Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Have I mentioned my mad love for Kelley Armstrong’s Nadia Stafford series? I like some of the Otherworld books (the Magic ones never did it for me) but I ADORE these books. There are only two so far and I am wicked hooked. Short version: if you wanted to hang out with someone who was a hitman (and you didn’t know), it would be Nadia. Chock full of creepy and/or paranoid serial-killers-with-a-mission. Cross between Buffy (albeit no vampires or monsters- at least not the otherworldly sort) and Dexter.

Also read: Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Free on the kindle and MAN this was a grabber. Corporate espionage thriller that was miles better than The Firm. It jumps in hard and if you hang on for the ride, the ending is total payoff. Dug it and I will totally check out more of his work.


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Days off

Today I spent a perfectly lovely afternoon reclined on a picnic table bench, reading a book. The dog stretched out next to me and alternated between napping and rolling in the grass. I started and finished The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman.

I think the first Hoffman book I read was Practical Magic, which I adored. It’s one of the few novel-to-film adaptations I also enjoy – the movie keeps to the sentiment of the novel, if not the letter, though the book is to be preferred.

When I had to describe Hoffman’s work to a friend last night I said it wasn’t fantasy, it’s more like fantastic fiction. It has every quality of ‘literary’ fiction but each work contains something magical or otherworldly that’s thoroughly woven into the narrative in such a way that it almost stops being fantastic and simply another element in a great story. It bridges genres and never fails to surprise and delight me. There’s never the sense of a re-tread or staleness, no matter how many novels I’ve read (and re-read). She’s one of the few authors whose work I can reliably buy in hardcover or, in this case, kindle.

All in all, a wonderful and relaxing afternoon.

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One of the books I’ve read in the new year has won the Newberry Medal! Yay Neil Gaiman!

I’ve been keeping a running list on facebook, but my ‘accomplished’ list is thus:

1. Watchmen, Alan Moore – Graphic novel (which will be a major motion picture in a few months) about an alternate universe where the Cold War is not over. Ordinary folk put on disguises to fight crime and – rather than the typical comic acceptance – society reacts as you might expect. It takes what I loved about the darker Batman comics (after they broke his back) a few steps further by looking at the ‘superheroes’ as normal people and examining (a bit) the psychoses that might be involved and how they affect their interactions. As good as I’d hoped it would be, and I’m looking forward to the film.

2. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman – A really charming novel about a graveyard full of ghosts who take a little boy under their protection. A fantastic and unexpectedly warm and fuzzy ‘horror’ story. If you don’t believe me, ask the Newberry People.

3. Peacekeeper: A Major Ariane Kedros Novel, Laura E. Reeve – I’m not normally a ‘hard’ sci fi fan but this novel sounded interesting. Main character is a female military operative, ostensibly retired but still doing shadow work. She’s got some serious issues (post traumatic stress, alcoholism) and a complicated mission in this particular book. While I glossed over some of the technical detail, I enjoyed the worldbuilding and the character development. Also, no gratuitous sex. No sex at all, actually (unlike most urban fantasy). I liked it enough that I’ll be looking for the next book in the series.

4. Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford Series, Book 1), Kelley Armstrong – I’m a sucker for assassin stories. This is about a female cop-turned-assassin. She and some assassin acquaintances decide to track down a serial killer that they suspect was one of their own. Good action, pleasantly convoluted personal interactions (as you might expect of people who don’t trust anyone), and a generally fun read. I am not a fan of all of Armstrong’s other work (her witch stuff leaves me cold) but I really liked this departure.

5. Bone by Bone, Carol O’Connell – Hands down, my favorite crime writer. I buy her stuff in hardcover, if that tells you anything. The latest novel doesn’t disappoint. O’Connell’s books are strongest (in my opinion) because they involve as much character development as they do unraveling the crime. In every book, the protag has to come to grips with some part of his/her own history while they’re figuring out whodunit. This one was particularly interesting because it involved murder in a small town, with all the interesting dynamics inherent to that particular society. Loved it.

6. Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Cherie Priest – This book has been out for a while now and gotten very good reviews. I finally picked it up and it’s definitely worth the read. Mystery + ghost story + great urban fantasy.

