South of Normal

Español: Frontera entre Nicaragua y Costa Rica...

Español: Frontera entre Nicaragua y Costa Rica En el Río San Juan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First off, don’t you just love the title?  Because, after all, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you, too, are more than a little south of normal.  Unfortunately, I can’t take any credit (not even a little bit) for that title.  That goes to Mr. Norm Schriever, author and adventurer.  This guy gave up his big-bucks job in corporate America (who hasn’t considered doing that?), sold almost everything he had, and made off for little old Costa Rica for a year-long adventure.  He had three goals that he wanted to meet before his fortieth birthday.  Now I’m not going to tell you whether or not he achieved what he set out to achieve, but I will tell you that he had some pretty wild goings-on while living in Central America.  And this book will take you along for the ride.

I happened upon the book while browsing ebooks on Amazon…downloaded it to my kindle and began reading it the same day.  It took me a couple of days to finish it…I could have finished it in one day, but it was one of those books that I didn’t want to end.  I’m sure you’ve come across those types of books where you try not to rush through it because you know you just don’t want the relationship to end.

Speaking of relationships, Norm’s style of writing reminds me of the times when I get together with my old friends from the Little Italy days…we sit around talking and laughing, eating and drinking, and it’s like we’ve never been apart.  I felt that same kind of relationship with Norm while reading his book.

I don’t often recommend books here (if you knew how many books I’ve read, you’d think I’d write about more of them), but this is one book I think so many of you would like.  If you’re a writer, you’ll definitely want to read South of Normal.  If you’ve ever considered chucking it all and moving to the back of nowhere, you’ll be interested in Norm’s story.  If you’ve ever searched (or thought about searching) for the meaning of life, well then, I think you’ll want to see what Norm has to say about that.  Pick it up, come on, do it right now while you’re thinking about it.  Then come back here and let me know what you think.

Now I need to start selling all of my stuff and make my flight plans for somewhere tropical where I can get my book finished and practice my Spanish…

How do you like your books?

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle (Photo credit: agirregabiria)

Since I bought my Kindle, I’ve read a lot of ebooks…a lot of them.  Before I started reading books on an eReader I wasn’t sure I’d care much for it.  I was one of those people who said I wanted to be able to hold a book in my hands, to feel the paper, to smell that book smell.   I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to reading on a Kindle.  However, sometimes I still catch myself reaching up to turn the page…

But today I ordered three books on writing…one a workbook, another a book written by Chris Baty (of NaNoWriMo fame)…anyhow, even tho one of the books was available for my Kindle at a lower price, I went ahead and ordered the hard copy of all of them.  I figured this was a special situation…one where I would like to make notes in the books as I read (yes, you can do that with a Kindle…but it doesn’t quite seem the same), where I would refer to the books in the future.  So it just seemed like the thing to do.  Yep, I could have already been reading the book on my Kindle rather than waiting for them to be delivered to my house, but still…I want the books, I want to see them sitting on my book shelf, I want to pull them down and page through them, I want to make notes in the margin and underline pertinent passages.

Maybe I’m not quite as technologically advanced as I like to give myself credit for…how about you?  Do you have an eReader?  Do you read most of your books that way or do you prefer to hold the book in your hands and absorb it that way?  Or are you like me and do both?  Isn’t this a great time to be alive?  We have so many opportunities.

And finally…

…here it is…the unveiling…

Kindle touch

Yes Patti, you guessed it…altho I wonder if you saw it on facebook first????   Anyhow, really easy to set up…really easy to download the books…maybe too easy?  But I’ve had several friends tell me about the free books available at Amazon as well as other places, so I think that’s going to be a good thing.   I must admit, I put it off for quite some time simply because I kept thinking I wouldn’t want to move away from books with pages made out of real paper.  But I’ve kind of changed my mind…simply because my book collection is now too large..I need an actual library to house them all.  I think I can avoid adding to the stacks by reading the books on my Kindle.  What about you?  Do you have a Kindle (or other eReader)?

I Am Legend…or the book I thought I’d never finish

I Am Legend (film)

Image via Wikipedia

Okay, let me get this out there first thing, I am an avid reader…always have been.  I have favorite authors (James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, John Sandford, Janet Evanovich, Iris Johansen, Lee Child, and so on) and I devour their books.  They always end much too quickly and then the long wait begins again for the next book that they’ve written to hit the bookstore (or Amazon’s page).

While I’m waiting for new books by my favorite authors, I pick up anything that looks like it might be good (how else do you find new favorite authors, right?).  Being the frugal person that I am try to be…I often get books on the cheap at the local Friends of the Library bookstore or Goodwill.  (Yes, I could check books out at the library, but then you have to remember to take them back…and I always forget…that tends to get me in a lot of know those librarians…I’d rather have the school bully mad at me than have a librarian give me that cold librarian stare).

