Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Matchy-Matchy

I got two new dress shirts for Christmas and have worn both of them to work already.



Yesterday I wore my green one. Lindsey, my friend and coworker, was also wearing green as you can see.




Today I wore my purple one. Lindsey was also wearing purple today. Great minds think alike!

Now...if we are wearing the same color tomorrow I will be really freaked out.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day!


Last night I stayed up til 1 AM wrapping and then arranging the presents. This morning, when I woke up at 7:30 AM I told myself "Who needs sleep? It's Christmas!" knowing that I might be able to have a nap later on in the day.

Silly me for getting up so early. I knew we would have to wait for Kate and Rico and crew to come. My mom told me they would be here by 8:00 AM and I said, half-jokingly, "Oh so they won't be here til 9:00 then." They arrived at 9:05 AM. Did I call it or what?

We then proceeded with the opening of presents. My favorite funny moment of it all was that my mom and I got each other the Glee Season 1 on DVD. She was laughing pretty hard when she opened my gift from her and I could not figure out why until I opened mine. It was awesome.

Poppa Got: Bachman Turner Overdrive CD, the new Eric Clapton album, a best hits of Neil Diamond, Dan in Real Life on DVD, an iPad from my mom, an official Flossie cattle vest from my aunt and uncle, a tie rack and a tie and other stuff I am sure.

Mom Got: The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale, Glee Season 1 on DVD, a journal to keep track of the books she has read, a LDS Christmas Songbook, a Men of Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD, an official Flossie Cattle vest, While You Were Sleeping on DVD, a Poo-Poo Panda (not sure about that one...), some dish cloths, a food saver, a saw, and a gun. Guess I can't give her a hard time anymore cuz she may pull out the gun on me.

Kate Got: a couple recipe books, a LDS Christmas Songbook, a Men of Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD, a shelf for her bedroom, a framed wedding picture of her and Rico (of course), The Sound of Music on DVD and other stuff.

Gigi Got: a Rapunzel doll, a Tinkerbell doll, a Tinkerbell tent, a Tinkerbell light, princess shoes and a tiara, princess lip gloss, a Polly Pocket set, and a bunch of other toys.

Jacob Got: two sets of dress shirts and ties, a tie rack, Glee Season 1 on DVD, a new camera (Canon Elph SD1400 IS), Scorch Trials by James Dashner, a Glee songbook so I can learn songs on my guitar, a Columbia 10-Function tool, pajama bottoms, dress socks, and a part of the Mama Says Nativity that I have been collecting.

Rico Got: The A-Team on DVD, a lamp and other tools for work, and a pair of pants, and other stuff I am sure.

Morgan and Wyatt Got: A Mr. Potato Head, building blocks, a Disney Cars racing set, a farm play set, and other little boy stuff. They weren't really too involved in the whole Christmas thing. Next year it will make more sense to them.

All of these blessings and gifts are all because of the Savior Jesus Christ who was born in a manger 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. Because of Him we are able to overcome our sins and become more like Him and our Father in Heaven. I am grateful for this Christmas season. What better way to celebrate the birth of our Savior than to share gifts and bring families together. I hope each and everyone of you has a joyous holiday and remember that Christ is the reason for the season.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I am Number Four


Rating: 4 out of 5 Glowing Hands

John Smith has just arrived in Paradise, Ohio, just another stop in a string of small towns where the 15-year-old has been hiding out from the Mogadorians. Those terrifying aliens are hellbent on destroying him and the other nine Loric children who have sought refuge on Earth. The Mogadorians are picking off the surviving kids in numerical order. The first three are dead and John's number is up. Will his Legacies, his defining super powers, develop in time for him to fight against the enemy? I Am Number Four is a breathless page-turner of a sci-fi novel that will have readers rooting for the teen alien who must unleash his fire power to save himself, his human friends, and the planet. This is the first of a slated multi-book series that, judging by this first book, will help reinvigorate a traditional YA genre that's grown a bit light on strong character development. So, gear-up sci-fi fans, the battle for Earth is on and there's a new kid in town! (Lauren Nemroff, Amazon.com)

I am not sure what drew me to this book. For the longest time I denied that it actually looked good to me. Maybe it was the bright cover that always caught my eye. After picking it up on at least three different occasions and trips to Barnes and Noble I figured that it was something I needed to read.

It was an entertaining read to say the least. While the pithy, blunt, and present progressive style of writing is hard to get used to, at first, I found that it creates a nice pacing for the novel. Sometimes, however, the straightforwardness also creates a biproduct called cheesiness. This is my only qualm with the novel. Sometimes the imagery and dialogue falls flat because of the writing style. And, honestly, I like Sarah at first but then, at the end, she's just sorta there. I wish she would have had more of a teenage reaction to finding out that John is an alien. Her reaction is far too mature for a fifteen year old so she, in turn, becomes less believable which then makes the story a little fake. I know what you're thinking: Jake, this is an alien story. But, you see, obviously the authors of this want this book to seem realistic to a degree if they are willing to call themselves Pittacus Lore and then use that name as one of the Elders of the Loric race. They are obviously putting everything out there.

Sadly that, because of the sparse and blunt writing, I am looking forward to the movie even more because it looks, just from the trailers I have seen, like they are going to give a little more depth to the characters that I wanted from them. Sarah never really seems like more than just the dream girl who unfailingly trusts this new boy. I am hoping the movie at least explains why she's so willing to stand next to him even after some of the weirdness that goes on with him.

The story is fascinating to me. While there are still things that don't make sense to me that I think should have been answered in this installment, I am thinking that the answers will all come together in the next books.

All in all it is a good, fun read that boasts high-octane action. However, if you are looking for depth and beautiful prose, this is not the book for you. I was entertained and am looking forward to the next book and the movie coming out in February so I gave it 4 out of 5 glowing hands.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leaning Tower of Chocolate

I wish I had taken a picture of this moment. But I didn't. So I guess I will have to just tell you about it and you can just imagine it in your mind.

Work is really insane right now. During Christmas we sell a lot of Florence's chocolates (if you have never tried them you must try them. They are delightful. You will never eat regular Hershey's chocolate again...okay maybe not but it is really good stuff). Anyway, yesterday we got a bunch of boxed chocolates. I mean, we're talking at least $2,000 worth if not more.

Today, my boss had the brilliant idea of putting all these heavy boxes full of boxed chocolates in this tiny little closet we have in the back of the store. It was piled to the ceiling and quite precarious looking. Even though, looking back on it, I should have been worried about it when I saw it, I just remember being amazed that he had been able to pile it so high.

So I am coming up the stairs after doing something...not sure what...and Lindsey asks me to come help her. She calls it "an adventure." She proceeds to tell me that the door does not open to the closet where the chocolates are. With a smirk on her face she tells me to open the door. I try and, sure enough, it feels like someone is leaning against the door on the other side.

Eventually we push and push until I can squeeze through the door. I can't immediately see what is holding the door but then I look up and see that the tower of chocolates has fallen. The base has crumbled, leaving the top toppling over into the door. Hence why we could not open the door. I was able to maneuver some things so that we could open the door more and, at one point, I was afraid for my life because I thought the boxes would fall on me and squash me.

Lindsey had gone to help a customer and I was left in the closet and unable to get out really which is when I was maneuvering things. She came back to help and squeezed into the closet. I told her we should take these boxes of magazines downstairs to make more room for the chocolates. I opened the door as wide as it would go and Lindsey said "Okay you can open it now." I said, "That's as good as it gets."

