Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: The Boat - Zombie Survivors

It's the apocalypse again!  Watch out for zombies!  

I downloaded this book free from Amazon.  It's currently $4.99.  You can click the image for more info.

Can you guess where this story takes place, based on the title of the book?  It's so simple, and yet I haven't really seen this idea in another zombie book, comic or show.  The survivors take to the water on boats.  In this reality, the infected people-turned zombie can't swim.  Makes sense to me, since all but their basic functions are gone, like in most zombie stories.  They call them sinkers.  The bad part is, although they can't swim, they don't die once they enter the water either.  So taking a refreshing swim to ease the troubles of your apocalyptic life - not such a good idea!

There are three boats, and all radio to one another and help each other out.  There's a self-professed leader among them, although I personally think he's a jerk and doesn't have a single endearing quality about him.  We meet a handful of survivors, and a back story to go with most of them.  The story takes place a mere two months after the outbreak of the disease.

I like that Dougherty gave us a glimpse into the cause of the disease.  In anything else that I have read, there has yet to be an answer on why everyone started dying and reanimating out of nowhere.  I won't give it away here, but it's an interesting idea, and one that could really be all too realistic in our world.

If you're a fan of The Walking Dead, one of the main themes that they have started to pinpoint is the idea that even in a world where there are people-killing machines everywhere, zombies still might not be your biggest threat.  That is a big focus here in this story.  If nothing else, trust your instincts!  Now, you shouldn't go shooting every stranger you come into contact with, like our good buddy Carl from TWD, but strangers shouldn't be fully trusted either!

Since I'm making references to the show and comics, one thing that did throw me off slightly was the similar names in the book.  There was, in fact, a Carl on one of the boats.  It was hard for me to picture the character that he was supposed to be and not the stubborn kid from TWD.  I think there was another name that was the same between the two stories, but I didn't write it down and I already forgot.  Oops.  That's really where the similarities ended, though.  I'm glad that Dougherty didn't try to just rework the story that has and continues to be written that is so popular.  She took her own spin on the idea of zombies taking over the world, and I really enjoyed reading it.

If you're a fan of the whole zombie craze, check this book out.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Camp Summer: July 29

The final countdown to school is on. Crud!  We still have stuff to do!

The kiddos decorated the backs of their camp summer shirts.   I found them at the Dollar Tree in each of their favorite colors. After lunch we spent the afternoon outside.  It was nice in the shade and not too hot. Daven made his first successful sandcastle all by himself!  They played Legos and Lincoln logs, and went pretend camping. 

Love these kids!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Blast: Surviving Curtis Hall

By just a simple sign-up, I am being gifted this book to read.  Of course, I plan on writing a review after I've read through it completely.  But if you would like to read this, it's not too late to sign up!

Sign-up to receive the book here.

The Blurb:

Attempting to avoid the violence and drugs at Hibernia High, sixteen-year-old Tristen McCoy and his friends have transferred on a sports scholarship to the elite Curtis Hall boarding school. Hometown lacrosse heroes, the boys are tested as they attempt to assimilate into a student body where excelling is the norm. Tristen hones his leadership skills and sense of humor while finding his way in this new environment. He and his friends must rise to the challenge of competing with peers whose skills equal and perhaps surpass their own.

Tristen's attention is soon captured by the beautiful and alluring Marcella Venier. Despite their different origins and upbringings, the two are drawn to each other. Marcella, compelled to live a clandestine life with dark secrets and a covert research mission, struggles with her desire to further her own designs and still remain in Tristen's world.

Events spiral out of control, and a student is lost in the subterranean tunnels beneath the school's campus! Tristen and his friends stand accused of foul play, and in an effort to make things right, he enlists Marcella's help in organizing a search party. During the perilous rescue attempt, danger threatens to not only sever the bonds of friendship of the group, but take their lives as well. They hope they can survive until graduation.

I'm looking forward to getting started on this book.  You can either sign up for a chance to get the book for free, or you can go ahead and purchase it now on Amazon.   It's currently on $2.51 for a kindle version, so you don't have to be worried about breaking the bank to try a new author.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Camp Summer: Make your own Pizzas

 After a long break from "camp" while Christie was on vacation and then I took my overnight trip, the gang's all back together. And with only a week left until school starts back, we've got to make the most of it!

Today for lunch, I let the kids help. One at a time, though. I wanted to contain the mess as much as possible. I wish I could have been fancy with a ton of different topping choices, but we just had cheese  and pepperoni. They turned out yummy!

Legends of Summer Tour, Chicago

My sister, Leah and I took a road trip to Chicago Monday to see Justin Timberlake in concert with Jay Z at Soldier Field.  We've both been big JT fans since back in the NSync days, but this was the first time for both of us to get to see him in concert.

The trip up was fairly uneventful.  We took turns driving and packed Lunchables to eat on the way.  Once we got into the city, however, we weren't really sure where we were going.  We wanted to go to Navy Pier, so we put that into my phone.  I think we had to circle twice to find out where to park, only to then find that it was a flat rate of $21 to park. That was disappointing, seeing as how we were only planning on spending a few hours at the most there anyhow.

After that, we decided to go ahead and find the hotel.  We drove past it - yep, there it was.  Now where the heck do we park?  More circles around the city were made.  Once we found the lot around back there was more confusion, as there were apparently two different levels of valet parking.  The cheapest you could park your car was $39 a night.  Yeesh.  We were so clueless, and the guy working the lot guessed right off the bat that we were there for the concert.  He advised us to leave the car there and not drive anymore, because he said the traffic was going to get horrific.  "People walk down to the stadium.  It's just a mile or so."  Ah, no thanks.  That sounds terrible!

