Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review: Mockingjay

Book 9/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Completed March 28, 2011.

Obviously I've become quite a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy.  I wish I could put into words just what it was about these books that captivated me most. The love triangle, the fast-paced action, the slight touches of future, the drama...  I can't pinpoint it.  All I know for certain is that these three books have moved me.

Mockingjay did not disappoint.  There were moments at the end when I found my eyes widened and my heart rate picking up.  There were also moments when I found myself stealing glances at the page numbers and feeling premature withdrawals upon realizing how soon I would be reading the final pages.  I didn't know what would happen to Katniss Everdeen in the end - with all of the things she experienced almost no one ending seemed appropriate.  Until it happened, of course, and then I found the words on the final pages pages blurry through the tears in my eyes.

Suzanne Collins has simply done a remarkable job with these three books.  Color me impressed.  I'd read them again and again, and I don't often say that about books - even my favorites.  I gave each book in the trilogy a Goodreads rating of five stars, and I think each of those fifteen stars were well-deserved.

I am the kind of reader that gets engrossed in the story and attached to the characters within it.  Katniss, Prim, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Finnick, Annie, and Cinna, among the many other unforgettable personas in this trilogy will not soon be forgotten by me.  If you've not read or considered reading these books yet, I can honestly say I don't know what you're waiting for.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: Catching Fire

Book 8/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Completed March 23, 2011.

After reading The Hunger Games, I could not WAIT to dig into Catching Fire.  It didn't disappoint.  I won't say it was as good as The Hunger Games, but I still think it was good enough to be worthy of a five-star Goodreads rating.  It was certainly more engaging than my average "four-star" read.

Suzanne Collins has a way with the characters in this series.  They almost all have weird names - Katniss, Peeta, Prim, Haymitch, Cinna...  (The list goes on and on, actually.)  But somehow they are still remarkably memorable and enjoyable.  Catching Fire follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, the winner of the 74th Hunger Games tournament, who winds up faced with a whole lot of trouble as her fans are empowered by her brave example (though the full effect of her actions may not have been wholly intentional).  Essentially, a desperate population clings to the hope that they are strong enough to overthrow the Capitol.  And the enraged Capitol springs to action with the sole intention of making an example out of Katniss and everyone she holds dear.

I don't want to get too far into the story line at the risk of completely spoiling it, but once this book...  well, catches fire - it doesn't slow down.  I read the last two thirds of the book over the span of two late nights and one morning.  As I edged closer to the final pages, I was completely baffled at how it could POSSIBLY be coming to an end already.  When I reached the end of Catching Fire, I was wide-eyed and wanting more!  My Reader's battery was low, though, so I opted to charge it and start in on Mockingjay tonight after my kids go to bed.  I'm pretty excited about it.  This trilogy has my attention in a really super nerdy way.  Never before have I been so involved in a series of books that I dream about it - I literally was dreaming up endings to this story the past couple of nights.

I'm excited to see what sort of end Suzanne Collins dreamed up in Mockingjay, and I am very hopeful that the movies based on these books will not come as a total disappointment, the way that so many book to film conversions do.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in #34

What are some  of your ideas for staying connected with family…you know, those people we moved thousands of miles away from? submitted by Live it. Love it (or not). Write About It.
Oh, the usual things.  Being cautious of the time zone differences, frequent phone calls with Magic Jack, Facebook, Skype, and sending home "care packages".

What’s the most romantic gift you have GIVEN? submitted byPainting My Canvas
We did things a little bit backwards.  On our first anniversary as boyfriend and girlfriend, I gave M a ring and asked him to marry me.  Uhh...  He was taking TOO LONG!  Anyways I'd say that's probably the most "romantic" gift I've ever given - but I am a good gift-giver!  My gifts are generally more thoughtful than romantic.

Would you encourage your child, if they came to you and wanted to join the military?  submitted by Perfectly Imperfect
To a certain extent, sure.  I'd definitely want my kids to weigh their options before signing on the dotted line, but in general I think it's a great opportunity.  It's not something I'd have ever done myself - I think it takes a special and disciplined type to be able to do it right and I'd not be interested in "half-assing" it, but I know for a lot of people it's a good move - not always necessarily a forever decision but four years isn't the worst thing.  Why not?

