Tonight’s dialogue between my 12 year old son and I

J: Mom, how many days does it take to break a habit?
Me: 21
J: Mom, how many days does it take to form a habit?
Me: 21
J: And if you add them together?
Me: 42
J: That’s why the answer to everything is 42. It’s how you do anything in life.

This is the best part of parenting, when they say something so incredibly amazing and brilliant, that you are astonished.

Classical Music Month

Someone (I don’t know who, maybe the great Maestro?) declared that September is Classical Music month.

Fittingly, on September 1, I discovered yourclassical.org.

Requiem_MozartFor any classical music fan, if you aren’t already listening here, you will thank me for this one. It’s hosted, classical music, like what you might remember from your NPR station back in the 80s or on the Sirius Radio Symphony Hall channel.

If you’ve tried classical on Pandora, this is so much better for two reasons. First, yourclassical plays music in a far bigger depth and breadth than Pandora. (Hey, not that I don’t love Rachmaninoff, I do, but my Pandora station just plays multiple versions of the same piece of music throughout the day). There are tons of composers I don’t know and this station exposes me to more of them.

Second, it’s hosted. I like my classical music with a side of context. Who wrote it, who’s conducting this arrangement, what should I listen for that sort of thing. Even now, as I am writing this post, the host was previewing the upcoming Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt and talking about how so many people know that piece because of Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry.

Enjoy some classical music this month. The Word Nerds will.


September Reading Challenge

Hi Folks, Stacie here.

Bethany and I were discussing the reading challenge for September and decided that it was likely to end up as a DNFs for us. We needed something that felt more like the start of the school, something fresh and new, with a slight “teacher assigned” reading aspect.

The committee met and the change was successfully approved (i.e., Bethany and I discussed while drinking coffee from our respective locations.)

The new topic is “Read a Free Kindle Book.” It can be one in your Kindle library currently, which is a great way to tackle that virtual TBR list. Bonus points if you send us a red-ink copy with the grammatically corrections or an essay on how it reflects your summer experience.

In the mean time, I recommend more coffee. See reason below:


August Reading Challenge Report Card

The Word Nerds’ August reading challenge was a book that was not originally written in English.

Here’s our report card of how we did.

Bethany: I picked Paulo Coehlo’s “The Alchemist” because I had a copy of it and it was short. Let me say, 167 pages of sheer torture. I’ve read some really great translated books (Arturo Perez-Reverte’s work, for example), but Alchemist was not it. I gave it a one-star because it really was that terrible. The moral philosophy presented is a joke, a hodge-podge of platitudes drawn from all the major religions. If you take all the seemingly quotable lines, you’d get a moral compass for your life that’s about as realistic as the sayings from fortune cookies. And, the writing to go with it was mediocre at best. I really wanted to stop reading, but since I DNF’ed July, I thought I’d stick with it. I really don’t quite know how it ended, I was skimming at that point. He found love or somesuch nonsense that completed his heart. Skip it. Just skip it.

Stacie: I really wanted this as a reading challenge because I struggle with reading anything that wasn’t originally in English. I picked up “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” for two reasons: 1) it’s a movie now so the storyline must have been good to catch people’s attention; 2) a trusted reading friend said her husband really liked them (and I’ve liked others he has recommended.)

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I read the first 25 pages or so. There was a mystery. Then, the ending of a court trial. And some other stuff. And I stopped reading. I just couldn’t do it, for all of the reasons I felt like this should be a reading challenge. It’s really hard for story flow to translate well into another language.

Chalk me up as DNF.

Book Banter: The Last Word by Lisa Lutz

Title: The Last WordOptimized-20150509_181636
Author: Lisa Lutz
Genre: Mystery
Length: 352 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From:  Oshkosh Public Library
Plot Basics: Isabel Spellman is the owner of Spellman Investigations through a hostile takeover. She has become The Management, issuing memos, edits, and directive. This, however, doesn’t mean that the employees accept her new position. They run their own cases, sort of keep her in the loop, and in general, act like Spellmans.

Banter Points: I am a huge fan of this series and am sorry to see that this is the last installment. But Isabel is at a point where she needs to grow-up as a character. I admire that Lutz decided to end the series, rather than drawing out the inevitable or continue plot lines that are really tired.

