Sunday, February 26, 2012


I am not a rereader. A book has to be damn near exceptional for me to even consider rereading. To this date there are only a handful of books that fit that category. Off the top of my head I can think of a few: The Sword of Truth series, As I Lay Dying, Unearthly and Hallowed, The Hunger Games trio, Delirium, and Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall trio.

Hawkins' final installment in her trilogy is coming out in March so I decided I would reread the first two books.

This time around was a whole new experience, and I'm actually becoming a fan of rereading. It's amazing how time and what you bring to the book can change your perception of the writing. Originally I had given Hex Hall a perfect 5 out of 5. I think it still ranks right up there, but I don't know if it was a perfect score. I still really enjoyed it and found myself remembering things I'd forgotten. The twist at the end didn't surprise me, of course, but this time I could see what Hawkins was doing to build up to it.

I still enjoyed the wit and humor all throughout it. Sophie is a really great character. Like I said in my original review of this book, she actually has a spine. And she's smart. She figures things out and takes action. And she's not whiny. Oh, how I love that she's not whiny and emotional.

I had said that Archer isn't that deep of a character. That was probably a little harsh. He isn't meant to be a deep character. Yet. Part of the draw Sophie sees in him is that he's a mystery. His relationship with Elodie is a mystery. His sometimes obvious/sometimes not so obvious interest in Sophie is a mystery. Everything about him is mysterious. It makes for a great beginning of a romance, but it does, admittedly, seem weird when Sophie admits she's in love with him. I guess I just wanted there to be more development with their relationship. 

So, from now on, I guess I won't be so adamant against rereading books. I'm a fan of seeing things from a different perspective. While I did skim a little because I knew what was coming, I still read just about every word. That, right there, is a sign of a great book.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Crypto Tech

I just realized that I hadn't made this announcement on my blog. It is a little bit old news now, but this seems to make it even more official.

I've joined the Navy. That's not the news. I got the job I wanted! There were some bumps in the road to get it, but I would go through it all again in a heartbeat. My new rating in the Navy is cryptologic technology technician (crypto tech or CTT for short). Let me explain how it happened.

My recruiter has been amazing and I owe him a lot for having my back. He called me up saying he had an information systems job I could take. I was iffy about it so I told him to give me some time. Even though he was reluctant to give it time because it wouldn't last very long, he let me think about it. I did some research on IT and saw that it is very translatable to civilian life and that it is just a really good job. However, I couldn't shake the feeling that it would be settling or that I wouldn't like it. But, I figured it was better than doing the rating I was in (to avoid conflict I will not tell what that rating was). So I decided I would call my recruiter in the morning and take the IT job if that was really my only option right now.

Well, I called him and told him just that. He laughed and said "You're a big pain in the butt, you know that?" Apparently I missed my shot for the IT rating. Truth be told I was relieved. It was more a mixture of relief and despair that I would be stuck in my original rating. Then he told me there was a CTT job opening leaving in April!

That next morning I went in to answer some questions about my background and then I signed a paper and we faxed it back in. Then it was the waiting game. We didn't wait long. They called my recruiter and said that it was a typo and the job wasn't leaving til August. They did not want to push my departure date back so it looked like we were back at square one.

Discouraged and saddened, I left the recruiter's office trying to think of the positives about my original rating because it looked like I was going to be in it no matter what. I worked out some of my anguish at Crossfit, even though deep down I felt like things were still going to work out. Whether that meant I was going to be in my original rating and find out that I loved it or I was going to get the job I wanted, I was not sure at the moment.

Once I left my Crossfit gym, I saw I missed a call from my recruiter. I didn't even listen to the voicemail, I just called him right back. He said "You've been selected for the CTT rating. You can either leave in April in your original rating or you can go in August in the CTT rating."

August? Six more months of waiting? A whole year after I swore in at MEPS?

I decided to go with the CTT rating despite the wait. Really, that's the only downer in this whole predicament. I got the job I wanted and it's going to rock!

So, my official departure date has changed from April 17 to August 9. More time to prepare, get in shape, spend time with family and friends before my life changes drastically for the better. It is amazing how little stress I feel lately. I didn't realize that my job change had stressed me out so much. My recruiter is trying to get my departure moved up, but it might not happen. I will keep ya'all posted!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012



For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

In this compelling sequel to "Unearthly," Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are (from

I have been anticipating the release of the sequel to Unearthly ever since I finished the first one. If you know me, you know I raved about the first book for a long time. I absolutely loved it. It had drama, humor, angels, and romance. And Hand's writing is fantastic and compelling.

