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Cate Noble, Dead Right, 2009


It's not often Shannon McKenna shows up as a blurb on a novel's front cover so when I saw this one at the library along with her comment  "Thrilling" I immediately picked it up. Plus, the cover is sexy.

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AIG


Who knew? I felt like I should say something about the whole AIG thing, but I'm torn between feeling bad for the people who work there and a little bit happy that the giant is stumbling. AIG is like the Microsoft of the insurance industry. Not in a good way. They are so much bigger than everyone else---I can't find a graph, but it's like AIG, then.......waaay down.....further down....keep going...oh, there's the second biggest company.

The bigger problem is, unfortunately, that AIG is tied up in every other insurance company out there. Without getting into too much insurance detail, either AIG reinsures another company, or the other company reinsures AIG. Reinsurance is like insurance for insurance companies--If AIG goes down--well, it could get VERY interesting.

Insurance professionals have been saying for at least a year that in the soft, weak insurance market that at least one seemingly stable company was going to go down--every year we lower premiums, and it just can't continue. I see lots of accounts where the premium for the account =100 (for example) and the losses for the prior year = 150. If you're bringing in 100, and paying out 150 every year--well, you can see what happens.

The fact that AM Best downgraded AIG is a BIG, BIG deal. I'll be watching the WSJ very carefully.

Do you need to worry about your personal insurance? No. You'll be fine. But isn't it interesting that after Eliot Spitzer did so much damage to AIG that the NY insurance commissioner is encouraging just the same behavior that Spitzer was litigating against? Hmm.

M

Book roundup



Oh, I just don't have the energy to write individual reviews.

Death Angel, Linda Howard : Yay! This gives me hope that my favorite authors can have a slump and then come out with a good book. There's been lots of discussion that this is Howard's best book in a long time, and I have to agree. Howard writes great dangerous heroes, and Simon's up there with my favorites--a truly morally ambiguous man. I liked the heroine a lot too, I think she did a good job of making an unsympathetic person sympathetic. And unlike Blair, I didn't want to beat her to death with a bat. (Just hated that Howard character. Just hated her.) Yes, there's some stupid stuff in here, and no, this isn't as good as her best books, but a good read.

Catch of the Day, Kristin Higgins and Just One of the Guys, Kristin Higgins: Catch of the Day pissed me off. Both are romance novels written in first person, which is a frustrating POV a lot of the time. Definitely in the case of Catch of the Day. Especially since the hero didn't really make an appearance until about halfway into the book and he really didn't show up a lot after that! Just One of the Guys was much better, and I would recommend it. However, please note that whoever designed the covers and wrote the back blurbs clearly didn't read the books, because the dogs are random and not anything like the dogs in the actual books and the cover blurbs don't really match the novels either.

Scream for Me, Karen Rose: Another recommended book, this one a romantic suspense with serial killers and the usual horrific stuff that happens. It was okay. I just don't like these kind of books. At some point you just wonder how much more "original" an author writing about serial killers can be. I know they have to make their serial killers "more horrible" than anyone else's, but uck. I don't like that.

Uncommon Magic, Laura Kinsale: I don't know how I missed this one, but apparently I did. The thing I love and hate about Kinsale is that she doesn't feel a need to tie up all her loose ends and explain everything. I liked Faelan and Roddy, and especially Faelan (rowr), but I'm not going to pretend that the supernatural stuff was, well, um, well--okay, let's be honest. It was stupid. If you liked the plotline of My Sweet Folly, this is in the same vein. Without the letter writing.

Meredith

Politics


E said something really funny about Sarah Palin today. I've been hung up on her 100%  abstinence education thing since her daughter announced she was pregnant. E said, "well, if her daughter had had some sex education she would have known you weren't supposed to stick it there."

I thought that was pretty funny. Wasn't it Family Guy where Meg thought you could get pregnant if a guy stuck his penis in her ear?

Maybe that's what Bristol thought could make you pregnant. I know we are "supposed to leave the candidate's children out of the race" and lord knows 17 year olds have their own minds about things, but I do think her pregnancy--when you take into concideration Palin's aggressive abstinence policy--is fair game in that sense.

