17 December 2013

My Eye

At school today, the little one I work with started to become concerned. She was looking at herself in the mirror and crying. Once she was calm again she wiped the tears away and grabbed a paper towel. Back in the classroom all of her classmates were worried as she pressed the paper towel under her eye.

"What is wrong? What happened?"

She looked at them and replied, "My eye was leaking."

09 October 2013

Good News

I don't know why, but I am always hesitant to share good news.

I have another book deal with Fox Hollow Publications . This is with a publisher from Midway, Utah. They are a new publisher but their first book is estimated to come out in November-ish. I am happy to say the other two announced authors are good friends of mine. I have read parts of one book and all of the other and I am stoked. They are awesome.

The book they accepted was my futuristic urban fantasy called FUTURE OF LIES. It is what I refer to as my bounty hunter story. It is one of my favorite books I have written. I don't have as much work to do on it as well. I will keep y'all updated as I learn more.

Fox Hollow Publications

Trouble by the Foot

I am not especially tall. In fact, out of a family of 7 I am second shortest (I guess I should accept the fact that my younger sister is taller than me). Granted, short in my family is not actually short. I am 5'8"-ish. The trouble isn't my height, but rather my feet. As my great-uncle would say, I would be taller if I wasn't turned under so much. I wear size 11-12 in women's. Usually I purchase men's shoes. That works really well until I have to find dress shoes to wear with my dresses. I don't mind wearing some heel, but I prefer to wear shoes I don't wobble in. For some reason the dress shoes available in my size are bland loafers, stiletto hooker shoes, or boots that don't fit around my calves. Some shoe stores don't even carry my size. When I find a pair of shoes I like I hold on to them for dear life.

This weekend I went looking for trousers. (Something else I hate looking for . . . I guess I should say I hate shopping, unless it involves cooking equipment.) While I was at the store I decided that it couldn't hurt to look. It was a boot sale, which depressed me. I wandered to the aisle that had my size and picked up a boot. It fit. I was so excited. Granted only one style fit, but it was a style I like. I bought them. I am so excited. I now have a pair of knee high black boots that are comfy and I can wear them with my costume.

It amazes me the small things that can brighten my day. Like a child at school saying I look pretty. . .

02 October 2013

Banzai!

Last week I said I might post pictures of our costumes for anime banzai. I am actually feeling positive about them so I decided I would. For those who don't know, Moose and I are going as characters from the anime series, GUNDAM WING. I am pleased to say that I don't have as much work to do. I still have to make our trousers, but the trousers don't have trimmings so they shouldn't take too long. I have roughly 2 1/2 weeks left to finish them.

And now for a side note. Lately, when my friends learn I am making costumes for an anime convention they say "Have you seen HEROES OF COSPLAY?" This is a show on SyFy that follows dedicated cosplay artists as they tour around conventions. (If you are interested there are three episodes available on the SyFy website.) These people are crazy. They build insane costumes in less than a week. And Moose and I are hooked. Granted as we sit in our living room sewing and trying to build things out of cardboard with hot glue, we feel rather inadequate. Yet, every year my costumes get a little better. In ten years I may be comparable to what they do.

So back to the costumes. I have posted the actual characters and then what I have accomplished so far. My coat looks better on me than it does on the hanger, surprise surprise. Moose's costume is missing the buttons. I still have to do the fancy shoulder details as well. All-in-all, I am quite pleased. The other nice thing is that my costume is actually quite comfortable. I think this is the best costume I've done for myself.



As a side note we also watch PROJECT RUNWAY and FACEOFF. Between all of the shows we've gotten really good ideas for different aspects of costuming.

25 September 2013

Best Friends Forever

Working at the Elementary has been very rewarding these last few weeks. There is something about kids that just make me happy. I help out at lunch and afternoon recess on the playground. There are a couple of kids that are never too far away from me. They are always running up and telling me to watch them or what they just did. One young man will follow me around about every other day. I turn around and he is about ten feet away. He doesn't talk to me as much as the others but when he sees me looking he smiles.

I also ride a bus twice a week to be on hand to help a young girl if necessary. She loves to sit next to me and chatter away. I feel bad because I have a difficult time understanding half of what she says because of a speech impediment. Yesterday I had her sit with some girls her age because I thought it would be good for her and the other students. Another girl sat next to me and made me promise to be her new best friend forever. She taught me a secret handshake and everything. Today when I rode the bus she did the handshake again, nearly crushing the young man who was sitting next to me.

I thought about becoming a teacher. For the first year in college I was actually in the elementary education program. I decided to change partly because I was so sick of the classes, and because it seemed that there were more students than there would be opportunities. While I am not disappointed in the path I chose, I am glad I get to work in the classroom for at least a little while.

And the last scary thought. I learned today that I am older than some of the parents in the first grade class I help in. I never thought about the idea that I could have a seven-year-old. So maybe that is why Moose and I are going for 7-14 children.

Next week maybe I'll have pictures of our banzai costumes. I feel so far behind and yet I know I am further along than in previous years. And I don't hate mine quite as much . . . but I haven't made the trousers yet.

18 September 2013

Flawed

This last weekend was the annual Fall Conference for the League of Utah Writers. I am pleased to say that things worked out well. Now my job really begins. I am really nervous, but I think I have a good start. I just need to keep up the momentum.

I was listening to the soundtrack of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at work today and it reminded me of some experiences I had in school. When I was in elementary I had some music teachers that I didn't always agree with. One teacher was telling us about the different instruments. When she got to flute she told us that it was part of the brass family. I raised my hand and tried to politely explain that I thought the flute was a woodwind. She said no. I said my older sister played the flute and I was pretty sure it was a woodwind. She changed the subject.

The second experience I remembered was when I was in fifth or sixth grade. We had some guests come to talk about operas. I remember raising my hand and asking about THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. They told me it wasn't an opera because the person who played Christine could never sing the whole range. That whenever they played the songs the highest notes were pre-recorded. They then went on to talk about THE MAGIC FLUTE. I was miffed, but didn't say anything. Now that I am older and look back on the situation I realize their logic was more flawed than I realized. I know THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA isn't an opera, it is a musical. But the reason they gave was stupid. If someone can sing the Queen of Night Aria from THE MAGIC FLUTE, they can sing the part of Christine.

The Queen of Night Aria

04 September 2013

It's a Small World

Last week I got a new job. I am now working at the local elementary as an aide. I have been there a few days and I love it. There is something satisfying about being around little kids who are happy over small victories. So when I was interviewing for the position I was really nervous. I sat down at the end of a table and there were five other people in the room. They all went around and introduced themselves. One name sounded familiar but I was so nervous I was just trying not to forget my own name.

Once the interview was over the lady across from me asked if I went to Burton Elementary. I was shocked and said I had. She laughed and asked what my last name was. When I told her she excitedly told the others that I was in her first class. At that point I remembered where I had heard the familiar name. She was my third grade teacher. It was a lot of fun to catch up with her. Because of this teacher I went to a special satellite school and ended up skipping a grade and graduating from college 6 days before my 21 birthday. I can't even image what my life would have been like if I didn't have this teacher.

Working with children frightens me but at the same time, I know that this job will be more rewarding than any of the other jobs I've had before. I also know that it might be the most emotionally difficult job that I've ever done. I guess this is just another way that maybe I will be a little more prepared for having children in the home. I don't think I will ever be completely prepared, but I can hope.

