Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catch Fire!

Today we are CATCHING FIRE!  Alex J. Cavanaugh's much awaited sequel, CassaFire is now available here (in paperback) and here (for Kindle).  We're spreading this like wildfire through the blogs so that CassaFire will be a best seller just like CassaStar was.

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Alex is doing a Blog Tour through March 9th.  If you comment on his blog, you are eligible to win special prizes!  For more details, go to Alex's site here.

For those of you who don't remember, CassaStar was my first attempt at a review (which we all know that I am terrible at).  I am not usually a SciFi reader, but that book sucked me and took me on a journey with Byron.  It was one that I could not forget and had to blog about!  I promise you, you will love BOTH books. 

Friday, February 24, 2012


I decided to put a twist on the usual FUN Fridays. Still fun, but FREAKY.

I admit to my John Cusack obsession that dates back to Better Off Dead. I will see any movie with him in it. This one is no exception. Looks slightly FREAKY!

My brother couldn't play this game when he was home alone...in his twenties...I'll admit anything that scares Drew makes me a big fan. I can be an evil big sister. He slipped and fell into my grandparents dining room table on Thanksgiving when he was eight. Four hours and twenty some stitches later, we recommenced our celebration. When Grandma got a new dining room table, I swooped in to grab her old one. Because Drew was living with me at the time. Imagine his horror when he walked in the front door to see it perched in our kitchen (cue evil maniacal laughter). Priceless. But I digress...Resident Evil.

Is it bad that the scariest part of this trailer (for me) happens toward the end?

When the sea rises and the boat gets bowled over...I have managed to avoid cruises all these years because of my fear of being lost at sea. And what an odd fear! Not even sure where it came from. But this looks to be my kind of thriller. Has anyone read the book? I'm just not sure I can add another zombie film to my list this year, but I may have to.

I know I've posted this trailer, but I have to do it again! Because I can never watch it enough. I must see it. They had me with the title but sealed it with Tim Burton.


I taught Dog Safety this week at school where it seemed that every child was sick and had a snotty nose. When I show them the picture of the dog sleeping, I always ask for a "brave helper" to help drive the point home. The child comes up, offers their name and we proceed.

Me: What's your name, sweetie?
Boy: Angel.
Me: Now, Angel wouldn't really pet a dog that's sleeping. We're just doing this for pretend. (to Angel) Cooper is going to take a nap. When I nod my head, you reach out and pet him and we'll see what can happen when you pet a dog that is sleeping. But first, he has to fall asleep.

I turn Cooper onto his back and make snoring noises, which always gets the kids giggling. Then, I nod my head at Angel. He reaches out to pet Cooper. The second he touches the dog, I flip him back over and he barks at Angel.

Who then laughs so hard... He blows a chunk of snot onto my shirt.

Which makes the class laugh harder, but me want to vomit.

Which is my worst fear.

I'm in the middle of a panic attack when the teacher swoops in with a tissue for Angel and an antibacterial wipe for my shirt. God love her. But I still had three more classes and I swear I could feel the germs oozing into my skin (germaphobic much?).

That was on Tuesday.

On Thursday, I was sitting in the hallway between classes when that Kinder class filed out of their classroom on the way to the library. They stopped to gather around me and ask questions ("Ms. Jennifer, what are you reading?" "Ms. Jennifer why are you out here?" "Ms. Jennifer, you come to our class today?"). A little girl's voice rises above the other questions.

Ms. Jennifer, remember when you scared Angel?

Ooooh, I will NEVER forget it. Believe me.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Anyone have any big weekend plans?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1)  Magic Bathroom - This is an idea I think everyone can get behind.  You never have to restock it EVER.  You never run out of your favorites - from perfume to make-up to shampoo and conditioner to Q-Tips...and most importantly, toilet paper!  Never run out.  Ever.  Every month, there is a new head for your electric toothbrush.  The ibuprofen bottle refills itself.  All of it.  Oh, that would save me so much time and money.  So Magic Bathroom, please.  I'd throw in self-cleaning but I think that's being a little selfish if it's going to replenish itself.  The least I can do is clean it!

2)  Lily - We are seeing the Holistic Vet today.  I have high hopes.  Instead of constantly treating symptoms, we're going to treat the whole dog.  Get her immune system back on line and healthy, which will (in theory) help her to fight off the rest of the problems.  That poor dog is the poster child for why you should not breed your dog just because they are "cute".  Her mom was gorgeous, but every LITTLE problem that she had is magnified in poor Lily.  While she more than makes up for it with her sweet nature, it's hard to watch yet another ear infection, skin infection, etc.  Poor thing.  So here's to wishing really hard that this will be a permanent solution for dear Lily.

