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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home For Unusual Children

I liked this book. I liked the concept, I LOVED the way the way the pictures tied the story together, I liked most of the characters, and the story had some really good points to it. I liked it enough that I would read another book in this series, should one be written. That being said, I finished it feeling like there was something lacking. I'm not sure if it was that the suspense wasn't built quite enough in the parts that needed it, or it's because the ending was too abrupt, or because so much of the story's potential was left unexplored. This book has all it takes to be something great, but about halfway through I started to feel underwhelmed. So much so, that I'm thinking about reading it again just to make sure I got it. I feel kind of like I missed something. So, I'll give you the really quick and dirty version of what happened:

Loner kid loved his grandfather in spite of grandfather's strained relationship with loner kid's father due to grandfather's general craziness

Family drama is implied

Grandfather dies


Loner kid wants closure and to find out what grandfather was wildly ranting about and to figure out weird clues left by grandfather

Loner kid and father travel to Wales for bonding, bird watching, and so loner kid can find a place his grandfather talked about

Loner kid finds Miss Peregrine and her unusual children, finds out truth about grandfather and his craziness

Things get violently killed, monsters that most people can't see are on the loose, space/time continuum has a loop, weirdness that can only be explained by reading the book happens, loner kid finally fits in somewhere

Loner kid has to decide between staying with his family and being unhappy or running away and saving the world

Monsters! Eek!

Loner kid (now no longer a loner) decided to run away with unusual children to try to save the world.

Giant gaping opening for subsequent books

The end

It's a good story, but not greatly written- but since 1) it's better than anything I've written and 2) it's this guys first book, I'm more than willing to read more when it becomes available. There's a lot of really good concepts in this novel, and the more I think about it, the more I think I'm going to read it again sometime. It bothers me that I can't quite pinpoint my dissatisfaction, and I'm willing to admit it could have been due to my own mindset at the time. But first, I need to get back to the H.P. Lovecraft I've been reading.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Army date got pushed back and other adventures

Well, my Army date got pushed back a couple of months because of an orthodontic device I need to get removed. Specifically, a screw in the roof of my mouth. Or, as I like to say, "My orthodontist screwed me in the mouth and now I can't join the Army."

The screw gets removed next month, and then I'll get to go to basic training in November. A minor setback. I should have posted this episode of blogginess sooner, but I've been really busy wasting time on Facebook.

Since my Army date got moved, I sold my car to cover the cost of child care so we can keep the girls enrolled so they don't lose their spots. As such, I've been trying to make myself be more active because 1) I totally need to work on that anyway because I'm joining the Army and 2) I should probably step foot outside of the house once in awhile.

Aside from paying for some child care, selling my car also gave me money to get the screw removed, new tires for the spousal unit's car (it SERIOUSLY needed them!), running shoes with toe pockets (sorry for not following your advice Lauren... but it's like shoes that are TOE SOCKS! *squee!*), and...... I GOT A GOLDEN TICKET TO SEE 30 SECONDS TO MARS!!!!! (Jared Leto- om nom nom nom) So, after my Army date unexpectedly got moved, my favorite band coincidentally added a Honolulu tour date, my car that had been up for sale on craigslist for about a month was coincidentally found by a woman who "totally LOVES" that make and model (which is weird... it was a Ford Taurus stationwagon.) so I coincidentally had money available to buy tickets to MEET my favorite band on the month I'll be turning turn 30! That's what a Golden Ticket is- I get to meet the band, watch the concert from the side of the stage, get some limited-edition swag, and I get to be onstage for one of their songs. I'm so excited I can't contain myself! I'm 30 going on 13!

In book-related news, I did read a book and I liked it, but I'm not going to review it yet. My brain's not in book review mode and I have to get ready to spend the day with my friend Racheal. She's a glass sandblasting artist and she's going to teach me how it's done. I'm so excited to get to learn how to do a new thing! 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two Nice Reads With Reviews That Don't Do Them Justice Because I'm Losing My Marbles

Ok, so I've pretty much been slacking on my reading. I've been reading very little, and (obviously) blogging even less.

