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Books, TV, standard Wednesday night fun.

American Idol played Steamroller again, so there was no new Bones, which left me with two long and dreary hours.  So I wandered downstairs to sit with Mom and occasionally look up to praise (or more often, insult) the contestants on AI while I finished reading CSI Miami: Harm for the Holidays, pt. 1.  I suppose I should tag a "spoiler warning" before you go any further.  I will not refrain from mentioning plot details and possibly giving away the ending.

My curiosity has been piqued ever since jeremybrettfan flailed in great length about it.  It's true, the author makes a difference, and Donn Cortez is FAN-FRICKIN' TASTIC.  Max Allan Collins can suck my...well, use your imagination.  Prior to her discussion, I had long since made a pact not to read any more crime novels based on the series, because they were just that boring.  And because Collins so fantastically butchered Horatio's character, writing painfully unrealistic dialogue for him.  (Namely, a lot of swearing.)  But then I looked up the new author, and I read chapter 1 online from Cult Following.  It was fantastic.  The very first sentence was full of imagery and figurative language!  I got the book out of the library, read it straight through, and suddenly I wanted to buy it and any other books Mr. Cortez wrote.  Since I have many other things I want to buy, and I go to the library all the time, I have not actually done this.   But still.

Now, as for Harm for the Holidays - holy ****.  There are so many funny lines.  Cortez got a handle on the characters, all right.  His one drawback is that he's obviously part of a conspiracy to make me like Natalia, since her starring role in this book was to explain all about the illegal exotic pet trade, with special focus on the horrible transport conditions parrots go through and how many of them die before reaching the U.S.  The fact that she shed light on this horrific thing won her some points.  I know!  I'll pretend that since it's not show canon, it never happened.

The rest of it...I don't even know what to say.  I'd quote, but I didn't mark any of the pages.  (*hits self*) Ryan's increasing disenchantment with anything Christmas-related just keeps getting funnier, and it's always entertaining to pit Horatio against Agent Sackheim.  I also love the little nuances slipped in, like Alexx's Christmas tradition with her family, or a lovely little bomb scene which highlights the theme of Horatio's eternal guilt.  And I nearly DIED of GLEE at the Secret Santa meeting.  I had to read it twice to confirm that this was, in fact, an actual employee gift exchange and not just something like an evidence-sharing pool going by a themed name.  That was absolutely fantastic.  Dear Show: Please do that at some point in the future. 

Shortly thereafter, I nearly died at the ending scene where, despite having to make an arrest on Christmas, Horatio pulls strings to give the criminal's daughter one last unspoiled Christmas morning with her mother.  See?  This is the sort of clever and heartwarming thing that Collins could never come up with, but rings so brilliantly true.  IN CONCLUSION: One of the best damn books I've read in a while, and lately all the books I've been picking out have been scoring at least a 4/5 on my personal rating scale, so that's saying something.
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House was also sacrificed to AI this week, which meant that after NCIS I got to see about half the boys sing.  Last night my book of choice was Mercy, Unbound.  I won't go into details about that one...well, not many.  Suffice to say it was kind of about a girl with anorexia, but she wasn't trying to get thin - she believed she was becoming an angel (could feel her wings budding at the shoulder blades), and angels simply don't need to eat.  Would have been more enjoyable reading if not for the character's obnoxiously feminist mother.  Author's voice much?

So anyway, now that I've actually heard (almost) all of these people sing...I have adapted my opinions just a wee bit. 
(alphabetical by first name)

Boys
1. AJ is still completely uninteresting
2. I know who Blake reminds me of - Travis on So You Think You Can Dance!  The pretty sweet guy that I'd love to cheer on, if not for his TERRIBLY UNFORTUNATE AND DISTRACTING HAIR.
3. Brandon is all smiley and totally my favorite guy.
4. Chris R = scrubby
5. "Damn you, Clown Boy!  STOP SINGING WELL!" I shrieked, resisting an urge to throw a book at the screen as Chris Sligh performed.  Hard as I tried to block him out, the song was fantastic and his singing was more fantastic and was totally better than anyone else the whole night.  Frickin' A.  He's gonna have to stay, at least as long as he's entertaining.  And more importantly, doesn't win or even get farther than the final threeWhat do I have to do to convince America that this show is supposed to be about rewarding pretty people for their looks??
6. Jared is my mom's favorite guy.  I still call "meh."
7. Nick Pedro is also still completely uninteresting.
8. I forgot that Paul is the weird guy who goes barefoot everywhere.  That's gross.  He is suddenly unappealing.
9. Phil has creepy, creepy intense eyes.  He's like a lizard.  A psycho lizard who might kill you in your sleep.
10. Rudy is ALSO still completely uninteresting, despite his attempts to seduce the camera.
10. Mother has turned me against Sanjaya without meaning to, by repeatedly commenting on his "weird, too huge grin."  She's also ruined my ability to find him cute by repeatedly noting that she thinks he's gay.  Emotional boys aren't cute unless they're straight.
12. Sundance Head NEEDS TO BE GONE NOW.