We shared a good laugh and still didn't fix the problem. There is always tomorrow. Hopefully the leaning tower of chocolate doesn't take someone out between now and then.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Befall: Offically Novel Length!

That is right, folks! Befall has officially reach 50,000 words which is the bare minimum word count for a novel. This is a great milestone and it has taken less than a year to get there which is a vast improvement for me. Last time I hit 50,000 words with my last novel it took about three years to get there.

Anyway, just wanted to share the joy!

FaeFever


Rating 4 out of 5 MacHalos

When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister's journal, she is stunned by Alina's desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister's killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it.

Mac's quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V'lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul.

The third installment in Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series finds MacKayla pretty much in the same position she's been in since the beginning. Still seeking revenge for her sister's murder, still trying to find the Sinsar-Dubh, the Dark Book/Beast thing that is wreaking havoc on Dublin, and still trying to figure out V'Lane and Jericho Barrons. This book, however, progresses nicely. Mac delves more and more deeply into the Fae world. Her relationship with Rowena is shoddy at best because her actions are always twisted to look different to the old woman.

Mac is a really great heroine. She is strong and witty yet manages to be girlie and soft at the same time. She is a very believable character. I have come to like V'Lane more in this book. He seems to have some hidden agenda, but I am not sure what that is yet. I have always been on Team Barrons until this book. Now I am iffy. Especially with the ending.

Speaking of the ending. Talk about a cliffhanger. Mac is left to fend for herself and it becomes obvious that it was all rigged so that it would happen that way. And then she becomes a SPOILER with the four SPOILER who make her SPOILER and lose her SPOILER. And then the SPOILER has to come out at the very last second. Ughhhh! I wish I could just go to the next book right away but I have to read another book first, so I just get to be patient for awhile.

Honestly the writing in this isn't that great, and I have said that before. Moning manages, however, to give some depth and insight that becomes the salvation to what could be just a light, shallow read. She takes the mythology of Ireland and makes it her own which is quite remarkable. At first I was skeptical about the fairy folk actually being an alien race, but I find that it actually works.

Barrons and Mac still have a great relationship. I have read other reviews that say they like that the relationship has stayed tense. I do too...to a degree. It doesn't seem like there was much progression with their relationship in this book which was disappointing. The last book found them in a lustful wrestling fight at the end which was great. In this book, all signs point to Barrons being evil and untrustworthy. It would have been nice to have a balance like Moning has normally had with Barrons. He usually has a redeeming moment, but there were none in this book. As a member of Team Barrons, I would like to think that he has redeeming qualities. Here is hoping that the next book serves as Jericho's redemption.

My only other qualm with the book is how MacKayla clings to the Barbie doll side of her. Sometimes her pink fetishes are ridiculous. I realize I will never understand that because I am a guy, but seriously it is starting to feel out of place. A girl who has seen as much as Mac has may want to cling to some part of her childhood in order to be sane, but there needs to be some tampering of it. At least that is what I think.

Despite the two or three qualms I have with the book, I found that this one was one of the better installments, so I gave it a 4 out of 5 MacHalos.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Tale of the Christmas Lights and the Missing iPod

It started to snow right when we finished the last of the lights.


Oh the Lights!


Once upon a time, my parents went to Utah for two nights and left me home alone. I had asked for the Saturday off in order to go with them, but a change of plans had made it so I could not go. During the weeks leading up to this Saturday off I had thought up a plan to make a surprise for my family. I would put the Christmas lights up. Not only would I put up Christmas lights in the normal spots (i.e. not up high and strung to the house), but I would also go all out and make a winter wonderland for my family for when they returned. This was a huge endeavor. I had never put up Christmas lights by myself.

I enlisted the help of my friend, Tyler, and we went to work after eating some Gandalfo's sandwiches. Okay so Tyler had a gyro (year-o) and I had a sandwich, but who's being that specific? Oh wait, I am. Anyway.

It took forever just to figure out what we were going to do. I purchased some lights for the extravaganza, but math is not my strong suit so I did not get nearly enough lights to go across the whole house. Luckily, I found some other lights to put up.

Now, I hate ladders. Absolutely, positively hate them. I kept telling Tyler this over and over. So he ended up being the one to go up the ladder. I was the one who got to move the ladder and make sure he didn't fall. Even watching him go up the ladder made me a little nauseous and nervous. I had to go up at least once just to say that I did. Yeah. I only did two clips and I was so ready to get down to the safety of stable, sturdy ground. After that I told Tyler he would be doing the ladder the rest of the time. There was no way in hell I was going up again.

So here I am in the middle of a snowy Christmas season with two things I really hate: snow and ladders. I must be going crazy.

The night was topped off with some hot chocolate. I had mine with toast. Tyler would not have his with toast because he thinks that's weird. If, by weird, he means "fan-freakin'-tastically tasty" then I would agree with him.

My Saturday off was pretty productive and stress-free. I cleaned and wrapped Christmas presents and switched stuff around in my room to make it flow better. Ever since I moved in my dresser has been clear across the room from the closet where the rest of my clothes are. Drives me nuts to have to walk all the way across the room back and forth just to get dressed. So now I don't have to.

Anyway...my parents and Gigi got home and they loved the lights. My dad and I went and strung up more lights. Before said adventure, I had stuffed my iPod in my coat pocket. Don't ask me why. I am not sure why I thought that would be a good idea.

Gigi was "helping" us string up the lights as well for a bit and I was playing with her hat and it ended up being stuffed in my coat pocket.

After I had been inside for a bit, my mom asked me to run to the grocery store. I usually just listen to my iPod in my car so I went to get it and it was no longer in my coat pocket! This would be the second time in just a few months that my iPod has gone missing, so I was frantic. I went to the store preoccupied with the idea of my iPod getting buried in the snow. So as soon as I got home I went on a search for it with no results.

I kept thinking that it would turn up eventually because that was what happened the last time I lost it. Actually the last time I lost it I ended up standing on my head to find it, so I guess you can't say it "turned up eventually."

By about 9:00 I was all tense and frustrated and in a panic. I was certain that it was ruined if it was, in fact, buried in the snow, but I had to find it just to be sure. I had been praying over and over in my head to find it, then I had gotten to my knees and said a fervent prayer pleading for the answer. As I sat and focused on my impressions after I prayed I got the thought that I should go ask my mom. I decided that I knew better and that I would go outside one more time then ask my mom if I didn't turn up with anything. My dad came out to find out what I was doing and I told him. He went back inside to get the flashlight and he apparently told my mom what was going on. She came out and started to help me look.

We were on our way out to where I had taken the pictures (above) of the lights and she bent over, saying "What's that?" and she had it in her hand. I just thought "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?" When she handed it to me it was really dry. When I gave her a hug she said "It was inside this whole time."

Apparently I had forgotten that I had sat down on cushioned chair in our front room before I went outside to help my dad. It had fallen out of my coat pocket when I was sitting down. Good thing. My dad had told my mom to go out and act like she found it outside. She did a good job. When I came inside my dad said "Guess you will have to wait til it melts out there to find your iPod." He didn't know that Mom had given it to me already. Such funny people my parents are. At any rate, I am glad the mystery was solved and my iPod was not ruined. Miracles never cease!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twilight: Setting the Record Straight




It was brought to my attention that there were some discrepancies with my ratings of Twilight on Goodreads (it does not exist any more so don't worry about it...I fixed it.) I was called a hypocrite by someone in Spain or somewhere who read my review on Maximum Ride by James Patterson (terrible stuff, btw) and so I thought I would set the record straight.

