book reviews · Internet

Book Review: Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg

Sal Cupertine is a legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia, known for his ability to get in and out of a crime without a trace. Until now, that is. His first-ever mistake -Sal kills three “Donnie Brascos”-undercover FBI agents, and a CI. He fears for his own life after this, and calls his cousin Ronnie for help, ending up in a situation he’d never imagined.  After a few nights in the back of a refidgerated meat truck, Sal ends up in Las Vegas, where, a few surgeries and some intensive training later, and Sal Cupertine becomes Rabbi David Cohen. Leading a growing congregation in Las Vegas, overseeing the population and the temple and the new cemetery, Rabbi Cohen, surprises even himself as he spouts quotes from the Torah,  Old Testament, or Oldies Radio.  Yet, as it turns out, the Mafia isn’t quite done with him yet. Soon the new cemetery is being used as both a money and body-laundering scheme for the Chicago family. And that rogue FBI agent on his trail, seeking vengeance for the murder of his three fellow agents, isn’t going to let Sal fade so easily.
Gangsterland is a wickedly dark and funny novel. I’m not normally one for gangster stories (I’ve never seen the Godfather, or Scarface, or any of those iconic films, although I have watched a couple of seasons of The Sopranos, and I’m a fool for Law & Order), but I made an exception here. I am a big fan of the podcast Literary Disco, which Tod Goldberg is part of, and I’d read some of his short stories, and quite enjoyed them. So I had to read this, and I am glad I did. One night, that’s all it took, and I laughed myself silly half the time! This is a great book, and I am saying now: read it!! The twisted idea of turning a hit man into a Rabbi is so brilliant, and works so well. Goldberg has a knack for language, and his characters are fully fleshed out, even the minor ones. I can’t wait to read his other novels.


Internet · Music

I Shuffle, Therefore I Am

The last week I’ve been nearly glued to my laptop, listening to music and constantly creating new playlists, or watching random stuff on YouTube. YouTube gets me every time. I always end up watching the same few favorite things: Craig Ferguson’s cold openings from The Late Late Show, a Monkees episode or two, music videos, and eventually, finding something new. That’s my favorite thing about YouTube, actually; discovering the strange, or wonderful, or wonderfully strange things that I would never have known about if I’d stayed off-line!  Makes me kinda sad that there weren’t things like this around when I was a teen; my life would have been so much more fun if I’d had access to a wider variety of music!

music taste


I put my iPod on shuffle this morning and this is the selection I was given”


“1985” Bowling for Soup  (One of my favorite bands, and one of their best songs.)


“Simple Gifts” Yo-Yo Ma & Alison Krauss (I love both of them, and together on this, they are magical!)


“All Around the Kitchen” Dan Zanes & Friends (a holdover from my days as a preschool teacher)


“Scottish Temple Stomp”  by Craig Ferguson (One of the cold openings. I’m a little obsessed with Craig.)


“Parents Just Don’t Understand”   DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince  (Will Smith will always be fresh.)


“Shenandoah” by Peter Hollens (This guy is amazing! And he’s from Oregon!)


“The Diva Dance”  from the Fifth Element, two arias from Lucia d Lammmermoor, sung by Inva Mula


“Dream On” Neil Patrick Harris & Matthew Morrison–their duet from Glee.


“Bohemian Polka” Weird Al  (Exactly what is sounds like. It rocks.)


“Coal Miner’s Daughter”  Loretta Lynn (I’m proud to know all the words.)


“Uptown Funk” Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars (Love this song. Makes me wanna dance!)


“Cuddly Toy” The Monkees (Yes, I like the Monkees. Do not get me started on misconceptions about this band.)


“I Want Love” by Elton John (This is one of my favorite songs.)