3)  Healing - I have three friends going through some tough times right now.  Each experience is unique and I feel helpless.  I want to make everything better and I can't and I hate it.  I don't like it when my friends hurt.  Especially when they hurt and there isn't a thing that I can do to ease the pain or make it all better (the latter being my preference).  My last wish is for everyone - healing.  Whether it's physical or emotional, whether it's for you or a loved one - I wish for healing!

What about you - what are your wishes for our magical cat?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

After I have warned you that I'm absolutely NO good at writing book reviews, I should be honest and tell you that I never intended to read this book.  Sure, I had heard all the hulabaloo (ooooh, I have ALWAYS wanted to use that word in a post!), but it wasn't my kind of read.  I thought it would be too depressing.  I thought it would be a total downer.  And I hate to cry.  I deal with enough sad stuff on a daily basis with Paws and Learn so I like my reading to be an escape, to be light.  So, pass.

But when a friend buys you a copy - and a signed copy at that!  Well, you have to break open that book and dive in.  So I did.

And I could not put it down.  From the moment that I met Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace, I was in love with them.  Their story swept me up and carried me along.  What great characters.  What fun banter.  But it's more than a love story.  It's a story about letting go.

Will I be remembered?  Did my life matter?

This resonated with me, having lost two close friends far too young to cancer in the last couple of years.  That was their fear and the hardest part of letting go of this life.  It was my fear, and part of why I left television production to form Paws and Learn.  But I'm getting away from the book (because I'm really bad at reviews, I did mention that didn't I?).

You MUST read this book.  MUST. 

I loved it so much that I'm going to read it again.  Yes, this book that I never had any intention of reading is going to be read again this week.  Immediately.  As soon as I crawl into bed, I'm cracking open the pages again.

I have to thank Jes for sending it to me.  For reaching down into the rut I was stuck in with books and thrusting her hand in to save me.  I almost want to cry thinking that I would have missed out entirely if she had not bought me this wonderful, wonderful book. 

So go - order it on Amazon, check it out from the library, borrow it from a friend, download it to your Kindle, do whatever it is you do to read.  You can thank me when you're done (though I bet you'll be thanking me by page 19).

What about you - do you get into reading ruts and have trouble breaking out of a particular genre?  What's the last book you read - and loved - that you hadn't intended on reading?

Friday, February 17, 2012

FUN Friday

TGIF - Let's have some fun!!

A friend posted this trailer on Facebook.  I hadn't even heard of this movie, but it looks intriguing.

I was looking forward to this until I saw that Kristen Stewart is in it. I may wait for some of you to watch it first and let me know how it is.

I love this commercial...I think it's the unexpected ending.  I have AT&T so when I'm driving around doing this, I'm looking for the opposite.

Who's your favorite - Dad or Mom?

And last but not least - this is more for ME - because you know how much I love my dog.  Well, McDonald's did an ill advised ad (it wasn't a national one, but it sure went viral and hit every state) that got some backlash.  The following video was put together because "pit bull" owners took offense to said ad.  We love our dogs something fierce and they have a rough enough time fighting that stereotype.  I'm sharing this video for two reasons:  1)  What is cuter than pictures of kids and dogs?  and 2)  To show people that the stereotype about "pit bull" owners is not true.  We're not thugs.  We're well dressed, educated FAMILIES who have chosen this breed after careful research and consideration.  Please watch it - I don't want to preach or try to change anyone's mind about the breed.  I'm trying to change your mind about the OWNERS.  Just see that we don't look any different than YOU.  We're your neighbors, friends and relatives. 

America's Bark Off to McDonald's from BADRAP.org on Vimeo.

And some of those signs are downright funny.  I can't tell you how many times I thought "I wish I had come up with that!"

I'm happy to say that hiking is back on the weekend agenda!  Lily and I have to go it alone without The Hubster on Saturday because he has to work.  That's okay.  He'll enjoy his own hike with her on Sunday while I'm at the library!

I just started reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and I can't put it down.  I'm looking forward to settling in with it this weekend and finishing it!

