Posted by: raesalley | February 18, 2015

TBR Challenge 2015: February!

It’s time for the monthly update via TBR Challenge. If you want to participate, it isn’t too late for you to join in the fun…head over to Wendy the Super Librarian’s post and see what trouble you can get into with us. This month, we are trying for the Recommended Read (A book recommended to you by another reader/blogger etc). For me, Sarah Morgan fills this role and courtesy of Paperbackswap deciding to start charging people for things (sigh), I acquired A Night of No Return during my credit spend blitz. This recommendation actually comes via SuperWendy herself, but via blog — I’m not cool enough to have met her in person.

This book actually manages to lamp-shade itself. The heroine blatantly says (towards the end of the book) that she doesn’t want to fall in love with her boss because her mom did that and stayed there trying to win him over even after having a kid. The hero is the product of a woman having an affair with her rich boss. And here, the two repeat the mistakes, despite best intentions.

Being a Harlequin Presents, it goes pretty darn quick. A snowstorm makes roads impossible. A boss forgets important papers for gala event and meetings related. A dedicated personal assistant delivers them, delaying her personal life. Weather locks them in, they both try to get past it in the morning only to purposely avoid getting past it. Why? reasons.

There are things that happen in this novel that are not items I prefer in my romance. The boss is a bit of a alphahole at points. He decides that his PA is going to travel with him now and delay the start of her vacation principally because he no longer has a date and he wants to force proximity with her (just to torture them both?). When she brings up legitimate reasons why not to go with him, he just brushes them all away. When she has legitimate concerns over wardrobe, travel arrangements and inconveniencing others he brushes them away with money and bluster. When she tries, repeatedly, to resign based on their experience together he refuses to accept – despite knowing he could quite easily help her find a new position and remove all awkwardness. Then, she conspires to fix him. Granted, it is hand-waved that it really is his buddy’s idea and she just needs to stay out of the way. And then, once she sees that he is on his way to be fixed, she finally is allowed to resign, to resume her life and go home to her shrewish sister and her beloved baby brother.

Being HP, I can buy in to the fluffy quick fix…but it would be nice to see these characters a few years down. And I would have loved to see more meat to her relationship with her sister. This tells me I am not really the key market for HP, since I want more book than is present here. Overall, a nice read for a ice & snowbound day.

Posted by: raesalley | January 28, 2015

TBR Challenge 2015: January reads

Here’s my much-belated first entry into the 2015 TBR Challenge. The official theme for the month is  We Love Short Shorts! (category romance, novellas, short stories) but instead I knocked out the books I had via Kindle Unlimited before my subscription ended. There were two that needed to be finished: Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom (1/10/2015) and Reluctantly Lycan (1/18/2015). This resulted in a 50/50 split in how I felt for the month.

Starting with the “meh” book of the month: Reluctantly Lycan. Meh is about as strong as I can muster for this novel. We start off with an excellent image of a single mother on a fire escape sneaking her cigarette and wine to keep the inner wolf at bay as the full moon rises. If you’re familiar with PNR, you’ve probably seen some variation of this before as the lycan tries to pass for human and has to drown under vices the inner animal that wants to break free. We continue to build tension as we see said single mother scraping a living together for herself and her almost-teenage son. There’s the diner where she works very hard. There’s the son who is working hard in school to get ahead in the world. There’s the customer at the diner who looks forward to seeing her every day. Then, the customer becomes a pushy bastid and insists on a date. Things go well, and then out of nowhere the baby-daddy shows up. Who happens to be her destined mate and generally peeved that there’s another guy honing in on his territory. Growling ensues, a bit of quick make-up sex and suddenly all is right with the world because baby-daddy leaves behind some money and tells her to come home whenever she wants. We then have teenage girl behavior of our reluctant lycan mom wanting her guy back, but still mad about an incident years ago that she never has confronted him on the details. We also then have a drastic character shift in darn near everyone: Mom becomes okay with going back home, Son is suddenly accepting of having a wolf as a parent, Dad wants them home even though all heck is breaking loose and he wants them safe, Skeevy Customer gets even more stalker-ish by following everyone back (and trying to pick up an almost-18yo girl). From there, everything rolls downhill quickly. Mom & Dad make up, Son totally accepts being in this new culture and blowing off school he’s been working hard at because vinyl records solve all problems, Skeevy Customer turns out to be a good guy with just very questionable methods on dating. And the mystery aspect of it all? Such a letdown on everything. It was an entertaining little side trip, but really didn’t do anything for me.

The other book, Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom, actually gave me happy moments. Witty dialogue! Nobility in seemingly sketchy characters! A hidden baby (that is not actually anyone’s immediate responsibility!) A mother found! and yet…I feel like I was missing something. Part of the problem is that this is a book #2 in a series, which means that some of the characters and their motivations are things that I had to dust off from reading the first novel back in April and some of the remaining issues won’t be resolved until the fourth book. While I enjoyed the book to pass the time of a fun, lovely historical it didn’t really make me want to sigh in good book noise.