We went to check in to the hotel and were 20 min before check-in.  Here's my first official trip picture I took of us standing in line to get our room keys at the Congress Plaza.

We were pretty pumped to finally arrive in our room.  We both got some pictures of the place before we even set our bags out.

Here's the view from out our window.

The only big thing that I didn't like about our room was that the air conditioning was really only a fan.  Normally on those units on the wall there is 4 settings: fan high and low, and air high and low.  This only had fan settings.  We should have brought a small fan for us to plug in.

Also, the bathroom door squeaked something awful.  And we found out that although the room next door to us could lock us out of their room through the conjoining door, we couldn't lock them out from our room.  I know that the building is old and all, but you would think that they would have fixed an issue like that.  We had to get a technician to come up to our room and put a long screw through the door so that the people in the other room couldn't sneak into our room when we were out.

We did end up going to the Navy Pier, but took a taxi instead of driving and paying to park.  It was only $8 plus tip to get there. 

One of my favorite places to eat that you can't get at home is Bubba Gump.  It's themed after the movie, Forrest Gump and has delicious seafood.  Leah had never had it before.  As you can see from the selfie I took, I was beyond excited!

Here's my dinner.  Crab stuffed jumbo shrimp in garlic sauce, with melted cheese on top.  Feel free to drool.

After dinner, we walked down the pier a bit.  The water was beautiful and there was a nice breeze.

From the pier, we took another taxi to the stadium.  Our first driver assured us that there would be many drivers available to take people home from the concert.  Leah and I assumed that we would be able to catch one back after it was over.  Clearly, we are NOT city girls.

Here's our seats for the show.  We pretty much had the row to ourselves until about half an hour before JT and Jay Z took the stage.

I know this picture isn't very clear, but the guy that is up on the tiny stage there is DJ Cassidy, the opening act that wasn't specified.  I had a feeling that the concert wouldn't really start at 8, but I also didn't think that this guy would be spinning music for close to an hour and a half.  We got restless and sleepy. 

My phone doesn't take good night time pictures, so I'm waiting to see the pictures that Leah took with her camera.  We were standing and dancing the full 2 hours that they were on stage.  Unlike most concerts where the acts perform separately, Justin and Jay Z went back and forth, trading off the stage.  A lot of time, Justin played along on the keyboard or guitar while Jay Z was doing his songs.  It was awesome!  They also had a few songs that they sang together, and they also dialogued with the crowd a far amount.  I woooooohed my face off.

Clearly, these three are at the concert only for Jay Z.  Justin comes out on stage, and their phones come out.  Come on, guys.  Even if you're not a big fan of his music, he's still a great performer worth watching.

I've got to be honest - I wish I would have had a pair of binoculars to get a better look at what was going on onstage.  Maybe one of those tiny pairs with the stick on one side to hold them up.

The girls in front of us took our picture, and we did the same for them.  I'm glad that everyone in our section was nice.  I was also relieved that the girl sitting (standing) on the other side of me could sing on key.

Towards the end of the show, Justin came out to the side of the stage and sang the Broadway song, New York, a capella.  It was a surprise for sure and we weren't quite sure where it was leading.  But then the stage lights came back on full blast and Jay Z started his song, New York.  Ah!  Clever, gentlemen.  The song ended with Justin coming back out to do a reprive.  It was really a nice touch.

A bit later, Justin had the crowd chant at the end.  He started getting faster and faster.  Leah said, hey, that's faster than it is on the CD.  And right about then, they transitioned into one of Jay Z's songs.  It was truly amazing how they mixed their music together so flawlessly.  There was never any gap time where someone wasn't singing on stage.  I've never seen anything like it before.

The concert ended with Suit and Tie, followed by their version of Forever Young.  Even though we hustled out of our seats in attempt try to beat as much of the crowd as possible out, we still got stuck in a perpetual cow herd.  Leah and I held hands to keep from getting separated, because people were being rude.  We went back to where our taxi had dropped us off, hoping that we could get picked up there.  Nope. I tried asking one of the guys standing there as security where we needed to go to get a cab and he annoying said, "Up the walking bridge".  Gee, thanks.

Arm in arm we went, up, down, and across this bridge that seemed like it wasn't going to have an end.  If I weren't already so exhausted, I might have mooed as a joke, because that's how many people were shuffling along with us.  When we finally reached the end of the walking bridge, we found ourselves on a residential street with no idea where we were.  All we could see was that there were no taxis.  

At this point, we input the hotel's address into the phone so that we could at least be going in the right direction.  Luckily, that's the way most people were going, and we were able to pretty much follow the crowd.  The hope was that we could somehow manage to get a taxi somewhere along the walk back, but that just didn't happen.  The ones on the road already had people in them.  There were guys hanging out onto the road waving $20 bills to try to flag one down and didn't have any luck.  

At one point during our walk home the wind started blowing so hard that  construction barriers were blowing over.  I'm fairly certain that had Leah and I not been holding onto one another, one of us would have fallen over.  I half expected a Wizard of Oz type tornado to come at us.

Towards the end of our walk we saw a girl who was very inebriated,  hollering in the middle of traffic.  There was a thin concrete median that separated the two sides of the road and she was balancing on it, shouting at her friend who was on the sidewalk to trust her - she knew how to get a cab.  When that didn't work, she actually stood out in the road.  It's a wonder that she didn't get run over.

2 miles later, we were back at our hotel.  It was about 2am, our time.  We both guzzled water when we got to our room.  2 days later, and I still have blisters on the bottom of both my feet.  But it was worth it!  Thanks for the great time, sis!