The first one up is Lunar Light by Penelope Fletcher. Lunar Light is a nice, erotic, warm and fuzzy love story- except that by '"warm and fuzzy" I mean the protagonists have a habit of turning into giant hairy beasts that eat human flesh. And they prefer to be cold, not warm.

There's a lot of fictional beasts that consume humans out there these days, and I was skeptical about reading ANOTHER love story about some werewolf/vampire/zombie junk. Well, I can promise you that there is nary a zombie, vampire, or werewolf (per se) to be had! And nobody falls in love with their dinner! I was pleasantly surprised! These are violent, people-eating beasts that actually VIOLENTLY EAT PEOPLE.

Don't get me wrong, I read (and enjoyed reading) all of the Twilight schlock, but the more I thought about it, the more the inner cynic in me pictured it as being about as likely as me having an all-consuming love for a freshly-baked cookie, stalking it while it slept, endangering my life for it, and then refusing to eat it. Yeah. Not likely.

Like sex and violence? Like vicious werebeasts? Then give this book a read. I read it quickly (almost like devouring a freshly-baked cookie) and people who are grammar Nazis or overly picky might find tiny details they don't approve of (I can't think of specific examples, but remember seeing a couple of little things as I read) but they can just stuff it. It was a fun, quick read and I liked it.

Next up is Immortalis by R.S. Emeline. This story revolves around a variety of people who have a genetic predisposition to immortality, and their need to 1) continue producing immortal offspring 2) protect their immortal offspring and 3) remain undetected by society at large.

This is a story directed at young adults, but written in a way that it can be easily enjoyed by regular adults or immature adults such as myself. There's mystery, mayhem, and magic, gods and goddesses of varying religions, and truly unique characters.

This is the first on a series of four books, and I am really looking forward to reading the others. The bad news is that I don't think it's been published yet- I got my grubby hands on a copy because I know the author (and she is amazing)... and you can find her here!

...and now to the part where I'm losing my marbles. I signed up for the Army, and I leave for basic training in just over 3 weeks. I'm on the verge of freaking out. I'm going in to learn a foreign language (I know none, unless 'sarcasm' counts) and I'm hoping to get a bachelor's degree while I'm enlisted. I KNOW, with all my heart, that this is the best thing I can do for my family and myself. But I've never had to be away from my kids, so I'm freaking out about leaving them. And I have a TON of things I need to get done, and none of it is doing itself (of course). And, mostly I'm just freaking out about being away from my kids. I want to eat an entire cheesecake, drink a bottle of tequila, and hide in a closet (or similar dark, quiet space) for the next three weeks. Turns out, that isn't an option. I'll try to do at least one more post before I leave, but if you don't hear from me check in the closet, pantry, or other dark, quiet space... and send tequila. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Metropolis by Brian and Melanie Jackson

First, I need to apologize for dragging my feet on posting... again. Things have been interesting- I had house guests from out of state and I enlisted in the Army. I leave for basic training in August. I'm going in to learn signals intelligence and linguistics, which means I get to learn a foreign language- I'm so excited! And nervous! And excited! I'm going to have to be away from my kids for long periods of time, and my heart is already breaking over that. Being away from them will definitely be the most difficult part of this whole adventure. But I'm doing this for them- to help stabilize our family's finances, to be able to send them to college, to give me a chance to learn some things about myself so I can be a better mom. They are my world, and I will sacrifice anything to do the things I feel will be best for them in the long run. For me, they are the reason the sun rises each day, and the fate of my world rests on their well-being. But enough about me.

Metropolis is, quite simply, a great book. In between this and The Demon Girl I have officially become addicted to indie literature. Indie lit has fewer calories than Ben & Jerry's, and is twice as satisfying! There are some AMAZING stories out there, just waiting to be read! I get giddy just thinking about it. Oh, right- back to the book. Let's try this again.

Long story short: Metropolis is the first book in the Book of Dreams series. It has everything I like in a book- gripping story line, relatable characters, wonderful descriptions that make the world visible inside your mind... It's just awesome. It's  a perfect balance of dark, weird, and wonderful- and it has a strong female lead, to boot! Let's enter the Narcoscape, shall we?

