Suite People and Adios Arizona!

The first part of this post is for people to reference who are coming with me for games in the suite. The amazing @MandaGator wrote up this itinerary for me to share on the blog for easy reference for the suite people. Hehehe the suite people. Ok I’m incredibly excited! Leaving tomorrow! Ok here’s Manda’s itinerary and I’ll throw in some sentences below.

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Itinerary

*Opening Day, Monday March 31st
Those who have been invited to the suite will meet @Raynaadi at Gate 4 at 1pm, (if unable to meet @ that time contact @MandaGator for alternate arrangements).

After a visit to the suite, @Raynaadi & Jayden will be available to visit with #RaysTwitFam while exploring the new 360 outfield area and possibly feeding the cownose rays if time permits prior to opening ceremonies.

*Game 2, Tuesday April 1st
Join @Raynaadi & Jayden on Ferg’s back deck a pre~game cock or mock tail & socializing from 4pm ~ til gates (approx 5:40pm).

Those invited to the suite who are not at Ferg’s will meet just outside the rotunda @ gate 1 @ 5:40pm (if unable to meet @ that time contact @MandaGator for alternate arrangements).

Pre~game @Raynaadi & Jayden will have more time to explore the Trop and socialize in the 360 area.

*Game 3, Wednesday April 2nd
Times subject to change
Join @Raynaadi & Jayden @ Ducky’s in Tampa to indulge in an epicurean sensation from 2pm ~ 4pm.

Those invited to the suite will meet just outside the rotunda at gate 1 @ 5:40pm (if unable to meet @ that time contact @MandaGator for alternate arrangements).

Pre~game @Raynaadi will be on~field for batting practice so look for her & Jayden talking to Longo, DP & the Skipper!

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What began as a silly conversation on Twitter has turned into the trip of a lifetime and Manda has been with me every step of the way in the planning process, listening to my concerns and silly worries, laughing and sharing excitement, taking care of all the logistical stuff since she knows Tropicana Field like her own home. I can’t thank her enough! She has stepped into the role of my “scheduling coordinator” and done a fantastic job making me feel like a rock star on tour! I have a feeling this post is the first of several thanking those who have been such an integral part of making this once in a lifetime dream come true. Manda, you are such an incredible friend! I’m so grateful this trip has brought us even closer and I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow!

Yes, tomorrow! Jayden and I are getting on a jet plane and blowing this popsicle stand! Weeeee!!!! I am so incredibly excited this morning I literally had to tell myself to slow down, don’t get worn out today. I’ve done pretty well with pacing myself while getting ready for this trip. I’m feeling pretty darned good *knock on wood* and I can’t wait! Am I going to meet Evan Longoria? Will I get to tell him in person that he is the reason for all this? Wow I can’t even think about it!

Ok, off to post this and get all my Friday stuff done. I probably won’t be posting while on the trip but who knows. I meant to post about all the preparations but yeah that never happened haha! Tantric (that’s my code name) is soon to be on the move!

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“Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore – narrated by Fisher Stevens

I think the narration of this book ruined it for me. I can’t even really describe what bugged me about it, other than I just got so sick of hearing the guy’s voice. He seemed to take breaths in really strange places, sometimes making me feel like I’d start to hyperventilate. You know when someone needs to clear their throat, it makes you want to clear your throat? This guy made me want to do some meditative breathing. It’s like he was inserting commas where you know there were no commas. He just drove me nuts! You know what? He almost sounded like my screen reader during long bits of narrative! Also the production of the book wasn’t very good. There would be random bits of Indian music that would make me jump since I wouldn’t be expecting it. It wouldn’t always be placed at the beginning or end of a chapter! And sometimes when leading into the next chapter there wouldn’t be a pause at all. It’s just a shame.

On to the actual book, it was entertaining. Biff is resurrected in present times to write the gospel of what Happened to Jesus between birth and teachings. The book points out there’s about a thirty year gap in Jesus’ life in the Bible, which I had never thought about. I don’t know the Bible except for some of the big stories like obviously Jesus healing the blind and sick, walking on water, etc. I was in a Passion Play when I was sixteen, so I drew on my knowledge of that production a lot.

“Lamb” follows Jesus, called by his Jewish name, Joshua, and his best friend Biff as Jesus realizes he’s the Messiah but has no clue how to be a Messiah. So he and Biff set off to find the wise men and what follows is an odyssey of two boys growing into men, their loyal friendship to one another and what it’s like to grow up when your life is preordained.