So of the two books we have one that falls into the “meh” bad side and one that fell into the “eh” good side. Luckily I had Courtney Milan’s Trade Me to cheer me up.

Posted by: raesalley | January 14, 2015

2015 TBR Challenge

I recently opened my Kindle only to discover I had 46 pages of titles in my reader. The predominant listing, however, is that I keep sending samples to myself to look at the different books and then either add to my TBR pile or I just feel guilt free about investing only 15 minutes of my time to decide I didn’t like the author’s voice or the characters after all (despite whatever review made me think I might).

This was kind of a little scary. Then I went to my Amazon WishList that’s my hidden TBR and was even more shocked…there’s 86 books there. And this is after I nuked everything a few years back to my Shelfari list of TBRs. When I moved that to GoodReads, it didn’t import correctly. So I’m seriously giving thought to nuking that as well for anything prior to January of 2014 and starting over slowly. It’s a scary thought process, but do I really want to see what’s on my TBR from three years ago?

To help chip away at the chaos, I bit the bullet and decided to start reading a single sample a day to get rid of the backlog. To help put a dent in the TBR pile, I’ve decided to try Wendy the Super Librarian’s TBR Challenge. Added bonus? at least once a month I’ll remember to blog! Go me!

Posted by: raesalley | November 12, 2014

D12: Split personality

In my morning surfing, I came across this post from a theater colleague and good friend. Her daughter is a few years older than mine, and one of my earliest memories of working with her was not the production we were on together but the juggling done by her to arrange cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday during opening weekend where she was both prop mistress and house manager. I got to go celebrate the then two year old with the family and other close friends. In that simple act, my friend highlighted it is possible – hard, but possible – to be a good parent and a good theater artist. It all depends on the concessions you’re willing to make.

I miss theater. I miss working on a show, getting the timing just right, heck – even line notes. I don’t miss coming home after bathtime, handoffs in the parking lot as the Bald One goes to work or not hearing about that day’s adventures over dinner. I tell (lie?) to myself about the fact that I’ll be back. After Gummi Bear was born, it was slightly easier. For the first year or so of her life, the Bald One was full time dad and job searcher. After he went back to work, we started juggling. I didn’t do as many full productions and there were nights where Gummi Bear was handed off in her pajamas in a parking lot. Once Buddy Roo came into the picture, combined with my changing role at the day job, things got more difficult to carve time for theater work. It doesn’t help that my chosen path in the theater is one that requires more hands-on scheduled time* than any of the other disciplines.

All that being said…I’m happy making trade offs. I tell myself that the project management I do in my day job is close enough to the work I was doing in the theater that I feel like I’m getting what I want on a daily basis. I get to travel, I get paid decently, I get to work with a variety of people in numerous disciplines to produce products and just like in theater when things go well nobody knows what I do. I get to have dinner with my family. I put my kids to bed. I bought a new car this year. But there are days, where I sit in yet another meeting filled with marketing speak and big ideas without action that I wonder if I would have been happier fighting my way through salad days to sit in the back of a room and press buttons hoping everything goes right so that nobody knows I’m even there.

Read More…

Posted by: raesalley | November 5, 2014

D5: Eat, drink & be Merry

For tomorrow, we have meetings.

One of the nice things about traveling to new places is getting to discover new foods. After discovering the hole-in-the-wall via recommendation, I’m pleased to report that the pre-selected restaurants have also been fabulous. For our whole team dinner, we went to Antoines to enjoy a bit of culture and baked Alaska

This evening were the regional team dinners. The first manager to ask me had his team at Olivier’s Creole Restaurant. We had the entire upstairs to ourselves, which was probably a good thing given the range of topics covered throughout our dining experience

I’ve also been out to experience Pat O’Brien’s famous hurricanes and dueling piano bar and tonight called for Gordon Biersch’s root beer. And while I was only drinking root beer, I’m the one who managed to turn around into our waitress and breaking a full glass on the floor. I rock.

One more day, then one more night and then home.

Posted by: raesalley | November 4, 2014

D4: Tech Support

It’s our first official day for the national meeting…and I’m spending the day doing tech support until I present in the afternoon.

I’m the tool manager for a certain software package. Said software package is a pain in the butt at times. There was a software upgrade that was released that I told folks what to do with it. Then, just to be on the safe side, I sent an email out three weeks ago asking people to double check that they had done the update and if not here’s the three steps to do.

First three systems I booted up did not have the updated software. My fault, I didn’t remind them *smh* Overall result for the day, 64% managed to have the software already installed. Wonder if I’ll have better odds tomorrow.

My presentation went well, I think. My boss approved it anyway and that’s what matters. I have follow up items and will have email to distribute, but another thing on the list crossed off that generates more things on the list.

