01 July 2022

Five Things for Friday 7/1/22

  1. I can hardly believe it's JULY! I literally just tried to convince someone we've been back in office for six weeks...since coming back the first of May. Yeah. I really thought it was mid-June yesterday. It isn't.
  2. Ya'll got big plans for the 4th? My daughter picked up some odd jobs in the neighborhood, so I think she and I will stay home, while hubs and our son head up north for a day or two. I'm definitely a homebody, so no complaints here :) My biggest holiday bonus is the fact that I get paid for Monday (obvs) when I usually don't work. So I only have to work 8-hour days next Tues - Fri (I usually do 10 hour days). Yay for getting home extra early in the summertime!
  3. Work is SO busy, but we finally have a whole team hired! The last person starts the middle of July, so we'll actually be full-force in a few months. And in the meantime, the newbies share a bit more of the load all the time :)
  4. I think I may use some of my alone-ish time this weekend to pick up a few of the random piles that have accumulated in the home office. Who knows what treasures I may find?!?
  5. In book-land, this week saw my review for Mud Lilies (5 out of 5 stars, with a giveaway through 7/5/22) by Indra Ramayan, and Scout's Honor (a high 3 out of 5 stars) by Lily Anderson. Here are all five of the books I finished in June:

30 June 2022

Scout's Honor - Book Review

Scout's Honor by Lily Anderson
Publication date: April 5, 2022
Pages: 416 pages
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: "Okay, babe, I get why you have to kill them." "Headquarters prefers the term banish. It's friendlier."

This fun read was a YA book for my local book club. I have to admit I put off starting it way longer than I should have. I saw 'scout' and thought it was like another WW2 story or something. Boy, was I off base!

Ladybird Scouts are able to see - and banish - interdimensional creatures who feed on human emotions. While their feeding is usually just disruptive, once they consume enough emotion, they get bigger and eventually able to feed on real humans! Obviously, a problem. 

Prudence Perry knows the real risk of hunting the creatures (called mulligrubs), and lost one of her best friends to a carnivorous grub. Even though she's a third generation Ladybird, she wants nothing to do with her ability to See them, or responsibility to banish them, anymore. Until she ends up forced back into the sisterhood by her mother.

Prudence learns that being a Ladybird Scout may not be just a burden, and maybe she is still strong enough to protect her friends.

I really enjoyed this book and gave it every bit of 3 out of 5 stars. Depending on your reader, it may even be acceptable for a high middle-grade read. The characters were fun and unique, and their mission was one I never imagined.

24 June 2022

Five Things for Friday 6/24/22

  1. Welcome to another Friday! While part of me feels like summer is speeding by, another part of me is wondering why it has been this week  f o r e v e r. Enjoy one of my favorite comics/memes/why-do-we-need-labels as a tribute to one of my books finished this month :D
  2. Super excited to have Monday off. I was originally going to be taking Jack to his fabulous ninja camp, but they might not have enough kids to run it next week. So I'd have to sleep in. Hmm.... And I definitely get lunch in-person with my book club that is usually zoom - so a solid YAY there!
  3. My kids are so excited for the new Minions movie coming out next week! I think it sounds cool too, but they're more likely to find a ride and go see it while I'm working. Which is fine. I'm so tired after long days at work, I'd probably doze anyway. LOL
  4. Who else has big plans still left for summer? Maggie and I have a mega-baton competition, and both kids have one of our favorite summer camps - that's half of my July! Mostly I think I like summer for not having to worry about cold and bad roads...
  5. I did finish two book reviews up on the blog this week - check out what I thought of Keanu Reeves: Most Triumphant (2 out of 5 stars) by Alex Pappademas, and The Stranger Beside Me: The Ted Bundy Story (5 out of 5 stars) by Ann Rule.

23 June 2022

The Stranger Beside Me - Book Review

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story by Ann Rule
Publication date: May 10, 2022
Pages: 640 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: Bad guys can be anywhere!

This was the true-crime book picked for my Yelp! book club. While it was first published in 1980, several additions have been made, and I was happy to read the newest edition. 

The original publication was the chilling and graphic story of serial killer Ted Bundy. The now-famous true-crime author Ann Rule worked with him prior to his arrest at a crisis line in Seattle, WA. So what I found particularly chilling is that Ted Bundy likely saved some lives... odd.

There is no definite answer of how many women Ted Bundy killed. While authorities had it at 36, Bundy responded that they were missing a digit. 136? 360? Terrifying! It was fascinating to be able to read Rule's perception of him as an average co-worker, and following through to her realization that he was in fact a murderer. 

I really appreciated the follow-ups added in the years since the original 1980 publication. Especially curious for me was the stories Rule had heard from women who told their stories of their near-misses with Bundy. Women who were picked up, but then he let go. Or women who were approached in public and felt the need to leave the situation ASAP. 

Overall, the book and the anecdotal stories were a great read for me and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. While I seem to remember reading other Ann Rule stories in the past, I think this was my first time reading this, as it will be hard to forget.