28 August 2013

My Head's a Whirl

This week has been full of changes. Some of them were expected, others weren't. Due to the fact that we are going to be getting children any day now, I realized my career was not suitable for being home for kids. I started looking for other possible jobs. Last week was hectic and yesterday my labors bore fruit. I have a new job, and I am keeping my old job, temporarily. That change was wanted and needed.

The change that was unexpected was the fact that my publisher had to close their doors. My first thought was that I hoped they would be able to find jobs. I have made several friends and I know how scary it can be being unemployed. I have been rewriting my novel this summer and had a goal of finishing it by the end of September. I am well on my way, but I would have cut it a little close for comfort. I am proud to say I have never missed a writing deadline. When I received news I was oddly relieved. I am sad that my book will not be on a shelf, but at the same time, now I have more time to dedicate to it to make it good, plus I don't feel bad working on other novels.

Moose has already asked when I am going to submit again. It may be sooner than he thinks. . .

23 August 2013

Pillow Pets

Our cat, Pooka, has developed a taste for luxury. She has always loved sheets. When we make the bed on Saturday she is always in the middle of it, sitting on the sheets. When we got our guest bed we got new sheets. Some may argue that the new sheets should be for the guest bed, but we decided we wanted to get our money's worth out of them. They are soft and silky, and Pooka loves them.

Pooka has learned how to get her own piece of the luxury. Moose can't sleep if something/someone is touching him. So, Pooka climbs up to the top of the bed and stretches out. Moose, not wanting to be touched, scrunches down. A few minutes later, Pooka inches down and then stretches again. This process continues throughout the night. It seems once every week or so I wake to see Pooka curled up on the pillow and Moose curled up at the bottom of the bed trying to keep from being touched.

14 August 2013

Purchase Price

This weekend my brother, Bubbo, and his wife, Bluey, came to visit us. They wanted to get out of the heat and spend some time with us. While they were here they introduced us to a show they enjoy called PERSON OF INTEREST. It has been on the air for several years now and they had purchased the first season because they enjoyed it so much. As Moose and I have been watching it, we came to the conclusion that it would be a series we would enjoy owning.

My boss and I enjoy similar books and shows. On Monday I to her about PERSON OF INTEREST and she said she was surprised that we hadn't watched it earlier. When I mentioned that we would buy it she was shocked.

"You know basic cable doesn't cost that much. Why don't you just subscribed and you can watch them as the air and save money?"

I clamped my jaw shut and turned back to my monitor.

Let's do a little math, shall we?

If basic cable is only $20 a month that equals $240 a year. Moose and I buy used or late. (If you wait a year to buy a series it normally drops in price.) Moose and I own 8 seasons of NCIS. I know I didn't spend more than $30 dollars a season. That equals, at most, $240. Granted we only buy shows we know we are going to re-watch. If you don't like reruns than spending the money on cable may be the right choice but we get more of our money's worth by using the free streaming sites and spending our money on the shows we like.

It all comes down to what each person considers valuable. For Moose and I, we will stick to adding DVDs and Blurays to our shelves.

07 August 2013

Out to Eat

Moose and I watch a lot of cooking shows including: Mystery Diners and Restaurant Stakeout. One of the things they always mention is that you have to keep the customers happy. Moose and I like going on dates including going out to dinner. We have been impressed with several restaurants over the years.

CAFE SABOR, Logan - One night we were forgotten after we got our drinks. Then Moose's meal wasn't fired when mine was. The manager came over and apologized profusely. They comped Moose's meal as well as gave us a free dessert.

GATEWAY GRILL, Kamas - We ordered a steak to split between us. We asked for an exfra plate so I could have a surface to eat on. They brought out the steak already split. They had two plates and each had a full serving of sides. They did not charge extra even though they gave us more food.

And the most surprising COSTA VIDA, Logan - For those who haven't been, Costa Vida is fast food. We showed up one night to be told they had run out of rice and it would be ready in twenty minutes. We wandered around a nearby store and came back. When we sat down with our food a cook brought us a free dessert and thanked us for coming back.

We are more willing to go to a restaurant if the service is good, even if the food is better somewhere else.

31 July 2013

Certified

Monday I checked our mail to find an envelope from the Office of Licensing. My first reaction was sheer terror. When Moose arrived home I had him open the envelope why I kept cooking. Moose read the letter which stated that we are certified to have no more than two children from Foster Care in our home. I was surprised. Part of me thought we wouldn't get certified for one reason or another. I thought I was nervous before but it doesn't compare to the scared excitement I feel now. Every time my phone rings now I wonder if it is about a child who needs a home. I joke that at least if I were pregnant I would have nine months to prepare for a child.

We needed a place to put the certificate so I put it in a sheet protector in my piano book. Speaking of my piano book I got some new music. I am a sucker for soundtracks. When it comes to piano music I really like learning anime soundtracks. I've decided the reason is that they are adventurous and most people haven't heard them. Playing songs people already know is just asking for a comparison, even if it is unconsciosly. I have a new song that is a jazz song. I can now plat two of six pages at half speed. So far, so good. Sorry for any mispellings. I am using Moose's Nook and it doesn't have a spellchecker that I can find.

26 July 2013

Hitchcock

A month or so ago, Moose and I stopped off at the grocery store and decided to see if there was anything worthwhile in the Redbox machine. The last four times we’ve looked we haven’t gotten anything. As we were scrolling through the various options I caught sight of HITCHCOCK. Since Moose and I had recently discussed how much we’ve enjoyed the Hitchcock films we’ve seen, I put it in the basket on a whim. With nothing else planned for the evening we decided to give it a try.

HITCHCOCK is a Hollywood “documentary” of Alfred Hitchcock’s life during the filming of PYSCHO. I can’t tell you how much of the movie is completely factual, but when I checked some of the facts later, I think they did a decent job. The movie was released in 2012.

The things that draw me in: The cast (with one exception). Boy oh boy, was I impressed, especially with Anthony Hopkins who played Hitchcock. I have seen several episodes of the TV series, and I thought that Anthony Hopkins was spot on. He would tilt his head back and give the impression of looking down his nose despite looking up at other people. I also thought the actor who played the actor who played Bates (I couldn’t resist), did a really good job. He looked exactly like Bates it took me by surprise.

I liked the story. As Larry would say “I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob.” I didn’t expect to get that involved in the movie that I picked on a whim. For those of you who are wondering, it is not a horror, it is a drama. It doesn’t actually show any actual film of PYSCHO, though it will give some of the surprises away. So, if you want to see PYSCHO watch it before you see HITCHCOCK.

What I enjoyed most is how much I came to appreciate Alfred Hitchcock’s films more. I have always been a fan of his. (My mother showed us NORTH BY NORTHWEST when we were young. It is her favorite. I have watched nearly a dozen of his films and enjoyed pretty much all of them.) I never thought Hollywood that glamorous. In fact I pity most celebrities because they have no personal life. Hitchcock was married to a woman named Alma. Alma in her own right was very talented and good at her job. This film shows some of the discord between then during stressful times of filming. I wish I had known about her sooner because of everything she’s done.

The things that kick me out: There was one actress that I thought could have been cast better. Part of the problem was she wasn’t really her character, but the same she has been in all of the films I’ve seen her in.

There are a few parts where Hitchcock is hallucinating, and I thought they were just a bit overboard. It wasn’t bad, but I thought it could have been a little less extravagant.

Conclusion
Should you watch it? If you are a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, yes. If you have always been curious about Hitchcock, yes. If you like drama or character driven stories, yes.

Should you buy it? I will if I find it for a good price. I know I will want to watch it again.

