Tuesday, December 31, 2013
1. Onyx, Opal, and Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Daemon... sigh. My book boyfriend. I don't care that he's 18 years old and an alien. If you haven't read these books yet, do it! They aren't expensive, and are a fantastically additive series. I also love that Armentrout has branched out to tell you bits of this story from the Arum's point of view in her book, Obsession.
2. Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson
This book was such a cool take on the werewolf mythos. Jessica is a private invesigator (and former cop) who comes from a family of werewolves and is used to the supernatural - but only men are werewolves. That is, until Jessica has a really bad night and wakes up naked in the woods... there are a few more books in this series as well, but they are so expensive for ebooks (I don't get why ebooks are $3 more than the paperbacks!).
3. Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Oh my, did this series ever tear me apart. Maas has created the most well-thought out fantasy worlds in a long time, and I still find myself thinking about the books from time to time, trying to puzzle out what is actually happening with the magic. Celaena is a teenage assassin who is rescued from the sure death of the salt mines only to be forced to compete in a death match to see who will become the King's champion. There are a few prequel novellas in this series that fill out Celaena's pre-salt mine days that I need to read.
4. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half
I had come across Brosh's blog a year or two ago on a friend's suggestion to read her posts about depression, and was so incredibly touched. Such a sad subject, but she makes you see the stark humor and pathos in depression. Don't sit down to read this book unless you have a few hours to go through it and laugh yourself silly and cry yourself dry. I would recommend getting the hardcover or paperback versions of this book rather than the ebook because of the cartoon drawings.
5. Dead Spots and Trail of Dead by Melissa F. Olson
Trail of Dead
I came across these books while I was on vacation this year - I had been storing up a few Kindle deals of the day to read in Canada, and the first book was one of those. Scarlett is a null, meaning anything supernatural cancels out around her - and she is so rare there is only about 5 people with her ability in the world. And she works as the clean up person for the triad of supernaturals - the vampires, werewolves, and witches. The whole story had a neat set up - why she works for the supernaturals, and where each of them came from. The mystery in the story was very interesting, too - so much so that I picked up the 2nd book at full price as soon as I finished the first one.
6. Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
I have to say up front that I do not like the artwork in the new cover. All of a sudden it makes Kate look 10 years younger than she is! Okay, petty comment aside, this is definitely a series that gets better and better with every book. I cried, I laughed - and one of my favorite scenes in any book I read this year was Curran throwing a tantrum and tossing boulders at a mountain to vent his frustration with Kate. I like how these books are treating Kate and Curran's evolving relationship in a real fashion - nothing is ever absolutely perfect and relationships need work - and happily ever afters are nonsense.
7. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
I shouldn't have been surprised that I liked this book so much - I went through a faerie phase a few years back, and read Black's Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside - three novels that definitely put Tinkerbell out of your mind completely. Tana lives in a world where vampires are very much a reality - and there are ghettos called 'Coldtowns' where the vampires and hanger-ons are kept walled in, and on 24 hour satellite feed where people can see everything that is happening. Tana woke up from a 'sundown' party - where people lock themselves in at night to party in safety - to find everyone but herself, her ex-boyfriend, and a chained-up vampire slaughtered. They go on a roadtrip to the nearest Coldtown to her ex can sweat out the virus - I don't want to spoil it - but I loved this book. I had to gush about it to Andrew afterward! Tana was such a resolute heroine and I loved her thought processes.
8. Wait For You - J. Lynn
Wait For You
Cam... another sigh. As you can see from the cover, J. Lynn is a nom de plume for Jennifer L. Armentrout when she write her New Adult books. I loved the interplay between the two leads in this book, and the scenes between Avery and Cam were so hot. It was very interesting and sad to read Avery's backstory - she was a victim of a sexual assault, and her whole town and even her family had made it out to be her fault because of who the aggressor was.
9. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Days of Blood and Starlight
This is a series I get completely lost in. Days of Blood and Starlight is the sequel to last year's Daughter of Smoke and Bone (another one of my year-end favorites). The book continues with Karou's story, and goes into so much more detail of the conflict between the angels and chimera. I also loved that Karou's friends, Zusana and Mik, have a much larger part in this story (and even have a novella of their own that I haven't read yet - Night of Cake and Puppets!). The conclusion to this series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, comes out this spring and I cannot wait.
10. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Shatter me did exactly that. I was first attracted to this series by the cool artwork on all of the covers, but I was blown away by the story. I will admit to being really confused by the story in the beginning, thinking that there was something wrong with the formatting of my ebook because there were so many lines where the text was struck-through - it took me a few pages to realize that was Juliette was redacting her thoughts. This is a dystopian story where we have basically poisoned the world, and the absolute power in power is a scary thing. There are a few sequels and novellas to this series I haven't read and am quite eager to read.
Wow. It was hard to choose these books! There are a few others I couldn't bear to leave out, even though they didn't make the top 10 - so I urge you to check out these ones as well!
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Among the Nameless Stars by Diana Peterfreund
A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
Faking It by Cora Carmack
Ever After by Kim Harrison
Fragments by Dan Wells My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Saturday, December 21, 2013
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I’m a sucker for Christmas romances – it doesn’t matter if it is paranormal, regency, or contemporary – and I really liked this one. I was originally a bit thrown off by the formatting of the book – some of the dialogue from different characters seemed to flow into single sentences which made following the conversation confusing, but I think I have to attribute to this being an ARC eBook and perhaps these things weren’t cleaned up yet.
Dina is a mother of a 10 month old boy, and she knows she was not a nice person before her son came along, and she wants to be a better person. Dina starts off the story trying to find the baby’s father to make him pay child support, but soon finds out that the father is no long around. Period. She instead meets Ben, her lover’s older brother, a man still grieving his wife’s death from cancer nearly 10 years prior. Ben sees an instant family in Dina and her son, and offers her marriage so that Dash, his nephew, can stay in his life. The character development in this story is wonderful – and one of my favorite parts is Dina’s verbal diarrhea when she gets nervous – everything gets blurted out all at once and it made me laugh out loud. The relationship between Dina and Ben, although it seems awfully quick at first (this is a novella), but is believable when you understand the emotional places that both of them are coming from. I love how the author wove Christmas into the story – Ben’s family had stopped celebrating Christmas long ago because of his mother’s death, and having him introduce Dina and Dash to all the things in his town and house that he loved about Christmas were very heartwarming.
View all my reviews
Sunday, December 15, 2013
One of my friends who had done this craft previously suggested using the little coffee stirrer/straws to help guide the paint, and that helped immensely. Also, you have to use a lot more paint than the blog post I originally saw this on indicated if you wanted the paint to move inside the ball. I would love to try this craft again. I wasn't able to replicate the color striations in the originally pin, and I would love to try other techniques. All in all, this was a great craft for 11 year old girls.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Video 1: Mozart Mania / Believe / Let it Snow / Winter Wonderland:
Video 2: Let it Grow (from "The Lorax")
Thursday, November 28, 2013
We were watching the dog show on TV while having our Thanksgiving dinner, talking about the dogs we would like to have and the NARDs (not a real dog). It was all in fun, but it made me think of Caddie - Willow's first friend and first dog. This picture was taken 6 years ago, and Caddie passed away a little less than a year later. We were so worried when we were pregnant because Caddie had never been around babies or small children except for short visits from the cousins. However, as far as Caddie was concerned, Willow was *her* baby and she rarely left Willow's side, even when Willow tried riding her like a horse as a toddler. Many nights I would wake up in the middle of the night with Willow crying, and Caddie would already be at her door, as if asking me what was taking me so long! On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful to have had such wonderful animals in my life.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Piper has been cracking me up recently. She has been fixated with the idea that she has a brother - I know what most of you are thinking - that she wants a baby brother (and trust me, that is not happening!) - but no... according to her, her brother is older than her. And he took her to the hospital when she was hurt at a soccer game. She also says she has a daughter. Who is a boy. This kid has some pretty wild thoughts and ideas - talking to her always makes me smile.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Despite the Christmas tree in the background, this picture was taken around Thanksgiving when we went to visit our friends Gara and Asami. Willow was about 16 months old, and Gara and Asami's three boys weren't even a sparkle in their daddy's eye yet. I can't believe how young we all look!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
My days are busy. Up at 5:30am, shower, drink coffee, eat something, take Piper to daycare, work work work, come home, make dinner, get Piper ready for bed, spend time with Willow, knit... and then go to bed.