A few weeks ago, I bought several books at Goodwill.  One of those books was I Am Legend…you know, the one that they made into a movie starring Will Smith?  I must admit, I never saw the movie and hadn’t heard anything about it, so really had no idea what the book was about…but they made a movie out of it so someone must have thought it was good, right?  Oh my word…I started the book…and gave up on it, setting it aside in favor of another book.  Read a few more books, then came back to I Am Legend…having forgotten why I stopped reading it in the first place.  Started over, read a little until I could go no further.  Set it aside once again.  Read several more books until I had no books in the house that I hadn’t already read.  Kept seeing I Am Legend sitting there on the bedroom table.  I didn’t really want to pick it up, but being the voracious reader that I am, had to have something to read.  So I picked it up and forced myself to finish it.  And believe me when I tell you I had to force myself to finish it (heck, I had to force myself not to throw it across the room).

I was a little more than halfway through the book when there was an abrupt plot change.  I kept reading, thinking what in the world is going on here?  Kept reading, getting more and more confused…then it dawned on me…I had finished I Am Legend and was now reading short stories…sadly none of the short stories were any better than I Am Legend…thankfully today I managed to get out and buy some new (used) books to read…one of them by Lee Child…ahh…reading is a pleasure again.

The Litigators

All 24 John Griham novels as of June 30, 2010

Image via Wikipedia

“The Litigators” is the latest John Grisham novel.  Well, actually it won’t be released until October 25, but I just found out tonight that a free copy is on its way to me as we speak (or as I write and you read, however you want to look at it).  I’m getting the free book simply because I’m a BzzAgent and have created a buzz about John Grisham and one of his books that I’m reading and reviewing, “The Firm”.  That’s a pretty nice perk for doing something that I enjoy anyhow. 

What a pleasant surprise after a long, hard day at work.  It really does pay to be a BzzAgent.  If you get the chance, check it out.  And I’m looking forward to reading “The Litigators”  and giving you all of the buzz on it.

The long and winding road to fitness, day 106

John Sandford Owns Me

Image by Bill.Roehl via Flickr

Ahh…a day off work.  I actually slept in until around 7 am!!  That felt good.  I ran a few errands this morning and still made it home before noon.  I had to go to my insurance agent’s office so she could do an inspection on my car.  That didn’t take long, I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.  I was going to stop at Goodwill, but when I saw how full their parking lot was, I just kept on driving.  I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a lot of people in a small space.  However, I did go to WalMart…yikes!  Not my favorite place to go, but I knew I needed to get a scraper for my windshield since it’s the time of the year when we’ll start having frost.  I also bought this handy-dandy faux shearling seat belt cover to keep the darn thing from irritating my neck.  I knew they made them, but I’d never bought one.  Never had a seat belt hit me right where this one does.  It certainly does the trick…instant relief.

I’m still not feeling all that good…I thought I was feeling better, but today I had issues again.  I even took a nap this afternoon and that helped a bit.  Not sure what it is, but I just don’t feel right…not totally sick to my stomach, but I feel like it could happen…blah!

I did some strength training and range of motion exercises this morning before heading out.  Then I walked for about 25 minutes this afternoon.  I also did a little dancing while I was cleaning the kitchen…not all that much exercise in that, but it sure was fun!

I didn’t eat all that much today, my stomach just didn’t feel up to a lot of food.  I did buy some V8 fusion to take to work, a serving of veggies and a serving of fruit in each can.  I bought the pomegranate blueberry…very tasty.  So tomorrow’s meals and snacks are planned, I’m going to try to get a decent amount of sleep tonight.

Oh, I just finished reading Bad Blood by John Sandford…great series…I’m always disappointed when I finish one of his books because then I have to wait for the next one.  What’s the deal with these writers, can’t they write any faster?  What are we supposed to do between books?!

Have you read any good books lately?  Anything by your favorite author?

The long and winding road to fitness, day 94


I think this is day 94, I’m so sleepy and tired that I’m not absolutely certain what my name is…Abigail, right?  Uhh…wait…that’s not right…Anyhow, the first day of my vacation started really early…like 2 am, how’s that for early?  We found out yesterday that we were going to have corporate visitors today.  We were the first stop on a whirlwind, two-day tour of the district.  I don’t want to say too much about it…you never know who might be reading these things…you know, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t spying on you…suffice it to say, we got a “C” on the visit.  I’m unaccustomed to receiving a C in anything…an awful lot of work went into that C…I’ll just leave it at that and you can fill in the blanks.  But it’s over and now I really am on vacation…I am so looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.  And then just spending the day doing whatever I want to do.

I didn’t do any official exercise today…but I did do a ton of running around, ladder climbing, stair climbing, lifting, etc.  Oh yeah, and stressing out, as we did our last-minute preparations for the big visit. 

I finished the day with about 1400 calories, unless I decide to eat a bowl of ice cream later…I may just be too tired to do that though.  And that wouldn’t be a bad thing.  Just go to bed and forget about the ice cream.

