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Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tales
My current book review policy is behind the LJ cut. Click to read it.Collapse )

(Art by hamburger.)

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On my last post, elfy had the good suggestion to record my eating -- to use an app to count calories and track my intake. I knew I should be doing that (everyone underestimates the calories they eat), but I didn't want to... But I buckled down and decided to download an app (MyFitnessPal) and count my calories.

The app suggested 1,500 would be a better amount of calories per day than 1,200. I'm undecided on that, but the point was moot... My first day tracking, at the end of the day, I came in at barely 800 calories. o.O

I gleefully ate an extra protein bar (Quest Bars, SO GOOD!) and pondered things.

Eating too few calories can slow your weight loss down, so maybe that's been my issue these last couple months...

All in all, this is about the best "problem" one could have diet-wise.

Oddly, I find that I like tracking all the food I eat, it's interesting to see the exact numbers per meal, per day, etc.

It's also odd how different my head is now. When I realized I had 335 calories for breakfast (Quest bar, half an apple, sugarfree hot chocolate), I almost fainted thinking that was so many calories.

I hope this post doesn't come off as a humblebrag. I'm more surprised at this than anything else.

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Current Mood: okay okay

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Our electric went out tonight. It was after sundown, much of my town had no power. No one in my apartment complex had any power. You don't realize how dark "dark" is until you're inside, on a cloudy night, no lights, not one speck of light coming in the windows.

Apparently I need to shop for batteries. And flashlights.

I had one working flashlight, but thankfully my cellphone was fully charged. It made a much better flashlight.

Unfortunately my Kindle was nearly dead. I read for an hour, then got into bed for the next hour. (Unfortunately it was early evening, no chance of falling asleep.) Eventually I turned on NPR through my phone and listened to that, even though I didn't know how long the battery would need to last me. After about three long, boring hours total, we got power back.


I've been putting off posting about my weight for, well, months now. I was going to post on the anniversary of my surgery (September 15th), but that passed by and I didn't. I figured Thanksgiving would be a great day to post about it (the anniversary of the first time I ate with/in front of other people post-surgery), but then that day slipped by too.

It's very frustrating and slow, which I guess is why I don't like thinking about it much and thus don't really want to post about it. I haven't gone up (THANKFULLY), but I'm really not losing anymore either. I am, to the tenth of a pound, the same exact weight I was at one year post-surgery. That's zero weight loss in two months.

I'm starting to do hand weights at home, which should help. I keep trying to go back to walking, but my toe isn't fully healed yet. The most annoying part is that I'm not eating bad. I never, ever go to fast food (I've had small fast food items maybe four times in the last 14 months). I haven't eaten a single piece of candy, cookie, or other "real" sweet thing in all that time (not counting sugarfree fake sweet things). I have chips very very rarely, and even then only a few. I'm eating about 1,200 calories a day. Stupid body, you should be losing weight...

I thought I had 100 pounds more to go, but my doctor said 50 more is a better goal. I've lost 138 pounds from my highest point, 116 post-surgery. So 50 pounds is still a lot to lose, especially at the rate I'm going (which is zero).

So: frustrating. So frustrating that you can do everything right, eat so little, and still not lose. Nothing I can do but keep trying though...

I try to look on the positive side of things. I've lost a lot of weight, and I'm healthier for it. People say I look good (though I swear to god, I still see no difference -- stupid brain). Even if I don't lose anymore, I'm still at a much better place than I was a year ago.

But I want to be able to finish this. I'm eating right! I should be able to keep losing weight! Darned body.

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Current Mood: tired tired

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While I still watch this show, I don't rabidly follow it. Even though this week's episode made me highly (HIGHLY) grumpy, I wouldn't be posting about it if the The Talking Dead people weren't all so happy about it.

I cannot say more than that without spoilers...Collapse )

Unrelated: Watching TV through online feeds has a few small benefits. Most feeds seem to come from the east coast, so I get to watch everything three hours early. It's also fun that when I watch news, it's usually out of New York City. My childhood home area often gets mentioned! Odd and fun!

Earlier today I was watching a Food Network feed, and it was coming out of the UK. Amusingly, they had little 30 second promos for explaining "American food", like what corndogs are. Ha!

I know it sounds odd, but I guess since I see them so infrequently now, I don't mind commercials at all, especially when they come from other areas. It's fun trying to guess where a feed is coming from based on the commercials.

