Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

This is Fred's birthday present to me! I'm so stoked! It's a watercolor by Sandra Lallemand. It is magical! I love it. I found it in a gallery of Dade City artists when I went to lunch with friends up there at Lunch on Limoges (try the shrimp and grits, it rocks!)

Fred and I usually never agree on art, but I knew once I saw this that he would like it too. After all, it is of a tree and we all know what a tree maniac he is! 8-)

So, thanks Fred! I love it.
Thunderbird Falls  (Book 2 of Walker Papers) Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
The first book in this series was not especially fascinating, but because I liked the author's Gargoyle series, I wanted to give it a second chance. I shouldn't have. The entire premise of this book is that Joanne Walker is a dumbass and doesn't know what she is doing. In fact, she has to be so incredibly stupid because EVERY sign points to her being set up and doing a BAD thing. But she doesn't see it. It is outrageously annoying. In the final chapter when she does realize that she has been played for a fool, you are so disgusted with her that you almost wish she would fail and die.

The author has no idea what to do with this series. She gives Joanne a sidekick 73 year old man, but then she has Joanne talk about how hot the old man is and what great legs he has and when they meet in his spirit garden, OH MY....but instead of breaking an age taboo (I mean Joanne even mentions Katherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas as May-Sept. examples) and really investigating that relationship and making something meaninful and real of it, she drops it. She also is very coy about Joanne's relationship with her boss. Does she like him? Does she not? Does he? Does he not? Honestly! Just shoot me. Actually, just shoot Joanne and put this annoying series out of its misery. Joanne is incapable of a sustained emotional connection to anyone in the book and therefore the book suffers and the reader is left not caring about anyone.

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Keeping It Real (Quantum Gravity, Book 1) Keeping It Real by Justina Robson

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow. Excellent fantasy read with hot elf romance. A Quantum Bomb changed the nature of the world when it allowed the other dimensions access to the human world. Elves, elementals, demons and other magic realms are all now connected and there are some (mainly the high elves) who are a bit pissy about it all. In comes Lila Black (half machine, half human) who is assigned bodyguard duty to a rocker elf named Zal. Things are not what they seem, dangerous machinations are afoot and a deadly game has started and Lila has no magic, just an awful lot of weaponry. Robson has a deft hand in delivering deep and interesting characters with flawed emotional landscapes. Their are just enough questions left unaswered that the reader longs for the second book and enough of the mystery/conflict is solved for the book to feel finished and the reader to be satisfied. My only complaint is that it could be longer.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Neil Gaiman is on my list of authors to always read and he has never disappointed me. The Graveyard Book is no exception. What I find so charming about the books he writes for young adults is the way that they appeal to everyone, not just children. The Graveyard Book is reminiscent of Coraline in that way. It is a ....well, I was about to say dark book, but that isn't quite the word, is it? It is more of an opaque book in the sense that there are foggy mists that uncover bits of mystery, humor, thrilling adventure, joy, misery, and ghostly pursuits. There are Hounds of God, Silas, ghouls, bad men, and true friends be they corporeal or not.

This is a lovely book, one that is exceptionally wry and entertaining, action filled, with deadly creatures and a surprize ending. Bod is an engaging boy and as we grow up in the graveyard with him we come to realize that parents and friends come in many shapes and that forgiveness is key and understanding of a person's true nature is necessary for surviving in the world.

I would recommend this book for middle school students and up.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Already Dead by Charlie Huston

Already Dead (Joe Pitt Casebooks, Book 1)
Today, December 19, 2008, 5 minutes ago
author: Charlie Huston

average rating: 3.96 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: 2008/12/01

review: I listened to the audiobook version, which was more of a nuanced reading than a fully voiced reading. It is definitely vampire noir, a dark, gritty read that is uncomfortable and violent and often inexplicable. Still, it is fascinating and leaves questions to be answered that the next book in the series should follow up on. There is a bit of a romance, which leavens it a tiny bit, but only a tiny bit and saves it from being truly depressing in the final chapter. The main character Joe Pitt is very hard to get a read on and you really don't know if he is a good guy or a bad guy or more of a grey guy. I'm coming down on the more of a grey/good guy. The vampire virus angle is a fine one, very refreshing and interesting. As is the idea of the Enclave. Leaves me thinking that more supernatural things are in Pitt's future. However, I will admit to talking out loud to my MP3 player and yelling at Pitt to DO SOMETHING rather than just take it in one pivotal fight scene. So, that means either Pitt can be REALLY annoying or Huston is amazing at creating a character so real that you yell at him to suck it up and fight. I'm still debating that one.

