This blog contains my thoughts and feelings only. It IS titled, "The Daily Life of Carol: My Thoughts, Rants & Raves." They do not represent those of anyone else. While I still can't imagine how my little blog is making the rounds locally, it is mine and mine only. If you are going to be offended or feel it necessary to whine or complain to those completely unassociated to me and my blog, stop reading and find something else to do with your time.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: Die Trying (Jack Reacher, No. 2) by Lee Child

Lee Child broke my heart. Ripped it right out of my chest and shredded it into little pieces. At least, that's how I felt after reading Die Trying (Jack Reacher, No. 2). Yes, I'll explain. But first, the basics.....

Jack Reacher was a Major in the Army military police. (Read The Affair to discover why Reacher left the Army). After a life of growing up on Marine bases and then 27 years in the Army, he decides to freelance.... be a hobo.... a traveling man. His parents and brother are dead, so he has no ties to any particular place. He wanders across America.

In Die Trying, Reacher is in Chicago for a few days. He's walking along a sidewalk when a young woman exits a dry-cleaners. She previously injured her knee so she's having difficulty with balancing her dry-cleaning, pushing the door open, and hanging onto her cane. Reacher stops to help. Immediately, three guys surround them and kidnap the young woman - Reacher too. The young woman is FBI Agent Holly Johnson.

The short version of the story is Reacher and Holly's travel to the kidnappers' compound and their potential escape. Of course, there are more plot twists but I never want to tell too much. The book started off slowly for me, and I'm not even sure why. It's a good Reacher story. As usual, he beats up the bad guys and saves the damsel in distress.

Spoiler alert: But, how did Lee Child rip my heart out? Because in all the Reacher books I've read, this is the first and only book that Reacher falls in love with the girl..... but, she loves somebody else! She walks away from him in the end, and he is devastated. Of course, she had to leave him because it is only the second book that Lee Child wrote and Reacher is a traveling man so he could not stay with her, but still..... I was so upset at the end. "It wasn't the end of the world. Just felt like it." Poor, poor Jack.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: One Shot (Jack Reacher, No. 9) by Lee Child

Yes, friends, I'm chatting about yet another Jack Reacher novel. My favorite series at the moment. I just finished One Shot (Jack Reacher, No. 9) by Lee Child. More breathtaking, heart-pumping action!

First of all, let's get one thing straight - I'm NOT watching Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the movie One Shot. Jack Reacher is 6'5" and 250 lbs. Tom Cruise is 5'7" - need I say more? Casting should have picked a big musclely hunk, like 6'4" Dwayne Johnson (The Rock). Yeah, Baby! Dwayne would definitely be a believable Jack Reacher, headbutting or throwing an elbow into somebody's face. Now that's what I'm talking about!

Reacher is in Miami when he sees a TV news report about a sniper killing five people in Indianapolis. He recognizes the name of the killer from his old Army days as a military cop. So, Reacher travels via bus to Indiana. At the same time, the suspected killer tells the police that they've arrested the wrong man and he wants Jack Reacher. Interesting....

This was another "I can't stop reading," "I can't put this book down," type of novel. It's filled without lots of Reacher action and good storytelling. What's supposed to be a slam dunk case against the killer turns out to be riddled with holes. [Pun intended.] Only Reacher can put all the clues together and solve this baffling case. And, he does. But first, Reacher must avoid the police on a trumped-up murder charge.

This is in my top three favorite Reacher books....right now, it's resting at #2. Yeah, I really enjoyed this book. More genius by Lee Child - keep 'em coming!

Friday, February 22, 2013

TV: The Taste

I am enjoying The Taste on Tuesday nights on ABC. It's a twist from the typical cooking competitions. There are four judges - Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey. Each judge selects four chefs for their kitchen. Whatever the challenge may be, each cook prepares just a bite, or taste. The judging is blind so the judges don't know if they're voting off one of their own people. I like that. It's all about The Taste.

