The State of Affairs: October 2013

In October, we...

---Got a dog

---Watched the town Homecoming Parade (I love small-town traditions!)

---Had a haircut (a drastic cut for A & M; not so drastic for me)

---Attended a costume-themed birthday party and a Harvest Festival at church...all on the same day!

---Took a field trip to the pumpkin patch with the MDO class

---Celebrated Halloween


Books read:  6
I am back on track and reading some great stuff lately!

Between You and Me---Okay, technically this was a DNF, but I wasted enough time on it that I'm counting it for the month.  This is by the same authors of The Nanny Diaries, which I liked when I read it years ago.  This one just bored me to death.

The Stranger You Know---Reviewed here.

An Abundance of Katherines---Another John Green book that was a winner for me.  This was probably my favorite of the month.  Colin, Hassan, and Lindsey are some of my current favorite YA characters.  If you like YA and consider yourself maybe a little nerdy, or like your characters that way, read this one.

Dead Ever After---This was the much-anticipated conclusion to the Sookie Stackhouse series.  A lot of readers positively hated the ending, but I found myself on the satisfied side.  Yes, there was a major missing element in that some of the core characters barely made appearances in the book.  I get that that was a huge disappointment to many readers.  But after all the drama of the previous twelve books, I could understand Sookie's weariness in this book.  I liked the focus on her thought process and what she might want for her future.  Although it felt rushed or thrown together oddly at times, I thought this was a solid conclusion.

Dead Girls Don't Lie---I was completely distracted by some formatting problems with the electronic version of this book (it was an advance copy, so hopefully they will fix the issues for the actual publication).  Still, I skimmed through to figure out what happened, and it wasn't a total letdown.  I'd consider this one alright, but forgettable, as YA mysteries go.

The Winter People---Jennifer McMahon can tell a creepy story, and this was no exception.  There was a heavy ghost/supernatural element, and it was a fitting read for the week leading up to Halloween.

I don't always write about what I'm listening to, mostly because I'm not cutting-edge in my music tastes at all.  Thanks to a work pal, I have some new stuff I've been enjoying lately.  The girls and I have rocking a mixture of The Civil Wars, Katy Perry, Kacey Musgraves, and Miley Cyrus (yeah, I know...but it's pretty good stuff).   It's nice to have a variety going on, and I love to hear A & M singing along with Katy Perry's "Roar".  We sound pretty awesome in the car.  : )

I was able to go with the girls on their pumpkin patch field trip, which was so interesting.  We all drove our children and met there, so no big "school bus adventure" yet.  But watching them interact with their friends during all the different activities...it was such an insight into their days.  I'm happy to report that Addison's very best friend (a rough and tough little boy) is every bit as crazy about her (and Mackenzie) as she is about him.  They immediately ran for each other on the playground, and he even asked a little girl to switch seats with him on the hayride so that he could sit between A & M.  (She didn't move and the girls didn't mind, but that was one of the funniest moments of the day for me!)

That picture in the top right corner of the collage up there is Mackenzie asleep in the buggy at the grocery store.  Believe it or not, that was an absolute first for us, her falling over asleep like that!  I have been fortunate to be able to do most of my major grocery shopping trips child-free, but last weekend they had to go with me.  Poor little M just couldn't take it anymore and was lulled to sleep in the front of the cart.  At least my fluffy jacket made a good pillow.

How was your October?



Looking through pictures from October, it seems it was the month of the dog.  A few months ago, we began visiting our local animal shelter.  We wanted to get A & M more accustomed to dogs, in hopes that we might bring one home one day.  We did bring a puppy home (on a trial basis) for the weekend back in the summer, but we quickly realized it wasn't going to work out.  Jeremy and I just weren't up for many, many daily trips outside that a potty-training puppy requires, plus the constant vigilance required to keep the girls' toys and other household items safe from small, sharp teeth. (An aside:  We are definitely "inside dog" people...our backyard is not fenced right now, plus we know that an outside dog would get very little attention in our home.  If we're going to have one, it lives inside with us.)