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Current Mood: okay okay

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Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

As other people on my friends list intend to read this book, I'm putting all plot details behind a spoiler cut: [Brief plot details from the first quarter of the book back here]

For reasons unrevealed in the first 25% of the book, a small number of teenagers have super powers. One of them can say anything that will get him what he wants (a voice takes over his mouth), one can sense and crash any technology, one can see through anyone else's eyes, one is "forgettable" -- no one can ever remember his name or what he looks like, and the last (their leader) seems to be able to influence emotions. (Hm, writing this up here makes the powers sound a lot more interesting than they are in the book...)

The first quarter of the book is about Scam (the one with the voice power) getting himself into trouble. The others go on a mission to rescue him.

While there was nothing wrong with the book, for me there was nothing right either. I had no interest in any of the characters. The whole plot felt flat and uninteresting to me. Somehow all the powers seemed yawn-worthy (not because I'm into BIG GIANT SUPERPOWERS or something, I think sucky superpowers would be a lot more interesting to read about, just the way these were presented).

If I had had no other books to read, I could have continued on with this one; I didn't hate Zeroes, I just didn't like it. I was hoping it would be a slow-starter and so gave it a good chance to hook me, but if I'm not enjoying it by a quarter in, then it's fair to move on to the next one.

Speaking of next books! Next up: Silver on the Road, which a bunch of people have reviewed on LJ lately. So far, just a couple pages in, I can agree with all the positive reviews it's been getting. Especially after Zeroes, the writing and story feel so alive!

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Current Mood: tired tired

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Last month I posted about Uber bringing offices a gaggle of kittens to enjoy, and this month they're delivering a "wellness pack". For $10, not only do you get the pack of goods, you get a registered nurse who will give up to 10 people a flu shot. $10 for one person alone would be a good deal, but $10 for 10 people to get a shot, PLUS stuff for taking care of yourself, PLUS it's delivered to you? What a deal!

Current Mood: impressed impressed

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I watch very few movies, because generally I multitask too much during them, so it takes days for me to get through them (I endlessly pause it or have to backtrack to see what I missed). I'm kind of a little burnt out on my game right now, so I've been watching more Netflix than usual. A movie caught my eye, so I checked it out.

GAH! It could not have been a better fit for me if it had been written for me personally!

The movie opens with 50 people in a dark space, each standing on a lighted circle. If they move off that light or touch each other, a loud warning sound blasts. If they stay off their light, they die.

Even if everyone does everything right, every two minutes, one of them is killed.

After a few deaths, they learn more and more about how the person is chosen to be killed. Spoiler on how the choice is made, don"t click if you want to watch the movie!Collapse ) The next hour and change is all about how people act, what makes them turn on each other, how personalities come out, all sorts of plotting and planning.

It's not gory at all, there's not a single drop of blood. It's all the psychological end of things.

I wish they would have ended the movie a moment sooner -- I like open-ended things better. The ending as-is wasn't at all bad, it just could have been even better.

If you don't like dark movies, this is a big pass for you. But if you're interested in seeing how people act when in horrible situations, then The Circle might be a good fit for you.

Current Mood: impressed impressed

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The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I have a confession to make: I'm horrible at seeing plot twists coming. I rarely guess what's going to happen next in a movie or TV show. I think it's because I don't want to know -- if I know, it's a lot less fun. That being said, I saw the answer to every single mystery in this book a mile ahead of time. From the biggest to the smallest, I was able to easily spot what was going to happen.

The story was about a boy who can speak the language of cats. How did he learn? Turns out anyone can learn to speak cat at a certain age, it's just that most cats don't bother to teach people. (I loved that detail, it was the high point of the story for me.)

The land the boy lived in lost its princess, killed by someone the characters were told was a bad guy. The main character had no idea who his father was. The supposed good guy who was "searching" for the princess happened to kidnap the boy "by mistake". Through the story we learned the truth of who the boy's father was, what happened to the princess, and other very unsurprising things. It was so obvious once you saw all the pieces how they were going to come together.

One of the biggest failings of the book was the bad guy. He ate not just cats, but kittens. Okay, author, you write a book about a boy who can talk to cats, thus you know you're likely going to get cat lovers as readers. How amazingly heavy-handed is it to have your bad guy eat kittens? Hell, he ate kitten pot pie with furry ears and tails sticking out of it. What the hell sense does that make? Who would want to eat any meat with the fur still on it?

I got about 70% through the book before I started skimming, and once I realized I really had no interested at all in reading the ending, I gave up on it. If I hadn't been able to see every plot twist coming, I probably would have enjoyed it more and finished it.

Next up: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld. orangerful and I both have a hit-or-miss experience with Westerfeld, and Zeroes was in both of our To Read piles, so I figured I'd give it a try next. So far, about 10% in, I'm seriously indifferent to it. It's kind of an interesting idea (the characters have "super powers", but the powers aren't all that super at all; unfortunately they're not "not super" in an interesting way). I'm disappointed, as I loved Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy so much. Oh well, maybe it will improve as the story goes on.