Of course, the entire world knows Anthony Bourdain. He's my favorite chef. I hope his team wins even though my favorite contestant is not on Team Anthony. More about that later..... I am aware of who Nigella Lawson is, but I've never seen her TV show or read her books. I have no idea who Ludo Lefebvre or Brian Malarkey are, but I'm cheering for Ludo instead of Malarkey. It's a personality thing. Malarkey shouts just for the sake of shouting. That drives me nuts. Ludo is a classically trained French chef so I understand him and what he wants in his kitchen.

You just have to make it past the first two episodes - the auditions - and then the show gets interesting. This week was Episode 5: Sandwiches. I t-o-t-a-l-l-y understand that challenge. Making a good sandwich is actually difficult. One slip up and it can go from awesome to awful. My Dad loved sandwiches. He was always putting different combinations together. And, that's why I like diners. You can always get a good sandwich at a diner.
Khristianne Uy

My favorite chef-contestant is Khristianne Uy (Team Malarkey). She is one cool chick. She creates dishes that even my picking tastebuds would try, and I like her stories. My least favorite is Gregg Drusinsky (Ludo Team). Too arrogant, yet a crybaby. Annoying.

We're halfway thru its short season, so we'll know who the winner is soon. I hope you'll give The Taste a try. I'm enjoying the show.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Cassandra Palmer Series by Karen Chance

 3/24/13: Update - Okay, I have now read the series, Touch the Dark (Book 1), Claimed by  Shadow (Book 2), Embrace the Night (Book 3), Curse the Dawn (Book 4), and Hunt the Moon (Book 5). I am enjoying this series, but they must be read in order. The first three books have way too much detail and not enough action. Yada, yada, yada. Book 4 is really amusing and why I'm willing to give this series another chance.

The heroine of the books is Cassandra Palmer, who is to be crowned as Pythia, the world's ruling clairvoyant. She can also time-shift, which is helpful in fighting evil mages who are trying change history to what they want. I wasn't interested in Cassie in the slightest. Boring. She is constantly whining about her situation and bickering with those who are trying to help her. She runs around clueless, make stupid mistakes and gets people killed. She drives me nuts. I want Cassie to be the tough, cool chick of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson. Totally different writers, but I think Cassie would be a must better character.

However, the series is worth reading because of the secondary characters. There's Mircea, master vampire and her betrothed; Pritkin, half human/half demon who is training her in self-defense; Marco, an ancient and very cool vampire who is head of her vampire bodyguard team (a former Roman Centurion!); and Jonah, the faerie version of Tim Gunn (Project Runway).

Compel yourself to get thru the first three books and then it gets better. Hunt the Moon (Book 5) ended with a cliffhanger. I don't care about Cassie, but I do care about the others. I'll keep reading to find out what happens next. Just, caveat emptor. I have a love/hate relationship with these books, but I still say give a try.

P.S. This series is rated M for mature audiences only.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Seton Home Study School

Today was Steven's first day as a part-time high schooler and a part-time home schooler. It was a very good day.

Recently, I was flipping through Catholic Digest and came across an ad for Seton Home Study High School. I checked out their website and was very pleased with three amazing things: (1) an accredited high school diploma, (2) a modified curriculum tailored for Steven, and (3) affordable. This was truly heaven sent!!

It was an absolute joy to speak with the Special Services Counselor. We spent 90 minutes reviewing each course. Seton developed a program just for special needs students - modified curriculum, easier lessons, simpler tests, etc. For instance, instead of having Steven trying to write essays (very difficult), he may take multiple choice quizzes (very doable). Steven doesn't have to read as many novels as the regular curriculum, and he can take two years to complete Algebra 1. Whew! And, Steven can proceed at his own pace.

Pope John Paul II and Dr. Clark,
Director of the Seton Home Study School
Seton is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education), so Steven can earn an accredited high school diploma. Steven needs 22 high school credits for his diploma (5-6 classes per year). From his first semester at the public high school, he already earned three credits. So, Steven didn't need to take all five courses for Seton. We dropped Science and he's taking Religion, English Literature, Grammar and Algebra 1.