In early October, I saw a post on FB that the shelter needed a foster home for a couple of small dogs who were going to a rescue group up north.  The two dogs in question were both a couple of years old and housetrained, and it would only be for a week, since the rescue pickup was already scheduled.  It sounded like the perfect situation for us.  I went by the shelter and picked up this little guy to hang out with us for the week:

We are doggy foster parents! We get to love on this guy for a week til he goes to his new home. Isn't he cute?

He was fantastic.  Slightly older, calm, and he could not have cared less about the girls' toys.  He didn't even pick up food we dropped on the floor, and he refused the treats I bought!  (Okay, so maybe he was lacking a little in the personality department, but still, he was just what we needed to get the girls acclimated to an animal in the house.)  Buddy, as we called him, went on to the rescue group, where we heard he was very quickly adopted to a great family.

I kept watching the shelter site, knowing now that we wanted a slightly older, adult dog.  When I saw "Brenna", as her foster home had been calling her, I knew we had to check her out.  She is definitely older, estimated to be about seven, with quite a few gray hairs and a few missing teeth from lots of vigorous chewing over the years.  We heard one family's vet convinced them that she was too old to be adopted to a family with small children...apparently suggesting that she might not live very many more years?  We don't care; we loved her immediately.  We call her Sunny, and she is ours!

Meet Sunny! She's a little old and she has a few gray hairs--not exactly what we thought we were looking for in a pet--but we think she's pretty awesome.

A & M are thrilled to have a dog, but even more thrilled to have a dog that has not once jumped on them and pretty much just lays around, waiting for someone to scratch her belly.  She is developing an affinity for the million-plus small stuffed animals laying around the house, but the girls are doing well at putting them away, and weren't too upset over the first victim, a green grinch-type guy.  Sunny doesn't bark, sleeps by my side of the bed, loves to take car rides, and stays with us when she's outside without her leash.  We have definitely found our perfect match.



The Stranger You Know, by Andrea Kane

Sometime last year, I read The Line Between Here and Gone, which is one of three books in author Andrea Kane's Forensic Instincts series.  The books really stand alone, but all involve the Forensic Instincts team and their cases.  When I was asked about reviewing The Stranger You Know, the third book in the series, I quickly agreed.

The Stranger You Know centers on FI team leader Casey Woods.  A serial killer is targeting college-aged redheaded women, and taunting Casey with his kills.  He soon reveals that she is more than just an investigator who has happened to catch the offender's attention; she is his ultimate target.

Kane crafted a good story here, and I particularly enjoyed the glimpses into the victims' lives.  On the whole, though, I thought the characterizations were very lacking.  I read reviews from a few others who had never read the other FI books, and they didn't seem to feel a connection to the characters at all.  I don't remember feeling this way as much in The Line Between Here and Gone.  I also appreciated that the earlier book focused on outside characters, while The Stranger You Know is almost entirely focused on the Forensic Instincts team.  Those characters were just too stereotypical and underdeveloped to carry the story well, in my opinion. 

Stranger is a fast-paced novel, though, great for weekend reading.  The plot moves along well, and there were twists that I enjoyed, even if the were foreseeable.  As a person with a connection to law enforcement, I took major beef with Casey's actions toward the end (no spoilers; I will leave it at that).  There is a difference in being singularly focused on catching your criminal and being incredibly stupid, and Casey landed on the stupid side of that equation in this book (which is a shame, because I thought pretty highly of her in the previous book). 

If it sounds like I'm being negative, I'm really not.  Again, this is a good book to fly through in just a couple of days, because despite the character-based flaws, the plot will probably keep you sucked in.  The thriller element is not lacking at all, and you may even find yourself staying up past midnight to see if all your suspicions were correct.  I did.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours.  All thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.  More reviews and the full tour post may be found here.