24 July 2013

Happy People

This last week Moose and I were on vacation. We went to Cannon Beach Oregon. I had been to Oregon once before. It was a fast Spring Break with my roommate. We felt like we needed to get out of the Dorm and so hopped in her car are drove in a giant circle for three days. It was a blast, but we really didn’t get out of the car much.

This trip was significantly different. Moose and I still drove quite a bit (one way is close to 13 hours). . . . I am going to toss my cat here in a moment. As I am trying to type she is lounging on my chest with her claws digging into my shoulder. She will stay still for a minute then move, blocking my view of the computer screen. And yet, I still wouldn’t give her up for the world. . . . Back to Oregon. We stopped off in Boise on the way up to break up the drive. We arrived in Boise hours before we had scheduled.v The only plan we had was to visit an old roommate of mine (different from the one who drove to Oregon with me). We had a nice early dinner with her and then headed back to the hotel.

As we were driving back I noticed a little store in a strip mall. Boise Disc Golf (966 S Vista Ave). Our hotel was right next to the Ann Morrison Park which has a disc golf course. Moose and I enjoy disc golf and Moose had been lamenting that we hadn’t brought his discs (although the more we thought about it we came to remember that his brother borrowed them and we think he still has them). Moose collected his discs while he was serving his mission in Texas. On their preparation days they would head over to the course and wander the roughs. He found half a dozen that way.

When we entered the small store I was a little taken aback by the clerk. He looked a little on the punk side and I felt really foolish. When he finished with the other customer he came over. I have never met anyone so excited to explain how the discs work. He asked us if we played much and if we had noticed the discs doing anything consistently that we didn’t like. He went on to explain how the discs were rated and the differences between our playing styles. By the end of the conversation Moose and I had new discs and an appreciation for this fellow. I wish I understood more of what he was saying, but we got enough of it to know what to look for in the future.

We only played 8 holes that night and the new disc didn’t make my game amazing, but I could see a difference. I wasn’t quite as far behind Moose. (We were both playing conservatively because the course had multiple holes over a stream and we didn’t want to have to fish the discs out.) I love finding little stores like this one and it seemed every day we were finding another store with someone who was passionate about what they did and made it that much more enjoyable. The photographer at the studio we went to. The clerk at the candy story. The treasure hunter at the jewelry store. The usher at the zoo for the concert. Overall, Moose and I agreed that this was the best trip we’d taken together. So much fun, and so relaxing.

05 July 2013

Chasing the Prophecy (Beyonders #3)

by Brandon Mull

CHASING THE PROPHECY is the third book in the Beyonders Trilogy by Brandon Mull. (Book 1 – A WORLD WITHOUT HEROES, Book 2 – SEEDS OF REBELLION) The story continues where SEEDS OF REBELLION left off and it continues at break-neck pace until the end. Jason and Rachel may be in for more than they realize when even the prophecy seems to lead them astray.

What draws me in: I didn’t feel like Mull was trying to hide anything important. Instead of focusing primarily on only Jason and Rachel’s viewpoints, there are quite a few other characters that we get narration from. This was nice because it didn’t leave me wondering what was going on where Rachel and Jason weren’t. This gave enough clues to let me guess and yet still be surprised by things. Including the solution at the end.

I like characters. They are just people I can get behind and cheer. I grew attached to them . . . I didn’t want to see them hurt. I liked how they all had different philosophies and opinions. Just because they were fighting for the same cause did not mean they were doing it for the same reasons.

I liked how Mull tied all of the books together. Things that happened in the first and second book were important to the third book. I had to wait each year for the books to come out and I didn’t reread the books in preparation. I think I would have gotten more out of it if I had read the books closer together.

What kicks me out: The ending was satisfactory, but not what I wanted. I am glad I read the series but there are a few things I wish he had done slightly different. My brother and I had a discussion. He liked this series more than FABLEHAVEN and I liked FABLEHAVEN’s ending just a little more. As my brother pointed out, BEYONDERS is meant for an older audience and Mull is not one to shy away from death in any of his series.

Conclusion:
Should you read it? If you enjoy fantasy then absolutely. If you enjoy Brandon Mull then yes. These are fascinating, fantastical, clean YA fantasy books.

Should you buy it? They would make a good present for a YA fan.

03 July 2013

A Clean Home and Fond Memories

This last week was one of firsts. Happy and sad.

Last week we completed our home study . . . yay! For those of you who don’t know, that means someone comes into our house, interviews us, and makes sure the house is safe. This happens every year we want to be a Foster Parent. But the first home study is the most important. This would decide if they thought us appropriate for being Foster Parents. Granted they can always revoke our license later if something comes up, but now we are in the door.

During our Foster Care classes we heard multiple horror stories of people trying to pass the safety side of the home study. Some close friends had their licensor practically go through every cupboard and closet. When doing Foster Care there are specific criteria that must be met. If there are young children you have to have gates for stair cases and outlet covers (common sense). There is a realistic demand for window well covers. I can even understand locking up all of the harmful chemicals, such as gasoline, and medications. What I kind of dropped my jaw at was the fact that we had to lock up our daily vitamins and dishwashing and laundry detergent. . . okay. I can see the point behind those.

So here is what we learned. You can lock everything in the garage. Moose installed a dead bolt that requires a key from both sides. Now we can lock the garage with all of the power tools, chemicals, and other random items as the need arises. We installed a cabinet over our dryer that we can lock which has all of the household cleaners and our medications. This means there are two new keys on my keychain. This also means when we get children in the home, I have to keep my keys with me at all times. I mean what is the point of locking the stuff up if the keys are available. Our licensor was a little more laid back and friendly. He did not go through every closet, but I swear they were clean.

The other first was that I spoke at a funeral. I wasn’t very happy when I was first asked. I didn’t think I was the right person and I didn’t want any more stress. I said yes . . . Moose complains that I never learned to say no. I was to give a life sketch and read the obituary. I was really nervous. I haven’t been to many funerals and I wasn’t sure exactly what the audience would be expecting. I knew that many of the audience members have been to quite a few funerals. I just didn’t want to embarrass the family by saying anything wrong.

I wrote several drafts but none of them really felt right. The more I worked on it, the more I remembered the wonderful experiences I had. I would read through my notes as if I was at the funeral and just randomly add stories. It sounded terrible, even to me. I looked up articles about reading eulogies at funerals and the one that stuck out most was that I needed to have it written down. I stayed up until almost one to write out exactly what I was going to say. I practiced it multiple times for our cat since I didn’t want to disturb Moose. I finally got to the point where I felt comfortable reading it.

When I arrived at the funeral I panicked. I realized that my little life sketch was completely biased by me. I had more of my own personal memories and stories and not many that involved other people. I thought about trying to rewrite bits to include other family members but nothing came to mind. I came to the conclusion that it might sound self-centered but it was all I had.

I am pleased to say that it went well. I probably could have done better. I was happy people told me I did a good job. I probably developed a slight ego in regards to my writing ability. I just hope I don’t have to do it again for a long time.

