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Friday Fun! (February: DC Trip and Winter Activities)

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment
Walking in just one of the many lovely snow-covered parks in Boston.

Walking in just one of the many lovely snow-covered parks in Boston.

Hello my lovely readers!

It was quite the busy month for me.  Early in the month, I went on a business trip to Washington, D.C.  I was sent with a friend and co-worker to go to a training at the National Library of Medicine.  We just barely managed to take off in the middle of one of the many storms that hit Boston this month.  We flew right out of the storm and into a chilly, but snow-free DC.  In the limited free time we had, we saw the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum and the Botanical Garden.  I had never been to DC before.  My impressions were that everyone is quite friendly and talkative.  The city is surprisingly empty with things spread further out than I was anticipating.  The architecture was interesting, and I enjoyed the museums (and the fact that they’re free!).  I’d like to go back to visit in warmer weather when the plants are in bloom.  Perhaps more as a stop-over on my way someplace else, though.  I can’t imagine spending an entire vacation there!

In the middle of the month, I of course opened my new Etsy shop.  I’m so excited to have another creative venue!  I’m still doing some stitching and art just for fun and for friends and family too, though.

Baking a loaf of bread every weekend is now a thing.  I also made an apple pie to try to beat back the winter doldrums.  I started doing more yoga as a home practice, since it gets me moving but I don’t have to brave the cold to do it.  I also did my taxes, and I’m pleased to say I’m getting a refund!  I finally completed the first step toward getting my driver’s license in Massachusetts as well.  I went to the Social Security office and filed for a replacement card.  Bafflingly, in MA, you have to have your social security card in addition to a photo id to get your learner’s permit.  You aren’t allowed to even just give them your social security number.  So, although I know my number, I still had to file for a replacement card.  But that step is done!

I’m pleased to say my reading pace has been going well.  I’m actually ahead of the one book a week goal I set for myself.  I’ve also so far read 2 books for the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge, as well as 2 of the 12 review copies I accepted for review here this year.  There is a giveaway still running for the second one, the horror book The House of Azareal, if you are interested in entering.

I must admit, February can be a bit of a depressing month for me.  I’ve noticed that pattern over the last couple of years.  But my partner has been very supportive, for which I am truly grateful, and that along with yoga, books, and snuggling our cat has helped make the month pass.

Happy reading!

Book Review: The Walking Dead, Book Six by Robert Kirkman (Series, #6) (Graphic Novel)

February 13, 2012 2 comments

Carl in orange against a pile of zombies.Summary:
The group continues to slowly lose their collective minds, although it is quickly made evident that they haven’t gone as crazy as some groups when they find themselves stalked by living cannibals.  Toss in a preacher who failed to protect his flock and what turned out to be a pack of lies from the scientist, and it’s no wonder the group is suspicious when a couple of men approach and offer them refuge in an idyllic community just outside of DC.  They in their state of PTSD can’t stop seeing danger around every corner and don’t even realize the dangerous ones just might be themselves.

Review:
You know how they say you can always find someone in the world worse off than you?  Well, the first part of book 6 seems to be all about proving that’s true, perhaps in a way to humanize the group prior to how abundantly evident their loss of humanity is in contrast to the DC compound.  That isn’t to say I particularly enjoyed the cannibalism plot-line.  I can see its value, yes, but I also feel like we’d already seen how bad humanity can go in Woodbury, and if people are going to be eating people, that’s what you have zombies for.  So the first half of the book is kind of meh to me.

On the other hand, seeing our group in the DC compound is delicious.  I think one of the pieces of artwork in the appendix at the back explores the contrast eloquently.  Michonne is dressed up talking to a group of women at a party, but she’s hiding a sword behind her back.  The group has become so used to constantly being turned on and at war with the zombies and other survivors that they cannot relax.  Classic PTSD.  It’s fascinating to see how even Carl can recognize that they are no longer like these people who’ve been able to have downtime in the zombie war.  Anybody who understands war and trauma at all would know that these people need special care.  Even just the way they clump up and sleep all together in spite of being offered separate quarters is a symptom of PTSD, and yet the DC group makes Rick a cop.  Um….ok.  A seriously questionable choice there, but then again, the mayor of DC did used to be in politics.  And we all know how smart those types can be.  *eye-roll*

In any case, it’s obvious that this book is setting things up for a show-down between our traumatized group and the DC folks.  I’m enjoying seeing our main guys turn slowly evil, and I’m curious to see how far Kirkman is willing to take it.  That said, the first half of the book with the cannibals seemed kind of unnecessary to me.  I’d rather have seen more zombies.  Overall, it moves the plot forward, but that plot momentum is left mostly to the second half of the book.  Worthy of the series and hopefully book 7 will live up to the build-up.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

Buy It

Previous Books in Series:
The Walking Dead, Book One (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Two (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Three (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Four (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Five (review)

Book Review: The Walking Dead, Book Five by Robert Kirkman (Series, #5) (Graphic Novel)

January 23, 2012 2 comments

Zombies surrounding a purple person.Summary:
After the slaughter at the prison, Carl and Rick are alone in the open, keeping a constant vigil against the walking dead.  They are not alone for long, though, quickly finding Michonne and the other survivors.  Soon yet another group of strangers stumbles upon them.  These ones, though, claim that one among them is a scientist who knows how the whole plague started, and they’re heading to DC to put a stop to it.

Review:
This entry in the series could easily be called, “The survivors start losing their damn minds.”  Not that you can blame them, what with the constant deaths, being surrounded by zombies, and disturbingly frequent loss of limbs.  (Seriously. If I’m ever in a zombie apocalypse, I’m wearing chain mail. The amount of limbs lost is starting to freak me out).

Basically, almost everyone in the group is starting to show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, in spite of still being in the middle of trauma.  I applaud Kirkman for being realistic and including the whole going crazy bit in the storyline.  Too often in these sort of post-apocalyptic stories the people all show this unrealistic super-human strength.  Having people talking to their dead relatives, people trying to commit suicide, people pretending like some of the dead never existed, and kids becoming surprisingly cool-headed about killing are all realistic outcomes of a hypothetical scenario.  The character development at this point is basically the kids are turning cold and the adults are losing their shit.

Meanwhile, the plot has the much needed addition, finally, of a scientist.  We are being teased by a possible reason for the zombies, after finally accepting there isn’t one, and it’s awesome.

Speaking of the zombies, this book finally delivers what we haven’t really seen since book one–a zombie herd.  A horde of hundreds and hundreds of flesh-eating zombies. So much gore to look at. And each one is unique in its own way.  This is why zombie graphic novels are *fun*.

In spite of the character development and propelling of the plot forward, this entry does not have the power of the last one.  It’s hard to compete against The Governor and the loss of key characters, of course.  This book felt like the classic setting the stage for the next big event syndrome often found in series.  It’s fun, not mind-blowing, but necessary.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

Buy It

Previous Books in Series:
The Walking Dead, Book One (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Two (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Three (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Four (review)