This morning Steven attended his regular 3rd and 4th period classes (Social Personal Skills and weight training). He stayed for lunch with his friends and then came home. He worked through his home study courses, but it only took 1 1/2 hours. He didn't want to double-up lessons for the day, so I supplemented with other things (like videos). He'll also read an extra book for personal reading too. But, every little bit helps.

It was a pleasant day for Steven and all of his school stress was gone. No crowds, no noise, and no disruptive students. Yippee!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

TV: Project Runway Season 11

I am one of the original Project Runway fanatics. I breathed Project Runway each week and couldn't wait for the next episode. By the time a TV program is popular, I'm bored with it. I recently had a Project Runway marathon. I watched all of Season 10 and then caught up with Season 11. I'm b-a-c-k!!!!!

First, there's the adorable Tim Gunn. I want to be Tim Gunn when I grow up. He's just a cutie and so polite. I wonder if he'll give heterosexual men "gentlemen" lessons? Tim Gunn's Grooming & Manners. I can see it......

Second, Season 11 is Teams Edition. Normally, I hate teams projects during the other seasons. But, Season 11? Now, this I like. Of course, I don't always agree with judges. In fact, I rarely agree with the judges. Even if they actually choose my top and bottom picks, their final votes are not the same as mine. Most of the time.

Third, guest judges! This week the adorable Divine Miss M (Bette Midler for those who don't remember Bette Midler as a mermaid, but that's another story) was a guest judge. She doesn't have a very good poker face, at least for the worst outfits. I thought that was hysterical. "Ew, what is that?!" I agreed with Bette. This week's materials were flowers and hardware. I'm amazed at what people can do with fabric much less flowers and mini-blinds. It was a cool challenge. One team did an awesome job - 1950s Doir, plus coordinating colors (Go Stanley!!) - the other team was just horrible. They forgot all the outfits are supposed to be cohesive. 

In the photo, Dream Team's (stupid, I know) creations are on the bottom. Classy, feminine, beautiful. Team Keeping-It-Real's (which they don't) outfits are the top row. The judges said there was no "losing team" this week because everyone did an amazing job. Hum....I don't think so. Thankfully, Joe was eliminated for his bulky, oversized sweater dress. No wait, he called it a coat. Nope, he called it a sweater dress again. Whatever. It's a mess. (Top row, far right). If the model is a size Two and the dress makes her look like a size 32, then I don't want it. Apparently Joe was more interested in "his vision" than a flattering silhouette. 

So, four designers are gone. I agree with those choices.

Finally, they replaced Michael Kors with Zac Posen. Now, I love Michael Kors. If I ever win the lottery, I'm buying all my clothing and accessories from Michael. But, Zac Posen has been a breath of fresh air this season. Of course, he's a cutie too.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review: The Hard Way (Jack Reacher, No. 10) by Lee Child

Wow. The Hard Way (Jack Reacher, No. 10) by Lee Child was exceptional, even among the Jack Reacher novels. It was heart-stopping. 

Reacher witnesses part of a kidnapping, the payment. He decides to investigate the missing wife and step-daughter of a multi-million dollar husband. But, there's a twist and you're not sure who are actually the good guys....the husband and his band of soldiers-for-hire or the kidnappers.

Whenever you read The Hard Way make sure you have plenty of uninterrupted time for the last 10-15 chapters. Holy smokes!! When you find out who the bad guy really is you find out he's really, really evil. Maniacal. "Borderline mentally ill, people had said. Crossed that border long ago, Reacher thought." And, the Reacher action reaches a fever pitch. At one point I was heard shouting - out loud - "Oh no, hurry!"  

I saw a t-shirt "What Would Reacher Do?" I know....The Hard Way. I'm going to gather the family around for a ten-thumbs' salute to this book. Extraordinary.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review: Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, No. 13) by Lee Child

What's truly amazing about Lee Child's books is that he reaches out and drags you into the book on the very first sentence. Masterful. "Suicide bombers are easy to spot." Hook, line, sinker. From the first sentence, I can't put a Jack Reacher novel down. "Ladies and Gentlemen, please keep your arms and legs inside the moving vehicle at all times." You know something good is coming! 

