Book Banter: Coffee Gives Me Superpowers

coffee superTitle: Coffee Gives Me Superpowers
Author: Ryoko Iwata
Genre: Non-fiction
Length: 96 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From:  Stacie’s Personal Collection
Plot Basics: Coffee is a staple of the modern human diet. What do you really know about coffee? Can it really give you superpowers? After reading this book, you’ll know more about coffee consumption around the globe, why bees love coffee and how coffee gives you superpowers.

Banter Points: I’m a big fan of coffee, and the idea that it gives me superpowers was fantastic. I loved that I could have more superpowers by drinking coffee.

I was really excited about fun facts and illustrations.  It really cannot be underscored as to how the author’s talent is in combining the facts and drawings.  One of sources for the book was Wikipedia, and the author and illustrator really made the facts come alive through the drawings.  You can get a sneak peek here at I Love Coffee and determine when you should drink coffee for the maximum impact of the caffeine.

One cool section was about how important coffee is global to the economy. For example, the most expensive coffee costs $50 per two cups (trust me, this is one that I do not want to try, and not due to cost.) The world consumption is around 1.6 billion cups per day, while the U.S. drinker consumes 3.1 cups daily.

I loved the links between coffee and personality as well. I snickered at some of the personality descriptions and felt some hit way too close to home.  I’m definitely a caffeine junkie.

Bummer Points: Expect some coffee jokes around the house as well as some questions as to what kind of superpower you gained. Nothing that a true coffee drinker can’t handle.

Stacie’s Recommendation: I expected a cute coffee table book, and was pleasantly surprised with this title.  It’s going on my gift-giving list this year, especially as I have several coffee-lovers on my recipient list.

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Bibliometer Q1 2015

The fact that it’s taken me nearly through all of April to get to my Q1 reading stats logged and crunched is a pretty good indication of how busy life is right now.

My Q1 stats for 2015

bar chart21 books

5972 total pages

28.5 audio book hours.

Audio book hours is a new stat I’m tracking this year. Stacie counts the pages of audio books, but I don’t want to go that route with my numbers.

Year-over-year, I’m behind by 8 books from 2014. Last winter, I finished off the Ex Machina graphic novels and devoured the Divergent trilogy in a few days. I also didn’t read any Russian masters like this year (seriously, any Russian novel should could as two.)

I backed off my 100 book goal for the year as well. I set my Goodreads goal for 75 for this year. Right now, I’m only 2 books ahead of that number and I don’t see the pace picking up for the rest of the year. I did 100 books a year two years in a row and if that doesn’t happen this year, I’m fine with that.

Book Banter: The Yard

yardTitle: The Yard

Author: Alex Grecian

Genre: historical mystery

Length: 422 pages

Where Bethany’s copy came from: The Indianapolis Public Library

Plot Basics: In the wake of the Jack the Ripper killings, Scotland Yard has organized a squad of 12 new detectives to start to deal with London’s murders, including young Walter Day, recently promoted from Devon. But when one of the Murder Squad’s own ends up stuffed in a steam trunk, the victim of a brutal killing, the Yard has to step up their methods of investigation to figure out if there’s another serial killer loose in London.

Banter Points: After reading Lyndsay Faye’s fantastic first two Timothy Wilde historical mysteries last year, Alex Grecian’s books caught my eye as another choice in that genre and I finally got to the first one. The book starts with a bang. Newly minted Detective Walter Day is presented with the gruesome case of the murder of Inspector Little, a fellow Murder Squad member. Dr. Bernard Kingsley is trying to apply new forensic methods (like fingerprints) to the case and everyone thinks he’s nuts.

Bummer Points: Grecian is no substitute for Faye. Where the plot starts out strong, it fizzles and I was completely bored by the end. There was no suspense to who the killer was and no doubt that Day and the rest of the Murder Squad would bring the bad guys to justice. There is an unfortunate amount of anachronistic dialogue (and poorly written anachronistic dialogue at that.)

Word Nerd Recommendation: I might give book #2 a chance, because it’s possible this one suffered from first book/set-up problems. With a few things that happened to characters at the end, it might give the next one more focus. On the other hand, there are enough books on my TBR pile that I might not get to it.

Plotting, Like an INTJ

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve spent a significant amount of time Plotting.  Yes, the kind that comes with a capital P.  At home.  At work.  In my brain, both consciously and subconsciously.