Posted by: raesalley | November 3, 2014

Traveling Fair

Today I hit the road for a national meeting in New Orleans. Lots of updating, planning and strategy discussions. I purposely hit the road early enough to get in by midday just in case folks needed me to talk at the afternoon pre-meetings. Once the schedules were solidified, I was off the hook. Instead of hiding in my room, I hopped a trolley to check out the town.

The first trip on the trolley was completely for the Bald One – Anne Rice did a book signing at Garden District Books on Sunday. Unfortunately, every single copy of that novel was sold before I got there. I’m not shocked, but it was a neat little trip. Plus, streetcar! After a bit of a stop over in my room, I got on a different streetcar to go down river from the hotel to check out Cafe du Monde. I did, as expected, end up with powdered sugar on everything.

While drinking delicious coffee, I set up dinner plans with a coworker which bought me time to wander around before she caught up with me. At the suggestion of a friend, we stood in line patiently for Coop’s Place. It was a tiny dive of a place, but the food was phenomenal. I highly recommend it, if you find yourself in the area.

Then it was off to bed, since I know that I’m running tech support tomorrow.

Posted by: raesalley | November 2, 2014

D2: sleep drunk & accident prone

I have often described to people that Buddy Roo’s walking ability is at the “drunk midget” stage. This rather descriptive turn of phrase is never more accurate than when he is tired and fighting sleep.

Between a cold that went through the kids and daylight savings time, the little man is exhausted and does not want to be so. He knows he is almost fully recovered and wants to keep up with everything and everyone. But instead, he is falling over his own feet and bouncing off walls. It is borderline hilarious to watch, if I wasn’t worried he was about to injure himself. Luckily, he’s off to bed now and hopefully by the time I get back from my trip, everyone will be healthy and on the right sleep schedule.

Posted by: raesalley | November 1, 2014

NaBloPoMo Day 1: restarting, forgiving and reevaluating

Going through my blog makes me think I was a better mom to my first child, Gummi Bear, than to her younger brother. There is a lack of monthly status updates about Buddy Roo, while Gummi Bear had markers shared. As a mom, I’m having trouble remembering some markers – when did she start walking, what was her first word, what were her favorite books – even with it being recorded.

With Buddy Roo, I’m trying to be present for both kids. My time away from work is spent making sure they both have enough time with Mom. This means less time for me, less time to notice and remember, less time to write or be me instead of being Mom. As such, things are getting dropped. My intermittent blogging has gone down to barely present. My reading is snuck in at bedtime or lunch.

On the flip side, I know all the names of the ponies in Ponyville and all the members of the Octonaut. I’ve learned to balance blocks in the most insane towers. Buddy Roo has a crazy version of making elephant noises while Gummi Bear is teaching him how to properly knock over towers of blocks. The giggles are more fun than writing. I hope they’ll remember their childhood as fun, even if the details are sketchy.

Posted by: raesalley | October 1, 2014

Milestone: First ER Visit

Buddy Roo decided to hit the Milestone of “Baby’s first ER visit” slightly before his first birthday.

As the story goes, the little man figured out stair climbing pretty quickly. This is to our benefit, since our lovely 1970s house doesn’t have a square corner in the entire place and we can’t find a baby gate that will work. Safety first means we taught Gummi Bear how to master stairs quickly – she was crawling up the stairs before she started walking. Buddy Roo followed her footsteps and got the hang of going up pretty quickly. Going down is a work in progress.

What happens next, and reports vary, is Buddy Roo was on the stairs and was distracted. In his distraction, he lost his balance on the stairs and tumbled. There was a thunk, a scream and Gummi Bear ran over and got under him before he hit the bottom. Before you panic, this is our short staircase – only four steps – between the main level and the front door. He fell maybe three steps total. When the Bald One (brought running by the thunk & scream) arrived on the scene from the six steps away he was in the kitchen, there were tears from both parties and blood. He picks up the baby, who instantly buries his head in dad’s shoulder and resists being pulled away. As the Bald One manages to do so, he sees the blood and starts mopping up…only to pull out the washcloth and find a tooth in the washcloth amid all the blood. That’s when my phone rings with “get home, your son is bleeding and has lost a tooth.”

We forget that there’s an ER right around the corner and we plan to meet at the one halfway between home and my day job. Instead, I make it most of the way home, meet them, and we merge into one vehicle. By the time we get to the ER, he’s dozed off (concussion panic being held slightly at bay) and Gummi Bear is coming off her panic. Within an hour, we’re chilling in a small ER patient room waiting for the pediatric doc to get a reference for a pediatric dentist. Buddy Roo, meanwhile, has cheered up despite people repeatedly putting their fingers in his mouth and has started flirting with the nurses.

The after effects of this involve a morning visit to the pediatric dentist who declares the little man mostly fit, looking good and time to start brushing to avoid evil things in the cavities where four teeth once resided. Joy.

My coworker who has two boys a year apart has told me to start saving for the ER visits. One of her two has broken almost every major bone in his body and it isn’t the sports-inclined boy that has done this. I’m a little scared.

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