What about you - any big weekend plans?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1)  Blink -

 How cute is this dog?!?!  Without getting into the specifics on why Breed Specific Legislation is beyond dumb, just know that Blink was sentenced to DIE because 7 out of 9 people at the shelter judged her to be a "pit bull". 
She weighs 17 pounds. 

Full grown. 

She's definitely got some Boston Terrier in her.  Maybe some Frenchie.  I can even see a little Chihuahua. 

But pit?  Um, no. 

She would be dead if BAD RAP hadn't scooped her up.  She's now looking for her forever home. 

I want her in mine. 

The Hubster is saying no. The cats are agreeing with the Hubster. 

But my gosh, how do you say no to that face?!
So, wish number one is for Blink.

2)  Magic Car - Like the bus on Harry Potter!  I want to be able to squeeze through all the traffic.  When I teach in South Central, a mere 12 to 15 miles from my house via the freeway, it can take me an hour and a half to get there in the mornings.  Can you imagine how frustrating that is?  I am not a morning person.  I have to get up super extra early to...sit in traffic and inch forward.  If I had that magic car, I could squeeze between the trucks and cars and buses and get there in the 20 minutes that it SHOULD take me.  So that magic car.  I'll even loan it to you on the days that I'm not teaching south of my home.

3)  Beach Cabin - Not to buy.  To rent.  I'm trying to put together a fun girlz who write weekend, but every cabin that I find from SoCal up the Oregon Coast is booked, booked, booked solid through the end of the year.  There has to be one that I'm missing.  Somewhere.  May I find it soon enough to book it.  And if you want to come, let me know.  It's just going to be a weekend of fun and writing.  Sometimes we need to get away.  Nothing like fellowship and the beach to inspire us!

What about you - what are your wishes for our magic cat this week?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dream Job

Okay, third on my dream job list.

1)  Author
2)  Humane Educator
3)  Library Clerk

Although, when I was a little girl, #3 was actually #1.  If my love of writing hadn't overrode my love of reading, I would probably be a Librarian (and don't think I'm not envious of my friends who ARE Librarians).  I spent hours in our local library.  My mom would drag me out kicking and screaming.  Well, protesting.  I would be protesting loudly despite the arm load of books.  I love libraries.  Any library.  But I digress...back to the job...

A girl needs cash.  So she gets a part-time job.  Because non-profit does not pay bills.  It doesn't even pay for hair color or clothes.  But it does fill the part of me that wants to give back so I continue to do it.  I'm blessed that my husband makes enough that I don't have to work.  I feel bad, though, taking "his" money to do things like shop (for fun stuff) or visit friends (plane tickets can cost $$) or even simple girl things like get my hair did or get my mani/pedi on. 

Opening:  Library Clerk

My heart stopped for a second.

I had to read that again.

Really?  Work with the public surrounded by the books that I love?

Resume submitted.

Can I just tell you how hard it is to get a job at the library?  One job opening, over 200 applicants.  We all had to take a written test that narrowed us down to the top ten.  I was lucky enough to make the top ten!  We moved on to the oral interview.

I ranked 4 out of 10.

Boo.  No hire.

BUT it's the city and they keep your resume on file for a year. 

Three more clerk positions opened up.

The top nine were called back in to interview again.

I was 2nd! 

I am now an official Library Clerk for five hours a week.

My part-time is really part-time.  But it's good time!  And it's FUN time!

I can't tell you how many times I've heard in the last three weeks "You're new!  You got one of the coveted positions!" 

I did.  I LOVE it!  Checking patrons out, I get to see books that I haven't heard of.  Speaking with them, I'm getting some great recommendations.  It's turned out to very inspirational in addition to being a lot of fun.

What about you - what is your dream job?  Are you living the dream?

Friday, February 10, 2012

FUN Friday


This is the BEST that I've felt in the longest time so it's time to have some FUN!

Since I'm writing Dystopian right now, this commercial killed me (Barry Manilow music helped)

I found this one pretty inspirational. There's just something about Clint Eastwood. It's halftime, America.

Doritos had some great videos during the SuperBowl. I can't figure out which I liked better - dog or baby. You decide.

I am so excited and scared for John Carter. I can hardly wait to see the movie, but dread it at the same time. Right now, I still have hope for my love. I'm terribly afraid that Disney will have ruined it, though.

And April brings more Games. I adore Game of Thrones. Was it the best adaptation? It was the best it could have been for television given the number of episodes allowed. Impossible not to leave things out. I can hardly wait for more!