26 June 2013

Grandmother

  • Grandmother had red hair.
  • She liked to cook. And she was really good at it. (The only time I’ve eaten mutton was when she cooked it.)
  • She introduced us to Harry Potter.
  • She introduced my mother to fantasy books, including THE BLUE SWORD which is a family favorite.
  • She beat cancer, twice.
  • She liked playing Freecell on the computer. She decided to try and play them all and went through them numerically. (Some of them can’t be won.)
  • She played the piano. Her favorite song to play was "The Man I Love" by Gershwin.
  • She liked playing card games including Pinochle, Hoof and Mouth, Grandma Doesn’t Know, Kings Corner, Lucky Duck, and Wizard.
  • She barrel raced.
  • She would sneak off when she was a child to read.
  • I remember driving with her the big Dodge Ram truck and she always made wise cracks about a grandma behind the wheel of such a big vehicle.
  • She let her grandchildren play her baby grand piano.
  • She liked to goose my grandfather.
  • She loved watching birds.
  • She taught her sons how to use stilts while she was pregnant (Grandfather wasn’t happy).
  • She loved roses.
  • She would play with the neighbors’ cats, so long as they didn’t hurt her birds.
  • She was fashionable in clothing and jewelry.
  • She embraced technology, and introduced me to Amazon back when it just sold books.
  • She loved giving her grandchildren books.
  • Jell-o salad (enough said).
  • She taught children to stick their tongues out.
  • She liked science fiction movies and watching Turner classic movies channel.
  • She would go to the Farmers Market in the summer on Saturdays to get her fresh produce for the week.
  • She collected comic books such as Calvin and Hobbes, For Better or Worse, Zits, and Foxtrot.
  • She liked doing puzzles.
  • When I was in college we would change books back and forth.
  • Her laugh was infectious.
  • She earned an English Degree from BYU so she could teach.
  • She believed in left overs.
  • She played the organ for her church starting when she was a teenager.
  • She did a biking tour of Europe when she graduated from college.
  • Family was important to her and she would make arrangements when she got older and had a difficult time driving so she could attend baby and bridal showers.
  • Her two older brothers spoiled her since she was the only girl and years younger than they were.
  • She loved her Heavenly Father and Grandfather more than herself.

A Day Out

Saturday Moose and I didn’t have anywhere to be besides grocery shopping. There are a lot of townhouses by where we live and we have driven by a lot of “Open House” signs. Saturday we decided to take them up on the offer. We learned that the townhouses are a lot better than we realized. We made the comment as we left that we now understood why people would retire to a place like that. (Not that we would give up the beautiful house we just got.)

We were leaving Home Depot and headed to Kimball Junction for grocery shopping when I noticed a sign with an arrow. We didn’t have anywhere to be and it looked intriguing. We followed the signs along roads we had never travailed before. A couple of times we were just about to give up learning the mystery when we would spot another neon green sign in the distance. As we drove Moose made the comment that maybe it was a joke. Maybe it would lead us in a circle. At one point we drove through a roundabout. As we were leaving the top I noticed in my mirror that there was a green sign leading out the way we had come.

We ended up at Deer Valley resort when we realized what the secret was. We had followed a path to a bike race for 45 minutes. We laughed about it for the rest of the day. Apparently Cannondale is a company that manufactures bikes. I kept expecting the signs to lead to a store.

Overall, it was one of the most sporadically fun days we have ever had.

21 June 2013

The Seven Realms Series

by Cinda Williams Chima

I first came across Cinda Williams Chima's books years ago when I saw the WARRIOR HEIR on the new release shelf. I have been reading all her of books as they come out since then. While I love that series and will review it, once I read the two new books that are going to come out, I am actually going to review her high fantasy series THE SEVEN REALMS.

The story follows two characters. Raisa is the daughter heir to the Gray Wolf Throne. She is torn between her people and her emotions of who she should marry versus who she should marry. Han was born in the poor section of town and becomes a street lord. Their destinies are more intertwined than anyone could have ever thought possible. Throw in magic and you have the beginning of a great saga. That is the very short of it. The series is four books long: THE DEMON KING, THE EXILED QUEEN, THE GRAY WOLF THRONE, and THE CRIMSON CROWN.

(Just as a side note, I love the covers to these books. I don't think these pictures do them justice.)

What draws me in: While I mentioned earlier how Raisa is a princess who has to decide who to marry, don’t get the idea that she is typical princess. She stands up for herself, goes after what she wants, knows when she doesn’t know it all, and she is a fighter. She is an awesome character that I rooted for the whole series.

I absolutely loved Han. His character grows through the books yet he is the same Han. I liked the fact that he was born on the streets and yet knew the value of education and manners. His abilities and personality was also cool.

There are a lot of characters throughout the series that I grew attached too. I like the fact that Cinda Williams Chima created fleshed out, varied characters. The cultures were unique in a familiar feeling way, and I thought her magic system was interesting. Not the most original but good enough for what it needed to be.

The political aspect was intriguing. It wasn’t over the top, and yet it added great depth to the story and characters that couldn’t have been done any other way.

What kicks me out: I thought the story dwelled a little too much on Han’s desire of physical intimacy. I understand hormones, and it wasn’t too bad, but at times I didn’t want it to be quite as important as it was made out to be. (It wasn’t overly descriptive or inappropriate for the age of YA by any stretch of the imagination.)

There were parts of the story where it was a little slow or I thought the characters were being overly dramatic.

I want one more book because I love the characters, though I would be happy if Raisa and Han were side characters if some of the side characters became the focal point.

Conclusion:
Should you read it? If you like YA fantasy, YES!

Should you buy it? YES! If you need any more of an excuse get it as a present for someone who likes YA fantasy and then borrow it.

19 June 2013

I Wish I Could Do This

I think I have been ranting too much (in fact I wrote a whole other post regarding another rant) so I want to share something that Moose showed me yesterday. He learned of these guys from KSL.



Moose and I were amazed over different aspects of the duet. As someone who has played the drums and the piano I could actually see how it was possible. My brain was getting twisted over how they composed it in the first place as well as being able to sing while they do it. I am always impressed with people who put for the time and effort into learning how to do this. I wish I could, but there are so many other talents I have that I just don't have the time dedicated to this particular talent.

I recommend going to their other videos as well. I recommend “I’ll Make a Man out of You.”

14 June 2013

Without a Summer

by Mary Robinette Kowal

I recently read the third book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s series. WITHOUT A SUMMER takes place a short time after the second book. Vincent and Jane are staying with Jane’s parents while recovering from their ordeal.

What draws me in: I thought the idea of including the change in weather patterns was brilliant. I was trying to remember what I had learn and am pleased to say figured out what was going on, in that regard.

I really liked Melody. I haven’t thought highly of her in the other books because she seems a little flat, but I think that she was wonderfully fleshed out and I really liked her personality and determination.

I liked the court scene. I won’t go into too much detail, but I have always enjoyed court dramas in books, television, and movies. (I am no huge fan of real court cases, ironically, just the fictitious ones. And they don’t even have to end happily for me to enjoy them.)

I was fascinated by learning more about Vincent’s past and more about his family. I wish there was a little more involving his mother and some of his siblings, but I am hoping that there is more to come in the future.

What kicks me out: Jane. She bothered me. A lot. I could see where she was coming from but I was just so fed up with her by the end of the book. I didn't feel like I could cheer for her as much as I could in the other books. I am curious to see what she will be like in the next one.

I wanted more involving glamour. I was fascinated to learn more about the cold mongers, but I wanted Jane and Vincent more involved with theirs.

Conclusion
Should you read it? YES! Especially if you have read the first two. This follows along the same lines. You would probably enjoy it even if you haven’t read the first two, but I don’t think this book gives Jane justice.

Should you buy it? It is on my shelf next to the other two.

