Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Operation: Rapunzel Week 2

I am following one of my New Year's Resolutions and growing out my hair. This will be the third time I have attempted such a thing. The last time I tried I got the farthest I have ever gotten and then wimped out. So, to keep myself from repeating that I am going to keep track of the progress on a weekly basis.

This may bore you all, but I am going to post a picture of myself every week so you can all see the progress and keep me from chickening out and cutting it.

I have dubbed this whole thing Operation: Rapunzel. Yes, I know Rapunzel is a girl so it doesn't really make sense, but I didn't want to name it Operation: Fabio.

So here goes:

You can't see my hair very well in this picture but I'm too lazy to take a picture of myself right now. But you get the idea of my starting point. It has actually been two weeks since my last haircut. My friend, Kym, is going to help me in this operation. Our goal is something along these lines:

Not that I necessarily want to look like Hugh Jackman, but I do like his hair in this picture. This is the look I have wanted to do for years now. I better do it while I still have hair. haha!

So let the operation commence!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Fairy Tale of Epic Proportions

I was telling a bed-time story to Gigi the other night. It got a little crazy. This is the closest I could come to remembering how it went.

Once upon a time there was a princess who lived in a cottage because she did not know she was a princess. There were three old women raising her. They were really fairies and they knew they were fairies and that the princess was a princess. They were hiding the princess who did not know she was a princess from the evil fairy, Maleficent.

The princess who did not know she was a princess went out to the woods to pick berries. It was her sixteenth birthday and the three fairies wanted to make her a surprise. So they sent her out to pick berries. She knew something was up but she went anyway.

While she was in the woods she met a handsome young man who was a prince who knew he was a prince but he did not know she was a princess.

In those very same woods, not too far away, was another cottage where another princess lived. She knew she was a princess, but she didn't want anyone to know where she was because her evil stepmother wanted her dead.

Maleficent's crow went out in search for the princess who did not know she was a princess. On his way, the crow saw the other princess who was hiding from her evil stepmother. He returned to the evil fairy's lair and told her what he saw. She called up the evil stepmother and told her where her runaway stepdaughter princess was.

The evil stepmother was mad that her stepdaughter was still alive. She disguised herself as an old crone and took a poisoned apple with her to the woods so she could finally get rid of the princess.

Tinker Bell, who was flying through the woods on her way back to Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, saw the old crone and knew what she was up to. So she went to get help from the seven dwarfs who were working in their mines.

Meanwhile, the princess, who did not know she was a princess, returned to the cottage where her aunts who were really fairies had made a cake and a beautiful gown for her birthday. She was excited. They told her, then, that she was a princess.

While the three fairies were taking their princess to the castle, they saw a carriage riding really fast through the woods. It was a strange thing because the carriage suddenly turned into a pumpkin and there was a girl who had been sitting inside it.

She told the three fairies and their princess that she was just coming home from the ball where she had danced with the prince but she had to leave before her fairy godmother's spell was over. She had left her glass slipper with the prince on accident, but she was secretly hoping that he would use it to find her again.

This reminded the other princess about the young man she had met in the woods and how much she wished to see him again.

While that was going on, the old crone got to the cottage before Tink and the seven dwarfs. The princess took a bite of the poisoned apple and died!

The fairies left the girl in the woods and took their princess to the castle where she was supposed to be safe. Maleficent was waiting though and the princess touched a spindle of a spinning wheel and fell fast asleep.

Both princesses would have to wait for true love's kiss to break the spells they were under!

Tinker Bell knew that the girl in the woods would be able to help her get the princes to the princesses. But the girl in the woods was in trouble too! She was locked away in her attic by her wicked stepmother because the prince was going around town having every woman try on the glass slipper.

Tink and the girl's friends, the mice, eventually got the girl out of the attic. The wicked stepmother's cat tried to stop them but Tink hit him with a baseball bat.

