Friday, August 28, 2009

Look What I Made!

I had seen this saying on the web somewhere and just loved it! I thought it would go perfect with another old watercolor Bette painting I had found. And since I love mermaids, I felt the saying and the picture would go well together. It was my first attempt at soldering. Granted it isn't the best, but eh... not bad. 

This picture was printed out by my computer and I placed it between 2 microscope slides. I then foiled it with copper foil and soldered it with some non-lead solder. You can find that at most crafting places, but I got mine at Etsy. I really enjoyed this and I think that I might just do more later when I get the technique much more professional looking. Otherwise I guess family might figure out what they "could" get for the holidays. ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stray (Werecats #1)

Stray by Rachel Vincent is a novel about werecats. At first, the book starts out a bit slow. I wasn't too happy at first at Faythe', the main character, story. She came across as very whiny. As the story progressed, I did realize that this was actually perfect characterization. She was so obsessed with not being heard, not taken seriously, she didn't do the same to those around her. That is perfect. How many people, including ourselves, do exactly that? How many of us become so blinded by our own lives we forget others? So, I felt, upon reflection, that the characterization of Faythe fit perfectly. As the book progresses, her blinders come off and she starts to grow up. She starts to see that she has been heard more than she thought possible and that she had yet to see those closest to her weren't the monsters she thought they were. 

Within this realization, not is all calm. She confronts her biggest fear, captivity. As she comes face to face with this fear and finds herself more worried about those around her she becomes more of a leader than she thought she could. This section of the book becomes very fast paced with a lot of action. What happens, I will not reveal as I feel it would spoil much of the book. I will say, however, the resolve left a couple of questions with me which was not answered in the ending of the book. I'm not disappointed as there is a hint that there is more to come. Since there are more books in this series, I'm sure some of those answers will come. This book is definitely worth a read and I'm looking forward to reading the next in this series. 

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wicked Lovely Series Giveaway

Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely books are part of a giveaway at Free Book Friday for Teens. There will be 6 autographed copies to be given away. The winner picks which book they win. There is also a podcast at the site that has reader's questions for the author. Don't forget to enter before 8/28/09. This series is Marr's YA tales of faeries. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

At Grave's End (Night Huntress #3)

At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost is the third in the night huntress series. This one takes place not too long after the last book left off. In this tale Bones has an offer he can't refuse, so to speak. He aligns himself with his grandsire and they take on a woman of incredible power. It's war and the vampires in the world must chose sides. 

This book was one I actually did not look forward to reading. I had heard some bad reviews, but I really can't understand it except to say they wanted more of the relationship between Cat and Bones instead of all the action they were getting. I, for one, was not disappointed in the least. In fact, I would consider this book the best of the three so far. Great action, good character development within vampire politics. It was a very interesting and fast read. Plus, I finally found myself liking her mother for once. That was nice in itself. Even the character of her mother was not left out and was developed further as well. 

Within the twist and turns of the novel, you might be prepared to bring a tissue or two during the reading toward the end, but I assure you, that the ending is worth it. I can't wait for the 4th book which came out last month. I am so sorry I can't read it right now. Someone get me a copy quick! :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress #2)

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost is the second in the night huntress series. I don't often read one book after another in a series, but for this one, I made an exception. I hated the way the last one ended. So, I HAD to start this one to make up for it.

This book starts 4 years later. Cat has made a new life for herself fighting vampires and leading a group of men she trained. They are very good at their job but something is missing in her life. After "serendipitously" meeting Bones's maker and letting him go, her life starts to change, but is it for the better? Bones also makes an appearance not long after she decides to date others. She meets him in all places at a friend's wedding. Things don't go smoothly, but yet their love finds a way and they plan together to keep everyone safe, especially Cat.

So, with a "missing" father who still rules a part of her life and a very "interested" master vampire who Bones knows well wrecking havoc on their lives, they must find a way of mixing Cat's new life with their rekindled romance. The twists and turns keep for a fast and interesting read. Lots of action as well as the epiphanies within the mystery keep the book moving. This book is a must for those who love action with a smidgen of romance within. Great second book to this series. Of course, I recommend it. 

Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld Books

Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series will continue with book 11 and 12. These books will feature the character Savannah and are titled "Waking the Witch" and "Spellbound". People had thought the series had ended at #9 and were happy to find "Frostbitten" for #10. I'm glad the series is continuing and hope it keeps going! Congratulations, Kelley! Keep up the great work! 

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress #1)

Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost is the first in her night huntress series. It introduces you to "Cat" a half vampire/human hybrid who, in the beginning of the book, trying to find herself. Hard when you are the only one of your kind and have been brought up with a mother's guilt for just being who you are. 