12 June 2013

Natural vs. Unnatural Creativity

The other day I heard two people talking. They were discussing how Dr. Seuss must have been on something in order to come up with his stories. I have heard the same thing regarding Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. I remember being told in elementary that ALICE IN WONDERLAND was a jab at the political goings on of the time (now I would know to call it a political satire). And yet, it is book meant to entertain children. I find it interesting that we as a people when we can’t explain how someone came up with an idea have decided that a substance must be involved. I can tell you I have read things by people who have been using at the time, (RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER anyone?) and there is a significant difference between the writing. I don’t know why people would rather believe someone to be high and creative than sober and creative and I don’t know why a lot of children’s authors are accused of this. I have seen a book completely complied by people who were using and it is not Dr. Seuss or ALICE IN WONDERLAND. I wish I could say that every story about an artist using drugs was bogus, but it is nice to think that there are a lot of people out there who are plenty creative by more natural means.

09 June 2013

*Smals

Intro: Years ago when I was in Jr High I started writing a fantasy story with the help of my little brother and cousing. We came up with an vague plotline and some awesome characters. My character was a gymnist street fighter, my cousing was a wizard, and my brother was a bodyguard. That seemed to have stuck with my brother and after all of these years he still makes reference to this character. We never finished the novel, though I am sure I have the papers somewhere. I decided it was time to resurrect the best character of the three (mine and my cousins were a little overthetop). However I am not writing him in a fantasy setting. I decided to try a cyberpunk setting, though that isn't really important to the story. I hope you enjoy. (And I don't promise there will be another story next week.)

Smals daubed the liquid bond across Kyler’s temple. Kyler hissed between his teeth then clamped his jaw shut. Smals raised an eyebrow and repacked his med kit. With both men on their feet, they surveyed the remains of the apartment.

“It looks like the blast came from this corner,” Kyler said.

“The door would block our view of the device until we had fully entered.” Smals crouched down and stared at the blackened metal work. “The trip was off.” He looked back at the door. “From here you can see the door was to lock behind us.”

Kyler’s brows drew together as he examined the bare floor. “Nowhere to hide.”

“President, Commander,” Lt. Jefferies, entered and saluted to Kyler than Smals. His gray and black uniform matched the one Smals was wearing. “If we don’t transport you know, I don’t think we will be able to avoid the media.”

Smals stood and ran his hand along the external locking pin. The metal snapped to a lock position with a clang. Kyler winced and shook his head.

“I don’t really want to talk to the media. We should be going, Smals.”

“I am going to stay behind. There is still a lot of information we can get from here. This is supposed to be a furnished apartment.” Smals gestured around the room. “So what happened to all of the furniture?”

Kyler started to shake his head then stopped, his body swaying for a moment.

“Get the President out of here and take him somewhere private. Leave a bike for me and I will meet up with you when I am done here.”

Kyler sighed, his shoulders slumping. “I just want to see my family again.”

“You will, President. I know you will. As soon as we catch the monsters who are targeting you,” Jeffries said.

Smals gritted his teeth and turned away as Kyler was ushered from the room. He watched as his men provided cover so the President could get in the gray hover and drive away. The apartment building groaned and creaked. The other tenants could be heard talking, or shouting, through the walls. A few poked their head out of the door but slammed them shut as Smals stalked by. He took the stairs down two at a time. The bespectacled night clerk pushed his visor back up and licked his lips.

“Is someone going to pay for that room?”

Smals swiped his palm over the register and a 50 appeared on the screen. The man licked his lips again and reached for the console. Smals grabbed his wrist.

“We were told we would be getting a furnished room.” Smals swiped his free palm over the register and the number dropped to 40. “What is your definition of furnished?”

“I was told you wanted an empty room.” The man tested Smals grip. “Blame your subordinate who made the reservation.”

The number dropped to 25.

“I made the reservation.”

The man rolled his eyes. “You made the first reservation. But that was cancelled and replaced with one for no furniture.”

Smals let got. The man claimed the money and pushed his visor back in place. Smals could see a faint shadow of the bank deposit notice as it scrolled across the visor.

“A second reservation? Why wasn’t I notified?”

“It came through your official channel. That soldier who walked the other dude out. He was the one who made it. He had a document with your approval. And you were notified. I sent out the notification myself.”

“When was this change made?”

“About two hours ago. Who was that dude? Someone important?”

Smals raced through the lobby pulling out his phone. The new message icon blinked at him. He muttered under his breath as he ran down the stairs and to the alley. His bike rested against the wall next to the trash receptacles. It started as he approached and practically took off before he was fully seated.

He pulled his helmet on an activated the emergency headset. “Kyler, it’s Jeffries. Kyler. Repeat. Jefferies is the assassin.”

Smals dodged around the other cars in traffic. The windshield showed the map with a yellow blinking dot. He used one hand to steer while loosening the cover on his firearm. As he approached the yellow dot he slowed enough to jump safely from the bike. It turned up the alley and he lost sight of it. A lone man sat on the stairs to the tumbled building. Smals kept his gun raised. The man’s head snapped up and Smals’ gaze flicked from the barrel of the gun to the man’s face.

“Kyler. Are you alright?”

Kyler’s hand shook and the gun fell from his hand. “I got your message. I killed him. I killed Jeffries.” He looked at his shaking hands and gave a hoarse laugh. “I’ve never killed anyone before.”

Smals sat down on the steps, holstering his weapon and picking up the one Kyler had dropped. “I never wanted you to. That is my job.”

“I had to grow up sometime.” Kyler smirked. “I don’t think anyone every expected you to grow up faster than me. And you grew out of an "l" while you were at it.”

Smals bit back a sigh as he studied his friend's ashen profile.

“Talls and Smalls. Maybe I should have kept the name. President Tals. We are still quite a fearsome team.” Kyler chuckled which died off. “I think the adrenaline has run out, finally.”

Smals cracked a smile. “Let’s get you home. Your family misses you.”

07 June 2013

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing


I have decided I am officially a geek. As a writer I am pretty much always thinking of the next thing I am going to write. Lately, however, it hasn’t been story ideas but rather research papers, and this isn’t because my father and I are gearing up to write another paper for LTUE. What does this have to do with my review this week? I have two papers already started and two more outlined entailing this one series.

This last fall my husband had me watch the anime series: MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM WING. A Gundam is a type of exoskeleton mech suit upwards of 65 feet or more. The Gundam franchise consists of dozens of series, movies, manga, action figures, and has a huge following. It has been around since the late 70s and new series and movies are still being produced. Mobile Suit GUNDAM WING came out in 1995. It is, at this point, the only Gundam series I have watched though I would be willing to invest time in some of the others. Gundam falls into the space opera genre though it isn’t like many other space operas I have read or watched.

The story behind GUNDAM WING is that the Earth colonies are now well established and are at war with Earth. The colonies develop these specialized suits called Gundam and send them to earth. All five Gundam pilots are adolescent young men who are topnotch in a variety of military talents. The Earth and Colonies continually battle between each other though the characters are seen switching sides based on the political reasoning between the military forces.

Things that draw me in: The female characters of this show are awesome. In fact one of my all-time favorite heroines comes from this show: Lucrezia Noin. But even the villainous women are attention grabbing. They are villainous and don’t hold back (which I like to see in antagonists). I am working on a paper discussing how three of the particular females are good examples of how to write strong female characters.

I loved the political aspect. I am not one who always appreciates thick political intrigue, but Gundam Wing was fascinating to me. It was probably due to the fact that it has a good dose of action and the politics were done in a way that I could understand. It also wasn’t black and white and showed variation.

The music. I am a sucker for soundtracks and this one had all the good points (except the closing credits were kind of a letdown.)

