Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to take a moment to list some things I am grateful for. I did this last year and had fun with it so I might just make it an annual thing to add to my blog. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and also take a moment to consider your many blessings.

These are in no particular order. I am grateful for:

Indoor plumbing
Food (especially today where there will be lots of it)
Family, I have such an awesome family. Even my extended family is cool.
Books, where would I be without them?
Sunny days
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
Friends who put up with me even when I'm grouchy
My talents
Cell phones (sometimes I hate them but today must be a good day)
My job (even though I hate my job right now because it's so insane and everyone's stressed)
Music that makes me happy or inspires me to write
Music in general I guess
Ice cream (seldom in winter. what is wrong with people who eat ice cream in winter?)
Hot chocolate
Barnes and Noble for being my sanity sometimes
School and being able to go to it and get a degree
Lazy days
Weight loss! I'm down four pant sizes!
Babies' laughter (it's the best thing in the world)
Our founding Fathers who helped create this great nation
The things I take for granted (the fact that I have things I take for granted means I am very blessed)
Great movies
Awesome tv shows (The Closer, Charmed, Medium, Bones, Heroes, Criminal Minds, etc.)
Art throughout history
Family vacations
Sweet memories of my beautiful sister, Brittany
My car
My life

Yeah that about covers it for this year. I am sure I missed some somewhere but...I am off to feast! Have a happy Thanksgiving, friends and kindred. :) Love you all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

20 lbs. Later!

I will do a before and after pic thing later but I was too excited.

Since June I have lost (drum roll please)

20 LBS!!!!!!!

My pants hang off me now. Guess I need to go get some new ones.

I'm still planning on losing another 5 or 10 lbs.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Hunger Games

I wanted to put a hundred exclamation points after I typed in the title of this book for the title of this post. What a wild ride this book was and I am playing it cool and trying to pretend that the next book is not begging to be read right now so I can quickly write this review.

Brief plot summary: The book takes place in a future in which the land that used to be called North America is now Panem: a country divided into twelve districts each of which are controlled by the Capitol. Each year they perform what is called the reaping in which contestants from each district are drawn from a lottery. These tributes, as they are called, are to be placed in an arena to take part in The Hunger Games, a battle for life and death that is aired on television. Katniss is from District Twelve. She takes the place of her little sister as tribute. Then she is swept into a world of high society and fashion as they prepare her to enter the arena.

I have to say this book had me from the get-go. The writing is very direct. Collins manages to show a depth to a young adult story that is hard to find. It is a very physical book. I became very aware of how blessed we are in this country with all the things we have at our fingertips when Katniss and those in her district have to scrounge for every bit of food they can get. The things we take for granted today are luxuries in this future society.

There is also romance in this book but it's played differently than your average heartthrob romance (Twilight anyone?). Katniss is forced to pretend that she is in love with fellow District Twelve tribute Peeta who is also known as the boy with the bread. In order to survive she has to make this love look believable and sometimes that is harder than you'd think. For Peeta, however, it is not hard to pretend because he seems to actually be infatuated with her as he tells of how he's been in love with her since they were little kids.

I don't want to spoil anything for you if you have not read the book so I am going to make one more quick comment about the characters. I loved that the descriptions of each character was sparse enough to let my imagination do the rest but there was enough there that I was not led astray. On YouTube you can find several fans who have cast their opinions as to who should play whom in a movie (they are actually in talks of a movie that is supposed to come out in 2011).

After reading the book I disagree with just about all the choices I saw. Hands down everyone has this scrawny pretty-boy playing Peeta. Wrong-o. Peeta is supposed to be big and able to throw around big bags of flour. For Katniss they usually have some dainty looking girl (most people have gone with Emily Browning). Umm...This girl kicks serious butt and she never describes herself as dainty. Most of the choices just suck. I really think the actors who play the characters cannot be too pretty and perfect. They need to have a somewhat savage look to them and they cannot be incredibly scrawny looking. Hopefully Hollywood doesn't screw that up. I actually picture Katniss to have a gymnast's build from all her climbing trees, hiking, and hunting.

There you have it. Go read the book if you haven't already! I'm off to start the second book, Catching Fire!!!! (There are my exclamation points)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Mock Cover

I had to share this. I'm thinking this is one of my favorite mock covers for my novel to date. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Water for Elephants

I just finished Sara Gruen's contemporary classic Water for Elephants. It was recommended to me by my good friend Kelli Buttars. She's an avid reader and has good taste in books so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'd seen the book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and, at one time, almost bought it, but for some reason or another I always put it back down, promising myself I would buy it the next time I came in.

