Friday, December 25, 2009

How to Seduce a Ghost How to Seduce a Ghost by Hope McIntyre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a fairly intricate mystery, but there was one annoying thing that the author kept doing: telling me what just happened. One character would say something and then the author would explain EXACTLY what that just meant. There was the problem of infidility. The heroine has a long term boyfriend, but has a brief affair and instant attraction with what ends up being the husband of her client. Her guilt and remorse is something that she has to deal with, but she really doesn't feel all that guilty and her feelings for her boyfriend are not clear cut either making the affair a huge albatross around her neck. Giving a heroine whom the reader has not decided she likes yet such a fault is definitely risky. If you keep reading the plot eventually evens out and the mystery takes over and becomes more engrossing. However, Lee doesn't ever become someone who grows on you enough to make you buy into the series.

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Beat the Reaper: A Novel Beat the Reaper: A Novel by Josh Bazell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I bought this book on impulse at the buy one get one half off Border's table before we left on a flight. It said it was a mix of Tarantino and the Coen brothers, which intrigued me. The storyline has Dr. Peter Brown interning at Manhattan's worst hospital where he meets someone from his very bad past: his hit man past. Then the book takes a quirky turn.

Yep, this book is a mix of Tarantino and the Coen brothers. It was so awesome that I finished it in one day, read it nonstop on the plane. It is a page turner and so wild that it defies description.

So if you like Carl Hiaasen, Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers and you don't mind a little blood and gore, pick up this crazy, wonderful read.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Basket of Chocolates and MUN

This morning on my desk was a large basket of chocolates and the following Christmas card:

Mrs. McLean,

I'd like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season. If it wasn't for you, I would have been totally lost at MUN, and it probably wouldn't have been such a great experience! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


I'll leave the student anonymous, but she did make my entire day and start my week off with quite a bang. Who says kids don't love research? MUN kids really love country research. They are a wacky bunch, but I love them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Gift of the Season

For the last 18 or so years, Fred and I have thrown a holiday party. When we lived in Arizona, it was a New Year's Eve party. Arizonans were not afraid to stay out on NYE and stayed out late. It was a great party in Arizona and since we had a small house, it was all tables and chairs. When we moved to Florida, we tried a NYE party, but almost everyone we invited said no. They stayed home on NYE. "Hmmm," we thought. "This is throwing a wrench into our holiday party plans."

So for the Florida people, we changed to a Christmas party, with a white elephant gift exchange. It started out fairly small: 10-12 people and has grown to its current size of 24. Fred and I have perfected a Mexican themed menu with one or two new recipes a year. We follow a pretty strict regimen or 30-45 minutes of appetizers, then a soup course, then sit down dinner, then more chatting and mingling then dessert or white elephant gift exchange or vice versa and coffee. It usually takes me about two weeks to prepare for the party as the house needs to be completely decked out in Christmas decorations. The tree needs to be up. The tables need to be set up (two tables of twelve: I head one, Fred heads the other, no couples sit together). I've been collecting Christmas china, flatware, and crystal for about 20 years. I have a complete set for 24. I am totally nuts. I acknowledge that. 8-)

Above is my table.
But what I have also acknowledged in this massive labor of love of cooking, decorating and hosting is that we invite the friends we love. We invite the friends we socialize with, with whom we want to spend time. We invite the people who are important in our lives and while they may not mix on any other occasion; once a year for the past 12 or so years they have gotten together at our house and they have become friends for our sakes.

This is Fred's table.

So I thank them all for their gift of friendship, for making it possible to have such a party. For if we didn't have such wonderful friends, it would be me and Fred and Bingo and Willow watching TV and wondering what happened.

So thank you all. And for those of you who came late to the party after the 24th seat was filled. I am working, working, working on Fred to get an addition built so I can invite you to the party too! Fred has a plan. See, Fred assures me he can do it! 8-)

The White Elephant Gift Exchange

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Memory and Friendship

Went to a Celebration of Life today. Rather, a funeral service without the body or ashes of a colleague and friend. She had passed away last Friday from leukemia and there never was any good moment to have a great big all out cry. Either we had guests or there was school. The timing just never seemed right.

So, I waited for today. My friend Eileen said that these Celebrations never really allow her to get her cry on and for that reason she dislikes them. She said it was a purely selfish reason. I was able to introduce myself and my husband to her son and daughter in law (although I had met them before in the hospital). As we were walking to the actual Celebration, I started talking with a former teacher who is a friend I haven't seen in quite a while. She held out her arm and said, "I wore our wristband." I nodded. And then I realized I hadn't a clue what she meant by that. So I asked, "What wristband?"

"Don't you remember? From Bok Tower? When we went with Mo on a road trip?"

And all of a sudden I felt so happy because here was a memory that I had completely forgotten. One great day when the three of us took a summer road trip and meant it to be just a morning lunch thing, but we didn't get home until after 5. Earlier in the week Fred had asked me what stories I had of Mo and I couldn't come up with a really good one. Now I had one whole day.

Of course there were many moments with her. Lots of memories. Lots of wonderful times and times when she was exasperated with kids during retreats or at graduation. And it will be very strange now to go to our graduation and not have her there to run it. To not have her there to sing the march for us to walk to our places. To not have her tell US to be quiet. 8-)

And when the pipe and drum corps played Amazing Grace I had my good cry, even though it was a Celebration of Life. So Eileen was wrong.