Passed on: I was offered Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys for review, and I was very tempted to accept it. loupnoir recommended her first book, Between Shades of Gray, which I enjoyed, so I was tempted by Salt to the Sea (LOVE that title). But the subject matter (some battle in WWII) just didn't interest me at all. Of course, the subject matter in Between Shades of Gray hadn't interested me either and I ended up really enjoying reading that, so Salt might have worked for me, but... I have a whole lot of books I'm waiting to read, so I decided to pass on Salt.

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Current Mood: hungry hungry

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The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Every now and then, I discover a book that's just plain fun. That's how this book started: simply fun.

The story is about an adventurer's guild. The older members go out and find young people with talent, and bring them back to train them to raid dungeons and steal gold from monsters (very D&Dish). The main character, Colm Candorly, had a talent for picking pockets, and though he was a good-hearted kid, his family was very large and very poor, so he was doing it for them. The guild's rogue mentor, Finn, discovered Colm and brought him in for training.

In many ways, this book had a very Harry Potter-ish feel to it. (And not just because it's YA -- you all know me, I read more YA than anything else.) The setting was just plain fun, it was a world I would have loved to be a part of. It went beyond HP though, both in quality of writing and realism of the characters.

There was so much I loved about this book. The writing was perfect. The editing was better than I had seen in a long time (not one single typo, grammar issue, or other error that I spotted! So rare!). I loved (LOVED LOVED LOVED) that there was so much going on under the surface; through most of the books, I knew there was something going on between the guild masters, but because the story was told from the young peoples' POV, we didn't see exactly what until the end.

Also, the story had the best opening sentence ever: "Colm Candorly had nine fingers and eight sisters." I don't think there's ever been a first sentence that ever caught my attention so strongly!

All through the book, I knew I was going to review it as "PERFECT!"... then something happened. It's not something the author did wrong (in fact, the amount it saddened me is a testament to how good the book was), it was just something that happened in the plot. Perfectly reasonable and fit, but it greatly disappointed me.

Spoiler! Seriously, read the book, don"t click here!Collapse )

And that spoiler reminds me of another great thing about this story: No character was black/white. Everyone was grey. Everyone had big honking flaws (Best Thing Ever!). It makes characters so realistic, I wish more authors would do that.

And the ending! Gah, (spoiler issue) aside, I loved the ending so much! PERFECT ending!

Even with my disappointment over that (spoiler issue), I would 100% recommend this book. It did every single thing right. Wonderful, fun read. Once my finances get straightened out, I'm looking forward to reading his other books as well.

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Current Mood: pleased pleased

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No TV + no game (MMO down 24 hour for maintenance) = zzz boring.

My one-week checkup on my toe was today. Got stitches out (OW OW OW), turns out it's infected yet again. Sigh. I'm on antibiotics once more, hopefully they'll do a good job of knocking it out without killing my stomach.

I'm mostly getting used to having no TV. Now and then I miss it, but I miss it in the way I miss grazing (mindlessly eating). It's just filler, nothing I really ever paid much attention to. I can watch live TV on various websites, like this one or this one, or there are the "official" sites, like cbs.com. Toss in Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and I have quite a collection of entertainment.

Netflix has 12 seasons of NCIS, so I started in on that. Many eps are new to me, though some I've caught before. It amazes me how good the very first episode of the series is -- the characters, timing, writing, etc all seem just as good as the later eps. Often it takes some time for a show to get its feet under it.

Usually when I watch a show, I watch only it and nothing else, but this time I'm alternating NCIS and The Great British Bake Off (The Great British Baking Show in the US). Oddly the fifth UK season was shown as the first season in the US, and the fourth UK season was shown as our seconds. Now that I've seen all of the first season, I can kind of understand not starting there (it was quite the different show), but I think they could have started with the second season. (I'm halfway through the second season now.) The seasons are so short though! It's sad, I'm going to be out of them too soon.

I want to check out The Great British Sewing Bee next. (changeling72 said good things about it.) The first season doesn't seem to be around online, but I'm going to get the second while I'm thinking about it. (Edit: Found season one, woot!)

Money is stressing me out. I ran the numbers, and if I don't want my savings to go down, I have $100 per month to spend on all food, car gas, electric, medical, basically everything other than rent/Internet/phone. I spend more than $100/month on just medical stuff... My boss let me know that she's pushing hard for a promotion for me come December, but it's not fully in her hands, so... we'll see.

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Current Mood: bored bored

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