Well, I am glad I finally gave in and purchased this book. It has romance, comedy, action, intrigue, dark secrets, and a charming elephant named Rosie. What more could you ask for?

When I finished The Greatest Knight I wanted a book that would just grab me and take me for a ride. Oddly enough I tried to plow through Atlas Shrugged. Wrong choice. When I started reading Water for Elephants I was immediately hooked. The main character, Jacob, is a veterinary student. At the beginning of the story his parents are killed in an accident which leaves him devastated. He leaves school, right in the middle of taking his final exam, and ends up on a circus train. Thus begins the adventure.

Intermingled in the narrative about Jacob's time with the circus, is an ninety-three year old Jacob in an old-folk's home. Gruen masterfully entwines the two stories together with parallels. I saw parallels, for obvious reasons, between old Jacob and Camel, the old and drunk cripple who befriends the young Jacob, and not so obviously between Rosie and Old Jacob. There are other parallels that I saw but they might be spoilers so I better not put them in the review.

The love between Jacob and Marlena is very believable. August and Uncle Al, as antagonists, are very easy to hate. I truly think, however, that the true star of the story is Rosie the elephant. I will just say this in order not to spoil the fun: She makes it possible for Jacob and Marlena to be together. I love how Gruen gave each animal a personality. Rosie is a sweet creature with a cute little personality.

The character development in this book is fantastic. Each character becomes realistic. I really enjoyed the relationship between Walter, a circus clown, and Jacob. At first Walter hates Jacob but, by the end of the story, they become true friends.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an enjoyable adventure story that will stay with you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Soul Burner Update Pt. 2

Yeah so you know how I was trying to finish the rough draft of my novel by Halloween? That's not going to happen obviously. I have now set my goal to have the rough draft done by New Year's Eve so I can start the revision process in January. Whew! Who knew writing a novel would be such an arduous task? Seriously. If you knew and didn't tell me, I will hunt you down. ;)

The book is going great actually. I've had some epiphanies about how to rework the whole thing which I am actually really excited for. I've had some really great feedback and help from some friends of mine, especially Kelli.

I also had an awesome idea for a cover to the book that I am going to try to create. It might be too complicated for the software I have. I will keep you posted on that.

So there you go. I will share the latest mock cover. Oh by the way...I am probably changing the title to The Shepherd of the Damned. It fits better than Soul Burner.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Autumn and Stuff

I am so anti-winter but I have to admit I do sorta like autumn. The leaves are changing and whatnot...yeah everything looks dead and nasty after awhile, but there is a different feeling in the air when fall comes around. Everyone seems to be holding their breath for the first snowfall and the impending doom of winter. More than that, though, there is a joy in the harvesting of gardens and as families and friends draw closer for the coming holidays.

With that said, I really, really miss summer. For those of you who don't know me, I want to live somewhere that has summer/spring weather all year round. That, to me, would be the ideal.

This Halloween sneaked up on me. I think I was so caught up in the remodel of the store, the trip to St. George, and other things that Halloween never caught my attention. I did decorate my parents' house for Halloween and it was quite a hit. I strung fake spiderwebs over the hutch in the living room and put orange lights on top of it to give it a creepy glow effect. I did have fun with that.

Today I took down the Halloween decor (I should have taken pictures. Oops.) and put up Thanksgiving stuff. I had fun with this yet again. I'm finding I can use my artistic eye for just about anything. I have to admit, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What other day do you get the excuse to be a glutton? No one looks at you like you're a pig either because they're pigging out just as much as you! It's remarkable. However, this year I am going to exercise a little more control than in previous years. I'm losing weight and that would just put me way behind.

My parents and Gigi were in Utah for the weekend of Halloween. My sister's family came over to avoid trick-or-treaters. I invited my friends, Mike and Lacey, to come over as well. I got a pizza from Papa Murphy's after work. When Kate pre-heated the oven some meatloaf juices that had dripped into the oven from a previous meal lit up. My brother in law had to use baking soda and everything to get the fire out. Scary.

I got home and the house was all smokey. We cleaned the oven, opened doors and windows to clear the air, and then got the party started. Morgan was dressed as a monkey and Wyatt was a lion. They were adorable in their little outfits (again I wish I had pictures).

Kate and her crew left before the pizza was done. Mike and Lacey and I watched The Proposal while we consumed the delicious pizza. That movie is very well done. I didn't think I would like seeing Sandra Bullock as a mean, beasty woman but she managed to still be funny even as a beeotch.

So there's the rundown of my Halloween night and my feelings about the changing seasons. Stay tuned for more!

Oh, hey, btw...I have officially 17 lbs. since I started working out in June. Boo. Yeah.