Variant by Robison Wells

Variant by Robison Wells

Flyby Rating ***1/2

I have read Partials by Dan Wells.  I had no idea that Dan Wells had a brother who also writes. My new friend recommended Variant and it’s sequel Feedback by Robison Wells.


I give Variant a 3.5 stars.  It was a unique idea.  The premise: An orphan kid could vanish on a “scholarship to a private school” and land in a world of no adults and mystery, despotism and intrigue.   This book was Lord of the Flies meets Steven Spielberg’s A.I.  The clues to the possible mystery are hinted at but not revealed until the crisis point.  The story is fluid and the protagonist becomes likable, when he becomes the only student at the school curious and tenacious enough to unearth the sickening truth about why they are there.  The fear of “detention” helps ratchet the tension each time Benson, the protagonist attempts to push the invisible authority further than any other student, to find out the truth behind Maxwell Academy, and why the students are there and what is keeping them there. I really liked this YA novel.  It was edgy enough to spark my interest and cleverly crafted enough to keep it.  A bright spot in dystopian fiction done well enough that you don’t care that you are already sick of dystopian fiction.  The characters are not as deep as they could be, but they are deep enough to sell the plot.  I think knowing less about the characters, added to the mystery of the school.  The author could not deliver great character depth among so many characters in the short novel.  Each time depth was revealed in a character, it was done skillfully by using plot as the presenter of character.  The ending of the novel, disclosed another tidbit which boggled the mind, and gave great promise for an enlightening sequel.  Luckily for me, I read this book long after it appeared on the scene, and could dive right into the sequel, Feedback, as soon as I closed the last page of Variant.

Flyby Rating System

* hated it

** didn’t like it

*** liked it and totally recommend it

****loved it may read it more than once

***** impacted by it and will read it over and over


Turkey Traditions

We have this legacy of loving Turkey.  If you don’t believe me read this old post  about how turkey-crazed we are.  My husband’s grandfather was a Turkey Farmer.  We went to visit the old Turkey Farm a few weeks ago.  It was crazy and loud…I finally figured out that maybe I just pick up Turkey Echo in my brain and that is why I forget things and can’t concentrate all the time.  It was deafening.  Afterwards we took a stroll down memory lane, not our memories but the ones of those who came before.  We saw when my husband’s grandpa made the cover of Turkey World and other highlights of his career…It was fun and I got lots of photos of turkeys.

As I look at this photo I feel deaf, because I can still recall the noise  of them gobbling up a storm…

Turkey Cousins.  They have it in their blood.

Anyway I thought I would post about our little visit to the Turkey Farm because it is Nov 7 and we haven’t even had a Thanksgiving Warm Up Turkey yet!

Parenting Nuggets

I went to go Here these people speak. They have a new book called The Entitlement Trap.  If I were to ask you what is your biggest problem with your kids right now, what would it be?  Mine, is that my kids feel entitled to everything they want whether they get it or not and are disappointed bitterly when the answer is no.  I always love a good brush up on parenting skills because lately I have been using carrots an sticks.  Also when they say rude comments about me not letting them play or have something I take it personally. Parenting is definitely not a job where you can take things personally, and survive the career.  So anyway I am so grateful I got to go.  I made the Breadtitan take my kids to the Neighborhood Halloween Party, so I could!  The best thing that I took away from their presentation was that children have to feel ownership of their own things, their disappointments, their failures, their successes and their actions.  Almost everything they do.  You are just their consultant.  You offer them help, and boundaries, but they are free to fail on the small scale now when it doesn’t matter.  You are not there to save them from consequences or their own decisions or little failures.  They have to realize why what they did doesn’t work for themselves.

Another Parental Concern.

They also mentioned when is it right to talk with your kids about sex.  They said eight years old.  They said the research shows that the earlier you talk to kids about sex the later they engage in it.  They said if you present it as a special gift you share with your spouse or as an adult in a committed relationship vs. talking with them about all the negative effects of early experimentation they are less likely to engage in it.

I had a talk with my oldest son about a week after I took this photo, before school started.  He had asked me three questions in one week that could have spurred on the conversation.  I couldn’t wait for the Breadman, (my husband) to be there because he is never around so I just plunged into it.  The one mistake I made was I kept saying sorry because I felt I had traumatized him, but really I was traumatized to have to burst his innocence bubble.  But better me, than the lunch room in middle school. I promise I will do better on the next kid!

Anyway I am Grateful that I had the opportunity to hear the Eyre’s speak and get a free copy of their book the Entitlement Trap!

Fall Haiku

MamaKatslosinit is a blog I have read for about 3.5 years now. It is funny.  Her assignment for writer’s workshop was a Fall Haiku, a type of poem 3 lines with 15-17 syllables.  I had to get some fall photos to go with it.  So I drove up the side of some hills for this photo, and scratched the crap out of my car, and have the emotional scars to prove it from the tongue-lashing which ensued  as soon as the Breadman saw the scratches on my car.  So this picture is worth more than 1000 words.  Many people know I dislike summer because I am finding out my immune system does not handle it very well so this poem is sort of an ode to the revival I feel when it cools down and my allergies settle down.