Nicodemus (Nic) Smith is a dream retrieval expert. She can traverse the entire world of dreams (the Narcoscape) with the greatest of ease (well, sort of) and bring people who are stuck there back to their bodies- such as people who are comatose. Needless to say, her job is quite specialized and people who don't understand it aren't always receptive to the idea. But she's mostly ok with that. Dream retrieval is a job her family has done for generations, and she's the last one available to still do the job. Her parents and husband are dead, and she has no children. Her Aunt Gertrude is all she has left, and she's in a care home due to her ever-deteriorating mental capacities.

One day, a mysterious stranger shows up to her office and asks for her help. Everyone knows that mysterious strangers are usually nothing but trouble- and this one is no exception. He's a Freudian- a member of a powerful, elite group of psychologists who don't believe in Nic's work. So why is a Freudian risking being blackballed from his organization (or worse) to come visit Nic?  Because something from the Narcoscape (which, until very recently he didn't believe in) had come across and driven his dear friend to madness, and is now after him. And his (now deceased) friend believed this entity is responsible for a number of unexplained suicides. Naturally, she thinks this sounds ridiculous. Sure, the Narcoscape is a whole other world full of infinite possibilities- but it's all just dreams. Dreams can't come wakeside, right? Right? Yeah... about that.

In this book, you will find the following: Horrifying monsters of various description, San Francisco, intriguing detectives, evil mayors, a car chase, gun-wielding psychopaths, cowboys, red grass, a hole to another dimension, an amazing sports arena, an awesome batty old lady, hot cocoa, parts of ancient Egypt, and many, many other things of note.

Read it. Right now. Stop what you are doing, and pick up a copy of this story. DO IT!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Dear Japan,

I don't know you, but I've always been a big fan of yours. I am as deeply pained by your suffering as an outsider can be. This whole scenario is unfathomable to me. I didn't know that earthquakes could get so big! I am at a total loss of words over this event.

I wish to express compassion and empathy, but words fail me. I am silenced both by the tragedy of this event, and by the awe that the damage wasn't worse. If a quake like that struck Hawaii, where I live, I'm pretty sure we'd be almost completely wiped out.

I wish I could wrap my head around this so I could be more proactive in what I can do to help. I'm just stunned. Every time I think about the damage, the loss of life, I feel like I got punched in the stomach.

I may not know you, but I know people over there. People I used to work with. I hope they're ok. I hope you're all ok. I want to hug you all, make you some soup, wrap you in blankets, and tell you that we're going to get through this.

Stay strong, Japan. I don't know you, but I love you. Get better soon. I will be looking for ways to help. You are a strong, innovative country filled with resilient people. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and may all of those who didn't make it through this tragic event rest in peace.



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

This is my second attempt at writing this installment- the first time, my wonderful children were both climbing on me and my youngest pushed some magical sequence of buttons that caused my entire post to vanish, and I was unable to retrieve it. I could have gotten mad, but instead I took it as a sign that it wasn't one of my better posts and I should try again. So here I am, a few days later, trying to do this wonderful story the justice it deserves. I know I will fail, too. I've accepted that. Not because of my mediocre blogging skills, but because this is one of my most favorite stories of all time. This and its sister story, Through The Looking Glass. But that one will get its own post. Oftentimes, the two are combined when a film is made, and unless you take the time to read them both, it's easy to get things mixed up. Both are wonderfully weird and fantastic.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carrol) was a literary pioneer and genius. He boldly went forward into the realm of literary nonsense, and forever carved his own place in pop culture by opening up the world he found there and giving us all access to it. I love nonsense. I love it the way I love fine chocolate and the smell of my best friend's childhood home, and the smell of books; the way Hippies love patchouli oil. I love the way it feels to stretch my brain and my imagination in new ways, and the kind of pure, innocent humor that comes with the sublimely weird. I love it because it's funny without being harmful or critical, and because it makes my over-analytical brain take a break for a change. It lets me escape from my daily life for a bit, and come back renewed and full of new perspective.

