Monday, April 21, 2014

A-Z Challenge: Rose Madder

Rose Madder by Stephen King

This is the story of Rose Daniels, "the most richly portrayed female King's ever created" (Detroit Free Press). Escape from her macabre marriage is not as easy as fleeing to a new city, picking a new name, finding a new job, and lucking out with a new man. Not with a husband like Norman...

For the record, I am not a Stephen King fan. I have read only a handful of his books and each one of them freakin' freaks me out. This one, while at first it seems it's a normal, every day evil (domestic abuse) and eventually takes a turn for the oddly supernatural regarding a painting. At some point this chick actually enters a painting. Yeah, it's as weird as it sounds. However, Stephen King does very well with this book and does well with the characters. You really feel for Rose trying to escape a terrible life and find something new and safe and he writes a good villain in Norman. But like normal Stephen King novels there's a huge element of weird in them.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A - Z Challenge: (My New) Quest

Okay, so this isn't a book review. I haven't read anything that starts with Q. So, I am taking a tiny break from my book review theme of the A - Z Challenge.

My new "quest" can also be called a part-time job! I believe I've mentioned before that Boyfriend manages a tiny water district in a tiny mountain town. He started just after Thanksgiving. Well, the office gal they had up and quit in January, leaving the water company high and dry. She cited in her resignation letter that Boyfriend had his own personal agenda and she couldn't just sit there and watch it happen. No one knows what the hell she was talking about because Boyfriend is trying to get the water company back into good standing with the state and trying to get grants to redo the systems. I digress.

For a month Boyfriend pestered the board of directors to hire me as their new office gal. All of March they himmed and hawed over this until finally, two of them said, "We really need someone! When can she start?" They were unsure of hiring me because I am living with Boyfriend and that is considered nepotism. Those two finally convinced the third board member to agree to hiring me. Oh to live and work in Small Town, America. lol

Since April 2nd I've been slaving away. It's supposed to be a part-time job, just a few hours a week. Five or ten hours, really. I've been working so hard and way more than ten hours a week. The last office gal who is supposedly also a "bookkeeper" sucks at filing. I have been filing papers from the last ten years that have just been "swept under the rug" so to speak and shoved in a random filing cabinet. The board members took over receiving customer payments and paying bills.

I've been thrown in (actually I kind of jumped) into the deep end, never having worked for a water company before. My quest or goal is to make them run more efficiently and with fewer errors. Today alone (I'm writing this on Wednesday) I spoke with three customers regarding errors on their accounts. Two had sent in nasty notes on their statements, but luckily for me they were very nice and understanding when I explained my situation and were so appreciative that I had taken the time to call them to let them know I had fixed the errors. One customer showed up in person and was so happy that someone seemed to be keeping "office hours". We discussed her past due amounts and she happily agreed to sign a contract stating exactly how much she would pay each month until her account was paid in full.

Then I had a guy from a bank call me regarding a lien on a property due to lack of payment as the house had evidently been repossessed. I explained that I was new to the water company and asked him to list exactly what he needed from me. He gave me his email and phone to give him the information and to let him know if I had any questions.

Mom came up on Tuesday to teach me how to do payroll taxes. I've never done payroll or their taxes before. Mom's a good teacher, and she got me all squared away. She even offered to come up to help me get the office running like it should. She worked for a water company for over 20 years and knows this stuff inside and out. Thank God for my mother!

It's been an interesting two weeks with the new job, I can tell you that. And I plan to edit their billing statements, get them using Quick Books for more than just the basics (because I know it can do so much more), the filing completely caught up, accounts payable and receivables properly lined out, the office clean, and make them more efficient overall. It's going to take some time.
I get home each day and even if I've only worked three or four hours, I am so mentally drained . . . I'm exhausted! But I am accomplishing things little by little. And that makes me happy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A - Z Challenge: (The) Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.

I cringe when I see or read anything on the Salem Witch Trials. What a time to have lived through; living in utter fear of being accused a witch for no reason, for it often meant a death sentence. This book was pretty interesting as the author takes us between worlds, a modern woman's world and the woman's world in Salem. She comes across odd things in her grandmother's house, some things which excite her graduate advisor. The author uses truth in history and weaves it with a fictional main character and story. Pretty well done and kept me entertained. Another book I recommend.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A - Z Challenge: One for the Money

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Pestered by her close New Jersey family, Stephanie Plum offers to catch high-school crush Joe Morelli, cop turned bail jumper, for her cousin Vinnie's company. She questions "working girls" to find the missing girlfriend of vicious prizefighter Benito Ramirez while Joe secretly watches her back. Ranger mentors her and supplies vehicles when hers explode.