7. Enlightenment for Idiots: A Novel, Anne Cushman – Cushman is a regular contributer to Yoga Journal and a yoga teacher. The novel is a kind of funny, half-serious/half-spoof on the yoga ‘industry’ and the search for enlightenment. I’m not sure if the asana descriptions before each chapter were intended as humor, but I found them to be hilarious. I’d never describe the asanas in that way in any class I was teaching. The book also reminded me of some of my least favorite yoga classes, where everything is taken very, very seriously and not much fun is had. Her trip to India is the anti- Eat, Pray, Love which is sort of great as well.

I’ve got a few others in the works or on my To Be Read list.

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I was going to get up, drive to Avon, pick up scotch, go to Edwards, mail the Dish Network receiver, get my hair cut, and do a little grocery shopping. The thing that did not get done was mailing the DN receiver. Whoops. It was the foot of snow on my car that threw everything off – that and Spouse leaving his phone at home so I ended up detouring to deliver it.

That said, I conquered Battle Mountain! It’s a stunning (and sometimes stomach-churning, if you’re afraid of heights) drive as a passenger. As a driver, I was so worried about the road I didn’t pay very much attention to the scenery. The scenery IS amazing but I was focused on hairpin turns.

I got my hair done at Salon Axis which was fantastic. The closest salon to my house in Michigan was also an Aveda salon (ask for Amanda or Markesa) and that’s how I developed a bias. I started going to the salon when I decided I wanted a hairstyle and not a haircut, and let me tell you it made all the difference. Why do you care?

First, I am an internet snob. I googled to exhaustion attempting to find a place here in town (or close) and didn’t find a single website. Not even a FrontPage website. That’s disappointing for me, especially in a city with free wireless. As silly as it may sound, I find the internet to be more reliable than the phone book. Online I can find photos, pricing, or at least get a sense of how a business sees itself (or doesn’t). A good website will bring me to your business.

[example: great website vs. not my thing. Guess where I bought my scotch?]

Second, Aveda. I like Aveda products. I don’t find the scents to be overwhelming and – to a one – I have always found their salon stylists/designers to not only be talented, but HELPFUL. As in “Backcombing, let me show you it!” It can be pricy, but they do an excellent job with their client consults and I have never been disappointed when leaving. Today was no exception.

Third, I am challenging. I am lazy. I am not going to use much product. My hair is fine but there is a lot of it. Curling is out of the question but I’m willing to flat iron as needed. On top of that, I’ve been coloring my hair for the last six years – everything from all shades of red and brown, to a brief flirtation back to blonde, and then red and brown again THIS SUMMER. On my last stop at Shapers, Markesa knocked down the red and colored me a tone similar to my natural shade, but darker.

Salon Axis is located in the Riverwalk area in Edwards, which is a charming faux-town shopping area. Lots of restaurants and stores, but in the best possible imagination of a strip mall. It’s small, only five or six stations (if I recall correctly) but nicely appointed and with lovely wood floors. The waiting area is a bit narrow, but I always bring a book- today’s was Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book – or an mp3 player and pretty quickly don’t notice where I’m at regardless.

Kelly (my hair designer) was fantastic. Another midwest transplant, we had nice conversation about points of interest and places to visit. Most importantlyt, Kelly managed to lighten me up to practically my natural color and freshen up my style. I’m pretty fearless about my hair (which comes from having shaved my head) and was open to all-over color, corrective color, whatever needed to be done. She did the job skillfully with highlights and I love it. I also got a complimentary paraffin hand treatment which was OMG fantastic after three days of working a bar with no hand lotion.


Salon Axis in Edwards, CO

Salon Axis in Edwards, CO

At any rate, I highly recommend the salon.

Before my appointment (I was a bit early) I had a raspberry croissant and hot chocolate at the French bakery a couple of doors down. Really, really good. I also stopped at the Village Market (in the same shopping area) before I drove home to pick up some extras for entertaining. They didn’t have Greek yogurt but they had Bulgarian yogurt and I was intrigued enough to buy it anyhow.


Main Street at Edwards, CO Riverwalk

Main Street at Edwards, CO Riverwalk


I’m not sure if it’s a Wild West thing, but I have seen a LOT of these shopping areas in Colorado. They’re spectacular because they engender the feeling of being ‘in town’ in a really clever and attractive package. There is parking on the ‘street’ but also in underground parking garages. They’re structured in such a way that they can be expanded without losing that ‘hometown’ feeling (brick sidewalks, streets, et cetera) and don’t have the traffic of actually being ‘in town.’ They also mean a HUGE variety within a short walking distance, whereas ‘in town’ you’d probably have to drive a little ways for the same options.