I really love weeks like this because so many projects and events fall together, much like a conductor navigating an orchestra through a complex piece of music and nailing every introduction and close.

Here’s what’s come to fruition so far:

successAt Work:  I’m almost one year into my role and have gathered enough data, evidence, customer feedback to tackle the strategy for the next three years.  Of course, the first year of that will be developing the required documentation and internal support to execute said strategy, but as I think about where I should be leading my team, I can see the direction we want to go, the challenges, the hurdles, the dead ends, the successes that await us.

At Home:  I’ve done some serious purging lately, like the kind that equates to half of your stuff leaving the house.  It feels really good to have so much clutter gone, to have the house clean, to minimize.  Now, I can selectively add back in what I want.  I have been thinking through two very different projects, both of which add more foliage to the house.  I’m pretty excited about both of them, and am making project plans for each.  Over Memorial Day weekend, I’ll do one of them.

In my Brain:  I was spending some coloring one night this week, and I felt the urge to put pen to paper.  From that exercise, I came up with a pretty decent first draft of a poem, much like I did during my college years when poetry was my primary writing outlet.  It’s a draft, for sure, and I need to smooth out some edges, but there is some really good stuff in there.  I’m pretty excited that it happened and am grateful that my creative streak is returning.  To me, it means that good things are going on.

What successes did you have this week?

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New readers

My best friend texted me the other day:

I couldn’t find I– this morning, he wasn’t eating breakfast with everyone. I figured he was sleeping in, cause he was really tired yesterday. But when I checked on him, he was in his bed reading “The Castle of Llyr.”
I perked up at this quite a bit.
prydainI– hasn’t been the most voracious reader yet so him choosing this is heartening. AND, he picked Lloyd Alexander’s great Prydain Chronicles.
For me, this series helped open up a whole world of reading. I bought the second book, The Black Cauldron, through one of those Scholastic book sale flier things the school would send home. I was in third-grade. I started reading it, realized I was lost and learned about series where the books are connected, not like Baby-Sitters Club where I could read out of order.
Lloyd Alexander’s books led me to lots of other things. It was a pretty short jump from there to Madeleine L’Engle. The Hobbit wasn’t far behind. I re-read the Prydain books multiple times. For some school project where we had to write a letter to an author, I sent one to Mr. Alexander. He sent back a helpful pronunciation guide to all the Welsh names.
My best friend had the similar thing happen for her with the Alexander books. We’re both pretty excited for I–, that this will help unlock a world of reading for him the way it did for us.

English is hard

ough

ht to Jessica, via Facebook for this one.

Irish Coffee, anyone?

Bethany has lamented the lack of a good INTJ and the type casting of INTJs as bad guys. I offer this chart as an alternative.  Who doesn’t like Irish coffee?

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— signal interrupted —

bobcat

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Monday to bring you this photo of a bobcat at the North Carolina zoo. We will return you to posts about books or words or things tomorrow.

Therapy and the coach

Months ago, I did something to my left hip.

I have no idea what. I didn’t fall. I don’t remember colliding with anything. I didn’t take up an overly athletic hobby I have no business doing (PARKOUR!) or even a mildly athletic habit. Still, something went wrong.

About two weeks ago, I was ordered to physical therapy because I shouldn’t be having any low-grade, perpetual pain.

If you’re ever writing a character who has to go through any kind of physical rehab/therapy after a major injury, let me tell you, that is a HUGE obstacle for a person. It takes time. And while progress (at least for me) has been happening, it’s slow. That umpteenth leg lift with only a 2lb ankle weight on is hard even though you know it’s helping. It’s still hard to lift that foot a few inches again when you know it will hurt and when your leg feels like jello already.

It’s a mental game, really. One more stretch. Or sometimes 10 more. Or now with resistance.

If your cop/FBI agent/swordsman/whoever is on the mend and trying to recoup their strength, they will be tired. And angry. And frustrated. They will likely breakdown and have a good cry in the middle of a session because everybody wants to be better faster than they can be (unless you’re writing Wolverine, in which case, this is irrelevant) and they will hit a point of feeling useless.

coach

Sometimes when I’m doing my stretches at home, I have a coach, looking down from on high (or the end of the bed, technically) and squinting at my progress. (Not much, and bad form, no doubt).

Sometimes, she comes down and helpfully stands on my abdomen and head-butts my chin. Mostly, she’s realized that while I’m stuck there on the floor, trying to muster up enough grit to do a few more exercises, I can give her a few extra chin scratches.

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