I have to say that the Stephanie Plum series is pretty hilarious. They are good, quick reads and can make you laugh your ass off. We find Stephanie laid off from her job as a lingerie buyer, she's hawked nearly everything she owns in order to pay rent and feed her hamster, Rex. She's got the over-bearing mother who cooks roast beef every week and thinks Stephanie is dead if she's two minutes late for dinner. Her Grandma Mazur is totally the bomb and as the series goes on, you will love some of the shit that comes out of that woman's mouth. The father seems to mumble and hide behind his dinner plate or the newspaper and tries to not hear the dinner conversations. Stephanie begs for a job from her slimy cousin Vinny at his Bail Bonds shop and is soon chasing skips and trying to bring in Joe Morelli, her childhood nemesis who deflowered her in a bakery and whom she may or may not have clipped with her dad's Buick. Ranger tries to teach her how to be a bounty hunter and she's almost completely hopeless at it but still manages to bring enough people in to pay her rent or at least buy a loaf of bread. There's always a murder mystery and Stephanie ends up way over head and winds up blowing up more than one car in each book. If you're looking for a quick read that delivers some good laughs, look no further. Stephanie Plum is an enjoyable heroine who can crack you up!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A-Z Challenge: No Longer (Indie Chick Lit Prompt)

The movers are back today. Most of the big stuff went yesterday - the household furniture, the appliances, the patio furniture, the kids' trampoline. Today it's clothes, boxes and the decor.

I watch them as they move to and fro, coming and going. I make sure they are handling the hanging pictures with care. As much as they're getting paid I want to make sure they're doing it right. I don't want anything damaged. The things in this house made it a "home". A home where laughter and love dominated; where family meals were eaten at the table, the kids' art hung on the fridge with pride, where memories were made. This was a safe place. At least it was supposed to be safe. No longer is it safe.

The movers talk as they work, mostly about their lives - what happened at one kid's Little League game, how another one is doing in school; harmless, every day things. I want to brag on my kids, too, but I don't talk to them.

The kids are not here; they are with my parents for the time being until everything is settled. It's a lot for them to go through. Their lives will never be the same. I should be there with them, but I felt I should be watchful of the movers. They are in good hands with my parents, there really is no need to worry. But a mother always worries.

My husband comes in as the movers are finishing up. I feel a twinge as I see him. I know he was sitting in the car, waiting until the movers were nearly finished. He didn't want to be in the house any longer than he needed. He looks tired. So very tired. I know this has taken a real toll on him. Things like this are never easy. He goes through every room in the house to make sure nothing is forgotten. I hear him upstairs opening and closing doors and drawers, ensuring nothing is left behind. I watch him come down the stairs. He hasn't looked at me since the intruder. He repeats the same process downstairs.

"Sir? We've loaded everything up. Is there anything else?"

"No, no that should be everything. I will meet you there."

My husband stands at the kitchen island, across from me, crying silently. I want to tell him everything will be okay but can I really promise that? I walk with him to the front door, watch him lock it, and walk with him to the car. Sitting in the car he looks past me at the house. He sits that way for some time, crying.
Oh how I wish he could see me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A-Z Challenge: Matched Series

The Matched Series by Ally Condie

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow. (excerpt from Matched)

I read this series earlier this year and enjoyed them.  In Cassia's world, everyone has a job. The Society makes sure that everyone's days are planned out. In Cassia's case, she's in school 5 or 6 days a week (hard to know for sure), they have "Free Rec" hours, and approved "leisure" activities. The Society matches kids at the age of 17 and have a "courting" ritual so that the matches can eventually get to know each other. There is no fluff in The Society - everyone has a purpose, They know everything, and your only choice is to be Matched or to remain Single. That's pretty much it. Also? No one lives past the age of 80 because The Society claimed that the quality of life deteriorates past 80. Everyone's meals are prepared and delivered to their home or school. No one has money, they aren't allowed trinkets, nothing. The Society also deemed that their ancestors (us) lead a cluttered life with too many choices, so they picked out the Hundred - the hundred best of everything. Anything else was destroyed. They don't save anything, they don't truly treasure where they came from. Cassia's world is just right until she watches the card on her Match, and someone else's face shows up instead. She starts to question what The Society Officials tell her and starts thinking for herself and falls in love. This is another dystopian society that's camouflaged as a utopia until you start getting in there and realizing how much control The Society has over its citizens. It was interesting to me to see how this "utopia" was set up - and how the story line played out.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A - Z Challenge: Look Again

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops—the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth. And she can’t shake the question: if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, should she keep him or give him up? She investigates, uncovering clues no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life—and that of the son she loves. 

Oh. My. God. This book was seriously AWESOME. A complete page turner all the way. I totally cried, more than once, and this story really tugs at your heart strings. More importantly, it makes you think about this kind of situation - what would you do in this kind of situation. Lisa Scottoline instantly became one of my favorite authors after reading this book (it was the first one I ever read by her). Seriously, read this book. I don't say that about every book I read. But this is just an awesome book.