What is your least favorite bill to pay and why? submitted by A Little of This, A Little of That
Our car payment!  The lender really ripped us off and took advantage of us, plus since the car is stateside in government storage, it's like we're paying for nothing.  Not to mention it also feels like we've been paying on it FOREVER.  I will be so glad when it's paid off!

What is the proudest moment you’ve had as a military spouse?  submitted by Our Okinawa Life
Tough one.  Aside from the obvious graduations and homecomings, I'd have to say it was probably while we were stationed in Port Hueneme, California.  My husband (with my help) was the coordinator for the annual Toys for Tots campaign.  We worked our butts off that holiday season with him supervising every event, our warehouse, every donation drop-off location, and every distribution; and me running the office and keeping up with every scrap of paperwork.  We were able to get toys to several thousand needy children across three counties that Christmas, and then planned and hosted the most successful appreciation banquet the unit had ever had.  It was an all-around wonderful experience.

What's in your WHAT!? Wednesday #1

Chelsey at I'll be seeing you... came up with a cute and fun idea for a new blog meme where each Wednesday she'll pose the question: What's in your ______!?

I wanna play!


It's already Thursday here but I think I get a free pass since I am in such a far-off time zone...  LOL!  Making up my own rules already!  But since I haven't been posting many bentos lately I have not had anything fun to do on Wednesdays.  So I'm grasping at straws here!  Cut me a break!

This week Chelsey asks...  What's in your...  Shower!?

Forgive my poor photo quality - I am wayyyy too lazy to connect my camera at the moment so iPod photos it is!  Our shower is super small and I hate it - I just keep reminding myself we are outta here in six months!  Hopefully the next house has a really awesome shower.  :)

In the caddy:
Aveeno Stress-Relief body wash
M's Neutrogena body scrub
Aveeno Positively Radiant face wash
Earth (Japanese hair salon) strawberry-peach shampoo
and in the back Victoria's Secret Glossing shampoo and conditioner
Bar soap goes below.  Hanging is a pumice stone, and beside it all is the Schick Quattro TrimStyle

On the floor:
Aveeno NOURISH+REVITALIZE shampoo and conditioner
Bath and Body Works Moonlit Path Shower cream
M's head&shoulders shampoo

I admit I am a bit of a shampoo junkie.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Book 7/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Completed March 14, 2011.

I plowed through this one.  Seriously.  Three days?  With two kids in the house, chaos in the world, and my husband heading off to aid in humanitarian work?  How is that even possible?  Somehow, though, it's true.

I gave this book a five star rating on Goodreads.  I expected to give it a three, at best.  Let me elaborate.

So, ok. Seriously. After being recommended The Hunger Games several times, I gave in. Plus, I saw the notably high Goodreads average rating and I was curious about that. I will admit, despite the 4.63 collective stars and the "good word" from a few valued sources, my expectations were not very high. I know they always say "Don't judge a book by it's cover," but I do. I did. I was not intrigued by the cover of this book in the slightest and I was also a little bit deterred by it's classification as a children's/young adult read. Still, my curiosity won and I started in on it.

I was blown away. From the first few pages, I was captivated. I felt an instant connection with Katniss Everdeen - a very REAL and likable character. I found The Hunger Games to be a lot like an addiction for me - I couldn't put the book down. I couldn't stop reading. I stayed up late with my eyes glued to the pages. I finished it in all of three days - although looking back that seems nearly impossible because the story is one so haunting I feel like I've been entranced by it for ages.

I didn't feel that the concept of this book or the way it was written would be an appropriate "children's" book, but then again I have not read a lot of those lately to know what they're like. I suppose in the same way that books like The Lord Of The Flies (which I didn't care for in the slightest as a mandatory high school English read) are classified as "young adult," this could be too. This book deals a lot with violence and romance and (for lack of a better explanation) government opposition... Topics I find a bit mature for the majority of the audience I was anticipating this book to be geared towards. I don't want to spoil it, but just know that the book is nothing like it's blah cover. Crack it open and brace yourself for the intrigue. Very much looking forward to reading books #2 (Catching Fire) and #3 (Mockingjay).

A movie based on The Hunger Games is rumored for 2012.  I can't wait for that either.