Usually when I hit shuffle, I get  selections from Barry Manilow, Bette Midler & Chris Isaak, simply because I have nearly their entire catalogs. Same with Bowling For Soup, James Taylor, The Monkees, and Elvis Costello. (This list could go on and on…)  I hate to limit myself to one or two styles of music, and there is so much out there to enjoy. There are only a few things I really dislike. I cannot stand the sound of Stevie Nicks’ voice, same for Mariah Carey. I don’t care much for electronic or serious metal. And really, I am way too much of a suburban white girl to have ever gotten into rap or hip-hop much, other than a few very mainstream things. I’ve always preferred music I can sing along with. Probably always will.  The genre’s listed on my little iPod range from Children’s Music (that’s mostly Disney stuff, really), to Classical, to Classic Country (I grew up listening to Dolly, Johnny, and all those folks), to Disco (life is not complete without a little bit of the Bee Gees). There’s Folk/Rock (Simon & Garfunkel, who are the reason I can sing harmony to this day.), and Hard Rock (Bon Jovi ); Jazz (Ella & Louis), and New-Wave (Adam Ant, among others); R&B, and Soul, as well as one lonely little listing under Ska. Lots of Soundtrack stuff–from Broadway shows, as well as movies, and a little bit of Opera. We have Gospel and Bluegrass, Adult Contemporary and Alternative, as well as general Pop & Rock. These are the categories assigned by the iPod, not me. I wouldn’t really classify Bon Jovi as Hard Rock; I don’t have any real Hard Rock.

Anyway. Music is keeping me sane right now. I’m having a difficult time focusing long enough to read more than a few pages of anything, but I can concentrate on a song.

Internet · Scams · stupid

How Stupid Do I Look?

Wait, don’t answer that.

jason stupid

I have faith in the basic goodness of humanity, and usually see the glass as half-full. That’s getting difficult, as I keep running into people who seem determined to show me how wrong I am.

Last month I posted an ad on Craigslist to sell my wedding gown (I’ve been trying to sell it off & on since 2010, and have had no luck). It’s a lovely gown, and I could use the extra money, as well as the space. Right away I got a response, asking to buy it. I was thrilled, but a bit puzzled. The email asked all sorts of questions about me that someone making a simple purchase shouldn’t need to know — personal information, and I was hesitant to answer. So I didn’t. I did receive a cashiers check the next day; it was for over $1500. I am asking $250 for my dress, so this was a bit shocking.  Included with the check were instructions to cash the check, keep my cut, and give the rest, along with the dress, to a courier, who would ship it to the buyer. Yeah, right. Again, I’ll ask, how dumb do I look? (Shut up, Jolene.) Needless to say, I did not cash that check, or send my dress anywhere that month. I reposted it this week, and got another, similar scam, this one involving PayPal  & Western Union.  Seems swindling is the flavor of the month online. This glass is still half-full–of bullshit.


Alice in Wonderland Syndrome · crazy · Crystal Light · epilepsy · fat · food · headaches · Internet · medication · migraine · neurology · pain · seizures · stress · triggers

There’s A Word for That?



