Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book List - January 2012

So here is the start of the my 2012 book list. I have two rules:

1. If I don't finish the book it doesn't go on my list.
2. Every book I read will go on the list. You may be surprised by some of the things I read.

Here is what I read in January:

1. The Next Aways by Nora Roberts - I'm a sucker for Nora Roberts Trilogies. I don't know why. They are always the same - three characters (sometimes four - usually a trio of brothers, sisters or girlfriends) and each book in the trilogy is one character's story of finding true love and each book ends with a marriage proposal (sorry if I spoiled it for you). But I started reading this book during my Christmas vacation and was a light, easy read.

2. Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James - I am a big fan of Jane Austen. I've read all six of her books (some more than once) and have read my fair share of contemporary re-makes and possible continuations of her stories. And while this book very much captured the essences of Pride & Prejudice, as a mystery it totally lacked intrigue and tension.

3. Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier - This was an interesting work of fiction about two woman who really existed in the English seaside town of Lyme in the 1800s. They were fossil "hunters" in a time before evolutions was a fully flushed out theory (before Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published) and the field of fossil collection and examination was dominated by men.

4. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens - I was enjoying this book (fiction) about a woman who was abducted and held for almabout a year, locked in a cabin in the mountains. The man holding her not only raped and beat her on a regular basis but control everything about her life: when and what she ate, when and how she bathed and even when she went to the bathroom. But a little more than 2/3 into the book the plot took a weird and kind of unbelievable turn. I found the ending contrived and a little disappointing,

5. High on Arrive by Mackenzie Phillips - Poor Mackenzie, she never really had a chance with such a sad and totally screwed up father. This book was exactly as I expected, full of drug abuse, sex, drug abuse, hedonism, drug abuse, incest, drug abuse, mental abuse, drug abuse, rape, drug abuse, physical abuse, drug abuse, kidnappings and more drug abuse.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's All About the Cut and Color

This week I'm going to color my hair. I've been coloring my own hair for about 20 years now. I first did it when I was in my early 20s because I wanted to lighten my dark brown hair. I color my hair now because it's going gray and it sucks. I totally expected to start going gray at some point but not as early as my mid-30s. I have also noticed over the last few years that my eyebrows are going gray as well. WTF?

Women are very attached to their hair. A great haircut can make you feel beautiful (that is until you try to replicate the salon style the next day). A bad one can make you feel like a troll that needs to hide under a bridge until it grows out. And we've all had our share of bad ones and they can go back, way back, to pre-teen times (or earlier) and scar you for life.

I hardly had any hair until I was almost five years old. Woman in the 70s who had the fashionable pixie cut had more hair that I did at the time. My friend's 14 month old daughter has more hair than I did at five. Eventually it did grown to be dark brown and straight. And, of course, when a woman has straight hair she wants it curly and vice verse.

When I was 11 or 12 I got my first perm to make my straight hair curly. My mother took me to the hair salon in JCPennys and I came home looking like Bozo the Clown (except it wasn't bright red and I still had hair on the top). I wanted to wash my hair immediately but my mother wouldn't let me (she paid good money for that perm - even if she admitted it was a bad perm) so I wore a hat to bed at night in an attempt to flatten it down (it didn't work). I was mortified.

I have always had bangs. And on occasion I have cut them myself. I have gotten much better at it but I have proof in the form of school photos that it's taken me a long time to get better at this skill and I'm still not great at it. And I usually just fess up to it every time I get my hair cut (I figure the person cutting my hair can tell so I might as well be honest). I don't recomment cutting your own hair (like giving yourself layers). Chances are you'll end up looking like your 7 year old niece snuck up on you while you were taking nap.

Over the years the length of my hair has also changed. It usually is at a medium length (rest at or slightly above my shoulders) but every so often I get the urge to cut it pretty short (but never pixie short - that look really on works on tall, thin woman like on America's Next Top Model). In college I didn't have a lot of money so I never got my hair cut. By the time I graduated it was the longest it had every been, halfway down my back. It was perfectly straight and, as it was the early 90s, I decided to get a spiral perm to give me lots and lots of curls. It was quite an ordeal and cost over $100 but it was worth it. I looked good. Of course about 9 mouths later it grew out and wasn't as curly so I cut it off to above my shoulder.

The last perm I had was a home perm done 6 or 7 years ago. It didn't really take. I probably won't ever get a perm again.