Do what you can

After a long week of purging our apartment, I was so greatly looking to a weekend filled with vegging out on the couch and watching movies with my husband.  And then the quake hit mainland Japan and threatened us with a tsunami on Friday afternoon.  The epicenter of the quake activity is about 1,000 miles from our little island, so we were largely unaffected.  We didn't feel the seismic activity and the tsunami waves we received were less than two meters high, causing no destruction to Okinawa.  In fact, I was napping when things were going on up north.  A woke me up asking if she could watch a movie and I sat up groggily and flipped on the Apple TV.  Then I opened my MacBook and was startled by a flood of Facebook messages and wall posts.  Tons of people, mostly back in California, checking in on us to make sure we were alright.  What is going on??  I changed the TV to the AFN news channel and watched the loops of mainland Japan quake and tsunami footage and the local ticker running across the bottom of the screen bracing us for a possible tsunami for nearly an hour, unable to look away.  Even now looking back at Friday it all seems surreal.

I called M at work but he wasn't there.  So I switched to his cell phone, but the lines of course were down (our service provider is obviously based on mainland and things were jammed, to say the least).  Unable to reach him, I sat back down and kept watching the TV until he finally burst through the front door and threw down his things.  He thought he had news for me, but I knew more than he did.  Loudspeakers were booming through the open sliding glass door, reciting news and warnings and updates in both English and Japanese.  Sirens wailed.  M said, "I'm on call all weekend and may need to go to mainland if they need help."

We remained under a tsunami warning until late Friday night when the warning was downgraded to a tsunami advisory.  By the time we got up in the morning, we were back under a tsunami warning and stayed there again for several hours due to the strong aftershocks still rocking Japan.

Sounds chaotic right?  Only this is quite literally nothing compared to the absolute devastation up on the mainland.  We were extremely fortunate.  I still can't stop watching the footage whenever it comes up on my television.  Despite my Facebook posts promising we were fine, messages, phone calls, and wall posts continued to roll in all the way through yesterday from my stateside friends and family concerned over our well-being.

A fellow Okinawa-resident posted this map on her Facebook to ease her family's worry about us.  The blue arrow indicates our location.

On Saturday afternoon, phone calls started rolling in on our local phones.  M jumped at the opportunity to fly out and help right away.  Humanitarian efforts had been the main thought on his mind since he caught wind of the news Friday afternoon.  He started packing his things.  Yesterday morning the girls and I dropped him off and by last night he was settled on an Air Base in Tokyo.  He'll be there for the next few weeks aiding in any way possible.

I feel so numb from the whole situation.  It seems like time is passing in slow motion.  I didn't go to bed till after 1 this morning and then I was up several times - weird dreams.  And then the relentless feelings leaving me wondering: was that an earthquake?  What would I do if we ever got hit in even a fraction of the way that the mainland has?  People crack jokes because I am from California that I must be used to earthquakes but the truth is that I am really not.  The quakes I experienced in California were nothing.  Most times they happened overnight and I slept through them.  On the rare occasion that I actually noticed something was going on, it was one brief moment of tremor and then nothing else.  I'd confirm it was an earthquake several seconds afterwards when I'd notice the calendar hanging off of a push-pin on my cubicle wall swinging as I sat in my desk chair at work.

Just over a year ago, I was woken from a total sleep to the bed shaking and the sound of the accordion-style closet doors rattling.  I was not completely coherent and my first thought was that something must be the matter with M, sleeping beside me.  I reached out to him and found that his body was not the source of the movement.  I said, "What is going on??"  And then I snapped out of my groggy daze and propped myself up on an elbow.  I said, "Is this an earthquake??"  M spoke some sort of confirmation and I scooted closer to him - closer to the center of the mattress - surprised at the intensity of the shaking.  When it ended, at least a full minute had passed and we could feel our tower very gently swaying for another minute or so.  And then we both laid there with our eyes wide open for several more minutes.  The kids had slept through the whole thing and I wondered to myself if that was like the quakes I'd slept through as a child.  No, it couldn't have been.  Realizing sleep wasn't going to happen, we finally grabbed our MacBooks and side-by-side in bed began searching for a report on what we'd just felt .  Eventually we found that it was reported at 7.0 but that no major damage had occurred.

I've still never felt anything else quite like that, but I'll admit that it made me uneasy.  I can't imagine what it must have felt like to experience the 9.0 - several minutes in duration, followed by over 100 aftershocks in the next days and destructive - and then of course the massive, unfathomable (at least to me) tsunami.