Joshua stays true to what must be done to be the Messiah and everything he cannot partake in, Biff indulges in with gusto so Joshua can live vicariously through him and understand what it means to be human. When it comes to women, Biff um, most definitely indulges.

I found it to be an entertaining story of what might have happened to jesus in all those unaccounted years. While I’m sure devout followers of Christ would have a hard time with a lot of it, like Jesus using the f-word for example, I think if you have an open mind coming into this book you’ll enjoy it. When the story nears the end, it stays true for the most part, to what happened in the Bible, offering an interesting possible explanation to the resurrection, sort of. I found it emotional as it showed what Joshua went through and what his friends and followers went through at the end. I just wish I could have read the print version like my friend Chupa is going to do. She’s actually the one who brought this book to my attention.

After “1984″, I needed a book to make me laugh and this definitely made me laugh out loud many times. I just wish the narration and production had been better.

Rating: Meh

“Lamb” at Audible ~ “Lamb” at Amazon

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“1984″ by George Orwell – narrated by Simon Prebble

I did not like this book. Not because it was poorly written or badly narrated. I just did not like it. I did not like the way it made me feel. I did not like the overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I did not like the torture. I did not like the condemnation of human beings.

This was the ultimate dystopia. Was it perhaps the first dystopia? I don’t know enough about classic literature. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting. I mean everyone has heard of “1984″ right? All Apple fans are familiar with Apple’s Macintosh 1984 commercial right? (I just got shills playing that video btw)

I suppose I should have known this book was kind of a horror novel before the likes of Stephen King. Why did I think it was about crazy spying computers? Why did I think it would be a good follow-up to a book I adored about hacking? I don’t know. I was so glad when it was over though. *shudder*

Now I understand the tweets I’ve read expressing outrage at some 1984 movie making it a love story. It is most definitely not a love story. Sure there’s a man and woman in the book who are physically attracted to one another but that’s far from a love story.Rats. Oh the rats. *Not* a love story.

The fact that Orwell was so ahead of his time is the astonishing part. The brands of technology he predicted would take place in 1984 was no where near what did take place but the oh must take a break because my iPad just started speaking from the other room right as I was about to mention the telescreens and now my hands won’t stop shaking if you’ve read this book you know why oh no oh no I must stop this now how to even assign a rating since I just did not like it because it was absolutely terrifying ok if it forces such a response then it gets a rating above entertaining oh no I can’t believe the iPad talked when I was looking up telescreens.

Big Brother Is Watching.

Rating: So good!

“1984″ at Audible ~ “1984″ at Amazon

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“Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted hacker”” by Kevin Mitnick and William L. Simon – narrated by Ray Porter

This was another Audible Daily Deal. I tell ya, those daily deals have introduced me to some fantastic listens! In the tweet about the deal, they mentioned Kevin Mitnick’s Twitter account and I followed him right away. He’s a fun follow if you’re into hacking jokes and geeky stuff.

When I finished “The Godfather” I thought, what on earth can follow that? I decided anything I read after that would be a letdown so I figured Ray Porter doing some non-fiction was a safe bet. Was I pleasantly surprised! The book begins with a forward from The Woz ! After I finished the book I went back and listened to the forward again since the first time I heard it, I didn’t know The Woz wrote it. Also at the end of the book, I had a full fledged crush on Kevin Mitnick. Sorry B. And Josh Groban.

What a talent this guy is! What a brain he has! I mean the stuff he pulled off in his illustrious hacking career read like an action packed suspense novel, not a life story. this guy was hacking the city busses when he was a kid and grew up to hack companies like Motorola!

He used a blend of social engineering and computer skills to accomplish his goals. What exactly were his goals? To extort millions? To steal coveted software for his own personal gains? To get girls? Nope. He did it just for the challenge of it. Not for the girls. So I guess I’m weird.

Kevin Mitnick was a very well known name in the nineties but that was when I was a distracted teen so I don’t remember him. After I finished the book I went on an internet stalking spree, finding everything I could on the guy, listening to interviews with him, talks he’s given. After he did some prison time he became one of the most sought after security consultants on the planet. His story is truly remarkable.

Free Kevin!

Rating: Marriage Material

PS – Did you know you can whistle into a phone and launch a nuclear war? Bwah ha ha!