Many of you are surely familiar with the basic storyline- Alice is getting a history lesson outside on a lovely day. She is bored, and easily distracted. Suddenly, she sees a rabbit run by, clothed, holding a pocketwatch. She chases it, follows it to a rabbit hole, and falls down. The fall is impossibly long, and it seems nearly an eternity before she lands. When she does land, she finds herself in a strange room with a little door with a beautiful garden on the other side and a bottle of strange liquid labelled 'Drink Me' on a table. After deciding that drinking mystery fluid from random bottles seemed like a good idea (as a child, this fascinated me, as a parent I find it horrifying!) she shrinks down to a little size, small enough to fit through the door. Except the door is locked. And the key is on the table that is now huge to her. She gets frustrated, but notices a cake that has 'Eat Me' written on it. Naturally, she decides that eating random baked goods of mysterious origin is a good idea, so she eats it and becomes ginormous. So large, in fact, that her head hits the ceiling and she sees no hope of becoming small enough to go through the door. So she cries. And cries. And, being giant, floods the place. She grabs a fan which makes her shrink again, very small. She, along with many other creatures, get swept away in the flood of tears. And things get weirder from there.

In this book, Alice encounters many unusual characters, including my favorite literary character of all time, the Cheshire Cat. She also meets the Mad Hatter, March Hare, Duchess, Mock Turtle, Caterpillar, and the Red Queen and Red King.

General weirdness ensues and by the end of the story Alice is quite fed up with it all. The Red Queen shouts "off with her head!" But Alice, unafraid, calls out the queen's minions as being nothing more than a pack of cards as they swarm her. Alice then wakes up to find that it is leaves falling on her, not cards swarming her, and her sister is trying to wake her up so they can go home.

This is a fun read for when life gets too serious. It lets you escape to a place so weird, that your own problems no longer matter- and when it becomes time to face them again you can do it with gusto, and take heart knowing that there's a way through it somehow because everything is exactly as it is meant to be. After all, if it was meant to be different, it would be, right?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Time Machine

Today I'm reviewing The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. This is a truly great piece of classic Science Fiction. The story revolves around a group of people listening to the narrative of a man who claims to have invented and used a machine that allowed him to go into the distant future and view the fate of mankind.

Long story short: The Time Traveler uses his machine to go into the much distant future, and when her gets there he sees an evolved form of mankind called the Eloi, who are peaceful, simple, and seems to be free of social class or suffering. He observes their behavior and goes out to explore the nearby area. When he returns to the place he left his time machine, he discovers that it is gone.

He begins to panic and searches frantically, only to figure out that it has been placed inside the pedestal of a nearby statue. He examines the pedestal, but can find no way to pry it open, and he ends up spending the night there. He notices the Eloi become agitated at night, and he catches glimpses of white, apelike creatures which the  Eloi call Morlocks.

Being as the Time Traveler and Eloi don't speak the same language, he can't figure out what the Morlocks are or why the Eloi are terrified of them- he only knows that they are very pale, very agile, and only come out at night. He grows curious about them, and tries to find one to get a better look. He manages to follow one, only to see it climb down a tube that lead underground, which leads him to believe that the Morlocks took his machine.

One day, the Time Traveler saves an Eloi woman, Weena, from drowning. After she is saved, she follows the Time Traveler around, placing flowers on him and showering him with affection. He tries to get her to explain the Morlocks to him, but she grows agitated at their mention and he learns nothing. He decides to climb down one of the well-like tubes that lead underground to find the Morlocks, find his machine, and get back to his own time.

Once underground, he finds a sophisticated network of tunnels and machinery. He finds some Morlocks while they are eating a meal of meat. This strikes him as unusual, since there are no cattle and the Eloi eat fruit. That's when he realizes that there are no old Eloi. No sick Eloi, either. The Eloi ARE the cattle! Realizing his danger, he barely escapes the Morlocks without becoming their next meal.