I loved the fact that few people were strictly good or evil. In fact throughout the show people waffled between the political factions depending on what was happening. They all had their own motives that were consistent through the story and the writers did a good job about how personal morals can affect how one chooses to act in given situations (this is the basis for one of my research papers).

The things that kick me out: Whiny characters, male or female. There are two characters in the show that I wanted to strangle. Granted they were well written and their annoying personalities were integral to the plot, but it annoyed me nonetheless.

The artwork didn’t kick me out, but it didn’t draw me in either. When I am watching anime, I want to be drawn in. Not bad, but I have seen better from the same time period.

Yeah, those are my complaints about the show. I would say the show is good for kids over ten. Since it is a war it is kind of violent and there is a little language depending on which version you watch. (The version they first aired in America they cut all of the language including the word “kill.” They said “destroy” instead.) Note: It is 49 episodes long with a movie to help wrap things up. It is an investment of time.

Should you watch it? I definitely think people should give it a try. It is anime, but I think people who enjoy American cartoons would like this one.

Should you purchase it? I thought it was worth it. Moose received it as an anniversary present this last year. He was so pleased.

05 June 2013

More than Blood

This week I donated blood. I always try to donate when I get the opportunity. My work has the blood mobile come every two months and this time I passed all of the criteria. As my arm was being prepped I overheard one of the phlebotomists talking to one of my coworkers. He was talking about participating in the annual bike race from Logan to Jackson Hole. He continued on saying that since he and his wife just had children placed with them he wasn’t sure their schedule would work out. My ears pricked.

When there was an opportunity I asked the fellow if he was a Foster Parent. We spent the rest of the time my blood was being collected talking about the training I just completed, his experience, and educating his two coworkers about what being a Foster Parent includes. While this conversation was occurring one of the other phlebotomists told us about how her daughter had adopted three cute children. It made me happy seeing the pictures and listening to them talk with such devotion. It gives me hope that this could work for Moose and myself.

The classes for Foster Care are over, as I mentioned before. I find myself thinking through what we have learned. I still feel overwhelmed, and yet I still feel so strongly that this is the right thing to do. For those of you who are interested, here are a few tidbits regarding Foster Care:

  • The Foster Parents are not allowed to talk about specifics regarding the child’s case. Please don’t ask.
  • You shouldn’t speak negatively about the biological family in front of the child. This is their family and the parents are hopefully trying to get them back.
  • In Utah, a child is in care on average 18 months.
  • It is best to say the child is in Foster Care, not that they are a Foster Child.
  • And Foster Parents don’t want to hear the horror stories you’ve heard. We’ve already heard more than you and they are far worse.

31 May 2013

Catching Up

My apologies for letting the blog slack this month. I should be back to my regular schedule starting next week.

It is hard to believe that the month of May is already over and that we are almost halfway through the year. I may be used to writing 2013 but I still can't believe how time has flown by. This is actually the 10th anniversary of my high school graduation but I don't think there is going to be one. I haven't been contacted about it and the occasional time I go looking for information, there isn't any to be found. Since I made Moose go to his last year I kept thinking that I would go to mine, but I now understand his hesitation and I liked parts of high school. But to think that 10 years has passed since I was in high school is pretty amazing. I have gotten a lot accomplished in those 10 years.

I guess I will get back to the Foster Care training. We attended 8 classes throughout the month. They were all informative. In fact Moose and I think that the classes would be good for anyone who wished to have children. There were topics covered that apply to all children. Some of the stuff I will be implementing with nieces and nephews (don't worry, it isn't conditioning or anything like that). And, while I am relieved the classes are over, I am kind of sad that they are. We met some wonderful people and hopefully I will be good enough to keep in contact with them. In fact, in the next few months, we may actually have . . . a Facebook account. Granted it will be really restricted and I will probably ignore it for weeks on end but it would be a good idea for various reasons.

The last thing I wanted to talk about was regarding my work bonus. This is the first year that I have received a bonus from work that is more than $100. It was so exciting. I was talking with my coworkers about what we would each be doing with the money. One fellow got new carpet. Another fellow is going on vacation. A third is purchasing parts for the cars he rebuilds. I was able to do several things with it. The first was get a picture framed. This picture is special to me because my amazing sister-in-law painted it. (I am hoping to get a picture of it on the blog this weekend.) The other things was I bought a few books and movies (many of which I will be reviewing over the next few weeks). Three of the books are children's books. Moose and I don't have kids, in fact the kids we are hoping to help aren't going to be young, but I had to have these books. One of the main reasons was because of my Grandfather. He taught me that no matter the age, we can all appreciate a good story. (And I am hoping that nieces and nephews come to visit on occasion.)

With that I better finish getting ready for work. And tune in next week for the regularly scheduled post that will hopefully be more coherent.

08 May 2013

New Endeavors

Sorry for the late post. I thought my life would be calming down this month, but a new development has arisen in our lives. Last summer after extensive testing, Moose and I learned that biological children were not going to be in the picture in this lifetime. (Part of me has always wondered if I would have this problem. I have had enough difficulties that it just nagged at me all these years. But I am glad that there is a definite answer.)

So, we are embarking on a new adventure: becoming certified Foster Parents. I don’t know how well I will actually handle having a child leave, but I would like to think that maybe we can find some sliver of happiness in this endeavor. Becoming certified, however, is an extensive process which include night classes twice a week for a month. This means there are two days a week when I leave at 7:30 in the morning and don’t get home until around 10:00 at night. Therefore, my post did not get done on time today.

What amazes me most about this process is that when we tell people we don’t get the reaction I expect. Foster Care has some negative connotation to it, especially because of media. I have become more aware of how often characters are type-cast by the label “foster child.” What people normally say is “Oh, my friend/brother/cousin does Foster Care. Good for you.”

Now I must steel myself for the horror stories of tonight. Most of the time the stories aren’t about children misbehaving but rather about the adults who just aren’t thinking and make a situation worse. For example: Why any parent would leave any fourteen year old alone for hours with access to car keys is beyond me.

03 May 2013

Beastly

by Alex Flinn

Last week I tried something new and reviewed a book that I didn’t really like. I decided I don’t like giving negative reviews. I would rather spend my time promoting books I do enjoy then telling people why I didn’t like a book.

The book BEASTLY is a modern retelling of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast. I am a fan of Beauty and the Beast stories so I thought I would give this one a try.

The things that drew me in: It is a modern retelling, but it is told as if it is the first time. The characters make no reference to hearing of anything like this ever before. They don’t mention fairytales at all though there are references to other characters in the world going through various experiences similar to other fairytales.

It is told from the Beast’s point of view. This isn’t unique to this story, but I always found it humanized the beast a bit more to understand what he was going through. And as a side note, the Beast is not physically violent against Beauty at any time. I know there are some people who have an issue with Beauty staying with a physically abusive man.

I liked the side characters/servants. I like the reasoning behind them staying with the Beast.

I liked the chat room for enchanted creatures. I thought it was a fun play on the support group idea. I didn’t add anything to the story, but it was entertaining enough for me not to be bothered by it.

I thought the cover is good. I am not a fan of stock photos and I liked how this one is simplistic yet eye grabbing.

The things that kick me out: I thought that while Kyle’s behavior was beastly it was over the top. It showed the change well, but kind of pulled me out. I know there are people in the world who have this kind of attitude, and it follows the fairytale, but I thought it could have been toned down a little.

I liked the rose garden, but this was one other aspect that I thought had a little too much drama around it. I know roses play an important part but the obsession was hyperbolic to me.

Conclusion:
Should you read it?
If you like Beauty and the Beast then give this one a try.

