Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cast a Wide Net

I've been thinking a lot lately about dreams, goals, and aspirations. I have a ton of them! All of these things that I want to accomplish in my lifetime that seem to get pushed back to the wayside. However, lately, I've been thinking that now is the time to make my dreams come true and that I cannot sit back and wait for them to happen. It just won't happen if I do that.

1. Be a published author. One of my goals is to get my book published and subsequent books published. I have wanted this for so many years that I cannot even remember when I didn't want it. Time to just get it done, kids. I'm working on the revisions. I think I am just going to get the first two chapters beautiful and polished and start sending out feelers to agents and publishers. Don't know until I try, right?

2. Go back to school. I have been avoiding this inevitability for awhile now, but I keep going back to it. Ever since I went into English as an undergraduate I knew that this was what I would want to/have to do. Eventually I want to get my PhD (hold your gasps), but for now I will stick with getting an Master's. I've been looking at schools and programs. Turns out most of the ones I want to go to also require a GRE. Yay. A test. Go me.

I'm looking at schools in Utah (UofU), California (UC-Davis), Missouri (St. Louis University), and Colorado (Regis in Denver). I'm still wide open as to where I will actually go, but those are the primary options at the moment. It also depends a lot on who will take me.

3. Get a new job. Even if I don't go to school in the next few months (seeing how I have to study for a GRE) I do need/want to get a new job. Regardless of going back to school, I can also get an education by living in a different culture for awhile. My heart will always be in Idaho, but I need to spread my wings and fly. I just applied to a dozen (literally) jobs through Wells Fargo just to cast a wide net and see who will bite. Wells Fargo is a good company to work for with lots of opportunity for growth. They also would be a good means to an end to get me out of here.

4. Travel. I want to get to a point where I can travel as much as I want. I want to see the world. Get a passport and start filling that sucker up. I get to go to California this year and Hawaii next year, but I've been to both those places (love them!) so I want to see some new places: Boston, Washington DC, Greenville*, Chicago, Denver, Portland (Maine and Oregon), Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, the list goes on.

5. Relationships. No one really wants to be lonely. While I am content being single at the moment, I would be lying if I said I didn't want to find someone.

My biggest thing lately is trying not to let myself get overwhelmed or discouraged. No dream is unattainable or too big anymore. I do not want to look back on my life in twenty years and be filled with regret.

*My wonderful cousin, Kara, if you are reading this: I am still planning on visiting you in NC, but things have been crazy so I have had to postpone. Don't hate me. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Saturn Symbols

It is the year of the Great Conjunction, when the two most powerful planets, Jupiter and Saturn, align—an astrologi­cal phenomenon that occurs once every thousand years and heralds the death of one age and the dawn of another. The streets of London are abuzz with predictions of horrific events to come, possibly even the death of Queen Elizabeth.

When several of the queen’s maids of honor are found dead, rumors of black magic abound. Elizabeth calls upon her personal astrologer, John Dee, and Giordano Bruno to solve the crimes. While Dee turns to a mysterious medium claiming knowledge of the murders, Bruno fears that some­thing far more sinister is at work. But even as the climate of fear at the palace intensifies, the queen refuses to believe that the killer could be someone within her own court.

Bruno must play a dangerous game: can he allow the plot to progress far enough to give the queen the proof she needs without putting her, England, or his own life in danger?

In this utterly gripping and gorgeously written novel, S. J. Parris has proven herself the new master of the historical thriller.

Now that I've read this book I can say that I should have read Heresy first, so, if you are looking into reading this, don't listen to those people who say you can read this one first and be all right. Bruno alludes to things that have happened in the first book and, while there are no spoilers that I can see, there is always that fear that those will appear.

That being said, this is a fantastic read. I loved the history, the intrigue, the suspense, and the writing. Elizabethan London comes alive in a more accessible way. With a plot that is reminiscent of Dan Brown, S.J. Parris takes the reader on a thrilling adventure into the dark underpinings of the politics in that era. Bruno is a likeable and believable hero who, while he seems bull-headed and does some stupid things at times, has the intellect to get through his predicaments. I liked that he was more of an intellectual hero than an action hero, but he could handle himself in a skirmish if he needed to.