 someone who suffers from migraine headaches.
Earlier this week, I was doing some research online, trying to see if there was a connection between the two glasses of pseudo-Crystal Light I’d been having now that the weather is warming up and the massive migraines I’d been having, when I learned some nifty things. Such as the word migraineur. Makes sense that there’s a word for people like me, but it had never occurred to me.
Reading about triggers was rather enlightening as well. I wasn’t all that surprised to learn that artificial sweeteners are a big migraine trigger, since they cause all sorts of problems. I try to avoid them, preferring natural sugar, really I do. But for some reason, every summer, I go through this diet drink frenzy where I consume Crystal Light, or the fake store brand equivalent, in all it’s many flavors. No more of that for me. I’d rather be fat than in pain. Sugar is a trigger for many people, but I have to consume a huge amount before it gives me a headache; same with caffeine. Alcohol, on the other hand, give me pain within an hour or two of my first cocktail. No big deal, since I’ve never been a big drinker. Some of the other common food triggers are chocolate, cheese (hard or fermented), processed meats, and gluten. To the best of my knowledge, none of these are triggers for me. Good thing, too, because I don’t want to give up chocolate. Life is hard enough. Other triggers include weather changes, bright lights or loud noises, perfumes, lack of sleep, stress, missing meals, dehydration, hormonal changes, and crying. Yep, one reason I avoid the cosmetics counter at department stores. Those perfume samples are killers. Same as the laundry detergent aisle in the grocery store. First I sneeze, then I get a headache. No fun.
Migraine Triggers infographic
Here’s what really came as a surprise to me, however. In an article called ‘What’s Your Strangest Migraine Symptom?’ I learned that several things that have been happening to me for years are likely migraine-related. And here, I thought I was just crazy. Or had a brain tumor.
One of these symptoms, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, is a disorder that causes a person to believe that body parts (and in some cases their environment), are changing shape or size. For me, it usually means that I feel as if one hand is growing larger and larger, as if it’s a huge clown glove, filled with air. It never lasted very long, but felt as if it did. Once, when a migraine was so bad I had to go to the ER for treatment, this happened after they gave me the fun shot; that time, I felt as if my ears were getting bigger and bigger.
The first time I remember this happening I was eleven-years-old. I had been reading in the afternoon during summer break, and suddenly, my right thumb began to grow. It didn’t last long, or get very big, and I don’t remember if a headache followed it, but I do remember being totally freaked out. Until recently, I never told anyone about it.
When I was in junior high, I read Stephen King’s ‘The Dead Zone’ for the first time, and one thing from that book has stuck with me ever since. The neurologist asks Johnny if he ever smells anything unusual, like rotting oranges, or feces, when there is nothing there; apparently this  a sign of a brain tumor. Well, it turns out these types of sensory hallucinations are also a migraine symptom, one I’ve had often. I was pretty sure I didn’t have a brain tumor, because I’ve had my fair share of MRI’s & CT scans, thanks to the epilepsy, but thanks to Mr. King, I was always scared. Now, I don’t need to.
I do wish that one of the neurologists I’ve seen over the years had pointed some of this stuff out. I’m especially cheesed that the migraine specialist I’ve been seeing for the last year never mentioned any of this. I appreciate that there are all these online communities, but shouldn’t a doctor have said something?!
I’m sure there’s a word for how I feel.
addiction · apps · audio books · books · ebooks · fanfiction · hoarders · Internet · reading

It’s Not Hoarding if They’re eBooks, Right?


If Hoarders ever decides to do a show on people who have too many books, they’d over look me, because, really, my library of “real” books isn’t that big. Comparatively speaking, that is. Not nearly big enough to land me a spot on a show like that. My ebook library, on the other hand, is getting out of control.

I’m fairly sure that I have at least 150 unread books on my Kindle app. Then there are the ones on Aldiko, Google Books, Moon+Reader, and  OverDrive. We won’t even mention the dozens of fanfiction books/stories lurking about my tablet, or the audiobook waiting to be listened to. And I’m not counting the things I HAVE read. 
Except for those things I’ve read before in a paper version, all of these are new to me. I’m addicted to free book sites, and some days, spend more time searching out free things to download than I do reading. It’s distressing. unable


Now, this is not to say I don’t read at all, because we all know that isn’t true. I’m halfway through an odd book called Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher.



It’s a YA novel about a teen girl writing to a man on death row, and confessing all her dark secrets to him. Twisted. Just my style.




book reviews · Drarry · epilepsy · fanfiction · Harry Potter · Internet · seizures · slash

A Few Reccomendations

I promised some fanfiction recommendations, and here they are. I’ve read so many, but these are just a few that I truly liked. I’ll add more later. All of these are in the Harry Potter universe, and are mostly Drarry stories. I confess, I do like those slash stories!