Anathem Anathem by Neal Stephenson

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I listened to this book (almost 40 hours) and I couldn't wait to get into my car so I could get back to the story. Stephenson has always been a favorite of mine based on his cyber punk books. This novel is different in that it is epic sci-fi. Stephenson is brilliant. It is always a bit difficult to jump into a story where the vocabulary is so different, the concepts similar, but all the names have been changed. Stephenson is able to give the reader a framework to hang the new vocabulary off of and does it in such a subtle way that you are gently moved down the road. The story is very complicated and has some amazing gyrations. Stephenson is exceptional in conveying scientific information in such as way as to make you understand. His action scenes are tense and believable. His characters have true relationships with each other, complicated, real-world relationships that grow and develop.

If you enjoy epic sci-fi, if you enjoy a fast-paced mystery that has some amazing plot twists, this book is what the doctor ordered!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen M. Beckett

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
All of those Austen and Bronte fanatics who also loved Harry Potter will find a grown up fantasy and novel of manners in The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. Beckett is able to pull in the gothic elements that made Jane Eyre such a hit and meld them with characters reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice. While a couple of characters do smack a bit of too much "flattery", overall the book is a page turning, gothic mystery set in another world that does have magic.

This book is definitely for YAs and adults. The fantasy elements are more intense and while there is no sex (the romance is sweet and tame) the subject matter is dark and not middle school appropriate. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is wanting a cracking good read! A great gift for the Austen or Bronte fan who also enjoyed Harry Potter.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Booty Call

I found a great pattern for baby booties. The only problem was that there
was no gauge and so the first one I made was for Gigantor's baby (see pink booty next to the green one of a normal booty. The ankle of the gigantor baby must be about 5 inches around! Yikes! But I carried on and did another one with much tighter stitches (a little strain as I am mostly not a tight crocheter) but the results are really cute, I think. I have two friends who have had babies whom I will give the green on and another I am making with a multi-colored Italian thread. The green booty was made with bamboo thread, which is really soft, but tends to unravel a bit and if you are crocheting tight, is a bit difficult to work with. I topped it off with a ladder yarn with sparkly green and blue bits.

Here is a shot of the in progress booty.

I also finished up one of my student's scarves! Woot for me! She selected
a bobble stitch scarf from Fun and Funky Crochet by Sophie Britten. It is made with a soft blue chunky wool yarn and is quite warm. She goes to Northwestern, so it should do its job of keeping her nice and toasty warm. It was a fairly easy scarf to make, but I, personally, don't like the bobble on a scarf unless there is something on the back to hide the indentations. I think this scar is made to be worn so that you flip one side over your shoulder and only see it bobble side up. It's really long. The bobbles are very pretty. I don't have consistency on them, but that is the problem with starting a scarf and then finishing it 7 months later on a pattern you have only done once. I need to make one first for practice, but really, who has time for that? It will have to be "handmade" in the true sense of warts and all!

Mom and dad visited over Thanksgiving and they brought Willow a ver cute hat that should keep her cool when she plays frisbee. She seems to like it pretty well and kept it on while we all took countless photos of her.

Now it is back to cleaning out the Holiday decorations to get the tree up.Yea Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Something Really Gross and Efficiency

Today was the errand day. We have to get the house ready for the holidays and do lots of sprucing up. So today, we went and bought a lovely teak bench for outside by the pond. Then we dropped off my anklet to be fixed. Then we popped by the mall where Fred tried to do some shopping and was generally unsuccessful, or so he said. I was very successful, finding several great deals and one gross object. As I was scouting around from xmas present bargains, I also spied some great deals on lovely pants and took them in to the dressing room to try them on. One was a lined, white linen pair of pants. When I went to try them on, I looked down as I was stepping into them and saw that some grotesque woman had tried them on, while on her period and evidently had bled all over the lining. GROSS. What kind of person does that? Tries on clothes while leaking? Good lord. If you are trying on clothes and you BLEED on them, you had better buy them. But no, this cretin hung them back up, put them back on the rack and calmly walked out the door. I hope this evil deed catches up to her.

In other matters, we found a lovely fabric to upholster Fred's grandfather's chair. We should have it back before Christmas. We returned the non-functioning LED solar lights and went by Costco to search out good wines. Then it was back to the house to decorate. We get the tree tomorrow and then it is off to the singer's concert and Amy's concert. Should be a lovely day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Allergies or Colds?

I'm worried that I am becoming allergic again. I was allergic to everything that bloomed in Arizona. I was one of those little old ladies (WAY before my time!!) who always had a kleenix shoved up her sleeve or in her pocket. Man, was it annoying. Then came the move to Florida and no alleriges. Imagine waking up and not making grotesque noises in the morning complete with accompanying...well, the less said the better. It all amounted to a great time. But now, I have itchy eyes, watery eyes, scratchy throat and .....where are those kleenixes. I'm off to the allergist.....