I also took some Before photos of the living room today which will not be revealed until all (or a reasonable approximation) of the photos are hung.

Time to stop my rambling and get ready for bed.

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With the holidays coming up, it makes sense to talk about low cost and environmentally friendly gifts. I know, “Magazines? What?” But magazines are usually (not always) $20 or less for a year’s subscription. AND they CAN be environmentaly friendly!

There are a few magazines that I read regularly. Not surprisingly, most of them are yoga magazines. They’ve all got good information and I’m the kind of person who wants to hang on to them. I’m also the kind of person who has great intentions about cutting out the articles or recipes that I want to keep (so I can get rid of the rest of the magazine) and never quite gets around to doing it.

Last year I discovered Zinio. com. It’s a fantastic website that offers magazines in digital content. You can choose to download them or read them from the Zinio website. Either way, they’re not stacking up in piles next to your end table. The best thing is that you can read them forever. If there’s an article you want, you can print it out. You only end up with the paper you want, rather than being stuck with a whole magazine to discard. 

I’m lazy. I know I’m lazy. And this site is brilliant for me. My two personal recs: Yoga Journal and Women’s Health.

Yoga Journal (which I also link in my sidebar) provides a lot of great information and insight from several different teachers. I don’t love all their advertising (a common complaint of people who aren’t fans) but I also only look at the advertising if I’m LOOKING for something. I skip all ads and go right to the articles I want. Having this in e-format is fantastic because you can print out the information about asanas, or their ‘master class’ and save what you like. It is not my favorite yoga magazine (see: Yoga + Joyful Living) but it’s a close second.

I didn’t get into Women’s Health until Spouse started reading Men’s Health. Men’s Health has great articles about fitness and diet with an upbeat and pro-health/anti-negative message. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Women’s Health does the same thing but is tailored to the specific concerns of women. It’s not just Men’s Health for Women. I love their recipes. Their articles are about lifestyle change and positive attitudes. You’ll be hard pressed to find a single negative word in each issue. And they’re full of REALLY PRACTICAL tips that you can actually use. In almost every issue there’s a 15-minute workout feature (or something like that) with an emphasis on correct form (a personal tweak of mine). It does a great job of covering everything – diet, health, beauty, fitness, sex, and relationships – and makes it feel like you’re talking to your best (smartest) girlfriends about it. It’s not gossipy, just educational. The recipes are great and you can also find workouts and workout playlists at their website (which is also awesome). Not only that, it manages to be ENTERTAINING. Loves it.

If you were only going to choose one of these magazines, I’d go with Women’s Health. Their most recent issue has quite a lot of yoga info in it and overall I think it translates better to general workouts.

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In my classes lately, I’ve been doing a lot more sun salutations + variations (warrior I, warrior II, triangle, extended side angle, et cetera). It works really well to warm the students up but, more importantly, reinforces that while Sun Sals are a very basic series, you can use them to build your own yoga practice. The most common complaint from new students is that they’re unsure how to establish a home practice. Sun Salutations is the key to success. It is a basic series of motions with infinite potential for variety.

I tend to start with the modified version (knee to floor in lunge, modified plank, modified plank push-up rather than up dog) and then gradually increase the level of work (knee away from floor, holding plank longer, more difficult variations on updog/locust, extended down dog positions). It builds heat in the muscles steadily and more importantly reinforces the series of motions. If you forget what comes next, do the next thing you remember. My hope is that because we keep going through them in class, you can do them on your own in the morning/evening/whenever you get a few minutes and that’s what builds home practice.

I HOPE that’s what it’s doing anyhow. Sun Salutations are also comforting for me. Limited amount of concentration, maximum amount of muscle effort. It’s like reading a book you love for the 137th time, you know where it’s going and you still like getting there.

Speaking of books, I’ve been on an intensive reading kick lately and have cranked through about 5 books in the last three days. Some have been better than others and I’m definitely discovering some writers I’ll keep looking for.

Microbiology continues to be intensive. Lab exam next week.

Yes, I watched the debate.

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