During his escape, he finds that matches are a useful tools against the Morlocks because they are adapted to the dark and the bright light of fire blinds them. He also realizes that he's been wasting his matches, and has very few left. He decides to journey to a large ruin in the distance in the hopes that it will have some means to make fire so he can find a way to get the Morlocks to give him back his machine and hopefully find a way to help protect the Eloi.

The Time Traveler and Weena make it to the ruin, which, as it turns out, used to be a museum. He finds some useful items against the Morlocks, and starts to head back. The Morlocks pursue him and Weena, There's some struggling, and an accidental forest fire which kills off a number of Morlocks and Weena.

When the Time Traveler makes it back to the statue, the pedestal is open and his machine is visible. He climbs in, and the Morlocks close those door, thinking they have him trapped- but the Time Traveler hops on his machine, fires it up, and gets out of there in a hurry.

He goes further into the future, sees a mostly dead world with a giant red sun, really thin air, and some large aggressive crabs. Then he decides its time to go home. He goes back to his time, tells his story, and most people don't believe him.

This story touches on a lot of social issues not highlighted in this review. It is a story which makes you think, and that is my favorite kind. It is also a story which has managed to stay relevant over a hundred years after it was written, and even though it is a bit short you still get a deep feel for the characters. I recommend this story to anyone who wants to broaden the way they think of the fate of our species- and I think it should be required reading for anyone who claims to enjoy science fiction. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Life, strife, and suffering

Are you comfy? You cozy? You snuggled up next to your computer with a warm cup of coffee like I am? Good. We're lucky. Not only are we just lucky- we're AMAZINGLY lucky. I believe, with all of my heart, that if we, as a species unite to help each other we are unstoppable. I've decided that I'm going to occasionally list causes that I'm supporting along with information and links to be able to donate. I can't make you care, and I can't make you donate- but I can't enjoy my cheap coffee with a clear conscience if I don't at least try.

It's hard for me to just think of just one cause to start with because there are so many wonderful ways we can all contribute to each other's well being, so I'm going to start with the last cause I donated to- Habitat For Humanity, specifically, the chapter of Habitat for Humanity that is supported by The Echelon (read: awesome huge fan base/family) of the band 30 Seconds To Mars.

I'm an Echelon member myself. Partly because their music is awesome, partly because of Jared Leto's extreme sexiness, and partly because of all the causes the band and their fans support. The Echelon House (HFH's 30STM group) is responsible for the building of 24 houses all over the world- that's 24 houses built by the fans of one band. Can you imagine what could be done if every major band put their backing to causes like this?

I recently chatted on Skype with the primary founder of Echelon House, and I can assure you that there's wonderful plans for the upcoming year: houses for people in flood-ravaged Australia, houses for people still displaced by the Haiti earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people last year, houses for people in places where you forget there is suffering.

As I sit here in this townhouse, it's easy for me to think about how much I hate the carpet or how I'd rather be somewhere else- but when I think about all of the individuals and families who don't have a place to call home, I become overwhelmed with gratitude for the things I have and I feel my desire to help others start to boil over. It makes you think about how lucky you are, and when you feel grateful for who and what you have around you, you treat people a little nicer, laugh more often, and cultivate compassion for the people around you.

Donating, no matter how small, makes you feel this amazing gratitude and compassion. When I'm having a shitty day (or I want to beat someone's head in with a frying pan because they're a moron) my whole outlook is changed when I donate to something I believe in. Sometimes it's only pocket change. The economy blows and money doesn't go as far as it used to. But $.01 donated by each of us could, literally, change the world. So, the next time you're out and you see a donation jar, put a penny in for me. Regardless of what it's for, that penny is going to help someone who needs it. And the gratitude you feel expands not just with the amount you donate, but with the cause you choose.

Here's a link to The Echelon House. Each donation makes a difference, no matter how small.

If you're on Twitter, The Echelon House would like you to nominate them for a Shorty award for their cause.