But it isn't sleep that is my favorite part of my day. It's snuggling in bed with Andrew and having him sleep while read in the dark off my Nook HD+ until the wee hours of the morning. Sweet blissful quiet.
And then morning comes again too soon.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Seriously yummy! I was a little hesitant because it is pear cider, and while I don't mind pears, they really aren't my favorite fruit. My favorite hard cider to date has been Angry Orchard Apple Ginger Cider, but I think this Fox Barrel Pear Cider really gives it a run for its money.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
These mitts were a test knit for my extremely talented friend, Melissa, and I have to say I am happy that they are one of the first lace pieces I have knit without having to rip them back! Well, I did have to rip part of them back, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the lace!
The mitts are intended to be slouchy and feminine at the same time.
And as far as I am concerned, they are a perfect match for Willow.
Pattern: A Time to Reap by Melissa Schaschwary
Yarn: Three Isish Girls Kells Sport in Riley
Needles: Size 2 and 3 Knitpicks DPNs and 16" circulars (I knit them with 2 circulars like I do with socks)
Modifications: I made these for Willow, so I deliberately shortened the sleeve length and length between thumb and last lace portion. Then I inadvertantly shortened the length of the last garter stitch portion by reading the wrong part of the pattern. Design feature, people!
Would I knit this pattern again? Absolutely! I want a pair of these for me!
Wouldn't you want a pair, too?!
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Here's a pic of the girls before the race started:
This is how they warmed up for their race:
Here is the best picture I took all day:
(Even Willow said that one was a keeper when she saw it on the camera screen.)
Here is Willow running and not looking at the camera:
I was peeved about that one - I had a great shot lined up, and some asshat came up and just stood in front of me. After I freaked at him, that was the only shot I had time enough to take.
And here are the girls as they finished up their race:
And just so everyone knows -
(Sorry - I know I didn't blog yesterday - I was under the weather and was not on the computer.)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
That was a super cute hairdo, but definitely needed to be done every morning!
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
1. That I am damn cute for 41. Being short helps.
2. Toddlers who sleep through the night.
3. Mint soap
4. Doctor Who
5. Augustbird yarn
6. Going to bookstores with Willow.
7. Autumn leaves.
8. My DSLR camera
9. French Toast
10. Super hero movies
11. Tegan and Sara
12. Lip gloss
13. Clinique perfume
14. Spooning with Andrew.
15. Business trips
16. My job
17. Vanilla lattes
20. Learning new things.
21. My Nook HD+
22. Cherry Tomatoes
24. Baking cookies.
25. History documentaries
26. Getting my hair washed by someone else.
27. Reading to Piper.
29. Vancouver Island
30. Tuesday SnB Night
31. Getting packages in the mail.
32. Land's End clothes
33. My sunroom
34. Entering book blog contests.
35. Hot spinach and artichoke dip
37. Yoga pants
38. Getting pedicures.
39. Backpack purses
41. My french press
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
We had our first little bit of snow this morning - barely there flurries, but it made me happy. My birthday isn't until tomorrow, but it is close enough for me.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Today's NaBloPoMo blog prompt:
If you had to be trapped inside a movie for 5 days, which movie would you pick?
Sunday, November 10, 2013
I think I have mentioned this before, but no, my Mom didn't teach me how how to knit. Not for lack of trying - more like my lack of interest in learning when I still lived at home. I wished she had taught me - I've kind of cobbled my technique together over the last few years and while I knit fast and have very even tension... my creative yarn-holding makes it very difficult for me to learn new cast ons. But Mom is a fantastic knitter, and from time to time, I'll send my Mom a pic from Ravelry and ask her if she thinks she could make something for me. She hasn't said no yet! Damn! I probably just jinxed myself by writing that.
The shawl above was designed by my talented friend, Melissa of Another Dandi Day and you can find the pattern on Ravelry: Bradbury Shawl. And, right now, since it is Melissa's birthday month (mine, too!), she is offering 25% off all her patterns on Ravelry with the code Birthday Bash until the end of November. Go check them out!
Saturday, November 09, 2013
Look what I bought today for a grand total of $2.50!