She starts out trying to prove that she is good and worthy of her mother's love by killing the things that her mother hates, namely vampires. Along the way she meets "Bones" and a whole new world opens up for her. This was not an easy task as she had to resolve her own prejudices about vampires that had been ingrained within her. The reason this is hard is because Bones is a master vampire willing to take her on as a student to teach her ways of killing vampires. His lessons are hard, but in the end she finds a way of accepting who she is and who he is as well. All seems like a hitman's fairytale as the two main characters fall in love. Of course not all is well and the book does not end with a sigh.

Does she keep her new found sense of self? Do Bones and Cat "live" happily-ever after? Exactly what could come between them? Sorry, don't want to spoil the book for you, but let me say, this book is worth a read. It leaves you wanting to read the next in the series.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wisdom of the Heart

Henry Miller often provokes many emotions in people. Depending on the book or books that they have read. I've always loved his collection of essays, "Stand Still Like the Hummingbird". So, I couldn't wait to finally get my hands on a copy of this book, "Wisdom of the Heart".

The first three essays in the book were quite good and got me hooked. Essentially they were about his philosophy that you must lose something of yourself to find something. To embrace the pain to find the pleasure. Right on track on his writing of my other favorite book from him.

Unfortunately after those brilliant essays, he turned back into that angry man who I met briefly in "Tropic of Cancer". That was a book I really couldn't get into. After a while the anger took over and it was hard to read the philosophy in what he was trying to say. All you felt was anger. So, needless to say I became quickly disenchanted with several of the essays after, "Reflections on Writing". I was hoping it wasn't the only 3 essays that I would like. So, with trepidation, I kept reading. 

He finally got back to the writing I've come to really like when I read, "Into the Future". He was back to speculating on artistic life by comparing DH Lawrence's concept of the Holy Ghost with those in history that personify it. It basically asks the question that do artists have to suffer for their art? Is it a necessity? Although Miller seems to have answered it to his satisfaction, I'm not sure he has done so to my satisfaction but I did enjoy his journey into the question.

In the end he explores Balzac and what he considers to be one of his pinnacle works. His essays just didn't have the same flair and philosophy I had come to expect from Miller. Still, he comes off with the philosophy that an artist must suffer for his work and then overcome that suffering to surpass even his own ego. I'm not sure I buy that, but it is an interesting philosophy.

In the end, I did not enjoy this essay book as I had with "Stand Still Like the Hummingbird" which is still one of my all time favorite books. His anger in "The Wisdom of the Heart" is very obvious and the book doesn't seem to string the essays in a cohesive way as my favorite book. I'm disappointed, but still have my favorite on my keeper shelf.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Excuse Me, but I Have a Bit of a Rant...

Most of the books I'm reading now are what are generally called, paranormal. I've always loved "monster" type of books as well as films as a young kid. I feel like I've recently had to do a lot of catching up in this genre because I didn't know so many great books were being produced. Why? Well, because most were placed in the "romance" part of the book store. That is a part of the store, I really don't visit.

Many of these books can also be listed under fantasy and/or urban fantasy categories as well. Now why are these books being placed within the category of "romance" when it is NOT the main focus? Some don't even have any romance within the book at all. It mostly consists of action and adventure. I hate to say it, but I really think it is true in this case. The reason you find so many of these books listed there is because they are women writers with women as their main character. Now, in the bookstores defense, I do say that many of these writers also write bodice-ripping romances, but their paranormals are quite different and should be treated different. 

Let's take one of my recent reviews, "The Circus of the Damned". It was practically all action and mystery and not much of anything else. In fact the only almost date the main character had in the book was cancelled. Yet, I have seen this book in the "romance" isle on-line. Male writers do not always just write about action and adventure. In fact their main male characters also have a bit of romance (not just sex) on the side. So, that is why I have to come to the conclusion that if you are a woman and your main character is a woman expect to be placed within the romance genre

Why does this all bug me? Well, for one, I missed many of these great books. In fact I had to find them because YA was coming out with some good paranormals. This then lead me to writers who write for the YA as well as adult. I've also noticed many other people are in the same boat as I. So upset for missing so many good books. Also, it makes it harder for men to get involved with so many of these great women writers. I have only seen a few, and those few really enjoy what they are reading. It just doesn't pass their radar since you rarely see a man in the romance section looking for paranormal adventure.