Hallowed is a good followup to its predecessor. The overall tone, however, is an impending doom and a little more melancholy than the first one. We find Clara a little more determined to decide her own fate, but I worry that she's becoming a victim. She still remains a very well-formed and developed character with loads more dimension than, say, Bella in Twilight but I wasn't as impressed with the Hallowed version of Clara. At first she is ready to bring the fight and not accept the vision, but I think she hesitates because of how badly it turned out the first time she went against her purpose.

There are some beautiful aspects to this book. The gathering is fascinating. The description of Clara's father is great. I love what Hand has done with the mythos of the angels. She has truly made it her own.

This book is also full of surprises. Hand proves that she is a master at the craft by revealing new information in just the right way and at the perfect moment.

Love triangles. Yuck. Clara even talks about how much she hates love triangles (and goes on to compare herself to Bella which I found funny because there is no comparison. Go Team Clara!) and I find that I agree with her, yet we're pushed into this love triangle story that only gets deeper and more involved. I don't think it's resolved yet. At least I hope it's not. The third book has a lot to answer for the way this one left off. However, I do have to say, usually there is one obvious better choice in a love triangle, but Hand has done a good job of making it seem like both would be a good choice. That makes the ultimate decision that much harder.

Finally a YA fiction series with smarts and good writing! I'm totally a fan. The only reason I only gave it one Woot! was because there was a little disappointment because it wasn't as big a page-turner as the first one. Is that unfair?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Girl who Played with Fire

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

Larsson's second installment in this thriller of a trilogy does not disappoint. Where the first one drags at first, this one takes off running. We find Lisbeth Salander a little more matured and thus her character becomes even more complex and compelling. I found that I was more and more infatuated with her because she had so many layers. Is she psycho? I don't think so, but others would disagree. 

The writing style is a little hard to take because it's abrupt and blunt. Larsson does not pretty it up for anything. It is what it is. While this may not be my favorite (it's probably why I don't give it a perfect score) it actually lends itself to the story. His rigid words are like the spiky exterior of his brooding heroine who, at first, is unapproachable, but as you get used to it and understand it more you realize you have a soft spot for it. Lisbeth Salander will forever go down as an icon in literature because Stieg Larsson managed to create a character so utterly human and beautiful. People may try to copy it (I've already seen some books that have outright tried to compete with this trilogy), but whether or not they will ever be able to attain it is a whole other slice of pie. 

I still have issues with Blomkvist. He's not my favorite character. He's brooding (not in a good way), self-centered, and slow. Not sure if Larsson did this on purpose to create a contrasting character to Salander, but I guess it works. It takes him the whole book to realize the connection between Salander and Zala. I wish this revelation had come sooner and then there would be a more gripping ending to the story. 

Speaking of the ending...It just ends! Good thing there's another installment or I would kill Stieg Larsson (if he weren't deceased already...which he is...). I'm going to take a little break from Larsson because his stuff is a little too heavy to just plow right on through, but I do plan on picking up The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I have no idea what to expect. This one I had watched the Swedish movie and knew the basic plot. The final installment I've tried to keep a secret so that I can be surprised. 

I am fascinated by the love-hate relationship between Salander and Blomkvist. I don't think they're a perfect match, but it is cool to watch it expand. Salander, the girl who is afraid to let anyone inside, openly admits she loved/loves Blomkvist. I am hoping this develops more in the final book. 

As for the lesbianic relationship between Lisbeth and Miriam Wu...I think it works. It is very telling of Lisbeth's character because she has been abused by men so much in her life, it would make sense that she would turn to the arms of another woman for sexual release. However, she is not completely lesbian which makes her even more interesting. I think the thing that draws me to Lisbeth is that all she wants is to be loved. Her whole life she got treated like a freak, disdained by her father, ruled incompetent by her country, and raped by a man who was supposed to be her caretaker. It's no wonder she's a little crazy. I would be too. 

I would highly recommend this trilogy to anyone looking for a good international thriller. They are not light reads by any stretch of the imagination. It took me a month to finish this one which is forever long for me. The graphic scenes in the first one are worse than anything I saw in this book, but it still is not for the faint of heart. What are you waiting for? Go pick up a copy and read it!

P.S. If you have not seen the new movie of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, you must go see it! Must!