20 June 2022

Keanu Reeves: Most Triumphant - Book Review

Keanu Reeves: Most Triumphant: The Movies and Meaning of an Irrepressible Icon by Alex Pappademas
Publication date: May 3, 2022
Pages: 336 pages
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars ☆☆
Sweet Spark: Keanu Reeves has made a lot of movies!

Keanu Reeves is one of those celebrities who has kept his nose clean, ya know? But part of that is keeping his private business more-or-less private. We know what's public record, which are some pretty deep personal tragedies, but there really isn't public record of his personal responses.

With that said, this author tried to build a more personal journey into the movies that Keanu Reeves has been in, and the order that he worked on them. There were some insightful observations, but nothing really 'personal' from Keanu Reeves. Maybe this is the coverage a star gets when he prefers to remain private?

Overall, this book made me want to watch the movies - re-watch the ones I've already seen, but maybe even start from the beginning and watch all these movies. The author is obviously a very true fan, as he was able to comment extensively about most of the moves, and even the movies that were not crowd favorites got some positive observations.

Overall, I'm only able to give this book 2 out of 5 stars. I just wasn't the audience. As I said, the book made me think of watching the movies, but I really don't have time for that. I'm a reader, and this was really a book written for movie fans. It felt like a personal discussion, but I didn't walk away with much more knowledge of Keanu Reeves than I started with - I felt unable to hold up my end of the discussion without quite a few extra hours to watch the movies.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my chance to read the electronic copy of the book and offer my unbiased opinion.

03 June 2022

Five Things for Friday 6/3/22

  1.  So I'd like to say that going in to the office Monday - Friday is getting easier as I get used to it (we've now been going a whole month! This will be our fifth week finishing.). But maybe I'm just lowering my standards as fast as possible. Luckily I like my job, because I spend my time at home realizing what I'm messing up and missing out on.
  2. Thank goodness the school year is almost over. It's been a real roller-coaster lately. Each day seems to have more than its share of good news...and bad news.. Another school shooting last week has really tried the nerves of a lot of our local kids. See, we're in the community that is very near a community with a previous school shooting. And apparently proximity does make a difference. I think we all hold our breath for a minute when we hear any sirens, like we did that day as three counties worth of emergency vehicles rushed to the scene. Every drill, false alarm, or baseless threat starts the trauma experience all over. I wish I could say it will be easier after a summer off, but I know it won't.
  3. Did I say this week has been a roller-coaster? Last Saturday Maggie earned her spot to compete in America's Youth on Parade - the NATIONAL baton twirling competition! We've booked our accommodations and she's working hard to schedule extra practices around theatre commitments, driver's education, and wanting to take some hard-earned down time now that high school classes are wrapping up.
  4. I also finally got the last of my flowers last weekend (just kidding, I'm sure I'll get more!). Last weekend I planted some pretties in the pots on our back deck. Now every day's to-do list includes watering the flowers in the front garden area and the back deck. But I love it. I'm also so excited to see and smell our healthy lilac hedgerow that was so carefully watered last year to make sure it grew in strong as brand new plants. Success!
  5. My other priorities also haven't left as much time for reading! See the three books below that I finished for May, and their reviews posted within the last couple of weeks too: Strangers We Know  (4 out of 5 stars) by Elle Marr, Breach (4 out of 5 stars, with a giveaway ending 6/8/22) by Kelly Sokol, and The Bangalore Detectives Club (4 out of 5 stars, with a giveaway ending 6/9/22) by Harini Nagendra. At least the little time I've had to spend has been enjoying good books!

20 May 2022

Five Things for Friday - 5/20/22


  1. Finally! Some [more] summer-ish weather! I received a few hanging baskets for mothers' day, and then went and grabbed a couple to fill my last couple of hooks. Sitting out on my front porch, with my flowers, and birds, and warmth, while reading a book and enjoying a refreshing drink - my version of heaven!
  2. Tomorrow Maggie and I have our last scheduled baton competition for a bit. It's the closest one to us (less than an hour drive!), so we don't have to get up as early, and some family may stop by to watch her perform. Should be a fun day.
  3. Work is still...work. Luckily I like my commuter car (our new Mustang Mach-e), and I do enjoy what I do (researching and writing). Our team is still down four people (scheduled to start June 6, but not fully trained for a couple months, at least), so there's plenty of work. But now that we're not working-from-home, I don't do nearly as much overtime. I go in a half hour or so earlier than required, but I'm out the second we're allowed to punch out so I can get home to the kids and the rest of my daily tasks. 
  4. I'm still so torn on a summer vacation.  I really, really want to go somewhere cool-ish and have a great time with my family, but I footed most of the bill last time and don't want to spend that much again right now. Also, I'm really, really worried about driving in the snow, or having sick kids next fall/winter and want to save my paid time off. Ugh. I sure did like working from home...
  5. On the book front, I've got a few reviews published that haven't been shared here yet. Check out what I thought of: Scarlet Carnation (4 out of 5 stars) by Laila Ibrahim, and Mallory's Manly Methods (4 out of 5 stars) by Thomas Keech.