as the evil, but it's there.

So to a good thing in my life, my boy Benny Blanco from the Bronx, I wish a very happy 9th birthday.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The DC Navy Yard Shooting: My Thoughts

As you may or may not know, I work in DC.  I was born here in DC and I live outside the city.  Today's shooting at the Navy Yard happened maybe a mile and half - two miles from my office.  A quick 5 minute cab ride.  I've been following twitter and the trending hashtag #NavyYardShooting and several of the posts infuriate me.  So I thought I'd straighten a few things about about DC for everyone.

First, it's a tiny city.  Teeny tiny in the realm of major world capitals. 68.3 square miles, including water.  It is sandwiched between Maryland and Virginia. Since it's small, many of the people who work in DC commute in from the MD and VA suburbs, like I do.

Second, for 32 or so years, handguns were banned in DC.  That was repealed in 2007 (it's true, look it up). However, considering its close proximity to Maryland and Virginia, you could live in one of those states, get your gun there and then drive on over to DC in no time at all.

Third, since 9-11 and the sniper shootings, security in DC is high.  My building rents out 3 or 4 floors to the DoJ (Dept. of Justice) and there are armed guards on each of those floors.  I pass armed MTA, K-9 units and TSA agents at the train station EVERY DAY.  And frequently DCPD as well.

So arming DC?  It's not the answer here.  The DC cop and the security guard who were shot today were armed and unfortunately, they were still harmed.  Guns aren't the problem or the solution.  Unhinged people are the problem...I have no idea what the solution is.

Fourth, while DC is overflowing with military and government agencies, they all employ civilians.  A lot of civilians.  We don't know who was injured aside from the DC police officer and the security guard, but I would assume that civilians got hurt as well.

So stop making jokes about this being a military hit.  Stop assuming that more guns would have solved the problem.  Just stop.

People died today. Let's all have some respect for them and the families who are grieving.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sure is quiet around here...

Hello all my lovely followers! 

So sorry for being MIA lately.  I have no excuses, really.  I've been reading, but I just haven't read anything spectacular that I want to share with everyone.  I downloaded a bunch of books to take on my recent vacation, but I was distracted by the fact that I was in Costa Rica. It was so freakin' beautiful I didn't want to waste any awake time by not looking at the scenery and animals and doing all the fun things.  I mean, I went zip lining upside down!  See?  Proof:

So now I'm not in the gorgeous "tropical humid forest" of Costa Rica, but in the "mid-Atlantic humid swamp" that is DC.  And back to books I go!

Well, as I mentioned before, I haven't read anything ZOMG in quite a while, so I decided to go back to the beginning. Back to the first books that made me fall in love with reading.  It was in 8th grade when my fabulous friend Beatriz introduced me to The Belgariad by David Eddings. 

The first book is Pawn of Prophecy.Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad, #1) Taking place in a different fantastical world, it's the story of a young boy, Garion, who is being raised on a farm by his Aunt Pol.  A migrant story-teller, Mr. Wolf, comes to visit now and then and befriends the boy. When Garion is about 14, events in his life take a turn for the strange and dangerous and he, his aunt, Mr. Wolf and the farm's blacksmith, Durnik, leave on an adventure to search for "someone" who has stolen "something".  These people and that thing will turn Garion's ordinary life into something extraordinary, and everything he thought he knew gets flipped around. 

It's such a fun book.  It's epic high fantasy.  The first 5 books in this world are The Belgariad and the second 5 books are The Mallorean.  These books gripped me and dragged me into their world right away and I found myself dying to read the next and the next and the next.  When I finished with them I realized that I needed another book to take the place of this fabulous series...and thus my love of books began.  20 some years later, I've reread the series 4 or 5 times.  Each time I learn something new, smile at something that I know now will happen but didn't realize then.  I always enjoy it and I love sharing these books with others and vicariously reliving that first time in David Edding's world through them.

I highly recommend these books.  They start out YA, so are totally appropriate for younger readers, but they have a maturity that lends them well to adult eyes.  I must say that my high English SAT score can directly be related to these books.  Also most of my speech affectations.  I didn't realize how unoriginal I was until I started reading it again this time and realized how much of my speech I stole from these books.  Oh well, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right?

I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer!  If you have anything spectacular that you'd like to recommend to me to read, please do!  In the meanwhile, if you need me, I'll be buried in The Belgariad and The Mallorean.  I'll be in touch again soon!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Pop Travel by Tara Tyler

Pop Travel
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
Rating: 5 stars

In the year 2080, the newest technology is Pop Travel, a way to "pop" from one place to the next. It still takes place in an airport (unless you're rich enough to own your own pop travel set up), but instead you are issued a tranquilizer and when you come to a moment later, you have arrived at your destination.

J.L. Cooper is a private eye in a little town outside Atlanta. He leads a quiet life until a nervous, paranoid man comes with him asking for help. His fiance disappeared after popping and the authorities are writing him off as just a jilted lover, but he knows otherwise. He's convinced there's a cover up and that the government is out to get him. Cooper has no idea that by trying to help this man, he will put his own life in danger.

I loved this book. I could so easily see it being a movie. It is sci-fi in that there's advanced technology, but otherwise, it's not that far out of the realm of reality and current technology. The characters in this were likeable and real. It was suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat, unable to put the book down.

Highly recommended!