“Ghost in the Wires” at Audible ~ “Ghost in the Wires” at Amazon

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“The Godfather” by Mario Puzo – narrated by Joe Mantegna

Have I mentioned how much I love the Audible Daily Deal? I’m not sure I ever would have thought to read “The Godfather” if it hadn’t been a daily deal. This book was just incredible! I mean, oh man, this is one of those books it’s hard to talk about. I never saw the movie, so I didn’t know the story at all. In fact I had it confused with another Al Pacino movie because I kept expecting him to be sitting behind a huge mound of cocaine. Was that Scarface? I never saw that either. I remember a boyfriend I had in high school was really into all the mobster movies but they were too hard on my innocent sensibilities back then. Now though? I find the mob fascinating. Is it safe to type that in a blog? Hmmm.

Anyway, this book. Wow. In a lot of ways it reminded me of the Song of Ice and Fire story arc. You have all these families that come out of peacetime and begin to war with each other. And in this world of organized crime, while you know you shouldn’t exactly root for any of them since they’re all committing crimes, you naturally root for the Corleone (pronounced two ways, Cor-lee-own or Cor-lee-own-e) family.

You’ve got Vito “Don” Corleone is the head of the family and is the Godfather. We learn about his humble beginnings and how he got into the life of crime. We follow his three sons and wonder along with the Don who will take over eventually.

That’s as much as I’ll write about the plot. If you haven’t seen the movie then the book will be chock full of surprises. At one point I shouted, “no!” at a turn of events I should have seen coming but did not. Actually twice I did that. Oh man this book was awesome.

When I finished it I started the movie, playing parts of it here and there over a few days to draw out the experience with the family. So so so good! Oh and the audio book narration? Excellent! They got a man with a great Italian voice. Excellent!

Rating: Marriage Material

“The Godfather” at Audible ~ “The Godfather” at Amazon

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“Stormfront” (The Dresden Files Book 1) by Jim Butcher – narrated by James Marsters

My dear friend Amanda has been trying to get me to read the Dresden books for I don’t know how long. Finally she took matters into her own hands and gifted me the first book for my birthday. I’ve used that tactic before. If you want someone to read a book you love, buy it for them. It works every time!

We’ve talked since I finished this book so she knows how I felt about it and assures me the series gets better as it goes along. Honestly the production of the audio book is to blame for my less than stellar feelings towards it. Marsters audibly breathes. A lot. I mean there is excessive breathing. You can also hear pages turning at points. The breathing got so distracting it took away from the story. Amanda tells me the narrator was an actor in the Buffy the Vampire TV series so she thinks the transition to audio book narrating was a little rough. She assures me he gets better as the series goes along.

Don’t get me wrong, the book was entertaining. Harry Dresden is a wizard in the every day world of Muggles. Oh wait, that’s a different series. He has a private detective business. Magic must help with that for sure, but he struggles to pay the rent each month. He is sometimes called upon by the police department to help them with odd cases that might involve magic or sorcery. In “Storm Front”, he’s called to the scene of a vicious murder that has the police stumped. Harry begins to work the case along with a second case his business has set up. Gee, I wonder if the two cases will be related? Care to take a guess?

It was fun though. Harry is sarcastic and witty and he has an assistant in his basement lair that is just an old skull with a spirit in it. I’ll give this series a shot since Amanda loves it so much but I think The Grimnoir Chronicles have me spoiled as far as adults who can do magic are concerned.

Rating: Entertaining

“Storm Front” at Audible ~ “Storm Front” at Amazon

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“Lady Almina” and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy- of Highclere Castle” by The Countess of Carnarvon – narrated by Wanda McCaddon

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, being a huge fan of the TV show, Downton Abbey. Until I heard of this book I never knew the show used a real place and real people as inspirations. “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey” tells the story of Highclere Castle and Almina who was the fifth Countess of Carnarvon. The book begins with the story of how Almina came to be married into the Carnarvon family, her dowry saving the Earl’s home just like Lady Crawley in Downton. The current Countess of Carnarvon wrote this memoir using old letters and diaries as references. It is so fun to see parallels between the historic and fictional!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lady Almina’s husband was highly interested in Egypt and ended up discovering the tomb of King Tut! When I was a kid I was enthralled with ancient Egypt so I very much enjoyed that aspect of this book. It was also just fun to be transported back in time and be among ladies in pretty dresses. The narrator was delightfully British, fitting the story perfectly. There’s another book after this one that I plan on listening too. Such fun!

Rating: So good!

“Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey” at Audible ~ “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey” at Amazon

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“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan – narrated by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl

Oh man was this book fun! And heart wrenching. And hilarious! And touching.

Two teenagers named Will Grayson happen to meet through a series of unlikely events and two lives begin to mingle in what becomes an incredible story of love, loss and personal discovery.