Why I love Fall

cooler air prevails

allergies all gone

the dying leaves revive me

White Pumpkins are Sexy

I used to abhor Halloween, because I was extremely self conscious as a child and wearing costumes was a bit humiliating, even if it did profit in the end.  Anyway after growing up a bit and having children of my own, Halloween has become one of my favorite times of the year.  Planning costumes, planting gothic decor to match the front of my wannabe gothic looking house are fun, wholesome, recreational activites.  I know copying Martha Stewart isn’t exactly going rogue, but white pumpkins are sexy,   Well either way I love them and I think now going on a few years I have completely banished any orange pumpkins from my porch, and have become a white pumpkin snob!  I am a very visual person so I think stupid stuff like this is more important than it actually is! So there you have it, a little white pumpkin mojo for the season.

The Prodigal Pet: Shaggy Steppin’ Out On Us

This is what I meant to blog about two weeks ago.  We, correction my firstborn  got a turtle for his 10th birthday.  He was ecstatic.  He brought it to school to be manhandled by 28 other 10 year olds.  He played with it from dawn til dusk, whenever possible for 2.5 days straight.  He also let neighbors friends cousins and siblings play with it.  His siblings ran off to play a different game and poor Shaggy, or should I say to Shaggy’s relief, he was FREE!  Free to roam and explore and we never saw him again.  That is why I never blogged, I didn’t have a photo and it’s pretty embarrassing to have a pet for only 2 days before you lose it.  Anyway, we prayed, we searched, then we of little faith moved on with our lives.  We had a full two weeks with little inklings about our beloved first and last pet.   And then it was Saturday again.  Two weeks to the day he had gone missing.  Our neighbor two streets up came running over with a box.  The box had Shaggy in it.  His dad had almost hit it with the car, but instead he rescued Shaggy.  He was very dry.  He seemed drier than when we had him before.  Anyway, our Prodigal Pet had returned.  For non-pet lovers like the Breadman and I, it felt weird to experience such joy.  Don’t get me wrong I am not going to out and buy a dog or even accept a free well bred dog, from a friend with a new litter, but I was glad he was back.


Shaggy Steppin Out


Moose in the Hood

I was at a friend’s house today because we were doing our food club. We learned to make 4 different Thai curry dishes and it is so easy! Anyway, I just happened to have my camera there and my friend just happened to have a bull moose running through their yard, and voila!

Moose in the Hood!




Dipping my toes into graphic design


Ok. Yes, I do covet the talents of you artists out there. So, if any artists happen to run across this you will see the flaws, that am not experienced enough to fix. I know I am highly visual but I am not an artist. After realizing that I can use some tools in Adobe Illustrator to mimic real life, such as these smarties, maybe I have a chance at computer art, but I assure you it probably takes me ten times as long to create stuff as it would a real graphic artist. Anyway, I promised my old primary student a long time ago to make her a little sign for her in house candy shop, where the neighborhood goes for candy. Why? Because I think everyone and everything you do should be marketed well. Why? Because I am a little OCD about marketing. Anyway here it is. And now maybe I will attempt more small projects in the future as the need arises.

A very Cool Cold Storage Door

I went on a blogging free-for-all to free my mind from all it had felt and it felt good.  I think I should blog more regularly for clarity.  It always feels better to un-isolate yourself even if it is only by posting on your blog. Have you seen that toyota commerical where the girl is saying how her parents are anti-social but she made them join facebook and now they are up to 19 friends.  It shows them out biking with a group of older senior type friends and she is sitting all alone on her computer, commenting on how she has 697 friends on facebook.  Anyway I thought that was funny.

Here is a little view into my world and what is happening right now.

This is  my cold storage door.  

My painters, whom I love- they are the coolest group of brothers that work together and do such a thorough and great job and at a great price, gave me some 100 year old barnwood from their grandfather’s property.  They thought they could sell it once upon a time, but then realized it was just laying around, so they gave it to me because I told them what I my vision was for this wall/door.  I had envisioned sort of a french or italian cave thing for cold storage and this is what turned up.  I still need to paint the white around the door and cabinets will be installed very soon.  See the black hardware? Touch the Emtek lock and blue numbers pop up so you can key in the code to get in.  I think it looks old and cool with a modern twist, my favorite combo.

Did I Ever Mention our Exotic Vacations

Did I ever mention how we take the most exotic vacations? Let’s see hmmm this year we hightailed it up to the Lake the day before school started and were back the same night. I mean how effecient can you get? No lodging costs. No boat pymts. No jetski rental fees. It’s awesome. I mean when you do this type of thing, your kids really appreciate stuff like sand and shells and digging. Deprive them as much as you can, because if you do, you will find them bragging to their friends about how great it was, I mean how great their lame, last-minute, guilt induced, day lake trip was, the day before school started. (sidenote: I will say that a good hard day trip definitely wears out kids enough so that there is no hint of preparation anxiety or first day of school jitters. They hit the pillow as soon as we washed the sand out of the cracks and were comatose until morning.) Unfortunately in my neck of the woods when my kids brag about our “unexotic vacations” they are bragging to the kids who have been to disneyland ten times and go on long extended vacations and short weekend excursions as often as we go to the public library. Well maybe they go even more but that’s ok, for now…my little angels do not know the difference!! I just don’t know how long that it will last!!