The girl tried on the slipper and it was a perfect fit! The prince had found his princess! Tink and the girl who was now a princess went to the castle where the young man who had met a different girl in the woods lived. They told him of his love's plight and he stormed off to the castle. It was now covered in thorns and briars which he broke through but then there was Maleficent who had changed herself into a dragon. He killed the dragon by throwing his sword into her heart. Then he climbed to the tower where the sleeping beauty was and a true love's kiss woke her from her spell.

Tink and the three good fairies led the others to the woods where a glass coffin sat. Seven dwarfs stood around it with tears in their eyes. They did not know where to find the princess's prince. But then he came on a white horse and kissed the princess. She woke up and the spell was broken.

All of the spells were broken and they all lived happily ever after!

What about Tinker Bell?

She went back to Never-Never Land and played with the Lost Boys and Peter Pan. She, too, met a fairy prince and fell in love and she lived happily ever after as well!

(I purposely didn't use the names of the princesses in the story because it was fun. It made a little more sense in oral form than in written.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quadruple Birthday Party!

On January 16th Morgan and Wyatt celebrated their second birthdays!

On January 16th Nora, Rico's sister celebrated her...25th...birthday!

And on January 15th my sweet mom celebrated her birthday as well!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Breaths

Grady Adams lives a simple, solitary life deep in the Colorado mountains. Here the thirty-five-year-old carpenter works out of a converted barn, crafting exquisite one-of-a-kind furniture. There’s little about this strong yet gentle man to suggest the experiences that have alienated him from the contemporary world. But that is about to change.

One day, while hiking, Grady spots a pair of stunningly beautiful furred animals unlike anything he’s ever seen. They flee the instant they detect his presence, but the mystery of that brief encounter remains. In the days ahead, Grady will approach the creatures again, gaining their trust but coming no closer to solving their mystery. For this he enlists the help of an old friend, veterinarian Camellia “Cammy” Rivers, who, in turn, is stunned—and enchanted—by Grady’s new “pets.” But while Grady and Cammy carefully observe these enigmatic animals for clues to their origin, they, too, are being watched.

Soon Grady’s home and hundreds of square miles of surrounding wilderness will be placed under quarantine by Homeland Security. And Grady, Cammy, and the two creatures they’ve come to feel they must protect at all costs find themselves virtual prisoners—and the unwilling focus of an army of biologists, naturalists, and research scientists. But it’s a stunning event no one could have foreseen that convinces Grady and Cammy to do the unthinkable: to escape with the two creatures on a riveting race for freedom.

I have read some really good books by Mr. Koontz. This was not one of them. I kept expecting it to get good. I was 100 pages into it and said "It's going to get good." 200 pages into it. "It's gotta get better, right?" About 75% of the way through the book I decided to start skimming. I'd had enough of the descriptions about the weird animals and the sick, twisted, paranoid mind of some guy who just killed his twin brother. All the stories were random and came together in loose ways that didn't really make sense.

Okay, let me back up.

Let's talk about the characters.

Grady. Love the name. I have one of the main characters in the book I'm writing named Grady. It may sound silly but that was part of what made me want to read the book. This Grady is so blah it's not even funny. There is nothing to him. He just wanders around in his mountain home with his dog named Merlin. I was not impressed. He is supposed to be the hero in this book and, yeah, not so much. He's a bland character that gets sloppily pulled together at the end where suddenly two or three of the characters are connected to a Marcus Pipp. This Marcus guy was never mentioned in the story until about 200 pages in. I'm sorry but if Marcus is so important, even though he's dead, he needs to be brought up way before that.

Cammy. Supposedly the heroine in the story. Another sloppy character. I'm thinking that a woman who, as a girl, grew up on a boat with a drug addict mother and a sick, twisted, abusive stepfather would not turn out all that normal. She was forced to kill her stepfather when she was 15 or 17. Right. This fact is mentioned in such a casual and bland tone that it hardly makes the impact I think Koontz wanted it to.

Tom Bigger. A weird and random addition to the story. The scene with the coyotes is never really fully explained. He seemed to be following some sort of intuition or magical sense that he had but it never really got explained either. And somehow he ended up at the house of a lawyer who had hired someone to kill his wife. I was so confused about that twist that never really got answered as to the how and why that I just about stopped reading right there.