I've been following blogs and Twitters and news articles like crazy.  Jo at A Bit Of This and A Bit Of That has been posting frequently, and Maki of Just Bento has been translating and Tweeting almost nonstop for English-speakers.

The before and after aerial photos found here completely took my breath away.  I feel such devastation and helplessness for all that is happening.  My love and thoughts are with the good people in Japan.  I urge anybody reading to do what you can - donate money, canned goods, clothing, time...  Anything you can spare.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Review: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

Book 6/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed: March 11, 2011.

This book was really fun. I enjoyed it a lot - more than I actually expected to.  I don't know what it is with me going into murder mystery books with such low expectations these days but I'm not opposed to being pleasantly surprised.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, though, should have been a shoo-in for me. Being an avid reader AND a moderately obsessed foodie just about guaranteed that I'd enjoy the murder mystery (which I didn't think was too dull or predictable), and also the cookie recipes peppered in between the chapters - which I can't wait to try out and report on, by the way.

Hannah Swenson is a very normal girl - nothing exceptional about her aside from her baking skills. She's single and lives in a condo in a little town in Minnesota with her freeloading tabby cat, Moishe. She runs a cookie shop that is a local sensation, and she has a brother-in-law who is a police officer. Hannah winds up in the middle of a murder investigation that takes several turns - very few of which I was able to predict. The book is filled with a lot of characters and some unnecessary details and occasionally I had a hard time keeping up with the who's-who, but for the most part that didn't really bother me a whole lot - it didn't really distract from the story line.  By the end of the book I was literally on the edge of my seat and had to tell M to put the kids in their jammies for me so that I could have fifteen minutes of peace to finish it up.  It was very unexpected!  And thanks to a hefty preview at the end of my edition of the book, there were a LOT of pages left, so I was quite surprised that the book was ending when it was.

I thought this was a good read and I'm definitely interested in the other (11?) Hannah Swenson books.  Will keep you posted on the recipes that I feel like I've swiped straight from my favorite bakery.

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in #33

1. During military separations (whether short or long) how do you keep yourself positive and motivated? submitted by Married/Single Parent
The obvious answer is to stay busy.  I generally don't have a terrible time doing so with two kids to chase around and a foreign country to explore, but before all that I kept busy by writing, reading, working, and getting together with friends and family.

2. What is your favorite concert you have ever been to? submitted byYoung but Not (Completely) Dumb
Maroon 5!  I saw them twice live with John Mayer.  At a very close second is Simon & Garfunkel.  I took my mom to see them on their reunion tour when it passed through our home town and I really look back on that with a lot of happiness - it was before my mom started showing symptoms of dementia and she told me it was the best birthday gift she'd ever received.  Plus "Feelin' Groovy" is totally my song - don't laugh!

3. What do you miss most about your “hometown”?  submitted by A Florida Girl and Her Soldier
Hands down, no contest:  My grandma.  We talk on the phone almost every day but I would so love to be there with her.  She is my hero and my very best friend.

4. If you could run in any race, which charity would you choose to support? submitted by Wookie & Co.
AFTD - The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.

5. You find out Willy Wonka is your father, what 3 course meal do you INSIST he create in that stick of gum?  submitted by A{muse}ing Mommy on a Pink Park Bench
NICE!!  I like this question a lot!!  I think I'd definitely request Marie Callender's potato cheese soup, my grandma's beef and green bean stew with rice pilaf and ooey gooey chocolate brownies!  Mmmmm...  A la mode!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waste not!

This afternoon I got a hair crossed and I purged my kitchen.  I went through my cupboards, fridge, and pantry and got rid of five and a half big garbage bags full of...  Junk.  Boxes and boxes of long-expired cereal, expired canned goods, forgotten half-full packages of crackers...  Embarrassing.  Also realized by emptying out the entire contents of the pantry onto the kitchen floor and countertops just how big of a hoarder I had become.  I had EIGHT packages of angel hair pasta in there.  (We're down to seven now as I used one of them for tonight's dinner - made this and it was incredible!!  Substituted the meatballs - my kids won't eat them - and marinara sauce with 2 cups of spaghetti meat sauce I had made from scratch and frozen in batches a few weeks ago and it was seriously SO good.)