But I have learned some things over the years about coloring my hair and now I will share my wisdom.

1. If you have brown or black hair and you want to go blond, go to a professional. None of the boxes will do it for you so don't even try. Also, if you want to look like a natural redhead, do the same.
2. Stay away from weird color names. Stick with dark, medium or a light. Don't be tempted by colors that have the words golden, auburn, ash, reddish or chestnut in them. I know from personal experience that these will give your hair an unnatural color highlights to them (like mauve and purple).
3. The box usually suggests you test the color on a hair sample. I recommend you do this.
4. Follow the instructions. Don't keep the color on longer than recommended.
5. Wear a t-shirt that you don't mind destroying. This is a messy job and it's going to drip.
6. Pay close attention to the distribution of the dye (have a friend help you if neccessary). If you have thinning hair you might want to use more on top than at the bottom.
7. You might want to color your hair right before you get a haircut. Depending on the product, it might dry out the ends of your hair. Dye your hair, then get a hair cut to get ride of dry, split ends.
8. Finally be aware that the color will eventually go away and fade. If you make a drastic change in your color you will have roots showing eveutally. If you like your new color, stick with it. If you didn't, try another color or choose a color that is as similar to your natural color and then you won't have to worry about roots.

May all you ladies out there find the cut and color that makes you feel beautiful!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year, New Book List

There are only two things I do at the beginning of every new year: buy a new calendar and start a new book list. This year I will be sharing my book list with you. I started doing this a couple of years ago because I wanted to see how many books I read in a year and because I had the tendency to start reading a book that I had already read. Yes, I needed to keep track of the books I read.

I will be open for recommendations. And if you are a reader, here is where I recommend you go to find a new book to read: Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/).

For me, calling a book "good" is subjective (kind of of like movies and works of art). It all depends on what you like and enjoy reading. If you don't like romances you probably don't think Nora Robert's books are "good" even though she's a best seller.

Of course there is a craft to writing which does make a good book (along with the mysteries of how a book actually gets published which I have yet to solve). A writer needs to have a grasp of the English language (grammar, spelling, sentence structure), have a good story to tell and know how to develop a plot, characters and interest, write dialogue and description, etc.

Just because a book in on the NY Times Best Seller list (the writing industries way of determining "good" books) doesn't necessarily make it good. And sometimes your personal preferences can hinder you from a reading a really good book.

Two personal examples: "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger and "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. I read both of these books well after their hype died down. I really did NOT like "The Time Traveler's Wife." First, I thought the title was misleading, the book was more about the time traveler than his wife and second, I couldn't keep track of all the time travel. I was so confused as to where in the timeline the main character was it was a big distraction (and not to spoil it for anyone but there was one scene that I thought rather gross and unnecessary and very out of place with the story). And I never had any inclination to read "The Help." I just wasn't interested in a story about black maids in the 1960s south. But I read this book last summer and just loved it so much that it stayed with me for days after I finished it. Not many books do that and to me it's a sign of a good book.

So I am open to any recommendations. While I usually stick to novels I have been know to read books outside that genre so bring it on. Happy reading!

Monday, January 2, 2012

All Good Things Must End

The end is coming. In just a few hours I'll be back to a routine, back to work, back to an alarm clock. When my first stay at home vacation started 11 days ago I didn't have many plans, just Christmas day and the fact that I wouldn't have to set my alarm clock. And it turned out to be a lovely 11 days. I spent Christmas with my family and a couple days later join them for a sushi lunch. I went out with some girlfriends to lunch and a movie and lost $30 in about 1o minutes on the slot machines in Black Hawk. I was privileged to share a lovely and elegant dinner with friends who were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. And there were quite a few quiet days when I never left my home and didn't see another person. Those days I read and slept, watched TV and movies, did some cooking or had food delivered. I probably could have been a bit more productive but wasn't but that's okay. The only thing that could have made it better was if I was doing all that with the beach and ocean outside my door.

And I admit I get a sick feeling in my stomach thinking about where I'll be this time tomorrow, sitting at my desk, drudging my way through a week's worth of e-mails, catching up on things and feeling the same frustration I felt when I was last there. But you've got to have an income and to get that you have to work. And for now I have to be thankful that I had this time. The only place I've been in the last three days is the grocery store so I will probably venture out to B&N, use the great gift cards I got for Christmas and daydream about my next vacation.

May 2012 be a great year for everyone.