What to do? I'm not sure. This was only one reason I decided to start this blog. To let a few more people know about these great writers. There is also others looking for ways of getting these writers more out to the general public. I hope it succeeds. These are fun and great reads.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kelley Armstrong YA Book Giveaway

Another book giveaway is going on for Kelley Armstrong's YA series, The Darkest Power. There are 3 signed copies of "The Awakening" or "The Summoning" will be given away. It will be the winner's choice as to which book they will receive. The giveaway is at the Free Book Friday for Teens. It will end on Friday, Aug 14. So, get those entries in before then. While you are there, read the Q and A with Kelley Armstrong about the series. Enjoy!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tricking Out the Dog

As some of you might have noticed I added "101 Dog Tricks" by Kyra Sundance to my currently reading list. I've been wanting to do more training and really have no inclination to enter a obedience trial. Now, don't get me wrong, I love to watch obedience trials, however, doing obedience in military precision is not my cup of tea (or bowl of dog biscuits?). Anyway, I do eventually plan on doing dog agility and have enjoyed that in the past, but any dog agility enthusiast knows that a well behaved dog is a good agility dog. So, what to do? Ah trick training! Of course there are other more beneficial ways to get a dog prepared for agility, but trick training encourages the relationship with your dog. It also teaches your dog to listen to your commands and watch you for proper signals. Things also useful in agility training.

One reason I picked this book is the way it trains. It uses positive reinforcement. Basically in dog training there seems to be 2 main schools of thought. One is positive reinforcement/ training and the other is dominance training. The two schools of thought are exactly friendly with each other and each believes that they have the absolute answer to all problems in dogdom. One very specific and valuable evaluation tactic I have used to look at each school of thought is not just how obedient the dog appears, but how interested and engaged the dog happens to be while performing for the trainer and how it is during "down time".

Let me more specifically explain what I mean. Recently at a public event a group that trains in a dominate fashion (including using shock collars as was advertised on this group's web site). Looking at their dogs I did not see bright happy interested dogs. Their eyes seemed dull and their body language did not look like they were having any fun at all. This was not during an exercise, but during "down time". I went up to them to ask about their tunnel (used in agility training) and to see what kind of philosophy they ascribed. They were themselves were very short with me as they surveyed my dog, who was brightly inquiring their setup (but not misbehaving), my treat bag, and my clicker (used in positive dog training). I was able to ascertain exactly which method they employ by how they acted to me as well as how their dogs dully acted toward them. It was confirmed once I went onto their web site. Now, perhaps you can ascertain exactly why I tend to gravitate toward positive reinforcement rather than dominance training. I do not wish to break a dog's spirit to gain "control" over my dog. I'd rather have a bond with my dog and enjoy him with all his spirit in tact.

Now, back to the book. I haven't decided exactly what I will train but it has reminded me of some basic things I need to work on a bit better. Within a day my dog has already held his stay better. Perhaps I'll work on fetch next. He's not the best at fetch. He just doesn't understand that bringing it back to chase it again is fun. He'd rather stand and squeak what ever I've thrown out to him. I may try to blog our progress in future posts. Wish us luck.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Summoning

You have a chance to win Kelley Armstrong's YA book, "The Summoning" by tweeting about it and filling out the comment box at Darby Speaks blog. There is an interview with Chloe Saunders the lead character in "The Summoning" at the blog. Check it out!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Circus of the Damned

This is the third installment in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. As with the other two, this one also had a strong kick-ass woman in the lead. We find out a bit more of Anita and the monsters that exist in her world. There is also a suggestion that Anita has even more power than we have been so far been lead to believe. This is may be shown in the next books but have yet to be determined for me.

Anita's nemesis and lust interest, Jean Claude, the vampire master of the city actually bugged me in this book. He knew the way to get Anita to see him as, at least, something more than someone who is her antagonist, but refuses to rise to that level. This behavior also makes sense in the characterization of Jean Claude as he is also seen as very egotistical. There is also an introduction in a new love interest for Anita in Richard, the science teacher. I think he will make things either more interesting or more complicated for her life as the series progresses. Of course with all those choices in her personal life, she has paranatural murders to help solve, and two new master vampires to fight. Both very old masters and one of the master vampires who is impossibly old. She also encounters more werewolves and a Lamina who is an ancient "mythical" snake-like creature. 

There is one thing I would like to say to future readers of this book... if you can't stand to be around snakes, be aware... there are plenty in this book. From mythical snake beasties to images of real snakes. Had to put that one in for my mother. :-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Paperback Swap

There is a great place called Paperback Book Swap or PBS for short. What it is, is exactly what the name suggests... a place to swap books. How it works is that you get a credit every time a book successfully reaches it's destination. You swap the credits for books. All hardcover and paperback book covers are all one credit each. All audiobooks are 2 credits each. You can get deals by going into the Bargain forum and can often get 2 or 3 books for one credit. You can also try to send many books to one address via media mail so it makes getting credits cheaper. 

I personally have been a member since last year. I've loved it. It's so much cheaper than buying the books and you can keep books as long as you wish. Once in your hands, it is yours and you do not have to return the book like you do at the library. Now, the books do have to be in "good" condition which is defined more specifically on the site, but generally means that the cover is intact, there are no stains on the pages and no water damage. 

It's a great place to try out and you get 2 free credits once you list 10 books. Happy swapping!