Here's hoping I didn't jump the gun on Kirsten's post--which will be ten times more awesome than mine. I just keep picturing Palin's discussion with her daughter ("didn't I tell you not to mess around with boys that way?" "Mom, I know, it just fell in there! I didn't know what to do!")

Contrast this with my mom's more liberal but far more effective method of "abstinence training", and I quote: 
"M, if you have sex, use a condom. In fact, use two. Because with your luck, the condom won't work. And you will RUIN, I mean RUIN, your ENTIRE LIFE and the boy's life and the child's life and my life and your brothers life and everyone will be so horribly disappointed in you. Plus, it's going to hurt that first time. Like, a lot. Really, really bad."

Yeah, that was way more effective than "you're a bad person, and you'll get VD." I was a pretty old virgin when I decided to "get it over with". Palin had already popped out a couple kids by that age.

M

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Oh, by the way


Yes, I did find a job. Actually, I had four job offers. I took the one with no travel and the promise that I would be able to work with people I liked. Also, crazy money. I survived the first week. I had forgotten how political work can be--there was very little of it at my prior job. That's going to take some readjusting to.

Meredith

PL Nunn, Bloodraven, 2007


This was something recommended on the following Smartbitches column:

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/pimp-your-fave/

This novel was recommended by Ann Somerville in her comment on M/M fiction. I sort of like Ann Somerville, not all her stuff appeals but she has a short story on her website called "Slipping Under" that I thought was a real "thinker" of a story. (That story was in my list of "should reads" but I'm not sure who rec'd it. Not totally worksafe, but the kind of story you'll spend some time thinking about afterwards. Some serious social commentary in that one.)

Anyway, I've gotten frustrated with the urban fantasy and romance that's been coming out lately and thought I'd try something new. Somerville talks about Nunn like she's the goddess of m/m fiction. While I wouldn't wholeheartedly agree, this novel was worth the $9 price tag for the ebook. I wouldn't normally pay that much, not after being so freaking pissed off at paying that for Sara McCarthy's Caine's Reckoning, which was as crappy an erotic novel as I've ever read, btw.

Anyway, to spare the delicate feelings of those who read my LJ who have zero interest in M/M romance--though technically I'd call this slash--I'm putting the LJ cut here:

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I'm giving this a B+ but be aware this is a 300 page single spaced adobe pdf file. I'm guessing that; would be about a 600 page book. Leave your weekend open. :-)

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Acheron, Sherrilyn Kenyon, 2008


I'm not Kenyon's biggest fan. A couple of the books I really liked (Night Play and Seize the Night) and a lot of the books fell into the "meh" or lower category (though the Penicula joke is still very memorable--from Valerian's book) but in general I'd pretty much given up on this series and hadn't read the last five or so books. But they had this one at the library and I admit to being interested in what was going to happen to Acheron, and why she needed like 700 pages to make it happen. I wanted to know if he ended up with that one chick from one of the other novels (I think she was one of Appolymi's handmaidens?) but no, he ends up with a human, though at least she's greek, right? 

This was a slog, make no mistake. And it almost got thrown against the wall. Kenyon's always tried to put a lot of pop-culture refs in her stories and she always makes a big deal about Acheron being goth, but I always got the impression her interpretation of "goth" was someone who shopped a lot at Hot Topic and this book definitely confirms it. 

Here's where I checked out completely and almost quit:

Anyway, the book is 3/4 Acheron's life history (picture Zsadist, only with gods) and 1/4 half-assed romance that is not really worth your time. Having said that, there were parts I enjoyed, especially the evolution of his relationship with the heifer goddess Artemis. I thought she did a good job with that. Disappointing was the realization that the series is not complete, which frankly, surprised me. Acheron's happily ever after should be the end of the series. I can't say I care about Nick's ass any more.

Borrow from the library if you have to--but you've been warned. 

M


Ok, so as of this Thursday I will have been unemployed for two weeks. The LR is painted, the foyer is almost done, and there's been a lot of interviewing, otherwise I might have  gotten more done at home.

I'm getting to the point where I'm feeling pressure, though. If this is anything like my last job hunt, I will get multiple offers. But what to do?