I got into Twilight long before the hype it is now. I loved it then. The first book is really good actually. Bella is a likable character, Edward is great, yada yada yada. I have no real qualms with the first book. The following books get worse and worse until Meyer drops the ball on the last book.

The thing is: My feelings about this series changed over time as I got to thinking about the themes behind it. Yes, I used to defend Twilight. I still do to some degree. Stephenie Meyer took vampires and made them even more enticing than Anne Rice did. I actually love the story line. The writing is terrible. Usually it gets better as you go along in a series but this one it gets worse.

I don't know. I have a serious love-hate relationship with this series. Bella is one of the weakest heroines in contemporary literature when she is sold as being some strong-willed and defiant hot young thing. I just don't see what Edward sees in her. Well, ok, in the first book, yes, she has an appeal. As she gets more and more clingy and whiny, I don't see what an immortal vampire would want with her.

Meyer has built this amazing relationship between Edward and Bella. Ever since New Moon, she has created a love triangle between Bella and Jacob and Edward. By the time you read Eclipse it is a very tense relationship between the three. At the end of Eclipse, Bella realizes she does love Jacob and the reader is left with the question "WHO WILL SHE CHOOSE?"

That is never even brought up in Breaking Dawn. I felt like I was totally let down with this one. Suddenly Bella and Edward are getting married and Jacob is out of the picture basically. Meyer dropped the ball on one of the most intense parts of her story: the love triangle. Instead we get a weird honeymoon, a crazy vampire pregnancy, a random section of the book from Jacob's perspective (which doesn't make sense because the whole series has been from Bella's perspective, the switch just doesn't feel cohesive), and then a battle at the end that just falls flat.

And to top it off, Jacob falls for Bella's baby. Sick. And Bella has no motherly instincts whatsoever that kick in.

I honestly think the movies ruined the books for me. Mostly Kristen Stewart's poor portrayal of Bella. Really? I don't remember reading Bella sputtering and twitching as much as Kristen Stewart must have read into the character. Blech.

Anyway...I may get lots of hate mail for this review. And I plan on re-reading the series in the future so I can see if my opinion changes. For now...Book 1 is the best then it is all downhill from there. And that is my opinion.

There ya go, Shagiya or whatever the hell your name is. Satisfied?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Great Expectations


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Moldy Wedding Cakes

I feel bad giving Mr. Dickens a rating below 5 for any of his works. He is one of the greats. There is no doubt about that. This is just not my favorite of his. While there are some awesome things within it, I found myself yearning for the end of it. It probably didn't help that I knew how it ended because I read some spoilers before reading it.

It starts out really great. And I was impressed with the continuous them of expectations, gratitude, and family throughout. Dickens, the brilliant man that he was, starts the novel in a graveyard which is where all expectations end. The relationship between Pip and the escaped convict is interesting because it continues throughout the book. Pip always thinks about him and that fateful day when he brought the man a file to break his chains and some food and drink.

Odd thing about this novel is that I lost interest as soon as Pip went to London. Once things started going good for him I was not very excited. Guess that is another issue because about 90% of the novel takes place when everything is going good for Pip.

A very poignant relationship that I wish was given more breadth was that of Estella and Miss Havisham. I loved when Estella freaks out on Miss Havisham and accuses her of making her into a monster. Miss Havisham is not a mother. She has got to be one of the weirdest women in English literature, but she and Estella were my favorite parts of this book.

Speaking of Miss Havisham...The theme of expectations is seen in her as she was jilted on her wedding day. Her expectations stopped at that moment. Even her clocks are still set at the very time when she was jilted. Her whole life is put on hold. Miss Havisham is the embodiment of what happens to us when our expectations of life are set too high and then it crumbles around us. None of us should strive to be like her.

Estella is an interesting character. At first I don't understand Pip's attraction to her. She's a brat to him when they are young. She treats him like garbage. But then there's an interesting thing that happens to their relationship. I tend to think that she actually loves Pip because she would not let him have her. She knew she would just destroy him, so by not returning her love she was actually protecting Pip from herself. How depressing is that? But this, alone, makes me think that Estella is a strong heroine.

Pip drives me nuts. Why can't he just stay at home, become a blacksmith, marry Biddy, and be done with it? I feel bad for the way he treats Joe and Biddy as he becomes a gentleman. This, I think, is Dickens making a commentary on the richer society.

At any rate, this book is worth reading. I did skim some of it because I lost patience, but I definitely think it is one of those classics that should be read simply because of the timeless themes within it. As a toast to Miss Havisham I have given it a rating of 3.5 out of 5 Moldy Wedding Cakes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thirsty Imagination 2 Year Anniversary


Hey, so I was perusing my old posts and I went to the very first one and realized that it was posted November 27, 2008. Woah! Two years to the day! I am impressed with my efforts in keeping up with my blog. Thank you to all my followers. You all are awesome. Stay tuned for more insanity!

Note: This post is probably, technically, posted on the November 28, 2010, but that is just a little technicality I am willing to overlook. So you better overlook it as well. Ha!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I cannot believe it is that time of the year again! I absolutely love Thanksgiving. It is a time to get together with family and reflect on all the things you are grateful for. What better way to do that than to gorge out on a fantastic feast with the ones you love. I also think that this holiday is a perfect precursor to Christmas because we can get in the mode of gratitude and segue into a celebration of Christ's birth.

To celebrate Thanksgiving I am going to do my annual list of things I am grateful for. They are in no particular order and are not exclusive. I don't think any list will ever be able to show all the things I am really grateful for, but this is the best I can do.

1. Good movies: Inception, Nine, Up in the Air, Elf, Princess Bride, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the list goes on and on and will continue to grow. Hollywood still does some good work!
2. Family: Who else would put up with me?
3. Great friends: I have old friends who continue to stick by me and prove their undying friendship and I continue to make new friends.
4. My car: Phoebe is still going strong. She is actually really good in the snow which is a bonus for her.
5. My book: I am so grateful for how it is all falling into place! I really think it has some great potential and I can't wait for everyone to read it.
6. Hadjii: My dog's breath may stink and he may yap obnoxiously sometimes, but he is a pretty awesome dog. I don't know what I will do when he is gone.
7. Art: In all shapes and forms I love it.
8. New-found confidence: I am the most comfortable in my skin that I have ever been in my life. I finally dress the way I want to and have fun with creating different looks. And my body is in the best shape it has been in a long time. I also feel more self-assured when talking to people. It is such a big step in my life!
9. Books: Love them! Can't get enough of them!
10. Deodorant: Random but...can you imagine life without it? Gross.
11. Ties: I am becoming a tie freak. I love finding new ties with awesome colors and designs.
12. Beaches: For giving me something to dream of when I am in the middle of an Idaho blizzard. And for the opportunity I had to spend a whole day on a beach in California this year.
13. Decisions, free agency, and choice: I love that I have been given the freedom to choose to act or be acted upon.
14. The beautiful women in my life: my mom, my sisters (Katie and Brittany), my niece Gigi, Sue and Susan who make work awesome, all my aunts, my grandmas (Taylor and Phillips), my cousins...women are amazing!
15. Dreams: Having aspirations and desires of an ideal future are sometimes the only thing that keep me going.
16. The gospel of Jesus Christ: Restored in its fullness, I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
17. Experiences: Good and bad. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to preach the gospel of Christ and to bring people closer to the Lord in Florida. Also I am grateful for the hard times I have gone through in order to make me who I am.
18. The great minds of history: Da Vinci was an amazing man. He had so many inventions that I never knew he had a hand in. Shakespeare who has done more for literature than any other person in the world.
19. Ireland: For being a never-ending inspiration for me, a place of dreams, and a land I wish to visit someday.
20. Games: They're fun. That's all.
21. Dates: I have gone on a lot of dates recently. Some good. Some not-so-good. But all are great for the experience.
22. Heartbreak: Weird to be grateful for such a thing but I think I have learned a lot from the heartbreaks I have experienced.
23. Holidays: I love celebrating and really getting involved in holidays.
24. Flu shots: I just got one this year and I think it has made a huge difference already.
25. Blood drives: I have the universal blood donor type so I went a few weeks ago and donated for the second time. While the little nurses who were taking my blood were not the nicest I really felt like I did a good deed.