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed another of Lee Child's novels - Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, No. 13). It starts with that first sentence.... "Suicide bombers are easy to spot." and just progresses from there. I just finished it. My heart is still palpitating.

Reacher witnesses the suicide of a woman on a subway in New York. From there, he is drawn into a world of politics and terrorism. But, Reacher only cares about the truth behind the woman's death, and then taking care of the killers that drove her to it. I like when Reacher has to go up against multiple enemies at once. Like, 22 vs 1. With only 30 bullets. Wicked cool. Of course, at the same time he has to dodge 600 federal agents who want him arrested.

Lee Child is true genius. He makes facts about subway cars in New York interesting. Seriously. Another don't miss book by Child. I wish I could give it more than two thumb's up, but I've only got two thumbs...... I highly recommend it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, No. 1) by Lee Child

I've read a few of Lee Child's books before, but out of order. I waited weeks for Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, No. 1) from the library, so I finally bought it for my Kindle. So glad I did. However, before I tell you about Killing Floor, I want to tell you about two other Jack Reacher stories you should read first.

Killing Floor was published in 1997. In 2011, Child published two prequels -- The Second Son and The Affair.  The Second Son is a short story about Jack Reacher when he was a 13-year-old boy. His father had just been transferred to Okinawa, Japan in 1974 for a top-secret Marine mission. Reacher stands up to the neighborhood bully and solves his father military crisis. It's a great example of the tough, yet intelligent character. The Affair is the catalyst for Reacher's leaving the Army and becoming a wanderer (or hobo as Jack calls himself). These two books totally set up the adventures of Reacher's character and why.

Killing Floor was the first Jack Reacher novel published (1997). It won lots of well-deserved awards. If you've read any other Reacher novel, then you'll know that Jack's older brother Joe is killed while working for the Treasury Department. Killing Floor is that story. There's not many novels I could put above this one. It was that excellent. As always, I don't want to give away too much of the story. Then, why read the book?

Reacher is on his way to Margrave, Georgia to learn about a deceased legendary guitar player (Blind Blake). Reacher discovers that his brother was killed in the line of duty in Margrave. Reacher was always Joe's keeper, always protecting his brother while they were growing up. Of course, Reacher takes the death of his brother very hard. And, Reacher isn't going to stop until he finds his brother's killers.

Awesome. Brilliant. I highly recommend Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, No. 1) by Lee Child.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fallen Hero: "American Sniper" former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle killed.

Yesterday, I started reading American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, 38. In 2012, Kyle told The Dallas Morning News that he wrote American Sniper because “I wanted to be able to let people know about the sacrifices that not only people in the service make, but what their families go through. I knew this would give me a voice so I could speak about the guys I know who were killed. I wanted to get their story out and I wanted to raise awareness for veterans."

Kyle held the record for the number of kills by an American sniper. The Pentagon has confirmed more than 150 of his kills. The previous record was 109. For his service, Kyle was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor. 

Yesterday, Kyle was shot and killed at a charity event at a gun range at Rough Creek Lodge & Resort on behalf of his Dallas-based security firm Craft International. Craft International often hosted law-enforcement training events at the location, which is near Glen Rose, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas.

It seems that our Navy SEALs and other honorable military men are in more danger in the United States than they were overseas. I'm so heartbroken that yet another young man was killed. 

I've said condolences so often lately that I'm numb. Yet, what else do you say to a family that lost their husband and dad? There must be a better way to express my sorrow for Kyle's death, but my grief isn't nearly as deep as theirs. So, at a loss for words I'll say again that our thoughts and prayers are with Kyle's family and friends during this difficult time. Kyle is survived by his wife and two children.

About Me

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Winter Springs, Florida, United States
I am a stay-at-home mom to three boys (18, 16, 14), three Mini-Dachsunds, and a wife to an incredible husband {think MacGyver}. I am Catholic. I am passionate about making a difference in my world while still making a great life for my children and family. Besides being a mom, I am also a blogger for and I hope to make my voice heard and make a difference in my own way.