Company one: I interviewed with them last time and they made me an offer. I was concerned about the working environment and my boss, and the other opportunity was more interesting. Fast forward two years, and another interview. New department head, seems nice, has good reputation. Another manager from another office sat in and it was pretty much hate at first sight for me. Much discussion by that manager about how the company needs someone who is not going to throw a hissy fit and go behind people's backs when they are told they can't do something--hmm. Does this mean they have someone on staff like this or just let one go? I was also told that if you are the kind of person who likes the computer systems to actually work, you will hate it here. They don't write the type of business I enjoy, and that's a problem. Also they are about a twenty minute walk from the train station, making my commute each way over 1:15. Pluses: this company has a lot of turnover, so there's a chance to move up if you stick around. Also, really like some of the co-workers--I know them socially. I was told that the guy I hated LOVED me and they are doing the background check so my guess is that like last time, I will get an offer after just the one interview. 


Company two: Start up that's only been doing business since May. Small office, I'd be the third person hired. Able to work from home at least part of the time; four weeks vacay to start. Really clicked with the other two employees and the guy who would be my boss. Challenge is that this is not the best time to start a business. I get the impression this company may not be around for long. Who knows. There will be a lot of pressure to write business, since I won't be inheriting everything--all from scratch. Completely paperless. I've had one interview, and two phone interviews, one with the head of the company, who said his boss was "disappointed" in the amount of business written by the new company. This would be an opportunity, if the company can stay afloat, to move up fast and get involved in the type of work I eventually want to do (product development and legal). The only thing is you'd really be fighting to stay in the game, and that the head of the company asked me what date my severance halted. I'm not sure why he asked that but it bothered me.

Company three: This is the job all my former collegues would like me to take. I met the CEO a few months ago and was really impressed with him. I clicked with the guy who would be my boss. The company has a great reputation. Here's the catch: I would be all by myself in the Chicago office. Most of the Chicago business is written out of somewhere else, but they feel like they need a face in Chicago to really ramp up their production. Also, the other people in the Chicago office--other departments--are so quiet. I didn't really click with them. Concerned I would be the odd man out both in Chicago and in regards to the full team in the other location. Lots of talk about how stable the company was, seems like I heard that before, from my prior employer. I'm well aware if they laid people off, as the newbie I'd be first to go. They are flying me out for another interview. Not paperless; but the company is going to be around a long time. 


Company four: Came out of left field today, I have an interview on Wednesday. Good reputation, but has some questionable employees--who knows. 

If you have any comments, I'd be glad for them. In this market it's hard to know where to go--everyone's struggling. I'm lucky to have so many choices--most companies haven't started laying off people and no one is leaving their jobs right now to try something new. I'm tempted to take the job that offers me the most $ and vacation and suck it up for a year or two, and hopefully then the market will have shifted to something better.

M

I can has job?


So Thursday I came into work and was immediately laid off. The head of the office called me in, shut the door, and I saw the HR person and I exclaimed: Oh, crap.

Because "thank god" isn't really the right thing to say in that instance, right?

My employer was very generous, and E and I have been here before (multiple times) so we are totally prepared from a financial standpoint. Now it's just an issue of getting enthused about another job, and putting out the feelers to get one. Given that it has never taken me more than a month to get a new job in my field, I'm not so worried. 

One of the pluses of getting let go as opposed to just changing jobs--everyone wants to help you find a new job, there's no resentment or disappointment in your leaving to go somewhere else. 

Good news for you, though--Book Reviews forthcoming.  I finally have time.

M

Another book meme


I have literally had zero time to do anything lately. This is becoming a major problem, as evidenced by the spazzy way that Sullivan has been behaving (Ozzy's always confused, so that's nothing new). E's been out the door before 7, home at about 8 it seems (last night he came home at 9!). I leave at 7, home by 5:30, snarf down some grilled chicken and rice, out the door for spin class, home, shower, crash, the poor dogs. We're never home. Poor us. I hope this is not a portent of things to come.

P.S. Those who know, E's 39th b-day is today, please feel free to harass and/or drop him a Happy Birthday. I cannot BELIEVE my husband is 39. That is amazing. That just can't be right.  Of course, he never looks his age.  I did manage to find time to make cupcakes yesterday for said birthday which right now is a major accomplishment. 

Anyway, megastoat did another book meme:

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