Books 2 - 6 of Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac series. I already had book #1 at home, so I was quite happy to find all of these in my library's for sale section at 50 cents a piece. The spines don't even appear to be cracked, so I wonder if someone donated them unread. Looking at the covers, I am curious why the publishers went in a different direction with the covers and artwork for the last three books in the series. The first three had very specific artwork and style, then #4 (City of Souls) has a different font, and then books #5 and #6 are different again. Wait a second - I just realized there are 3 different publishers going on here as well - Avon, EOS, and Harper Voyager. Perhaps that had something to do with it.
I don't frequently buy paperback or hardcover books anymore (I know my sister, Teri, is groaning out loud at this because I used to send her all of my read books). I almost exclusively read on my Nook or Kindle - I am really not sure what it is, but I read much faster on my e-readers as well. However, I just couldn't pass up this deal. Happy reading!
Friday, November 08, 2013
Don't get me wrong, I love my job. So much so that it was nearing 5pm on a Friday night and I found myself wishing I could stay and continue working on a project because I was getting to an interesting part where I had to think up some recommendations and potential outcomes for a situation, and I love doing that. But I started to think about what I would like to do if I wasn't in my job, and I came up with these things:
1) Book Editor
I read many, many books - if you look on my sidebar, I am within 5 books of my goal of 120 books for the year, and there are still six weeks to go in 2013. I also have a degree in Linguistics, and my study of Linguistics was heavy in grammar and semantics. This is a good thing and a bad thing - good because it makes me great at my job (writing and interpreting contracts and rules), but also bad because I notice every little mistake and it can really detract from my enjoyment of books. I have actually put books down and not finished them because of *how* they are written, which is too bad because sometimes the stories are promising.
I love digging stuff up and finding out the whys and hows of things. Luckily, this is part of my job as well, but not something I get to do as often as I would like. I have also had the opportunity to do developmental assignments with the Audit Group at my company, and I have always enjoyed those audits. Unfortunately for me, most auditors I know come from an accounting background - which, while understandable on one hand because many audits are financial audits - but on the other hand, that isn't the only kind of audit there is, and some of the other audits I have been involved with have required more investigative skills and soft people skills to get to the bottom of things.
I add this one with the knowledge that this will never happen and I am A-OK with that. I saw Andrew through law school when we were first married, and it isn't something that I am interested in repeating. However, I do find law immensely interesting, especially in the government area that is my specialty. I know have friends with opinions on both sides of Health Care Reform, but this legislation has made my job so much more interesting in the last few years. I love grappling with this and parsing out what works and doesn't work, and getting to discuss this with other experts in the field.
There you go - and I am interested to hear from my friends. What would your dream jobs be and why?
Thursday, November 07, 2013
This picture is 5 years old - I can't believe it. Willow and Soren were preschool buddies, and when they were very little, people used to think they were brother and sister. Soren's mom, Jenny, and I used to joke that we should just plan their wedding now and save on the booking of the hall 20 years down the road. Unfortunately, the two of them drifted apart when they went to different elementary schools, and they haven't seen each other in a few years.
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
I have nothing. I had to resort to using today's blog prompt, which I kind of had to snicker at when I saw it:
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
It's kind of niggling at the back of my mind that I have answered this before and I said I wish I was taller. Well, I have a different answer today. I wish I wasn't so quick and uncontrollably to anger. My parents and family may have a different view, but I don't think I was a particularly volatile child. In fact, until I was in my mid-20s, I kept most of my anger bottled in. Sublimated. That probably wasn't very good for me, either. But it's harder when you have children - especially when one child legitimately makes me angry, and I lash out verbally at the uninvolved child because her toddler meltdown happens to intersect with Mama's warpath. I feel like I have such a short tether these days between Willow's tween cluelessness and Piper's nascent independence. And poor Andrew gets caught up in all of this, probably wondering most days just what to expect when I walk through the door.
I think I need to go snuggle with Piper.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
This was my work group on Halloween this year. In the back is Starchild Ryan, and in the front from left to right is Demon Rebecca, Spaceman Jo, and Catman Tami. We didn't win the costume contest, but I think we did damn well for an idea we lifted off Facebook and only decided on 24 hours before the party. Even if some people just thought we were mimes...