Tuesday, December 28, 2010


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!


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?