Lamar. An interesting character. Probably my favorite even though at the end he has some cheesy moments.

Henry. The sick, sadistic, antagonist in the story. The whole time I kept expecting it to turn out that he was schizophrenic or something, but I wasn't that lucky. And, unless I misread, he blew himself up with a hand grenade? Wtf? I felt like his story was just ended just to end it. Although I did like the twist and how Cammy and Grady ended up at his house, but it just seemed anticlimactic when that happened.

Puzzle and Riddle. All I have to say can be summed up in: WTF? The names: Seriously? They talk: Are you freaking kidding me? I just don't get it.

I had to laugh because underneath the title on the cover it says "A Novel of Suspense." When I got done, and partially while I was suffering through it, I thought of No Doubt's song "Suspension without Suspense." There was no suspense in this novel whatsoever. Each chapter ended in a laughable cliffhanger moment that really didn't have the umph to make me want to read more.

I have spent far more time with this review than I had anticipated. The plot is sloppy. The conclusion is terrible. The writing leaves a lot to be desired. Sorry, Dean Koontz, but this is definitely not your best work. I will read more of your work, but not until I get this sour taste out of my mouth from this book. I gave it 1 and 1/2 out of 5 Breaths.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cleaning with Gigi

It was my day off and what did I do? I cleaned house. Literally.

I started my day with Zumba which got me all energized to just keep going. And going. And going...I really don't know why I just kept going. I had a nice brunch then got to work cleaning the kitchen. Before I started cleaning I popped in my iPod and got the music going. I can clean, mow lawn, till gardens, scrape snow off sidewalks for forever when I have my iPod. Or at least until the battery runs out then I'm done. ha! Give me music to listen to and I can go for hours.

Cleaning the kitchen turned into mopping the floor in the kitchen which turned into getting on my hands and knees to scrubs some spots off the floor in the kitchen. That turned into vacuuming and dusting the front room which turned into organizing Gigi's room, putting all her dang toys away, and vacuuming that too. And I just kept going. I vacuumed the stairs, dusted and vacuumed downstairs, straightened my room up. By this time my mom and Gigi got home and I had browned some hamburger and grated some cheese for supper. While my mom made the taco soup, I vacuumed my room and Gigi had to come and "help."

Once I was done eating, I figured I had better go finish the job and tackle the task I had really wanted to do today. Clean my bathroom.

Gigi put up a fuss and so I let her come down and help me. I had to clean the pipes on my bathroom sink because the drain wasn't, well, draining very good. My cute little niece just kept saying "YUCK! That is yucky! You have a yucky sink!"

I will spare you the details.

The highlight of the day was that Gigi helped me clean my bathroom floor. I gave her Windex and some paper towels and she went to town with it.

And I didn't sit down to relax on my day off until 9:30PM. I love to clean actually. It helps me think. I must have something on my mind. I will get back to that when I have more information. For now, I shall keep you all in suspense.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Rating: 5 out of 5 Qwells

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Every once in awhile you come across a book that awakens something in you. Every once in awhile you are a lucky enough to take part in a journey of the mind created by a talented writer. When you do get this opportunity, take it and enjoy it because it does not come too often. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly is one of those books that you just don't want to end because you are enjoying every single word, but you just keep racing toward the end because you have to see what happens next.

It is safe to say that I devoured this book. I had just been thinking that I wanted to find a book that just swept me away and engaged every part of me. I had had enough of fluff. And sometimes classics just are too much to tackle. I wanted a book that was a contender to be a classic. Jennifer Donnelly's book is very much a contender, a sprawling masterpiece, a juggernaut full of everything you could want in a great book.

Now that I have blathered on about it long enough (which, really, I could just go on and on but I will spare you), I will tell you what I enjoyed about it.