If you love photography and want to support a good cause, Jared Leto's book of photos from his time spent helping Haiti can be preordered/purchased here, and 100% of net proceeds will be donated to help people in Haiti:

Thanks for reading, and happy helping!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

His Robot Girlfriend by Wesley Allison

This is another free book I read on my ipod Apple iPod touch 32 GB (4th Generation) NEWEST MODEL I'm totally digging this whole 'free books' idea. Or, as my husband puts it: "Don't you EVER put that thing down?!" The only problem with e-books is that you don't get that wonderful book smell. If any of you know where I can get book smell perfume, I will love you for life. Seriously. Ok, enough B.S. Let's do what we came to this shady corner of the internet to accomplish!

The official book blurb is: "Mike Smith's life was crap, living all alone, years after his wife had died and his children had grown up and moved away. Then he saw the commercial for the Daffodil. Far more than other robots, the Daffodil could become anything and everything he wanted it to be. Mike's life is about to change."

Although that sums things up quite nicely (as book blurbs often do) it doesn't really do story justice.  

Long story short: Mike Smith's life is crap. He's widowed with two grown children who are out of the house and busy with their own lives, he's a chubby, lazy school teacher with few friends and no real life. This book is set in the relatively near future (which is done very well, I'll get to that in a bit), and Mike decides to get himself a multi-purpose robot companion to help with household chores, companionship, and his sexual needs. He designs and purchases his ideal robot companion, and when she arrives he names her Patience.

Patience becomes Mike's chef, maid, lover, landscaper, financial analyst, gym partner, friend, and savior.  She changes his diet and gets him to work out, she organizes his house and sells his junk on ebay, and she helps him cope with tragic memories he's suppressed deep withing himself. She even risks her 'life' to protect him! She has some very human traits (shoe fetish!) and it is easy to forget that she's not human. So easy, in fact, that Mike develops a genuine love for her. This, of course, is not well-received by a lot of people- and this is also what makes the story pull at me. 

Once you get past the futuristic robot concept, this story is about one man wanting to marry the person he loves - even though most people strongly disapprove of people marrying robots . This part of the story doesn't show up until the end, but that's because you need to read the stuff before it to become attached to the characters. And the characters are easy to get attached to. 

The environment that Wesley Allison creates is so realistic that you can easily visualize the future he writes about. It's quirky, fun, and totally believable. The writing style is easy to read, and I laughed out loud several times throughout the story. I have only one gripe: the predictable and abrupt ending. But, to be honest, I can totally understand it. I just wanted the story to keep going. 

I really enjoyed reading this, and I plan on reading more of his stories since I saw there's a bunch of free ones on iBooks. I'm a book whore- it's what I do!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher

See? I told you I would blog again soon? ;)

I got an iPod Touch for Christmas, and The Demon Girl is the first book I read on the iBooks application. It was a free book with a pretty cover and an intriguing title, so I decided to give it a try.

Long story short: Rae Wilder is a Disciple in a world where humans have been nearly wiped out. An event, called the Rupture, caused all kinds of previously repressed beings (known as Demons) to come out into the open. The list of Demons contains all the usual suspects: vampires, were-beasts, and fairies. There's also witches, which are humans who are sensitive to the Source (as in source of life, source of everything- source of power for the beings in this book) who are shunned by normal human folk and are generally considered bad. Humans have walled themselves up in self-contained city/compounds to protect themselves from the Demons who run wild outside.

One morning. while out for a run, Rae finds finds a way through the wall that protects her and the humans around her from the murderous chaos of the demons outside. Being brave and foolhardy, Rae sneaks outside into the unknown, where her life is changed forever.

There's a lot to this book, so I'll just say that you will find yourself immersed in the following: love, hate, interspecies romance, blood drinking, human sacrifice, beheadings, fancy powerful jewelry, pretty wings, were-cat things, naked guys, not naked guys, tattoos, tribe wars, and an interesting plot line.

When I got to the end of the book, I was excited to see that it's going to be a series- I am eagerly anticipating the next installment!

There were a few bad things about this book- but none of them are story-related. I notice a lot of wrong words (wrong forms of the word to/too, various other mix-ups of homophones) a few misspellings, and some confusing grammar/sentence structure. Once you see past all of that, however, it is a truly engaging read.