I did still manage to get in my 750 words today.  I’m working on my book now and making some progress.  Kind of exciting to be able to say “I’m writing a book.”  One of my friends told me about a friend of hers who has written several books, told me she was sure she’d be glad to help me out if I have any questions.  See, you just never know when a networking opportunity might show up.  Just be open to the opportunities….go for it!

So, what is everyone else doing?  I feel like I’ve kind of lost touch a little what with going to bed so early every night and working so many hours every day….what’s going on?

Do I need a Kindle?

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Sheesh..I know I don’t NEED a Kindle, but I sure do want one.  I’m an avid reader, have been my entire life.  But now I’m trying to declutter my life…trying to get rid of things I don’t use or enjoy…trying to really think things through before I make a purchase.  I guess that’s kind of what I’m doing here…trying to make sure this is something I would truly use.

I have several friends who have Kindles (or other e-readers).  They all talk about how much they love them.  Would I love one?  I pretty much think I would, but do I need one?  I don’t need it, I know I don’t, but I believe I would get a lot of use and enjoyment out of one. I’ve been researching them, seems like there are quite a few options now that weren’t available just a couple of years ago.  So not only do I need to decide whether or not to buy a Kindle, but which one…decisions, decisions…

I have to admit, the thought of buying one for myself for Christmas (don’t tell me I’m the only person who buys Christmas presents for herself?  Come on, at least you know you’re getting something you want that way) has been in my mind frequently of late.

What do you think?  Do you have a Kindle or other e-reader?  Do you get a lot of use out of it?  Are you happy you got one or is it sitting there collecting dust?

New BzzAgent campaign…Grisham

I was invited to take part in a new BzzAgent campaign.  I have to tell you, I was really excited about this one.  I was given the choice of two Grisham books…The Firm and The Confession.  Now many of you may already know, I just posted a blog about The Confession not that long ago.  So that made choosing which book to receive, read, and review just a little easier. 

I received The Firm yesterday.  It was just sitting on my front porch waiting for me when I got home from work.  Of course, I ripped open the package as soon as I brought it in to the house.  There’s nothing like having a new, never-opened book to read. 

Yes, I have read The Firm, many years ago.  I was surprised to learn that this is the 20th anniversary edition of the book.  It certainly doesn’t seem like I’ve been reading Grisham’s books for twenty years, but there you go.  The numbers don’t lie!

I’ve never read a Grisham book that I didn’t like, but I’m anxious to see if The Firm is as enjoyable the second time around.  I’m thinking it most likely will be, I doubt if it’s lost anything over the years.  How exciting is it to be able to do a review about something that you love (reading, Grisham, books)?  I love these BzzAgent campaigns!

Stay tuned for my review once I’ve read the book again.  Have you read The Firm?  More than once? 

Sarah’s Key…this book will make you think

Rafle du Vel d'Hiv plaque

Image via Wikipedia

I picked this book up Saturday and finished reading it Sunday evening…you can always tell how much I like a book by how quickly I read it.  I had trouble putting Sarah’s Key down…that’s how good this book is.

The book seamlessly weaves the stories of a young Jewish girl (Sarah) in France during World War II and a modern era American journalist  (Julia) who has a writing assignment about the horror that was the Vel’ d’Hiv in Paris.  Not sure what the Vel’ d’Hiv is?  Neither was I.  French Jews (women and children along with the men) were rounded up by French police officers, forced to the Velodrome d’Hiver where they were held prisoner for several days, no food, no water, no restrooms…they were held in these horrendous conditions by their fellow countrymen…I guess that’s one of the things that struck me, these were not Nazis, these were French police officers who committed these atrocities against French citizens.

The people were eventually shipped off to the concentration camps, but the pain and suffering they endured along the entire journey was something no human should have to live through.  Sarah and her parents were caught in the round-up, but Sarah hid her four-year-old brother in their secret hiding place to keep him safe.  I won’t give away that part of the story, but be sure you have a box of tissues close at hand.  I will tell you that Sarah manages to escape, but she lives with what happened for the rest of her life.  There’s no escaping the hell these people lived through.

As Julia researches the story, she learns about Sarah and is captivated by her plight…obsessed might be a better word.  But I found myself feeling just as obsessed as Julia was.  I won’t tell you that the story has a happy ending, how could it when you consider the subject matter?

I think, for me, the story raises all kinds of questions…why did we never study this part of the war in school?  What we studied made it seem that  the Nazis in Germany were solely responsible for all of the atrocities that occurred (and the Japanese as far as Pearl Harbor was concerned), but not that the police in other nations turned against their countrymen.   What else isn’t common knowledge?  Did the United States play some part in allowing so many of the powerful, wealthy Nazis to emigrate to South America, and if so, for what purpose?   I’m totally off focus here, but I told you the book would make you think…give it a read and let me know what you think.