26 June 2013


  • 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.

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.

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


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.