I would dearly love to see the Spellman saga continue from Rae’s point of view. It would give me a glimpse of the grown-up Isabel, and more Spellman stories (because those definitely exist.)

What I loved about the Spellmans originally in 2012, continued today. They are a family that has their own rules, typically stolen from their PI business, and applied to their family. They have quirks galore, and come together in moments of crisis. This installment is the same.  Isabel may be running the business, but she has no idea what she is doing.  Since the parental unit is not cooperating, Isabel takes matters into her own hands, and figures things out, slowly.  It’s hard to say what exactly without spoilers.  But it is done in typical Izzy and Spellman fashion.

Bummer Points: None. Not even that is ending, because, I get it.

Stacie’s Recommendation: Pick up the first one. If you like that, you’ll love the full series. Savor them, folks. They are limited in number.

Top 10 Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By

This great topic was The Broke and the Bookish’s Top 10 Tuesday post this week and it’s a great one.

The top answer is for me is probably Ann M. Martin and the Babysitters Club from when I was a kid, but I’ve learned as an adult that those were ghost-written so maybe that doesn’t count!

I didn’t actually count these titles up, but I know these are the top, or close to it. I did my best to think of the authors where I’ve read their entire backlist or at least have gotten to most of them (and plan to read the rest.)

  1. Michael Connelly. 27 books to his name and it’ll be 28 this fall with the new one. I don’t miss a new one, whether it’s Harry Bosch or Mickey Haler.
  2. Lee Child. 19 Jack Reacher books and counting.
  3. Jim Butcher. 16 Dresden Files, two Codex Aleras and the first Cinder Spires book in the works. And I’ll keep reading.
  4. Rachel Caine. Six Weather Warden books. However many of the Morganville Vampires there are.
  5. Jasper Fforde. 7 Thursday Next books, two Nursery Crime books, Shades of Grey, and the first Dragonslayer book.
  6. Laurell K. Hamilton. I’m sort of embarrassed to admit this one given where her books went. Before the Anita Blake series became mostly erotica, I was a fan and read them all (some more than once).
  7. Rob Thurman. I own all the Cal and Niko books though I haven’t quite read them all, plus the Stefan books, plus All Seeing Eye.
  8. Jacqueline Carey. All nine Terre D’Ange books, plus the first Agents of Hel book and the two Santa Olivia books.
  9. Robin Hobb. Farseer Trilogy, Liveship Trilogy, Tawny Man trilogy, and on deck, is the new Fitz and Fool trilogy, plus a couple of the Rainwilds books.
  10. Steven Brust. 14 Vlad Taltos novels, plus his Firefly fanfic, plus the Khaaveran Romance cycle is perpetually in my TBR pile.

Death to Summer

Maybe it’s not actually that bad. Maybe I (Stacie) just need to embrace that ending of August and the beginning of September. Instead, I feel like September should be investigated for assault.


Book Banter: Run

run coverTitle: Run

Author: Andrew Grant

Genre: thriller

Length: 269 pages

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: The Indianapolis Public Library

Plot Basics: Software designer Marc Bowman shows up at his job at AmeriTel like any other morning, only to find himself getting shown into the board room and let go. The day gets worse when he fights with his wife and then when his house is robbed. But what’s taken makes Marc suspicious that his firing might not have been so business-as-usual as it seemed. Suddenly, Homeland Security, the FBI and the local police are all on his trail in a high-tech, high-speed chase.

Banter Points: I really liked Grant’s David Trevellyan novels and I liked the premise of this book. Big data to me is a compelling idea of what people can do with it and might do for it and how our online lives are hardly secure. There are some pretty good twists that I can’t say any more about for the risk of spoilers.

Bummer Points: I forget which book tipped me over the edge, but Run, unfortunately confirmed that I’m still over the plot of normal-guy-gets-caught-up-in-thriller sequence. I want my heroes to have badges and things. I guess I don’t really buy that a guy would run from law enforcement and all the things that Marc does. I figure, a guy like that, sells his fancy car and his other fancy stuff and hires a helluva lawyer to get him out of everything he’s gotten into.

Word Nerd Recommendation: It’s a solidly written novel. It was compelling in parts. I just need to stick to my determination that this subset of the thriller genre isn’t really for me.


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