That is really all I can think of right now.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your feast!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blasted Blizzard

Anyone who knows me knows my extreme disgust with snow and all the cold that goes along with it. I lived in Florida for a couple years, and it was amazing to see life without snow. Winters and Christmases are actually really delightful without snow. And it cools down enough in the winter there that you realize it is winter. I remember shivering once while I was there. It was in about October or November and it got down to 40 degrees but it was cold and wet. That was the one and only time I turned on the heat at my Florida apartment. While there are other things that you have to deal with (extreme heat, huge bugs, cockroaches, humidity, hurricanes) I would actually prefer those to blizzards.

Extreme heat: Just drink lots of water. If you have an indoor job (which most people do) you will be in air conditioned buildings.

Huge bugs: I saw a grasshopper that was bigger than my hand. Seriously. You can just spray for them or just let them be. They really are not that big a deal.

Cockroaches: They are nasty. Keep a shoe handy that you can squash them with or you can spray cockroach spray on them. It works wonders.

Humidity: I actually miss the humidity. Sure it makes the cold colder and the hot hotter. Drink lots of water and even keep a handkerchief around so you can wipe down your sweaty forehead.

Hurricanes: Yeah they do lots of damage. Of all the big disasters I would take a hurricane before I went through an earthquake or a tornado. You get a lot more warning so you can prepare for a hurricane while the others usually take you by surprise.

Blizzards, on the other hand: Come by surprise. You have to push through drifts. You have to plow and shovel your way out of your driveway. If you just have a little car you get to just white-knuckle it to your destination and hope that other drivers are being just as cautious as you.

Southeast Idaho has been in a vicious winter storm for the past couple days. It started on Sunday night and was pretty bad all Monday. Then we went on blizzard, winter warning Monday the 22nd. All day today we have been on this warning. It is nasty out there. My dad works in the ER in Idaho Falls and, on the police scanner, all he heard was "A rollover at this location! A rollover at that location!" People are idiots.

Today I was supposed to go to work. I called in because I was not about to brave the roads. Good thing I did. My boss had the stores closing at 5 PM so I would only be working for four hours. It would definitely not be worth stressing to get there for that short of a shift.

It's times like these I really want a Jeep. I have been wanting one for a few months now but this just reaffirms my desire. Someday. When I have a better job. Then again, maybe I will be living somewhere warmer so I won't really need a Jeep. But a Jeep would still be really fun.

We are starting Christmas early. Here comes a long winter. Oh the joys!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Talent Show

My friend Lindsey is in charge of all the activities in my branch which is a huge undertaking. She is a go-getter, hum-dinger, ball of fire so it is a perfect job for her to do. Awhile ago I suggested to her that we have a talent show. Not just any talent show but one where people with talents that are not in the performing arts could also share their abilities. For example, a writer could do a reading of something they've written, an artist could bring some of their artwork to display, a skier could bring photos of them skiing. You get the drift.

Usually I would fit myself in the writer's category and just bring something I wrote and do a reading for the show. But I have always wanted to be able to sing a song and play the guitar at a talent show. So my goal is to prepare a song to sing and play at the talent show at the end of December.

I have narrowed the song choices down. Some of them are originally done by girls but they would work to be sung by a male as well. In fact, some of them I think would be really awesome sung by a guy. I may end up just learning the song on guitar and finding a singer to sing it for me. I'm not sure how confident I am with this whole thing yet.

At any rate, here are the song choices so far:

Careless Whisper, as remade by Seether but originally performed by George Michael
Basket Case by Sara Bareilles (this one would require some wording changes for a male voice)
Sparks Fly by Taylor Swift
Heal Over by KT Tunstall
The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot by Brand New
2 is Better than 1 by Boys Like Girls (I would try to get a girl to do a duet with me)

If you like one of those more than the others let me know. If you have other suggestions, I am open to them. Let me know what you think!

Oh and did I mention that Lindsey put me in charge of the talent show? Yeah. Me and my big mouth. See if I ever give her any ideas again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spectacles


This week I joined the population of people who wear glasses. I am near-sighted so I have to wear glasses basically all the time except for when I am reading or doing closeup things.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mall Scavenger Hunt Date

Yes. Two posts in one day.

The night before my awesome Sunday with Elder D. Todd Christofferson, I went on a really fun date. My date was Kira. It was a large group date with six couples. First on the agenda was a mall scavenger hunt. Here are a few of the pictures from that part:



I was a little late because of work. This is my date, Kira, giving a sad, dateless, princess face.



Apparently we are confused about either where we are or where we are going.



I was not here for this moment but I wish I had been.




Jon and Sarah Ann. So sad I missed the feather boa.



Monkey hat!



The Vogue version. Hot!



The GQ version. Yeah. We're cool like that.



Not sure how to rotate the picture. Sorry. We are hiding behind the bush. One of us took it a little more literally than the rest of us. *cough cough* Kira!



You can't see the logo on the side but the hat is a Harry Potter hat.


The second part of the date took place at Jon's house. We played a wild game of Curses, ate apple pie and ice cream, and played Kinect video games. It was pretty epic!

Elder Christofferson

Yesterday was an amazing day! I went to church early because I had been warned, beforehand, that there would be a shortage of seats because Elder D. Todd Christofferson would be coming to my little branch to speak. That is right, an Elder in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was our speaker in little ol' Idaho Falls Community Park Branch. How cool is that?

Apparently his daughter-in-law used to be in my branch and is still very good friends with my branch president. Elder Christofferson was in town to bless her baby and my branch president asked if he could come speak to us.

He spoke about gratitude which is a subject that I think the leaders of the church are really emphasizing lately. Gee, you think they're trying to tell us something? He said we should all strive to be the one leper who returned to thank Jesus Christ for being healed.

After that he bore apostolic testimony of the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was such a beautiful reminder of this great gift that I know I take for granted a lot.

At the end of the meeting we all got to shake hands with Elder Christofferson and his wife, Katheryn.

If you want to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, click here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bloodfever


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Shades

Mackayla Lane's ordinary life underwent a complete makeover when she landed on Ireland's shores and was plunged into a dark, deadly realm unlike any she ever imagined. In her fight to stay alive, Mac must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year old book of the blackest magic imaginable that holds the key to power over both the worlds of Fae and Man. Pursued by Fae assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she cannot trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and irresistible men: V'lane, the insatiable Fae, who can turn sensual arousal into an obsession for any woman; and the ever-inscrutable Jericho Barrons, a man as alluring as he is mysterious.

