Saturday, March 26, 2011

Summer, Oh Summer! Where Art Thou?

The weather in Arkansas the last few weeks has been great. Highs in the 70's. Sunshine! It was awesome. Well, this week my family took a couple of days and headed up to Branson. I checked the weather for days before we left and it called for highs in the low 60's with lots of sun. However, weather down here has a way of laughing in your face.

The sunny day in the 60's became overcast in the 40's. Cold and miserable! So, we hightailed it back to Arkansas expecting partly cloudy skies with highs in the 60's. We got gloom and temps in the 50's. Today it is cold and wet. It's raining and not going to get very warm today. So all that sunshine and pretty weather was wonderful while it lasted. It was a tease and a taste of the warm spring yet to come.

I'm a summer girl myself. I love heat. But I am seriously wanting more warm spring weather. I think that since we cut our holiday off early that we will try again when the sun peeks back out. This time we might head for one of our many state parks here in Arkansas. We'll get a nice cozy cabin with a mountain view and cook out on the grill. We will watch the sunset over the valley while the kids play outside. Then we can play a board game or two before bed. Something fun and relaxing.

We got season passes to Silver Dollar City, so we hope to make the 4 hour drive to Branson often this year. We are going to try to get to as many of their festivals as possible...but not so often that we get sick of the place. If we just go three times this year, the season passes are well worth the investment. Our favorite thing is the Old Time Christmas Festival, but I've wanted to go to the Bluegrass and BBQ festival and the Southern Gospel event for years. I'm looking forward to it a lot. If I can get past all the walking and the crowds. Man! That place is crowded!!!

No matter what we do...whether we are at a crowded theme park, at a noisy and crowded Branson show, or hiking at one of our state parks and picnicking on hot dogs at the playground, my family loves to get out in the warm fresh air. After the long and dreary winter we've had, I think we are all looking forward this even more this year than ever before.

So come on Summer!! Or at least, please come to stay warm Spring days! Winter needs to go bye bye!!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review of Dead Space by Lee Goldberg

Let me preface this review by saying that I am a huge fan of Lee Goldberg. Love him. Love him. Love him. He was the executive producer of Diagnosis Murder (an older television program that my husband and I thoroughly enjoy), and he wrote all of the tie in books for Diagnosis Murder. He has written episodes of some of my fave TV shows such as Psych and Monk, and he also writes all of the tie in books for Monk. He has written many of those books and still has more on the way. I devour his Monk and Diagnosis Murder books. I can't get enough of them. This is really saying something. I think the only other tie in book I have EVER read (outside of Lee's) was the book based on the movie The Karate Kid back when I was like 12. Tie in books are not usually my thing. However, Lee develops characters so well that it not only feels as though I am catching up with old friends, it feels as though I am getting to know my friends on a much deeper level than ever before. Yes, I know that is corny, but it is what it is. I want to feel like the characters I have grown to care about are my friends. I would never read a book or watch a TV show if I were not somehow emotionally invested in the characters. What would be the point?

I also read Lee's blog, A Writer's Life, almost religiously. I have learned a lot from him, and I have no shame in admitting that I have a deep fear of ending up in his "The Mail I Get" section. Trust me. No one wants to end up in that section. He really knows how shine a spotlight on stupidity.

So, when I started reading Lee's book, Dead Space (also known as Beyond The Beyond), I was looking forward to it. Lee has a marvelous sense of humor, and the book promised lots of laughs. His Monk books are hilarious in places, and I know that whatever Lee Goldberg puts out is going to be entertaining. Period.

That being said, don't assume that if you like his other work that you will love Dead Space. You might. You might not. I tend to be one of those old-fashioned folk who can not abide profanity and graphic sex in the books I read. Some of that is the conviction of my faith, and some of that is just plain personal preference. If you are sensitive to cussing and sex, this may not be the book for you.

However, if the worse thing someone says about your writing is that there was too much language and sex...well, that's a good thing. I mean, I have nothing derogatory to say about Lee's writing ability. This was a fun and fast-paced story. I laughed out loud several times. The book is hilarious. It is a satire on the fans of shows such as Star Trek. It tells the story of how a new television network wants to bring back an old 60's Sci-Fi show (obviously based on Star Trek or shows like it), but the network wants to revamp the show and play to a younger, hipper audience. This doesn't sit well with a few homicidal fans...and a very nutso former star of the show. Chaos ensues, and it is up to former cop, ex-television star and current studio security, Charlie Willis. I love this character, by the way. He is just really cool.

It is up to Charlie to find the killer(s) before anyone else (including himself) is knocked off. It's a fun read. There are a ton of 90's references (since the original version of the book, Beyond The Beyond, came out in the 90's), but the book is not dated. It just seems like a retro book set in the 90's. I loved the 90's pop culture references. It was fun to think...oh, wow, I forgot about her!

I recommend this book to anyone who loves Star Trek or other 60's and 70's Sci-Fi favorites...if you can get past the language and sometimes graphic and very crude references to sex. I personally could not. It's not my thing. Like I said, if the only bad thing you can say about a book is that the author has a dirty mouth, then you just have to ask yourself what is alright with you. The story is funny and a lot of fun. The characters are a hoot. But I give fair warning that there is a lot of profanity and crude Some of us care about that kind of thing, and some of us don't give a flying fig newton one way or the other.

I still love Lee Goldberg, but I might stick with the tie in books. Still, Charlie Willis rocks.