The writing is far better than Dan Brown's so that is where the comparison stops. No offense to Dan Brown, but S.J. Parris has more of a knack for capturing beautiful imagery that is lacking in Dan Brown novels. She gives just enough details of a character's looks to let the reader fill in the missing pieces. Sometimes that is nice. It puts a little more trust in the reader that they can think for themselves and allows their minds to conjure up the face with the little tidbit that has been given. That is huge to me simply because this used to bug me. I used to be the kind of reader that liked to be told exactly what a character looked like. Now, I prefer to just have small details, preferably those things that make them stand out.

Speaking of characters, there are a lot of players in this book. At first I got a little confused about who was whom. She probably could have repeated some distinct markings of each character just so that I, as the reader, could get them more firmly wrapped in my brain, but I found that I figured it out well enough so that, by the end, I knew who was whom.

Parris does not get overly descriptive throughout most of the story. She has a nice balance of painting a nice picture for you while letting your imagination work the rest of it. The dialogue seems a little too modern and that might be my only complaint about the book. Sometimes Bruno uses phrases that are pretty modern, but it didn't bug me enough to distract from the overall enjoyment of the book.

The plot is fast-paced enough that I didn't lose interest. She had me from the get-go. Her writing, in the immediate and thrilling present tense, is impeccable. I love how most books are going to the present tense lately to show an immediacy that you lose when you write in the past tense if it used correctly. I was actually left guessing until just maybe a couple pages before she revealed the real culprit behind everything. That, my friends, is a huge compliment to Parris and her ability to divert.

That being said, I think I have gushed on about this book for long enough, I will let you get on with your lives. I would recommend this to anyone who loves literature, history, and/or Dan Brown. I gave it 4.5 out of 5 Saturn Symbols.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Latest Craze

It has been around for 8 years and I'm finally getting hooked on So You Think You Can Dance. I've always been fascinated by the clips I have seen, but have never seen a full episode until last night. It was pretty much amazing and I'm hooked. My favorite dance was Marko and Melanie's statue dance, but they were all pretty fantastic. No wonder that, with the results show the following night, NOBODY got eliminated! Insane!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Lost Symbol

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Severed Hands

(Hey, kids, it's been awhile. I am going to be better about my blogging. Life has been crazy lately because I actually have a social life right now. Go figure. Enjoy this book review. Or don't. I don't care. haha!)

When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon--a prominent Mason and philanthropist--is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept [a] mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations--all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.

As the world discovered in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Dan Brown's novels are brilliant tapestries of veiled histories, arcane symbols, and enigmatic codes. In this new novel, he again challenges readers with an intelligent, lightning-paced story that offers surprises at every turn. The Lost Symbol is exactly what Brown's fans have been waiting for... his most thrilling novel yet. (courtesy of

Before I say anything else, I have not read Dan Brown's other books. I've only seen the movies. I hear that those two are the better ones of the Langdon stories, but I find that I'm content with the movies which is rare for me. My friend, Kira, was raving about this book and she lent it to me, so I had to give it a try.

There were interesting factoids intermingled within the plot. I wanted to be able to get into it enough to want to look up what he was talking about just so I could have more of a frame of reference, but I wasn't that interested.

Noetics, the science in this book, is quite fascinating. It boasts the power of the human mind to change and alter our environment. That was my favorite part of the book.

As for Robert Langdon, he's so skeptical almost to a fault and it gets annoying. Just believe people sometimes, Rob! Geez. I understand he's a symbologist and a historian, so he's only interested in facts, but you'd think he'd have a little bit more of an imagination because of his profession. Just an observation. I'm not sure if this was meant to be a character flaw. If it was, kudos to Mr. Brown, but it was also something that made the story lag a little. Where I haven't read the others, I don't know if it was just more prominent in this book or if it is just Robert Langdon's character.

While we are discussing Langdon...Tom Hanks? Really? What were they thinking? Don't get me wrong; Tom Hanks is a great actor, but while I was reading this book I couldn't picture him as Robert Langdon. The jury is still out on who my personal casting choice would be.

Moving on. I found myself skimming. If this is a breathless thriller, then I must not be thrilled too easily because I felt like I had to speed things up. There was, however, a couple of twists at the end that I was not expecting so that was a nice payoff.

All in all, it's a decent read. I would like to go to DC and see all these places that were mentioned. I gave it 2.5 out of 5 Severed Hands.