Girls
1. Alaina is pretty; she's my #2 fave.  I think her face shape is a little bit like Shakira; Mom just thinks she's a classic beauty.  Either way, she's lovely.  And she's the one that cries at the drop of the hat, so I can relate.  Mom says she came out a little over confident in her own abilities, though, and needed to be knocked down a peg (like she was).  I just cringed, wondering when people are going to realize that lyrics are important and you should not choose songs with lines that Simon could exploit if you perform badly.  For example "Notice me" and "I'm special."
2. "[Amy] looks like a mall rat!  Doesn't she?"  asked Mom, and I had to agree.  Also, her voice is painful to listen to, all yowling and scratching.
3. Antonella, my #1, is still beautiful.  And I mean show-stopping, go into modeling if this doesn't work out, and also please pursue an acting career because I want to see more of you, beautiful.  Hers was the only performance for which I sat up and watched in rapt attention.

And since she seems to be getting universally trashed (the women think she's a slut, the guys don't have anything to say except how hot she is), I'm gonna take a paragraph to defend her.  I really haven't seen much of her, but I think she's sweet.  Love her cute answers on the official website bio page; sounds like a typical 20-year-old to me.  Also, being pretty does not automatically label you a slut.  [Edit: DAMN IT, internet, stop circulating photos!  I don't want to see them!]  I *love* that she audtioned the whole way through with her best friend; though said friend was rather bitchy, it's a sweet story.I *love* that she audtioned the whole way through with her best friend; though said friend was rather bitchy, I love that story.  And Antonella is much nicer when separated from said friend.  Did I like her song choice tonight, using stupid Aerosmith?  Absolutely not.  But she has brilliant stage presence and I want her to have another chance.  Preferably several more chances.  But aside from Tamyra Gray and Kelly Clarkson in season the first, the only time this show ever listened to me was when they put Katherine McPhee in the final 2.  And she still didn't win, so I've stopped hoping that people will do what I want.

4. Gina - why must there always be a punky girl with red streaks in her spiky black hair?  Plus her general attitude is giving off a carnie vibe, and I really feel I could go either way on liking her.
5. Haley is forgettable, except that she sang the only song I recognized (and also happen to LOVE) - "All Coming Back to Me Now."  Sadly, I spent the whole time going "Oh come ON!  Put some power into it!  Stop being mousy, you have to put some real FEELING into this song!"  Fail.
6. Jordin is still rocking my world at #3, and I have the uncomfortable feeling she's going to last longer than either of my A-girls.  Well, at least she'll be someone to keep me sane.  I also like her because she's 17.  Remember when this show used to be about young people?
7. Lakisha.   *grinds teeth* Mom is blown away by her voice.  So is everybody else who's not me.  I HATE big voices.  I hate them.  I want them to stuff a sock in it.  I want her to go away.  I stalked out of the room when she came on.
8. Leslie, despite winning huge points for being a) Midwestern and b) a dogwalker, is officially getting on my nerves.  She's hyperactive and crazy.  I hate hyperactive and crazy.  Also, her voice is really, really low.
9. Melinda's head is bigger than Jay Leno's.  I can't even look at her.  Make her go away too.
10. Nicole is boring.
11. Sabrina is boring too, and I could swear that a week ago her page said she was from Minneapolis.  Now that she's not my hometown chica, I feel no connection to her whatsoever.
12. Stephanie is so dull.  Jazz singers are even worse than soul singers.

And now I am off to go watch Lost & CSI: NY, and SVU if I feel up to it.

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