Sunday, March 27, 2011

Post #312: In Which Carrie Tries Something New

Friday Kyle and I went to a hockey game with friends -- Adler Mannheim v DEG Metro Stars.  Sure, I'm not much on sports, but it was actually kind of fun.  Kyle, who understands the rules of the game, had a great time.  I was thoroughly entertained as well.  By the crowd and insane coaches, if not the on-ice action.  We managed to get seats in the very front row, directly behind the opposing team's bench.  The crowd was crazy excited, and there was more than one person with blue painted hair.  It's an experience, hearing hundreds of people chanting and cheering in a foreign language, let me tell ya.

Kyle (middle) and some of the boys, full on skipping to the arena.

See what I mean?  Crazy close seats.

How precious is the little man?  He rocks that mohawk better than anyone else I know, that's for sure.

All in all, it was a quite successful venture.  And not a bad hair day either, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Post #311: In Which I Post Various Recent Reviews

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Sunshine; Robin McKinley
3 1/2 stars

Robin McKinley's Sunshine isn't quite like any vampire novel I've read. This is not a strained paranormal romance; no one wants to become a "creature of the night;" nothing about death (or the undead) is glorified. The story we get is a slice of alternate reality, a dystopic future that is over run by Others and part-bloods with speacial abilities and, sometimes, an affinity for killing off careless humans. McKinley spares no gritty details.

Rae Seddon, nicnamed Sunshine, is a baker best known for cinnamon rolls as big as your head. Her world is limited to her family's restaraunt and its inhabitants, and her landlady. Amid the Other-ridden shambles of America, she has managed to live a painfully normal life -- her experience of Others being limited to what she reads in vampire novels. However, Sunshine's life is turned upside down and given a thorough shaking when she is abducted by vampires during what was supposed to be a quiet retreat to a lakeside cabin. After less-than-friendly treatment, she finds herself shackled next to the last imaginable captive: another vampire who mysteriously refuses to kill her, and seems to need as much help to escape as she does. In the months that follow, every principle of Sunshine's life is challenged. Friends become suspicious, and the lines between enemies and allies are blurred. If she is to survive, Sunshine must reach deep within herself to unleash a hertiage she didn't know existed.

Sunshine is compelling, suspensful, and above all original. Robin McKinley breaks from her tradition of reviving timeless heroines' tales to offer up one of her own. While some of Rae's acquaintances are left half-sketched, and the launch into Other-world is somewhat unexplained, this novel remains gripping. Sunshine's voice becomes as unmistakable as an old friends's, and it's beyond easy to stay vested in her adventure.


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You Know When the Men Are Gone; Siobhan Fallon
5 stars

No one can really know what life is like for a military family unless they've been in one, but Siobhan Fallon's collection of stories can bring you to a level of understanding that runs a close second. The story of the women and children who struggle to survive without their husbands and fathers is one that desperately needed telling. Fallon did it justice. In her collection, she delivers glimpses of the lives of both soldiers and wives, of both the lucky and less fortunate, of men and women both in love and falling apart.

Behind the ominous fences of Fort Hood, Texas, lies a world unknown to most civilians -- a world where "home" changes location in as little as six months, where a vacation is unheard of, and where tomorrow is not always guaranteed. Here soldiers leave their families to try and maintain normalcy in generic apartment complexes while they go off to war. Here fast friendships form, rumors abound, and hundreds of women spend their days waiting for their phone to ring and bring them reassurance that, at least for today, their husband is safe and life can go on. It is not a life for the faint of heart.

Fallon's stories are memories netted like butterflies -- they are poignant, beautiful.  Yet as soon as you've grasped one, it flits away on the breeze, leaving as abruptly as it appeared. Each story is as unique as every military family, and all are steeped in emotion. Some leave us with hope, others with despair. Some are terrifying and strange, and others echo typical domestic life. However, they all inspire a well-deserved compassion for the unsung heroes of war: those who our troops leave behind.

You Know When the Men Are Gone is a profound and brilliant debut from an author who knows her characters quite a bit better than most. I hope it is only the beginning of a stunning literary career.


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Little Princes; Conor Grennan
6 stars
Conor Grennan had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to volunteer three months at the Little Princes children's home in Nepal. Tackled by a mob of tiny orphans upon his arrival, he could think of nothing but how wonderful it was going to be to escape. But in the weeks ahead, the children of Nepal worked their way into Conor's heart, sparking within him a passion and determination to help them find their way in the world. When Conor discovered the children were vicitms of child trafficking, his mission solidified into a clear goal: to bring the lost children home.

Heart warming and bone chilling at once, this book is not one to be missed. Conor Grennan's story, the story of the lost children of Nepal, is a beautiful tribute to the power and neccessity of compassion. With every page the smiles and tears of the "Little Princes" are etched into our hearts, leaving us entirely changed at the close. Conor's book reads like a letter from an old friend -- honest, witty, and charismatic, with a breath of life in each word.

This is not just a book I'll pass along to my friends, this a book that leaves me itching to act. Conor's story awakes a need to stop observing the troubles of the world, and start taking steps to solve them. Here is living proof that even one man, with nothing more than a fierce will and kind heart, can make a profound difference in the unfurling future.

Friday, March 11, 2011

made of paper and things

Today carrotspeak announces it's first ever sponsor!  Callie over at made of paper and things makes beautiful custom rosette bags, among other goodies. 

custom canvas rosette bags

typewriter key post earrings

gorgeous flower post earrings made from recycled soda cans

handmade vintage style headbands
Callie has generously agreed to give away one of her beautiful bags to one of you readers!  Here's what the lucky winner will receive:

If you'd like to become the owner of this bag, here's what you need to do...  (Contest open to readers with an address in the United States.  This includes APO/FPO/PO BOX addresses.)
1) First, head over to made of paper and things and have a look around.  Then come back here and leave a comment sharing your favorite thing.

2) Bonus for new followers!  If you started following this blog within the last two months, or if you click "follow" today, you get a second entry!  (Please make a second comment below.)

3) Bonus for facebook fans!  If you're a fan of carrotspeak on facebook, have another entry.  (Please make an additional comment below.)

4) Gain one extra entry by tweeting or blogging about this giveaway!  Be sure to include a link in your tweet/blog, and a link to your blog/twitter in the comments below.  (Also be sure this entry has it's own comment.)

5) Cross your fingers!  Giveaway closes Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 11:59PM.  Winner will be announced shortly after.  Good luck!
PS -- If any of you guys are interested in sponsoring, send me an email for details!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Compromise is necessary to survival marriage.  Case in point:

Husband will make sure his clothes stay in the laundry basket. long as I make sure the laundry basket stays in the living room.  (Uniforms don't last more than thirty seconds after passing through the front door.)

Somehow, I feel like I gave up.  However, as long as I don't have to run around the house for thirty minutes prior to laundry time, my pride doesn't care so much.