Should you buy it? I probably will if I see it on sale.

01 May 2013

Holding My Breath

On Monday I received word regarding a submission I had with Baen publishers. It has been almost 2 ½ years since I submitted it. Last summer I emailed them asking about it and learned that I had been plucked from the slush pile and was in another pile designated “look closely.” I couldn’t believe it. I had made it out of the slush. I had never made it out of the slush of a big publisher before.

When I checked my email Monday night my stomach flipped. Moose could tell how nervous I was and offered to read the email for me. I bit the bullet and opened the email. I always cheat and look at the end because that is normally where the important information is. My book was not chosen. Sigh. I didn’t want to admit to Moose but it actually hurt more this time. I think it would have been better if I didn’t already know I had made it out of the slush pile.

I have always told myself that part of being an author is receiving rejection. The majority of authors have submitted dozens of works dozens of times before it happens. I actually have (somewhere) a binder with all of my printed rejections. I have a half dozen or so which don’t include the electronic ones.

I found it interesting what this particular rejection said. The first was that they thought my characters were too old and that the ages needed to be lowered for a YA audience. (I am trying to decide if this was because my reading a lot of YA has influenced my writing, or what. I want to write for the college age group I think I have heard it called New Adult.) The second was that I have a unique style of writing that the editor just couldn’t get into. The third thing was that the slush editor said she read my manuscript in two days and couldn’t put it down. Now that is a compliment.

I have submitted this particular story again without making changes. If it comes back with a similar critique then I will look into changing it. I mean so far I am fifty-fifty as far as response.

26 April 2013

Soulbound (Legacy of Tril #1)

by Heather Brewer


I am one who will judge a book by its cover, at least if I have never heard of it before. I often peruse the shelves looking for something new to try and will be attracted to the cover in some way. That is how I found SOULBOUND, which is book one in the LEGACY OF TRIL. There was something about the cover that caught my attention, even if wearing a chainmail veil is stupid in my opinion. Warning, this particular review contains some spoilers.

The things that draw me in: The idea behind the story was fascinating. You fall into one of three types of people, Barrons, Healers, or Unskilled. Healers and Barrons are bound at birth. I mean there is a lot of potential for this book.

The things that kick me out: The way the society is set up is inane. The fact that few people have contested it is unrealistic. I can’t believe that the unskilled have been kept in the dark regarding a WAR. I can believe they might not know about Barrons and Healers, but a war that has been going on for decades?

Why of why do they not train Healers to fight. No one has been able to come up with a good reason. If the Healer is going to the battlefield and the objective of the evil king is to kill the healers, why do they think training the Barrons to fight is enough? At least teach them some self-defense. I know this is the point of the story but it just seems so unrealistic as to why the Healers are left defenseless.

The ending? Really? The author did a tadaa moment with the villain. (And the person who has been letting the Graplers into the compound is . . .) There was little setup and then even the reasoning behind it was flawed by the climax.

The writing itself seemed rough. There were places that relied on clich├ęs and tropes that interrupted the flow of the story.

I’ll stop there though I have more. I wish there was more positive for me to say. I am hoping that book two answers some of my issues. If it does I may come back and give a nicer review, but as of right now, the book was a huge disappointment because it just felt thrown together and hastily stitched at the seams. I really wanted to like this book but the end just left me feeling cheated.

Conclusion
Should you read this book? You might find it enjoyable. It actually has high ratings on Goodreads. I will be giving the second one a chance.

Should you buy this book? I won't be.

24 April 2013

League of Utah Writers – Spring Workshop

This year I was in charge of the Spring Workshop. I started planning early because I like to worry. I asked my amazing speakers back in January if they would be able to present on April 20th. I lined up the building in February. I called about the food in March. Since January I have been in a panic about the whole thing. Oh, let me count the ways:

  • I had a nightmare about tons of people showing up and I had forgotten to order the food.
  • I worried that I wouldn’t have enough people to make back the money I invested.
  • I had to order the main course of the lunch a few days before the conference and I worried a lot of people would show up and I wouldn’t have enough food.
  • I had a nightmare that we ran out of chairs.
  • We only had half an hour to set up and I worried that we would start late.
  • We only had half an hour to take down and I worried we would go long.
  • I was worried one (or more) of the presenters would have an emergency and not be able to make it.
  • I worried that everyone would hate the fact that we were having pasta salad.
  • I was worried I would be attending a funeral on the date of the workshop.
  • And finally, as Moose and I were driving to the venue I honestly thought I had given EVERYBODY the wrong address. I left Moose at the wrong address and hurried back only to find out I was on top of things and had distributed the correct address. Luckily the wrong address was only two miles away so I was able to pick him up and bring him back before he stood out in the cold rain for too long.
I slept poorly for days because I was so stressed about it. Pant . . . pant . . . pant. And this was why I didn’t get a blog post done on Friday. I was so stressed about the workshop it didn’t even cross my mind.

And now I need to get into gear for planning the fall conference next year. Poor Moose. He is already preparing himself for my next panic attack.

This experience has brought to mind one of Patrick McManus’ short stories about the worry box. Moose’s worry box is much smaller than my worry box. In fact his worry box is filled with worrying about me worrying over the worries in my worry box.

P.S. After it was over I continually asked Moose if he thought is was okay. He kept reassuring me that it went fine. He said someone told him that this was the best Spring Workshop he had ever been to, and he's been to about half a dozen. The only reason that this turned out as well as it did was because Moose helped. He may not have read any of my stories, but he is the most supportive husband I could ask for.

17 April 2013

Grandfather

  • Grandfather always seemed tall to me, even when I grew up.
  • He had nicknames for all of us. I was Squeezable Emily.
  • He laughed easily.
  • He had the lightest blue eyes of anyone I have ever known.
  • He loved children’s books and some of my favorites are ones he gave my family. The Blue Faience Hippopotamus and The Weaving of a Dream.
  • When Grandmother would play the piano, he always would pause and listen with a smile on his face.
  • He believed grandchildren should have M&Ms and always kept a dish of them. At Christmas we would hunt through the candy dishes to find the Christmas mints he put out.
  • He liked rearranging the furniture.
  • He loved planting flowers.
  • His brothers used to tease him about being EMA (Emma) so when his mother gave him a signet ring it only had EM.
  • He never spoke ill of anyone.
  • He didn’t like the seed pods on his tree. During the Fall he would take a rake and try and knock them all down before snow fell.
  • I had multiple principals and teachers who had him as a professor. They all respected him.
  • He had more art than wall space and would rotate the picture periodically.
  • He drove an automatic car with one foot on the gas and one on the brake.
  • He was always well dressed.
  • He took in whoever needed a home, (including myself during college for a few weeks).
  • He always stood on the driveway and waved until we were out of sight.
  • He always asked after the in-laws and remembered their names.
  • We could have seconds of icecream.
  • He smelled like Polo Sport aftershave.
  • His work with the education system had a direct impact on my husband and mine educational opportunities.
  • He had a whistle in the bedroom to scare away the deer in the backyard.
  • He always asked if we were comfortable or needed a blanket or pillow.
  • He always encouraged my writing.
  • He loved Heavenly Father and Grandmother more than himself.

12 April 2013

The Wise Man's Fear

by Patrick Rothfuss

THE WISE MAN’S FEAR is the second book in the THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE. The first one is THE NAME OF THE WIND, which I absolutely loved. I wanted to love this one more. That isn’t to say I won’t read the next one when it comes out, but it just didn’t have a much enjoyment for me as the first one. In fact I probably would have liked this one more if I didn’t like the first one so much and have such high expectations. I keep thinking I should read what other people think about it and see if I am alone in my feelings, but I will do that after this review is written.