The weekend will bring a fun hike two hours north of here! (See, I AM feeling well again.) A yummy Japanese dinner. And Sunday - I have finished my training at the library and am officially starting my "real" job! After my day of work, I'll be relaxing in front of the television watching two favorites - the return of The Walking Dead and Shameless (how far can Frank stoop this week?).

What about you - any big weekend plans?  Any favorite commercials?  Any movies or shows you are looking forward to?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) Spa Day - Not just for me. There are a few of you that I want to take with me. We all deserve it. I'm talking the entire day - hot stone massage, reflexology, mani/pedi and just hanging out drinking cucumber water and eating healthy spa food.

2) Time to Write - I haven't had time to write in weeks. It's frustrating me. I'm really excited for my library job (part-time because a girl needs her spending money), but the training for it has taken up my extra free time away from Paws and Learn. Must. Write. Soon. A girl may need spending money for girlie things, but a girl needs her writing time more. I'm hoping to get a day in this week. One day. That's what I'm down to. But you have to work with what is available, right? That's me!

3)  Floo Network -  Do I need a fireplace for that?  I may need a whole new house if that's the case.  Or maybe I'll just give Erik a Honey Do list with Make Fireplace at the top of that list.  I want to do some traveling this week, but I don't have the time.  I want to be able to step into that fireplace, toss my floo powder and say "Toronto!" or "Neenah!"  How awesome would that be?  Forget airplanes, I could be across the country in seconds!  I'd bring fresh baked goodies, make dinner, hang out and I could be home in time to crawl into bed at midnight PST.  Yes, Floo Network please. 

What about you - what are your wishes for our magical little cat?

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Box Full of Treasure

A confession:  All this illness has gotten me down.  I haven't been well since October and when you're an active, social person like me, this can really start to wear on you!  I want to be out and about with friends, or even just tucking myself into a nook at one of the new writery spots I've discovered with some tea and my current project.  Do you know what happens when you cough in that place though?  Oh, worse than whispering too loud at the library, my friends!  The cough seems somehow magnified and heads turn with wide eyes at you - part disbelief that you dared to interrupt their (insert whatever they were reading, writing, listening to here) and part horror at the germs that might infect them.  So I have been home with my antibiotics and my juicing and my Pity Poor Me Party.

And then this arrived to remind me what was truly important in life:

Just an ordinary looking box.

But it had traveled miles and miles and miles to get to me.  (2,094 miles to be exact if you take I-70)

When I opened it up, there were wrapped treasures.

LUSH soap to start my day off cheerful and scented and vegan good
A pine scented Yankee candle to fill my senses when I write
Yummy dark chocolate malt balls
Books!  Oh, such books -
The Chronicles of Harris Burdick (which I've been reading at bedtime because it just looked like a great book to tuck myself in with! and it has been!)
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (which went promptly into my purse for my breaks when I teach - and I was late to two classes the very next day because I was drawn immediately into the pages and couldn't quite find my way back out)
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (SIGNED Copy - it's perfectly fine to be jealous)
An Eolian t-shirt from Immre that promises:
This shirt cures all known illnesses and makes you roughly 38% more attractive.

We shall see if it delivers on that promise.  I managed a run AND a hike this weekend without making the coughing worse.  So it just may be true to it's word as far as curing all known illnesses.

Did I score or what?

The best thing about this box full of treasure is that each one is a piece of a friend.  She took the time to find her "favorites" and put them in the package to travel the miles and bring a smile to my face.  It warms my heart.  It's like I have here right here with me every time I savor a malt ball or open the pages of the books or light the candle.  (Notice I'm leaving out the soap because it would be weird to think of her there with me when I shower and I'm sure she appreciates not sharing in that part.  HA!)

The gifts aren't the most important part - it's the pieces of Jes that I have here with me, the reminder of our friendship even though we are miles away and we may not always have time to return emails as soon as we get them.

I'm working on a return box.  It's fun to put things aside for a future box and to picture the fun that she will have when she gets them.  Each one a piece of me, each one to say "I'm thinking of you!" and "Much, much love".

I am truly on the mend and the special package from Jes put me directly on that path!

What about you - do you have a special friend that can reach across miles and cheer you?  When is the last time you got a treasure box out of the blue?

(Get ready to Catch Fire starting February 28th!  Alex J. Cavanaugh's Blog Party is coming up and we're all very excited to be a part of it!)