For centuries, the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them...


I actually finished this a few days ago just have not had time to sit down and write a review.
This was another fluff read, but I find myself fully involved in the story. There are enough new twists and introductions of interesting creatures that my interest stays pretty high.

Mac is still likable although she is losing her innocent, cute charm that she had in the first book. Granted, she cannot stay innocent and whatever forever or else she could never be a worthy opponent for the Lord Master. She still has a nice voice throughout the novel though. I find myself laughing or smiling at some of the quirky banter and the things she says. I still love that she says "petunia" instead of "ass."

As for the love interests in this story, V'lane and Jericho Barrons, I am rooting for Jericho. He is a much more interesting character than V'lane. There is some deep, dark secret that Barrons is hiding (although I think I have it figured out, we shall see if I am right...if I am wrong then kudos to Ms. Moning) that keeps getting hinted at. Also the chemistry is more prevalent between Barrons and Mac. They have a nice love-hate relationship where they merely seem to tolerate each other yet, at the same time, are attracted to each other. Of all the relationships in the book, theirs is the most interesting and exciting.

This book gets even darker than the first one. The ending where Mac is captured by SPOILER CENSOR and partakes of SPOILER CENSOR to become SPOILER CENSOR is somewhat disgusting yet manages to be intriguing. And I have to admit, the fight scene between Mac and Jericho that turns into something else is quite intense.

Moning walks a fine line between making this a very fun and light ride while also giving some depth that can be surprising.

I am getting tired of how everyone is using Mac for their own agenda. I suppose that is what Moning is going for. She needs to be able to trust someone, right? The introduction of the sidhe-seer clan is interesting and, so far, I like Dani the best but we're not even sure we can trust them.

You may have noticed this book got a half point knocked off from the rating I gave the first book. While this is entertaining I just feel like some of it is being dragged out unnecessarily. And Mac gets a little annoying. So that is why I gave it 3.5 out of 5 Shades instead of 4. So there ya go.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Busy Day!

I am always proud of myself when I have a busy day in which I am productive and doing things. While sometimes it is nice to just relax, for the most part I like to use my days off by cleaning, doing laundry, and doing all the little things that I have been meaning to do. Sometimes I am not nearly as productive as I would like to be.

Today was a productive day! Yay!

9:18 AM: Woke up, stumbled out of bed (I know it's not early but I was groggy...)

9:30 AM to 10:15 AM: ZUMBA! Yes, 46 minutes of pure cardio partying. It was delightful!

10:28 AM to 10:42 AM: Talked on the phone with my sister, Katie, where she asked me to get up at the butt-crack of dawn tomorrow so I could babysit my nephews. I acquiesced and now I am wondering why I am not in bed instead of writing a blog post.

10:50 AM to 11:30 AM: Carried all the lawn chairs and pots that have been outside during the summer into the barn for the winter. It is a sad day when we acknowledge the impending doom of winter and take all the summer stuff down.

11:30 AM to 12:30 PM: Took a hot shower after getting soaked from carrying snow-laden chairs into the barn, got dressed in a mightily dapper looking outfit, took off to Idaho Falls.

1:00 PM to 2:15 PM: Olive Garden deliciousness for a birthday lunch with my coworkers and wonderful friends, Sue and Susan. Both their names are really Susan but it would be more confusing if I said "I went to lunch with Susan and Susan." Besides, Sue doesn't mind being called Sue while Susan hates being called Sue. So there ya go. It was delicious. We had fonduta and I ordered the cheese ravioli.

2:15 PM: Went to Wal-Mart, set up an appointment with the vision center for just 45 minutes later.

2:15 PM to 3:00 PM: Wandered around Wal-Mart. Talked to some old coworkers. Found some Christmas gifts for my Poppa and a couple DVDs to add to my collection.

3:00 PM to 3:45 PM: Eye appointment with Dr. Golden Smith. Great name, yeah? He said I have mild near-sightedness (myopia) and some dryness in my eyes. I have a prescription for glasses which will probably arrive next week.

4:00 PM to 5:00 PM: Went to Walgreens to get a flu shot. They were super busy! Not with flu shots. I was the only one that wanted to get poked. Everyone else wanted drugs and I was wondering why I was the only dumb one that wanted a shot. Ha! I am hoping that this shot will make it so I don't get as sick as I have been getting lately.

5:15 PM to 6:15 PM: Drove to Kate and Rico's house where I took some Tylenol and hung out while the Kate and Rico and the bitty boys ate dinner and then watched a little bit of X-Men Origins: Wolverine with Rico.

6:15 PM to 6:30 PM: Went to meet up with my branch at the church house for FHE.

7:00 PM to 7:45 PM: FHE at the Museum of Idaho where they have a Da Vinci exhibit that was pretty cool. That man was a genius!

8:00 PM to 9:45 PM: Madness at Dairy Queen with people from the branch. It was a great night.

9:45 PM to 10:05 PM: Drove home, feel sore from the flu shot, talked to Mom for a minute.

10:05 PM to Present Moment: Wasted time that should have been spent sleeping.

There you have it. A whole run-down of my awesome, stupendous, and fulfilling day!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Who Knew?

Hey, so I have to share some little tidbits of insight that I just learned.

1. This is thanks to Clinton Kelly who is co-host on TLC's What Not to Wear. He has a new book called Oh No She Didn't. I found it at Barnes and Noble the other day and flipped through it. Now, I like to think that I have some fashion sense and it is only getting better as I get older. I am still learning how to dress my body type which can be a challenge sometimes because a) I'm short and b) I'm pretty square. Anyway, inside of this little book he talks about colors a little bit and he answers the question if you can put black and brown together. If anyone knows my mom you know that she cringes whenever someone even suggests putting brown and black together. According to Kelly, brown and black "go." As long as the brown is like a milk chocolate brown and doesn't blend too much with the black. Go figure. And apparently lighter navy blue can be worn with black as well. The one I will never, ever let go is brown and gray. That just looks nasty.

2. I read an article in LDS Living magazine about the "winter blues." If you know me, you know I despise winter especially that obnoxious, cold, white stuff that falls from the sky. Pretty much if I could live somewhere that did not have winter, I would do it in a heartbeat. Anyway, I wouldn't say I necessarily get full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD...the acronym is so fitting, clever people), but I do get the grumps. Anyway, in this article it gave some ways to fight the winter blues. One of the ways is to get rid of winter blues is to decrease melatonin which is, usually, decreased with sunlight. Naturally it decreases in our body when the sun comes up which is why we usually wake up when the sunlight hits the window for awhile. I did not know this. I knew melatonin was in milk and it's a sleeping agent but I had no idea that it was a natural, scientifically researched, actual occurrence that increases in the winter because we don't get as much sunlight during the winter. Now I can understand why I am usually so much sleepier in the winter time. There are lamps that you can get that will help you decrease the melatonin in your system so you can be more chipper.

There ya go.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Darkfever


Rating 4 out of 5 OOPs

MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands….


This was a random find at B&N. I ended up in a section I rarely go in and there was a display for thrillers upon which was this book. It was a good find.

Ok.