The things that draw me in:
I like reading about Kvothe. As a character he is someone that draws me in. I also like how the story is narrated (the story Kote is telling, the frame story is interesting but doesn’t have the same humorous voice). The novel has so much in it that I have so much to think about, even though it is finished. I like it when novels still leave me thinking about what could happen next.

The world and magic system is awesome. I love the scientific explanation of how the magic works and the new ways that it is used that is unique and stays true to what we as the readers know. The world is rich and described just enough to make me picture what is there but not so much that I felt like the story was bogged down.

The things that kick me out:
I am not a fan of language and promiscuity, and there was more in this book than the last book. Not so much that it made me want to put the book down, but enough to roll my eyes. There were several parts of this book where I wanted it to pick up. I don’t mean that there needs to be a fight or an encounter in every chapter, but there was a part where is was filled with too much detail in the world and it seemed to repeat itself with details and gave some information that while interesting slowed the story down.

Conclusion
Should you read it? If you liked the first one then yes.

Should you buy it? I may end up buying it, if it turns out I like the whole series well enough.

11 April 2013

There's a story in that.
-E.M.A

10 April 2013

More Sewing Projects

I really intended to do book reviews the past to weeks, but when Thursday night comes around, it has slipped my mind. It isn't even that I have been busy at home. I just don't remember to do it. I will try and do better this week, but who knows if me thinking about it now will help to have it up on Friday.

I really like to sew and the last six months I have been trying a new hobby involving sewing. I have been trying to teach myself how to make stuffed animals. Since Moose and I watch a lot of anime we see some really cute plushies that aren't actually available to purchase. I thought that if I could teach myself how to pattern them and make them. I started first with a simple doll like animal. It doesn't look anything like what it is supposed to, but it is actually kind of cute, if you don't mind a demon baby. For Christmas I made some for my older sister's children. They didn't turn out exactly how I wanted it to, but the children liked them. I am now starting another one, this time a rabbit. Who knows, by the time I have children in the home I may actually have one that looks how I imagine it.

Moose has also stated on his first sewing project, if you don't count a potato pin cushion or a catnip mouse he sewed by hand. The project he is doing is a basic pair of trousers. A few people have told me that I should have started him on something easier, but I replied that he would be more motivated to complete it and do it right if he did something he wanted to. He hopes to be able to make his own banzai costume this year. (I do too, because it would be less stressful for me.) He has also decided that he wants to make a steampunk outfit. He has even picked out a cane he wants to get when it is complete. Now he wants me to make an outfit to match. I like the idea, but I am a little nervous about trying to get it look right. Oh well, it will be fun to see if we can pull it off.

03 April 2013

Re-Writing (Again)



Moose and I went and saw the new Oz movie this weekend. Moose enjoyed it more than I did. I tried not to be too critical, but as I sat through it, I just kept thinking that it could have been better if it didn’t take place in the universe of Oz. The story would have to be tweaked, but I don’t think it taking place in Oz actually helped. Truthfully, I don’t remember much of the book, but even when compared to the movie THE WIZARD OF OZ, I thought it was lacking.

I guess I was so critical about the movie because my own sequel has been on my mind. First I have to say that I have the best Beta readers ever, and I think that it is cool that they are my family. Often you hear that having your family read it isn’t good because they will just praise without giving feedback. My family does a really good job of giving criticism and encouragement. They also give me a kick in the pants when I need it.

My sequel needs a lot of work and I was feeling lazy. They put me in my place. I have been mulling over my options for a couple of weeks, so going to OZ reminded me that if I don’t put in the work then I am leaving myself open for a lot of criticism, from myself.  I am happy to say that I am done with the brainstorming and that my sequel will be awesome. (This is the third time I have come up with a plot. Though the second and third versions are related, there are some distinct differences that I hope will leave my readers satisfied.)

And by the way. OZ probably wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. (Though I will say I am sick of the gimmicks used in 3D movies. They are dumb in 3D so it is even worse when I am watching it in 2D.)

27 March 2013

What do you know? Not much.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, also known as a Mormon. I live in Utah, which has a fairly high percentage of Mormons. At my work, however, I am a minority. It doesn’t bother me. All of my coworkers are really nice and respect me. We make jokes about how I am in charge of the coffee because I don’t drink it, and they all make an effort to watch their language and agree that it lends to a more professional atmosphere. What surprises me is what people know and don’t know about my religion. I don’t want to get into any theological discussion, I don’t necessarily think this blog is the time or the place.

However, I am going to talk about the facts some of my coworkers know regarding my faith. Some background information: I have two coworkers who I work with on a daily basis. They have lived in Utah for more than 20 years, and they are highly educated. I get along with them really well and consider them to be good friends. As far as I know, they don’t support any religion strongly. We were talking about Easter and how the calendar day is calculated every year. (Something regarding the first full moon after . . . something. All I know is that I look at my calendar to see when it is.) I googled it and read the description to P and Q.

P looked at me and asked, “Do Mormons celebrate Easter?”

Q looked up from her desk and said, “Yes, Mormons are Christians.”

I made the comment that our official title is “The Church of Jesus Christ.” I can’t remember exactly how, but this led into a discussion of polygamy.

P then said, “Oh, I know you don’t practice that anymore. The only reason you did was because when you were coming to Utah a lot of your men died and it was a way for the women who had lost their husbands to be taken care of.”

Q said, “I didn’t know that. I wondered why anyone would want to share a husband.”

Oh how little I know. If anyone were to ask me about another religion, my answers would be just as scattered.

22 March 2013

Black Cat

by Kentaro Yabuki

This week I decided to review one of my favorite manga series. (The anime is entertaining, but isn’t nearly as interesting or deep.) For those who don’t know, manga is the Japanese version of comic books, but they are more book and less magazine like. Just like American comics, they aren’t always child appropriate. BLACK CAT isn’t for children, but for teens and above. This is a fantasy story that deals with bounty hunters, nanobots, a secret peace-keeping organization, and a loveable main character who only wants to make up for what he did in the past.

The things that draw me in:
I love the characters. My favorites was Sven and Eve and the connection that they had. The scene where they first meet just sets the stage for what is to come. They make each other stronger. Eve’s ability is neat and how it matures over the course of the series. While it isn’t the most original, her character is. The other characters are good, though some of them could be considered trope by manga standards.

When talking about manga, I have to talk about the artwork as well. The characters are vivid and unique. The world isn’t as defines, but the characters really carry the story so it didn’t bother me. This isn’t the most high end art, but it was clear and got the point across.

I like that it has an end. Some series don’t always leave me feeling satisfied after I finish them.

The things that kick me out:
Creed, the antagonist, was a little over the top. I can understand that he is supposed to be a little off of his rocker. But, I feel that when a villain is completely insane, I can’t believe that he would actually be able to be a fully competent protagonist.

There are a lot of characters and I thought they could have gotten rid of some of them and added more depth to others. This was especially true with the villains. I have noticed that a lot of manga have this issue.

I actually didn’t like the flashbacks as much. I like the main story better than learning about Train’s past, but that is probably because I like Sven and Eve more than Train.

Conclusion
Should you read it? I think that this is a good manga to get started on if you have always wanted to try it.

Should you buy it? It is an investment since you will be buying roughly 12 paperbacks. You will want to read it first, though if you want to buy the first one to see if you like it, that isn’t as expensive and will give you a taste of what is going on.