My newest "thing" is to quit buying in such excess - only buy what we need and use what we already HAVE as often as possible.  Now that the space is freed up significantly I can actually see what is available.  I cooked this for lunch and it was definitely a hit.  I had all of the ingredients on hand!  Substituted [defrosted] frozen baby broccoli florets for the fresh and used regular carrots instead of the baby variety - chopped both in my Pampered Chef choppy thing.  My house has stayed remarkably clean the past couple of weeks.  I deep cleaned the girls' toy room again yesterday and got rid of a garbage bag full of outgrown and/or broken toys (the fourth such bag since January 1)...  I think it's safe to say I am officially spring cleaning.  I feel like I'm just trying my hardest to get all of our things in order as early as possible since we actually have some advance notice for this move.  Our previous two moves were both done on about 30 days notice (and they were utter CHAOS!), so this time I feel like I am trying to do everything possible to be prepared for the transition.  And that means cleaning out the closets.

M came home from work this evening, did a double-take at the overstuffed bags lined up against the kitchen cabinets and said, "What is THAT??"  It took both of us and a shopping cart to get them all downstairs to the garbage room after the kids went to bed.

I have fluttered along with the FlyLady for several years now but I think I am just now beginning to finally embrace the beauty of flinging.

Delicious spaghetti sauce - in our case enough for three meals!   Spaghetti the first night and two batches in the freezer (one that I used for the spaghetti pie...  I'm telling you, my kids DEVOURED it and they usually don't like spaghetti sauce at all.)


  • 1 (28 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Blend the stewed tomatoes and crushed tomatoes in a blender. (I used my immersion blender and did this step in my slow cooker's crock.) In a large sauté pan, brown the ground beef with the onions, peppers, garlic. Drain and then add into crock pot with tomatoes. Add sugar, basil and oregano, and cook on low for about 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Baby Bentos

It has been chaotic around here lately and something tells me I shouldn't count on it easing up any time soon.  After a lot of consideration and a personal battle, we pulled A out of Yochien a couple of weeks before the end of her school year.  We were going to take her out at the end of the Japanese school year anyway, but A was having some issues with a classmate and I couldn't justify keeping her enrolled for two extra weeks and making her be miserable for the sake of proving a point she is probably too young to understand.  My other option was to resolve the issue, but for just two weeks I couldn't see the purpose in having my friend translate my concerns and make a commotion with A's lovely teachers.  Plus, pulling her two weeks early saved me a full month's worth of tuition.  I have still been trying to make bento for the kids once a week, but I've had my hands full with them.  I'm trying to keep A busy and work with her on preschool concepts so that she is up to speed when we move and she begins kindergarten.  I really need to develop some sort of a curriculum to follow so that we at least have a schedule.  She's doing quite well adding with manipulatives, writing all of her letters and numbers, patterns, colors, shapes, and working in beginning phonics.  Most all of she is beyond thrilled to be preparing to move to Germany and start kindergarten.  She talks about both of those daily!

I made the kids bento last week but didn't get to snap a photo in time before they both devoured their lunches.  I do, however, have a couple of pictures of lunches I made for C last month while A was still in school.  Pardon the poor quality - these were taken with my iPod.

This bento C ate when my friend babysat her one afternoon.  It has a couple mini wedges of cheese pizza, some grape tomatoes, edamame picks, a chocolate chip cookie, some banana pieces and a few red grapes.

This bento was C's mini-version of the lunch A took to school that day - rotini pasta with garlic, basil, olive oil and parmesan cheese, deli sliced ham, edamame and half of a mikan.

The girls are very much enjoying being able to play together and for the most part I'm pretty happy with our decision to keep them home - they are keeping me on my toes, but I like the idea of A getting to have one last extended summer at home before she starts "real" school.  If I get some really awesome ideas for preschool curriculum activities, maybe I'll include those here too.  I'm about halfway through book number six of the reading challenge, so with any luck another book review will be coming soon too.

Bento Lunch

Friday, March 4, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in #32

1. Do you or your {spouse} ever wish your {spouse} was in a different branch of the military? submitted by The Turner Family
Definitely not!  We gripe a lot but deep down, we enjoy the Marine Corps.  My husband joined the Corps to fulfill a lifelong dream (and follow a family tradition) and he is beyond devoted to it.  And I have just been spoiled by the Marine Corps' grooming standards.  I like his weekly haircuts and he looks quite nice in his uniforms.