Moning's series is a total fluff read, but sometimes that is not a bad thing if it is done right. In other words it has to be pure entertainment and I don't have moments where I roll my eyes in disgust. The characters don't have to be perfect because, hey, it's a fluff read, but they have to be consistent, entertaining, and interesting. The YA novels I have read that are, also, fluff reads (let's be honest) do not meet all of these criteria.

Darkfever delivers. The main character, MacKayla Lane, is awesome. She is a pretty girl obsessed with clothes, the color pink, manicures, and shopping who ends up in Ireland searching for her sister's murderer. While such a girl would not realistically be in such a situation it is an interesting enough premise that kept me going.

What made me interested in this book is that it takes place in Ireland and it is about the fae folk. Moning puts an excellent spin on the fairy mythology (although I snickered a little at the idea that the fairies are aliens from space which is an idea that is implied rather than spoken). Even the beautiful fairies are not to be trusted. MacKayla (Mac for short) can't seem to find a single person in Dublin that she can trust.

As far as the writing, yeah, it lacks. There are obvious plot holes that are easily passed over because the action never stops. I'm not sure. I'm torn simply because I know I'm reading garbage, but I like it. Sometimes it is nice to have a reprieve from heavy reading. Moning's book is a nice little jaunt that is enjoyable, entertaining, and is actually funny (I actually laughed out loud a few times). I give it 4 out of 5 Objects of Power or, as Mac calls them, OOPs.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!



Happy Halloween, everyone!

I usually don't get into the whole dressing up for Halloween, but this year I decided that I should. In years past I have regretted not dressing up and I was not going to let that happen again.

This is the result:

Surprise! I was a leprechaun for Halloween. I went to the big Halloween Bash in Idaho Falls after work. People didn't recognize me which was funny.

So there ya go.

P.S. Another book review to come. Possibly tomorrow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ape House


Rating: 3 out of 5 Bonobos

Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena are no ordinary apes. These bonobos, like others of their species, are capable of reason and carrying on deep relationships—but unlike most bonobos, they also know American Sign Language.
Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn’t understand people, but animals she gets—especially the bonobos. Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she’s ever felt among humans . . . until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter who braves the ever-present animal rights protesters outside the lab to see what’s really going
on inside.

When an explosion rocks the lab, severely injuring Isabel and “liberating” the apes, John’s human interest piece turns into the story of a lifetime, one he’ll risk his career and his marriage to follow. Then a reality TV show featuring the missing apes debuts under mysterious circumstances, and it immediately becomes the biggest—and unlikeliest—phenomenon in the history of modern media. Millions of fans are glued to their screens watching the apes order greasy take-out, have generous amounts of sex, and sign for Isabel to come get them. Now, to save her family of apes from this parody of human life, Isabel must connect with her own kind, including John, a green-haired vegan, and a retired porn star with her own agenda.

After a stellar book like Water for Elephants it is hard to follow that up, and I applaud Sara Gruen for actually releasing another book. Water for Elephants has such a following of fans that Gruen had a monumental task in front of her when writing another book. I am happy to say that her attempt was semi-successful. Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and it was such a huge book that she decided she could never follow-up with another book. While that is sad because Lee was such a remarkable talent, I think it would have lessened her classic if she had written more.

Now, with that said, I feel that I have to defend Gruen. I read some other reviews on this book and I was getting so frustrated with how many people compared it to Water for Elephants. Yes, it is written by the same author, but it is a completely different story.

First of all, Water for Elephants takes place in the Depression Era while Ape House is smack dab in the middle of our technology-driven, reality-TV thriving time. The characters have obvious differences. And, honestly, the focus is more on the animal element in this book than there was in Water for Elephants. Where the animals are a major backdrop to Water for Elephants they are a pivotal piece in Ape House. Everything hinges on the rescuing of the bonobos from the hands of an ex-porn king producer only concerned with ratings and not the safety and well-being of the apes.

If you judge the two books as completely separate entities it becomes more interesting. Ape House is really an incredible book. Had Gruen written it first, people probably would have liked it more than her previous novel. What I loved about it was that she compares human nature to ape nature, and, what we find, is that there really are more similarities than we would care to admit.

When John Thigpen gets jealous about men staring at her wife at a pool, he mouths "Mine," to them, establishing ownership in a very animalistic way. At the end, when John's wife thinks that he had an affair, she is found cleaning, scrubbing away germs in the bathroom, in a fury. Isabelle is a protective woman who throws food in the face of a man she thinks is partially responsible for the bombing of her ape project. These are just some of the behaviors we see the human characters exhibit. At some points, the apes seem more human than the humans. This, to me, is a stunning insight and Sara Gruen never forces it. She implies it subtly and it works.

What doesn't work, for me, is the story. At times it is unbelievable and, sometimes, contrived. While there are moments of "Woah!" I was never really fully drawn into the story. The problem with having a story where you're also showing the humans as an exhibit is it creates some sort of distance between the reader and the characters which is hard to do right. I know I could never do it in my own writing.

As far as the characters, I actually really liked John Thigpen, but Isabelle is hard to like. Through the whole book she is abrasive and traumatized. Although there are moments where I liked her, she was my least favorite of the cast. John is a victim, however, which bugs me. He just seems to get run over and never really takes control of the situation until the very end. I was pleased when he finally stood up for himself.

My favorite character, by far, was Celia. She was awesome and, if Gruen were to write a book with her as the main character, I would so be there.

So, I judged this book without thinking about Water for Elephants and I found that it still comes up a little short. While it is really good, it isn't spectacular. I do feel smarter for knowing more about the bonobos, but that is about it. That is why I gave it 3 out of 5 bonobos. Here's to hoping that Sara Gruen does not give up and keeps writing because she is truly a remarkable talent in our contemporary literature world.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hilary Duff is an Author?


No, this is not a joke. And this post is not a book review. I was browsing my favorite store in the whole wide world and saw this cover. I find it funny that flowers are so "romantic" and symbolize such because they are decaying plant genitalia. But that is besides the point.

I saw the cover then I saw the name. Now, I have no qualms with Hilary Duff. Actually I really like her music and I think she has managed to be an elegant actress who survived childhood stardom and did not ruin her life with partying and wild ways. Lindsay Lohan should take notes. Duff is smart, and I think that is awesome. I just never pictured her as an author or that she was even inclined that way.

All right, I actually read the premise because I had to see if I wasn't just dreaming. This book is real. Hilary Duff, the original Hannah Montana only Lizzie McGuire, actually wrote a book.

The premise is actually promising and I will probably actually read it. In fact, ever since I left Barnes and Noble I have wondered why I didn't just buy it. It is paranormal romance. She jumped on that bandwagon. But it seems to be a little different which is intriguing to me. So perhaps there will be a book review of it on this blog in the near future.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grady

This is just for fun.

I like to visualize my characters when I write and the easiest way to do that is to find actors that would best be able to play them were they to make a movie of the book. Tonight I was watching Kick Ass (an awesome movie, btw, I am a total fan).

For a long time I had a hard time figuring out who could play Grady simply because there are not very many red-headed actors out there. Then I got to thinking that it did not really matter. The actor could just dye his hair. So I started to look at actors with the same features that I picture minus the red hair.

Here is what I came up with:


1. Penn Badgley


Penn is a great choice for Grady. He has the mop of curly hair, a sense of style, and the ladies love him. While Grady is not necessarily the main heartthrob of the book, he does have a certain appeal that must be present. He has been in Easy A, Gossip Girl, and Forever Strong.