The two narrators do alternating points of view of the two Will Graysons in alternating chapters. It’s a fun formula that keeps the story moving and both narrators nailed each part. There was a particular scene I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I had walked to the couch with my bluetooth speaker and sat right as one of the Will Graysons discovers a terrible betrayal. I literally sat on the edge of my seat, still as stone until the tension evaporated with some comic relief by one of the other characters I adored, Tiny.

The emotions narrated into each well written character made the story of these high school kids come to life. I laughed, I nearly cried, and when it ended I applauded. Oh, did I mention the high school musical? Maybe that’s why I applauded. The story got me in the mood to clap. Plus it was just really really good!

I just loved how I was so annoyed by one of the Will Graysons in the beginning and loved him at the end. Every character seemed to go through some important emotional growth in this story and you get to go right along with them. I couldn’t put it down!

Rating: So good!

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” at Audible ~ “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” at Amazon

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“Six Years” and “The Innocent” by Harlan Coben – narrated by Scott Brick

I started writing the html code for this post on March 2. I’ve been awake for awhile already this morning, thanks insomnia, so I’m going to try and use the extra time to get caught up on blog posts.
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So when I finished the Song of Ice and Fire books and craved some Scott Brick, I tweeted:

@Raynaadi After that epic series I was in the mood for some @ScottBrick, but which book? Oh! @HarlanCoben, no freaking brainer.

I picked “No Second Chance” and the morning after I finished it I got this mention:

@ScottBrick @Raynaadi @HarlanCoben Ooooh, hope it was Six Years, that one freakin’ ROCKED!

WoW! I replied:

@Raynaadi @ScottBrick @HarlanCoben It was No Second Chance. I was in tears near the end. I’ll do Six Years next. Thanks!

To which he tweeted:

@ScottBrick @Raynaadi @HarlanCoben Excellent choice!

“Six Years” was crazy! Imagine if someone you fell in love with during a whirlwind romance suddenly told you she was marrying another. Imagine going to her wedding to see it with your own eyes. Imagine her telling you to leave her alone and never contact her. What would you think? Wouldn’t you wonder if you had done something wrong? You think back on all those incredible days and can’t wrap your head around why all of the sudden she’s marrying someone else. You keep your promise though. You don’t contact her. You think about her every day but you keep your promise.

Then one day six years later you run across something on a news crawler that quickens your heart and makes you break your promise. And everything you thought you knew turns to incomprehensible mental molasses. I found myself questioning my own sanity while listening to this book. No wonder Scott Brick said it rocked. I wonder if he questioned his sanity while he narrated it. Harlan Coben is a master! I can’t wait for his new book which I’ll be getting when my new Audible credits come in. Check out Coben talking about “Missing You” here.

Rating: So good!

“Six Years” at Audible ~ “Six Years” at Amazon

“The Innocent” was the end of my Coben binge. I’m not sure if I had just gotten used to his formula after listening to several so close together but this book just didn’t quite do it for me. A man goes to prison for awhile for a crime he believes he’s innocent of and yeah, while I can see his point, I had to agree with the sentence. He gets out of prison and falls conveniently into a nice life with a beautiful woman who he just happened to meet back before the “incident”. Low and behold things aren’t always what they seem and he’s suddenly plunged into a mystery that threatens to unravel his new wonderful life. I just couldn’t quite buy this one. I couldn’t quite care enough about the characters. It just fell a little flat for me. But hey, as Joe Maddon likes to say about “ugly wins”, “they can’t all be oil paintings”.

Rating: Entertaining

“The Innocent” at Audible ~ “The Innocent” at Amazon

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“Into the Storm” by Larry Correia – narrated by Ray Porter

I had preordered “Into the Storm” since the author of my beloved Grimnoir Chronicles wrote it. It was the first book I’ve ever preordered and I was thrilled when Audible emailed to let me know it was available in my library.

“Into the Storm” is set in a purely fictional world in what seems like ancient times but is it? Apparently the book is based on a game but not being a gamer, I’d never heard of it. It sounds like there will be more books in this world which is good.

Correia is so good at telling a fantastical story mixed with action, awesome inventions and unexpected humor. You immediately know and like all the characters.

In ‘Storm’, a group of rejects in the military is formed to march off to war. When you need numbers, even malcontents are valuable. This was Police Academy meets Armageddon meets Saving Private Ryan meets Game of Thrones. It’s narrated by Ray Porter who is one of my favorite narrators. I listened to this book in a day and a half since I was stuck in bed in a nasty fatigue. Best part of nasty fatigues? Why, audio books of course! I can’t wait for the next installment of this series.

Rating: So good!

“Into the Storm” at Audible ~ “Into the Storm” Amazon Kindle

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