Jonna’s HP FanFic Recs, Part One


The Bound Prince series by slash perv and sayingsorry_hh                                       (7 volumes, Harry/Draco, ADULT)

This seven volume series is extremely well written, and is available on slash perv’s website as a free pdf download. Beginning with that pivotal moment in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince where Harry finds Draco crying in the bathroom; in this version, instead of hexing each other, they kiss, and from there, things escalate. Serious m/m slash, with lots of explicit sex: really, in nearly every chapter after the first couple, Harry & Draco are shagging, sometimes on a life-or-death basis. Some of the best long reads out there.


A British Summer by Omi_Ohmy                                                                                (One Shot, Harry/Draco, Explicit, Smut)

Ice cream.  After the war, and a very public breakup with Ginny, Harry has become a recluse. Draco is surprised when he runs into him scooping ice cream in a Muggle town on a summer afternoon.  I love ice cream (and sorbet, and gelato, and frozen yogurt…) and this story called out to me. It is yummy–but be warned, it’ll have you craving a frozen treat!


Vale Sanare by RurouniHime                                                                             (Draco/Harry, one shot, angst)

This is not a happy little fic, but it speaks to me.  Draco suffers seizures as an after-effect of something that happened during the war (we never find out what), and Harry helps him to find ways to cope. Turns out the war left Harry with some physical issues of his own. I am epileptic, and I seldom read anything that talks about seizures, simply because most writers cannot get the way seizure disorders affect a person right. This author does a spot-on job of describing both Draco’s seizures themselves (from his POV), and the way he feels after; I especially like the way the author describes his aura:

“Everything is the colour of plums, so dark and so opaque that Draco doesn’t know what happens next. He could be falling. He could be standing. He could be breaking his nose on the floor right this instant, this eternity, and bleeding over Harry’s floorboards—”


Not Only Fine Feathersby fantasyfruitbat                                                                 (Harry/Draco NC-17, one-shot, veela!)

I confess to a liking for veela fics, and this is a bit different from most. After the war, a mistreated, caged and feral veela is discovered in a Death Eater safe house, and will only respond to Harry. Of course, this veela turns out to Draco. The Ministry wants to put him down, but Harry fights to save him.


Checkmate by Naadi       HP_Slash___Checkmate                                                                                    (Harry/Draco, romance/angst)

Set during their seventh year at Hogwarts, this is a multi-chapter fiction that is canon through Goblet of Fire. Draco challenges Harry to a game of dare chess, and throughout the fiction, an actual game of chess is played. But is his ultimate goal love or betrayal?

This is a very popular fic, and even won some awards. The fan art for it is numerous, and includes a Lego version of one chapter, linked here.


Sex, Lies and Veritaserum  by lettered                                                            (Harry/Draco, one-shot, explicit)

The warning on this story states “This entire fic is one long conversation about sex.” And it’s the truth. When Draco spikes the wine with veritaserum, he and his husband Harry begin a conversation about their sexual fantasies and desires. This gets rather explicit, and hot. Hey, they aren’t all love stories, folks.


And An Owl Named Romeo by Rickey                                                                   (Draco/Harry, romance)

Draco breeds owls, Harry is an Auror, and an owl brings them together. The characterization in this love story is wonderful, and so is the romance!


Nothing Like The Sun by Lomonaaeren                                                            (Harry/Draco, angst/romance, NC-17)

Don’t go into this one expecting happy happy joy joy. In this story, Harry has been convinced by his past lovers that not only is he too ugly and lousy at sex to keep a wizard lover. He tries to get better, and compromises by wearing glamours, and finally, deciding to be content with one-night-stands with Muggles. Then along comes Draco, who messes everything up by wanting a relationship. This was a difficult story to read–Harry’s pain is palpable. But stick with it. It’s worth it.


It’s My Life by Fyreheart                                                                                                   (Harry, AU)

This is an alternate universe fiction, and one of the best I’ve read. After his second year at Hogwarts, Harry realizes that things aren’t quite what they should be, and he decides to change them. He does this by becoming pro-active in his life, and making huge changes–including leaving Hogwarts, and England. It’s an interesting idea, exploring “what if?”