2. Anton Yelchin


I think Anton is a really great actor. He has proven himself to be very versatile and I really don't think an Irish accent would be a hard thing for him to pull off. He's got the look with the wild curls and the square jaw and light-colored eyes. Yelchin has been in Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, and Charlie Bartlett.



3. Aaron Johnson


The reason I brought up Kick Ass at the beginning of the post is because, as I was watching Aaron Johnson, I kept seeing Grady in him. There is even a scene in the movie where his hair looks slightly red and I was all excited. His breakout movie was Kick Ass, but he has a lot of films under his belt such as Nowhere Boy and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.


You're probably thinking "Jake, they all look the same." Maybe so. They have similar features, but I think each actor would be able to bring a different Grady to the table. Who would you prefer to see as Grady? Any of my top three? Someone else you think is better? Let me know.

That's all for now, folks.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Forgot


Forgot to post this picture of the date.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Awesome Date

Last Friday I had an awesome date. It took some meticulous planning and preparation for this event and I think it actually paid off.

I took a girl from my branch named Heidi. My friend, Tyler, took a girl he met on an American and Church history tour named Ali. And then Michael and Lacey came as well.

We had this little shin-dig at my house. I picked up Heidi around seven (she knows of my chronic condition that is called tardiness, I swear it is a growing problem these days). We came back to my house where we met up with the other two couples.

Randomly, when Mike and Lacey arrived, my aunt and uncle who live in Utah had followed them to our driveway, so when we answered the door, I was pretty surprised. They stayed long enough to leave a note for my parents and then they left.

Once we got situated we took off to Broulim's grocery store and got some pumpkins and candles. We took those pumpkins home and got to the business of carving while we baked some Papa Murphy's pizzas of deliciousness.

Our pumpkin, we decided, was going to be a pirate. Fred the Pirate Pumpkin. Complete with eye patch and bandanna.
Fred the Pirate Pumpkin in all his glory.


Mike and Lacey's pumpkin was fun but I never got a picture of it. They did a sort of goofy faced one.

Tyler and Ali's pumpkin was pretty sweet. See for yourself.



I love its huge mouth!


After carving pumpkins (or, rather, while Heidi and I were finishing our masterpiece) Tyler and Ali made apple cider. We had some pizza then drank the cider which was fantastic. Tyler had even bought cinnamon sticks we could stir our cider with. After that we lit our pumpkins and took pictures.

Mike and Lacey left after the light show. Tyler, Ali, Heidi, and I went downstairs and played Blurt! which is an awesome game. If you have not played it, check it out.

Hadjii and I took Heidi home. It was one of the best dates I've had in a long time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Miss Patty


This morning we lost a very special person. Her name is Patty, and she lived in Arcadia, FL where I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was near the end of my mission and Arcadia was known around the mission as being a harder area. Even amidst our struggles as missionaries the members were awesome there. Miss Patty was not afraid to share the gospel with all of her friends. We could all take a page out of her book.

Pictured above is an amazing couple. Ernest and Patty got married and he was baptized a member of the church in 2004. It was because of Patty's fearless love of Christ that Ernest got interested in the church.

During my time there we experienced a hurricane, Charley, that devastated the little town of Arcadia. I have never been through anything like it. For a few weeks we served the people by bringing them food and helping them with other needs. Even through all of this Miss Patty remained diligent, positive, and happy even through all of that.

Patty was such a great example to all of us of just being a good person. When I think of my time in Arcadia I think mostly of her because she was such a big part of everything we did there. She will be missed but we will all get to see her again. I love the gospel and how we can know that we will see our family again after death. Miss Patty no longer has the restrictions of a physical body even though she never made her ailments an issue. She was the most positive person I have ever met even though she was bound to a scooter. Such a fantastic example of pure Christlike love. She is one of those people who affects lives just by knowing her.

We will miss you, Miss Patty! We know, though, that you are in a better place that is brighter and happier and that the Lord has use for you and your sweet spirit. Love you and rest in peace.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Clockwork Angel


Rating: 4 out of 5 Automatons

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother in Victorian England, something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she has the power to transform at will into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. She soon finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and Will, whose volatile moods keep everyone at arm's length. As their search draws them deep into a plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. (Book Description on front and back flaps)

I absolutely loved The Mortal Instruments trilogy. It introduced me to a world of Shadowhunters, angels, demons, warlocks, and fairies all in the bustling streets of New York City. The characters in those books are delightful, strong, and funny and the plot and the action never ceases.

When I first found out that Clare was going to write a prequel to the MI trilogy, I cringed. Prequels are hard to do right. Further, when I read the plot for the first book Clockwork Angel I could not help but see the similarities between the MI trilogy and the Infernal Devices. Mostly in the characters.

Tessa and Clary: Change Clary into a tall, dark-haired girl from New York living in Victorian England and you get Tessa. They are both strong characters, but I seemed to like Clary more than I did Tessa despite their obvious similarities. Oh and both are helplessly attracted to the guy that treats them like dirt.

Will and Jace: Dye Jace's hair black and turn his eyes blue and put him in Victorian England's suits and you get Will. Granted, Will has an English accent, but they both have the sarcastic sense of humor, the tortured past, and an undeniable attraction to a girl they should not be attracted to. While Jace chooses to be in love with a girl that just might be his sister, Will shows an attraction to a Downworlder.

Jem and Alec: Turn Alec into an albino and you get Jem. However, Jem is much more likable a character than Alec is. Both, though, are the trusted friend above all else to the bad boy. The twist in this is that Jem also likes Tessa where Alec actually is somewhat in love with Jace. So many love triangles my head is spinning.

Jessamine and Isabelle: Both are gorgeous girls who do not want to be Shadowhunters. Their determination is to be normal. Again, though, I liked Isabelle more than Jessamine who is so unbelievably selfish that you just want to reach through the pages and strangle her where Isabelle has a few more redeeming qualities.

All in all I think the characters in MI are more likable. The characters in Clockwork Angel seem like carbon copies of Clare's previous characters that I had grown to love.

Now that I have said that I must say that, despite all these things, I still enjoyed the book. I love Clare's writing. Some people get bored with her descriptions. I remember reading City of Bones and just being amazed because it seemed like her words just jumped off the pages and pulled me into another world. Each word was sparkling with imagery and magic. This book has some of that same flavor but it is not as prevalent. It felt a little more stripped down and uncomfortable at times. There were moments I kept thinking "This is Victorian England. I don't think they would really be talking like this." But Clare has managed to modernize Victorian England in a pleasing way.

I gave it 4 out of 5 automatons simply because it lacked the same luster that the other series did. The writing was not as good. I almost gave it 3.5 but what Clare lacked in originality she made up with the introduction of clockwork creatures and being brave enough to make a story in Victorian England that feels like it could be happening anytime. I am still a huge fan of Cassandra Clare and I look forward to the next installment in this trio as well as the second trilogy in her Mortal Instruments series.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Facial Piercings

Warning: This book review contains spoilers. If you have not read the book, please proceed with caution. Or come back and read it after you have read the book.

I am running a book club on Facebook and this was the choice for the month of October. Every time I saw it at good ol' Barnes and Noble I picked it up and looked at it but, for some reason or another, always put it back. I don't know why I do that because I always end up getting it eventually anyway. For the most part I was excited to finally read it.

The beginning is rough and hard to plow through. At least it was for me. All this background information that is told in a pretty mundane manner fills the first few chapters. I am not going to lie, I was about ready to give up on it.