2. What duty station(s) are on your “No Way, Hell No, Not Going, Have Fun Unaccompanied” list and why? submitted by Every Branch
I have three on that list:  Jacksonville, North Carolina (Camp LeJeune); 29 Palms, California; and Yuma, Arizona. Noooo thank you!  Other than those, I am pretty open to whatever new adventures they send us on.

3. If you could be one age forever, what age would you choose and why? submitted by Three Krakens
I don't think I'd want to stay one age forever, but if I had to I'd probably choose an age I haven't hit yet.  Maybe thirty.  Seems like a nice "medium" spot to stay in if we're talking "forever".

4. If you were a breakfast cereal, which one would you be? submitted bythe C.W.
I'd be Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds.  Why..?  Because...  Uh...  They're delicious.  And because they're called "Honey Bunches".  Obviously.  ;)

5. What is your morning beverage of choice and why?  submitted by NH Girl Displaced
I'm a coffee drinker.  My FAVORITE morning beverage is Morinaga CAFÉ.  It's the most delicious ever.  I'm going to miss it when we leave Japan!  But I'll take any sort of coffee with milk and sugar, or a flavored latte from Starbucks.  When coffee is not an option, I like Dole's Orange-Peach-Mango juice.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Review: Alone (Detective D.D. Warren #1)

Book 5/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed: February 27, 2011.

This book has a Goodreads average rating of 3.77 stars.  I'd call that accurate.  I couldn't resist buying it since I found it on sale in the Reader Store for just 99¢ and it had a decent review rating.  I enjoyed it more than I had expected to - I am not usually a fan of books quite so "action-heavy," but this one was pretty good.  I was about halfway through it before I realized one day (while not reading at all, actually) very randomly that I was pretty involved in the story line.  From that point, I managed to finish up the book pretty quickly.

Essentially this book is a mystery about a Massachusetts State Trooper and his "in the wrong place at the wrong time" connection to a wealthy family consisting of a Judge's son, his wife - the childhood victim of a pedophile, and their perpetually ill four-year-old son.

While parts of it were a bit tiresome for me - a little more trashy and sexual than I thought was necessary, and as a result it was a touch cliche - I found that as a whole, the tangled web of plot and the suspense were just enough to keep me interested without letting the parts I wasn't crazy about completely annoy me.

This was my first experience with Lisa Gardner's writing, and I was for the most part pleasantly surprised.  I thought the mystery in this book was just enough for my liking, and I enjoyed her style.  I wouldn't call her my favorite but I gave Alone three stars; and I added the second book in the D.D. Warren series, Hide, to my "To Read" list.  Certainly not a bad deal for 99¢!

Book Review: Possible Side Effects

Book 4/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed:  February 11, 2011.

After reading Running With Scissors, I was eager for more from Augusten Burroughs.  Kaylie recommended Possible Side Effects, and that was about all the push I needed.  I bought it and started in on it immediately.  I needed a major pick-me-up after the train-wreck that was Safe Haven, and this was perfect!  I read it cover-to-cover in less than seven days and gave it a Goodreads rating of four stars. I wish we could use half-stars in individual ratings.  I'd have given this four and a half - it wasn't as wonderful as Running With Scissors, but it was damn close.

Possible Side Effects is a collection of autobiographical essays that touch on a variety of Burroughs' life events:  His relationship with Dennis Pilsits, pets, alcoholism, and career choices to name a few.

I am not sure if I should feel sympathy (and maybe a little bit of guilt) over the impossibly crazy life Augusten Burroughs has led, or if he should simply be congratulated on his fantastic storytelling abilities and his capacity to not only overcome a life of chaos but to come out on the other side with finesse and humor.  Without a doubt, this man is an exceptionally talented author.  I found each of the stories within Possible Side Effects to be interesting and in most cases hilarious.  The fact that he completed no formal education past the sixth grade is just remarkable to me, given his definite gift for writing.

If you read and enjoyed Running With Scissors, this is a no-brainer.  It's filled with the same brand of ridiculous and the wit that I loved and was craving and it didn't disappoint.  I've added Burroughs' other books to my "To Read" list, as well as the memoir written by his older brother, John Elder Robison - Look Me in the Eye, and The Long Journey Home, a memoir written by his mother, Margaret Robison - due to be released later this month.  I anticipate that I will probably be reviewing some of these as well before the end of the year.

I guess you could call me a fan.
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