One of the great things about art is how it transcends boundaries. Music impacts literature impacts painting impacts history impacts art. Revolution is about music and poetry and everything that is artistic and how it affects us. Andi feels alive when she plays her guitar which, for artists, that is exactly what it feels like. When I write or draw, I feel alive. Donnelly describes it so beautifully. This was the beauty of this book is that it stretched into other realms of art beyond just the words even though the words themselves were sharp and poignant and carried enough weight to stand alone.

So rarely does a book come around these days, especially in young adult literature (don't get me started on that), that can actually be called art. This book can be called art. A masterpiece, really.

I also really loved what Donnelly did with the idea of revolution and how it is more personal. By using the French Revolution to illustrate her point, she showed that revolutions are more than just commoners overthrowing royalty, but it goes beyond that. It is far more personal and never-ending. People are always in a constant revolution within themselves. I am still trying to fathom that idea but I really felt it click inside me when I was reading this book.

The characters are well-done and fleshed-out. Andi is a believable character and a smart heroine that you cannot help but want to succeed. At times you want to smack her, but at times you also just want to embrace her and tell her that everything will be all right.

Revolution has it all. Love, history, tragedy, music, art, murder, intrigue, drama, rap, comedy, you name it. I don't just give out 5s to just anybody, but this one deserves it. I gave it 5 out of 5 Qwells. So what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Rating: 4.5 out of 5 IFPs

When the walls between Man and Fae come crashing down, freeing the insatiable, immortal Unseelie from their icy prison, MacKayla Lane is caught in a deadly trap. Captured by the Fae Lord Master, she is left with no memory of who or what she is: the only sidhe-seer alive who can track the Sinsar Dubh, a book of arcane black magic that holds the key to controlling both worlds.

Clawing her way back from oblivion is only the first step Mac must take down a perilous path, from the battle-filled streets of Dublin to the treacherous politics of an ancient, secret sect, through the tangled lies of men who claim to be her allies into the illusory world of the Fae themselves, where nothing is as it seems—and Mac is forced to face a soul-shattering truth.

Who do you trust when you can’t even trust yourself?

I was so astounded by this installment. To me, it is the best one so far because things actually start happening and questions start getting answered. Bad thing is, however, that with all the new answers come new questions. And, can I just say, holy cliffhanger at the end, Batman! I threw the book across the bed when I finished the last sentence. Good thing Shadowfever comes out in just a couple weeks.

In this book, we find a MacKayla who is darker, stronger, and much more reliable a heroine than she has ever been. It is a welcome change, I think. While she spends a lot of time bemoaning the loss of her innocence, I find that I like her this way better. She is finally living up to her role as the great sidhe-seer who could save the world.

Also, we see more of the Book/Beast than we have ever seen before which is nice. Finally! Three books of practically nothing ever happening and now we finally make some leeway.

Even though this is the best book so far I still have issues with the writing. It's often too simplistic and immature for my tastes. But I let it slide because the story is exciting and it is a total fluff read. I guess that really shouldn't be grounds for letting it go. However, the writing in this book is the best it's been in the series. A conundrum. And probably a big reason why I like this book the most.

The cliffhanger: While I hated it, it was probably one of the best ones I've seen in a long time in a book. Kudos to you, Ms. Moning!

All right. I have gushed about this book enough. Here's to the next few weeks of waiting with bated breath for the final installment where we will finally get all our questions answered! I have given it 4.5 out of 5 IFPs (Read the books to find out what an IFP is).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Books of 2010

Last year I read 28 books! That outdoes 2009 by three books which really isn't all that great but at least I beat it. I am trying to increase my number of books read in a year exponentially. This year my goal is to read at least 35. I already have one book done so 1 down 34 more to go!

In case you missed the reviews, here is a list of the books I read this year in order. If you want to read the reviews, click on the "book review" tag at the bottom of this post and you should see all the reviews on this blog.

1. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
2. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
3. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
4. Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak
5. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Gag!)
6. The Hungry Season by T. Greenwood (just got her new book! I am stoked for it!)
7. Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
8. The Things that Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley
9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
10. Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely
11. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (one of my favorites for the year)
12. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
13. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
14. The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb (could have done without it)
15. Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
16. Hothouse Flower by Margot Berwin (Great read!)
17. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
18. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (Terrible.)
19. Anthem by Ayn Rand
20. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
21. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
22. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
23. Ape House by Sara Gruen
24. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
25. Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
26. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
27. Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
28. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Since I could not count it as #29 and have a clear conscience, I have counted Karen Marie Moning's Dreamfever as the first book for 2011.

Here are some of the books I am hoping to read this year:

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (started it today. So far, so good)
This Glittering World by T. Greenwood
Breathless by Dean Koontz
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
To Wish or Not to Wish by Mindy Klasky
One Hundred Percent Lunar Boy by Stephen Tunney
What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz
The Hidden Oasis by Paul Sussman
The Last Secret of the Temple by Paul Sussman
The Lost Army of Cambyses by Paul Sussman
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor by Lucy Weston
Shadowmarch series by Tad Williams
Death series by Trent Jamieson
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemison
The Iron Elves series by Chris Evans
The Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Undressing the Moon by T. Greenwood
Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning
I am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Some Jodi Picoult book
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Right there is about 47 books. If I read at least 35 of those I will be happy. to get crackin!

Also, final note for this post...

I am considering creating a different blog specifically for my book reviews. Any feedback on that would be great. Do you think I should? If so, what are some suggestions on titles for this book review blog? Thirsty Imagination would still be around but it would be specifically used for my randomness, photos of my daily goings-on, and updates about my novel I am writing (which, someday, I will have a website for).

And now I bid you adieu. I have another book review coming, but I better close this behemoth post before you and I both go insane.

Saturday, January 1, 2011



I cannot believe it is 2011! It seems like I say that every year, but it just seems like every year is going by faster and faster.

Before I go on and make a list of my goals for this year, I want to make a list of my accomplishments in 2010.

  • Read 28 books (I will make a post for that next time).
  • Went to San Diego and Las Vegas with my friend, Mike.
  • Started attending a new singles branch of awesomeness. This has been one of the greatest changes in my post-graduate life.
  • Got glasses.
  • Got a raise at work. Now I make 15 cents an hour instead of 10.
  • Became a Zumba fanatic which has shown more toning results on my body than any other workout program I have seen out there.
  • Reached 50,000 words on my novel.
  • Started a book club on Facebook. We are on our fifth book already.
  • Took up the guitar and have learned a few chords.

I am sure there are more accomplishments than that, but I can't think of any. Sad when you have to think real hard to figure out what you accomplished in a year. With that in mind, these are my goals for 2011:

  • Read 35 books.
  • Get a new job that pays awesomely.
  • Move out of my parents' house.
  • Get married. (I know, I know...I say it every year. Well, I do but I don't express it apparently. Well, here I am announcing it publicly that this is the year that I, Jacob Taylor, will finally settle down and get hitched. Now to find that girl.)
  • Finish my novel (rough draft, revision, revision, revision, edit, send out to literary agents and publishers, revision, edit, work, work, revise more, and hopefully get the dang thing done and published!)
  • Learn 5 songs on the guitar.
  • Lose 10 more lbs.
  • Go somewhere I have never been before. Boston would be cool. Possibly finally go on a KB Tour to Europe!
  • Speaking of the last one: Get a passport!
  • Start writing the sequel to Befall which is probably going to be titled Beleaguer.
  • Grow out my hair. This time I am actually going to do it. Last time I got the furthest I have ever gotten but this time I am going to refuse to cut my hair even when I really, really want to.
  • Grow a goatee.
  • Be wiser with my money.
I may add to the list as the year goes on. I have posted this on here so I can be accountable for the things I have put on here. If you are reading this and you know me personally, I want you to keep me under your thumb (that's a lot of thumbs to be under but oh well) and see how I am doing at this periodically.

Hope you all have a fantastic new year. I have a feeling that 2011 is the year for greatness!