Lisbeth Salander is the saving grace of the book. Well, I perked up whenever she came on the scene at the beginning of the book simply because she was not acting like a whipped dog like Mikael Blomkvist was. But she really is an interesting character. Some of the stuff that Larsson explains about her past is a little unbelievable (how can someone be so beaten down?) but I quickly gained sympathy for her where I had a hard time feeling bad for Blomkvist because he was a little whiny at the beginning.

Once the story gets going it really gets going. I loved the intensity as Blomkvist and Salander uncover clues. They make a perfect team too. She is an asocial genius hacker and he is intuitive and a good journalist. One thing I do like about Blomkvist is that he's the muscle that doesn't act like the muscle. There is more to him than his sex appeal as he proves with every turn of the investigation.

While I am on the topic of Blomkvist...His relationship with Erika Berger is, while interesting, somewhat unsettling. I have a hard time liking a character that has such an open and relaxed sexual relationship with a woman. And then he sleeps with Cecilia. Random. And, even more random, he sleeps with Salander. He is more man-whore than anything.

This was my initial response but, after thinking about it, I realized that all of these characters interweave nicely.

This book is mostly about violence and abuse toward women in all of its forms. The most significant one is rape obviously. Lisbeth Salander, Harriet Vanger, and several other women in the story (most just mentioned as past cases) suffer from abuse by the hand of a man.

One of the interesting aspects about all of this is their reactions. Harriet chooses to flee the situation. Lisbeth Salander chooses to return the violence tenfold. She fights back and chooses not to be a victim anymore. Not only with her attack on her attacker but also with her ability to hack into other peoples' lives. What I liked was that the hacking was compared to rape as well. Essentially, Salander rapes the men. This, to me, is the best form of revenge she can take. She despises Harriet for running away and, by doing so, letting other women become victims of her family's sick ways.

Lisbeth Salander, like I said, is the saving grace of the novel. I tend to feel that, once Larsson got out Blomkvist and Salander's background information at the beginning he was able to let the characters really come to life. Salander's dialogue, especially at the end, is entertaining. At one point I thought of them as Bones and Booth on Bones because of the nice exchanges in dialogue.

While this book is entertaining because the plot has endless twists and turns, the writing leaves something to be desired. There is a lot of telling and no showing. I like to think a lot of this has to do with the translation from Swedish to English, so I am not going to be too harsh about that. Once you get used to the straight-forward and tell-it-like-it-is style that Larsson engages, then you move along with the story pretty nicely.

I gave this 3.5 out of 5 facial piercings simply because of the rough start. It would have gotten a 4 or 4.5 if it had a better start and the writing wasn't so rigid.





Sunday, October 10, 2010

Victory

I got a girl's digits today!

Not just any girl.

A girl I have been wanting to ask out for a few weeks now.

Yeah.

I rock.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Two

Inspiration comes in the weirdest places. I was at work one day and I saw the cover of a new book that had a rainbow on it. I recognized the place the picture was taken: Hawaii. For the second book in the Tales of the Unluckiest Lucky Girl series I wanted Olivia to go to an exotic/tropical locale. For the longest time I thought Florida would be great, but now I am going to have her go to Hawaii.

Hawaii is The Rainbow State, right? So that just makes the whole leprechaun thing even greater.

So...

Basically, Olivia is going to be chasing rainbows in Hawaii.

That's all I'm going to say.

This is a short post, but I just had to say that today is October 10, 2010 aka 10-10-10! Make a wish at 10:10 AM or PM because this will not happen again in our lifetimes unless we live to be over 100 years old and that is not likely.

Happy 10-10-10!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You Know You're a Book Nerd When...

I went to the mall tonight. For those that know me, they know that when I say that it usually means that I actually only went to Barnes and Noble and did not, in fact, see any other part of the mall. While this is usually true, tonight I went for the sole purpose of not going to Barnes and Noble. Sad day. Mark it on your calendar because it is a rarity for sure.

Instead of going to my beloved book store I went to JCPenney where I found this amazing deal on dress shirts. Who can beat $20.00 for a nice new white shirt? I know I couldn't. So I had to purchase.

After my JCPenney find I was in a shopping mood so I meandered on down to American Eagle which has quickly become a favorite clothes shopping place of mine. I found a new pair of pants for $20.00 and a couple new shirts. I was on a roll.

I still had time to kill so I decided I would browse around Barnes and Noble, figuring that with the time constraint I would be ok and not spend money on books I do not need.

Well, I browsed around and was about to leave but then I remembered that a new book by James Dashner had come out, so I wanted to see if I could just look at it. So I went back to the teen fiction section. There I saw my cousin, Brandon, and his newly-turned-twenty-year-old wife, Brittany. (They are a cute little couple I might add.)

I got to talking to them.

Brandon: We're looking for a book.

Me: What book is it?

Brittany: The...Pact?

Me: Oh! By Jodi Picoult?

Brittany: Yeah! That is the name!

Me: It's over here. (I quickly busted into retail, bookstore, customer service mode, walked down to the Fiction and Literature section and walked directly to the Jodi Picoult section and handed them The Pact.)

Brandon and Brittany were indeed impressed with my ability to just walk right to a book. We were talking about Terry Goodkind's amazing Sword of Truth series then they shared their plans for the evening where they would be celebrating Brittany's birthday. I told them I was going to see The Town and proceeded to tell them that it was adapted from a book. I really don't know why I was spouting off all this needless information, but I just grabbed the book right off the shelf and showed it to them.

Again, they were impressed. I played it off as...

"I never spend any time in here. I don't know what you're talking about."

Big sigh.

Yeah.

In case all the book reviews on this blog were not enough evidence I am going to confess right now: I am a book nerd. Barnes and Noble is, indeed, one of my favoritest places in the world.

There you have it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Surrounded by Idiots

So awhile ago my headlight went out.

I fixed it. I was proud of myself.

A couple days later the other one went out.

I purchased the bulb for it. Got an extra one so that, in case another one decided to go out, I would be prepared. I had issues getting that one fixed so it was delayed in getting done.

A few days later I drove to Blackfoot for the Eastern Idaho State Fair. On the way back I got pulled over. The cop did not cite me for the light even though that was the reason he stopped me. No. He got me for not having my updated insurance to present to him. Lame.

I was given a couple weeks to put in my proof of insurance. I procrastinated and did not get it in until a day late. Oops on my part.

They sent me a letter saying "Hey, you missed this so you have to appear in court or pay this fine or else your license will be suspended." Oh crap.

So I got right on that and called them. They got my fax of my insurance. The next day they called and said that my case had been dismissed and that everything was fine. I would not have my license suspended nor would I have to pay anything.

Great! I was relieved but something kept niggling at the back of my brain with this feeling that it was not all good.

Lo and behold today I get a letter in the mail saying my license was suspended. WTF?

So I called the peeps. They said "Oh it was just sent out before they dismissed your ticket."

Ok.

Just to cover my butt I called the Idaho Transportation Department in Boise. They said essentially the same thing.

I hate how this little thing has blown up into a huge thing. Granted, I should not have procrastinated, but they made me feel like a criminal for not having it in. I am a law-abiding citizen. Get up off me!

So if I end up in jail because they didn't have their stuff together, let this be proof and documentation of what happened on my side of the story. I swear...Don't waste your time on me, all you law-folk. Go find some drug deals to bust.